Merida, Mexico at sunset
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Nine of the safest cities in Mexico

Celebrated for its breathtaking beaches, ancient Mayan ruins and magical towns, Mexico is a very popular destination for travellers. However, concerns about safety often arise, fueled by reports of violent crimes linked to organized crime and drug cartels.

Despite this, many places in Mexico are reasonably safe and have welcoming communities, intriguing cultural sites and scenic surroundings.

We've put together the below list of some of the safest cities in the country, based on the city's size (it needs to be a city, not a town), appeal to visitors and, of course, safety. Popular areas in the country are covered, and we've also included a few fascinating, less-visited cities.

Just keep in mind that there are some precautions you should take while travelling to Mexico, no matter where you stay.

Stick to well-lit areas at night, leave your passport in your room, and don’t carry excess cash on you. When out at night, keep an eye on your drinks, don't walk home alone at night, and stay away from drugs (they are readily available on the streets).

If you take these basic precautions and choose your destinations well, you should have a fun and safe trip to Mexico. Here are just a few of the safer cities in Mexico that are well worth visiting.

Hispanic colonial architecture in Parque Hidalgo, Merida.

1. Merida, Yucatan

The Yucatan capital is known for its colonial architecture and incredible food. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with excellent museums, traditional Mayan performances, and close proximity to remarkable archaeological sites, including the famous Chichen Itza.

Widely acknowledged as the safest city in Mexico (and even Latin America), your biggest safety concern in Mérida will probably be the busy traffic.

Mérida does have the occasional pickpocket, so take all normal precautions, just in case.

Planning your trip to Mérida

Looking down on people outside the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City

2. Mexico City

Mexico City is the most-visited destination in the country and, despite its reputation, it's relatively safe for tourists, especially in the city centre.

Between 2009 and 2011, Mexico City's crime rates drastically reduced and the number of police in the city increased, particularly in tourist areas. Visitors also report feeling safe in Mexico City, although taking the usual safety precautions is still advised.

Like many big cities, some neighbourhoods in Mexico City are much safer than others. As a general rule, stay away from any very northern or very southern neighborhoods in Mexico City after dark.

Pick a hotel in the Centro, Roma or Condesa districts, and avoid Tepito and Merced, especially at night. If you want to visit the popular La Merced Market, go during the day and leave valuable items behind.

Planning your trip to Mexico City

Visitors mingling on Fundadores Park beach under the Portal Maya sculpture in Playa del Carmen

3. Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo

Playa del Carmen is a well-known coastal city in Mexico, with close proximity to Mayan ruins and beautiful cenotes.

Its long white beaches and blue waters make it a popular tourist destination, and Playa del Carmen is a relatively safe place to visit in Mexico, suitable for solo travellers and families.

Despite some incidences of drug-related violence in nearby Tulum, Playa del Carmen is generally isolated from these issues, and the state of Quintana Roo has minimal violent crime directed at tourists.

That said, it's worth taking some safety precautions in Playa del Carmen, including not walking around alone at night and staying away from recreational drugs while you're in town.

Planning your trip to Playa del Carmen

Tourists and locals admiring art works lining the streets at an art fair in Santiago de Queretaro

4. Querétaro City

Santiago de Querétaro somehow embodies a vibrant blend of history and modernity. The city is known for its stunning colonial architecture, impressive churches and monasteries, and high quality of life.

Spend your time there exploring the charming historic centre, indulging in local cuisine, and visiting the historical aqueduct. Querétaro's array of museums, galleries, and cultural festivals make it a must-visit for those who love art and culture.

The city's well-preserved historical areas and modern districts are regularly patrolled, and crime rates are low. Visitors are still advised to stick to well-lit areas and popular tourist spots at night, and while public transport is generally safe, you may want to consider using reputable taxi services after dark.

Planning your trip to Querétaro

Colourful buildings in Puebla's historic centre on a sunny day

5. Puebla

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Puebla is known for its culinary heritage, well-preserved architecture and Talavera pottery. Despite its cultural and culinary significance, Puebla is often overlooked by tourists in favour of more famous destinations, but it's well worth visiting.

Spend your time exploring historical sites, trying the famous dishes, and admiring Talavera pottery in a welcoming environment. The city's location, close to Mexico City, also makes it accessible for travellers who are short on time.

While it's the fourth largest city in Mexico, Puebla is generally safe, particularly in tourist-centric areas. It's still worth using official taxi services or trusted ride-sharing apps for transportation. Also, stay vigilant in busy markets and public spaces to avoid pickpocketing.

Planning your trip to Puebla

  • Stay at Casareyna, a hotel that beautifully blends modern amenities with traditional design.

  • Book a food tour to taste Puebla's famous mole poblano.

Downtown Puerto Vallarta at sunset.

6. Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco

Known for its beaches, bustling nightlife and beautiful marine life, Puerto Vallarta is one of the safest places in the country to visit. The city is also a haven for art lovers, with numerous galleries and a vibrant art scene.

Puerto Vallarta has largely remained uninvolved in cartel conflicts and crime rates are very low - significantly lower than the crime rates of major cities in the United States. As well as being family-friendly, it's also a good destination for same-sex couples.

There is a small amount of petty crime, such as bag snatching, pickpocketing or theft, so use all normal precautions.

Planning your trip to Puerto Vallarta

The striking Parroquia Archangel Church in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

7. San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato

San Miguel de Allende is a UNESCO World Heritage site, a popular destination for expats and one of the safest places in Mexico.

Over 8,000 Canadian, British, and American expats live in San Miguel de Allende, which has beautiful Spanish colonial churches, great restaurants, and heritage sites.

While crime rates in San Miguel de Allende are relatively low, be cautious when out at night and keep an eye on your belongings on public transport.

Planning your trip to San Miguel Allende

Dancers in colourful dresses performing in a Day of the Dead parade in Oaxaca City

8. Oaxaca City

Oaxaca City is renowned for its Day of the Dead celebrations, indigenous cultures, and culinary delights like mole and mezcal. The city offers many rich experiences for visitors, from vibrant markets to ancient ruins.

Oaxaca City is considered safe for tourists and has a strong community atmosphere. The city’s rich cultural events are accessible to visitors, making it a great choice for those seeking authentic experiences in a safe setting.

Visitors should still stay in well-traveled areas, especially at night, and use taxis or ride-sharing services. If you're at a festival or large gathering, keep your belongings close to avoid pickpocketing.

Planning your trip to Oaxaca City

People eating outside on a pedestrian street in Campeche, Mexico

9. Campeche

Campeche is a gorgeous, tranquil city with a beautifully preserved colonial centre and lovely beaches. Also designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the city is known for its military fortifications and colourful buildings.

Campeche's fortifications and Baroque architecture offer a serene and secure setting for evening strolls along the city walls. The area was also the centre of an ancient Mayan civilization, so head to a museum or archaeological site when you visit.

The historical centre is particularly well-policed and safe for tourists and the crime rate is low. Although it's a safe city, always keep your hotel doors locked and valuables secured.

Planning your trip to Campeche

Planning a trip to Mexico? Read our travel guides

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Roxanne de Bruyn

Author - Roxanne de Bruyn

Roxanne is the founder and editor of Faraway Worlds. She is a freelance writer and guidebook author and has written for several travel publications, including Lonely Planet and The Culture Trip. With a background in communications, she has studied ancient history, comparative religion and international development, and has a particular interest in sustainable tourism.

Originally from South Africa, Roxanne has travelled widely and loves learning the stories of the places she visits. She enjoys cooking, dance and yoga, and usually travels with her husband and young son. She is based in New Zealand.

Last Updated 27 January 2024

View of Tulum in Mexico

Mexico

Situated in North America, Mexico is famous for its warm weather, sunny beaches and fascinating history.