Is San Miguel de Allende safe to travel to? Safety is often people’s biggest concern when they are considering a trip to Mexico.
Unfortunately, the country doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to traveler safety and it is often portrayed unfairly in the media. San Miguel de Allende, a gorgeous colonial-era city in the Bajio mountains in Guanajuato, Central Mexico is one of the safest destinations in the country.
The area sees low crime rates and is home to an ever-increasing ex-pat population. Many of the violent crimes that you read about happening in other parts of Mexico simply don’t happen in San Miguel de Allende.
The city has a different culture entirely. Still, when traveling anywhere, it is important to use common sense precautions.
This article on safety in San Miguel de Allende has been written by a British Travel Writer based in Merida, Mexico. I have traveled through Guanajuato state extensively. So rest assured, you are in good hands.
Is San Miguel de Allende safe?
San Miguel de Allende is a very safe place. Three or four days in this gorgeous colonial city is enough to get an initial feel for the area.
However, you could easily while away several weeks here, hanging out in the cute coffee shops and using the city as a base to explore the wider state of Guanajuato. San Miguel de Allende was inscribed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2008, along with the Sanctuary of Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco.
The city was founded in 1542 by the Franciscan friar Fray Juan de San Miguel. It was originally called San Miguel el Grande before the name was changed in 1826 to honor Ignacio Allende, a hero in the Mexican war for Independence.
Today, San Miguel de Allende attracts a well-heeled crowd. Its cobbled streets and gorgeous baroque buildings are filled with independent art galleries, upscale boutique stores, coffee shops, and international eateries.
The city also has a large expat population. It is estimated that around 10% of the area’s 175,000-strong population is made up of expats – many of whom relocated from the US and Canada in search of sunnier climes.
The expats are a major contributor to why San Miguel de Allende is so safe. The investments and spending with local businesses and in the local property market motivate the Mexican government to ensure that the area remains safe.
Similarly, since people in San Miguel de Allende are so accustomed to seeing people of all races and cultures from all over the world, you really don’t have to worry about sticking out here. San Miguel de Allende is one of the safest places in Mexico.
San Miguel de Allende crime statistics
The crime rate in San Miguel de Allende is low. Violent crime is not common and when it does occur, it is usually restricted to incidents between members of criminal organizations and does not affect tourists.
Numbeo crime index questioned 119 San Miguel de Allende residents on their perception of safety in the city. 83.05% of participants said that they felt very safe walking around alone during the day.
The chances of an innocent bystander being in the wrong place at the wrong time and caught in the crossfire of criminal activity are slim to none.
Take the government travel advice with a pinch of salt
It is a good idea to check government travel advisories when traveling anywhere new and the same applies when planning a first trip to San Miguel de Allende. Your government’s travel advisory will likely be updated in real time in line with any changing entry requirements or recent safety and security developments.
The US Department of State Travel Advisory provides a state-by-state safety breakdown for each of the 32 states of Mexico. Some states are flagged as places where you need to “exercise normal precautions”.
Others are recognized as places where you need to “exercise increased precautions”, “reconsider travel to” or as places you should not travel.
The official government travel advice for the state of Guanajuato states the below.
“Reconsider travel due to crime and kidnapping. Gang violence, often associated with the theft of petroleum and natural gas from the state oil company and other suppliers, occurs in Guanajuato, primarily in the south and central areas of the state.
This is sternly worded and intimidating. However, it is important to keep in mind that the safety situation can vary significantly from one part of a state to another, and the aforementioned crimes do not take place in tourist areas like San Miguel de Allende.
Guanajuato state is safe for tourists to travel to for the most part, and Guanajuato City too can be charming. Aside from seeing the famous Guanajuato mummies, the city is filled with museums, art galleries, and incredible restaurants.
Tips for Staying Safe in San Miguel de Allende
A selection of useful safety tips to consider when traveling to San Miguel de Allende is detailed below. The city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico.
A lot of the measures that you can take to ensure your personal safety here are common sense and are good practice wherever you travel.
Take a walking tour
Taking a walking tour is a great way to get your bearings in a new city and the same can be said of visiting San Miguel de Allende for the first time. Tours can help you gain confidence if you are a little anxious about being in a new place on your first visit.
Numerous reputable tour companies operate in San Miguel de Allende. They often include pick up from your hotel or you meet the other participants in the historic center.
On a tour, you will gain more information and context to the various buildings and neighborhoods that you see, and learn more about the city’s role in the Mexican war for independence. You will see spectacular city highlights like the Temple of the Immaculate Conception, the Parish of San Miguel Arcangel, and the house of Captain Ignacio Allende.
You can also take tours that follow a particular theme. E.g. food tours, taco, and tequila tours, etc.
Recommended San Miguel de Allende tours
A selection of recommended San Miguel de Allende tours is detailed below for your consideration. Book your place online in advance to avoid disappointment!
- Street tacos and tequila tour of San Miguel de Allende
- San Miguel de Allende downtown walking tour
- Landmarks and lunch walking tour
- San Miguel de Allende: walking tour of houses and gardens
- Tour of 2 vineyards with winetasting
Getting to San Miguel de Allende
There is no airport that services San Miguel de Allende directly. However, there are a couple that are located just a few hours’ drive away.
The best one to use depends on your wider Mexico itinerary and whatever works out more convenient based on your starting point. Queretaro Airport (QRO) and Leon Airport (BJX) are arguably the easiest places to fly to.
However, you can also fly to one of Mexico City’s airports and then take a bus from there. The bust from CDMX to San Miguel de Allende takes about 3 hours and 15 minutes on average.
(But sometimes the journey time can be as much as 4 hours if there is heavy traffic). Do note that the roads that connect Queretaro and Leon airports with San Miguel de Allende are quite bumpy and filled with potholes in some places.
You may prefer to organize a private transfer, for comfort, with a bilingual local driver who knows the roads well.
Is San Miguel de Allende safe for solo travelers?
San Miguel de Allende is one of the safest places in Mexico for solo travelers. Since so many expats live here, you will see plenty of people from around the world running errands by themselves, going for coffee, etc.
This isn’t a place where you will stand out or feel uncomfortable being alone. Even solo female travelers can feel comfortable here.
Keep an eye on your personal belongings
If you are going to be a victim of a crime in San Miguel de Allende, is most likely to be petty crimes such as bag snatching or pickpocketing. San Miguel is safe, but you get opportunists and tricksters everywhere.
The risk of falling victim to such a crime is also easily avoided. Do not store your phone, wallet, or other valuables in your back pocket. Consider walking with your bag in front of you in crowded markets like the Ignacio Ramirez Market or the Mercado de Artesanias.
For instance, they are slash-proof, waterproof, and have integrated mesh locking systems.
Don’t flash your valuables
There is a saying in Latin America called “no dar de papaya”. It literally translates to mean “don’t give papaya”.
In other words, you shouldn’t give something “sweet” to tempt potential thieves. That means no walking around with your expensive DSLR camera around your neck or any obvious signs of wealth like expensive designer bags and luxury items.
To be fair, San Miguel de Allende does have plenty of affluent expats and some really classy eateries. So, you will see people dressed up in expensive clothing from time to time.
The trick is to know where/when it is okay. Similarly, the city has some great artisanal coffee shops and roasteries where you may want to work remotely.
When you see people leaving their MacBooks unattended and wandering off to the bathroom, it is easy to get complacent. But it’s still better to be safe than sorry.
Never let your personal belongings out of your sight. If you go to the bathroom or the counter, pack your things in your bag and take them with you rather than asking a tablemate to keep an eye on them.
Is San Miguel de Allende safe at night?
San Miguel has a vibrant nightlife scene. There is something for everyone here – from casual hangouts that have live music every night of the week, to chic rooftop bars that are home to some of the best mixologists in Mexico.
Exploring at night is safe provided that you stick to the center of the historic district, don’t wander off down unsuspecting side streets and into random neighborhoods, and watch your alcohol intake.
Quince Rooftop is an elegant day-to-night bar in the city center that is a great place to stop for brunch, lunch, or evening drinks when the resident DJ performs. The nearby Zumo rooftop on the top of the Hotel Boutique Villa Limon is another valid contender for the title of the best rooftop bar in town.
From here, you have unparalleled 360-degree views over the city skyline with the glittering domes of ornate catholic churches glimmering in the distance. Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar and Bekeb are two other great bars to add to your radar.
Can I drink the water in San Miguel de Allende?
You cannot drink the water in San Miguel de Allende (or anywhere in Mexico for that matter). Although it is purified at the source, and Mexicans will tell you that years ago it was OK to drink, unfortunately, it can get contaminated en route to your tap.
It isn’t just the case that you cannot drink the tap water in Mexico because you are not accustomed to it. Mexicans don’t drink it either.
Fortunately, hotels and Airbnbs will usually provide a couple of complimentary bottles of water in your hotel room when you check in. Some luxury San Miguel hotels and villas may have potable water taps.
(They will likely tell you about this when you check in. Look out for signs marked “agua potable”.)
Purchase comprehensive travel insurance
It is prudent to purchase comprehensive travel insurance before traveling anywhere. Unfortunately, today’s health is not promised tomorrow and we can never know what lies around the corner.
If you have an annual insurance plan, or you get travel insurance through your credit card, read the small print and make sure that it covers Mexico. If you are purchasing a specific plan for your trip, ensure that you have sufficient medical coverage.
Good plans have $100,000 or $250,000 per person. They also come with additional extras like repatriation, loss/theft of baggage, etc.
Is San Miguel de Allende safe? Final thoughts
Is San Miguel de Allende safe? While safety is very personal, chances are you will feel very safe and comfortable in San Miguel de Allende.
The city has a very small town feel about it, local people are very friendly and the large presence of international expats and travelers ought to make you feel secure. This is not a place where you have to constantly be worrying about what you do and where you go like in other parts of Mexico.
San Miguel de Allende was also voted the world’s best city by Travel and Leisure magazine in 2017 and 2018. If you are planning a trip to Mexico for the first time, you may enjoy browsing through these Mexico travel tips. You may also be interested in this post on safety in Mexico as a whole.
I live in the Yucatan. Feel free to reach out to me if you need anything. I also run this Facebook group for female travelers in Mexico.
Safe travels! Buen Viaje! Melissa xo