I assume that if you are searching for the safest cities in Mexico to visit, chances are that you already know how amazing this country is, and how it’s pictured as a not-so-safe travel destination.
The truth is that Mexico is one of the most captivating destinations in the world. From its historical landmarks and culturally rich communities to its world-famous beaches. It’s no wonder that millions of tourists flock to this mesmerizing country each year.
That being said, Mexico doesn’t always have the best reputation when it comes to safety and an often unfair, sensationalized portrayal in the media can make a lot of people nervous about their visit.
The reality is that the safety situation in Mexico can vary substantially from state to state, city to city, and the various barrios within each city.
Most parts of Mexico where dangerous things or violent crimes happen are not places where you are likely to find yourself as a tourist anyway.
If you follow basic safety precautions, you’ll stay safe and relaxed while experiencing this wonderful country.
However, if you are apprehensive, some of the safest cities in Mexico are summarized below.
They are also great destinations for first-time visitors and include beachside hotspots, cultural experiences, and charming towns and cities that should be on any traveler’s bucket list.
Before we move on to the list, two things you need to know.
- This article has been written by a Travel Writer based in Mexico, so rest assured, you are in good hands here.
- This guide is divided into two parts: the safest cities in Mexico with info and details of what to do, see, and where to stay and eat in each of them. Plus, a Q&A at the end with some practical information.
14 Safest Cities to Visit in Mexico in 2024
Mérida – the safest city in Mexico
The Yucatan capital of Merida is not only the safest city in Mexico to travel to, but one of the safest cities in North America on the whole, and it’s also the 12th largest city in Mexico.
Founded by the Spanish Conquistador Francisco de Montejo in 1542, the stunning colonial city makes a great base for a wider exploration of the Yucatan state.
Merida’s historic center is filled with pastel-colored colonial houses painted in every color of the rainbow, cobblestone streets, traditional mercados, and ornate colonial mansions and haciendas.
Plaza Grande, flanked by the impressive 16th century San Ildefonso Catedral de Mérida marks the center of town and is the location of a live Pok-ta-Pok Mayan ball game reenactment every Saturday night.
Paseo de Montejo is the main promenade that takes you through the center of town. On Sundays, the ambiance is particularly special as the road is closed off to vehicles so that people can bicycle, jog and rollerblade down it.
If the city’s safety, kind people, and delicious food weren’t enough, Mérida is also the home base for experiencing Mayan culture. Don’t miss a visit to the Mayan World Museum of Mérida to learn all about this strong indigenous culture.
Afterward, head out into the countryside to visit ancient ruins such as Uxmal or the sacred and beautiful cenotes.
What else to do in Mérida?
Here are 3 incredible activities to do in Merida we selected for you:
Food in Mérida
Many old mansions here have been converted into restaurants, aperitivo bars and concept stores and are a great place for picking up thoughtful gifts and souvenirs. The Merida restaurant scene is flourishing, and new places are opening up here virtually every month.
Yucatecan cuisine is world-famous for its flavorful stews, tropical aromas, and hearty ingredients. Don’t miss dishes such as Cochinita Pibil or Sopa de Lima.
Iconic restaurants such as Pancho Maiz and Sope Huach or friendly cafes such as Postres tradicionales “Dulce Ch’uhuk” are well worth a visit.
Where to stay in Mérida?
Here are 3 of the best hotels in Mérida for every budget. Click on the name of the hotel to see the rates, photos and book your room.
Santiago de Queretaro – Mexico city with lowest crime rate
If you love historical places and beautiful architecture, then Santiago de Queretaro is a must.
This city in the central Mexican state of Querétaro is truly unique. It’s also very safe, with one of the lowest crime rates in Mexico.
Locals affectionately refer to the state capital as “Quereta-rock” thanks to its ever-growing rock music scene and if you enjoy live music, you will find plenty of venues hosting live musicians every weekend.
Queretaro Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been designated as such since 1996.
As you meander through its cobblestone streets and shaded plazas, you’ll be surrounded by historical places such as the Museo Casa de la Zacatecana or the Templo de San Francisco.
My tip is to join a walking tour to get the best insights of the city. Check out this Queretaro Centro Historico Walking tour here.
The Jardin Zenea is essentially the main central plaza of Queretaro and it acts as a popular rendezvous point among locals who come here to dance to folk, cumbia and classical music every Sunday. (Anyone is welcome to join in!)
As the sun goes down, various vendors set up their tianguis to sell regional delicacies and sweet treats from different parts of Mexico. Queretaro is a student city with a very young, fun vibe.
Even on random weeknights, you will see plenty of people walking around the city center in the evening and it never feels sketchy or unsafe. Santiago de Queretaro is a charming city perfect for travelers who want a safe trip packed with Mexican culture.
The city is also full of fun museums. If you love art and colonial architecture, don’t miss the Museo de Arte Sacro or the Mucal Museum Calendar.
More activities and tours in Santiago de Queretaro here.
Food in Santiago de Queretaro
After a long day of exploring the city, you’ll want to sample some of Santiago de Queretaro’s famous food.
For the best of the best, check out Maria y su Bici or Maruca. Order a glass of the state’s famous wine to wash it all down if you don’t have the opportunity to take an excursion out to a local winery.
Hotels in Santiago de Queretaro
San Miguel de Allende – the safest city in Mexico for expats
Another Central Mexican gem, San Miguel de Allende, has become one of Mexico’s most beloved small cities.
It has been voted the “best city in the world” by Condé Nast Traveler on three separate occasions and there are plenty of reasons as to why.
First, the city is one of the safest in Mexico, with a low crime rate and friendly people. There is a large community of expats here (arguably one of the largest expat communities in Mexico) and English is very widely spoken.
Nestled in the Bajio mountains of Guanajuato state, San Miguel de Allende is famous for its colonial architecture and city layout. Its hilly streets offer spectacular views and sweeping vistas of the valleys below at virtually every turn.
The picturesque colonial buildings here are a photographer’s dream and many house upscale restaurants, coffee shops, and independent art galleries that attract a well-heeled crowd.
Many independent Mexican fashion designers also have their flagship stores here, which is great if you want to indulge in some retail therapy and invest in some one-of-a-kind pieces that nobody else will have.
Beautiful gardens, parks, and centuries-old churches cover the city. Don’t miss stunning monuments like the Torre del Reloj or the dazzling pink Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, one of the most elaborate churches in Mexico, and a cultural landmark for the city.
Food in in San Miguel de Allende
To try the famous local cuisine, don’t miss high-end experiences such as Zibu Allende or laid-back haunts like Tacos San Francisco, which serve incredible and no-frills tacos suadero and al pastor.
Hotels in San Miguel de Allende
Puerto Vallarta – safe resort city in Mexico
If you love beaches, tequila, and tons of adventure sports, then Puerto Vallarta is for you. This Mexican resort city on the Pacific Coast is one of the country’s popular tourist destinations and also one of its safest.
You’ll fall in love with the city’s laid-back beach vibe and perfect weather. And, when the relaxation wears off, you’ll love exploring the famous old town and its cultural landmarks.
For anyone who loves the outdoors, Puerto Vallarta is full of fantastic activities, including surfing and hiking.
Climb up the Mirador el Cerro de la Cruz, a popular lookout point that gives you a full view of the gorgeous city, Sierra Madre Occidental mountains, and coastal countryside.
You’ll want to stay in Puerto Vallarta forever.
You have an abundance of different options for relaxing by the beach here. In the downtown area, check out Playa de Muertos and Playa Camarones which are both lined with restaurants and bars and all the amenities you could need.
The latter means “shrimp beach” – a nod to the various vendors who walk up and down the sands selling delicious, fresh grilled shrimp to beachgoers.
If you are seeking something a little quieter, rent a car in Puerto Vallarta and head up the West Coast to Yelapa, Mismaloya, or Conchas Chinas.
Although this Mexican coastal town is safe to visit, pay attention to the weather. This part of Mexico sometimes experiences severe tropical storms, especially between June to November and a pretty major storm rocked the area in October 2023.
Food in Puerto Vallarta
After relaxing and exploring, don’t miss hitting the town to experience its famous cuisine. Imagine ceviche tostadas overflowing with seafood, bottomless micheladas, and cocktails made with Jalisco State’s world-famous tequila.
Hotels in Puerto Vallarta
Campeche City – safe and budget-friendly city in Mexico
Campeche is the namesake capital city of Campeche state, the least visited state in the tri-state Yucatan area, and a really wonderful, yet untapped area.
Known for its pirate lore and colonial architecture, Campeche is also a safe city to visit. You’ll find the people welcoming and the vibe unique.
Since so few people venture here from Quintana Roo or Yucatan popular cities like Merida, the accommodation, food, and tours in Campeche are a lot more affordable which is great if you are traveling here on a budget and want to avoid the expensive cities.
The UNESCO protected Old Town of Campeche is filled with colorful buildings and cobblestone streets that have remained unchanged throughout the centuries.
The sun-bleached remnants of the city’s old defensive walls and historical forts that once protected the residents from pirates still remain here, rusting cannons and all.
While there is no beach in the immediate vicinity of Campeche, you can take a walk along the seafront Malecon, which is decorated with numerous gorgeous contemporary art sculptures, and home to one of the best sunsets in southeastern Mexico.
If you have access to a vehicle, you can drive out to the white sand beaches in nearby Isla de Aguadas.
The Colonial Town Campeche is very safe, with low crime rates and few natural disasters. However, the heat can be relentless, so make sure to stay hydrated, especially while visiting the forts and historical sites in the region.
Food in Campeche
Stop at one of the waterfront restaurants to try traditional dishes such as Pan de Cazon and the popular breaded shrimp.
Hotels in Campeche City
San Cristobal de Las Casas – one of the best cities to visit in Mexico for culture
In the mountains of Chiapas is one of Mexico’s most beautiful and unique cities, San Cristóbal de Las Casas. Here, colonial architecture mixes with endless nature and a deep cultural heritage unlike anywhere else on earth.
Inside the city, you’ll find endless artisans, folk art, and crafts. The city’s arts scene is one of the most famous in Mexico and no visit would be complete without exploring its galleries and museums like the quirky Museo del Ámbar.
The city is also famous for its indigenous heritage. Few people realize that there are more than 68 different indigenous groups in Mexico, and many people in San Cristobal and the wider Chiapas area identify as Tzotzil or Zoque.
Many traditions are still practiced today and as a visitor, you can attend events and festivities run by the local community.
You can also take day trips out to the local villages of Zinacantan and Chamula, where you can visit the fascinating San Juan de Chamula church and learn about the curanderos (witchdoctors) that work within it.
San Cristóbal de Las Casas is also one of the safest vacation places in Mexico, known for its friendly people and low crime levels.
However, the region is home to the separatist Zapatistas and protests do occur infrequently. Avoid all political demonstrations and always respect the local authorities.
Food in San Cristobal de Las Casas
On top of Chiapas deep cultural heritage and sights is its Chiapescan cuisine. Don’t miss a chance to try local food or the region’s corn-based spirit known as pox which the indigenous people once believed could transport them to and from the afterlife.
Hotels in San Cristobal de Las Casas
Tulum – safe a town in Riviera Maya
On the Yucatán Peninsula, in the sunny state of Quintana Roo, is the city of Tulum. It has become one of the country’s fastest-growing destinations for many reasons.
First off, Tulum is home to the Mayan ruins of what remains of the city of Zama. As far as archeologists are aware, this was the only city that the Ancient Mayans built on the Caribbean Coast.
This fascinating landmark sits at the edge of the sea and was once a thriving Mayan trading port, with Mayan temples and other large buildings. Today, no visit to Tulum would be complete without experiencing this ancient marvel.
Another reason Tulum is such an attractive destination for travelers is its nature. From beautiful cenotes to endless beaches and wildlife areas, Tulum is like nowhere else on Earth.
In recent years, the city has seen an increase in yoga studios and retreat centers, drawing in tourists looking to relax and experience personal growth. With this newfound attention comes the nightlife. From beachside clubs to bars, Tulum’s nightlife never dies.
As far as safety goes, Tulum has experienced a slight uptick in violence related to drug trafficking.
Although tourists are seldom the victims of these crimes, it’s important to stay away from drugs or anywhere you think could be involved in using or selling drugs.
That said, Tulum remains a safe destination for travelers. You’ll love the friendly people, who will help make sure you enjoy their city, and don’t forget to learn a little Mayan while you’re there.
Top activities to do in Tulum
Here are 3 of the best tours in Tulum:
Where to stay in Tulum Beach
Playa Del Carmen – sandy beaches and popular digital nomad spot
Just up the coast from Tulum is Playa Del Carmen (here is a guide on how to get from Cancun to Playa del Carmen). This resort city is famous for its beaches and parties. It’s also a wonderful place to experience nature.
You’ll find plenty of deep sea fishing activities and excursions to the nearby cenotes. On top of everything is Playa Del Carmen’s world-famous diving. The reefs surrounding it are full of marine life and colorful coral reefs.
After experiencing the beautiful nature, head downtown to see the cultural heart of the city. Don’t miss a visit to the iconic Portal Maya, a towering sculpture that’s become a symbol of the city.
Like Tulum and other popular destinations in Quintana Roo, stay away from drugs. Most crime in this region involves the drug trade.
If you get a bad feeling at a restaurant, bar, or beach, head somewhere else. That said, petty crime is low and Playa Del Carmen is far from being a dangerous city.
In the past years, Playa Del Carmen became one of the most popular cities in Mexico for digital nomads. It’s just behind Mexico City, the country’s capital.
Food in Playa Del Carmen
If you love seafood, Playa Del Carmen won’t disappoint you.
I recommend you to visit the famous seafood restaurants such as Las Hijas de la Tostada. Or, for more laid-back cuisine, head to El Fogón, a local favorite for tacos and incredible salsas.
Hotels in Playa Del Carmen
La Paz – safest city in the Baja California Peninsula
Mexico’s Baja Peninsula is one of the most beautiful places in North America, with its colorful deserts and crystal clear seas, few places on earth are as magical.
To have the ultimate Baja California Sur experience, head to the small city of La Paz.
Here, you’ll fall in love with the laid-back vibes and friendly atmosphere. Not to mention, incredible highlights such as the Malecón Promenade and wonderful museums.
Don’t miss a chance to head out on the Gulf of California for deep sea fishing, world-class scuba diving, or wildlife viewing.
Between October and February, La Paz becomes one of the best destinations in the world for swimming with whale sharks.
La Paz is one of the safest Mexican cities, and arguably North America. The most common form of crime is petty theft.
Always lock your valuables up when you head out from your hotel or accommodation and don’t leave your valuables unattended.
Food in La Paz
On top of its natural wonders and charming downtown is its food. Seafood fans will immediately fall in love with La Paz’ popular seafood restaurants and down-home fish taco stands.
Head to the Malecón Promenade and sample the delicious street food while exploring the local arts and crafts.
Hotels in La Paz, Mexico
Sayulita – plenty of outdoor activities waiting for you
Just a few hours north of Puerto Vallarta is the beautiful coastal city of Sayulita. Here, you can enjoy endless beaches and charming hotels and beachside rooms, with plenty of fun activities and cultural highlights.
The city has a rich indigenous heritage, with many cultural festivities throughout the year. Don’t miss its charming downtown plaza for a chance to buy local folk art or delicious street food.
Sayulita is famous for its outdoor activities, including surfing, hiking, deep sea fishing, and scuba diving.
If you love to surf, head to Playa La Lancha, a beautiful beach break with cafes and a beautiful trail to the beach.
Sayulita is a safe destination in Mexico, with plenty of tourism infrastructure and friendly locals. It is popular and easy to take a day trip here from Puerto Vallarta and vice versa.
However, keep in mind that tropical storms and earthquakes occur. Always check for weather advisories before traveling.
Hotels in Sayulita
Huatulco – safest beach in Mexico
In the diverse state of Oaxaca is the town of Santa María Huatulco. The town is small, with plenty of charming restaurants.
However, the biggest draw for tourists is the beaches, landmarks, and historical ruins surrounding it.
Huatulco’s pristine beaches are some of the most beautiful in Mexico. You’ll find hidden coves, romantic overlooks, and welcoming beach towns where time goes slow and the beauty is endless.
Don’t miss beach destinations such as La Crucecita, Tangolunda, and Barra de la Cruz. Here, surfers and adventure seekers flock to experience one of the most serene and safest areas in Mexico.
Huatulco is a safe destination, with friendly locals and low crime rates. However, Oaxaca does have earthquakes and occasional tropical storms.
Always stay updated with the weather and travel warnings while traveling.
Hotels in Huatulco
Isla Holbox – wildlife paradise in Mexico
If you love beautiful destinations full of nature, then Isla Holbox (Holbox Island) is the place to be, trust me.
Known for its friendly vibe and wildlife, you’ll find some of Mexico’s most colorful animals, like the island’s famous flamingos.
The island is just a two-hour journey from Cancun but feels like a world away. You’ll be far from the glitzy of the all-inclusive resorts, with small local-run cabins and homestays along the beaches and in the major town of Holbox.
If you want a unique experience, come here from June to September to see the giant whale sharks. Around the same season, flocks of flamingos arrive, making their home in the lagoon.
During this time you may also be lucky enough to experience Holbox bioluminescence – a gorgeous phenomenon that sees the waters around the island illuminated with twinkling lights under the night sky, thanks to the various microorganisms that live within them. Punta Cocos beach is one of the best places for this.
Isla Holbox is one of the safest cities in Mexico, with very little criminal activity and a low risk of natural disasters. There are no cars on the island and people get around in little golf carts.
You’ll be able to travel freely by bike or buggy. Just watch out for the wildlife!
Best hotels in Isla Holbox
If you decide to stay in paradise a little longer, here are the best hotels in Holbox Islands.
San Jose Del Cabo – safe and perfect for surfers
Close to the Baja party capital of Cabo San Lucas is the quieter and safer San Jose Del Cabo. Located on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, San Jose Del Cabo offers visitors plenty of reasons to visit.
Start your visit off by visiting the charming downtown, with its beautiful architecture and quiet streets. Here, you’ll find many of the city’s popular seafood restaurants, bars, and cafes.
Another draw for tourists is the immaculate beaches which rival any beach destination in the world. You’ll find endless sand and sun, with little rainfall throughout the year. Perfect isn’t it?!
Surfers especially love San Jose Del Cabo. The waves are world-class and offer a more family-friendly vibe than nearby Cabo San Lucas.
San Jose Del Cabo is a safe destination in Mexico, with low crime rates and friendly, welcoming locals.
That said, the city experiences tropical storms and occasional earthquakes. Check the weather before traveling, especially during hurricane season from June to November.
Things to do in San Jose Del Cabo
Don’t miss these activities in San Jose Del Cabo:
Best hotels in San Jose Del Cabo
Aguascalientes – one of the safest cities in Mexico for vacation
The historic and beautiful city of Aguascalientes is a must-visit for history lovers. It’s known for its beautiful surrounding pueblos magicos (magic towns) and historic city center, as well as rural charm.
You’ll feel like you’re in old Mexico, with its cobblestone streets and colonial architecture. Stroll through the historic center to see the Temple of San Marcos and the Regional History Museum.
Throughout the year, you’ll enjoy special cultural events and plenty of traditional folk art and food fairs.
The city is also full of world-class museums, dedicated to preserving the region’s rich history and rich culture. Don’t miss the Contemporary Art Museum and the Museo José Guadalupe Posada, dedicated to the artist’s influential skull art.
Aguascalientes is one of the safest cities and friendliest cities in Mexico. The surrounding towns and villages are also safe to visit, but be mindful of earthquakes and traffic.
Food in Aguascalientes
The city is also a foodie’s heaven, famous for its enchiladas and menudo. Don’t miss the street food stalls, especially during weekends and festivals. Here, you can sample the city’s famous flautas and steamed corn.
Hotels in Aguascalientes
Safest Cities in Mexico: my final thoughts
Hopefully, this post has given you some food for thought on safe destinations to visit in Mexico.
Although certain parts of the country are experiencing security issues, you can still visit most of the country safely.
In fact, many top Mexican destinations are as safe as many destinations in the USA or Europe.
However, even in safe destinations, things can happen so use common sense. Never flash expensive items like cell phones or jewelry, especially while walking through a place you don’t know very well and major cities.
Always limit how much you drink, avoid using drugs, and drink plenty of bottled water.
Be aware of your surroundings while using public transportation. Call an Uber or ask your accommodation to call a taxi instead of hailing a taxi on the streets.
When traveling between regions or cities opt for well established transportation companies.
We use Bookaway to book our bus, vans or private transfers in Mexico.
Another thing to keep in mind with safety in Mexico is that it lies on the ‘Ring of Fire.’ This hotspot for earthquakes and volcanoes surrounds the Pacific Ocean and in Central and Western Mexico.
Earthquakes do occur, as well as other disasters like hurricanes and floods. Always check national safety information when traveling and listen to authorities if a disaster occurs.
The last tip is the most important one: always have travel insurance!
hurricanes and floods. Always check national safety information when traveling and listen to authorities if a disaster occurs.
Don’t forget your Travel Insurance! You don’t want anything to ruin your trip, right? So don’t take the risk! Reliable travel insurance can help you in case of travel issues, from accidents to health problems, travel delays, and lost luggage.
FAQ about the safest cities in Mexico
What is Mexico’s safest city?
Mérida in Yucatan state is the safest place to travel in Mexico.
What are the safest parts of Mexico?
According to the Mexico Peace Index, here are the five most peaceful states: Yucatán, Tlaxcala, Chiapas, Tamaulipas, and Nayarit.
What are the safest cities in Mexico to live in?
Reports say Ciudad Madero in Tamaulipas is the safest place to live in Mexico, followed by Mérida, Sayulita, Puerto Vallarta, and other cities we mentioned above.
What area of Mexico has the lowest crime rate?
The Mexico Peace Index shows Yucatàn as the area in Mexico with the lowest crime rates.
How dangerous is Mexico City?
Ciudad del México, the country’s capital city is an amazing place to visit, with cultural sites, and incredible food, perfect for art lovers and travelers who want to admire the historic architecture. But as with any other major city and big capital, it’s more dangerous than the cities we listed in this guide. Here is a dedicated article about how safe Mexico City is, what you need to know to visit, and places to avoid in Mexico City.
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About the Author :
Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer based in Merida, Mexico. She has worked in the travel industry for over eight years and has produced content for numerous high profile publications. She runs the travel website www.mexicotravelsecrets.com where she encourages people to explore Mexico off-the-beaten-path.