Buenos Aires is the black sheep of South American cities, a relatively rich and almost European-feeling city that combines grand architecture and a collision of cultures with great nights out and some of the tastiest food you could ever imagine.
Not everyone is rich in Buenos Aires, however – there’s a problem with poverty and petty crime. Extreme inflation has really made its mark on the city and everyone’s starting to wonder if it will recover. Cue social unrest and demonstrations…
We totally get why you’re asking, “Is Buenos Aires safe to visit?” It may have a different feeling to other urban areas of South America, but there still are things you should be wondering about, like safety.
We have put together this huge insider’s guide to help you travel safely in Buenos Aires. It’s packed full with a ton of info, from whether Buenos Aires is safe to travel for families, to travel tips for solo female travellers.
Whether you’re embarking on a solo travel trip to Buenos Aires, or want to drive in Buenos Aires – you may even be wondering if the food in Buenos Aires is safe – our epic guide has you covered.
- How Safe is Buenos Aires? (Our take)
- Is Buenos Aires Safe to Visit Right Now?
- Safest Places in Buenos Aires
- 20 Top Safety Tips for Traveling to Buenos Aires
- Is Buenos Aires safe to travel alone?
- Is Buenos Aires safe for solo female travellers?
- More on Safety in Buenos Aires
- FAQ’s on Safety in Buenos Aires
- So, is Buenos Aires Safe?
How Safe is Buenos Aires? (Our take)
Buenos Aires is the second-largest city in South America (only Rio de Janeiro is bigger) and it makes for a very cool place to explore. Big cities = tons of stuff to see, do, eat, experience. Buenos Aires is one of Argentina’s most popular backpacking destinations too.
It is safe compared to other South American cities but it also depends on where you’re staying in Buenos Aires – there are some things you need to be careful of. Nowhere’s 100% safe, right?
Certain areas at night are a bit shady and petty theft is quite common in touristed pockets of the city. Political protests can be more than a little tense; corruption is rife, too.
That said, we’re betting you’ll be safe in Buenos Aires. Party till the early hours, lounge around in coffee shops, enjoy the energy of the city.
Is Buenos Aires Safe to Visit Right Now?
Buenos Aires is safe to visit. Tourist numbers are steadily increasing and the number of crimes are slowly improving.
But that’s not to say that the Argentine capital isn’t without its problems.
Crime is on the up in certain districts of Buenos Aires, but overall, the statistics are improving. We’re talking being especially alert in San Telmo, Florida Street, Avendia de Mayo, La Boca, Retiro, Avendia 9 de Julio, and the Rivadavia Avenues around the Obelisco de Buenos Aires. Distraction techniques, scams, pickpockets – you name it.
Gatherings and protests are likely to happen. It’s kind of part of life in Buenos Aires. These often happen around Plaza de Mayo and Avenida 9 de Julio. Social unrest can lead to piqueteros – roadblocks that can make getting in/out of the city tricky.
Argentina’s safety suffers from widespread corruption, which means there can be issues catching criminals. Inflation is also a big problem now and it doesn’t show any signs of getting any better.
Also, there’s tension relating the British-owned Falklands. Protests sometimes occur outside the British Embassy and British businesses.
Aside from that, there’s no actual danger right now that’s going to put a stop to your Buenos Aires trip. You should have a trouble-free visit.
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Travel mishaps can and do happen and it is well worth thinking about insurance before you leave home.
We have used World Nomads for years now and I have personally made several claims. Why not get a quote from them yourself?
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Safest Places in Buenos Aires
When choosing where you’ll be staying in Buenos Aires, a bit of research and caution is essential. You don’t want to end up in a sketchy area and ruin your trip. To help you out, we’ve listed the safest areas to visit in Buenos Aires below.
Walkable and affluent, Recoleta is simply a joy to wander around thanks to its exquisite architecture. If you stroll around this district, you may feel like you’re in Paris because of its stunning townhouses, built in the Beaux-Arts style.
The barrio of Recoleta is distinguished as one of the most expensive places to live in Buenos Aires and home to the city’s most prestigious schools, but it’s also a great place to stay for architecture buffs and anyone who wants to base themselves in a very safe area.
Recoleta is an affluent district characterized by its Paris-style townhouses. The charming area is filled with former palaces and upscale boutiques, and it is perfect for morning and afternoon strolls.
This sprawling coastal region can be split into smaller parts, like Palermo Hollywood – home to trendy restaurants and fashion stores – and chic Palermo Soho. Here you’ll find the green space of Parque Tres de Febrero, as well as galleries and museums like MALBA and the iconic Museo Evita.
Explore Palermo Buenos Aires’ historic museums, walk along the sweeping boulevards, dine at the countless restaurants, and socialize among the bustling nightlife of Palermo. It might be one of the liveliest neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, but it’s also one of the safest.
Palermo barrio is Buenos Aires’ culture powerhouse. Explore Palermo Buenos Aires’ historic museums, walk along the sweeping boulevards, dine at the countless restaurants, and socialize among the bustling nightlife of Palermo.
Villa Crespo is definitely one of the most authentic and best neighborhoods to stay in Buenos Aires.
It’s a middle-class area with a cool edge – close enough to Palermo for the city’s traditional and iconic tourist hotspots, but still holds its own and keeps things local and authentic.
Primarily a residential area, here’s where you can feel most like a porteño (resident of Buenos Aires).
The area is famous for its leather goods and street art. It is also home to the city’s Jewish community. There are many synagogues as well as Hebrew schools in this middle-class barrio, which adds to Villa Crespo’s already multicultural feel.
Villa Crespo offers a very authentic Argentinean vibe with lots of bohemian art, murals, and pop-up galleries. Bordering southeast Palermo, this is where you’ll feel more like a real local rather than just someone who’s visiting Buenos Aires.
Places to avoid in Buenos Aires
In order to have a safe visit, it’s important to know the areas in Buenos Aires that aren’t super safe. Keep in mind that Buenos Aires is quite a famous tourist destination, so wherever you are, you will have to watch out for pickpocketing and petty theft.
- Some parts of Once and La Boca
- East border of San Telmo
- Constitución’s train station
- Around transport hubs in Mendoza
It’s important to know that all of the places we’ve just listed CAN be visited, but we’d recommend doing this during the day and taking some extra caution. As long as you do your research and use your common sense while exploring, you’ll be perfectly fine. Not walking into areas that look dodgy, avoiding small side streets and keeping on the main road is pretty much a no-brainer.
So although it is one of the safest cities in South America, that doesn’t mean it’s without crime. And tourists are definitely targeted for crime. You’re going to have to be extra careful. So we are going to share with you some handy safety tips for travelling to Buenos Aires. We’re all about smart travel and we want to help you do the same! And here they are…
- Be vigilant in crowds and busy public transport – keep a close eye on everything.
- And take particular care at the Retiro Bus Station – known for its pickpockets. Wear a money belt (our recommendation is below).
- Super careful with your iPhone – or smartphone. They’re super expensive in Argentina. Don’t leave it lying around. Laptops too, digital nomads!
- In fact, even it’s in your hands, people snatch them! – so try not to use it as you walk along. Use inside.
- Careful at ATMs – be aware of who’s around you and don’t get money out at nighttime.
- If you do become a victim of crime – head to the tourist police. It’s the best you can do.
- Distraction techniques are normal – the ‘mustard scam’ (when ‘accidentally’ spills mustard on you) is a real thing. Someone, often women, distracts you whilst someone else steals your shizz.
- People sometimes pose as other tourists – in hostel and hotel lobbies especially. They’ll steal your bags when you’re not looking – so always look!
- Don’t hang your bag on the back of a chair at a cafe – Will go missing. So keep it secure.
- And don’t hang your bag over one shoulder – that motocharro thing, it happens. Secure ’em. And don’t walk close to the road.
- Don’t put all your valuables in one place – especially large sums of cash. If it goes missing, everything goes missing.
- Avoid wearing anything too flashy – designer handbags, expensive jewellery, activewear, obvious brands… It all screams ‘target for thieves!’.
- Keep a copy of your passport safe – if that goes missing, you definitely will need a copy.
- Walk around like you know where you’re going – looking lost = tourist = target. Be confident and know where you’re going.
- Steer clear of any political protests – they can turn nasty.
- It’s not worth mentioning the Falklands – so don’t.
- Don’t do drugs – even a small quantity can land you a long spell behind bars. For real.
- Get yourself a sim card – if your phone doesn’t work in Argentina, get a temporary sim.
- Learn some Spanish – it’s the language in Buenos Aires. Even just a few phrases will help, so challenge yourself and learn Spanish!
- Protect against mosquitoes – because of dengue fever (any time of year). Cover up and use repellent to keep them away.
So there you go. Buenos Aires is a cool city to explore, but definitely not always the safest, especially when it comes to your money. Watch your surroundings, be careful in crowds, don’t fall for distractions.
Some General Safety Tips from the OG Broke Backpacker
There’s a lot to be said for solo travel. Doing stuff by yourself means you get to learn about what you want to do, challenge yourself (with no one to back you up) and maybe even grow as a person. It’s pretty cool, we’ve got to say, but it’s not always going to be great.
It can actually get boring. You can get jaded with your travels and lonely too! Plus, you’re bound to be more of a target for petty crime if you’re by yourself. And that’s a general rule for backpacking Argentina alone, too. So here are our tips for solo travellers in Buenos Aires…
- Stay at a nice hostel. Hostels in Buenos Aires It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just a place where you can meet fellow travellers, form new friendships, and feel safe. There are many amazing so you’ll be easily sorted.
- Head to an event. There’s always loads going on in the city that is popular with locals and travellers alike.
- Go on a guided tour. Not only do you get to actually learn about Buenos Aires, but it’s also a good chance to meet some fellow travellers.
- If you do go out partying, don’t go absolutely wild! Getting totally wasted is a good way to have no idea what’s going on. This means not finding your way home and making some bad judgement calls.
- Keep in touch with friends and family back home. Let people know what’s happening, what’s going on, where you are – it’s a lot safer (and better for your sanity) this way than going completely off-grid.
- Definitely make friends with the people who work at your hostel or hotel too. This is a good time to gather some local advice about things to do in the area, good places to eat – stuff like that. Locals know best!
- Don’t travel with too many things! Not only is this just not fun at all, but it’s easier to have things go missing if you’re travelling with two or more bags. Keep it to one and pack light.
- Spread your important documents, cards and cash around. Use a safe at your accommodation. And wear a travel money belt. If all of that sort of stuff goes missing it’s an absolute nightmare! So maybe consider getting yourself an emergency credit card, too.
There’s literally so much to do in Buenos Aires for solo travellers, with fun activities going on all the time. And what’s more the nightlife is poppin’ and is the perfect way to meet new friends. So book yourself somewhere social, get chatting to people and head out into the city. It’ll be awesome!
Is Buenos Aires safe for solo female travellers?
Buenos Aires is actually a good city to explore as a solo female traveller. Dubbed “the Paris of South America” the city is packed with vibrancy and all the heat of Latin culture. This modern city isn’t too tricky for solo female travellers to explore and get to grips with…
… But there’s always going to be some annoying men out there who might be overbearing, as well as some other safety concerns that you may be worried about. But it’s ok! Here are some pro tips for solo female travellers in Buenos Aires to help you have an ace time.
- As a solo female traveller in Buenos Aires, you may be targeted with catcalls and/or comments. It’s thought of as ‘complimentary’ by the male perpetrators; they’re not meant to be insulting, but they don’t come across that way. The best course of action? Ignore.
- Machismo is part of society. So be aware that this macho way of thinking is kind of the way that things work in Buenos Aires and Argentina as a whole.
- Watch your drink (and food) when you’re out. Don’t leave either unattended. Spiking of food and drink can happen and can end up in drug-assisted rape.
- Women do go out partying by themselves though, especially in Palermo and Recoleta. So you can definitely join ’em and go for it yourself. But just make sure you’re able to get home ok. Don’t get crazy drunk as losing your senses can lead to some pretty bad situations.
- Go out with other travellers. Find yourself a cool, social hostel that fits what you’re looking for, check-in to a female-only dorm and get chatting to other backpackers.
- Don’t wander around down deserted, unlit streets at night time. Even in the day, it’s not going to be the best idea to be doing this sort of thing. Stick to busy, well-trodden roads – and try to look confident whilst you’re doing so, even if you don’t feel it.
- Make a scene, if needed. If you really feel uncomfortable with the way a man – or anybody – is acting towards you, make a scene. Kick up a fuss and find help.
- Avoid telling people details of your travel and/or any personal details. Questions like this may seem innocent but can actually cause problems down the line, so be sensible and sparing with the information you’re giving out to strangers.
- Try to blend in. It’s a pretty open-minded city, but that doesn’t mean that everybody wears revealing clothing. Take a look around you at what other women are wearing, and try to imitate that as much as possible.
So, Buenos Aires is actually a pretty cool place to go for a solo female traveller. It’s probably a bit overwhelming for a first-time travel trip as a solo female, but that’s not to say it can’t be done. It’s a multicultural city that’s open-minded and geared up for a lot of fun.
More on Safety in Buenos Aires
We’ve covered the main safety concerns already, but there are a few more things to know. Read on for more detailed information on how to have a safe trip to Buenos Aires.
Is Buenos Aires safe to travel for families?
Buenos Aires is a great place to take children! Safe to say you won’t be getting bored here. The opportunities to enjoy Buenos Aires with children are endless!
There are loads of chic little hotels spread around the city, as well as hostels and guesthouses. You should definitely research before you book.
A good idea would be to rent an Airbnb or an apartment. That way you also get a kitchen to make some food in, thus keeping your costs down. This will also help if you don’t want to adapt to that Latin lifestyle of late-night eating (restaurants don’t open until 9 pm) and strolling.
However, it’s a breeze for children to eat around Buenos Aires.
Thanks to a sizeable Italian community, there are plenty of places where you can grab a bowl of pasta or a pizza. Easy food for a picky eater. Restaurants will also often let you share your dishes, too.
Bonus: children under 4 travel for free on the public transport system. Also, it’s normal for people to give up their seats for little ones and their parents.
All in all, Buenos Aires is safe for families.
How to keep kids safe in Buenos Aires?
There are downsides to travelling to Buenos Aires with your family, though.
Pollution can really affect those with pre-existing respiratory problems. If your child has asthma, or even if you do, maybe you should reconsider. The pollution can get pretty bad.
There’s dengue fever in Buenos Aires too, so make sure your kids are all covered-up in the evening and that you all use strong repellent to keep mosquitoes away.
Other than that, Buenos Aires is safe to travel for families. Locals have a laid-back mindset when it comes to children and there’s a community feel in its neighbourhoods.
Oh – and don’t be alarmed by strangers ruffling your kids’ hair… It’s a sign of affection!
Is it safe to drive in Buenos Aires?
Thinking of driving in Buenos Aires? Think again!
The drivers in Buenos Aires can be pretty aggressive, unpredictable, and just downright crazy at times. Safety standards vary – and so does the state of the roads.
Not only that, but there’s also traffic jams galore in Buenos Aires. Buses that completely hog the road. Pedestrians who pop up out of nowhere and just cross the road carefree in front of the traffic.
We seriously don’t recommend driving in Buenos Aires. The public transport in the Argentine capital will save you literally so much time and hassle.
If you really want to drive, get used to having to use your horn a lot (to let people know you’re there). People running red lights, not sticking to lanes. You should keep windows and doors locked and not leave valuables on show, either.
Is Uber safe in Buenos Aires?
Uber is absolutely safe in Buenos Aires.
In fact, it’s one of Uber’s fastest-growing markets. So many porteños (Buenos Aires citizens) took up Uber driving after the economic downturn left so many people without jobs. People need their jobs as Uber drivers and can’t risk losing them.
That said, there has been tension with local taxi drivers. Sometimes you may have to pretend you’re in a ‘friend’s car’ by sitting in the front seat.
Also, you can’t get them from the airport: not safe since the taxi drivers would kick-off.
But all the usual good stuff about Uber applies in Buenos Aires, too. Knowing the car that’s picking you up, reading driver reviews, tracking your journey, no language barrier, paying in-app.
Are taxis safe in Buenos Aires?
There are around 40,000 of taxis in Buenos Aires.
They’re generally a pretty cheap and safe way to get around the city as long as you make sure you get a proper (that is, licensed) taxi.
If you hail a cab in the street, make sure it’s painted in black and yellow, has taxi flags and a red light at the top of the windscreen – if they’re free, that is.
Then there are radio taxis. You can spot them from the company logo that should be present on the passenger doors.
When you get in, make sure the driver uses the meter. After 6 pm, the price goes up by 20%. That’s not a scam, just the way it is in Buenos Aires.
Ride-hailing apps make the process much easier and safer. Have a look at Cabify (no price surging, unlike Uber) and even the recently launched BA Taxis, made to be a direct competitor to Uber; both feature licensed taxi drivers.
Most taxi drivers in the city are hardworking and won’t be out to con you. But just make sure that you aren’t being driven around the houses and look after your belongings, though it’s a rarity that you’ll be scammed/robbed like this.
Is public transportation in Buenos Aires safe?
Public transport around Buenos Aires is safe, but there are some sketchy places to be aware of. Looking after your belongings and not keeping valuables in your pockets is the best way to go, especially on crowded buses and subte lines.
The buses actually cover a lot of ground. Surprisingly it’s pretty fast (even with all the traffic) and very cheap. You can also download an app to check lines and connections, which we’d recommend for your safety: much less chance of getting lost.
But note: buses don’t take cash. You’ll need to get yourself a SUBE card to tap in and out. Head to a tourist booth with your passport to get your hands on one.
One of the best things about the buses in Buenos Aires, however, is that a lot of them all day, all night. So you can get around even late at night. Try not to sit in the priority seat at the front; this is for people who actually need it.
Then there’s the metro or subte. This is spread over 7 lines. It opened in 1913, which makes it pretty historical.
It gets super busy, super hot, and super sticky when it’s busy. Try to stay away during rush hour. Also, a good time to get your stuff stolen too, so even more reason to stay away.
But generally, public transport is safe in Buenos Aires. Just watch your stuff at peak times.
When moving from place to place, you shouldn’t store travel documents in a bag, even if it’s under your seat or overhead.
A full-sized money belt that stays tucked under your clothes keeps your documents and cash organized during your travels and assures nothing critical gets left behind or stolen.
Is the food in Buenos Aires safe?
Thanks to the mix of cultures at work in Argentina as a whole, and especially in Buenos Aires, the city is packed full of different things to eat. And thanks to the cattle farming gaucho culture, BBQ’d meat is often on the menu. We’re talking awesome steaks!
But don’t you worry: it’s not all about meat. This is a proper good city for foodies, so don’t be surprised if you leave here a few pounds heavier. Your whole trip will revolve around eating and drinking. So to help you keep healthy (ish) whilst you do it, here are some tips…
- Don’t be afraid of cheap eats in Buenos Aires. We’re talking empanadas and things like that. Vendors sell these tasty morsels on pretty much every corner, but just make sure you go somewhere that looks like it’s doing good business.
- Eating cheap doesn’t mean eating badly. Tasty sandwiches filled with meat are good.
- A good rule of thumb: busy = good food that probably won’t make you ill. For the most part, you’ll be fine most places, but just ensure you’re not eating somewhere that looks overly dirty or that’s completely dead. Popular places tend to be popular for a reason!
- If you like steak, you’re in for a treat. It’s often served rare, though. If this is the sort of thing that really doesn’t agree with your stomach, then stay away.
- You should learn a bit of Spanish. Just enough to be able to navigate menus and even modify your order a little bit, so that you get something that’s going to be tasty and good for your stomach.
- Pizza is everywhere. So if you’re ever in need of something that you may be more used to than a plateful of meat, go for a pizza.
- There’s also a load of other cultures that inform Buenos Aires’ food scene. There’s a lot of other Latin American influence, Middle Eastern, Chinese, even stuff like hamburgers and fries. You’ll never be too far away from something that’s familiar.
- Vegetarians, don’t worry! Being a vegetarian isn’t too tricky. Being a cosmopolitan city, more and more places are becoming veggie-friendly meaning you’ll be able to get a bite to eat with your carnivore friends at the same place.
- Don’t eat everything all at once. Ease yourself in. Dang, it’s tasty in Buenos Aires and all too easy to just dive right in without a second thought for how much you’re going to feel it all later. So go slow at first.
- Wash your hands! It’s a simple one that’s going to stop all the dirt of the day get all over whatever you’re about to eat – especially if it’s an eat-with-your-hands affair like a burger.
You literally cannot go to Buenos Aires without enjoying its tasty food. But, as we said, don’t eat everything all at once. It’s so tasty here that you may be tempted. So just make sure you pick and choose where (and what) you eat. You and your tummy will have a great time.
Can you drink the water in Buenos Aires?
Yes, you can drink the water in Buenos Aires! But bottled water is available everywhere. For some reason, a lot of people choose to drink it.
If you want to explore the backcountry, we’d suggest boiling and filtering your water or using the GRAYL GEOPRESS.
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Is Buenos Aires safe to live?
Buenos Aires is safe to live and with its distinct mix of cultures, it has a lot to offer potential residents.
Obviously, like most cities, there are places you probably won’t want to live (let alone walk around).
Other than that, there are some amazing parts of Buenos Aires to live in. There’s the decidedly upscale area of Belgrano. Apart from the dog-poo problem this a middle-class area that’s actually home to a large, historic German community. They even Belgranodeutsch here – a mix of Spanish and German! There are a lot of international schools located here, which makes it pretty international.
There are some things you want to think about such as pollution, machismo and petty crimes. Also, inflation always makes for instability in a country.
There’s a big (and visible) disparity in rich and poor, too. There’s a bit of an issue with homelessness as well.
It’s not an amazing place to live nor the safest one, but Buenos Aires is fascinating. So do your research, see how you and your lifestyle can fit into the city, make some friends, and go for it.
Is it safe to rent an Airbnb in Buenos Aires?
It’s definitely safe to rent an Airbnb in Buenos Aires, but you’ll have to choose the right area obviously. With the reliable rating and review system, you won’t just get to choose from awesome homes, but you can also read about the place you’re about to book in full detail. With the previous guest reviews, you’ll know exactly what to expect.
But keep in mind that hosts can also review their guests. This normally guarantees a very respectful and easy visit from both sides.
Is Buenos Aires LGBTQ+ friendly?
Buenos Aires has just recently become one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly cities in South America. While there are obviously still a few closed-minded people around, the overall majority of the city is very welcoming and accepting.
Argentina in general is pretty LGBTQ+ friendly, but Buenos Aires is literally the cherry on top. The gay scene in the city is massively developed, with plenty of night clubs, entertainment venues, restaurants and even accommodation that is specifically targeted towards the LGBTQ+ travellers.
We’d definitely say that you and your partner will be safe when visiting Buenos Aires. You’ll probably have the time of your life too.
FAQ’s on Safety in Buenos Aires
A big part of travelling safely is knowing as much as possible about the area you’re going to. Whether that’s visiting Buenos Aires or anywhere else in the world, being prepared is essential. That’s why we’ve listed and answered the most commonly asked questions on safety in Buenos Aires below.
So, is Buenos Aires Safe?
We’d say, as long as you use your common sense and your street smarts, visiting Buenos Aires can be safe.
Though Buenos Aires isn’t exactly like other South American cities, it also isn’t exactly like developed Western cities. Simon Kuznet (a super famous economist) once said there are “four sorts of countries: developed, underdeveloped, Japan, and Argentina.” So Buenos Aires has a legacy of richness and potential that’s now sort of crumbled away. But the only sort of. There are still some issues though…
The inflation thing is pretty bad, people are losing their jobs, homelessness is becoming a pretty big thing and crime is actually increasing in touristed areas. The government – and corruption of it – is taking a lot of porteños to the streets to demonstrate their frustration with the way things are going. And we don’t blame them.
And it may get worse. But for now, we’d say Buenos Aires is safe. It even feels like a safe city. Certain neighbourhoods aside (like most cities in the world), there are many safe districts of the city that are wholly walkable, leafy, affluent, interesting, filled with heritage… And that’s before you even start getting hungry. Join the citizens and eat, drink and dance away your worries. And have you thought about getting Travel Insurance for your trip? You can get a quote from World Nomads by clicking on the link below.
Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels!
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