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Mexico City is a sprawling and chaotic masterpiece that makes up one of the best cities in Latin America. It’s the fifth largest city in the world with a population of 21.34 million people.
Delicious culinary experiences, a thriving arts scene, gorgeous city parks, and a vibrant culture are just a few of the amazing things to do in Mexico City that make it a favorite destination for travelers around the world.
Mexico City feels like a world away from tourist-centered beach destinations like Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, and Tulum. Located in the Valley of Mexico, it is the perfect destination if you want to immerse yourself in authentic Mexican culture.
But visiting such a massive city can be intimidating!
After living in Mexico, we’re often asked whether Mexico City is a safe place to travel to. Mexico City is an incredible place to visit, and overall, a safe destination for tourists.
Even so, it’s important to use common sense and good judgment, as you would in any major city in the world. The hustle and bustle of Mexico City can seem overwhelming, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into.
If you’re planning your dream trip to Mexico City, but find yourself worrying about safety during your travels, you aren’t alone. We created this helpful guide to safety in Mexico City to help ease your worries and ensure you’re prepared for your trip.
Is Mexico City Safe?
Watching the news or Googling whether Mexico City is safe might leave you doubting whether you should even plan a trip here. News articles can focus on the negatives and be downright scary!
The truth about safety in Mexico City is that crime is a risk wherever you travel – especially in large cities. The way you personally stay safe is through a mix of common sense and some travel safety precautions (we’ll get into these more later!).
The simple rule of thumb as a traveler anywhere is to always use your best judgment and avoid putting yourself in potentially dangerous scenarios in the first place.
In most major cities throughout the world, there are certain areas that are more prone to crime, and it’s best to avoid those areas completely if you can. Mexico is a developing nation, and Mexico City has a significant income disparity, so the biggest problem that most tourists run into is petty theft.
One of our biggest safety tips for traveling in Latin America is to be aware of pickpocketing.
While violent crime does occur in Mexico City, it’s important to remember that you run the risk of encountering violent crime in any major city. In fact, Mexico City has a lower crime rate than some states in the United States!
Most visitors who travel to Mexico City won’t have any issues with safety or crime during their stay. The important things to remember are to use caution, avoid high-crime areas, and don’t involve yourself in illegal activities.
Related read: Heading to Puerto Vallarta? We’ve written a safety guide for Puerto Vallarata too!
Safe Neighborhoods and Areas in Mexico City
Dangerous and illegal activity in Mexico City is mostly isolated to specific neighborhoods. If you stay away from shady areas, it’s unlikely that you’ll have any issues at all during your trip to Mexico City.
However, even in the safest neighborhoods, there is always a small risk of petty crime like theft, especially for tourists. While travelers to Mexico City are advised to use caution due to threats that include violent and petty crime, and even kidnapping – if you stick to the safer zones for tourists, it’s generally safe to explore the city.
Mexico City is the largest city in North America and is made up of many unique neighborhoods and regions. Some of these are totally worth exploring and others should be avoided.
The safest and most tourist-friendly regions in Mexico City include Roma Norte/Sur, Centro Historico, Zona Rosa, and Condesa. These areas include historic landmarks, incredible architecture, and many of those must-do activities that will be on your Mexico City itinerary. These areas tend to be busier and have a police presence for increased safety. They are also the most popular areas to stay in Mexico City.
If you’re looking to adventure outside of the tourist hotspots and experience a bit more of Mexico City as locals do, there are plenty of other neighborhoods that are considered safe without being quite as touristy. San Rafael, Polanco, Juarez, Escandon, and Coyoacan are all wonderful areas to explore and are considered safe by visitors and locals alike.
With so many incredible neighborhoods to explore, you shouldn’t feel worried about running out of things to do. Still, it’s important to keep in mind that some areas of Mexico City have higher rates of crime, and it’s a good idea to avoid those areas. Tepito, Ciudad Neza, and Iztapalapa are best avoided altogether.
Steer clear of Iztapalapa as it has a high rate of violent crime, especially against women. Tepito has an extremely busy and relatively shady street market where crime and robbery are common. Tourists are also warned against visiting Ciudad Neza – it’s an extremely poor neighborhood and crime is common, even though the area has changed significantly in recent years.
Doctores is a region where many tourists venture to visit the famous Lucha Libre wrestling matches in Mexico City, and it’s generally pretty safe to explore during daylight hours. At night the area becomes more dangerous and is a common place where tourists run into trouble. If you are planning to be in Doctores, consider hiring a trusted local guide, go during the day, and definitely be cautious.
Mexico City Safety FAQs
15 Safety Tips for Visiting Mexico City
Consider this your handy list of tips to help you feel safe while exploring Mexico City!
- Don’t travel alone at night. Stick to larger groups to be safe.
- Use Uber – Uber is one of the safest forms of car transportation in Mexico. As opposed to taxis, Uber uses GPS so your whereabouts is known.
- Learn a little Spanish before you visit Mexico City.
- Book lodging in safe neighborhoods – this blog breaks down the four best areas to stay in Mexico City.
- Don’t wear flashy clothing or jewelry. Also don;t flash around your fancy phone or camera.
- Avoid carrying lots of cash.
- Avoid buying drugs or any other illegal activity.
- Keep wallets on a chain and purses zipped when walking through crowds. Ideally keep valuables in a bag in front of your (never a backpack) as well as never carry anything in your back pockets.
- Keep your cell phone on you.
- Know the emergency numbers – dial 911 if you need emergency assistance.
- Avoid drinking tap water.
- Buy travel insurance ahead of time.
- Leave your passport in a safe at your hotel.
- Only use legitimate taxi services and avoid flagging down taxis on the street.
- Avoid high-crime neighborhoods.
Food and Drink Safety in Mexico City
The most important thing to remember when considering food and beverage safety in Mexico City is that you should never drink tap water. Even some Mexico City locals who have lived there for their entire lives advise against drinking tap water. The water is technically safe to drink but visitors on a short holiday should avoid it to be safe. The bottom line is, you’re not used to it!
Even brushing your teeth with tap water in Mexico can be problematic for visitors, although I always do. Residents of Mexico City might brush their teeth, but tourists are better off just using bottled water to brush their teeth, and avoid opening their mouths in the shower.
Filtered water is okay in most areas, and most ice is made with filtered water but if you want to be extra careful – stick to bottled water.
Food, on the other hand, is much safer. Food standards in Mexico City tend to be very high and even most of the street food vendors uphold healthy practices.
When choosing street food in Mexico City, look for places with long lines as they are generally safe and tasty. You can also find awesome places with the help of a local guide if you join a taco tour in Mexico City!
Look for hand sanitizer at the vendors to ensure the people preparing the food are keeping their hands clean, and make sure to wash your own hands before you eat. I eat street food all over Mexico City and to date, I have never had an issue.
Related read: For some amazing food, check out the top restaurants in Oaxaca City, Mexico!
Is Solo Travel in Mexico City Safe?
Plenty of people travel solo to Mexico City each year. It’s a popular destination and offers lively nightlife and plenty of activities to keep solo travelers busy. It’s a great destination for a solo trip, just make sure to avoid more dangerous neighborhoods and travel in groups at night.
If you stay at hostels in Mexico City, you should have no trouble meeting other solo travelers to explore the city alongside. There is safety in numbers! If you’re having trouble meeting people to travel with, consider booking guided group tours in Mexico City which are usually pretty affordable.
Otherwise, follow the basic Mexico safety guidelines for any solo-travel trip. Watch your belongings closely and don’t carry too much cash. Don’t wear flashy clothes or expensive jewelry so that you avoid making yourself a target for theft. Keep in touch with someone at home and have regular check-ins with family and friends. If you’re going out at night, let someone know where you are going and when they can expect you back.
Related read: For plenty of awesome group tour ideas, check out our ultimate list of things to do in Mexico!
What About Solo Female Travel?
Most solo female travelers in Mexico City won’t have any safety issues, but it is still important if you’re traveling alone to use extra caution. Absolutely don’t go out at night by yourself, and you might want to stick with a group even during the daylight hours in some areas.
Female travelers should also be careful of leaving their drinks unattended. While drugging drinks isn’t a huge problem in Mexico City, it isn’t unheard of. Keep your beverages with you as a solo female traveler, even if you’re around other travelers. Keep in mind that other tourists are just as likely to use drink-spiking drugs as locals are.
Use your best judgment and stay alert and you should be just fine!
Is the Nightlife in Mexico City Safe?
Mexico City’s vibrant and lively nightlife scene is one of the things that keeps tourists coming back to visit again and again. The city comes alive when the sun sets and you can experience everything from fancy cocktail bars to salsa dancing, to the wild Lucha Libre wrestling matches every night of the week.
Visiting Mexico City and avoiding the nightlife is almost impossible. It’s one of the greatest things about a trip to Mexico City! Still, it’s important to use caution as you would in any other major city in order to stay safe. Travel in groups when walking around at night and bar hopping.
Enjoy some delicious drinks without getting out of control. It’s fine to party, but getting black-out wasted in a way that is obvious to those around you makes you an easy target for robberies and other crimes. Walk back to your hotel, Airbnb, or hostel with a group, and make sure that no one is following you. Take an Uber home instead of a taxi or public transportation at night.
There are also touristy places such as Garibaldi Square (pictured above) where you’ll find live Mariachi bands. The neighborhood that borders this square is dangerous for tourists so you should take an Uber to and from the square. There is almost always a police presence at this square.
Related read: One of the coolest night experiences in Mexico is The Chichen Itza Night Show!
Travel Scams to Watch Out for in Mexico City
Anytime you travel to a new place, especially a major metropolitan area like Mexico City, it’s a smart idea to do some research on common travel scams. Even if you’ve visited a destination several times, travel scams can change. During your visit to Mexico City, there are a few scams to be wary of.
These are common, and while most of them are minor – others can lead to worrying situations. Most taxi-related scams simply involve the driver hiking up the fare for tourists and charging a much more expensive rate. Make sure that you have a general idea of what you should be paying and ask your driver the cost ahead of time.
A much rarer taxi scam involves a fake taxi driver holding a rider hostage and forcing them to take money out of an ATM or hand over cash and valuables. Again, this is rare, but it is known as ‘express kidnapping’, and if you ever find yourself in this situation just hand over whatever the driver asks for. Don’t risk your safety over material possessions.
Note: We typically prefer using Uber (or a similar service) when traveling just because the app uses a live GPS system. The app knows when you are in a vehicle, who the driver is, and where you are and when.
Watch for these commonly sold in markets and outside of major tourist attractions. It’s great to support local vendors and artisans, but make sure you aren’t overpaying for items.
When buying jewelry, know how to check for authenticity and how to tell the difference between silver and other less expensive metals. Be especially wary of anyone trying to pass something off as a genuine artifact.
Fake ATMs can be a horrible scam to fall prey to during your Mexico City vacation. Some ATMs aren’t affiliated with banks and are rigged to swallow or copy your card numbers. Luckily fake ATMs are easy to avoid – just use the ATMs located inside of banks.
Other common scams
You may encounter scammers who will approach you. Some may pretend to show you a fresh wound and ask for money in order to go to the hospital. It’s usually harmless.
Other common scams involve pickpocketing distractions like the common “mustard scam” in which someone will sneakily squirt you with mustard or some other disgusting goo and then offer to help you. When you’re distracted, they will attempt to steal your wallet.
Avoid pickpocketing by using a travel-safe bag under your clothing. For ladies – keep your purse close to you and zipped up when walking through high-traffic areas. I personally use a money belt for valuables and larger amounts of money as well as credit cards. I keep smaller amount of money handy in a purse for regular purchases.
Diseases in Mexico City
The most common illnesses that you can catch while traveling in Mexico City are food and water-born illnesses like Montezuma’s Revenge – otherwise known as Traveler’s Diarrhea or TD.
While incredibly unpleasant, TD is usually not life-threatening. It can become dangerous if you have diarrhea or vomiting for an extended period because you may be prone to dehydration, so seek medical attention if it lasts for more than 24 hours and be sure to drink plenty of fluids.
Parasites are a common problem throughout Mexico and Central America, and you can catch them by drinking unfiltered water or eating contaminated foods. If you feel sick for more than a few days, see a doctor to rule out parasites.
It is recommended that tourists visiting Mexico City get up-to-date vaccinations for Hepatitis A, which is endemic in Mexico – make sure to get at least the first round of vaccinations before visiting. Hepatitis B vaccines, typhoid, and rabies vaccines might also be recommended by your doctor depending on your travel plans.
Mexico City doesn’t have a major mosquito problem, but it is still best to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites like wearing a mild insect repellent. Dengue is a common insect-born illness in Mexico. Chikungunya has also been reported, as has Zika. Malaria risks have decreased dramatically throughout Mexico, but if you’re combining your Mexico City trip with more remote regions you might want to check with your doctor about Malaria medication.
Check out the CDC’s guide to Mexico for more information on disease prevention in Mexico City.
Mexico City Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is something we never leave home without. In case something does happen to you while in Mexico City, travel insurance could save you a ton of money.
In case you are sick or in a medical emergency, travel insurance will cover your doctor/hispital visit as well as most medication.
Additionally, some travel insurance also will cover you in case of robbery or lost valuables.
Our go-to travel insurance is with Safety Wing since they are so affordable and have reimbursed us for thousands of dollars over the years.
Travel Insurance is more important than ever right now!
If you’re traveling during these uncertain times, be sure that you have travel insurance!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance when we are going on longer trips. They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!) and even have coverage in case you get that dreaded c-word. The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!)
It’s safe to say that travel insurance has saved us thousands over the years!
Natural Disasters in Mexico City
Mexico City has been known to have some pretty major earthquakes. The area surrounding Mexico City is a hotspot for volcanic activity and tectonic stress which has historically led to some violent earthquakes.
Two volcanoes and the Sierra Madre volcanic mountain range surround the city, so earthquakes can strike at any time. In fact, Mexico City is considered one of the most disaster-prone places in the world due to its natural hazards and infrastructure.
On September 22, 2022, a powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck the city and killed one person. However, the worst in recent times was in 2017, and much of the city was affected.
If you find yourself outside during an earthquake, head to an open area away from electric lines, trees, or balconies. If you’re indoors, head to a safe place away from windows.
In addition to earthquakes, Mexico City can be prone to flooding during heavy rains which also leads to landslides. Keeping an eye on the weather can help ensure that you don’t get stuck in a dangerous situation involving flooding or landslides.
Getting Help in Mexico City
If you find yourself in need of emergency assistance during your trip to Mexico City, dial 911. If you’re from Canada or the United States, this is the same number you’d call at home, so it’s easy to remember!
No one wants to get sick while traveling, but if you find yourself in need of medical attention due to illness or injury, you’ll be happy to know that Mexico City has amazing hospitals that will be able to give you all the care you need during your stay. In fact, two Mexican City hospitals have made the list of the top hospitals in the world – these include Medica Sur and ABC Medical Center in Santa Fe.
Siglo XXI National Medical Center, Observatorio ABC Medical Center, and IMSS La Raza National Medical Center are other great hospitals if you’re seeking medical attention in Mexico City.
For most common ailments you can head to any of the clinics (often located in pharmacies) for treatment of minor illnesses and injuries.
Other Activities to do While in Mexico City
While you’re in the midst of planning your visit, you’ll want to check out all the fun things to do in Mexico City. Trust me, you’ll have no problem filling your itinerary in this bustling city. To give you an idea of what’s on offer, I’ve highlighted some of our favorite activities below.
- Try local cuisine – Mexican food is world-famous for good reason, and Mexico City is one of the best cities to enjoy it! The Condesa neighborhood has amazing taco stands and chocolatiers and Calle Regina is a pedestrian-only street filled with restaurants. For a broad sampling, I recommend this food tour through Colonia Roma or even this cooking class – which also visits the local market!
- See Teotihuacan – The remnants of an ancient city, visiting Teotihuacan from Mexico City is a must! In fact, it’s among the most famous ruins in Mexico! Since it’s a bit of drive, we hopped on this early access tour. Not only did it get us there right when the gates opened, our guide was an archeologist! Plus there was a tequila tasting included too – bonus!
- Watch a Lucha Libre show – Lucha Libre is one of the most entertaining performances I’ve ever seen. This wrestling show is so quintessentially Mexican and is a ton of fun. The best way to understand the traditions and characters is through this organized tour, which also includes a mezcal tasting!
- Buy some local souvenirs – If you want to go shopping or find some local souvenirs, head to the La Ciudadela Artisanal Market. This market showcases artists’ work from around the country for very affordable prices – and the selection is huge!
- Explore some museums – If you want a break from the sun, check out local museums. The Museo Soumaya houses over 66,000 pieces of artwork, while the Anthropology Museum gives you a window into Mexico’s ancient civilizations. You can also step inside the Frida Kahlo Museum, which is the renowned artist’s old home and features her original artwork.
Where to Stay in Mexico City
Now that you know all our safety tips, it’s time to find a place to stay so you can explore the city!
Mexico City is massive, and there are lots of different areas to stay in depending on what you want to get out of your trip. For this reason, we wrote a full guide on the best areas to stay in Mexico City as well as the best hostels in Mexico City! These blogs should help you choose an awesome hotel for your stay!
However, for a quick overview, here are some of my top recommendations.
For budget travelers, the Selina Hostel in downtown Mexico City is a top choice. I stayed here during one of my visits, and I loved the downtown location. Although the area may seem unsafe to some, this is the historic center of Mexico City and where I spend most of my time exploring the attractions on this list. You can book Selina Hostel with Hostelworld or Booking.com.
For medium-budget travelers, Hotel MX Roma is a great hotel in La Roma. It has family rooms equipped with air conditioning, private bathrooms, free Wi-Fi, and flat-screen satellite TV. It offers a space with a terrace to enjoy with family or friends, private parking, a gym, and 24-hour front desk service.
For luxury travelers, Casa Malí by Dominion Boutique Hotel is a top choice. This incredible luxury hotel in the heart of La Condesa offers a very convenient location, close to iconic city landmarks such as the Angel of Independence and Chapultepec Castle. It also offers comfortable family rooms, a spacious and cozy terrace, a gym, and even barbecue facilities for all guests.
Related Read: Heading to the Yucatan? Read our blog, Is Cancun safe?
Thanks for reading!
Mexico City is an exciting place full of mouthwatering street food, exciting nightlife, beautiful architecture and so many things to do and see. This huge city is full of life and culture! Hopefully, our guide to staying safe in Mexico City has given you some good tips to prepare for your trip here.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit Mexico City a few different times, and in the weeks I’ve spent here, I’ve always felt safe – keeping the precautions I’ve talked about in this blog in mind. Don’t let fear hold you back from traveling, but always keep your common sense of course!
Make sure to check out our other blogs about Mexico before your travels to this amazing country!