Main thoroughfares such as Avenida Santa Fe, Avenida Cordoba and certain parts of Rivadavia can be comfortably walked at all hours of the day; in these areas is not strange to see florists selling flowers, open kiosks and people walking their dogs at 4am in the morning. You will blend in innocuously in northern and eastern upper-middle-class suburbs such as Belgrano, Recoleta and Palermo. These are among the most popular suburbs for the throbbing Buenos Aires nightlife, and there are barely any areas vacant of life. Typical security measures should always be taken, but these suburbs are fine.
As a general rule, the southern suburbs such as La Boca, Barracas and Pompeya are not totally secure at night, and Constitucion at night is a no-go. The reason could pertain to the fact that just beyond these mostly residential suburbs and into the southern suburbs, the unemployment level of the population is double that of the rest of the capital, an immense difference. Demographically speaking, the people in this zone are less wealthy, so at night the rubbish-sorting cartoneros (People and Culture chapter) set out to disperse around the rest of the city. These are poor people who choose a difficult but honest way to earn a living. Unfortunately many others who come from the area resort to what could be regarded as subsistence crime and drugs to gain money- or to escape from the socioeconomic position they are in. Since this zone is more residential, it is also very pleasant and tranquil during the day. San Telmo is very popular with tourists, and Calle Defensa and Plaza Dorrego are filled with people and police almost 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Take care walking around Avenida Colon at night.
Further on lie the expansive suburbs of Villa Lugano, Villa Soldati and Mataderos. Apart from several important thoroughfares in the zone, such as Avenida Eva Peron, the area comprises mostly of shanty towns and numerous mono-block zones for people relocated from the urbanized shanty towns. Consequently, it is not advised to visit this area, and there is not much interest here either, perhaps except for the surrealistic semi-abandoned parks around Parque de la Ciudad (City Park) in Villa Lugano. The majority of the people are hard-working immigrants from the province and beyond until Peru, but apart from the drugs that are rife in all shanty towns of Latin America, the increasing use of the cocaine residue ¨pasta base¨ has become in fashion in these suburbs because of its cheapness and availability, and it leads many people to serious crime because of their desperation and the state of mind it puts them in.
Retiro is in a way probably the most affecting suburb because of its contrast and popularity. Retiro contains the main bus and train station of Buenos Aires and also the most expensive rent costs in the city. However, be careful in Retiro, and do not hang around at night- one of the most controversial, biggest and insecure slum towns of the city is located just behind the station, and there are always people lingering around there observing who walks by. And from the top floor of the luxury glistening towers of Alem Plaza and the five star Sheraton Hotel opposite the station are great views of the city- and the slum. A simple tip: if you are approached aggressively by several young people anywhere in the city at any time asking for ¨una moneda¨, it almost always means they do not have the intention just to wait for a coin. If you are vigilant, it is not too difficult to recognize a group of miskempt teens watching each person who walks by. This is especially common around the station of Retiro. Try your best to avoid them. Not only tourists, but also locals, are affected by the petty crimes such as muggings and theft that arise from such circumstances with these people.
Most other zones of Buenos Aires are tranquil and more residential, with the exception of Once in Almagro. It is an interesting, colourful place to look around in, and is also interestingly cheap and multicultural, but it is also a popular place for pick-pockets and should be avoided at night.
Overall, Buenos Aires is not a dangerous city. There is no doubt that locals in Buenos Aires tend to exaggerate the level of insecurity in the city- do not let yourself be instilled with fear! There is no need to be paranoid in Buenos Aires. You are safe in almost all well-known suburbs. If you are aware of your surroundings and the people around you, and walk as though you are sure of where you are going and where your destination is, you should not have any trouble. Personally I can say that after a lot of time living in Buenos Aires, the only few unfavourable situations I have been in have occurred when I could have avoided them by trusting my instinct.
–Travis Williams