A sprawling metropolis, Mexico City, the capital of Mexico, is often compared to other cities for its scale and significance as a continental hub. From boating along ancient canals, intriguing museums, old-school cantinas, and inspired dining, the city has a lot to explore. But is Mexico City safe?
While it is generally safe for tourists, it does have its share of crime, like any big city.
Despite Mexico City’s reputation for safety and being labeled as somewhat dangerous, it sees approximately 3.5 million visitors annually. That goes to show that it may, in fact, not be as scary as it’s made to look.
Let’s dig into the potential risks and safety aspects to discover how to explore this lively city safely.
Safe Neighborhoods in Mexico City
Specific neighborhoods, tourist areas, and popular attractions in the vast and diverse Mexico City have gained a reputation for being safer and more tourist-friendly than other parts of the city.
Did you know that Mexico City has the largest population in North America?
The city has implemented various measures to improve security, such as increasing police presence and implementing surveillance systems.
Polanco is a posh district known for its upscale restaurants, luxury boutiques, and well-patrolled streets.
Condesa and Roma are trendy neighborhoods that attract young professionals and tourists, with a generally safe atmosphere and vibrant nightlife.
Coyocán, known for its bohemian charm and historical significance, also ranks high on the safety scale.
Other safe neighborhoods include Zona Rosa, Centro Historico, San Rafael, Juarez, and Escandón.
Staying in these tourist-friendly neighborhoods can provide a secure experience in Mexico City. Travelers tend to feel the most comfortable in these places. However, there are still potential scams here, so you should be careful.
Crime Rates in Mexico City
There’s no sugar-coating it; the crime rate in Mexico City is high, compared to other cities in Mexico, including incidents of robbery, theft, and violent crimes. However, safety levels can vary depending on the neighborhood and time of the day.
Regarding safety statistics in Mexico City, with a crime rate of 68.08 and a safety index of just 31.92, it’s okay to worry. The most common worries with visitors are being mugged or robbed.
Petty thefts like pickpocketing and bag snatching can happen in crowded areas or on public transportation, so keep an eye on your belongings at all times. Other crimes to worry about are carjacking, vehicle break-ins, and drug usage.
The city is known for its drug-related violence and organized crime activities.
While violent crimes happen in Mexico City, they’re relatively rare for tourists. These crimes are often targeted toward specific individuals involved in criminal activities rather than random tourists or foreigners.
Crime is an unfortunate reality in some areas of Mexico City. Nevertheless, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and avoid risky situations whenever possible.
Beware of the Mustard Scam: A stranger might squirt mustard (or any other disgusting liquid) on you and offer to help clean up. While you’re preoccupied with cleaning the mess, an accomplice (or the spiller) might steal your phone, wallet, or anything else they can grab.
Places to Avoid
Despite the improvements, certain areas of Mexico City are considered more dangerous than others and warrant caution, especially after dark.
Places like Tepito, Iztapalapa, Doctores, and Ciudad Neza have higher crime rates. Tourists should steer clear of these places.
The busy and sketchy street market of Tepito is a hotspot for robberies or getting ripped off. Iztapalapa is unpopular for a high rate of violent crimes against women.
Doctores is generally safe for daytime visits (check out the famous Lucha libre wrestling), but it gets comparatively dangerous at night. And while Ciudad Neza is changing, this historically poor area had a lot of crime that kept tourists away.
Generally, exercise basic safety measures and avoid secluded or poorly-lit areas to mitigate potential risks.
Mexico City comes alive when the sun goes down, with a thriving nightlife and various cultural festivals. As tempting as it may be to indulge in the festivities, it’s also crucial to remain cautious.
You can enjoy hundreds of local bars, from quirky to upscale, but you should keep your alcohol consumption in check.
Stick to well-lit and busy areas when walking at night, especially if you are unfamiliar with the neighborhood. This reduces the risk of becoming a target for criminals.
It’s essential to avoid wandering alone in isolated areas after dark. Always opt for a reliable means of transportation back to your accommodation, and inform someone you trust about your plans for the evening.
Considering the general reputation of Mexico City, using public transportation is a common concern for travelers.
It’s best to use reputable transportation options like authorized taxi services (Uber) or ride-sharing services to minimize the risk of scams or robberies, ensuring personal safety.
Avoid unlicensed taxis (like hailing a cab on the street) or public buses late at night. The metro system is a convenient and affordable mode of transportation.
While it’s generally safe, crowded stations and trains are common targets for pickpockets. Keep your belongings secure, and avoid using the metro during rush hours if possible.
General tip: The traffic is awful in Mexico City, so don’t bother driving around the city. There are complicated regulations on who can drive and limiting congestion. It’s better to use public transportation and rent a car to visit the capital’s outskirts.
Apart from the man-made dangers in Mexico City, the most common natural disasters are earthquakes, hurricanes, and volcano eruptions.
Hurricanes have touched down in the area, and the active volcano of Popocatepetl is just two hours from Mexico City. However, you should be concerned about earthquakes, which are common here since Mexico City is in a subduction zone.
While hurricanes are seasonal, and you can plan your visit accordingly, earthquakes can happen anytime.
How can you ensure an eventful time during your visit to Mexico City? Here are some general safety tips to help you enjoy your time and not worry about the lurking dangers:
Opt for Uber
Uber is, without a doubt, the safest, easiest, and most reliable way to get around Mexico City. All you must do is open the app on your phone, pick a destination, and you’ll have a car on the way in minutes.
Want a ride to far-away attractions like Teotihuacan or Xochimilcan? Go for an Uber.
Be cautious when using ATMs, and try to use those located inside banks or secure establishments. While a random ATM on the street may seem convenient, many fake cash machines steal or duplicate your card.
Avoid displaying valuable items like expensive jewelry or electronics or carrying large amounts of cash in public places, which may attract attention.
While this might not be a priority in your city, don’t forget to count your change.
Stay informed about the current security situation in the city through reliable sources such as local authorities or embassies. Follow any travel advisories issued by the respective governments.
Consider Travel Insurance
People are increasingly relying on travel insurance for any sort of international travel. Investing in a comprehensive plan for your Mexico City trip is a wise choice.
This helps when you lose your belongings, get caught up in a natural disaster, or require emergency services.
Helpful tip: Keep the local emergency numbers handy – Police (911), ambulance (066), and tourist assistance hotline (800 008 9090). If you’re in a stressful situation or tragedy, these will help you out.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Safe to Have Street Food in Mexico City?
Yes, the street food here is delicious and safe. Don’t overthink it and miss out on trying the local delicacies of Mexico City.
Just watch for a few things to ensure a stall is safe to eat from. If you see a stall without a water source to wash vegetables, pre-prepared meat or a reasonable crowd around it, it’s best to avoid such places. People avoid an empty stalls for some reason.
Is Mexico City Safe for Female Travelers?
Solo female travelers usually visit Mexico City without experiencing any issues. While it’s mostly safe during the day, you might want to avoid walking alone after dark and staying with a group instead.
Avoid high-risk areas, especially Iztapalapa.
Is Downtown Mexico City Safe?
Generally, downtown Mexico City is considered safe. The rougher neighborhoods are primarily on the city’s outskirts.
While some rough streets can be found around Centro Histórico, it’s advisable to consult your receptionist or accommodations host for guidance on the areas to avoid during your stay in town.
Summing It Up
So, is Mexico City safe? That’s a yes and a no.
Mexico City is a vibrant and captivating destination with much to offer for anyone visiting here. Like any big city, it, too, has safety considerations.
However, with significant steps by the government and local communities, there have been enhancements in security for both residents and tourists.
Exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Additionally, avoid displaying valuable items and use reputable transportation options.
Keeping this in mind, you’re all set to explore the enchanting urban gem of Mexico City!