Planning a trip to Buenos Aires? Whether it is by train, bus or taxi, here are my top tips for getting around the city.
Being a slight control-freak, when I arrive in a new city, I like to be armed with options to get from A to B. Here I share some tips for getting around Buenos Aires.
Getting around Buenos Aires by public transport
Getting around Buenos Aires is relatively easy thanks to its extensive public transport system, comprising buses and the Subte (subway) network. To use this system you need to get your hands on a prepaid magnetic card, similar to the Oyster card used in London.
This SUBE card is available at all subway stations for the princely sum of 25 pesos (1.2 USD), which you can then load with money. Information on-line suggested that I would need to present my passport and fill in a form to do this. However, this was not the case.
As a guide, each Subte journey costs 7.5 pesos (0.3 USD); bus journeys vary but reckon on around 8.5 pesos (0.4 USD) per journey. I charged the card with around 50 pesos (2 USD) each time which seemed to work well. You can charge the card at Subte stations, national lottery store and kioscos.
Bearing in mind the congestion on the streets of Buenos Aires, the Subte is the fastest way to get around. There are five lines crisscrossing the city and interchanges are clearly signposted. Although it may not be the most modern subway system, trains are frequent. However, carriages can be rammed at peak times (7 – 10 am and 6 – 8 pm). You have been warned!
It took me slightly longer to get to grips with travelling by bus. They are big, comfortable and frequent, though often crowded. However, you have to identify the correct stop to get and where to get off, which can be challenging if you are not familiar with the city. If in doubt where to get off ask the driver or a local for help. In my experience, both were very helpful.
Once you have identified your bus stop, wait for the bus under the sign. Like the British, Argentinians love an orderly queue and at bus stops, they will queue to the right. No milling around and swarming the bus when it arrives!
When you board the bus, tell the driver where you are going – writing this on a piece of paper helped me – so that he will charge you the correct fare. Then lay your card on the SUBE reader where you will see the price of the ride displayed. Sit back and enjoy your ride!
Planning your journey
I downloaded the Como LLego app, which was invaluable. It is not only a sophisticated journey planner but also provides real-time information on departures. A web-based version is also available.
Getting around Buenos Aires by taxi
Compared with some other cities I have travelled in, getting around Buenos Aires by taxi was a breeze. They are plentiful, relatively cheap and safe. Not once did a driver take a scenic route around the city or need to be encouraged to switch the meter on. Or perhaps I was just lucky!
Taxi drivers do not expect a tip but rounding up to the nearest convenient denomination is common … and appreciated.
Getting to and from the airport
Buenos Aires has two airports: Ezezia (EZE) that handles mostly international flights and Aeroparque (AEP), which is the domestic hub in addition to handling some flights to other South American countries. As public or shared transport options from both airports are few to non-existent, your best bet is a taxi. Let’s look at each of these.
Ezezia (Ministro Pistarini International Airport)
EZE is around 33km south-west of Buenos Aires city. I arranged a taxi through my hotel which cost 50USD; the return journey was 750 pesos (37 USD). The journey takes around 45 minutes in good traffic.
Alternatively, there is a taxi booth in the arrivals hall, providing a transfer for a similar cost. US dollars are widely accepted.
I don’t know about you, but when I step off a 13-hour flight, a little disoriented, it is good to know that I will be whisked off to my hotel by someone holding my name up on a board. In my view, a good way to splash the cash!
I did look into a shared shuttle service from EZE operated by Manuel Tienda Leon. You can book on-line or they have a counter just after you exit Customs. It is cheaper but a bit of a faff as it is a transfer in two parts: firstly via bus to their main terminal in downtown (260 pesos or 13 USD), and then via shared taxi to your hotel.
There is a bus (number 8) which is very cheap. However, the trip takes about 2 hours and the bus makes multiple stops en route.
If anyone knows of other options, please share!
Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (AEP)
In terms of location, AEP is far more convenient for most travellers, located downtown in the Palermo neighbourhood. I found that a metered taxi was the best option. I did this journey a few times to my Palermo hotel and the price was consistent – around 160 pesos (8 USD). The journey should take no more than 30 minutes.
Buses do serve AEP but for the difference in journey time and hassle, a taxi is your best bet.
Check out my other Buenos Aires blog posts:
- The day I met Messi; A walking tour of La Boca
- El Zanjon, San Telmo: An underground journey into Buenos Aires past
- Finding Eva Peron in Recoleta Cemetery