Local Argentine buses, called colectivos, are notorious for charging down the street and spewing clouds of black smoke while traveling at breakneck speeds. Riding on them is a good way to see the cities and get around, providing you can sort out the often complex bus systems. Buses are clearly numbered and usually carry a placard indicating their final destination. Sometimes, identically numbered buses serve slightly different routes (especially in big cities), so pay attention to the placards. To ask ‘Does this bus go (to the town center)?’ say ‘¿Va este colectivo (al centro)?’
Most city buses operate on coins; you pay as you board. In some cities, such as Buenos Aires, Mendoza or Mar del Plata, you must buy transportation cards, purchased at many kiosks.
Buenos Aires is the only Argentine city with a subway system (known as the Subte), and it’s the quickest and cheapest way of getting around the city center.
Taxi & Remise
The people of Buenos Aires make frequent use of taxis, which are digitally metered and cheap by US and European standards. Outside the capital, meters are common but not universal, and you’ll need to agree on a fare in advance.
Remises are unmarked radio taxis, usually without meters, that have fixed fares (comparable to taxis) within a given zone. Any business will phone one for you if you ask.
Where public transportation is scarce it’s possible to hire a taxi or remise with a driver for the day. This can be especially convenient and economical for a group, especially for taking an area tour. Always negotiate the fee in advance.
Along with Chile, Argentina is probably the best country for hitchhiking (hacer dedo) in all of South America. The major drawback is that Argentine vehicles are often stuffed full with families and children, but truckers will sometimes pick up backpackers. A good place to ask is at estaciones de servicio on the outskirts of large Argentine cities, where truckers gas up their vehicles.
In Patagonia, where distances are great and vehicles few, hitchers should expect long waits and carry warm, windproof clothing and refreshments.
Having a sign will improve your chances for a pickup, especially if it says something like visitando Argentina de Canada ('visiting Argentina from Canada'), rather than just a destination. Argentines are fascinated by foreigners.
Be aware that hitchhiking is never entirely safe in any country in the world, and we don’t recommend it. Travelers who decide to hitch should understand that they are taking a small but potentially serious risk. People who do choose to hitch will be safer if they travel in pairs and let someone know where they are planning to go.
Because Argentina is so large, many parts are accessible only by private vehicle, despite the country’s extensive public transportation system. This is especially true in Patagonia, where distances are great and buses can be infrequent.
For many years there were major reductions in long-distance train services in Argentina, but recent years have seen some rail lines being progressively reopened.
Good sources for information are www.seat61.com/southamerica.htm and www.sofse.gob.ar.
Trains serve most of Buenos Aires and some...