Is Buenos Aires Safe for Travelers? Here’s What to Know

ViaHero
Updated March 30, 2020

Is Buenos Aires safe? Generally, yes—Buenos Aires is a safe place to visit. 

However, like most places in the world, Buenos Aires has started seeing cases of coronavirus. 

Check out our update below: 

"Linelly helped us beyond anything we could've planned ourselves. Everything she suggested for us was spot-on, and I feel we got the best experience by following a local's guidance."
Kate, Recent Traveler
Kate, Recent Traveler

UPDATE: What to know about coronavirus

Like most places around the world, Argentina has cases of coronavirus. 

Please read our full update about travel and coronavirus HERE. It includes info on our flexible cancelation policy. 

And if you're looking for specific info on Buenos Aires, reach out to one of our local trip planners. It's free to send a message. 

In the meantime, read on to learn why Buenos Aires is safe to visit—in normal circumstances. 

Buenos Aires is one of the safest cities to visit in South America

Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires | Julianza/Pixabay

Bueno Aires is an incredible place to visit. The city ranks as the third safest city in South Americaand safer than Los Angeles, Mexico City, and Brussels.

Still, locals note that, as with any big city, you should exercise standard safety precautions. Keep aware of your surroundings when you're in crowded areas like bus and subway stations. Buenos Aires, like most metropolises, has its fair share of petty theft and scams.

What kind of traveler are you?
Let’s face it. People want different things when they travel. Rather than spending hours sifting through blogs and top 10 lists written by people who may have totally different interests than you, why not start by sharing a little about what’s important to you when exploring a new destination?
Enter your travel preferences below and we’ll connect you with a likeminded local in Buenos Aires to help you plan your trip based on your specific interests.

Petty theft is the biggest concern

As in many well-traveled places, visitors to Buenos Aires are often targets for petty crimes such as pickpocketing and bag-snatching. Locals advise caution on crowded buses (especially at the Retiro bus station), on the Subte (metro) and at busy ferias (street markets).

As you navigate the awesome sights of Buenos Aires, locals suggest following these tips to avoid being a victim of pickpockets:

  • Don’t use your phone in public – it can get snatched. Duck into a cafe or shop if you need to check something. 
  • Only carry the essentials—leave your passport, cash, and jewelry in your room.
  • Wear your purse across your body when you use public transit.
  • Don’t flash money or expensive jewelry. 
  • Always be aware of your surroundings and act like you know exactly where you’re going (even if you don’t).
  • Seek tourist police if you need help – you’ll find them around tourist areas.

For the most up-to-date safety advice, ask a local. Our trip planners will let you know how they navigate their city safely. 

Some common scams to avoid

When you get local advice, you know what to watch out for. Our trip planners tell us that these are some common scams in Buenos Aires:

The mustard trick on public transit

This scam involves a helpful local pointing out mustard (or other stains) on your clothing and then offering to clean it off. Next thing you know, they have made off with your wallet, watch, or phone. If this happens, refuse their offer firmly. This is a common scam, so it’s not unusual for a local to come to the rescue. Locals don’t sit idly by and watch someone get robbed.

Counterfeit bill scams

Counterfeit bills (especially the 100 peso note) are a massive problem in Argentina. A common scam involves a vendor or driver offering to help you check your pesos, and then swapping your bill with a counterfeit one.

Local Tip:

Keep small amounts of cash on hand to avoid the counterfeit bill scam

You may come across the occasional protest

Locals say that you may come across a public demonstration while in Buenos Aires.

These are usually peaceful and have little effect on tourists—other than blocking traffic and making it hard to see the sights. Most take place in the Plaza de Mayo, Av 9 de Julio, and Congreso, so take care in these areas.

If a protest coincides with your trip, get insider advice on what to do. Our trip planners will design a flexible guidebook in case your original plans are disrupted. (And they'll let you know how locals get around during transit strikes.)

What to know about taxis and Ubers

Taxi in Buenos Aires | g_u/Flickr

Taxis are safe, but it’s best to order one via app

Buenos Aires is full of licensed black and yellow taxis, and locals say they're a great way to get around the city. You can flag one down on the street (look for a lit libre sign), but our trip planners suggest booking one using the e-hailing app BA Taxi.

Locals also note that  private hire taxis called remís can be reserved in advance through agencies. These are a great alternative to renting a car for day trips.

Uber exists in Buenos Aires, but...

Uber does exist in Buenos Aires, but the situation is complicated. The company is involved in a contentious dispute with city officials over whether or not Uber is legal in Buenos Aires. (Colombia banned Uber after a similar dispute.)

In addition, taxi drivers are hostile towards Uber drivers. That means it’s not always the safest, or most comfortable way to travel. Many Uber drivers will ask that you sit in the front passenger seat so it looks like you’re driving with a friend. 

The good news is you don't have to travel blind—no one knows how to get around Buenos Aires like the locals do. Our trip planners will design a guidebook full of detailed transit instructions. 

Work with a local to plan your trip.
See a side most people miss.

Public transportation is largely safe to use

Subway in Buenos Aires | Phillip Capper/Flickr

Is public transit in Buenos Aires safe? Quick answer—yes! Locals tell us that the Subte (subway) is safe, but again, you’ll need to be wary of pickpockets, especially during crowded peak hours.

Locals note that there's also the public bus system called colectivos. It’s a fun and fast way to get around the city, but it can be crowded, so stay aware of your surroundings.

Cash is the best currency

Many shops, cafes, and restaurants don’t accept credit or debit cards and ATMs often charge a high fee.

Locals say you are better off just using cash (try to keep the notes as small as possible). To avoid carrying around too much money, break your day into segments, taking only as much as you will need for each part.

Local Tip:

Leave your credit card in your room unless you know you're going to use it.

Buenos Aires is a great place for solo female travelers

Woman in Buenos Aires | Fábio Alves/Unsplash

Buenos Aires is a great city for women traveling alone. However, locals suggest following some important safety tips:

  • Catcalling in Argentina is a fact of life, especially if you are walking alone. Just ignore it, and it will become background noise.
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, move towards a public place, duck into a shop, or find the tourist police.
  • Walk with a purpose like you know where you’re going.
  • Don’t accept drinks from strangers.

Basically, if you're traveling alone, it's smart to exercise caution in crowds, on public transportation, and in isolated parts of the city (especially at night). Benefit from local advice. Many of our trip planners are women, who can give travelers insights on how to best explore Buenos Aires. 

What to know about vaccines and drinking water

You probably have all your necessary vaccines

If you’re up to date on routine vaccinations, you should be all set. However, the CDC recommends that travelers heading to Argentina should also be covered for hepatitis A and typhoid. Based on how long you are staying, or if you plan to explore the rural areas, you may need additional vaccines.

Make sure you protect yourself against mosquitoes—dengue fever is a threat. Cover up and use bug repellent.

Water is ok to drink—but pack bottled if you're going out of the city

Tap water in Buenos Aires is perfectly safe to drink. But if you take a day trip to a nearby rural area, bring or buy bottled water just to be safe. (We recommend investing in a water bottle with a filter. It's a great way to travel in a sustainable way.)

Emergency numbers everyone should know

Here are some numbers to know just in case you run into trouble while exploring Buenos Aires:

  • Police and general emergencies: 101 & 911 (dial *31416 from a mobile phone)
  • Ambulance and Medical Emergencies: 107 
  • U.S. Embassy Buenos Aires: +(54)(11) 5777-4533

You can always reach out to your Buenos Aires trip planner 24/7 if you run into any issues. 

Still have questions about travel to Buenos Aires?
Why not ask someone who lives there? ViaHero connects you with a local to help plan your trip. They’ll create a guidebook based on your personal travel style.
You’ll see a unique side of a destination and travel independently—all while saving time and money in the planning process. Find a local today.

Looking for more info?