Travel Difficulties Don’t Have To Ruin Buenos Aires!

I’ve worried that the beautiful photos and interesting stories I’ve posted here on the blog and on Instagram may entice people to visit Buenos Aires without knowing the full story. On Instagram, our trip has looked like pure fun and exploration but, believe me, we have had some real travel difficulties here that you should know.

Knowledge is power, especially in Buenos Aires!

Transportation Travel Difficulties

UBER: Things To Know Before Summoning One

Uber is common in Buenos Aires but it is not legal. You won’t run into any problems using them but there are things to keep in mind:

Taxi driver asleep in his taxi. Taxis a
Taxi drivers, like everyone else right now, are working very hard, trying to make up for inflation.


1. Remove your credit card data from the app! Most drivers won’t accept the ride because they will never see the money. Uber is prohibited from having a bank account in Argentina. You will have to pay in cash and that’s a problem (see the ATM section below).

2. Summon your Uber far from any taxi stand! Taxi drivers have been known to cause problems when they spot an Uber.

3. Sit in the front seat! Uber drivers will insist on it. They want it to look like they’re driving their friend, not a passenger.

4. Confirming your location! Location accuracy is not as strong here, so if the app doesn’t confirm your location on your blue GPS dot, you’ll want to type in your address. Frustrating!

Tipping is completely optional. A 10% tip for taxis and restaurants is greatly appreciated.

Cabify: The Legal Alternative to Uber

Screenshot of Cabify app
Cabify works just like Uber but Cabify is legal. Cabify pays its taxes to Buenos Aires; Uber claims it doesn’t have to because they’re not a transportation company. (Uber remains more popular than Cabify.)

* You will have the same location accuracy problem as you have with Uber, so use the same advice above.

Download Cabify in the iOS and Android App Stores before you come so you’ll be ready.

IMPORTANT: To pay for your rides, you need to connect a PayPal account.

BUS and METRO: Things To Know

Photo of SUBE card and receipt with debt. That will cut down on your travel difficulties.
The fastest way around Buenos Aires is by metro. Here, it’s called the Subte (for subterranean). It costs just 19 pesos a ride, which (as of October 2019), translates to just 35 cents (USD).

We have been on the B, C, D and H lines and we have felt very safe. Many people are using their phones on the train.

You’ll need a SUBE card

1. Buy a SUBE card! You buy this at the booth in any Subte station for 80 pesos. CASH ONLY!

2. Add value to your card! And guess what? CASH ONLY!

3. Use your SUBE card on the SUBTE, Buses (called colectivos) or railroad trains.

You can go into debt on your SUBE card! This is a unique idea. If you don’t have cash for refill your card, you can still ride! You can go up to 50 pesos in debt! Below, you can see that we went 42 pesos in debt.

Money Travel Difficulty: ATMs

Argentine pesos are written with the $ symbol. If they’re referring to dollars, they usually write it as U$S

Photo of Argentine currency. This will be the most frustrating part of your trip.
The top travel difficulty in Buenos Aires is withdrawing cash from the ATM. Everyone prefers cash in Buenos Aires! A vendor at the street fair in San Telmo showed us the 10% fee she has to pay for International credit cards.

Some stores accept international credit cards but give you a discount if you pay in cash. The bigger stores and restaurants accept international credit cards without a problem. Like everywhere else in the world, you’ll see the Visa and Mastercard stickers on the door when you enter.

If you want to leave a tip, tell them before they insert your card into the card reader. Quiero dejar el servicio.

Some waiters ask if you can leave the tip in cash.

Many ATMs have limited us to $3,000-$4,000 pesos (U$S60-70) withdrawals, charging us $6 per transaction! One bank allowed us to take out $137 but charged us a $10 fee.

All technology and real estate is priced in U$S. When people buy real estate in Argentina, it’s in cash! They bring a suitcase full of dollars!

Making Long Distance Phone Calls

Screenshot of Skype. Resolve some of your travel difficulties with a simple phone call back home
If your bank blocks your ATM card, the easiest way to call them is through Skype. We still get blocked twice a week, and we’ve been here three months.

Add $10 to your Skype account and you can use it to make local phone calls anywhere in the world with just a wifi connection.

At the top of the screenshot above, change “United States” to the country you’re traveling in to make local calls. To make a local call in Buenos Aires, dial “11” before the number.

Every restaurant and coffee shop In Buenos Aires has free wifi, but you have to ask for the password.

Restaurants: Cleanliness Problem

Breakfast table at Nucha Cafe. No travel frustrations here!
Our breakfast at Nucha Cafe was so good, we became regulars..

When we ate at the very popular San Telmo market, we later saw that the bathrooms didn’t have soap. We thought it was because the market was so crowded. (San Telmo Market is full of places to eat and things to buy.)

We found the same problem at some restaurants, too.

We went back to the San Telmo market for breakfast with a new friend. There still wasn’t soap. We asked the cafe where we were eating and they showed us the soap they use to wash their hands. They said they’re always complaining to the market’s administration but they never do anything about it.

Many restaurants close at 4pm and re-open at 8pm

There is a lot to love about Buenos Aires. If you come, I want you to love it as much as we do. I think clear expectations will help you enjoy your stay!

6 thoughts on “Travel Difficulties Don’t Have To Ruin Buenos Aires!

    1. I agree! And here in Buenos Aires, the Ubers are cleaner, too. But Cabify here is just like Uber in quality. Better and more trustworthy than taxis!

  1. I didn’t stay long enough to experience these difficulties. But I wasn’t happy with my trip there because I didn’t get to experience it as much as I wanted. Great post. Something to think about if I ever make out there again. Thanks Aixa

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