Is Mexico City Safe? According to Researched Travelers

From taco tours to ancient pyramids, uncover the truth about safety in Mexico's sprawling capital through the eyes of two food-loving remote workers.

West Parker
West Parker
July 18, 2024

When Sarah and I first mentioned our plans to visit Mexico City, you'd think we'd announced a vacation to Mars. Our parents nearly fainted, our friends looked at us like we'd lost our minds, and even our cat seemed judgmental (though that might just be her default expression). "But the cartels!" they cried. "The kidnappings! The... the... tacos?"

Okay, maybe no one actually warned us about the tacos. But the fear was real, and for a hot minute, we wondered if we were making a huge mistake. Were we about to star in our own real-life version of "Taken," but with more guacamole?

Spoiler alert: We survived. Not only survived but thrived. And those tacos? Let's just say they were life-changing in the best possible way.

Hi there! We're West and Sarah, a middle-aged couple from Florida who recently tied the knot and decided to celebrate by working remotely while traveling the world. We're on a mission to provide honest, diverse perspectives on safety and must-visit spots for all types of travelers. Sometimes one of us explores solo while the other works, so we've got insights for both couple and solo adventures.

As unabashed foodies willing to risk it all for a good meal (well, almost all), we're excited to share our week-long Mexico City experience. We'll walk you through how we assessed the city's safety and our real, unfiltered experiences navigating this incredible metropolis. Spoiler number two: It involves a lot of walking, a few mistaken turns, and more delicious food than we thought humanly possible to consume in seven days.

So, grab a snack (preferably something with salsa), and let's dive into the wild world of Mexico City safety!

3 Safety Factors to Consider

Before we packed our bags and headed south of the border, we did our homework. And by homework, I mean we obsessively researched every possible angle of Mexico City safety until our eyes crossed and we started dreaming in Spanish. Here's our thoroughly researched, slightly neurotic approach to determining if Mexico City was safe for two semi-adventurous remote workers with a penchant for street food.

01- State Department Travel Advisory

First stop on our safety investigation tour: the U.S. Department of State website. It's like Yelp for countries, but with more dire consequences for one-star reviews.

The State Department uses a 1-4 rating system:

  1. Exercise Normal Precautions (The "Don't be an idiot" level)
  2. Exercise Increased Caution (The "Maybe leave your diamond-encrusted sneakers at home" level)
  3. Reconsider Travel (The "Are you sure about this?" level)
  4. Do Not Travel (The "Seriously, did you not see the big red warning?" level)

We generally stick to destinations in the 1-2 range. Call us crazy, but we like our vacations with a side of "probably won't end up on the news."

Here's where it gets interesting. Mexico as a whole is a mixed bag of ratings. Some areas are a hard "nope" (Level 4), while others are practically rolling out the welcome mat (Level 2).

Mexico City? It's sitting pretty at Level 2 - Exercise Increased Caution. It's like the government is saying, "Sure, go ahead, but maybe don't flash your Rolex around." Joke's on them - my watch is from Target and I'm pretty sure it's not even waterproof.

The areas immediately surrounding Mexico City jump to Level 3 - Reconsider Travel. It's like a safety donut, with Mexico City as the delicious, relatively safe center. Mmmm, donuts.

U.S. Department of State Check: PASS (but keep your wits about you)

02- Latest News

Next up in our safety deep-dive: combing through recent news like we were searching for the meaning of life in our Twitter feed.

Surprisingly, the headlines weren't all doom and gloom. In fact, there was some pretty exciting economic news. Ford just opened a swanky new campus in Mexico City, investing major dinero in the local economy. Other big automotive players are following suit, including Chinese electric vehicle giant BYD.

This influx of foreign investment could mean more jobs, better infrastructure, and potentially increased stability. Of course, this is all speculation, but it's a promising sign for the city's future.

What we didn't find was equally telling - no recent reports of tourists being caught in cartel crossfire or any major crime waves targeting visitors. The most alarming safety-related news we came across was a tragic incident involving carbon monoxide poisoning in some Airbnbs.

Did this news prompt us to panic-buy a travel carbon monoxide detector? Maybe. Did we feel slightly ridiculous packing it next to our sunscreen and sombreros? Absolutely. But hey, better safe than sorry, right?

On the political front, Mexico City has been relatively stable. However, upcoming elections mean it's worth keeping an eye on the news as things could change.

Current News Check: PASS (with a side of cautious optimism)

03- Community Forums

Last but not least in our safety investigation: diving into the wild world of travel forums. It's like eavesdropping on a global coffee shop conversation, but with more caps lock and the occasional troll.

We scoured TripAdvisor forums and Reddit threads like we were searching for hidden treasure. The consensus? Mexico City is generally safe for travelers who use common sense and take basic precautions.

Most posts read like variations on a theme: "I felt safer in Mexico City than in [insert major US city here]." Of course, there were a few horror stories, but they were the exception rather than the rule.

One thread that caught our eye was from a solo female traveler asking about safety. The responses were overwhelmingly positive, with many women sharing their experiences of feeling comfortable exploring the city alone. This was particularly reassuring for Sarah, who planned to do some solo exploring while I was working.

We did come across one useful nugget of advice that we took to heart: a local's perspective on neighborhoods to avoid. Areas like Iztapalapa, Tepito, Doctores, and Ecatepec were consistently mentioned as places tourists should steer clear of. We made mental notes and adjusted our itinerary accordingly.

Community Forum Check: PASS (with flying colors and a side of street tacos)

First Hand Experience in Mexico City

Armed with our research and a healthy mix of excitement and mild anxiety, we set off for Mexico City. Over the course of our week-long stay, we explored seven different neighborhoods, mostly on foot. Here's our unfiltered, taco-fueled account of safety in Mexico City's most popular areas.

Mexico City by Foot

01- Roma Norte

Roma Norte, Mexico City: Peaceful street scene with cafes and locals enjoying daily life
Roma Norte, Mexico City: Peaceful street photo with cafes and locals enjoying daily life

If Mexico City neighborhoods were a boy band, Roma Norte would be the dreamy lead singer. It's charming, photogenic, and has an irresistible personality that makes you want to hang out there all day.

We stayed at the Brick Hotel, a boutique gem on Orizaba Street that perfectly captured the neighborhood's artsy vibe. From the moment we stepped out of our Uber (more on transportation later), we felt at ease.

Roma Norte's tree-lined streets and stunning Art Deco architecture had us constantly stopping to take photos. We walked around at all hours and never once felt unsafe. Here are some highlights:

→ Cafes: We became regulars at Quentin Café for their amazing cold brew and Panadería Rosetta for pastries that made us consider extending our stay by several months.

→ Restaurants: Máximo Bistrot blew our minds with their seasonal menu, and Contramar lived up to the hype with the best tuna tostadas we've ever had.

→ Bars: Licorería Limantour served up cocktails that were basically drinkable art, and La Clandestina gave us a crash course in mezcal that may or may not have resulted in some tipsy souvenir shopping.

Is Roma Norte Safe? YES (and delicious)

02- Condesa

Parque México in Condesa quickly became our favorite spot for people (and dog) watching. The relaxed vibe here perfectly captures the neighborhood's charm.

If Roma Norte is the lead singer, Condesa is the cool bassist who knows all the best underground spots. With its leafy parks and hip cafes, it's like the lovechild of New York's West Village and Paris's Left Bank, but with better tacos.

We spent a day wandering around Parque México and strolling down Avenida Amsterdam, a circular street that used to be a horse racing track. We felt completely safe, even when we got lost (which, let's be honest, happened more than once).

Condesa highlights:

Churrería El Moro: We may have eaten our weight in churros here. No regrets.

Taco Tour: We joined a guided taco tour that took us to some incredible off-the-beaten-path spots we never would have found on our own.

Parque México: Great for people-watching and dog-spotting. We counted at least 50 different dog breeds in one afternoon.

Is Condesa Safe? YES (watch out for churro-induced food comas)

03- Polanco

Upscale shopping scene on Presidente Masaryk Avenue in Polanco, Mexico City, showcasing area's elegance and security
Polanco feels like the Beverly Hills of Mexico City. We felt incredibly safe window shopping along Presidente Masaryk Avenue, even if our wallets were too scared to go in!

Polanco is like the posh aunt of Mexico City neighborhoods - elegant, refined, and possibly judging your outfit choices. Think high-end boutiques, luxury car dealerships, and restaurants that require a reservation months in advance.

While it lacks some of the local charm of Roma and Condesa, Polanco feels incredibly safe. If our parents ever visit Mexico City, this is where we'd tell them to stay.

Polanco adventures:

Pujol: We splurged on a meal at Enrique Olvera's world-renowned restaurant. The mole madre, aged for over 2,500 days, nearly brought tears to our eyes.

Museo Soumaya: This free museum houses an impressive art collection in a building that looks like it's from the future.

Parque Lincoln: A lovely green space where we enjoyed some high-end people-watching.

Is Polanco Safe? YES (your wallet might be in danger though)

04- Centro Histórico

Zócalo square in Centro Histórico, Mexico City, with iconic landmarks and visible security presence
Standing in the Zócalo, surrounded by centuries of history and the buzz of modern city life, we felt the true heart of Mexico City. The visible police presence added an extra layer of security to our exploration.

The Centro Histórico is where the past and present of Mexico City collide in a beautiful, chaotic dance. It's packed with historic sites, street vendors, and more energy than a double espresso.

We spent a full day exploring the area, sticking mainly to the main tourist zones. While we felt safe overall, this is where we were most aware of our surroundings and kept a close eye on our belongings.

Centro Histórico must-sees:

→ Zócalo: The main square, always buzzing with activity. We watched a fascinating Aztec dance performance here.

→ Palacio Nacional: The Diego Rivera murals here are mind-blowing. We spent hours gawking at the details.

Templo Mayor: Ancient Aztec ruins right in the middle of the city. Mind. Blown.

El Cardenal: We had the best breakfast of our lives here. The nata (clotted cream) is life-changing.

Is Centro Histórico Safe? YES, but stay alert (and hungry)

05- Coyoacán

Vibrant scene at Mercado de Coyoacán, Mexico City, showcasing local culture and safe environment for tourists
Exploring Mercado de Coyoacán was like stepping into a rainbow of sights, sounds, and flavors. We felt completely at ease losing ourselves in the maze of stalls for hours.

Coyoacán feels like stepping into a small town, complete with cobblestone streets and colorful buildings. It's a bit of a trek from the city center, but absolutely worth the journey.

We felt incredibly safe wandering around Coyoacán. The vibe is relaxed and artsy, with a nice mix of locals and tourists.

Coyoacán highlights:

→ Frida Kahlo Museum: A must-visit. Book tickets in advance!

→ Mercado de Coyoacán: We ate our way through this market, trying everything from tostadas to tlacoyos.

Café El Jarocho: The best coffee we had in Mexico City, hands down.

Is Coyoacán Safe? YES (unless you count the risk of never wanting to leave)

Mexico City by Uber

Tourists using Uber service outside Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico City, demonstrating safe and convenient transportation
Uber became our go-to for longer trips in Mexico City. It was affordable, reliable, and made us feel secure, especially when exploring further-out neighborhoods like Coyoacán.

While we walked most places, we did use Uber for longer trips or late-night returns to our hotel. Our experience with Uber in Mexico City was consistently positive and felt very safe.

We used Uber for:

→ Airport transfers→ Getting to/from Coyoacán→ Late night returns from bars in Juárez and Roma Norte→ Rainy day trips

The cars were clean, the drivers were friendly, and the prices were incredibly reasonable. We never waited more than 5 minutes for a ride, even in less central areas.

One tip: We always checked that the license plate matched the one in the app before getting in, just to be extra cautious.

Is Uber Safe in Mexico City? YES (and surprisingly affordable)

Final Thoughts

Tourists enjoying guided taco tour in Mexico City, highlighting safe way to experience street food culture
Our guided taco tour was the perfect way to dive into Mexico City's street food scene without worrying about safety. Plus, we discovered some hidden gems we never would have found on our own!

So, is Mexico City safe? Based on our experience, the answer is a resounding yes - with the usual caveats that apply to any major city.

We felt safer in most parts of Mexico City than we do in many U.S. cities. The key, as with any travel, is to stay aware of your surroundings, use common sense, and don't do anything you wouldn't do at home (unless it involves eating your body weight in tacos, in which case, go for it).

Some final safety tips:

  • Stick to well-lit, populated areas at night
  • Use official taxis or ride-sharing apps rather than hailing cabs on the street
  • Keep valuables out of sight and be discreet with expensive cameras or phones
  • Learn some basic Spanish - it goes a long way in building goodwill
  • Trust your instincts - if something feels off, remove yourself from the situation

But here's what we really want to emphasize: Don't let fear keep you from experiencing the incredible vibrancy, warmth, and yes, culinary delights of Mexico City. It's a place that will challenge your preconceptions, expand your palate, and leave you planning your next visit before you've even left.

Mexico City metro: Orderly station with diverse passengers, including women-only area

Here are some additional safety tips we picked up during our stay:

  1. Use the metro during off-peak hours to avoid crowding. The women-only cars (marked with pink signs) are a great option for female travelers.
  2. Keep a copy of your passport and important documents separate from the originals.
  3. Be cautious when using ATMs - stick to ones inside banks or shopping centers.
  4. Stay hydrated and watch out for altitude sickness. Mexico City sits at 7,350 feet above sea level!
  5. Download offline maps of the city in case you lose data connection.
  6. Learn the local emergency number: 911 works in Mexico City.
  7. Consider getting travel insurance. We use World Nomads, which gave us peace of mind.

One of our favorite safety-related experiences was chatting with local shop owners and restaurant staff. Not only did they give us great tips on hidden gems in the city, but they also shared insights on which areas to avoid late at night and the best ways to blend in like a local.

For instance, Rosa, the owner of a small mezcal shop in Roma Norte, advised us to always look confident when walking, even if we were completely lost. "Walk like you know where you're going," she said with a wink, "and the city will open up to you."

We also learned that Mexico City has a dedicated tourist police force. We spotted officers in light blue uniforms with "Policía Turística" patches in popular areas. While we never needed their help, it was reassuring to know they were there specifically to assist visitors.

Tourists at Templo Mayor ruins in Mexico City, with visible security measures highlighting safe cultural experiences
Standing among the ruins of Templo Mayor, we felt like we were touching history. The presence of security guards throughout the site added to our peace of mind as we explored.

One aspect of safety we hadn't considered before visiting was environmental. Mexico City has made great strides in improving its air quality, but on some days, pollution levels can still be high. We used the CDMX aire app to check daily air quality and planned our outdoor activities accordingly.

It's worth noting that safety can vary depending on the type of traveler you are. As a couple, we felt very secure, but we also spoke with solo travelers, families, and LGBTQ+ visitors about their experiences:

  • Solo travelers, especially women, emphasized the importance of staying in well-reviewed accommodations and joining group tours to meet other travelers.
  • Families raved about the kid-friendly attractions like the Papalote Museo del Niño and felt safe in parks and museums.
  • LGBTQ+ travelers generally felt welcomed, particularly in the Zona Rosa neighborhood, known for its vibrant gay scene.

One of our most memorable moments came on our last night in Mexico City. We were walking back to our hotel after a late dinner in Roma Norte when we realized we'd taken a wrong turn. For a moment, that old fear crept back in. But then we heard music drifting from a nearby park. We followed the sound and stumbled upon an impromptu salsa dancing session. Locals of all ages were laughing, dancing, and enjoying the warm night air. Without hesitation, they waved us over to join.

As we awkwardly attempted to salsa (apologies to all true salsa dancers out there), surrounded by the joy and openness of these strangers, any lingering anxiety about safety melted away. This, we realized, was the true heart of Mexico City - warm, welcoming, and full of unexpected delights.

So, would we recommend visiting Mexico City? Absolutely, unequivocally, yes.

Is it perfect? No city is.Is it 100% safe? No place on earth can claim that.

But is it a vibrant, exciting, delicious destination that deserves a spot on your travel bucket list? Without a doubt.

Just remember to pack your common sense along with your appetite, and Mexico City will reward you with an unforgettable experience. From the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacan to the cutting-edge cuisine of its world-class restaurants, from the leafy parks of Condesa to the colorful canals of Xochimilco, Mexico City is a place that will challenge your preconceptions and leave you hungry for more.

As we boarded our flight home, already scrolling through our photos and planning our next visit, we realized that Mexico City had given us so much more than just a vacation. It had given us a new perspective, not just on travel safety, but on the joy of embracing the unknown.

So go ahead, book that ticket. Eat that street taco. Dance that salsa. Mexico City is waiting to surprise you, delight you, and yes, keep you safer than you might think.

Just don't blame us if you come back with a suitcase full of souvenirs and a newfound obsession with finding the perfect mole sauce. Consider yourself warned!

About Us

We're West and Sarah, a middle-aged couple from Florida who recently decided to combine our love for travel with our remote work lifestyle. With 32 countries under our belts, we're on a mission to help everyone travel safer and eat better. We believe that understanding a place's food is the key to understanding its culture, and that sometimes the best travel experiences happen when you step just slightly out of your comfort zone (but always with a fully charged phone and the local emergency number on speed dial).

Follow our adventures as we eat, work, and occasionally salsa dance our way around the world!

Useful Resources

  1. U.S. Embassy in Mexico: For the latest safety information and travel alerts.
  2. Mexico City Tourism Board: Official tourism website with helpful information for visitors.
  3. Metrobús: Official website for Mexico City's rapid transit bus system.
  4. Mexico City International Airport: For flight information and airport services.
  5. Museo Nacional de Antropología: One of the world's great museums, showcasing Mexico's pre-Hispanic heritage.
  6. 30 Best Things to Do in Mexico City: The ultimate insider's guide to Mexico City, written by yours truly.

Remember, the best souvenir you can bring back from Mexico City is a collection of amazing memories (and maybe a few extra pounds from all the delicious food). Stay safe, stay curious, and happy travels!

Now that we've put your safety concerns to rest, it's time to start planning all the incredible experiences Mexico City has to offer. From ancient ruins to world-class museums, from vibrant markets to cutting-edge cuisine, CDMX is a city of endless possibilities. Dive into our guide on the 30 Best Things To Do in Mexico City and start crafting your perfect itinerary!

West Parker
West Parker
Article updated:
July 18, 2024 8:16 AM

West Parker, a Cornell University School of Hotel Administration graduate, has spent two decades as the secret weapon of the jet-set elite, crafting bespoke adventures that redefine luxury travel. Now a resident writer for Town & Tourist, this 45-year-old "Architect of Extraordinary Journeys" combines razor-sharp insights with unparalleled industry connections to deliver experiences that even the most discerning globetrotters can't help but rave about. West's expertise spans from exclusive real estate to fine dining, making him the go-to strategist for those who demand nothing but the extraordinary in their travels.

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