Safe Places in Mexico to Visit in 2020 | Top 10 Cities and States
Mexico's Bad Reputation
I want to start by explaining why Mexico has gained such a bad reputation over the years, the notoriously bad reputation is thanks to US politics and mainstream media, for the better half of a decade US politics have been highly influential in the destruction of this beautiful country's image.
Only two years ago, the US put out a level four warning in the travel advisory for five Mexican states. To give you an idea of how bad that really is, that level four warning is the same level as war-torn countries like Yemen, Iraq or Afghanistan.
Statistics Don't Lie
If you look at the statistics your more likely to run into trouble in the US than in Mexico, the fact is that all of the places on this list have lower rates of crime in comparative with most cities across the USA! Take a look at this graph I have put together.
A lot can be said about both these countries regarding crime, but the simple truth is that there isn't a single country in the world that is entirely safe!
Instead, I'm going to focus on the safest places for tourists, some of which can provide you with opportunities to witness some amazing natural beauty and experience some fantastic local culture and heritage.
So without further ado let's dive right in!
The safest place in Mexico earning the top spot on this list is Cozumel. This is a hotspot for tourists and locals alike; this beautiful island has some of the most amazing diving spots in not only Mexico but the world! It's often referred to as a Divers Paradise.
Have you ever dreamed of swimming with dolphins in crystal clear water? Or sipping down Margaritas on one of the most amazing beaches in the world? Or how about visiting some of the oldest ancient ruins and temples that date back to more than 2000 years old? You can do all of that in Cozumel!
Cozumel has a vibrant and colourful history that dates as far back as 2000 years ago when the Yucatec Maya settled on the island. If you choose to visit your guaranteed to experience some of the most amazing traditions and culture that the Mexican people have to offer.
You can visit some of the many Nature Reserves or Adventure Parks that Cozumel is home too! Throughout the island, you will find the ruins of ancient Maya temples and archaeological sites, nothing quite on the scale of Chichen Itza but it's some incredible history that should be witnessed if the opportunity presents itself.
Chankanaab Adventure Beach Park is usually the go-to place for tourists just arriving on cruise ships, and this is an excellent choice if you only have a few hours on this beautiful island.
This Adventure park is located inside the Cozumel National Reef Marine Park which is only a 10-minute drive from the cruise ship port.
In the park you have a plethora of activities to choose from, you can do everything from scuba diving, swimming with dolphins or zip lining across this beautiful park with everything else in between!
Or you could sip down cocktails on the most beautiful beach on the island, eat tacos and enjoy traditional Mexican food while taking in the weather on this sun-kissed island.
The top spot isn't easily earned, Cozumel has ranked number one on this list for being safe thanks to its size and remote location. Most of the population here lives in the city of San Miguel, where the hustle and bustle of everyday life are not quite the same as cities spread throughout mainland Mexico. Not much precaution is needed when visiting this hugely popular tourist destination.
How to Get There
If your looking to experience the fantastic things on Cozumel and join the thousands of tourists that arrive every day, the island is located in the western Caribbean just 12 miles of the coastline of the Yucatan Peninsula and is easily accessible by ferry which operates between Cozumel and Playa del Carmen on the hour.
Also in the Yucatan is Campeche, this city earns the second spot in my list for the safest places in Mexico and is beloved by locals, tourists and expats alike!
Campeche is a wonderfully charming city. I promise you from the moment you step through those giant surrounding walls you'll be instantly amazed by how unique and quirky this city is. I rarely have many expectations for visiting cities throughout Mexico, but each and every time I do, I manage to find myself surprised and Campeche was no exception.
A giant 2-mile wall surrounds the entire city of Campeche. The city was fortified in the 1600s due to the constant attacks the town suffered at the hands of pirates; this feat took the city 50 years to build and most of which remarkable still stands today.
It's not often you find cities surrounded by giant walls and fortifications that are more than 200 years old, because of this Campeche is listed as a Unesco World Heritage site and you get a very unique experience when visiting this beautiful city.
Take in some of the famous town histories, and after go for some delicious local food. It is a fisherman's city after all! Every day the local fishermen return in the late afternoon to sell their catch in the markets, you can visit the markets by walking to the north end of the Malecon, If you walk a little further on down you will find tons of seafood restaurants.
Prepare yourself to eat some of the best fish in your life!
One of the highlights of visiting this vibrant city was exploring, seeing and getting to experience so much colour, quirkiness and culture, make sure to wander these amazing streets, and keep a lookout for the main square, this where the city comes alive at night!
Visit the 8 bastions that make up the cities fortification, 7 of the strongholds are still in their original state. In each one you will find something different, in one exists a botanical garden, another the city museum, but the one I found to be most interesting is the bastion with a museum of Maya culture and history.
You also have the opportunity to witness one of the most beautiful sunsets in all of Mexico, because Campeche is on the west side of the Yucatan Peninsula, you a guaranteed to see a sunset that takes your breath away. The perfect spot is along the boardwalk, you'll find hundreds of tourists and locals in this area for the same reason you are.
Statistics say this is one of the safest places in all Mexico, and I absolutely believe it to be true. I felt completely safe exploring these streets and not once did I feel uneasy or felt the need to look over my shoulder. Most of the exploring was done during the day, but when It came going out at night, I visited multiple bars and restaurants around the main square and continuously felt entirely safe.
How to Get There
Campeche is quite the distance from Cancun and an even larger one from Mexico City, the drive to this place is relatively safe with minimal reports of criminal activity happening in Campeche state. Whether you choose to arrive by bus or car, either option is fine, just prepare yourself for some really long driving times if you decide to take this method of travel, there is also an International airport in Campeche for those looking to arrive by plane.
3. San Cristóbal de las Casas
Okay so this picture isn't exactly of the town San Cristobal, but the photo taken in Sumidero Canyon is definitely the highlight of the trip!
San Cristobal provides quite a different experience in comparison with the last two places mentioned, firstly it's not situated anywhere near sky blue waters or beautiful beaches, and secondly, it's a lot smaller!
San Cristobal de las Casas is a small colonial town that is often referred to as a magical place, the former president of Mexico, Felipe Calderónv had this to say "The most magical of the Pueblos Mágicos" he wasn't lying! This small cosy town is just something that has to be experienced and seen by everyone to fully understand what people mean when they say it is magic!
When visiting and exploring San Cristobal you'll find beautiful vibrant streets, fantastic culture, amazing people and delicious food! Even thinking about the food and culture makes me want to go back!
One of the best things about this city is to wander its beautiful streets and enjoy the local cuisine. There so many beautiful and unique cafes/restaurants around the town serving traditional food and coffee.
The culture and heritage can be quite different from what you may experience elsewhere in Mexico, as the general population consists mostly of the Tzotzil and the Tzatzal people. San Cristobal de las Casas is home to one of the largest indigenous Mayan communities in all of Mexico.
This town, albeit relatively small, has a lot to offer and is generally busy all year round satisfying tourists and visitors alike with its unique atmosphere and welcoming people.
Just a short trip away is Sumidero Canyon, and I can't recommend enough on why you should visit and take a boat tour of this magnificent canyon, it's an absolute must do if you're staying in San Cristobal! It's an inexpensive excursion that is sure to be the highlight of your visit.
So I was kind of conflicted about putting this town so high on the list, if I was to follow just the statistics for crime rate per capita, San Cristobal de las Casas is without question the third safest place in all of Mexico! But the problem with this is that it is located in the beautiful southern state of Chiapas, and in Chiapas it is known that some of the driving routes can be dangerous, because of criminals looking to extort or steal from you.
I will leave it here at the third spot in my list, but if you are looking to visit, I recommend you travel by coach or group tour, if you are driving here for the first time the risk is that you lose your way and or take a route prone to criminal attacks.
The city itself is safe but if you are looking to do day excursions outside of the city, travel with caution and always keep your wits about you.
How to Get There
The city of San Cristobal is located far into the mountainous range of Chiapas, and the route for arrival really sets the mood. It's a long journey ascending through mountains that provides endless opportunities to witness some stunning scenery of the Chiapas nature and wildlife.
As previously mentioned, the route for arrival can prove dangerous sometimes, so with this in mind, I can't recommend that you drive to this place if you have never been before. You should be absolutely sure of the roads and routes for arrival and if not, you should arrive by coach, it's a much more convenient and safer option.
Tuxtla Gutierrez is the closest airport to San Cristobal, located only an hour away, with multiple choices for arrival most commonly the shuttle transfer.
4. Puerto Vallarta
One of my favourite places in all of Mexico! I absolutely love this city, and I'm delighted to say that the crime rate is extremely low giving it the fourth spot in my list of safest places in the country.
This city has some insane beauty as it's perfectly situated in the Sierra Madre mountain range, which sits next to the ocean. Puerto Vallarta has some incredible landscapes, nature and wildlife with the added benefit of having some fantastic beaches! There are not too many places that can compare with a city that's on a mountain next to the ocean. It's not too often something makes me speechless, but that's how I felt on multiple occasions throughout my stay here.
This place has it all there really is something for everyone! Whatever it is that one hopes to see or experience when visiting a city, you can probably do it here. When planning your visit be careful to choose your location as the city is split up into different zones to aid tourists and locals distinguish between different sections of the city, each and every one of the zones can cater to different types of people depending on what you would like to see, do or experience.
I might seem like a broken record, I've mentioned multiple times throughout this article about watching sunsets, and I will continue to recommend that you do so as one of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta is to visit Conchas Chinas beach, sit down, relax and enjoy some cocktails while you wait for the sun to set, it's spectacular sight to behold and one of the most amazing experiences to be had when visiting.
I also found the Romantic Zone to be quite the interesting hot spot, full of trendy bars, courtyard restaurants and boutique hotels, this area has a lot to offer it's visitors and attracts quite the crowd.
Upon arrival too whichever zone you have chosen to stay, you will realise fast that crime is not so much an issue in this beautiful place. Not to say that crime is non-existent, but for the general visitor, there should be no reason whatsoever for you to not visit over safety concerns!
This is one of the many cities throughout Mexico that you can ramble it's street's during the night without any issues. It's also surprisingly one of the most popular places to visit amongst international visitors.
How to Get There
The most popular chosen route for arrival to Puerto Vallarta is by air, the city has it's own international airport that is very conveniently located only 15 minutes outside of the main town. Apart from flying here, another highly popular way to arrive is by coach, you can also drive if you wish to do so as there have been no reported dangerous along any of the highways for arrival.
Some of the different zones in the city are listed just below:
Hotel Zone – A short drive from the airport, this zone caters to most of the tourists and visitors with a vast selection of hotels, restaurants, bars and shopping centres.
Marina – A similar zone to the hotel zone only this area caters more so to the wealthy or upper middle class, with a finer selection of classier more reputable hotels.
Centro (Romantic Zone) – One of my favourite zones to stay, you'll find a huge selection of bars, cafes, restaurants and the beautiful Playa Los Muertos Beach. This zone is relatively cheap to stay, you can find anything from budget to high-end accommodation.
Centro (Old PV) – generally a residential area, but with quite a few nice options for cheap accommodation, there's also a nice selection of properties listed on Airbnb with great value. This area is situated along Malecon, which has many great restaurants and bars to choose from.
Conchas Chinas – Named after the mollusk shells you can find along the beach and not China! This area is located just a few minutes from the romantic zone and is usually a favourite of the locals. This particular zone stands out for one apparent reason, the geographical highlight of the wild jungle Sierra Madre meeting the crystalline coasts of the Pacific Ocean, this is one of the most beautiful sights to behold when visiting.
If you would like a map of the zones and more information about Puerto Vallarta, you can visit this site here https://www.puertovallarta.net/
5. Puebla de los Ángeles
Thanks to publications by The National Geographic, New York Times and Lonely Planet, this city has garnered a lot more attention by international visitors in recent times.
Famed for its culinary heritage, and colonial history this city is a must visit for food lovers and adventurers alike. While exploring this city, you can't help but notice the baroque colonial architecture and the beautiful vibrant streets, it's something that really stands out from the moment you arrive.
For those explorers and adventurers at heart, why don't you visit a Volcano? That's right, there are multiple active volcanoes in Puebla!
Two of the most famous volcanoes in Mexico are Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatepetl. These volcanoes are situated next to each other and provide the perfect opportunity to take some fantastic photographs! There is a legend in Mexico that says these volcanoes are named from a Princess (Iztaccíhuatl) and Warrior (Popocatepetl) that were to be married upon the return of the warrior from battle, but the princess died believing in lies that her beloved had been killed in battle. Visit an experience this legend for yourself!
Some of the best highlights of visiting are exploring it's unique streets and admiring the colonial architecture, while you do so be on the lookout for cosy little restaurants and make sure to try some of the famous dishes like Mole or Chiles en nogada!
I can't stress enough on how much you have to try the local food! It's incredible, some of the best food I have eaten anywhere in Mexico, and in this city, you really can't go wrong, I have eaten in at least 10 different restaurants and not once was I disappointed, not only is the food extremely cheap everywhere, but you also get large portions.
Earning the fifth place on my list of safest places in Mexico is the lovely city of Puebla de los Ángeles. You should feel completely safe wandering it's picturesque streets at any time of the year as it's hugely popular with tourists and visitors all year round.
How to Get There
Puebla is a hugely popular destination for tourists and Mexicans to visit, most of the visitors tend to arrive from Mexico City. The drive is just over 2 hours from Mexico City, and it's a rather pleasant journey. There is no chance of running into trouble along the way, while the route is pleasant and not too long, it's also very uneventful with not many beautiful locations of interest along the way.
6. Cabo San Lucas
This is generally the place people go to let loose, although it does not have to be! There is something here for everyone, it just depends where you choose to stay. Only a two-hour flight from LA this has turned into quite the hotspot during spring break and does be full of college students just looking to get wasted and party,
This is absolutely a great party destination if that is what you are looking for! You can find everything from electronic nightclubs to some fantastic beach bars and everything else imaginable in between.
For those people who are looking to experience something a little bit different, San Jose is a picturesque little colonial town that is bursting with life and culture, every corner turned you'll find street art and galleries or something unique that's sure to impress. This amazing little town is only a short journey from Cabo San Lucas.
The area in between the two towns is referred to as The Corridor, and is also a popular choice amongst tourists and visitors, you really can't go wrong visiting either place, my only recommendation is if you are not the type looking to party maybe stick to San Jose and The Corridor.
One of the most popular things tourists like to experience when visiting is to go Whale Watching, yes you read that correct! You can go whale watching between the months of December and mid-March. Something like 10000 whales migrates here during those months to enjoy the beautiful warm breeding water of Baja California.
Witnessing giant whales jump up out ocean right in front of you, while you listen to their beautiful singing is by far one of the most amazing experiences one can witness in a lifetime!
El Arco is a rock formation that has been in the making for more than 30 million years and is known as the symbol of Cabo, this is another extremely popular location and is well worth your time to visit!
I was a little bit surprised about the statistics for crime in this place, Cabo San Lucas is regarded as an extremely safe place for you to visit in Mexico with some of the lowest random violence rates across the country, what surprises me though is that Los Cabos was known for having one of the highest homicide rates in the country in 2017/18, but if we are to look at the reports now, the numbers show that the statistics are much lower since late 2018 until now.
How to Get There
Once again, most of the visitors looking to arrive, choose to do so by flight as Cabo has it's own international airport, though there is the possibility to drive or take coach, it's not so common. One other method that is a more popular option amongst the previous two is the arrival by ferry which operates between Mazatlan and La Paz.
7. Mexico City
I love this city, in fact, it's my current home, I have been living in Mexico City for the best part of a year now, and not once have I ever encountered any problems. A lot of people have the misconception that Mexico City is a dangerous place for tourists when In fact that couldn't be further from the truth.
This is the second largest city in the world and there are endless amounts of things to see, do and experience! From parks to museums, historical monuments and delicious cuisine, the largest city in Mexico could very easily keep you busy for weeks on end.
Get some culture! Mexico City has the most extensive collection of museums in all of the world, it would be a sin to visit this giant metropolis and not visit at least one museum. Some fantastic places of note are Museo Nacional de Antropología, Museo Nacional de Historia, Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes and Museo Soumaya, each of these museums offers up quite a different experience, so do your research and choose the one right for you.
For those of you visiting for only a short time, I highly recommend visiting Xochimilco located in southern Mexico City, here you will find a system of canals which are one of a few remaining vast water transport systems built by the Aztecs.
You can choose a colourful boat with a name you like and then cruise through the canals while food vendors, artisans and mariachi bands float on by. You can have up 20 people in one boat, and you will find a lot of people tend to do so, you will see everything from parties (fiesta's) to family dinners and romantic sails with only two people.
This has been one of the most memorable things I have done during my time here in Mexico City. However, I do feel this is one of those places where you either love it or hate it, so do your research and make sure this kind of activity is for you.
There is a reason it's on this list of safest place's in Mexico, not only because of my personal experience from living here but the statistics don't lie, crime related to tourists is not an issue. There are specific area's that should absolutely be avoided, but no tourists need pass in any dangerous places unless they are looking to do so, the general touristy places like Roma, Coyocan, Condesa and Reforma are completely safe for you to visit.
How to Get There
Flight! I needn't say more!
Okay, I will just for argument's sake, there are tons of ways you can arrive to this city, including driving, coach or by plane, but if you are visiting from the USA, of course flying to Mexico City is going to be the first choice. Amongst the other two options, I would say they are relatively safe methods of travel, only make sure to plan the way and every stop!
If you would like more information about travelling to Mexico by coach, check out my Article Is It Safe to Travel to Mexico by bus!
One of the business capitals of the country, this city is sleek and modern, dare I say the most modern city in all of Mexico!
Though this place is known as a global business hub, it's not so well known with tourists, most people's opinions regarding Monterrey might consider it a boring place, but this is just not true. Although you might not find beautiful beaches and sky blue waters, what this city does have is Character and lots of it!
Monterrey is full of trendy bars, classy restaurants and high-end hotels, it seems like everyone and everything in this place just has money in abundance. Exploring this city was totally different to that of any other cities I have visited in Mexico, in fact, throughout the entire country, you will find that each state or city can be vastly different from one and other, so much so that you'd almost forget that you are even in the same country.
When exploring its streets, parks and river walks, you get a very hipster vibe about the place, maybe it was all of the skateboarders and artisans I saw, but this city is far from boring and I would go as far to say it's a hidden gem amongst the hustle and bustle.
One thing that really stands out is the Sierra Madre Mountains as the backdrop to the city, it really makes for some outstanding photo opportunities! A great place to relax and enjoy the beautiful view few for a little while is along the riverwalk, Paseo Santa Lucía.
If you are looking for something a little bit different to do, you can go on a Safari in Bioparque Estrella, this large park is located about an hour outside of the city, and the attraction brings in thousands of visitors every day, it never disappoints.
Monterrey is completely safe for tourists, you have more chance of being attacked by the wildlife outside the city than a person in the city, you should feel completely safe exploring this modern business metropolis!
Tourists generally don't have any problems, and you tend not to stick out so much as there tends to be a lot of tourists visiting from Austin, Texas.
How to Get There
Driving or taking the coach is a viable option as many people choose to do so, none of the routes to the city proves any threat to people travelling on them, although driving or travelling by bus or car is possible, the journey can be quite long depending where you are coming from, if visiting from the states specifically Texas, you can expect around a 10 hour drive, though in the opposite direction, the time by car from Mexico city is usually about the same of 10 hours.
Thankfully the city does have its own international airport and this is of course the most popular means of arrival.
One of the most colourful cities in all of Mexico! This place is so beautiful and picturesque, it's hard not to love it upon first sight! I would even go as far as to say this is the most beautiful city in the entire country, it's a tossup between this and San Miguel de Allende.
Guanajuato is one of the most unique cities in all of Mexico! You really won't find another place like it, full of winding lanes/alleyways, fantastic architecture and home to world-renowned festivals this place is a must visit!
Walking through Guanajuato's small winding streets is something amazing in amongst itself, there are so many winding lanes/alleyways and small streets to explore. This city has so much culture and heritage it's incredible to witness. When exploring this beautiful city, you can almost feel overwhelmed by how well preserved the local culture, heritage and architecture is, it nearly feels as if you have stepped into a time machine and went back a 100 years.
Visit during the month of October to experience the Cervantino Festival, this world-famous festival transforms the city of Guanajuato into a huge cultural playground, and attracts the attention of thousands of tourists from around the world!
Take the Funicular to arrive at the monument to El Pipila, this location has some amazing scenic views of the entire city, once again I will highly recommend that you arrive in this place just in time to catch that magnificent sunset that Mexico seems to have everywhere!
Another highly popular attraction with tourists is the Mummy Museum, this is where you will find bodies that were dug up from the Santa Paula Pantheon, all of which were naturally mummified. I do think that it is an excellent place to visit however, it does tend to extremely busy, sometimes you could be waiting up to 2 hours in line, and if so your time is better spent elsewhere.
One last option for you to consider is to visit the famous kissing steps, Callejon del Beso refers to the alley where Carmen lived and a kiss on the third step is said to bring couples years of love and happiness.
Once again I can not speak highly enough of this fantastic city, full of tourists, expats and locals this city is sure to be a delight, not only has it got numerous other reasons for which you should visit, but it is also a very safe destination for travellers.
If I could give one piece of advice it would be to take extra caution with your personal belongings and stay aware of your surroundings during October, during this festival period the city can become extremely busy and tourists are prime pickings for criminal activity.
How to Get There
So this city is another which is located into a high mountainous range, but in contrast to the previous mention of San Cristobal de las Casas, all route's for arrival are safe for travel in this state.
The drive usually takes about 4 hours when travelling from Mexico City, and you have the option of coach as well. I prefer to use coach when visiting cities like this, it's much less hassle and very cheap if you are going to drive I will warn you it can be challenging to find some places to park in Guanajuato.
There is also the option of flying as Guanajuato has its own international airport, that is roughly 50 minutes from the city.
10. San Miguel De Allende
Very near the city of Guanajuato is San Miguel De Allende, both incredibly beautiful cities full of colour and life! As I said before, it's a tossup between these two for which is the most beautiful city in all of Mexico, why don't visit and decide for yourself!
San Miguel de Allende is easily the most charming of all of the cities on this list, and probably the entire country too! It's remarkably beautiful come sundown, as you can see from the photo above. The word magical has been thrown around a couple of times in this article, but this would seem to be an understatement for San Miguel de Allende, from the moment of arrival you know this is a really special place.
This is also recognised as another world heritage site by Unesco thanks to this city's historical and cultural significance! You'll be amazed around every little street or corner by the beautiful colonial architecture, it just doesn't stop, if the architecture wasn't enough the buildings are also bursting with colour!
Not only has this city got thousands of tourists visiting every day but it also has some of the friendliest people that I have come across in all of Mexico!
Take a walking tour of the city! This is one of the most rewarding experiences you can embark on when visiting San Miguel de Allende, I've mentioned it on multiple occasions that exploring and walking the streets of some of the cities mentioned in this list is an amazing experience to be had, well here in San Miguel you should take it one step further by taking a walking tour and support the local community.
Hang around the main square for an evening, similar to most cities in Mexico, everything and anything is based around the main square, you can try some delicious Mexican food, visit traditional bars and try Pulque, all with the added benefit of everything just being at your doorstep! This area does be very lively, you'll get to witness everything from street performers to mariachi bands and everything else!
It would be hard for anyone to argue that this city is dangerous for you to visit, to put it quite simply this city is not known for criminal activity aimed specifically at tourists, you'll rarely if ever hear any stories or news about tourists be harmed in any way. You should feel absolutely safe in exploring this magical city.
How to Get There
This city is also located in Guanajuato, so all of the previously mentioned ways for arrival to Guanajuato are viable options for travelling here too. You can expect roughly a 4-hour drive from Mexico City or a 50-minute flight.
To provide to most accurate information possible, these cities and states are ranked according to crime reports taken between October 2018 to March 2019.
All information was compiled from data which was made available through this website: https://elcri.men.