Argentina is a fascinating country that most travelers want to experience at some point. If it’s your first time visiting, or if you’re still pondering on whether or not to go, you may find this article useful. We will share some advice on how to stay safe in Argentina.
First of all, don’t worry. Argentina is pretty safe for travelers. There is crime in the country (of course) and there are areas you shouldn’t go to. But tourists are rarely targeted, and with some basic common sense, you will be just fine.
Why Argentina is generally safe
While Argentina has some crime, it rarely affects travelers. Possibly because travelers tend to stick to safe areas – but also because the nature of crime is different in Argentina than in other Latin American countries.
For example, you don’t see kidnappings, murders and drug trafficking anywhere near as much as in places like Colombia and Brazil. The crime rates in Argentina (especially the murder rate) are among the lowest on the continent.
As long as you stay in popular areas, you can be sure that there are lots of cameras, security guards and police officers around. They contribute massively to the safety of those areas.
The country also has a decent infrastructure. Taking any type of public transportation is generally considered safe, as long as you keep an eye on your belongings.
Food poisoning is a pretty low risk. Argentina is not a tropical country, aside from some northern provinces, so there are much fewer diseases to worry about.
Lastly, the Argentinian people are incredibly friendly and willing to help you if you need it. The level of English proficiency is the highest in South America.
For these reasons (and more), Argentina is generally a safe country where it’s unlikely that anything bad will happen to you.
Things to watch out for
Theft is the most common issue in Argentina. Be careful with your belongings – especially your phone. In some areas, you can use it on the streets; and in other areas, you cannot. Look around you and see what the locals are doing. If everyone is walking with phones in their hands, it’s probably fine to use yours in that area. But if you see no one doing it, then you better keep yours in the pocket as well.
The same goes for cameras. Keep your camera in your pocket or in a bag as much as you can. It’s fine to stop up and take pictures, but don’t walk around carelessly with a camera in your hand. They have big re-sell value in Argentina so thieves could get tempted if they see an easy target.
In bad areas, or just very crowded areas, you may want to carry your backpack on your chest rather than on your back. Or simply put a lock on it. Pickpockets are good and may steal from a backpack without you noticing it.
Watch out for motochorros in Buenos Aires and Córdoba. They are basically motorcyclists who rob people. Usually, it will be two persons on a motorbike that pull up to you with a gun or a knife. If it happens, don’t fight it – it’s safer to hand your phone and money over. It’s unlikely you will experience a violent robbery like that, but better to know the risk than not knowing it. Again, it’s rare but it can happen.
It’s safest to use mobile taxi services such as Cabify or User. It’s not very expensive in Argentina anyway. Some taxis try to scam you, but most taxi drivers are nice people, so once again: Small chance. Act confident when you get into a taxi and when you give the direction. Track the route on your phone to make sure it’s correct, and if the driver goes in another direction, ask him about it.
Taking buses and metro is safe as long as you always keep an eye on your belongings.
If you’re a guy, watch out for girls that try to seduce you too easily in the nightlife – all your stuff could be gone when you wake up the next day. If you’re a woman, use common sense and normal precautions when drinking and when going out with someone new. It’s always best to go out with a group of people and look out for each other. If you’re traveling to Argentina solo, then stay at a hostel and join a pub crawl in order to be out with a group and not alone.
Safets cities and areas in Argentina
If you go to Buenos Aires, you can safely walk around in areas such as Villa Crespo, Caballito, Palermo, Belgrano, Microcentro, Puerto Madero and San Telmo. Of course, crime can happen anywhere and it happens in these areas too. But they are generally safe as long as you use common sense, e.g. not walk alone outside with an expensive phone in your hand, not starting a bar fight, not approaching random groups of people on street corners, etc.
Córdoba is a pretty safe city, especially the popular areas of Nueva Córdoba and Güemes. The historic center is fine, too.
The entire city of Mendoza is generally pretty safe. But take normal precautions anyway, especially if you go to the suburbs or the parks at night.
Almost all the cities and towns of Patagonia are safe. If you are in a place like Bariloche or El Chaltén, there’s nothing to worry about regarding crime. It is really safe in Patagonia – but be prepared for the cold weather if you go in winter!
Unsafe cities and areas in Argentina
In Buenos Aires, you want to stay clear of the outer suburbs of the city where things can get a little dodgy. Some areas of the city centre should also be avoided if you are alone and if it’s dark, such as Barracas and La Boca. Slum areas like Villa 31 should obviously be avoided unless you’re going in there with a group and a guide.
Rosario is the most dangerous city in Argentina. It’s basically the city where most of the drug gangs operate, and shootings are way more common in Rosario than in any other part of the country.
In the province of Jujuy, there have been protests during 2023 and it is generally not advised for tourists to visit.
If you are uncomfortable with very hot weather, avoid the north.
And if you are uncomfortable with very cold weather, avoid the far south of the country – even though it can be okay and temperate during the summer.
Be careful in major bus terminals and train stations since there are usually thieves looking around. Keep a lock on your suitcase when passing through airports and consider plastic wrappings. Some travelers experience theft as they pass through South American airports since some workers can’t keep their hands to themselves. Fortunately, most of the airport workers are good people and theft is rare, but it does happen occasionally.
Crime statistics in Argentina
According to Macrotrends, intentional homicides in Argentina have gradually decreased over the last twenty years. The homicide rate is listed there as 4.62 which is slightly higher than Chile, but lower than Uruguay and the United States.
According to Transparency.org, Argentina ranks in the middle of the pack (94 out of 180) when it comes to corruption. 49% of people thought corruption was on the rise, while 13% of people have paid bribes to public officials. It can be assumed that this number is higher in reality.
Alternatives that are (even) safer
It’s difficult to find a country in South America that is safer than Argentina.
Chile would qualify, as they have slightly lower crime stats across the board. But with violent protests in recent years, it’s pretty hard to say whether Argentina or Chile is safest. However, in both countries, you generally don’t have anything to worry about if you behave normally.
Uruguay also qualifies as being safe. The intentional homicide rate is a bit higher than in Argentina during most years, but it is safer with regard to other forms of crime. Overall, Uruguay is about as safe as Argentina is and it could be an alternative destination if you don’t want to visit Argentina for some reason.
Bolivia has a low homicide rate – the lowest in South America, actually. So in that way, it’s a safer country to visit, but you do have to be more precautions with other factors such as altitude sickness, hygiene, mosquitos, etc.
Since we are talking about countries that share similarities with Argentina, it is obvious to mention Spain and Italy as good and safe alternatives. Argentina is pretty similar to these two European countries, so if it’s the culture that fascinates you, they can also be considered safe alternatives.
Argentina is one of the safest countries in South America, but statistically a little more dangerous than European countries, for example. As a tourist, you don’t have much to worry about as long as you take basic precautions. Most visitors are just fine when they go to Argentina, so enjoy your trip!