• Alan Travers

Safe and Dangerous Areas in Mexico City

Updated: Jul 20, 2019



Mexico City can be a big and scary place, especially for those of you looking to visit for the first time, the word big even seems a little bit of an understatement here, Mexico City is huge! In fact it's one of the largest most populated cities across the planet, last time I checked it was ranked the 12th largest city in the world.


The city itself is incredibly vast, and in being so big, you can find hidden gems everywhere, there is everything from beautiful colonial neighbourhoods to squares and plazas full of trendy bars/restaurants, amazing world heritage sites and crazy amusement parks, there is almost nothing that you can't find here in Mexico City.


While you can undoubtedly find your fair share of fantastic unique places across the city, you can also be sure that there is plenty of dangerous areas that should be avoided at all costs.


In this article, you will find information about areas that are popular with tourists, hidden gems, trendy neighbourhoods, places that you should roam with caution and areas that you should avoid entirely.



Safe Areas

La Condesa | Roma | Polanco | Santa Fe | Coyoacán | Chapultepec


Dangerous Areas

Tepito | Iztapalapa | Doctores | Tlatelolco


Caution Areas

Centro Histórico | Tlalpan | Xochimilco | La Merced Market



Safe Areas

Let's dive right in and get started with some of the safer places across the city that you should visit.


La Condesa


La Condesa is one of the most popular areas in the city for tourists and Mexicans alike, there is everything here from trendy clubs/bars, boutique hotels, charming streets and beautiful parks. The entire area of La Condesa is very much cosmopolitan, and you could expect to see the likes of artists, students, business people and influencers around the area who really bring life to La Conesa.


There are a plethora of different things to see and do in La Condesa, you should absolutely take the time to come here and explore the charming streets. You can ramble around day or night as this is regarded as one of the safest places in Mexico City.



Roma


Roma is situated next to La Condesa, and both are very similar to one and other however there are subtle differences, the atmosphere and vibe in Roma is certainly more hipster if you are to compare it with its neighbour.


If you take the time to visit Roma, you will have the opportunity to try some of the most delicious food in the entire city, I kid you not, this city is so vast, yet the small neighbourhood of Roma has easily four or five of the best Restaurants in the city. Make sure to check out Mercado Roma, this is where everyone comes to hang out and eat.


Like the previous entry, you can roam free here day or night without a problem, it's known as a popular spot for tourists and you can expect regular patrols throughout the area.



Polanco


Apart from being popular and famous for its high-end restaurants and huge shopping malls, Polanco is one of the few areas where you can find such a diverse group of people from around the world, this is the only place in Mexico where I have seen Americans, Africans and Europeans, it was something hard to believe and incredible at the same time.


There are numerous reasons for you to visit other than shopping and food, in Polanco you will find theatres, art galleries, the Soumaya Museum and one of the biggest parks in the whole city.


On top of the different attractions you can visit and enjoy, you can bet you will feel safe in this highly popular neighbourhood.



Santa Fe


Is known as an extremely safe place in the city, but it would be difficult for me to recommend you to visit. Though the area is very modern, full of bars, clubs and restaurants, there just is not that much else to do here, at least nothing that can't be found elsewhere in the city.


Santa is on outskirts of the Mexico City and is highly popular with the working class as this is where some of the most valuable companies in the country choose to operate, you won't find a lot of tourists here if any.



Coyoacan


This is one of my favourite places to visit in Mexico City! It's the perfect mix between local culture, history and tourism. I have visited countless times now and never get tired of interacting with the locals and then getting to sit down have a beer and mingle with the tourists.


Ramble this Mexican neighbourhood, and you are guaranteed to find some gems, there are many museums, restaurants, bars, cafes, bookstores and markets to explore. Visit Vivero Coyoacan to see one of the most Iconic fountains in all of the city, Fountain of the Coyotes.



Chapultepec


This area of Mexico City has changed remarkably so in the last few years! It was known to be a rough and dangerous area, and not very common among tourists, but thankfully things have now changed for the better.


This is one place that has attractions in abundance, there is no end to the things you can see and do here, there are museums, galleries, food courts, parks, water paddling and historical monuments, it would literally take weeks for you to experience everything.


If you choose to visit, I recommend you start with taking a tour of Castillo de Chapultepec and work your way down through the park where you will find, markets, food areas, water paddling and art galleries.



Dangerous Areas


I have briefly covered some of the safer neighbourhoods in the city and gave you reasons as to why you might be interested in visiting them, but unfortunately the city also has some very unpleasant neighbourhoods that we need to talk about.


You shouldn't be worried about the areas mentioned just below, as there is no way that you would find yourself near them unless you were intentionally trying to do so.



Tepito


Tepito is widely known in Mexico as the go-to place to find cheap Chinese knock offs or stolen goods, it has gained such a bad reputation over the years and rightly so. There are hundreds if not thousands of stalls set up all over the Tepito, with markets everywhere any anywhere you can expect that they don't attract the kind of crowd you would want to be around.


If you ask any Mexican or local about this place you'll see that most Mexicans prefer not to visit, if the locals won't even go there, that's a clear sign to stay away. You would be putting yourself in a high-risk situation of being targeted by criminals.



Iztapalapa


This area of Mexico City is enormous, in fact, it's the most densely populated neighbourhood in all of North America. Given that Iztapalapa is a neighbourhood and not a city, you have to figure with a population of 1.8 million, there are going to be a lot of problems in this area, it's sad to say, but the most significant threat here is to women.


Iztapalapa has the highest rate of crimes committed against women domestic or otherwise, it's unfortunate to see, but most of the crimes committed are rape crimes or kidnappings from sexual deviants. The La Joya is known to be the most dangerous area in Iztapalapa, but more than that it could easily be considered one of the most dangerous places for women in the entire western hemisphere.



Doctores


Many people might not like the fact that I have listed Doctores as a neighbourhood that must be avoided in Mexico, as this is arguably the place that has the most popular attraction in the entirety of Mexico! Doctores is home to the famous luchas (Wrestling), and while you should absolutely visit the Arena Mexico, you may want to think about your means of transport to and from the Doctores area.


Always exercise caution in and around this area, forget the bus and metro, I'd almost go as far to say be careful of the Taxis too, but if you intend on arriving to witness the spectacle that is luchas, make sure that your way is carefully planned, I recommend using Uber or some other trackable service.



Caution Areas


Centro Histórico


Right in the beating heart of Mexico's city centre, this area is one of the most popular areas in all of the city for tourists, and it should be, considering it has so much historical significance, with deep roots into Mexican culture and heritage. The area is also home to one of the most Iconic buildings in all of Mexico, tower Latinoamerica!


Because of the museums, iconic buildings, and historical significance, you can expect this to be one of the most populated tourist destinations in the city, and in being so, attracts the kind of people looking to take advantage of unsuspecting tourists. I recommend taking care of your personal belongings and don't stay after dark.



Tlalpan


This is yet another area which is quite beautiful in Mexico City, Tlalpan also attracts quite the crowd as thousands of tourists flock here every day because it is home to a plethora of various activities for you to enjoy.


In Tlalpan you can find a neighbourhood centre bursting with life and culture, a National Park where there are tons of activities with everything from cycling to horseback riding and hiking trails, there is also an Archaeological Zone (Cuicuilco) which has a circular Mesoamerican pyramid, and the famous Six Flags Mexico amusement park.


With all of these attractions, it's easy to understand why thousands visit, and you should too, the only problem is that Tlalpan becomes very dangerous come nightfall and the entire area should be avoided after sunset.



Xochimilco


I love Xochimilco, it's home to one of the most famous activities in all of Mexico City, this is where locals and tourists alike arrive to sail along some of the oldest canals in all of Mexico, the canals were incredibly built by the Aztecs and used as a method of transportation.


Xochimilco is a working class neighbourhood, and most of the area is quite poor and unappealing to tourists, the canals also attract quite the younger crowd on the weekend, so it's best avoided if your not interested seeing drunk teens partying and playing deafeningly loud music. It can be a fun activity to sail the canals have a beer and some food, but make sure to choose your day wisely.


This neighbourhood also becomes dangerous come nightfall and I highly recommend that tourists don't hang around any longer than they need to after visiting the famous Lunadas in Trajinera Canals. Also, beware of scammers just around the area of the canals looking to sell you on a boat tour, they usually are cycling around and they do charge more than what that actual cost is, they will be especially looking to take advantage if you are a tourist.



La Merced Market


Some of the freshest and finest food to be found anywhere in Mexico City, this market is one of the largest in all of the city and has some fantastic cheap offerings, you should absolutely visit if you are interested in Mexican culture.


The problem with arriving at this giant market is that you won't find many tourists around, and if you arrive with a camera around your neck, your summer shorts and aviator sunglasses, you are just asking for trouble! Even being white would attract unwanted attention, not only will vendors up their prices but some of the unsavoury crowd will be eyeing you up to try to steal what they can from you.


If you have some friends who are Mexicans, it's best you arrive with them and don't stay after dark as this is also a notoriously famous place for the prostitution scene that takes place come nightfall.