Taking train in Argentina

Taking the local train in Argentina; Tucuman to Buenos Aries.

Get a break from the long hours in buses. Here is all you need to know before taking local train in Argentina, from Tucuman to Buenos Aries

Are you researching your Argentina travel? Are you going to backpack South America and want to visit Argentina? Then you’ve probably already realized that traveling Argentina, or traveling South America, on a budget, involves a lot of hours in buses. Don’t get me wrong, traveling Argentina by bus is great, especially for budget backpackers.

Still, here is some information about taking the local train in Argentina and all you need to know about the train from Tucuman to Buenos Aires. This ended up being my only longer train travel in South America, for now, that is!

A little about me

I’ve traveled South America since late April 2017 and trust me, I’ve had my fair share of bus hours. I used to travel slow, and those 18 hours on a bus didn’t bother me when I knew I was going to spend at least 2 weeks, sometimes 2 months at my next destination.

Taking local train in Argentina train from Tucuman to Buenos Aires

In August this year, my boyfriend and I made plans and started a trip from Buenos Aires. We had spent the last 3 weeks in his hometown outside of Buenos Aires and wanted to go to Europe next. We booked our tickets for late November and got started on our last little trip around the south of South America. It was going to last for two months and we wanted to pass through Uruguay, the south of Brazil, Paraguay and back into Argentina. When we got to the north of Argentina those long hours in buses were taking its toll.

Cause let’s face it, bus travel in Argentina is no different than bus travel in the rest of South America. If anything the travel distances just gets longer. That’s when my boyfriend remembered that there is a train line going from San Miguel de Tucuman to Buenos Aires. I had never heard about it before, but it turned out to be a great experience. So if a train ride sounds interesting to you, here is some information about Argentina train travel:

Want to get to know me better?

The Argentinean Train Service

The train service in Argentina is a public service, run by the state of Argentina through a company called Operadora Ferroviaria Sociedad del Estado. In 2008 the Argentinean government started to reorganize the train services in the country. This way they gave people with less money the opportunity to travel more. Train travel in Argentina is therefore an accessible service, both for locals and for travelers.

What to know before taking the train in Argentina

These days it’s cheaper to travel Argentina by train than by bus. With that said, the train travel Argentina offers also takes way more time, but is, in general, more punctual than the bus services.  If you want to travel on an exact date, you should buy your tickets as soon as you know. We bought ours just a couple of days in advance and were lucky to find tickets available. We did, however, notice that most of the dates for the two next weeks were pretty sold out or had limited seating options.

The train from Tucuman to Buenos Aires       

The trains from San Miguel de Tucuman leaves every Wednesday and Saturday at 1.00pm. It arrives in Buenos Aires 8.10 pm the next day. The train from Buenos Aires to Tucuman takes about the same time.

The Buenos Aires train station is called Retiro and lies pretty much in the middle of Buenos Aires. The Buenos Aires Tucuman train leaves from Retiro 1.30 every Monday and Thursday and arrives the next day 8.45pm in Tucuman.

The stops a, along the route are Tucuman, La Banda, Colonia Dora, Pinto, Ceres, Rafaela, Galvez, Rosario Norte, Rosario Sur, Retiro (the train station in Buenos Aires). You can buy the ticket from this link and at any of the stops on the train line.

It takes 31 hours and 15 minutes to arrive in Buenos Aires, and the train makes 8 stops in-between the first and final station. The stops vary from about 20-5 minutes. When the train stops at one of the 2-3 longer stops, you can step outside to get some fresh air, smoke (for those who does that) and buy food, cakes, candies, and even homemade cheese, from sellers on the platforms. The train passes through areas that are pretty poor or&and rural. You will most likely notice a big variety in the prices, even if you’ve been to places outside the typical tourist routes.

When we traveled with the train we got off in Rosario where we went to visit a friend. This train is also a great option if you’re traveling shorter distances. For example, Buenos Aires to Rosario by train is just a couple of hours, and you get a comfortable journey, nice experience and save a few pesos.

Different ticket options; Primera, Pullman and Camarote.

There are 3 different kinds of tickets when taking the train from Tucuman to Buenos Aires or the Buenos Aires trains the other way around. “Primera”, “Pullman” and “Camarote”. You can choose your type of ticket and seat/cabin, online when buying your ticket. Each carriage has air-condition with heating and cooling, but be aware that during the night it can get a bit cold.

Class Primera

Primera is the “lowest” class, and the cheapest alternative. They are divided into reclinable seats of two and two. In the middle of the carriage, there are two and two seats facing each other with a table in the middle.

They have toilets at one end of the carriage, one for men and one for women. There is also a dispenser with hot and cold water.  The other end of the carriage has some space where you can store your luggage. There’s also some storage space on the overhead shelves. They don’t have electrical outlets in the seating areas, but they do have electrical outlets close to the sinks at the end of the carriage.

taking local train in argentina, train from tucuman to Buenos Aires toilets

The toilets are pretty simple, but they were in good condition and were cleaned regularly during the journey

taking local train in argentina, train from tucuman to Buenos Aires

Class Pullman

The argentine trains Pullman sections has wider reclinable seats, the rows are divided into two and two, and singles. The Pullman carriages are also accessible for people with disabilities and has a handicap toilet, and enough room to access with a wheelchair. Other than that, it has the same characteristics as the other class, Primera.

taking local train in argentina, train from tucuman to Buenos Aires

Class Camarote/Cabin

Camarote is actually a private cabin for two persons. It contains two beds in the form of bunk beds. When not used, the top bunk can be folded up. The lower bunk also functions as a sofa. In addition, there are plenty of lights, a table, eletrical outlet and curtains for the window.

Taking local train in Argentina train from Tucuman to Buenos Aires
Camarote Cabin Taking local train in Argentina train from Tucuman to Buenos Aires

The personnel will come and explain how the journey will be, as well as answer any questions when you start your journey. They will also give you all you need for your bed for the night, and come and collect it the next morning. If you want more blankets or pillows you can also ask for that, as it gets a little chilly during the night.

You’ll have to store your luggage in your cabin. There is room underneath the couch as well as on a shelf above the door, so if you have a normal amount of luggage you’ll be fine.

The carriage has bathrooms and an area with a sink and mirror as the other carriages do. Our Camarote carriage didn’t have a dispenser for hot and cold water. That wasn’t really a problem as we just went to the next carriage to fill our thermos.

Restaurant Carriage

restaurant taking local train in argentina, train from tucuman to Buenos Aires

There is a restaurant carriage on the train and every night from about 7.00 pm they serve dinner. When we took the train, we got to choose between two dishes and tried one of each. For being on a train the quality was pretty good, and the amount of food too.

taking local train in argentina, train from tucuman to Buenos Aires

If you want to have dinner on the train, you should head to the restaurant carriage during the afternoon to reserve your plates as they are limited. In addition, they sell some sodas and candies, but it is definitely not the best selection.

We also got told that we were not allowed to sit in the restaurant carriage and play cards or drink mate. This is most likely to stop people traveling in the less comfy classes, from sitting there too long. We didn’t really have a problem with it, as we just went back to our cabin and played cards there.

Should you go by bus or by train?

If you’re a low budget traveler with more time than money on your hands, the train is definitely the way to go. It’s also way more comfortable than traveling by bus, if you ask me. You can walk around, stretch your legs and you most likely won’t get motion sick. I usually get motion sick in buses, still I’ve traveled 99.9% by bus or car all around Latin America over the last 2 years. It was refreshing to do something else.

If you do have money, and maybe are a bit short in time, you should consider going for the bus option. From Tucuman to Buenos Aires it will take you about 31 hours by train. By bus it’ll “just” be from 17 to 20 hours by bus, depending on the bus company and price.

Bus and Train ticket prices – Tucuman to Buenos Aires/Buenos Aires to Tucuman

Bus tickets on the distance San Miguel de Tucuman to Buenos Aires range from about 50-80$ US. All depending on the company and class you go for.

The train-tickets variates by class too. The tickets for Primera is about 770 pesos(20 $), Pullman are 925 (24$) and the camarotes are 2695(70$) for two people in a private cabin. These prices are for the entire journey. If you get off or on somewhere else, the prices will be lower.

If you want the full overview of prices, check out the Argentinean governments’ train line pages. When we traveled, the Argentinean train lines had a 20 percent promotion discount so we ended up paying less than 2000 pesos(52$) for a camarote from Tucuman to Rosario.

You can buy your ticket on the official page Trenes Argentinos. 
There you will also find more information about Argentinas train system and timetables.

What to bring for the Train journey

  • Food – like mentioned, there are possibilities to buy food on the train and on some of the stops along the way. The prices are reasonable, even on a backpacker budget. However, bring some basic food and snacks. Especially for breakfast.
  • Entertainment – because you’ll be spending about 30 something hours on the train. Need I say more?
  • Your luggage, obviously.
  • Your tickets, printed out.

Wifi on the train from Buenos Aires to Tucuman?

We couldn’t find any information about this online before we traveled. But in case you were wondering, there is to date no internet offered on the train. If you want internet, make sure to buy and fill up your sim card before you go.

There are plenty of affordable sim card options in Argentina. I also have to say that there isn’t the best service connection along the train line, so don’t expect to be connected to the internet a lot during the journey.

The train trip was a nice addition to our Argentina trip, and I would definitely do it again!

Did you travel by train somewhere else in Argentina? Let me know how it was would love to hear more about other trains in Argentina or other
South America train trips!

Are you visiting Argentina? Don’t miss out on the province of Jujuy, a beautiful area in the very north of Argentina.

Planning on travelling in South America? See my tips after spending about 1,5 year traveling there.

7 thoughts on “Taking the local train in Argentina; Tucuman to Buenos Aries.”

  1. Public transport is so much easier and cheaper than driving a rental car! I will need to remember this if I ever get to Argentina. And that food looks pretty good to me!!

  2. I’ve never taken the train here in Argentina because it’s so slow but it looks like a cool experience!! And you’re right, the buses are more expensive these days.

  3. My husband and I always pick trains over buses! We love going on train rides and this one looks like a lot of fun. We probably would pick the Camarote to have some privacy and extra comfort. Thank you for all the info and inspiration to take this train journey.

  4. Dear Julie.
    Thank you so much for very exact info about train from Tucuman to Retiro. I am at the moment in Salta in Argentina, and want to do same trip.
    It has not been possible for me, so far, to find the right webpage to buy the ticket online. Are you able to help me?
    Thank you. Karin from Denmark

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