Safety in Buenos Aires

Photo Credit: Christi Nielsen

Buenos Aires dwellers are some of the friendliest and brashest people (in a good way) you’ll meet. As in any big city, residents are wary of strangers but will usually go out of their way to help a person in-need.

If you are visiting Buenos Aires for the first time or if you are new to traveling, there are some important tips to keep in mind for your safety. Sometimes being paranoid can pay off. These tips can also apply to other countries.

  • Carry money with you in several different spots in the event you are robbed.
  • Don’t wear jewelry or expensive watches. Rather than carrying a fancy purse, carry an plain bag or satchel that doesn’t draw attention to itself. Secure it across your chest rather than around your shoulder.
  • Use a money pouch to keep money around your waist.
  • Get money from ATMs located in lobbies of banks, and only use them during business working hours in the case of machine problems.
  • Avoid ATMs on Saturdays and Sundays. They are often out of money and more vulnerable to robberies.
  • Don’t text or check your cell phone messages on busy sidewalks or pedestrian roads (especially Florida Street). Someone may swipe it. Wait until you are in the privacy of a bathroom stall or in a building lobby.
  • Use radio taxis rather than unmarked taxis. Ensure the driver has identification displayed in the car. Lock the doors on each side of you when you get in.
  • Give your taxi driver exact change if you can so that the driver doesn’t have the chance to give you false bills in return.
  • (If you can) speak Spanish with your companions in train stations or the subway.
  • Keep peso coins and a bus guide on you in case the subway closes and you must use buses to get home. Bring the number of a taxi cab and a friend in the event you need an emergency contact.
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times.


Filed under Argentina, How to

13 responses to “Safety in Buenos Aires

  1. This was going to be my post today. But you beat me to it! I wrote about our night time transit strike instead.

  2. Great advice! – but I gotta say I’m a bad bad girl – a rule breaker. 😉 I guess living here has made me lax about certain things.

    I must confess that I use my cell phone all over the place, busy streets, you name it. I figure if anyone wants it they are welcome to have it as 1)I took the risk and 2) it’s not that great of a phone anyway. 😉
    That said, I’ll add on to your great advice and say leave the fancy iphone at home and use a basic cell phone. I always misplace things when I travel so I try not to bring anything of much worth.

    I also sometimes get money at night and I know I really shouldn’t no matter which city. Bad Tina!

    I’ll also confess that I never bother looking to see if it’s a radio taxi or not. If it’s available and the car looks like it’s in good condition (my main criteria), I hop in.
    That said, it’s a good idea to have on hand (memorized in cell phone) the phone numbers of a couple of radio taxi companies. It’s always good to be able to call a cab when it’s late.

    I think I’d probably disagree about using a money pouch, though, as it’s pretty obvious when people use them (and as a fashion-conscious chica it would show through my clothes, LOL).
    Wherever I travel in the world, I tuck a few bills into my bra just in case, and carry a basic purse so as to appear more like a resident and less like a tourist.

    Shoot, I’ve written an essay! Sorry bout that. ok I’d better stop now. 🙂

    OK–money pouch only when you’ve got an unusual amount of money. I have a good one that doesn’t show. 🙂

  3. P.S. I implore all readers NOT to follow my examples in my comment, but instead to heed the original advice in the blog entry! 🙂

  4. Good advice.

    I’d add:

    Look at your map inside whenever possible, not out in the street.

    Walk like you know where you’re going, even if you’re totally lost.

    Try to get in the habit of not carrying a backpack, purse or satchel at all. Read your books and use your computers at home.

    Walk around questionable groups of pibes, thugs, peeps instead of walking through them. Seems obvious but sometimes it just happens.

    At night, tone down whatever you can’t hide about the fact you’re not Porteño.

    Know thy neighborhoods well.

    Thanks for adding some of your own wisdom!

  5. ckw1945

    Sounds like good advice, from an experienced city dweller!!

  6. This advice works for most places, including London (except talking Spanish that might make you seem like a tourist) However – we and any prospective thief always know who the visitors are…How? They stand around in groups and bock the entrances to busy tube stations and pavements, they even manage it in the singular by texting home while ambling aimlessly zig-zag fashion down the steps to all the major stations, or while getting on to a bus. This happens most frequently at exactly the time when locals want to get home.

  7. some good tips there – touch wood ive never had any issues when abroad..guess ive been lucky!
    as much as we’d love to blend in with the locals we always end up sticking out like sore thumbs!!

  8. Nate D O Double G

    Since I’ll be leaving for Argentina on Sunday, here’s a few things I thought would also be good ideas while I’m there:

    – Wear my t-shirt that says I Love Texas!

    – Ask for directions in English, if they don’t immediately respond, speak louder

    – At restaurants, ask for the Tofu, its big in Argentina

    – Keep my wallet on a keychain attached to my jeans, make sure that I have all my credit cards in case of emergency

    – Late at night after drinking for several hours, walk home through the darkest part of the streets, that way people won’t see me

  9. Don´t forget to leave all the zippers unzipped on your backpack!

  10. Great advice–thanks!

  11. Great advice for tourists. I’m like Tina, I rarely follow it. At the end of the day, I think Buenos Aires is pretty safe. I walk home or take public transport at all hours of the night. I just pay attention to my surroundings and take a cab if I’m in a questionable part of town.

    Since I typically have a camera with me (either in my bag or slung diagonally over my shoulder) kind porteños who think I’m a tourist are always telling me to put my camera away. If I followed their advice, I’d miss a ton of wonderful shots. Still, if I’m in a part of the city that I know has a lot of pickpockets (the pedestrian street Florida, or any other area that looks a bit seedy, like Constitución) I tend to hide my camera. And no matter where I am, I where the camera strap over my shoulder (not around my neck) hoping it would be harder for someone to grab. But I would do that pretty much anywhere.

    I’ve lived here for about a year and a half and have never been robbed (knock on wood). When I first arrived, I did witness two armed robberies (one in a pharmacy and the other in a small kiosk). From those experiences, I’d recommend that on Saturday and Sunday mornings when there are fewer people out and about, stay off of big streets especially downtown. Downtown is busy during the week and dead on the weekends. The big streets (like Avenida Cordoba or 9 de Julio) make it easier for the thieves to get away fast. If you need to buy something, stick to the areas where there are other pedestrians, outdoor cafes, narrow streets, etc. at these times. Both robberies happened around 9:00 am on a weekend, on a large avenida, and near downtown.

    To end on a positive note, in both instances, it would have been easy to rob the few patrons of the establishments, but that didn’t happen. During the robberies, I was actually inside the pharmacy and on the sidewalk in front of the kiosk. It’s not good news for the business owners; still I felt a bit safer thinking that I wasn’t their target when I easily could have been. Maybe this is just wishful thinking.

    Thanks for your perspective. I was never very street wise growing up, so I tried to think of habits for those unaccustomed to a city like this.

  12. Craig

    Wow…I lived in BsAs for a year and never had any problems. Aside from horrible drivers who will run you down if you step into the street (including crosswalks), the only problem I had was getting shorted when given change. Seems most Argentines assume that people from the US can’t count.

    It’s true that you have to take a few extra precautions (like any big city), but overall, I found it safer than New York and Washington D.C. I’m ready to move back there right this very minute!

  13. Hello everybody !

    yes, I agree with the author.
    I am from Buenos Aires.

    greetings !
    welcome to Argentina !

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