Long-distance buses in Argentina have always been more popular than planes because they were historically cheaper. However, that is slowly changing thanks to the arrival of new budget airlines. There are as many reasons for the buses’ popularity as there are passengers: fear of flying, the airport is a few hundred kilometres away or there is no airport anywhere near, the myth that buses are cheaper, “it’s what we do and that’s that”.
I prefer flying because I get bored easily and do not like to spend hours cooped up in any means of transport. However, I do sometimes take the long-distance bus when I visit my brother and his family. Why? Because the airport at both ends is too far away and it’s a royal pain to get there and back. Instead, I have a 10-minute’s ride to and from the bus at both ends of the trip.
There are many bus companies that provide that service around the country. They provide the connectivity that the airlines sometimes can’t.
What’s the service like?
Cheap tickets mean uncomfortable seats that don’t recline much. The higher the price, the more comfortable. Some seats recline all the way back, like a bed. These are called coche-cama, or suite. They are as comfortable, or even more so, that first class seats. The semi-cama seats recline quite a bit and have a footrest. These aren’t too bad at all.
There’s dinner and breakfast service. Dinner consists of a cold appetizer and a hot dish. The quality is the same as airplane food, albeit more abundant. Breakfast is an infusion of your choice and a croissant, crackers and/or an alfajor. You can always bring your own food and drink.
Most trips are overnight. However, you can look out of the window when the sun rises. Chances are you’ll see vast expanses of farmland. I personally love this view. But it depends on which direction you’re going. You will see mountains if you go, say, west, or the Patagonian tundra if you go south.
Where do I buy the tickets?
You can buy them online from websites like Plataforma 10. Be advised that they hit you with a ridiculous service charge and your foreign credit card may be rejected. You can choose the Mercado Pago option. Alternatively, you can buy them at the Retiro terminus or any travel agent in the country. They do not charge anything extra.
Do the bus crew speak English?
I shouldn’t think so but they will surely be eager to help.
What are the advantages of taking long-distance buses in Argentina?
- Not having to go through security.
- Seeing the country.
- Comfortable seats equal to business or first class.
- The ability to go to towns that are not serviced by an airport.
- The bus terminals and stops are in the city, no need to take an expensive taxi to the airport.
What are the disadvantages of taking long-distance buses in Argentina?
- Long hours cooped up in a bus.
- Slightly less expensive than airfares.
- Certain luggage restrictions, like no surfboards.
- No individual entertainment system but one screen for the bus.