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Jorge Abila

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Americas > Argentina > Buenos Aires > Useful Info
Submitted on Jul 08, 2020 Useful Info

Best ways for visitors to get around Buenos Aires, Argentina

  • Buenos Aires is a large city, but we have very good transportation infrastructure so getting around the city is easy at any hour of the day
  • There are 3 main ways to get around the city: metro, taxi, and bus. I will explain each of these methods in details below
  • In addition these three main ways to get around, you can also use bike sharing or get around on foot. I will also briefly talk about these at the very end


Option 1: Metro (called Subte here, meaning Underground): overall best way to get around the city

  • Buenos Aires has a pretty decent network of subway trains that cover most of the city. It's a very popular system to use for locals and tourists with almost 2 million riders a day, and it's very cheap, so I strongly recommend you use it to get around wherever possible
  • There are 6 lines that make up the Underground system. Here's the official map of the Subte:User submitted photo of Buenos AiresAnd overlaid onto a map of Buenos Aires:User submitted photo of Buenos Aires
  • Price:
  • The Subte uses flat fare, meaning you pay the same amount regardless of how far you travel and you can transfer as many times as you want
  • The current single-ticket fare is 19 pesos per ride (as of 2020), which is equivalent to about 27 cents USD, very affordable. However, due to our rampant inflation, this price may rise in the near future, but whatever the new peso price is should still be about 27 cents USD
  • This is not really relevant for most tourists, but if you take more than 20 trips in a single month, you will get additional discounts with fares as follow: 1-20 trips -> 19 pesos per trip, 21-30 trips -> 15.20 pesos (USD$0.21) per trip, 31 to 40 trips -> 13.30 pesos (USD$0.19) per trip, more than 41 trips -> 11.40 pesos (USD$0.16) per trip
  • Check Subte's website for the latest prices because as I said before, inflation is so bad in Argentina that prices in pesos increase very frequently. https://www.buenosaires.gob.ar/subte
  • How to buy ticket:
  • The only way to ride the metro is to use the SUBE card, which is the rechargeable card that you use to ride the metro, buses, and trains in Buenos Aires and many other cities in Argentina. This card is a must and there's no way to use any public transportation in Buenos Aires without it. It looks like this:User submitted photo of Buenos Aires
  • The way it basically works is that you buy the SUBE card, which costs 90 pesos right now (USD$1.27), and then you load whatever amount you want into it up to 1800 pesos. Then you're good to go by scanning your card at the turnstile to get into the metro train platform. Some turnstiles have two scanners - always use the one on the top. You do not need to scan on your way out of the metro station
  • You can buy SUBE card at any metro station in Buenos Aires, as well as many convenience stores and kiosks all over the city (unfortunately I don't think you can get one at the EZE airport). You can also buy them from tourist information centers across the cities too. You can only buy them and load money into them with cash pesos and not credit cards, so make sure you have some cash on hand.
  • You can reload your SUBE card at one of the hundreds of automatic machines available all over the city. You can check SUBE's website for the exact locations of these re-loading machines. These machines only accept cash pesos for reload. You can also use SUBE's mobile app to reload as well by credit card. Again, check SUBE's website for more details
  • SUBE cards are not refundable so any amounts you haven't used won't be refunded back to you when you leave
  • You can find the latest information about SUBE card, including its cost and purchasing/reload location, on its official website at https://www.argentina.gob.ar/sube
  • Hours: the Subte system runs between
  • Monday-Friday: 5:30am to 11pm~11:30pm depending on line
  • Saturday: 6am to 11:30pm~midnight depending on line
  • Sunday and holidays: 8am to 10pm~10:30pm depending on line
  • Train frequencies are generally every 20-30 minutes, but line C is every 13 minutes
  • Check https://www.buenosaires.gob.ar/subte/horarios for the detailed first and last train by line
  • How to navigate the Subte:
  • Google maps is probably the best tool to use to figure out which line you need to take and transfer to get to your final destination by metro.
  • The official app (iphone version) of the Subte is horrible so I don't recommend it. This app is ok but I don't think they have an iphone version. Another great app for the metro and bus (I'll talk more about bus below) is called BA Cómo Llego (android, iphone), this app lets you drop a pin on the map for starting and ending point, and tells you how to get there by Subte or by bus, how long it takes and the total fare, definitely recommend this app. Another app to use is called Transitapp, which has a pretty sleek interface. I've never used it before but you can check them out on their website


Option 2) Taxi: convenient and cheap by international standards

  • Taxis are everywhere in Buenos Aires at pretty much all hours of the day. While they're certainly more expensive than public transportation, by world standards they're quite cheap. If you have a lot of things, or certainly when coming in from the airport, taxis are the best way to get around the city
  • Fare:
  • Taxis are very cheap by international standards. They cost ~USD$0.8 plus ~USD$0.35 per km during the day, and ~USD$1 plus USD$0.42 per km between 10pm-6am
  • Most rides in central Buenos Aires will cost you less than USD$3-$5 during the day and less than $4-$7 overnight between 10pm-6am. Even if you go to the very edge of Buenos Aires, your ride will likely not cost you more than USD$8-$10
  • I'm listing out the costs in USD because of the severe inflation problem we have in Argentina. Whatever peso prices you get on the internet will likely be understated by the time you travel here
  • The best way to pay for taxi is by cash. Officially about half of the cabs accept credit cards, drivers may be reluctant to use it. If you must use credit card, look for cars with sticker of MercadoPago (like this) and the logos of credit cards (Visa, MasterCard and American Express) on them
  • Hours: taxis are pretty much available 24/7. You should have no problem finding one during the day anywhere within 5-10 minutes
  • How to flag a taxi and communicate with driver:
  • You can only hail taxis on the same side of the road as you, meaning the side of the road where the taxi's passenger door is facing the sidewalk. Taxis driving on the opposite side of the road will not stop for you. Here's my terribly-drawn illustration:User submitted photo of Buenos Aires
  • Look for taxis that has the "Libre" sign lit up on the front window. This means that the taxi is free and available for passenger. It looks like this:User submitted photo of Buenos Aires
  • Then simply stretch your arm to stop a taxi, same as anywhere else in the world
  • It's very rare for taxi drivers to speak English or anything other than Spanish, so it's best to have the name, address, and the closest intersection of your destination written down on a piece of paper or on your phone. Of course, showing the driver the location on a map also helps, although I've found many drivers don't read maps very well. If your destination is a major hotel or landmark, that's very easy you all drivers will know how to get there. But if it's an Airbnb or hostel, you will definitely need to have to tell the driver the major intersection and the street address
  • Instead of flagging off the street, you can also call a taxi or remis (remis is what we call private cars that are not officially registered as taxis but they are very popular) ahead of time to pick you up. This option is the best if you need to get to the airport or bus terminals early in the morning or late at night. Instead of calling one yourself, I highly recommend asking your hotel or accommodation to do it for you unless you speak very good Spanish.
  • Uber and other ride hailing apps:
  • Uber is available in Buenos Aires and is quite popular. I personally don't use it much but I know many travelers use it to get around the city
  • Price-wise, Uber costs about the same as regular metered taxis and trips within the city will not cost you more than a handful of USDs
  • In terms of how to use it, it's the same as anywhere else in the world. You just need an internet connection, which you can get either with wifi or with a SIM card
  • Aside from Uber, there are also other taxi apps you can use in Buenos Aires, including Cabify (android, iphone), and BA Taxi (android, iphone). Cabify seems to receive much better reviews than BA Taxi
  • Taxi safety tips :
  • Most taxis are generally safe, and you generally won't run into any blatant scams or other dangerous situations. However, a small number of drivers do play little tricks like not giving you enough change back, or taking a longer-than-necessary route when they realize that you're a tourist. The best way to avoid this is to be very clear about how much money you give the driver, preferably saying it out loud, and use your phone GPS to track where you're driving
  • For an added assurance, if possible only flag Radio Taxis. These taxis need to register every pickup, so they are closely tracked and much easier to trace back to your driver. This high level of monitoring make them very safe to use. Radio Taxis look just like normal taxis, but they have a huge sign indicating that they're Radio Taxis, like this:User submitted photo of Buenos Aires
  • Uber is very safe to use, haven't heard any safety issues and because you pay through the app there's very little chance for scam
  • One last tip is to keep your windows closed at all times, or if you plan to have them open, keep your belongings away from the window


Option 3) Bus: very cheap but harder to navigate

  • Buses are ubiquitous in Buenos Aires. It's by far the most popular way for locals to get around. Visitors generally avoid using it because it's harder to figure out the routes than metro and it can be intimidating to get on and off the bus if you can't speak Spanish. However, once you take it once you generally get the hang of it, and there are apps available now that can help you figure out the routes. So I do recommend using the buses as much as possible to save moneyUser submitted photo of Buenos Aires
  • Fare:
  • Buses are the cheapest way to get around Buenos Aires, you can get from one end of the city to the other with less than USD$0.3-$0.5
  • In order to take buses you must get the SUBE card, which is the reloadable card you can use to pay for buses, subways, as well as commuter trains. You can also use it in many other cities in Argentina. The card itself costs 90 pesos (USD$1.27), and you can load up to 1800 pesos. You can buy the card at any of the metro stations in the city as well as most convenience stores. Reloading machines are also everywhere in the city. The card and any loaded values are not refundable though so make sure to not load too much. You can find more information about them on SUBE's official website
  • How to figure out which buses to take: the best way to plan your route is to use to use an app to help you figure out which buses you need to take and transfer. Google Maps seems to have bus information on it, but honest I don't know how accurate it is. I recommend an app called BA Cómo Llego (link to android, iphone versions. The app is in English), which lets you drop a pin on the map for your starting point and ending point, and then it tells you exactly which bus you need to take/transfer onto, how long the trips is going to take, as well as the total fare. Another good app to use is called Transitapp, which has a pretty sleek look although I've never used it before so don't know how accurate it is (Transitapp website)
  • Hours: buses run 24/7, but not all routes are running all the time. The apps I've listed above will be able to help you plan the route based on which buses are available at the time you use the app
  • How to get on and get off the bus:
  1. Use an app to navigate to the bus stop, and then wait in line. When you see your bus approaching, wave at it so the driver knows you're trying to get on (they don't stop at every stop so if you don't wave the driver might just roll past by)
  2. Get on the bus using the front door
  3. When you board, tell the driver where you wish to get off (tell him the closes road intersection). The driver will punch in the fare based on this information. If you're not comfortable speaking Spanish, write down the intersection on your phone and show it to the driver
  4. Scan your SUBE card on the card scanner machine to pay your fare
  5. Proceed into the bus and take a seat (or stand)
  6. Track your progress with your phone GPS so you know when you're approaching your stop
  7. When you're ready to get off, push the button located on the poles to request stop. When the bus has stopped, use the back door to get off


Other transportation options:

  • Aside from the 3 main options I detailed above, you can also use bike sharing here or just walk
  • Bicycle:
  • We have a free bike sharing service run by the city here called Ecobici, which is a dock-based bike sharing app that anyone can use including tourists. This is what the bike dock looks like:User submitted photo of Buenos Aires
  • How to use: the way it works is that after you download the app and register for an account (through the app, and you'll need to upload your passport and proof of address like hotel confirmation), you can pick a station close to you in the app and use the app to unlock one of the bikes. You can use the bike completely free of charge for 1 hour Monday-Friday and 2 hours Saturday-Sunday. You just need to return the bike to any of the stations before the time runs out, and that's it. You can then get another free bike after waiting for 15 minutes. If you don't return the bike within the time, you will get blocked from using the app again for 2 days. On additional offenses you will get blocked for longer periods of time until you can't use the app anymore
  • Road conditions for cyclists in Buenos Aires: it's generally pretty good. We have over 200km of protected bike lanes, and riding bikes have become more popular with locals in recent years. I have personally done it many times and it feels pretty safe, even on streets without special bike lanes
  • Cycling tips:
  • The app I mentioned above that you can use to help plan Subte and bus rides, BA Cómo Llego (android, iphone), can also be used to plan your biking routes. It will automatically factor in protected bike lanes and use those in your route as much as possible
  • On streets without bike lanes, just ride on the right side of the road and just be careful with cars and buses. Don't ride on sidewalks
  • You don't need to wear helmets but personally I recommend it
  • The tourism bureau also offers free guided bike tours of Buenos Aires using Ecobici of some neighborhoods like La Boca
  • Be careful with your belongings. Make sure everything is zipped up properly and preferably locked
  • For additional information:
  • Official website: https://www.buenosaires.gob.ar/ecobici
  • Tourist information site: https://turismo.buenosaires.gob.ar/en/article/buenos-aires-bike
  • Android Ecobici app download: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tembici.ecobici
  • IPhone Ecobici app download: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/ba-ecobici-por-tembici/id1452339584
  • Walking: while you can't really walk from one end of city to the other, Buenos Aires is a very walkable city. Neighborhoods like La Boca and Recoleta that many visitors frequent are also some of the most pedestrian-friendly areas in the city. While traffic can be chaotic, staying on the sidewalk you're completely shielded from the cars. The shops and cafes that line the streets make walking a really good way to explore the city. In terms of safety, I think it's overall very safe to walk, as long as you keep some common sense and avoid sketchy neighborhoods. Read more about safety tips for Buenos Aires