Bicycle

For those comfortable with the trials of cycling in a major city, bicycle is often the fastest and most pleasant way of getting around Buenos Aires. The city is almost completely flat, most streets are one-way, and you can use the 130km network of interconnected bike lanes. Just remember to watch out for traffic (if in doubt, always give way, be prepared for the odd running of a red traffic light and be especially careful of buses – assume they haven't seen you). If you are cycling on one of the main, one-way avenues (eg Av Corrientes), use the lane on the far left (but watch out for motorcycles).

The city government has a free city bike scheme, called EcoBici, which tourists can use. Complete the registration form online or via the app – you'll need to upload a photo of your passport. Once you're registered, you can use the EcoBici app to hire a bike by entering an access code at any of the (unstaffed) bike stations. You'll need data on your cell phone to use the app while at the bike stations. The free bike hire period is one hour on weekdays and two hours at weekends.

Ask in any of the city tourist offices for a copy of the city government cycle map (mapa de ciclovías de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires), which shows the bike lanes and location of city bike stations and repair shops (bicicletarías). You can also use http://comollego.ba.gob.ar to plot your route.

You can also join city bike tours – try Biking Buenos Aires – which include bicycle and guide.

Bus

Buenos Aires has a huge and complex bus system. Luckily the city government has set up the website Como Llego (http://comollego.ba.gob.ar) to help you plot your journey; there's also a free app you can download to your smartphone.

To use the buses, you must have a SUBE card – coins are no longer accepted. The best place to get one of these cards is at any of the city tourist booths; bring your passport.

Most bus routes (but not all) run 24 hours; there are fewer buses at night. Seats up front are offered to the elderly, pregnant women and those with young children.

Handy Bus Routes

Microcentro to Palermo Viejo

Bus

111

Microcentro to Plaza Italia (in Palermo)

Bus

29, 59, 64

Once to Plaza de Mayo to La Boca

Bus

64

Plaza de Mayo to Ezeiza airport (placard says ‘Ezeiza’)

Bus

8

Plaza Italia to Microcentro to San Telmo

Bus

29

Plaza Italia to La Boca via Retiro & Plaza de Mayo

Bus

152, 29

Plaza Italia to Recoleta to Microcentro to Constitución

Bus

59

Plaza San Martín to Aeroparque airport

Bus

33, 45

Recoleta to Congreso to San Telmo to La Boca

Bus

39

Retiro to Plaza de Mayo to San Telmo

Bus

22

Metrobus

The new Metrobus system is a network of dedicated bus lanes and stations along several of city's main thoroughfares. These include Metrobus 9 de Julio (from Contitución to Recoleta), Metrobus Norte (from Plaza Italia in Palermo along Avenida Cabildo to Belgrano), Metrobus Juan B Justo (from Palermo to Liniers), Metrobus Sur (from Contitución to General Paz), Metrobus San Martín (from Avenida Juan B Justo to General Paz) and Metrobus Del Bajo (running along Paseo Colón and Alem from Avenida Independencia to Retiro).

Car & Motorcycle

Anyone considering driving in Buenos Aires should know that driving in the city can be challenging. Problems include aggressive drivers, unpredictable buses, potholes, traffic, difficulty parking and the fact that pedestrians cross the road haphazardly. Reconsider your need to have a car in this city; public transportation will often get you anywhere faster, cheaper and with much less stress.

Subte (Underground)

BA’s Subte opened in 1913 and is the quickest way to get around the city, though it can get mighty hot and crowded during rush hour (from 8am to 10am and 6pm to 8pm). It consists of líneas (lines) A, B, C, D, E and H. Four parallel lines run from downtown to the capital’s western outskirts, while Línea C runs north–south and connects the two major train stations of Retiro and Constitución. Línea H runs from Las Heras south to Hospitales, with plans to expand it.

To use the Subte you'll need a SUBE card. The best place to get one of these cards is at any of the city tourist booths; bring your passport. Each journey costs AR$7.50.

Trains operate from 5am to around 8:30pm Monday to Saturday and 8am to around 8pm on Sundays and holidays, so don’t rely on the Subte to get you home after dinner. Service is frequent on weekdays; on weekends you’ll wait longer. At some stations platforms are on opposite sides, so be sure of your direction before passing through the turnstiles.

Watch that Pocket!

When traveling on BA’s crowded bus or Subte lines, watch for pickpockets. They can be well dressed, men or women, often with a coat slung over their arm to hide nefarious activities going on near your bag or pocket. Occasionally there are several of them, working as a team, and they’ll try to shove or distract you. The best thing to do is not look like a tourist, keep your wallet well ensconced in your front pocket, wedge your purse under your arm and wear your backpack in front – like the locals do. Don’t make yourself an easy target and they’ll move on – and you might not even notice they exist.

Taxi

The city's numerous (about 40,000) and relatively inexpensive taxis are conspicuous by their black-and-yellow paint jobs. They click every 200m (or every minute of waiting time) and cost 20% more after 6pm. Make sure that the meter’s set to the current price when you start your ride. Drivers do not expect a big tip, but it’s customary to let them keep small change. Taxis looking for passengers will have a red light lit on the upper right corner of their windshield.

Most cab drivers are honest workers making a living, but there are a few bad apples in the bunch. Try to have an idea of where you’re going or you might be taking the ‘scenic’ route (though also be aware there are many one-way streets in BA, and your route to one place may be quite different on the way back).

Finally, make an attempt to snag an ‘official’ taxi. These are usually marked by a roof light and license number printed on the doors; the words radio taxi are usually a good sign. Official drivers must display their license on the back of their seat or dashboard.

Many locals will recommend you call a remise instead of hailing cabs off the street. A remise looks like a regular car and doesn’t have a meter. It costs a bit more than a street taxi but is considered more secure, since an established company sends them out. Most hotels and restaurants will call a remise for you; expect a short wait for them to show up.

Tickets & Passes

SUBE Card

  • To use BA's public-transportation system, you'll need a SUBE card; it's no longer possible to pay for buses with cash.
  • Purchase one at any of the city tourist information booths, some kioskos and Correo Argentino or OCA post offices around the city; check the website for locations or look for the SUBE logo at businesses.
  • Ezeiza airport and Retiro bus station also have SUBE booths where you can purchase and recharge cards.
  • To purchase a SUBE card, you’ll need your passport or a copy of it.
  • Charging the card itself is easy, and can be done at many kiosks or Subte stations.

Train

Trains connect Buenos Aires’ center to its suburbs and nearby provinces. They’re best for commuters and only occasionally useful for tourists. To get to Tigre or San Isidro, take the Línea Mitre from Retiro station.