Frequent, comfortable, and dependable long-distance buses connect Buenos Aires with cities all over Argentina and with neighboring countries. Bus travel can be substantially cheaper than flying, and far less prone to delays. Both locals and visitors often choose overnight sleeper services for trips up to 12 hours long.
Most bus companies have online timetables; some allow you to buy tickets online or by phone. Web sites also list puntos de venta (sales offices)—in many cases you don't need to go to the terminal to buy tickets, though you can usually buy them there right up until departure time. Be prepared to pay cash. During January, February, and July, buy your ticket as far in advance as possible—a week or more, at least—and arrive at the terminal extra early.
Most long-distance buses depart from Buenos Aires's Terminal de Omnibus de Retiro, which is often referred to as the Terminal de Retiro or simply Retiro. Ramps and stairs from the street lead you to a huge concourse where buses leave from more than 60 numbered platforms. There are restrooms, restaurants, public phones, lockers, news kiosks, and a tourist office on this floor.
You buy tickets from the boleterías (ticket offices) on the upper level; there are also two ATMs here. Each company has its own booth; they're arranged in zones according to the destinations served, which makes price comparisons easy. The terminal's excellent Web site lists bus companies by destination, including their phone number and ticket booth location. Keep your wits about you in the terminal: pickpockets and bag-snatchers often prey on distracted travelers.
All long-distance buses have toilets, air-conditioning, videos, and snacks. The most basic service is semi-cama, which has minimally reclineable seats and often takes a little longer than more luxurious services. It's worth paying the little extra for coche cama, sometimes called ejecutivo, where you get large, business-class-style seats and, sometimes, pillows and blankets. The best rides of all are on the fully reclineable seats of cama suite services, which are often contained in their own little booth. Bus attendants and free drinks are other perks.
On services between nearby towns, you can usually choose between regular buses (común) and air-conditioned or heated services with reclining seats (diferencial). The companies that run local services rarely have Web sites—you buy tickets direct from the bus station.
Terminal de Ómnibus Retiro (Av. Antártida Argentina at Av. Ramos Mejía, Retiro, Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires. 11/4310–0700. www.tebasa.com.ar.)
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