How to travel long distances by bus in Argentina
When I was reading about traveling by bus in Argentina I came across 2, maybe 3 articles. I read about champagne on board and other fancy things but I didn’t really believe it. It just wasn’t in my system to believe traveling by bus can be anything but miserable.
So here I am, 2 weeks later, I’ve spent 60 hours traveling by bus. And before you ask, that means I took 3(three!) bus rides. Argentina is big, like you see it on the map and you can tell it’s big but you can’t really comprehend how big it is until you’re here kind of big. I found out it’s 8 times bigger than Germany and has half of its population, around 40 million people.
So how hard is it to travel by long-distance bus in Argentina?
Honestly, it couldn’t be easier. There’s no stress and the conditions are better than flying economy. So let’s say you want to go from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu which is about 17-18 h by bus. I had vivid images of how miserable I would be by the end of it. The reality? I was fed twice, had two glasses of red wine and slept better in my seat than I did in all the nights in Buenos Aires.
Check availability online
You check plataforma.com.ar and put in your departure station, destination and date of traveling. You check out the prices and note down a few of them, including the times that suit you best. Alternatively, you can use the app CarpooleAR, a ride-sharing platform that works best for rides to and from Buenos Aires.
2. Shop around at the terminal
You then go to the Terminal de Omnibus in BA (or whatever city you’re in), and shop around. Ask each company about the price and see if they have any discounts. The prices they will tell you are for Cama and Semi-cama. The cama seat reclines around 160 degrees, I’m assuming the semi-cama reclines around 145 degrees. Make sure you ask what’s included (servicios) and pick your seat carefully. I tend to choose individual seats but that’s just me. And if you can, the front seats on the first level, right in front of the big windows are the best for sightseeing and chilling. They also sell out fastest, so snag them early.
One the things I learned was that the credit card surcharges are very high (around 500 pesos or 30 euros) per transaction so it might be worth the trip to the terminal to pay in cash. Long live cash!
A lot of people ask if certain companies are better than others. Of course, some companies might have newer buses or better food. When I could, I chose to travel with Via Bariloche, I heard great things about Andesmar and they’re all true. But I’ve had equally nice experiences with randomly-picked companies, it’s more about the type of seat you choose and less about the company.
3. Pack essentials
Once you have your ticket, you just have to be at the platform indicated on it 20 minutes before and board. The driver or somebody else will help you put your luggage in the luggage carrier and you get a ticket that you have to show at the end of your destination. It’s common to tip a little for the help you’re getting.
Most companies will give you a blanket and pillow, I still bring my neck pillow for proper sleep support and an extra scarf for when it gets extra cold. I pack 2 layers of clothing and wear leggings for extra comfort. I’d also say bring 2 l of water for long trips since the service is very fast and sometimes it’s hard to find the attendant.
Other than that, kick back and hope you won’t have major delay like the time I took a 22 h bus trip from Cordoba to Bariloche and the bus broke down at 4 am giving us all a 6 hour delay. Yay travels!
Should you travel by bus in Argentina? Absolutely, it’s safe and comfy, go for it. Most of the things written above apply to bus traveling in Chile as well. Minus the very expensive bus rates. And yes, I did have champagne on one bus ride. Glam, eh?