Is Buenos Aires safe for digital nomads?

October 18, 2023

As a female traveler and digital nomad, I have always felt comfortable living and navigating Buenos Aires. In fact, it’s considered one of the safest cities to visit in South America. 

However, it’s important to keep certain safety precautions in mind — especially when traveling alone as a digital nomad. Buenos Aires is a large city with various neighborhoods and zones. Like most cosmopolitan cities, some areas are safer than others. Your experience in one part of Buenos Aires will be very different from your experience in another. 

So, how do you know where it’s safe to visit? And how can you protect yourself from petty crimes in those areas? 

Let’s break it down! Here are my top safety tips for digital nomads in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

Stay informed 

Before we delve into safety tips, it’s a good practice to stay updated on the current safety status of Buenos Aires. You can check the U.S. Department of State’s safety ranking for Argentina here. As of October 2023, Buenos Aires is listed at Level 1, signifying “exercise normal precautions.”

Be aware of pickpocketing

Like many big cities, Buenos Aires does have its share of petty crimes, including pickpocketing. To avoid falling victim, be vigilant, especially at intersections and busy streets where pickpockets on motorcycles are known to operate. Keep your belongings secure, and consider using a crossbody purse with a zipper.

Cell phones are prime targets, so keep them tucked away while walking in public areas or using public transportation. Never leave your phone on a table at a restaurant or cafe where it’s easily accessible. When working with your laptop, take it with you if you need to leave your table to order food or use the restroom.

As for jewelry, leave your flashy pieces at home. It’s best to avoid drawing attention with expensive items, diamonds, or nice family heirlooms.

Stay observant when walking alone

Buenos Aires boasts a strong police presence on the streets, especially in the tourist-friendly neighborhoods. In some areas, you’ll even find police officers hanging out on every other street corner — drinking mate and chatting with each other! 

You’ll also find locals and visitors strolling the streets at various times of the day. 

Nevertheless, when walking alone, particularly at night, stick to well-lit streets with other people. Trust your instincts; if you feel uneasy, head toward a public place or enter a shop.

Walking with a sense of purpose can help you blend in as a local, making you less of a target for opportunistic criminals. If you need to pull out your phone to check for directions, double-check your surroundings and walk into a store if you see suspicious individuals. 

Public transportation is safe — but stay watchful 

The public transportation system is great in Buenos Aires, and I’m a big proponent of using it. However, pickpocketing can occur, so you’ll want to ensure you stay vigilant while riding the subway, bus, or train.

Keep your belongings close and secure. A purse with a zipper and carried in front of your body is a good choice. Don’t leave your purse or backpack behind your body as this is a very easy target for pickpocketing. 

Taxis are considered safe, but I have heard of certain scams that tourists fall victim to, typically resulting in being over-charged for a ride. To avoid this, I recommend using car-sharing apps like Cabify, Didi, or Uber. With these options, the fare is locked in and monitored by the app itself.

Avoid street protests

It’s common to encounter public demonstrations in Buenos Aires, mostly around Plaza de Mayo, Avenida 9 de Julio, and Congreso. These demonstrations are usually peaceful, with people marching for various causes. It’s advisable to avoid areas near these protests to steer clear of potential pickpocketing incidents.

Inconveniences like traffic disruptions are the main issues during demonstrations, and rerouting your travel may be necessary. 

If you subscribe to notifications from your embassy in Buenos Aires, they’ll likely send you an email when a public demonstration is scheduled to occur. You can sign up for notifications from the U.S. Embassy with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) here

Stay inside these neighborhoods

While exploring Buenos Aires, keep to the tourist-friendly neighborhoods located primarily in the northern part of the city. 

This includes: 

  • Recoleta
  • Retiro
  • Centro
  • San Telmo
  • Puerto Madero
  • Palermo
  • Villa Crespo
  • Chacarita
  • Almagro
  • Caballito
  • Belgrano
  • Nuñez
  • Villa Urquiza
  • Zona Norte — including Vicente Lopez, Olivos, La Lucila, Martinez, and San Isidro (this is Provincia, not capital)

Digital nomad hotspots and tourist activities are concentrated in these areas, so there’s typically no need to venture outside of them. 

One exception is La Boca, a popular tourist neighborhood located south of the city. You’re okay to visit during the day when it’s full of tourists and police on the streets. However, you’ll want to ensure you leave by nightfall. 

Avoid shanty towns, known locally as “villas,” where pickpocketing is common. You will notice when you are nearing a villa given the slum style of homes. One of the largest villas is located near the Central Train Station, so exercise caution when navigating that area.

Overall, Buenos Aires is similar to other large, cosmopolitan cities around the world. By traveling smart and staying aware of your surroundings, you can set yourself up to enjoy a fun and safe stay as a digital nomad in this beautiful city.

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