For those of you planning a bus excursion to the utterly expansive Argentine countryside, you must first run the Retiro gauntlet. Within the confines of the Capital, there’s only one way out of this city. Purchasing the desired bus pass, tracking down your vehicle, and everything in between can be quite overwhelming for first time travelers. So here’s the scoop…
The bus station is located downtown in one of the few places in this city that actually resembles Latin America: Retiro. Despite the countless city colectivos that zoom in and out of this area, your best bet is via subway or train. If you’re in the Palermo/Belgrano zone, there’s a train station at Ministro Carranza that partners up above the D-line. But pretty much any station will suffice; all tracks begin and end in Retiro. The same goes with the subway’s C-line. Get on at any point going away from Constitución and the last stop is Retiro.
Once you’ve plopped down in Retiro, walk outside and you should notice a mini Big Ben (a deserving homage since the British pretty much single-handedly built all the railroads) straight ahead. Once you’ve found the target, hang a left and begin bobbing and weaving your way amongst the masses towards the bus terminal.
If you’ve never been privileged enough to try an Argentine choripan (sausage sandwhich- the most traditional and prevalent street food item) or a Paraguayan chipá (donut-shaped cheesy bread), this my friends is the place to do so. Your two block journey is littered with street stands selling everything from undergarments to sizzling hot dogs. Peppered with people of all nationalities, you’re just as likely to bump into a Bolivian or Brazilian as you are a local. Be sure not to stray from this street because nearby is Villa 31, the city’s most notorious shanty town (this also means no exposed I-Phones and the like!).
After passing a separate train station to your left with the Big Ben Plaza on your right, just 200 meters walk will land you in the Bus Terminal. A Goliath of a building with an extended walkway, the Terminal de Omnibus de Retiro is impossible to miss.
Follow the herd and you’ll come to a spacious opening with escalator options. Upstairs are the ticket booths, but before proceeding make sure to stop by the information stand. There happen to be approximately 150 different ticket booths with a myriad of bus companies that cover infinite destinations. Tell the information clerk where you’re headed and he or she will jot down several numbers on a slip of paper that correspond to the ticket booth number that will provide you with the bus you need.
Direct yourself upstairs to the numbered ticket booths (1-150) and find one that matches one of the numbers on your paper. Once you’ve arranged the quantity, price, and time of departure, just present your passport and decide which seat(s) you so desire. If you’ve got an overnight, the lower deck is recommendable for easy bathroom access. If it’s a day trip, however, try and snag the top front seats, assuring an optimal view.
Most buses won’t sell out until the day of departure. Prices can vary according to availability though, so it’s a good idea to purchase tickets several days in advance.