Is Buenos Aires safe? (2024 Guide to personal safety)

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Buenos Aires, the vibrant capital of Argentina, often raises questions about safety due to its size and reputation. Is Buenos Aires safe? The short answer is no, Buenos Aires is not always safe. Yes, it’s a fantastic place to visit, not least for its architecture and epic food scene. It’s the ideal long weekend stop-off before exploring the country, I’d recommend 4 days in Buenos Aires. It really is the beating heart of Argentina.

However, you may have heard that crime is on the rise due to the economic instability in Argentina. It’s true. The increase in crime builds on some existing problems, including unsafe areas, scams around public transport, a stubbornly high rate of pickpocketing and petty crime, tourist naiveté and their issue of ‘flashiness’ (parading your wealth). In this guide, I delve into the safety aspects of Buenos Aires and I hope these travel tips, based on my own experience in BA, will help you enjoy a secure and fun experience in one of the best cities in South America.

Safety concerns in Buenos Aires

Crime rates & perceptions

Like any major city, Buenos Aires has its share of crime. Recently, Argentina’s economy has been at least problematic and people live with many inequalities. Crime rates have risen. However, this isn’t a blog where the travel writer blames every social problem on people excluded by economic circumstances. The reasons for crime, tourist safety and social exclusion are multilayered and complex and I’m not trying to answer all of that here. Instead, let’s give you the information you need to decide on whether to visit Buenos Aires, and – if you do – to minimise any risks you’re feeling.

It’s simply the truth that large cities like Buenos Aires have a higher-than-average crime rate and tourists are more likely to encounter petty crimes in certain areas. But there is a question of perception here: ask someone about tourist safety in Buenos Aires and you’ll get a slightly different answer depending on whether the person lives there, has visited or is researching personal safety ahead of a trip. One person might have had no problems at all, another person saw pickpocketing, a third person believes the question of safety is exaggerated on media and in blogs.

Having visited Buenos Aires, as a solo traveler, I think some caution would be very smart. However, don’t write off your visit. Think about how to navigate the city before you travel and take sensible precautions with both your behaviour and by preparing a personal Travel Safety Kit so that, even with its issues, you are well-positioned to experience the vibrance and culture of this unique city because you’ve prepared appropriately for the risk.

Travel Safety

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Government Advice (2024)

I am sharing three sources of government advice on travel to Buenos Aires, showing unanimity on travel with normal precautions, but with a warning about demonstrations and petty crimes.

Ireland Department of Foreign Affairs

Security Status: Normal Precautions. Warns of the risk of demonstrations and petty crimes. More here.

UK Foreign Office

Recommends avoiding demonstrations and alerts travellers to the risks of safety, especially crime. More here.

US State Department

Argentina – Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions. More here.

Buenos Aires Neighbourhoods

Before you travel, get to know about the diverse neighbourhoods in Buenos Aires, each of which has a unique character, but also a different safety profile. Most tourists stay in Microcentro, the touristic heart of Buenos Aires, probably in the districts of Recoleta, Palermo or San Telmo. Popular tourist areas are generally considered low crime, but watch out for opportunistic thieves picking on tourists who behave naively. That means leaving your bag on the floor under your chair or standing on the street with an expensive phone held loosely in your hand. See the section on Your Responsibilities as a Tourist.

The neighbourhoods of La Boca and Villa Lugano require extra caution, particularly at night. As a solo traveller, I prefer to stay in busy, well-lit areas and carefully research accommodation choices in advance. Even in Recoleta and Palermo, take precautions. Simply leave expensive items in the hotel safe. Your BA trip should be balanced: take precautions and then get on with enjoying your trip.

Hotels in Central Buenos Aires

High-End

PALACIO DUHAU, RECOLETA

Stunning 5* in heritage district

Compare Prices

Mid-Market

MINE HOTEL, PALERMO SOHO

Chic Boutique Hotel

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Best Value

ESPLENDOR BY WYNDHAM

Great price for top notch service

Compare Prices

Buenos Aires Transportation Safety

Your personal safety awareness should start with your arrival at the airport. There are two major airports in Buenos Aires: EZE or Ezeiza Airport (most international arrivals) or AEP or Aeroparque Airport (more domestic and regional arrivals). I have written separate guides on how to get from Aeroparque Airport to Buenos Aires or how to get from Ezeiza Airport to Buenos Aires. Read the article for YOUR arrival airport for particular advice on the ‘mustard scam’ or other opportunistic threats that tourists can face on the bus or metro.

In general, you can stay safe on the Buenos Aires Bus or on Subte, the Buenos Aires metro, by following a set of sensible precautions. Don’t flash money, jewellery or expensive tech equipment. Keep bags closed and by you. Be proportionate: most journeys will be absolutely fine. Petty crimes rise when transport is very busy around peak times (morning and evening). Take sensible precautions like using a money belt like this one to keep cash, cards and ID safe. I tend to avoid public transport late at night and book an Uber or a pre-booked service like a ‘remis’ service.

I am not trying to dramatic. My advice in most big cities in South America and elsewhere is similar. Buenos Aires has a great and extensive public transportation system and, in general, it’s safe… mostly. If you’re going to use public transport, you should do so, but remain vigilant, especially at crowded peak hours. Opting for an Uber or licensed taxi (even a pre-booked remis – ask your hotel) might be the best thing if you’ve got concerns, or you are a solo female traveler, particularly at night.

Your Responsibilities as a Tourist: Cultural Insights & Safety Tips

Street Smarts and Awareness

Wherever you go, it’s wise to embrace local customs and read in advance about cultural nuances, to enhance your safety and enjoyment. For Buenos Aires, aim to blend in with the crowd, avoid conspicuous wealth, and learn some basic Spanish phrases to help you navigate the city more easily. Being aware of common scams, like distraction techniques or fake petitions, will help you to protect yourself proactively.

Prepare for Emergencies

While incidents are rare, it’s prudent to be prepared for unexpected situations. Familiarizing yourself with emergency contact numbers, including local police and medical services, ensures prompt assistance if needed. Additionally, keeping copies of essential documents and maintaining communication with trusted contacts enhances peace of mind throughout your stay.

    • Leave valuables at home before travel, or in your hotel safe.
    • Take only one credit card with you and some small notes.
    • If you need ID, bring a secondary format (e.g., a driver’s license) and leave the passport in the safe.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Buenos Aires offers a captivating blend of culture, cuisine, and history, making it a must-visit destination for travelers. While safety concerns exist, adopting a proactive approach, staying informed, and exercising common sense can significantly enhance your experience in the Argentine capital. By prioritizing personal safety and embracing the city’s vibrant energy responsibly, you can create lasting memories while exploring all that Buenos Aires has to offer.

Remember, your safety is paramount, but don’t let concerns overshadow the rich experiences awaiting you in Buenos Aires.

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