All Aboard! Your Ultimate Guide to Riding the Rails in Argentina

Written by Peter Lauffer
May 4, 2023

Argentina is the perfect destination to explore if you have a passion for trains. The country boasts numerous tourist and historic trains that provide breathtaking views. However, it is worth noting that long-distance train travel in Argentina is not as popular as long-distance bus travel, which offers comfortable 180-degree lay-flat seating. Budget airlines like FlyBondi and Jetsmart have also made it easier to cover vast distances. Non-residents of Argentina may find it challenging to secure tickets for some long-distance trains.

La Trochita on the way to Esquel

Discover Argentina's Most Breathtaking Scenic Tourist Trains

While possible to travel via long-distance trains in Argentina, the most popular (and famous) trains are these historic, scenic trains. 

Tren a las Nubes at the Polvorilla Viaduct

Tren De Las Nubes, Salta

Salta’s Tren a las Nubes is one of Argentina's most famous tourist trains. It's more than just a mode of transportation; it's an impressive feat of engineering, an often-overlooked tourist destination, and offers a breathtaking view that is hard to match. The train is among the highest-altitude trains in the World,, reaching elevations of up to 4200m (13,800ft). The entire trip is an experience, starting with a bus ride from Salta that takes you along the picturesque Highway 51, with stops to admire the colorful mountains, small villages, and other sights. The Train to the Clouds departs from San Antonio de Los Cobres, the highest city in Argentina (3775m or 12,385ft). As you near the city, you can feel the air getting thinner; the city itself has an indigenous vibe that sets it apart from the rest of the country.

Train stop at the Polvorilla Viaduct

Passengers in San Antonio can board the train and relish the breathtaking sights of the Puna region. The journey's highlight is reaching the renowned La Polvorilla Viaduct, which the train crosses slowly, allowing everyone to take in the stunning views. Upon completion, the train heads back to San Antonio de los Cobres, and from there, passengers can return to Salta by bus.

Train tickets can be purchased at this link: Tren a las Nubes

Tren del Fin del Mundo

Tren Del Fin Del Mundo

The second most popular tourist train in Argentina can be found in Ushuaia, at the southernmost tip of the country. Originally, El Tren Del Find Del Mundo was constructed to transport timber and connect the prison camp to the lumber camp. Tierra del Fuego was first established as a penal colony, where new prisoners were put to work constructing buildings. However, the train has been improved and extended over the years, and Ushuaia no longer serves as a penal colony, nor does the train transport prisoners.

Tren del Fin del Mundo

Despite its bleak origins, the 7-kilometer journey on the train is breathtakingly beautiful, passing through forests, the Pipo River valley, and the slopes of Mount Susana. The winter season is particularly stunning, as Tierra del Fuego is transformed into a land of ice and fire.

The Tren del Fin del Mundo excursion is quite famous and provides exclusive sights of the mountains. For more information and to book your experience, click Tren del Fin del Mundo.

The Old Patagonian Express - La Trochita

La Trochita (Old Patagonian Express)

La Trochita is a narrow gauge railway with a measurement of 750mm. It was initially a part of Ferrocarriles Patagonicos, a network of rails that run across Patagonia. This train gained fame after Paul Theroux wrote about his experiences on the train in his book, The Old Patagonian Express. Nowadays, it operates as a heritage train that offers two routes: Esquel to Nahuel Pan and El Maiten to Desviar Thomae.

La Trochita on the way to Esquel

The ride from Esquel covers a distance of 18 kilometers and ends at the Nahuel Pan station, a Mapuche community. There is a 45-minute break during this journey while the train turns around for the return journey. On the other hand, if you take the train from El Maiten, the ride will last for 2.5 hours and ends at Desvío Bruno Thomae before returning to El Maiten. Book your trip here: La Trochita.

Tren a las Costa, Buenos Aires

Tren De La Costa, Buenos Aires

Are you on the lookout for a picturesque train ride in Buenos Aires? Look no further than the Tren de la Costa, which links the city to the Tigre River delta. This train ride is perfect for a day trip to Tigre and offers a unique perspective of Buenos Aires' river. The journey commences from Maipu Station, located in the northern suburb of Olivos. You can either catch the Mitre train line from Retiro in downtown Buenos Aires or take a taxi to avoid any transportation concerns.

Port of El Tigre, Terminus Station of the Tren a la Costa

The ride features several scenic stops, including historic stations, cafes, and paths to the riverfront. If you're looking for a complete experience, I recommend taking a cruise from Buenos Aires downtown to El Tigre, enjoying lunch at one of the many restaurants, and then boarding the "Tren a al Costa" back to Buenos Aires.

How To Take The Trains In Buenos Aires

One of my preferred methods of transportation in Buenos Aires is the train. These trains provide a reliable and convenient option for commuting between the city and its surrounding suburbs and towns. To use the trains, you must obtain a SUBE card, which is required for all Buenos Aires public transportation.

Retiro Railway Station in Buenos Aires

You can easily obtain a SUBE card at any Subte station or kiosko for a small fee, and once you load money onto it, you can use it at all train turnstiles. It's essential to scan your card both on the way in and out, as fees may vary depending on the distance you travel. The two most critical train stations are Retiro and Constitución, conveniently linked by the Linea C Subte line. Retiro Station serves the city's northern area, and the Mitre line is the station that most people refer to when mentioning Estacion Retiro. On the other hand, Constitución Station has trains that travel to the southern suburbs and towns.

Get inspired by some photos of this amazing trip:
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