Transportation - Get In
Aerolíneas Argentinas and LAN Chile offer connections between Buenos Aires' international airport Ezeiza and many cities throughout South America, as well as North America, Europe and Australia. Air New Zealand flies direct from Auckland. Qantas no longer offers direct flights from Sydney to Buenos Aires, instead flying to Santiago - home of its OneWorld Partner LAN, where travellers can connect onto multiple destinations in Argentina.
There are international flights to other airports, such as to Mendoza with LAN from Santiago Chile.
On flights to and from Argentina the cabin is sprayed with insecticide before the security demonstration before take off (flight attendants walk down the aisles with spray cans). This is also done on flights in some other parts of the world where tropical diseases are prevalent like between Singapore and Australia. The spray doesn't have a particularly unpleasant smell and they state it is not dangerous for passengers, but the situation can be a bit uncomfortable when experiencing it for the first time.
If you're flying in or out of Argentina, Buenos Aires is the most common point of arrival and departure. The city has two airports, Ministro Pistarini International Airport (IATA: EZE) some 40km southwest of downtown Buenos Aires and the more centrally located Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (IATA: AEP). The former is for intercontinental flights and a few domestic ones (mostly to Río Gallegos and Ushuaia), which leave early in the morning but if you're continuing to another location in Argentina or to nearby international destinations (one flight hour away or so) by plane you'll in most cases have to travel from Ezeiza to Jorge Newbery. There are cheap shuttle buses which take you there in about an hour, but travel time varies greatly depending on traffic. Also, there are some flights to Jorge Newbery from three other important South American hubs, namely Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro or Santiago so if you have a changed planes at those airports, your connecting flight might actually arrive at (or leave from) Jorge Newbery. Take an extra look at your ticket and make sure you are at the right airport!
You should be able to ride a motorcoach or hire a service taxi from one of the booths after you clear customs. The rate for a taxi from Ezeiza international airport to Buenos Aires is ARS130, the rate from the Jorge Newbery domestic airport to town is ARS40. (Mar 2012). You can now also ride an Uber from Ezeiza, the fare is sometimes dynamic and much lower than a taxi, and is recommended to send an SMS or call your driver, since they may need to coordinate the pick up spot with you.
- Ezeiza International Airport (EZE): +54 11 5480-6111
If visiting another city there are a number of airports throughout the country. Many find it far easier to travel to a neighboring country and then take a short distance hop to the smaller airport. All major cities in Argentina and major tourist destinations like Mendoza, Perito Moreno and Iguazu Falls have airports nearby. There are several national airlines, with different levels of service. In general flying gets you everywhere quickly and cheaply (relatively). Although the buses in Argentina are among the most comfortable in the world and are reasonably priced, travelling takes a lot of time because of the distances and slow road travel involved.
Passengers leaving Ezeiza Airport no longer have to pay the "departure tax" of USD29 (USD8 to Uruguay and domestic flights) after check-in, as they are now included in the prices of the tickets.
There are currently no international services to Argentina. A connection between Chile and Argentina is under construction.
International coaches run from all the neighbouring countries.
- Retiro Bus Terminal: +54 11 4310-0700
The Retiro bus terminal is large and hidden behind Retiro train and Subte stations. For long distance buses it is advisable to buy a ticket several days in advance of your trip. Be sure to arrive about 45 minutes before your departure and always ask at an information counter if your gate number is the same as the one printed on your ticket. You will be given a range of possible gate numbers (for example 17-27). Watch your belongings carefully at Retiro as it is often crowded and there have been reports of thefts and even muggings at night. Traveling by bus is one thing you won't regret. You will come across the best costumer service and world class seats. Comparing Argentinian coach buses to those in the United States would be insulting to Argentina, for they have much higher standards than those like Greyhound.
Regular catamarans routes link Buenos Aires with Montevideo and Colonia in Uruguay. The company Buquebus has both a slow (3 hours) and rapid (1 hour) ferry service that departs several times a day to Colonia. Ferries depart from the downtown Buenos Aires neighborhood Puerto Madero. There are two companies (Cacciola and Líneas Delta) that link the city of Tigre with Carmelo and Nueva Palmira in Uruguay, respectively. Trainsto Tigre depart from Retiro (one of Buenos Aires' main train stations) every ten minutes. The trip costs ARS1.1 and takes 50 minutes.
To a lesser extent, Grimaldi Freighters run freighters which carry up to 12 passengers from Hamburg, London, Antwerp, Le Havre, and Bilbao to Montevideo (Uruguay) every 9 days. They also carry cars and you drive your car on and off - unlike other freighter services. More information can be found on the website.
Transportation - Get Around
In recent years the government has promoted the re-establishment of long distance passenger trains, although most lines still operate at a low frequency (one or two departures weekly). The rail network is very limited, and intercity buses offer better service and faster rides. Train fares are very cheap - often only a quarter of the bus fare.
Local travel in the Buenos Aires province is both by bus and by local trains, with fast trains being the quickest way to get through the city's traffic. The three largest train terminals in Buenos Aires are Retiro, Constitucion and Once. Retiro is actually three train stations alongside each other with the main long distance bus (or "micro") terminal behind the furthest of the train terminals (from the city centre).
One of the major long distance train operators is Trenes Argentinos, which departs from Retiro (Buenos Aires) to Rosario, Córdoba and Tucumán, and from Constitución (Buenos Aires) to Bahía Blanca. See also Satélite Ferroviario for up-to-date information on trains and services (in Spanish).
An amazing train ride is the Tren a las nubes (Train to the Clouds) in the northwestern province of Salta, but some people may get altitude sickness. This service, which has experienced suspensions, recommenced in August 2008.
Domestic flights are available within Argentina, but tickets are pricey, and most domestic flights pass through Buenos Aires' domestic airport Aeroparque Jorge Newbery. The main carriers are Aerolíneas Argentinas and LATAM Argentina. Aerolíneas Argentinas' subsidiary Austral, shares its parent's fleet, and tickets for both can be booked at the same office. The prices for tickets are double for non-residents, so be careful with publicized ticket prices.
An exception to passing through Buenos Aires for domestic flights is Aerolineas Argentinas' "Great Circle Route", going both ways Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays BA-Bariloche-Mendoza-Salta-Iguazu-BA (and reverse on another flight both days).
If you fly on your international trip to Argentina with Aerolíneas you sometimes get discounts on domestic flights. Sometimes you even get free flights with your international ticket but keep in mind that you probably already paid for this with the inflated price of your international ticket.
Always plan to arrive at your final destination before your flight home 2 or 3 days in advance, as Argentina, like most Latin American countries, experiences more delays and cancellations in travel than most areas of the world.
Argentina boasts an outstanding short and long-distance bus network. Since regional train service is limited and plane tickets are more expensive, bus travel is the most common way to travel from city to city within Argentina. Note that it is not as cheap as it was before, with about USD4-5 for each hour of travelling (Puerto Iguazú to Buenos Aires about USD100).
In Buenos Aires, a city bus is called a colectivo or bondi while a long distance, intercity bus is called a micro or omnibus; this is not always true though, usage varies somewhat in provincial areas.. The hub of this network is definitely Buenos Aires' Terminal de Omnibus de Retiro; it has up to 2,000 bus arrivals and departures per day, and multiple companies serve most destinations. Buses arrive and depart from a total of 75 platforms, and in order to buy your ticket you will have to choose between about 200 ticket booths situated on the upper level of the terminal.
The more expensive buses generally offer high-quality service, and for distances longer than 200 km, it is common to have food served on board. There is generally a good amount of legroom, and many buses have seats that recline horizontally into beds (called camas) making them a lot like travelling business class on a plane. The best category with completely reclining seats is normally called cama suite, but other names such as tutto leto, ejecutivo , cama vip or salon real are also in use. Somewhat cheaper seats only recline partially (semi-camas), or not at all (servicio común). Every service belongs to one of five official comfort classes with minimum requirements that are prescribed by law in order to facilitate comparisons. The better buses will provide everything you need, while for the lower categories it may be a good idea to take drinks and food with you, as well as toilet paper and ear plugs. If the trip is really long e.g. more than 12 hours it's definitelly better to spend a few more bucks and pay for a better bus service. If travelling with a large bag or suitcase bring a handful of coins to tip the porter that heaves your pack in and out of the taxi and bus.
Remember that, although buses usually arrive at their destination a little late, they almost always leave on time. Do not think that the relaxed approach carries over to bus departure times!
More information on bus schedules and fares is available on the webpages of the online ticket resellers Plataforma 10, Central de Pasajes. To buy tickets and to really have a choice to different bus companies you may visit Ticket Online or VoyEnBus . For buses departing or arriving in Buenos Aires, you can consult the webpages of the Terminal Retiro in Buenos Aires. A second bus terminal in Buenos Aires is situated in the Liniers neighbourhood, but it is smaller and less accessible than the one in Retiro.
Car rental is readily available throughout Argentina, though it is a bit expensive compared with other forms of transportation. Travelling by car allows you to visit locations that are hard to reach by public transportation. Patagonia, in the South of Argentina, is a popular driving location among tourists due to the breathtaking views across many miles of open land.
Argentina generally recognizes valid drivers' licenses from foreign jurisdictions. Drivers must be over 21. The rental companies will charge the renters card $6000 to be used in the event of an accident. They cancel this charge when the car is returned. On the rutas, in the provinces bordering other countries, the police frequently stop cars at controles policiales ("police checkpoints") to check insurance and registration papers and drivers' licenses. They do not stop all cars, though; when you come to a control policial, drive slowly and you will usually be waved through without stopping. Near provincial borders, these controles may also involve inspection of the trunk for contraband and a mandatory two peso fee for "disinfection" or removing insects from the car's underside by driving it over a mechanical sprayer that either sprays water or does nothing. The police have been known to set up roadblocks and demand bribes for passage, particularly around the city of Buenos Aires.
Traffic regulations in Argentina are generally the same as in the U.S. or Europe, but the locals often ignore the regulations. On roads and highways it´s mandatory to have car lights on, even during daytime. Be aware that the driving style in Argentina is aggressive and chaotic. Pay attention at night.
Maximum speed: 60 km/h in the city, 40 km/h on side roads and 100 km/h to 130 km/h on roads outside the city as well as on highways. There are frequent speed controls. However speed limits and lane markings are universally ignored, and running red lights is common. Most drivers treat stop signs, octagonal red signs reading PARE, as though they were "yield" signs, though some drivers ignore them completely. Within cities surrounding Buenos Aires it is proper to honk at an impending intersection and the one who honks first has right of way. Right of way is determined somewhat haphazardly by a combination of vehicle size and who arrives first. Make sure you are thoroughly confident in your driving skills before attempting to drive in Argentina.
Highways are limited to the areas around large cities. Most of the country is connected by paved unlit two-lane roads (rutas) shared by buses, cars, and large trucks. Some places are accessible only by gravel or dirt roads - indeed, some main roads in southern Argentina are unsealed, leading to 4x4 vehicles being more popular. This is particularly the case in the south. It is important to travel with a good map ( e.g. Argentina Waterproof Road Map from World Mapping Project) and to be well informed about your route distances, road conditions and the estimated travel time. In addition to a good map the website of cochera andinapublishes useful information on more than 120 routes in Argentina.
The current cost of gasoline in central and southern Argentina is approximately 6 pesos per litre. In many small towns, particularly in the north, they may ration gasoline to ensure they have enough to sell until the next refuelling truck arrives, in which case you will only be allowed to buy 30 pesos worth of fuel at a time. It's advisable to fill your tank at regular intervals when the opportunity arises. In the Andes, the gasoline consumption of non-turbo charged engines increases due to the altitude.
The hitchhiking club Autostop Argentina began in Argentina in 2002, inspired by clubs in France, Germany, Italy and the United States. As a result, hitchhiking has become more acceptable among the younger generation, and raising a thumb at a highway is a symbol most people understand.
Today, nevertheless, the thumb of a woman is gigantically more successful than the thumb of a man. A single man should count on long hours of waiting or just plain luck. If you do get a ride, you will in general be treated with much generosity though.