Mexico is generally seen as a safe country. But some areas might have a bad reputation and it’s just better to avoid them altogether.
This article explores your options for safe travel as an international tourist.
Some of these cities are a bit further out from the main tourist hotspots but the advantage is friendly locals are going to make you feel at home when visiting and staying at their hotels.
Table of Contents
1. Mexico City
The downtown area of Mexico City is a tourist hotspot. It’s also one of the safest parts of the city. The Mexican capital is one of the most densely populated areas of the world yet it remains safe compared to the bad reputation cities close to the border. You can start your capital tour at the Catedral Metropolitana de Mexico. Plaza del Constitucion is where you can meet local guides if you need tips on the best places to eat and drink. Since the city is so vast, you can also book a hotel or apartment overlooking these historic colonial plazas at affordable rates.
Located in the Oaxaca region, Huatulco is a safe town with plenty of water sports to try out. If you like being out in the sun and going out for a swim, Huatulco offers multiple activities to relax with. Snorkeling and scuba diving are popular here. But you can also go fishing with the locals as many source fish directly from the ocean for their restaurants.
3. Todos Santos
Situated on the Pacific Coast, Todos Santos is a sleepy town with low crime and plenty of attractions. You can start your visit to the beach where you’re likely to meet local artists that come here to get inspired from around the country.
Given the city is so remote (21-hours form Sand Diego and 27 hours from Mexico City), it’s very safe and very clean. However, you can easily venture off into the rugged landscape once you exit the town center. Dirt bikes are a big activity here that you can get into yourself.
Oaxaca city and the entire Oaxaca region are part of the UNESCO world heritage sites on the food scene. The city itself looks like a box of chocolates and its crime level is generally low. Most international travelers come here for the food and wine scene. We recommend trying as much food as you can. But you need to get your hands on tamales and chapulines first.
Both safe and true to its Mexican identity, Bacalar is also cheaper than nearby Playa del Carmen. This town should be high on your list if you are interested in safety. There’s no beach here but the local lake has been properly maintained for tourists around the year. It hosts a few festivals, especially during the summer. Surrounded by wild nature, jungle, and endless camping locations, Bacalar is easily a place to take memorable photos for nature lovers.
Yelapa is so small that you can barely find it on the map. But this small Mexican beach town is perfect if you value safety and your spending habits. Many beach towns in the country are very expensive even for tourists. Since Yelapa is so far from the major tourist attractions, it still has a deep Mexican charm but with low accommodation and food prices. You can sit on the beach or arrange a short boat trip out into the ocean here. If you want to stay away from people due to the pandemic, it’s the city to consider in Mexico.
One of the best-kept secrets of the country is situated a short drive from Mexico City. Puebla impresses with how it preserved colonial buildings and even if you’re not into architecture, this is a place you want to visit.
A short cable car ride or taking photos from a Ferris wheel are some of the main activities you can start your Puebla journey with. However, we recommend hiking a local volcano as this type of activity is barely possible elsewhere. The food scene here is also incredible and it’s starting to attract tourists from around the world. Cemitas is a local sandwich-style plate you have to order as soon as possible to have the energy needed to walk the city.
Mérida is a top city that is now growing in popularity. However, it’s not as unsafe as Tulum and it can be a top destination for colonial architecture, food, and culture. It was once named America’s capital of culture and there are plenty of modern and Mayan cultural aspects to explore here. We love walking its city center during the weekend where cars aren’t allowed to enter the area. This is also the perfect time to sit at an outdoor restaurant and enjoy some of the best Yucatecan food. When you start to get bored with the city, the nearby Valladolid offers a similar vibe with new places to explore.
One of the most underrated cities in Mexico in Ensenada. Apart from international cruises, there are not many tourists to worry about here. You can reach the town easily by first stopping at nearby Tijuana airport. But as a city, Ensenada is even safer. Its friendly locals focus on creating delicious food and amazing local beer. We’d also recommend Ensenada for seafood lovers as there are plenty of eateries serving delicious fish. You might also want to take some time off at the local beach since it’s also a bit safer than those closer to the US border.
Guanajuato is a small town with colonial architecture and prices that make you want to stay an extra week. This is far from the unsafe streets of Cancun and since most tourists head over to San Miguel in the region, you’ll get the chance to meet more locals and avoid foreigners and all the trouble they come with as targets for potential crime.