Is Mexico city safe to visit? While the situation in Mexico’s capital is complicated, the answer for you as a tourist is a resounding yes.
It is unfortunate that Mexico city (and Mexico in general) has been such a victim of an unfair media representation and portrayal. Even when you start researching online and querying “is Mexico city safe?” the results encourage you to exercise caution and remain hyper-vigilant.
But is this warranted? Honestly, no.
Mexico city is safe to visit provided that you travel with common sense. If you have traveled to other major cities and non-gentrified towns around the world, you don’t really need to behave any differently in Mexico City as you would in them.
Mexico City is not Bogota or Tijuana. You don’t need to worry yourself into a frenzy before visiting and truthfully, you should be mindful of people giving you this opinion when they haven’t even visited themselves.
Note: Mexico City is also known as “Ciudad de Mexico” (CDMX). So, it is often referred to throughout this article as CDMX.
Tips for Staying Safe in Mexico City
Know which neighborhoods not to venture into
The neighborhoods of Coyoacan, Roma Norte, Roma Sud, Condesa, Anzures, and Polanco are great districts where you will feel very comfortable exploring freely on foot. However, Mexico City does have some sketchy areas.
For the most part, these are places that you would not accidentally wander into anyway. However, when you are exploring Centro, it is very easy to take a wrong turn or take 3-4 blocks in a certain direction and find yourself somewhere that you really don’t want to be.
For instance, from the Palacio Bellas Artes (a very touristic area filled with travelers and police), a five-minute walk takes you to Plaza Garibaldi – a small square known for its live mariachi performers. However, the area between the two squares is not a good neighborhood.
Then, a short walk from Plaza Garibaldi brings you to the notorious Tepito district where you could quite easily unknowingly wander if you were just following Google maps and ambling along. A lot of homeless people and drug users loiter around the Plaza de la Concepcion and in the streets that veer off from Plaza Garibaldi.
Centro is probably the only part of Mexico City that you are likely to visit as a tourist where you need to practice increased caution. Again, common sense is key. Don’t wander down uninviting, sketchy-looking alleyways, and always be aware of your surroundings.
Take a guided tour to get your bearings if you wish
Mexico City is overwhelmingly large. A week here is barely enough to scratch the surface.
You could easily spend months and months living here and still perpetually be discovering new museums, places to eat, drink, hang out, etc. So, as a tourist it can be hard to know where to begin and when you search for the best things to do in Mexico City, most travel guides tend to list the same few places.
Doing a tour early on in your trip can give you more confidence in your Mexico City itinerary. You will find districts, markets, and restaurants that you would not have found independently.
Better yet? Exploring with a local means that you have a Mexico City expert on hand to give you valuable insight.
You can ask them any questions that you may have regarding “is Mexico city safe?”. Hopefully soon after you arrive, you will feel reassured that Mexico’s capital is a safe and fun place to explore. But if you still have any concerns or anxieties,
They will likely know the city like the back of their hand and be able to answer questions and offer input for your trip based on where you are staying. It is possible to do different themed tours depending on your specific interests.
For instance, art-themed tours, street-food tours, mezcal and tequila tours, etc. A number of reputable options are detailed below for your consideration.
- From Mexico City: Teotihuacan air balloon flight and breakfast
- Teotihuacan and Tlatelolco day trip by van
- Mexico City tour: Xochimilco, Coyoacan and Frida Kahlo house
- Mexico City street art bike tour with snacks
- CDMX Authentic downtown food tour
- Mexico City market tour
- Mexico City: Tacos & mezcal night food tour
- San Miguel de Allende day trip from Mexico City
- Puebla, Cholula and Tonantzintla day trip from Mexico City
Use Uber instead of street cabs
Uber is a great way to get around in Mexico City. You will find that even locals prefer it over taking street cabs.
While it is unfortunate for those street cabs that are reliable and legit, express kidnappings by fake cab drivers have been known to happen in Mexico. So, for that reason, it is better to be safe than sorry and call an Uber rather than get into a random street cab.
Express kidnappings happen when a cab driver picks up a tourist on the street and drives a little distance, then a few of his friends or accomplices enter the vehicle. The tourist is held at gunpoint and forced to hand over their valuables and drive around visiting ATMs and withdrawing the maximum amount of cash each time.
This may be rare, but it is definitely not a possibility that you want to entertain. Aside from that, you may find that street cabs try to overcharge you because they know that you are a tourist and do not know the going rate.
So, Uber is always a good choice – you will have an electronic record of who you are going with and where, and you can share your journey details with friends and family members.
Always double-check the license plate number before you get in the car. When someone accepts your fare, it is a good idea to click on their driver profile and see how many journeys they have done and what their rating is.
If someone has done thousands of journeys and they have a rating of 4.9, you can feel pretty comfortable that they are reliable. If they have done very few rides and/or have a low rating, you can cancel and select another driver.
Don’t risk traveling into sketchy areas
If you want to remain safe in Mexico City, that means that you need to take the initiative for your own safety. Perhaps some people are drawn to things that they feel that they should not be doing. However, there are occasionally tourists and Content Creators that venture into notorious markets like Tepito, or dangerous barrios.
Tepito market is a region where most Mexicans, and even the police, will not venture. There is a saying that “you can buy everything in Tepito except your dignity”.
Some of the stalls here simply sell fake designer handbags and sports sneakers. But as you go deeper in, it becomes more sinister.
Guns, drugs, and weapons are for sale. The area is notorious for petty crime and it is known that cartel members come here to hire hitmen.
Shootings, drug busts, violent assaults, and robberies have happened here in the past. Is it really worth the risk just to say that you have been there?
Again, Mexico City is safe as long as you take the initiative for your own safety. Petty crime happens city-wide, as it could in any big city. However, you are increasing your risk of being a victim of something if you venture into an area knowing it is dangerous.
Be careful about who you listen to for information
Tell someone you are traveling to Mexico and if they have not traveled to the country themselves, they will likely respond with concern and negative remarks. Mexico is safe for assertive travelers and so is Mexico City.
Don’t listen to the opinions of people who have never traveled to a destination themselves. You don’t need to hear their ignorant stereotypes or sweeping generalizations about somewhere they haven’t even visited.
Even if someone is giving you Mexico City travel advice and they have traveled to the Mexican capital, consider the source. Is the person well-traveled or are they a negative Nancy who complains about everywhere they go?
Consider if they are similar to you too. If you are a solo female traveler, it is better to listen to the opinions and experiences of other solo female travelers, for instance.
You don’t need to listen to couples or male travelers telling you that they would or would not feel comfortable doing X, Y, and Z if they were female and solo. They cannot relate!
Mexico City’s beautiful neighborhoods can be explored on foot
Much of the joy of exploring and falling in love with Mexico City is found in doing urban hikes, or simply taking the time to get lost in random city neighborhoods. Is Mexico city safe to explore on foot and take the time to get lost? Yes, in certain areas.
Do not let people’s scaremongering about Mexico City and Mexico allow you to miss out on this. Exploring on foot, using Google Maps as a navigator, stopping for coffee here and there, and discovering beautiful museums and independent boutiques, is a great way to pass a day or two.
Polanco is Mexico City’s most upscale neighborhood. Pass through for brunch at Cafe Toscano (Temístocles 26, Polanco, Polanco IV Secc, Miguel Hidalgo) or have lunch/dinner at one of the best restaurants in Mexico City.
Pujol ( Tennyson 133, Polanco, Polanco IV Secc, Miguel Hidalgo), ran by Chef Enrique Olvera, was named as the best restaurant in all of Mexico. Nearby, Quintonil (Av. Isaac Newton 55, Polanco, Polanco IV Secc) and Comedor Jacinta (Virgilio 40, Polanco, Polanco IV Secc) are also very worthy of your time.
Roma Norte and Roma Sud are arguably the hippest neighborhoods in Mexico City and they are a photographer’s dream. Its leafy, tree-lined streets are lined with artistic cafes, eclectic eateries, and independent boutique stores.
Roma Norte is arguably the more aesthetic of the two. However, the two Romas are both stunning in their own right. While in the area, keep your eyes peeled for thoughtful and vivid street art that adorns the facades of many stores and buildings.
Coyoacan is home to Caza Azul – the famous former home of Frida Kahlo. While it is her home that put Coyoacan on the map, it is perhaps the least impressive aspect of a visit to this charming, historic neighborhood that has housed many artists and creatives over the centuries.
Watch your things on the subway
While people may tell you that the CDMX metro is bad for petty crime, this is true of any city in the world. You can just as easily get robbed on a crowded subway car in London, Paris, or New York as you could in Mexico City.
Don’t be deterred from using the CDMX metro. It is a convenient and affordable way to get around. Besides, using it only adds to your local CDMX experience.
Just be mindful of your things as you would anywhere else. In crowded subway cars, keep your bag in front of you and hold onto it.
Never keep phones, wallets, or anything else in your back pocket or in a place where it can be easily snatched. Do not wear expensive bracelets, watches, or accessories.
Choose where to stay carefully
Sometimes, you can find great travel deals by simply opening up your favorite aggregator platform (Booking, Agoda, Hotels Combined, etc) and using their tool to filter by recommendation or low cost. It is best to be a little more mindful of neighborhoods in Mexico City.
You will find a lot of affordable options in the Centro. However, some hotels and accommodation options may be in places where you wouldn’t feel all that comfortable walking, even during the daytime.
It takes the magic out of the experience somewhat if you don’t feel comfortable in the area around your hotel or you are constantly looking over your shoulder. Some recommended Mexico City hotels are detailed below for your consideration.
There are countless options in Mexico City and there is something for every budget. So rest assured, you can easily stay in a “nice” part of town without breaking the bank.
Recommended Mexico City Hotels
- The Wild Oscar – Incomparable luxury boutique hotel in the heart of Polanco
- Grand Fiesta American Chapultapec – Stunning contemporary luxe hotel overlooking Chapultapec park
- Suites Contempo – Gorgeous spacious luxury suites with city views but without the luxury price tag.
- Casa Cleo – Beautiful apartments on the border of Condessa and Roma
- The Red Tree House – Quaint B&B in Roma with an artsy, eclectic vibe
Be mindful of dressing flashy
When you travel anywhere in Mexico, it is preferable to not stick out like a tourist. Avoid walking around with your expensive DSLR camera dangling around your neck or your expensive electronics and photography items tucked under your arms.
You will find that a lot of Mexico City residents dress very stylishly. Men wear tailored suits and women wear beautiful dresses and skirts paired with matching handbags and heels.
This is particularly true of Polanco, Roma, etc. A lot of Mexico City safety guides tell you to leave the fancy apparel at home but this is not necessarily true.
When you are walking around touristic areas, the Centro, or developing parts of the country, obviously you do not want to make yourself a target or appear as someone who has a lot of money. Of course, there are some ethical considerations around this too when it comes to wearing Designer labels in areas where people do not know where their next meal is coming from.
However, in the aforementioned neighborhoods of Polanco, Roma, Azures, etc, you can comfortably wear whatever you like. Do not exist in a panic that you need to leave your Chanel sunglasses at home and buy cheap alternatives just because you are going to Mexico City.
Purchase a theft-proof backpack and luggage
If you are a victim of a crime in Mexico City, it is likely to be a petty or opportunistic crime. For instance, perhaps someone tries to snatch your backpack or purse in a crowded marketplace, or slashes it open from behind when you are not looking.
One way to remove that risk is to invest in a theft-proof backpack or money belt. These are a little pricier than your average travel daypack, sure.
But they come with a plethora of additional safety features. Theft-proof backpacks, like those offered by Pacsafe, are waterproof, slash-proof, and come with a TSA-approved locking system.
They can be purchased in stylish designs so you would not suspect that they were any different from a regular backpack. Many come with multi-year warranties.
Be informed about what to do in case of an earthquake
Mexico City sits in a very active seismic zone on the boundary of three fault lines. This makes it very susceptible to earthquakes.
Although large or fatal earthquakes are very rare (the last major one took place in 2017), smaller shakes and tremors are not unheard of. Since earthquakes are a known issue in this part of Mexico, many buildings are now created earthquake-proof.
The chances of experiencing a large quake during your trip are relatively small. But it doesn’t hurt to know what to do just in case one does happen.
Use common sense and trust your gut instincts
Common sense goes a long way, wherever you choose to travel. The same is true for keeping safe in Mexico City.
Don’t walk alone at night, even if you know the area or you are somewhere where you feel comfortable by the day. Always opt to take a taxi over walking alone.
Be mindful of over-friendly strangers and trust your gut instinct. If you feel that someone is bothering or following you, head to an area with plenty of people. Alternatively, head into a store and tell someone.
Don’t let fear ruin your trip
You can usually get a good feel for what a place is like as soon as you arrive. Generally, you will feel that the situation on the ground is a far cry from any scaremongering people or stories you have encountered.
Don’t let fear ruin your trip. If you arrive skittish, paranoid, and constantly looking over your shoulder, you will not enjoy your time in the city.
Be cautious by all means. But focus your energy and attention on the best places to get tacos, which museums you are going to visit, and which world-leading restaurants you are going to dine at.
Purchase comprehensive travel insurance
It is imperative to purchase comprehensive travel insurance wherever in the world that you travel. Unfortunately, with all the preparation and caution in the world, you can never really know what’s around the corner.
Purchase a comprehensive policy that has at least $1million dollars worth of medical coverage. Should you fall sick or get into an accident overseas, no matter how small, medical bills can be exorbitant.
It is worth buying a policy that comes with some added extras. For instance, a lot include coverage of electronics in case of loss/theft, repatriation, and cancellations.
Once you have purchased your policy, be sure to print out/screenshot the first page and keep the policy reference number safe. Should you need assistance overseas, this will be the first thing that you are asked for.
Buy an alarmed doorstop
An alarmed door stop is a handy thing to include in your Mexico packing list. These can be purchased for just a few dollars and act as a wedge to stop anyone from entering or forcing their way into your room.
Should someone force entry, an alarm will sound that can be heard up to several thousand feet away. This may be enough to scare the person away.
To be clear, hotel break-ins in Mexico City are far from the norm. This isn’t something you even need to worry about unless you are in a shady motel in a rough part of town.
But this is still an additional safety measure you can take, particularly if you are traveling alone. It might give you extra peace of mind and help you sleep better at night.
Don’t drink the water
You cannot drink the water in Mexico City or anywhere in Mexico for that matter. Although the water in Mexico is purified at the source, it often gets contaminated en route to your tap.
The risk of getting very sick from congesting contaminated water is very high so this is simply not worth the risk. Most hotels will leave a couple of bottles of water in your room each day.
Some have potable water on-site. If they do, there will be signs notifying you as such.
It is a good idea to purchase a reusable water bottle like a Life Straw. These keep your water cool throughout the day and help you minimize plastic waste.
Just purchase large, multi-liter bottles of water from Oxxo, 7/11, or Mexican supermarkets. Then, keep it in your hotel fridge and top up your reusable bottle each day.
Make smart dining decisions
Getting sick is a concern for a lot of people traveling to Mexico but usually, unnecessarily so. You can spend months in Mexico City and never get sick, or you can be there for a day and get unwell.
Traveling to Mexico is not synonymous with getting ill and food hygiene standards are usually pretty good across Mexico City. Street food is a huge part of Mexican food culture and not something that you want to miss.
Use basic common sense when dining in street food markets in CDMX. If somewhere has a line, it is usually a good indicator that the food is good.
Don’t eat at stalls that look unclean, have bugs swarming around, or have meat/fruit/veg hanging up that appears to have been sitting out. It is good practice to always carry around little bottles of hand sanitizer to use before eating.
Is Mexico City safe for solo travelers?
Mexico City is safe for solo travelers, regardless of gender. Because so many people from different backgrounds and cultures live here, you will not stand out or find that you attract attention here. So, you can comfortably wander around alone.
Is Mexico City safe for solo female travelers?
Mexico City is safe for solo female travelers. This entire guide has been written by a woman that has traveled through Mexico alone.
You will find that most Mexican women in Mexico City, and other inland parts of Mexico like San Cristobal de Las Casas and Comitan in Chiapas, tend to dress quite conservatively.
Obviously, women should be free to wear whatever they want. If you want to wear short shorts and tank tops, you are free to do so and you won’t offend anybody.
However, Mexican women tend to prefer to dress more conservatively so that they minimize the amount of unwanted attention they receive from men. Mexico is still a very macho, patriarchal country and you are more likely to receive looks and comments if you are the only person wearing shorts. Ultimately, you should dress however you feel most confident and comfortable!
Be aware of useful resources for travelers
Platforms like Meetup and Couchsurfing can be great for finding events going on in Mexico City. If you don’t find something that interests you, you can host your own!
Facebook groups are also a good way to connect with locals and travelers. If you need any help with anything, want recommendations, or still have concerns about “Is Mexico City safe?” you can post in these groups and plenty of people will respond and answer.
You can also make a post to find people to meet and hang out with in these groups. Some ex-pats can be a bit grumpy and snarky but just take that with a pinch of salt. Some useful Mexico City Facebook groups to be aware of are detailed below.
- Foreigners in Mexico City 🇲🇽
- Foreigners in Mexico City
- American Expats/Friends Living in Mexico City
- Foreigners & Expats in Mexico City
- Foreigners & Expats in Mexico City (CDMX)
- Expats in Mexico City
- Women in CDMX (Mexico City)
- Backpacking Mexico
Is Mexico City safe? Final thoughts
Is Mexico City safe to travel to? Yes, provided that you take precautions and make your safety your priority.
Have you traveled to Mexico City? What did you think? What other tips would you give to first-time travelers to help them keep safe in Mexico in general and Mexico city?