Note: 5.4 pesos = $1
BsAs is a great city for walking and traveling via public transportation. Parking in town in expensive and traffic is a mess so many people use colectivos (public buses), the Subte (Subway system) or trains if coming from the burbs. Of course, walking is also prevalent – I loved walking around the city – it was a very independent feeling! And most hostels or an information center will have maps (our apartment rental agency, ByT, provided a map of the city as well). Though sometimes, I’ll admit, I did miss the convenience of a car 🙂
The most convenient way to get around for us was to walk, use the Subte or take a colectivo. We used this website to tell us what the best route was – it was excellent and generally accurate and provided a map – it even lets you search by landmark it some cases.
Go to “Como Llego” (How do I arrive) and you can put a from and to location and it will give you the route by colectivo, subte or train.
1) Subte – the Subte goes from various parts of the city into town. We took line D from Palermo (Scallibrini Ortiz stop) into town. It was only 2.50 pesos to ride one way, regardless of where you were going or how far you were going. It was easy enough to get around and use the Subte map (found at http://www.subte.com.ar/contenido/home.asp). In the mornings on the way to school, the Subte would be PACKED – sometimes so you couldn’t even get on. There were times where I felt like I was literally being held up by all the people around me. The Subte was kind of jerky and older and so at the stops I’d stumble a bit if I wasn’t holding on to something – not a problem in the mornings! Definitely get over any personal space issues when riding on the Subte! The only negative about the Subte is it stops running between 10 and 11 pm, depending where you are on the route.
2) Colectivos – BsAs has an extensive bus system, called colectivos. They are a little difficult to ride and it helps if you know some Spanish so you can confirm you are on the right one. The link above helps tell you where to find the colectivo you need and what bus number to take. Luckily, the stops are usually pretty well labeled with the bus numbers that stop there. The problem is sometimes the same bus number takes different routes. So it’s good to confirm with the driver your stop (which you say when you get on anyway to pay). The other complication is that you either have to have a colectivo card or coins (monedas) to pay for the bus. When we were there, they raised the non-card rate from 1.2 pesos to 2 pesos. The fare is also dependent on how far you go. Anyway, you get on the bus, tell the driver your stop and then there is a machine behind the driver to insert your coins (the amount to pay is displayed on it). But then, that’s where the fun starts. The link above also shows the route the bus will take. After a couple botched attempts at riding the bus, we started jotting down notes on the route the bus was supposed to take. That helped us figure out when and where we were supposed to get off. To get off, you just move towards the exit (generally exit on the back side of the bus unless it’s too crowded) and press the button (sometimes this isn’t even necessary – the bus driver usually sees people waiting at the exit anyway and will stop at the next stop on the route). I think knowing the route the bus you’re on is supposed to take is really important – it’ll also help you figure out if you’re not on the right path of the bus – there was at least one time where we told the driver where we were going but he didn’t understand or didn’t care because that bus didn’t go there (another bus with the same number went to our destination).
3) Train – we only used the train to go to Tigre – it was pretty easy to figure out. We took the train from the Belgrano station instead of going back to the Retiro station to get the train. The train is also super cheap to ride – one way ticket to Tigre was less than 2 pesos!
4) Taxi – on occasion, we would take a taxi. The base rate was about 9 pesos and then .60 pesos for every 10th of mile I think. From San Telmo to Palermo, we paid about 40 pesos or $8 – about 5km. Taxis were pretty cheap in BsAs – you could usually get around for $5-$10. Always take an official taxi – if it’s available, the “Libre” sign on the passenger side will be lit up.
5) Omnibuses – we used Omnibuses to go to Puerto Iguazu from BsAs. The bus station at Retiro is a bit confusing (it’s about two blocks right of the train station) – it’s good to know what buses go to your destination before you get there because there’s over 100 bus companies selling tickets at the terminal. We used this site to see what bus companies serviced our route and then went to Retiro to buy our tickets. When we got our Iguazu tickets, the bus agent offered us a discount without even asking so it’s worth going there and talking to the various companies and asking if they have any promotions going.
6) Transportation to EZE airport – Taxis from the city (we were looking from Retiro) are around 200 pesos. We took a private charter bus company called Manuel Tienda Leon (http://www.tiendaleon.com.ar/home/home.asp) for about 70 pesos each from near the Retiro terminal (about 3 blocks) to EZE airport – 45 minutes at night. They also let us leave our luggage there for 15 pesos (a lot cheaper than at Retiro – we paid 80 pesos there!).