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By Norbert Figueroa, an experienced architect, travel writer, long-term budget traveler, and photographer with over 13 years of travel experience in over 139 countries and counting. @globotreks


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For any traveler, knowing if a major city is safe or not can play a huge part in whether you choose to visit. This begs the question: Is Mexico City safe for travel and worth the potential risks?

If you’ve done a lot of traveling, you’ll know pretty much all the major cities of the world have their issues. This makes knowing the risks before you visit an essential aspect of your planning process.

From choosing your hostel in Mexico City to knowing the safest areas to explore, there’s a lot to consider when visiting this bustling city. So stick around to discover everything you need to know about Mexico’s capital before jumping aboard a plane for your ultimate getaway.

How Safe Is It to Visit Mexico City, Mexico?

While shows like Narcos and El Chapo may set Mexico City up to be this lawless destination with violent crime at every corner, this is far from the truth. Just like any other big city, Mexico City experiences predominantly petty crimes (nonviolent incidents) throughout the year.

As a matter of fact, Mexico City’s crime rate is significantly lower than most major cities in the country. This is largely due to the increased security patrols throughout the city. Mexico City is safe for tourists, but you should still exercise increased caution.

Next Read: Despite the high crime rates, Mexicans are the second happiest people in Central America. If you like this stat, have a look at these fun facts about Mexico.

Square in Mexico City with the Mexican flag

Common Crimes in Mexico City

While violent crime does occur in Mexico City, this is something that happens in just about every city in the world. Petty crime is where the majority of the city gets its big boost in crime stats.

The most common crimes in Mexico City (roughly one-third of all crimes in the city) are theft and robbery along streets, in crowded tourist areas, and on transportation routes. So if you’re walking in the city center or have to use the Mexico City Metro, keep your wits about you.

The majority of thefts that occur are Mustard scams. This is when someone distracts you by ‘accidentally’ spilling something on you while someone else takes your valuables.

Another common crime in Mexico City is the use and sale of drugs. If you are approached by anyone trying to sell you drugs, avoid them.

Taxi scams also occur in the city and can result in violent crimes in some cases. It’s best to use Uber for night travel.

Interesting Fact: Mexico City’s crime index is actually lower than several US cities. For a comparative list, visit the Numbeo website.

Other Travel Dangers When Exploring Mexico City

There are a few other things to keep in mind during your travels. Here are some other travel dangers (mainly involving natural disasters) to keep in mind when in Mexico City:

  • As the city sits along the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, earthquakes are a common occurrence. If an earthquake hits during your visit, be sure to drop, find cover, and hold yourself as tight as possible.
  • Poor drainage systems mean the city is prone to flooding. Be sure to keep track of the weather forecast and avoid low-lying areas during high rainfall.
  • Opt for bottled water over drinking the local tap water. Even the locals prefer to drink bottled water.
The Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City, Mexico

Dos and Don’ts on Your Mexico City Vacation

There are loads of basic safety precautions you can use to avoid being a victim of crime in Mexico City.

Some Dos for Your Mexico City Trip

  • Always be aware of your surroundings, especially when in new areas.
  • Most restaurants, hotels, and shops accept cards, so you’re safer carrying less cash.
  • Avoid falling asleep if and when using public transportation.
  • Leave your Visa, ID, and passport at your lodging and carry copies with you. If you’re pickpocketed, then at least the original copies are still safe.
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A Few Don’ts When in Mexico City

  • Don’t use public transport routes at night. Call an Uber instead.
  • Don’t walk alone at night, especially in high-risk areas.
  • Don’t use headphones when walking through the street, and avoid using your phone or having your wallet visible.
  • Don’t use a backpack. Rather, use a sling bag that rests in front of you.
Statue in CDMX

Mexico City’s Safest Areas vs. Areas to Avoid

Like any destination in the world, Mexico City has some fantastic areas to visit and others you’re better off avoiding. Even Mexico’s bucket list-worthy Cancun has some regions you’re safer off not visiting.

While pickpockets and opportunistic criminals will naturally gravitate towards tourist hotspots, some of these regions are still generally safe. This includes some of the Mayan landmarks in the city, like Templo Mayor and the Cuicuilco Archaeological Zone.

Note: It’s best to avoid some of the popular tourist districts come nightfall, as this is when pickpockets are most prominent.

Mexico City’s Safe Neighborhoods

From opulent areas with state-of-the-art security to up-and-coming neighborhoods popular with young adults, Mexico City has some lovely districts.

Do you want to stay on the safe side of town, all while enjoying the gifts of Mexican food, history, and atmosphere? Consider booking your hotel or hostel in one of the following areas.

1. Santa Fe | Best for a Safe Stay

If you want to stay near the historic center of Mexico City, then Santa Fe is possibly your best option. With countless hotels, high-rise buildings, and some stunning college campuses, Santa Fe is the part of town offering unmatched safety.

Its modern delights aren’t just seen in the massive skyscrapers and top-notch hotels, as its restaurant scene is one of the best in Mexico City. When you’re not feasting at the up-scale eateries, you could visit Garden Santa Fe or Centro Santa Fe for a day of shopping.

The area’s most notable drawcard, however, has to be the pristine Parque La Mexicana. It’s the perfect place to slow down and enjoy the city. The historic city center may be a 20-minute commute away, but the security of Santa Fe is well worth the extra Ubers.

2. Lomas de Chapultepec | Best for Staying Near Tourist Attractions

If you’re a first-time traveler in Latin America and are looking to see the city’s top attractions, Lomas de Chapultepec is the place for you. It’s just six miles from Mexico City’s historical center.

This neighborhood may be close to the city center, but it’s even closer to the best museums of Mexico City. The Museo Nacional de Antropología rests in Bosque de Chapultepec — a park which you can safely walk to. Other fantastic attractions include Fuente de Petróleos and the picturesque Iglesia San Miguel Tecamachalco.

The area’s proximity to the top museums offers an extra buffer of security — courtesy of the museum’s 24/7 patrols. When you add its thriving restaurants like La Mansion to the mix, staying in Lomas de Chapultepec becomes all the more appealing.

Avenue in Mexico City

3. Interlomas | Best for Digital Nomads & Young Professionals

While Interlomas may be slightly further away from the touristy areas of Mexico City, it’s still one of the safest neighborhoods in town. It’s an upscale area with an added element of security thanks to its proximity to the Universidad Anáhuac.

It offers a ritzy twist of modern apartment buildings paired with a stunning array of street-side restaurants — particularly in its Bosque de Las Palmas region. Interlomas is also well-known for its shopping centers, with Paseo Interlomas being a popular spot for some retail therapy.

It’s a great option for digital nomads and young professionals alike thanks to its affordable range of short and long-term rental apartments. Plus, if something does go awry during your time in Interlomas, the Hospital Angeles Lomas is right around the corner.

4. Polanco | Best for a Luxury Stay

Polanco is possibly the most affluent region of Mexico City, which is encapsulated by the pristine oval-shaped park at its center. Bear in mind that it’s a fairly pricey region to stay in due to its luxury accommodations. But this is all worth it if you want to stay just six miles from Centro.

From the thousands of artworks in Museo Samaya to the bustling bars and restaurants of Ave. Pdte. Masaryk, you won’t fall short of things to do in the neighborhood. The Hospital Español in the area’s northern region also provides that extra bit of protection, should anything happen during your travels.

Simply put, this opulent neighborhood is one of the safest places for you to stay, walk, and relax in Mexico City.

5. Coyoacan | Best for its Safe Nightlife

If you’re in search of a thriving nightlife scene where visiting local bars is relatively safe, then Coyoacan is your best bet. It offers a unique blend of cobblestone streets and historic colonial architecture complete with trendy bars and restaurants.

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The region is fairly safe for a few reasons. Firstly, the iconic and protected Parroquia San Juan Bautista, a memorable place of worship, is at the district’s center. There’s also University City, which offers an added layer of security.

While Coyoacan’s nightlife is understandably popping, it also offers some fantastic daytime activities. You could visit the Frida Kahlo Museum or the National Museum of Popular Culture. Plaza Cayoacan is yet another tourist attraction worth adding to your itinerary.

Top Tip: You can also find really affordable lodging in Coyoacan compared to some of the other areas mentioned.

Flag in Mexico City, Mexico

Dangerous Neighborhoods to Avoid in Mexico City

While Mexico City has some truly delightful districts, there are also some neighborhoods that you should try to avoid altogether.

There are some tourist hotspots in each district, which would be better visited on a guided tour as you’re safer in numbers and with a knowledgeable guide. Aside from joining a tour, you should generally avoid walking in these areas alone.

1. Tepito | Known for Poor Quality Goods & Pickpockets

Just north of the city center, you’ll find the small but extremely busy neighborhood of Tepito. It’s known as the place where you can buy just about anything, and it’s a fairly astute observation, to be honest.

It’s a district packed with traditional street markets where knock-off goods are sold at very cheap prices. It’s also a place known as Mexico City’s drug warehouse, so the narcotic trade in this neighborhood is rampant.

As an extremely busy area filled to the brim with street vendors, it’s also a region where pickpockets do a lot of their ‘business’. If you’re looking for a safe street market experience, go to El Bazaar Sábado in Cayoacan or Mercado de Medellín in Roma.

2. Iztapalapa | Known for Its High Rate of Violent Crimes

Yes, Iztapalapa has some iconic tourist hotspots, like Chapultepec Castle, Monumento Cabeza de Juárez, and ¡Kataplum!. But it’s also the district in Mexico City that has the highest rates of violent crimes.

This is largely due to the fact it’s an extremely populated area that also suffers from high drug trafficking and homicide rates. Luckily, these issues don’t affect tourists all that much, but it’s not worth risking lady luck.

This is where guided tours come in handy, as you’re much safer in a group than wandering through the streets of Iztapalapa alone. Possibly the most notable landmark (worth visiting) in this part of the city is Piramide del Fuego Nuevo at the top of the park, Cerro de la Estrella.

Top Tip: The most dangerous part of this large district is La Joya — aka El Hoyo — so steer well away from it.

3. Colonia del Valle | Known for Kidnappings (Mainly of Locals)

While safety concerns surrounding kidnappings in Colonia del Valle are predominantly for locals, it’s not a comforting stat to find out. The district has the highest rates of express kidnapping in the city, and considering taxi fraud is a real issue in the city, this is an area to avoid come nightfall.

Despite this issue, the region has loads of lovely parks and restaurants worth visiting. If you visit during the day, you’ll be fairly safe exploring this part of the city. However, it’s best not to stick around come nightfall, as this is when instances of kidnappings are at their highest.

Top Tip: If you do find yourself in this part of the city at night, use Uber rather than hailing a cab. This way, you are less likely to fall victim to taxi scams and express kidnapping.

Street in Mexico City, Mexico

4. La Merced Market | Known for Pickpockets & Petty Crime

While visiting La Merced Market is an extremely appealing idea — considering it’s the largest in the city — you may be better off steering clear of it. Yes, it’s well known for its dazzling range of fresh produce and delectable assortment of Mexican cuisine, but it’s also a prime pickpocketing spot.

Petty theft can also occur here, but that’s nothing new for an extremely busy local market. If you do decide to go, try your best not to look like a tourist. Yes, that’s easier said than done, but putting away the camera and enjoying the market for what it is could be a good start.

Top Tip: A safer alternative and a slightly more upscale place to visit for all things food would be Mercado Roma in the Roma borough.

5. Ciudad Neza | Known for Gang-Related Crimes

Formerly known as Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl, Ciudad Neza is a region of Mexico City that you’re better off avoiding altogether. Roughly 24% of its population still live in what is one of the biggest ciudad perdida (shanty town) in the country.

While that’s not a real reason to avoid the area, it’s also a part of the city that has been struggling with gang-related crimes. Unfortunately, police presence hasn’t been enough to quell the gang issues. So, if you value your safety, you’re better off steering clear of this part of Mexico City.

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It’s also a part of Mexico City that has no real tourist attractions, so you wouldn’t really have a reason to visit Ciudad Neza anyway.

Centro Historico in CDMX

Mexico City Safety Tips for All Travelers

Although Mexico City is generally safe for tourists, petty crime can happen to anyone — whether you’re a local or a visitor. As such, here are some tips that will help you stay safe in Mexico City:

  • Before arriving, consider booking some walking tours of the city. These are generally a safe way to get to know Mexico City’s neighborhoods.
  • Stay vigilant when using public transportation and lingering near the metro lines in the evening.
  • If you don’t want to carry a bag around but want to keep your valuables safe, consider getting an anti-theft money belt. It’s pretty difficult for a pickpocket to steal from you when you have a money belt.
  • Try and get skip-the-line tickets to museums and other top attractions. Popular tourist neighborhoods are amongst the top pickpocketing spots, and an early access ticket can help you avoid potential safety risks.
  • While street food in Mexico is an undeniable pro, there are certain places to avoid. Keep away from stalls that have pre-prepared meats. Rather, opt for a stall where you can see the cuts of meat being prepared.
  • Avoid ice cubes if you can. It may sound a bit odd, but it’s included for good reason. As the tap water in the city isn’t healthy, most of the ice is made from this same tap water.
  • Drink alcohol responsibly, and if you do, don’t do it in public. The Mexican government has made drinking alcohol in public illegal, so you could face a fine or jail time.
  • Be aware of potential earthquakes. The city has a warning system that alerts the city of an earthquake 60 seconds ahead of time. If you hear the alarm, follow the lead of the locals to a safe space.
  • Make sure you have travel insurance before visiting the city. Although relatively safe, anything can happen, from losing your luggage to a stomach bug. This is where quality travel insurance can help you out. I highly recommend getting HeyMondo travel insurance. I use it on all my trips.
Modern Museum in Mexico City

FAQs About Safety in Mexico City

If you’re looking for some more details on Mexico City’s safety, these answers may put your mind at ease.

Is Mexico City Safe to Walk At Night?

Walking through Mexico City at night isn’t advised. While walking in a group is fairly safe, if you’re a solo female traveler (or anyone traveling alone, for that matter), it can be dangerous.

It’s better to walk the city during the day and use Uber for traveling at night.

Are Taxis in Mexico City Safe?

As a general rule of thumb, it’s much safer to use Uber over taxis when in Mexico City. Taxi operators such as Turismo and Sitio (which are usually assigned to specific hotels) are available, but not all taxis are as well run as these fleets.

Many operators have issues with taxi fraud — especially come nightfall — so it’s best to stick to Uber, Turismo, or Sitio.

What Is the Safest Way to Move Around Mexico City?

Simply put, Uber and reputable taxi companies such as Turismo and Sitio are the safest way to get around the city.

That said, the city’s metro is very affordable and a fairly safe alternative when traveling during the day. There are even female-only carriages on the Mexico City Metro line for added safety.

Do They Speak English in Mexico City?

The short answer is no, as Spanish is the most widely spoken language in the city. You will find some hotel and restaurant personnel that can speak English. But it would be a good idea to brush up on your Spanish before you visit.

Is Mexico City Safe for Solo Female Travelers?

Generally speaking, yes, Mexico City is a fairly safe destination for solo female travel. You should still exercise caution when in the city and try to avoid the ‘dangerous’ neighborhoods listed earlier in the post.

Mexico Mi Amor Sign

Final Thoughts on Staying Safe in Mexico City

So, there you have it, all the nitty gritty details you need to know for a safe Mexico City vacation. An important thing to note is Mexico City, compared to some of the top European cities, for example, may look dangerous. But in actuality, it’s a fairly safe destination for travelers.

The capital is actually safer in comparison to many of the other destinations in Mexico, making it a great vacation spot. Just remember not to drink tap water. The last thing you want is to get sick.

So, once you’ve looked at all of Mexico’s cheapest travel destinations and you’re finalizing an itinerary, don’t forget to squeeze Mexico City in there.

Is Mexico City Safe For Travel? | Top Tips When Visiting Mexico City
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