Are you heading to the capital city and wondering , is Mexico City safe? Here I share my research, personal experience and safety tips.
For years, Mexico City was a name associated with violence and drug cartels. The first wave of violence in Mexico came in the 1980s and 1990s when the cartels came into the picture. The second (and worst period in Mexico’s history) wave rocked the country from 2006 to 2012 when the entire country was drowning in violence due to the narco wars.
But today’s reality is completely different – Mexico City is no longer a crime-ridden metropolis. Crime rates have dropped enormously and the city has done a good job keeping the streets and its people safe. The capital city is no longer the same dangerous place it was a decade ago.
Like in many parts of the world, safety in Mexico City is a complex subject. In this article, I will break down the topic, share statistics based on my research and discuss where is safe in Mexico City and how to stay safe in Mexico City.
Table of Contents
- Is Mexico City Safe to Visit?
- Mexico City Safety Reports
- Positive Changes in Mexico City Safety
- Dangers of Mexico city
- Where is Safe to Visit in Mexico City?
- What are the Unsafe Areas in Mexico City?
- Is Mexico City Safe for Solo Female Travelers?
- Is Mexico City Safe at Night?
- My Personal Experience in Mexico City
- How to Stay Safe in Mexico City
- Travel Insurance for Mexico City
- How Safe is Mexico City?
Is Mexico City Safe to Visit?
Let’s first take a look at some statistics to see whether if it’s actually safe to visit Mexico City these days. According to Numbeo, Mexico City has a moderate crime index of 68.9 – which is relatively high compared to other cities such as New York City (49.8) or Guadalajara (62.11). The safety index for Mexico City is at 31.7, which relatively lower than Houston (36.68) or Monterrey (51.84).
Mexico City still has high rates of corruption, armed robbery and theft. See the statistics in the screenshot for details. But keep in mind that Numbeo gets these data from surveys conducted among members of the site. While the survey questions are extensive, the responses may not be as accurate.
Another source of data, Crimen En Mexico, show that Mexico City is the 10th safest state in the country, after Yucatan, Baja California Sur, Chiapas and Coahuila. [Check out the safest cities in Mexico.] This website uses data from monthly crime reports published by the Mexican government, which means it’s actually quite accurate.
Mexico City Safety Reports
In recent years, Mexico City’s homicide rate has been relatively stable, with improvements noted. According to data from the Mexican government, the homicide rate in the city has been on the decline since 2018.
Robbery and theft are common crimes that threaten the safety of Mexico City, but they have been decreasing. It’s essential to stay aware of your surroundings and take precautions. Incidents of robbery and theft tend to occur more frequently in certain areas, so as long as you stay informed about safe and unsafe neighborhoods, you can feel safe in Mexico City.
As of 2023, the U.S. Department of State does not have a travel warning against Mexico City (just to exercise increased warning). On this list, Mexico City is considered one of the safest cities in Mexico.
Positive Changes in Mexico City Safety
It’s essential to emphasize that Mexico City safety has improved tremendously in the last decade. Increased police presence, enhanced surveillance systems, and the implementation of neighborhood-specific security measures have helped create safer environments for residents and visitors. Mexico City’s commitment to addressing these issues has shown very good results in recent years.
The government and local authorities have implemented various measures to improve safety in Mexico City. Nowadays there is a notable police presence in tourist areas, and authorities have also improved lighting, public transportation security, and the monitoring of public spaces. These measures aim to ensure that both residents and visitors can enjoy Mexico City with greater peace of mind.
Dangers of Mexico city
Despite the positive changes, there are still some issues that plague Mexico City from time to time. It’s best to be aware of these potential dangers of Mexico City.
Economic Inequality and Poverty
Mexico City still struggles with economic inequality and poverty. These issues are usually linked to higher crime rates. In impoverished neighborhoods, limited access to education and job opportunities can lead to criminal activities. As a result of this, certain areas of the city experience higher rates of theft, robbery, and other crimes.
Rapid Urbanization and Population Growth
Mexico City’s rapid population growth has become an issue. The city has a population of over 22 million people, which leads to overcrowding and the expansion of informal settlements, known as “colonias populares”. The challenges of maintaining law and order across its diverse neighborhoods have become a serious issue for the government.
TIP: It’s best to avoid places known by locals as “colonias populares”, since these are not the safest places to visit.
Another, and probably the most important factor related to Mexico City safety, is drug-related violence. In the past, drug cartels battled for control of drug trafficking routes, causing violence to occasionally erupt in the city. While Mexico City was not a primary battleground for these cartels, sporadic incidents of violence did occur.
Corruption is a big deal in Mexico City. Corruption affects the actual efforts to combat crime effectively and erodes public trust in law enforcement. Efforts to improve law enforcement transparency and accountability have been ongoing, but addressing corruption is a complex and long-term endeavor.
Where is Safe to Visit in Mexico City?
Just like anywhere you go, Mexico City has pockets of unsafe areas as well as districts are safe to visit. Mexico City’s Historic Center, in particular, is a safe and vibrant area teeming with cultural attractions and museums, it’s also where the Day of the Dead celebrations are held, one of the most well-known Mexican holidays.
Here are some other areas in Mexico City that are safe to visit:
Polanco is often regarded as one of the safest neighborhoods in Mexico City. Known for its upscale shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions, this area tends to have lower crime rates than other parts of the city. Here you’ll find large green spaces and some of the best museums in Mexico City., including the Museo Soumaya. It’s particularly popular with those traveling Mexico City with kids.
Condesa and Roma
Condesa and Roma are trendy neighborhoods known for their bohemian atmosphere and vibrant nightlife. While they have experienced some safety concerns in the past, increased security measures have made them safer in recent years. These neighborhoods are enjoyable to explore during the day and have a thriving café culture.
Zona Rosa is a nightlife hub with a variety of bars and clubs. While it can be a fun place to spend an evening, it’s important to be cautious, especially late at night. Stick to well-traveled areas and consider using reputable transportation options to return to your accommodation safely.
Located in the far south of Mexico City, Coyoacán is a historic neighborhood with a unique, small-town feel, cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and lively markets. It’s famous for being the former home of artists like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and you can visit their museums, Casa Azul (Blue House) and Anahuacalli, to learn more about their lives and work.
While these areas are generally considered safe, it’s always advisable for travelers to exercise standard precautions and stay aware of their surroundings when visiting any city.
What are the Unsafe Areas in Mexico City?
It’s important to know that Mexico City is massive, and there are neighborhoods with higher crime rates, especially in the outskirts of the city. It’s best to avoid places known by locals as “colonias populares”, since these are not the safest places to visit.
Iztapalapa, a vast neighborhood in southern Mexico City, is a complex area with some of the city’s highest rates of violence against women, both domestic and otherwise. Avoid this area, especially the particularly perilous La Joya (also known as El Hoyo) region.
Tepito, situated just off the Centro Histórico in Mexico City, holds a notorious reputation as the city’s black market hub. Its notoriety is well-founded, primarily due to the sprawling tianguis (street markets) that dominate the area. While it’s intriguing, it’s important to be cautious when exploring Tepito.
Colonia Doctores is famous for hosting lucha libre wrestling at Arena México, which is an exciting experience but the area isn’t safe especially for solo travelers. Opting for an Uber might be a safer choice. After evening lucha events, it’s advisable to promptly secure a taxi without lingering longer than necessary. For what it’s worth, we came here for a lucha libre show and didn’t feel unsafe at all.
Colonia del Valle
Colonia del Valle presents a paradox in safety guidelines for Mexico City. Despite having the highest rate of kidnappings in the city, it appears safe on the surface and offers numerous attractive destinations to explore. However, the kidnapping statistics should be viewed in context; it is predominantly a concern for local residents rather than passing travelers.
Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl, commonly referred to as Ciudad Neza, once harbored parts of Mexico’s largest slum and remains one of the capital’s poorest districts. Consequently, crime and gang violence rates are elevated. It’s important to remember that these assessments are broad generalizations of a vast and diverse part of the city.
Is Mexico City Safe for Solo Female Travelers?
In general, Mexico City is an easy place to travel for solo travelers — the tourist trail is well marked, flights here from US and Canada are super cheap, and it’s easy to meet other travelers. Many Mexicans speak English and they’re always helpful and willing to help foreigners. Uber works real well too, which makes it safe and easy to get from one point to another easily.
If you’re traveling solo or you’re nervous about traveling Mexico for the first time, you can join free walking tours or book day trips from Mexico City. They give great insights to a city, and they’re a great way to meet other travelers. Check out these tours in Mexico City.
Is Mexico City Safe at Night?
Going out in Mexico City at night can be safe if you exercise caution and adhere to certain guidelines. Like in many major urban centers worldwide, there are areas of Mexico City where nighttime safety can be a concern due to issues such as petty crime and occasionally more serious incidents.
Practice common sense, staying in well-lit, populated areas, avoid displays of wealth, and avoid walking alone in unfamiliar neighborhoods. While Mexico City has vibrant nightlife [check out our recommended rooftop bars in Mexico City], it’s important to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
My Personal Experience in Mexico City
I always enjoy traveling in Mexico City and never felt unsafe at any time. I have visited Mexico City a few times with my husband and daughter, and we have never had any safety issues. We have also ventured out at night with no problems.
Mind you, we tend to stick to the historic center, Polanco, Condensa and Coyoacán – areas that are considered safe. We’re mindful of where in Mexico City we visit and we avoid staying out late. We also speak Spanish, which is definitely an advantage when exploring Mexico.
My husband is from Spain but can pass for a Mexican – we don’t look like tourists and try to blend in (at least in my opinion). We also make sure not to carry too much cash with us and always keep our passports in the hotel’s safe.
How to Stay Safe in Mexico City
1. Stay Informed
Before visiting Mexico City, research the current situation and read the latest news to see if there have been any shootings or drug-cartel activities. Staying informed can help you make safer choices.
2. Blend In
Try to avoid looking lost and try not to hang your camera out in public. This only applies for the not so safe areas.
3. Use Reputable Transportation
Opt for authorized taxis or ridesharing services instead of hailing random cabs from the street. We use Uber often in Mexico City and have found it to be very safe.
4. Be Cautious with ATMs
Use only the ATMs that are inside a bank and avoid withdrawing large sums of money, especially at night.
5. Keep An Eye Open For Scams
Overcharging happens often in restaurants and shops. Always check your bill. If you believe something is not right with the price and you feel like you’re being scammed, you can always negotiate.
6. Don’t Travel with Valuables
Avoid traveling with your valuables or at least hide your important belongings when in your hotel or Airbnb. Just a few months ago a friend of mine got US$500 stolen from her baggage in a hotel in Mexico City.
7. Avoid Risky Areas at Night
If you plan to explore the city after dark, stick to well-traveled streets and avoid isolated or unsafe areas.
8. Stay Connected
Keep your phone charged and stay in touch with someone you trust, especially if you’re exploring alone.
9. Try to Travel in a Group
If you’re traveling Mexico City solo, try to connect with other travelers through meetups and avoid going around alone.
10. Call #911 or *0311
The number for any kind of emergency in Mexico City is #911. And if you need any kind of information you can call *0311. Both are available 24/7 during the 365 days of the year.
Travel Insurance for Mexico City
Regardless of whether you’re in Mexico City for a week or a year, I always recommend travelers to buy travel insurance. If something unfortunate occurs, such as theft, medical emergencies or even natural disasters (Mexico City is prone to earthquakes), having insurance will ensure you get compensated.
Safety Wing is the most popular travel insurance company for COVID19-coverage. I use their Nomad Insurance plan, which covers COVID-19 as any other illness as long as it was not contracted before your coverage start date. Refer to my travel insurance guide for more details.
How Safe is Mexico City?
Mexico City was once considered a dangerous place for visitors – but that’s a thing of the past. Crime rates have decreased substantially, and the city has implemented various measures to enhance security.
As a visitor, I always felt safe in Mexico City. I won’t deny there are neighborhoods with high crime rates, but most parts of the city are safe for tourists to explore. Mexico City is one of the most beautiful cities in the world so definitely don’t miss it!
Just take steps to ensure your safety in Mexico City. Stay informed, use reputable transportation services, be aware of the most common scams. I hope my article has given you enough information to decide for yourself if Mexico City is safe for visitors. Let me know in the comments field if I’ve missed anything.
Read my articles on Mexico below:
- 20 Safest Cities in Mexico 2023
- 5-Day Mexico City Itinerary
- Best Museums in Mexico City
- Best Rooftop Bars in Mexico City
- 22 Best Day Trips from Mexico City
- Visiting Teotihuacan, Mexico City Pyramids
- Day of the Dead in Mexico City
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links i.e. if you book a stay through one of my links, I get a small commission at NO EXTRA COST to you. Thank you for your support!
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