Many people want to make Mexico the next destination on their bucket list of adventure travel, but the question can arise: is Mexico City safe to visit now?
The country has a bit of a reputation, after all, so is its largest city a safe destination? Or is Mexico City dangerous for tourists?
As it turns out, the city itself might just be pretty safe — as long as you are prepared for a little extra travel planning.
There are gorgeous sights and attractions aplenty to enjoy, so read on to see how you can visit Mexico City safely and have the holiday of a lifetime.
How safe is Mexico City?
When considering Mexico as a holiday destination, a common worry that people grapple with is this: is Mexico City dangerous? Actually, the city itself is relatively safe, as long as you keep your wits about you and follow some basic precautions.
The primary reason for this fear stems from the drug cartels and gang-related violence that Mexico is often associated with. Being against the southern border of the US, it’s a hotspot for powerful criminal groups to smuggle cocaine and heroin into America.
With this said, it’s unlikely tourists would get mixed up in these dealings. The really dangerous stuff doesn’t usually take place in Mexico City but rather in the outlying regions of the country.
Mexico City’s crime rate is relatively low, even compared to some US states.
Of course, there are some shady areas you’d rather avoid if you want to keep your holiday in Mexico City crime-free, but I’ll steer you away from them by telling you the safest neighborhoods to visit.
There’s still the potential for petty crimes and travel scams in these areas, but the odds are much lower, and a savvy traveler like you will be all clued up on them by the end of this article.
The 5 safest neighborhoods in Mexico City
These areas tend to be more touristy, thanks to their high safety ratings. You’ll also find plenty of things to do in these neighborhoods.
Reforma is up there in terms of safety and is home to many of the most luxurious hotels in CDMX. You’ll find attractions like the Paseo de la Reforma Avenue here, as well as many cultural attractions, shops, and restaurants.
Museums abound in this district, so make sure you stop by the National Museum of Anthropology and the Museum of Modern Art. If you feel up to a more energetic experience, try a bike tour of Reforma with a savvy guide itching to share fun facts and urban legends with you.
The south side of the district, Zona Rosa, is possibly the most LGBTQIA+ friendly place in the city, and as such, it’s vibrant, and the nightlife is pumping. Stay away from hotels on the south side if an early night is what you crave!
2. Mexico City Centro Histórico
One of the most popular places for tourists, the historical center has more than 1,550 buildings of significant importance, most built between the 16th and 20th centuries.
There are so many attractions to choose from, such as Zocalo and Palacio de Bellas Artes, that tourists seldom wander outside of this district. The public transport is top notch too, making it even more desirable to tourists.
You can also get around Mexico City attractions using the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus City Tour that stops along 3 different circuits. Get your Mexico City Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Ticket here.
This is one of Mexico City’s safe neighborhoods; statistically, the safest, in fact. With Art Deco architecture, trendy coffee shops, and hip cafés everywhere, it’s no wonder hipsters and artists flock to this district.
It’s unofficially called “Hipster Central” and offers a most magnificent food hall called Mercado Roma selling everything from churros to craft beer. Don’t let yourself dare to imagine it’s your basic street food truck station, though. It’s a total gastronomic experience serving up gourmet grub in a lavishly decorated space with vendors that are passionate about their wares.
Is Mexico City safe for Americans? Expats seem to think so, choosing this solidly safe area to call home. Right next door to Roma, it’s best known for its out-of-this-world restaurants, delicious food and vintage shops.
It has a chilled vibe and peaceful, tree-lined streets — some even compare it to West Village in NYC. It’s a beautiful place to go for a stroll and grab a delicious bite to eat and feel safe while doing so.
Polanco has boutique stores and a lavish lifestyle, with designer-everything everywhere. It’s no wonder it’s in the top three safest neighborhoods in Mexico City. It’s also the closest neighborhood to Chapultepec Park, which is twice the size of Central Park in New York.
The park is home to several museums, even though it’s an attraction in its own right, and is free for everyone to enter. If you like to meet people and feel safer visiting public spaces with a local guide, have a look at this Guided Bike Tour of Chapultepec Park.
As we are talking about the best neighborhood, let’s add a list of the best hotels in Mexico City, so you know where to stay safely.
Where to stay in Mexico City and be safe?
Luxury hotels in Mexico City
(click on the hotel name to book your stay)
Common crimes in Mexico City
The most common types of crime in Mexico City are robbery, vehicle theft, and homicide. It does sound a little scary, but don’t convince yourself Mexico City is dangerous just yet — most major cities have these problems, after all.
And in CDMX, these crimes are usually relegated to specific neighborhoods, like Tepito (known for robbery) or Iztapalapa (where Mexico City violence against women is at its worst).
Simply stick to the safer neighborhoods in Mexico City, and it’s unlikely you’ll run into any of these sorts of violent crimes.
You may be subject to a scam or two, however. The most common ones are taxi scams, which include the driver jacking up the price when they realize you’re a tourist.
Although it’s now quite rare, there is the express kidnapping scam when a taxi driver will hold you, hostage, until you withdraw a large amount of money from an ATM to give them.
The mustard scam is also common and involves a person spilling something like mustard on you and then helping to clean it off. All the while, their accomplice pinches your cell phone and wallet while you’re distracted.
There’s also a fake ATM scam where you might just stumble upon a random ATM on the street that won’t give you money but instead duplicate or steal your card. Another tip is to always book your tours in Mexico from a trustworthy provider or website like GetYourGuide.
If you know about these common scams before you go to Mexico, though, it gives you the upper hand in seeing through them and staying safe. There’s a large police presence in the city because of the crime rates, though, so you can always approach an officer if you feel unsure or unsafe.
Mexico City safety — Best safety tips for tourists
Although it is safer in some neighborhoods in Mexico City, you still need to practice caution and keep vigilant.
Here are a couple of tips for safety in Mexico City to help you become less of a target and more of a savvy traveler.
1. Try to blend in
When trying to avoid Mexico City’s crime, the best thing you can do is to not look or act like a tourist. That means not wearing the souvenir T-shirts you just bought (save them for home), or walking around with that uber-expensive DSLR camera hanging from your neck.
I’m not saying don’t take your camera with you — just keep it in your bag where it can’t be seen.
Even if you dress right, wandering around as though you’re lost also makes you a target because nothing screams “tourist” as much as not knowing where you are.
Check out Google Maps before heading out from your hotel, or use your phone app to guide you. If you walk with purpose, you’re less likely to stand out and be noticed by the wrong people.
2. Don’t walk around with a full wallet
Most places in downtown Mexico will take credit or debit cards, so there’s no need to carry huge wads of cash with you. Keep some on you to spend at markets, but don’t take it all out at once and flash it when you try to pay — you never know who’s watching.
Another good option is to have a money belt decayed under your shirt. Here are some good money belts you can buy for your Mexico City trip.
3. Be aware of pickpockets
Crowded places like bustling streets, tourist-dense zones around attractions, the city center, the subway, or the Metrobús system are prime areas for pickpockets to lurk.
It’s too easy to get jostled up against strangers that melt back into the crowd, and pickpockets take full advantage of this.
Preferably carry your valuables like your cell phone and wallet in a bag that’s fully closed and difficult to get into without you noticing.
For extra protection, make sure you hold your bag close to your chest when the crowds get close, as this makes it that much harder for them to get to your bag.
4. Use ATM’s in banks
To avoid getting suckered by the ATM scam, stick to ATMs that are inside a bank so that you know they’re real. Don’t take a chance with a random one on the street.
5. Take Sitio Taxis
“Sitio taxis” are what safe, easily traceable taxis are called in CDMX. You can also use Uber if you want; just avoid any random fake taxis stopping in the street — better safe than sorry, am I right?
And if you are traveling to other cities, or doing day trips from Mexico City, try to book your tickets from well-known companies or trustworthy websites. We usually buy our bus and ferry tickets from Bookaway or 12Go.
6. Know the emergency numbers
It’s always handy to know the local police’s number when you’re venturing into a city with a reputation. Dial 911 for the police, and 066 for an ambulance.
7. Fake alcohol
Some clubs will sell you fake tequila with an unknown alcohol percentage, which can be dangerous. Check if you’re getting 100% agave tequila before partying the night away. Another important travel advisory: never leave your drink unattended.
8. Don’t drink tap water
This is more of a health tip. Tourists should stick to bottled water — no one wants to have to worry about unpleasant bathroom runs on their Mexican holiday.
9. Get Travel Insurance
Even with the best precautions, anything can happen. Get travel insurance and rest easy with peace of mind.
10. Be extra careful at night
It’s easier to wander into a bad neighborhood, and the robbers are primed for taking advantage of clubbers. The city is still famous for its nightlife, so don’t hesitate to go out and enjoy it — just don’t get too drunk and order an Uber rather than walk.
Is it safe to travel to Mexico City? Here are our final thoughts
Overall, Mexico City is a beautiful place to visit, and you shouldn’t let some of the dodgier neighborhoods deter you from your vacation.
Just be safety-savvy and follow our guidelines, and you should leave Mexico City the same way you found it (plus a bunch of souvenirs you just couldn’t resist and unforgettable memories).
Traveling around the country after Mexico City? You can always add Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Tulum, Island Mujeres (all in Quintana Roo state), or Puerto Vallarta to your travel plans.
They are popular destinations for travelers and with a bit of safety precautions you can enjoy them and have tons of fun.
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