- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Buenos Aires Guide (PDF)
Expats will find getting around Buenos Aires and navigating the city incredibly simple. Public transport in Buenos Aires is excellent and inexpensive. The city boasts the oldest subway system in South America, but although the buses and the subway (subte) are efficient, they can be overcrowded during rush hour.
Buenos Aires uses a grid system. This means the city is divided into numbered blocks, and most streets are one-way, with parallel streets going in the opposite direction. This makes giving a taxi driver instructions quite easy. Expats just have to provide the names of the two intersecting streets closest to their desired destination.
Public transport in Buenos Aires
There is a limit to the number of bus, train and subway trips that can be paid for with cash, and expats are encouraged to get a prepaid card called a SUBE. This can be bought at subway stations, Tourist Assistance Centres and at many kioskos (corner shops), and can be charged with credit and swiped when getting onto a bus, train or the subway. The card can run a limited deficit before requiring recharging, which comes in handy at night or on Sundays when most kioskos are closed.
Buenos Aires has an extensive system bus route system that goes here in the city. Buses are known locally as colectivos and run throughout the city and into the suburbs. The Metrobus is a rapid-transit bus with dedicated bus lanes on several of the city's main arteries to cut journey times. Some of the newer Metrobus stops have free WiFi access.
Buses run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This makes the bus one of the best travel options for late at night.
When expats board buses in Buenos Aires, they should tell the driver their destination and the driver will work out the fare. Expats who know the correct fare can just tell the bus driver how much they will pay when they board the bus. After the driver punches the amount into the machine, they can swipe their SUBE card.
Some buses travel into the suburbs surrounding Buenos Aires, but the fares are slightly higher, and they don't run as often as the city buses.
The train is a good option for reaching neighbourhoods further from the centre or visiting destinations in Buenos Aires Province. Several suburban commuter train lines run from the city centre to the suburbs and nearby provinces.
The primary railway stations in Buenos Aires are Retiro, Constitucion, Once and Frederico Lacroze. Trains are an economical option when travelling. Tickets can be purchased at the stations using the SUBE card, and expats can take the subway or a bus into the city centre from any of these stations.
The subway (subte) is an efficient and inexpensive way to get to Buenos Aires. That said, it does become crowded and chaotic during peak traffic hours. It has five lines labelled 'A' to 'E', and the sixth line is 'H'.
Trains generally run frequently, so commuters don't have to wait long, but operational hours can vary, with the subte running for shorter hours on Sundays and public holidays. Expats can also use the SUBE card to pay for subway fares.
The subte website has a detailed map of the network. Stations have free WiFi access, which also works while riding the subte.
Taxis in Buenos Aires
There are thousands of taxis in Buenos Aires. The most common taxis are black with yellow roofs. They can be flagged down directly when standing on the right-hand side of the street. Taxis are available when the libre (free) sign is lit on the windscreen.
It's possible to hail a taxi off the street or ask someone at a hotel or restaurant to call one. BA Taxi, an app rolled out by the government, can also order a regular taxi. Expats should always insist that the driver turns on the meter to avoid being overcharged, and the driver's information should be clearly displayed on the back of the taxi. Expats should also try to have the exact change when travelling in taxis, as drivers often don't have change or may be tempted to short-change when handed large bills.
Private-hire taxis called remises can be booked in advance through agencies. They are slightly more expensive than taxis but are usually safer.
The Argentine taxi industry has fiercely fought the arrival of ride-sharing apps like Uber, and the legality of these apps remains in constant flux, and even when the services are legal they can draw the ire of locals. Cabify is an alternative that uses licensed taxi drivers and provides many of the conveniences of ride-sharing apps.
Driving in Buenos Aires
Driving in Buenos Aires can be chaotic. The traffic is heavy and frustrating for inexperienced expats. Those living in the city with access to the public transport network should avoid driving altogether. Expats who can't avoid driving should do so defensively, as local driving behaviour can be erratic and aggressive.
Extensive expressways extend from Buenos Aires to most of the country and are well-maintained, but expats may find unpaved roads beyond this. That said, most of the roads in Argentina are paved and in relatively good condition. Many of the major highways out of Buenos Aires have been extended and now link to most of Argentina's major cities.
To drive in Argentina, expats must possess an International Driving Permit and a national driving licence from their home country. Expats should also ensure that they have their vehicle's registration, green card (tarjeta verde), and tax and insurance documents in the car, as traffic police will request to see these if they pull anyone over.
Cycling in Buenos Aires
For years, the Argentinian government has been prioritising cycling in the city, and it has recently paid off as Buenos Aires is now amongst the 20 most bike-friendly cities in the world. Buenos Aires has more than 186 miles (300km) of cycle lanes covering 30 neighbourhoods and a public bicycle system called BA EcoBici with more than 3,000 bicycles available throughout the city. This system is open to residents and visitors alike.
- Register on the BA EcoBici system.
Walking in Buenos Aires
Walking is a good way to get around in Buenos Aires during the day, but expats should avoid walking in certain city sections after dark. Expats who walk around Buenos Aires will find it difficult to get lost because of the grid-like layout of the streets. Walking is also an excellent way to avoid the frustrations of traffic and public transport during peak hours.
There is plenty to see and do while walking around Buenos Aires, as many of the streets are lined with shops and cafés. There are also pedestrian walkways, such as Calle Florida, which runs from Plaza San Martín to Plaza de Mayo. Expats walking along here will cross another pedestrian walkway called Lavalle, which will take them to Plaza de la República and the Obelisk.