Last updated on January 13th, 2019

I took the bus from Buenos Aires to Bariloche rather than flying to save some money.

It pretty easy and later I’ll go over my experience of taking the bus from the center of Buenos Aires to San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, with the bus company called Via Bariloche, which will make this post even more confusing now.

Follow These Steps:

buenos aires metro station

1. Take the metro to the Retiro metro station which is the end stop on line C.

retiro station in Buenos Aires

2. Exit the Retiro metro station and walk about 5 minutes to the Retiro bus terminal.

retiro metro to terminal de omnibus
Follow the sign pointing to Terminal de Omnibus.

3. Buy a bus ticket (lie-flat seat or cama class) to Bariloche with Via Bariloche, Crucero del Norte, or Andesmar. It will cost about 3700 pesos.

retiro bus terminal buenos aires

4. The bus ticket will display a range of platforms from where the bus will depart. Make sure to be at the bus platform range within 30 minutes of departure.

There will also be monitor screens displaying which platform the bus will depart from, pay attention to it.

5. Once the bus arrives, provide your ticket, checked luggage, and passport. Your checked luggage and carry-on will get baggage tags.

Via Bariloche

6. Get on the bus and about 20 to 22 hours later, you’ll arrive at the Bariloche Omnibus Terminal.

7. Take the local bus (MiBus 20 or 21 costing about 23 pesos) or taxi from the terminal to the center of Bariloche: civic center.

MiBus bus stop in Bariloche
Local bus stop to ride the MiBus in Bariloche, which is right outside the bus terminal.

Notes

Keep in mind, sometimes the cost of flying can be about the same, or not too much more, as a bus ticket depending on when you book the flight.

I wasn’t too sure on what day I would travel to Bariloche so I couldn’t buy a flight in advance with Aerolineas Argentinas or LATAM. The prices of these flights increased significantly up to the date of departure.

In order to use the metro in Buenos Aires, you need to buy a SUBE (transportation) card at the station for 65 pesos and then load it with money. The attendant at the metro station informed me 35 pesos provides 3 trips on the metro but I never had the chance to verify it.

Also, the SUBE card comes in handy because you can use it to pay for the public bus: MiBus in Bariloche. MiBus doesn’t accept cash.

The MiBus #20 is a bus you want to familiarize. You can use it to get to the bases of Cerro Campanario or Llao Llao, which have really good viewpoints.

I found a coupon code for 5% off on Busbud’s blog. The coupon code is BBPROMOHUNTER and it waived the booking fee instead of 5% off in my case. I’m not sure if this code will still be valid when you read this but it’s worth a try.

My Experience at the Retiro Bus Terminal

The Retiro bus terminal is bit of a mess.

First, the station doesn’t say Retiro anywhere; rather it says Terminal de Omnibus. The problem with this is bus companies, third parties, and even Google Maps refer to the terminal as Retiro instead of Omnibus.

terminal de omnibus buenos aires

Second, they don’t display the exact platform where you embark from until 15 minutes prior to departure. My Via Bariloche bus ticket only provided a range. I actually had to wait and see where my bus came in. They also announce the platform numbers on the speakers. So knowing a bit of Spanish helps but can be confusing when your destination and bus company have the same name.

Just from observation, most departing buses only wait 15 to 20 minutes at the platform prior to departure. So make sure you find your bus.

I reserved my ticket to Bariloche the night before. The tickets were all sold out the day of the journey. So I advise to book ahead. I made the reservation via Busbud but made the mistake of not choosing a seat (I had a few beers) so I was stuck at the bottom.

Review of Via Bariloche

So the bus arrived about 20 minutes prior to my 15:00 departure. It actually departed at 15:02, which was pretty good.

When I purchased my seat on Busbud, I thought I was purchasing a lie-flat seat or cama with Via Bariloche. But the seat was not a lie-flat seat. It reclined from 90 to about 145. This wasn’t bad but was false advertising. I’ve been on beds and lie-flat seats on buses and planes, this definitely isn’t one of them.

via bariloche lie-flat seat
It’s still a pretty good seat.

However, the seats were large and comfortable. They came with a blanket and small pillow plus USB ports for charging. I found the bus to be clean with a good layout.

I thought the bus had a chance of being cold due to blasted air-conditioning and my experience from taking the bus from Panama City to Bocas del Toro, so I brought my sweater and neck warmer. Surprisingly, the bus was a bit more on the warmer side.

I was sitting at the back of the bus on the bottom. There was an air filter or purifier at the back that made a loud annoying sound. The sound would only last about 2 minutes but cycles back on after about 30 minutes. My earplugs and headphones came in handy here. I recommend not sitting at the back. I checked the seats upstairs to see if there was an air filter upstairs but didn’t see any at the back. But I wouldn’t sit at the back at the top either just in case.

Bring snacks as you go several hours without food. I bought a sandwich from the Retiro bus terminal.

We departed from Buenos Aires at 3:02 pm. At 6:00 pm, the bus attendant provided us with cookies and tea or coffee. I passed on the hot drink because I didn’t want to be pissing all night or be wired when I go to sleep.

snacks served on via bariloche

Dinner was served around 9:45 pm. It was a large bento box style consisting of beefsteak, mash potatoes and gravy, rice salad with what I believe was chicken, small dry bread sticks, pudding for dessert, and soda. I didn’t finish the meal. I usually eat vegan but it’s pretty hard to do in Argentina, at least for me.

And around 8:45 am the next morning, the breakfast consisted of the same thing of cookies and tea or coffee. Hardly filling, but it wasn’t like I was hungry. I wasn’t using much energy on the bus.

The bus eventually arrived at the Bariloche Omnibus Terminal around 12:40 pm, about an hour late, which wasn’t too bad.

From here, I took the MiBus into the center. I paid 23 pesos for the ride with my SUBE card.