Overland Transport Argentina: Buses Better Than Flying

GUEST ARTICLE: Buses in Argentina. The sound of this (to most gringos) conjures up third-hand stories of tourists being sandwiched between farm animals, experiencing long delays, or being robbed in the middle of the night. However in our experience, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

El Chalten Valley
El Chalten Valley photo credit: Nick Healy

In fact, after spending three months on trains, planes and automobiles throughout South America, travelling by bus in Argentina was one of the most comfortable ways to get around. Most towns, wherever you are in Argentina, will have a centrally located bus station.

Flights within South America are a plain rip-off when compared to what you get anywhere else in the world. The airlines (Aero-Sur, Lan Chile, Aerolineas Argentinas and other small carriers) can charge an arm and a leg for a one-way flights within the continent.

After experiencing average value for money on very early morning flights and hearing about long delays at airports from just about everyone I met along the way, a first or second class trip on an Argentiean tour bus was rather luxurious.

Argentinean tour buses aren’t your average domestic transporters, they’re double-decker monsters with seats that, in some cases, can be flattened out to almost 180 degrees for easy sleep.

Basic food and wine is served throughout the journey and there’s always an on-board toilet so there’s no need to get out when at dodgy-looking stations in the middle of nowhere. While there have been stories of bus robberies in South America, these are very rare in Argentina.

Road to El Calafate, Patagonia, Argentina
Road to El Calafate, Patagonia, Argentina. photo credit: Nick Healy

Here is a breakdown of bus ticket prices quoted and purchased during our time in Argentina (2010). All prices are per person.

Northern Argentina: Buenos Aires to Salta

Bus: Approximately 16 hours complete road time in first class with one night accommodation in Cordoba included in this price. $AUD110.00 / $USD102.00

Flight: One-way direct, economy $AUD261.00 / $USD220.00

Southern Argentina: Buenos Aires to Bariloche

Bus: 19 hours complete road time direct $AUD 65.00 $USD55.00

Flight: One-way direct, economy $AUD258.00 / $USD218.00

Quick tips for busing around Argentina

  • One risk worth mentioning is that you must be aware of your bags at the central bus station, Retiro, in Buenos Aires. It is close to a rough part of town. While I didn’t experience any trouble there, travellers do need to wary of pick-pocketing.
  • Always tip your baggage handlers one peso (20 cents AUD). It’s a common thing in Argentina polite and ensures your bags get to their destination.
  • Seats that flatten to 180 degrees are in Suite buses. It’s about 20% cheaper for seats that tilt by around 45 degrees.

This travel diary has been written by my friend Nick Healy. Nick works in the field of online and digital public relations for Technology companies, but lives to explore and photograph places less travelled around the world by planes, buses and even ocean going yachts.

If you’ve travelled somewhere off the beaten track, can write well and have good quality photos I encourage you to contact me and I’ll consider publishing your travel diary here including generous attribution and links back to your website as thanks for your contribution

5 thoughts on “Overland Transport Argentina: Buses Better Than Flying”

  1. By traveling by bus you can watch roadside nature closely, which is an memorable experience for me.

  2. The roadside stops also make the difference (for me). You get a far more detailed look at the place and the important bits in between tourist spots.

  3. Like the info but haulin around the andean block in dirty dusty buses especially in the andes and amazon add to how the locals live within their own enviroment…..its a matter of accepting whats available for the day and appreciating that any transport is better than none at all…….we as westerners can so easily criticize what we cant put up with and forget that locals have to live wirh it…….

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