Mexico is my favorite country in the world, and my time living there and studying there is never going to be enough to satisfy me. I fully plan on relocating back to Mexico in the future, as my years spent there were among the best years of my life. From living in Puebla to exploring just about every major Mexican city, I have a pretty good idea of where the safest places to visit in Mexico are.
It is definitely a much safer country than the news in the United States will tell you. There is a general misconception that the Mexican government is powerless against the cartels and that the high crime rates are out of control.
If you hear things about Mexico in the United States, they likely either involve beautiful beaches in tourist areas like Playa del Carmen or they involve anecdotes about violent crime, drug cartels, and corrupt Mexican authorities. The U.S. State Department inspires a lot of fear in tourists’ hearts, but the truth is that most places in Mexico aren’t at any higher risk of violent or petty crime than major cities in the United States.
First things first, it is important to remember that Mexico is a very big country. As the tenth most populous country in the world, Mexico is bound to have both safe areas and dangerous areas. Like with any country, if you go to a major city there is a chance you will encounter danger. With that being said, not every city is like Ciudad Juarez, and the worst thing you will encounter in most places is petty theft, if that.
The vast majority of places in Mexico are safe to visit. Generally speaking, places where cruise ships stop will almost always be safe. Similarly, most Aztec and Mayan Ruins are very safe, and most popular tourist destinations like Los Cabos and the Riviera Maya should cause little worry as long as you use common sense.
This post is going to outline the safest places to visit in Mexico. Now, I want to be fully clear when I say that while Mexico is much safer than it gets credit for, there are still potential risks and no place is perfectly safe. That is the case in the United States though!
What I can definitely guarantee is that while safety risks will still exist, all of these places are safer than major American cities like New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago.
If you are interested more in where not to go, be sure to check out my post on the most dangerous places in Mexico.
Now, without further ado, here is my list of the safest places in Mexico!
Merida, located in the state of Yucatan, is widely regarded as the safest city to visit in Mexico. There are many factors that play into this. Firstly, the government and the police system are not very corrupt here at all, which is a huge leg up in Mexico. The governments and police forces in Mexico tend to be a bit lackluster and one of the country’s biggest areas that need improvement.
Merida is a coastal city about three and a half hours west of Cancun. The architecture is stunning, the people are very friendly, and the state of Yucatan is known for having some of the best food in all of Mexico!
If you are looking for a safe place to plan a trip into Mexico and want to stay away from the beach resorts, Merida is the best place to start looking. It has even been named the best city to live in the world several times in recent years! For more information on Merida, be sure to read my Merida travel guide.
2. San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende, located in the central state of Guanajuato, is a popular tourist destination among Mexicans and foreigners because of its colonial charm and small town feel. Truthfully, walking through the cobblestone streets of San Miguel de Allende feels exactly like walking through a small city in Spain or Italy, which are both incredibly safe places! The bright colors are the only things that remind you that you’re in Mexico, and the whole city is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This city is not very representative of Mexico as a whole, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth visiting. As it is way up in the mountains, the weather is very mild and comfortable all year long. There are also hot springs located just outside of the city, and they are absolutely mesmerizing.
San Miguel de Allende is one of the best places to visit for Day of the Dead, too. If you are looking for a very ritzy, cultural place to go that is far from the touristy beaches of Cancun, San Miguel de Allende is one of the best places to consider. If you are thinking about going, be sure to read my San Miguel de Allende travel guide!
Puebla has a special place in my heart, as it is where I lived the entire time that I studied for my master’s degree. It is the very under visited neighbor to Mexico City, and as the 5th biggest city in the country, this is simply not fair!
The dynamic between Puebla and Mexico City reminds me a lot of the dynamic between Philadelphia and New York City, as Philadelphia is the fifth-biggest city in the United States, but its close proximity to New York makes it often overlooked.
In addition to being one of the safest places in Mexico, it is known for having some of the best food in Mexico. The only other state with food this good is Yucatan, and Puebla’s colonial architecture is just stunning.
The bright colors that are iconic in Mexico are found all over the city, and the age of all of the important buildings is astonishing. The oldest library in the Americas is here! We found the city to be very safe, and it is absolutely one of the best places to visit in Mexico.
We included the “City of Angels” in our list of the best day trips from Mexico City, but it deserves much more than a day. If you are thinking about visiting, make sure you read our Puebla travel guide as well as our Cholula travel guide, which is a can’t-miss town right outside of the city.
4. Puerto Vallarta
While Mexico is about a lot more than just stunning beaches, that doesn’t mean those cities should be excluded from this list! While the destinations on the Caribbean coast have unfortunately been facing a bit more uncertainty due to criminal activity over the past year, Puerto Vallarta has remained one of the safest places in Mexico over on the Pacific Coast.
Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico’s premier beach destinations, and its popularity only seems to grow year after year. Puerto Vallarta also sometimes boasts the lowest crime rate of any major Mexican beach destination.
The food scene is especially great in Puerto Vallarta, and the city has a pretty striking number of Michelin Stars. The beaches in Puerto Vallarta aren’t nearly as nice as the Caribbean beaches, but the relaxed vibes and charming atmosphere make Puerto Vallarta a fantastic place to vacation. The major influx of tourism is also what helps to keep Puerto Vallarta one of the safest places in Mexico.
For some of the top things to do in Puerto Vallarta and logistics for your trip, be sure to check out my Puerto Vallarta travel guide!
5. Valle de Guadalupe
Valle de Guadalupe is Mexico’s prime wine country, located just a couple of hours from Tijuana. Being just a short drive from the United States, Valle de Guadalupe is a favorite destination for many Americans. It can be reached from San Diego via car in just a few hours, and many Californians even visit Valle de Guadalupe as a day trip!
While Tijuana doesn’t have the best reputation for safety, the rest of the state of Baja California is regarded as pretty safe, and we met nothing but friendly locals during our time there. For more information about visiting Valle de Guadalupe, be sure to check out my Valle de Guadalupe travel guide.
Many Mexican states and their capital cities share names, and that is the case with Oaxaca. The state of Oaxaca is known for its gorgeous capital city, as well as several iconic surfing destinations, like Puerto Escondido. The Oaxaca coast is home to some of the most under the radar beaches in all of Mexico, and they are slowly becoming tourist favorites.
Oaxaca city itself is one of the safest places to visit in Mexico, and its historic center is a great place to see indigenous cultures alive and in full effect. Indigenous culture is incredibly important to the countries in Latin America, and Oaxaca is one place where you can see it very uncorrupted.
Located just a couple hours north of Mexico City, Queretaro is one of many Mexican cities that doesn’t receive nearly enough tourists. Its main square and street are gorgeous and frequently filled with street vendors selling all kinds of goods.
Queretaro is a common stop along the path to San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato, and this city is regarded as very safe and one of the best cities for American expats to live in.
8. Los Cabos
Los Cabos is one of the most popular beach destinations in all of Mexico. Located in Baja California Sur, Los Cabos is actually a collection of several different towns. The most popular destination here is Cabo San Lucas, but San Jose del Cabo is quite popular as well. Either beach town is loaded with incredible resorts, and many cite Los Cabos as the perfect place to relax in the Mexican sun.
The city center of Cabo San Lucas is adorable, and it hardly feels like a resort town. While Los Cabos may not be comprised of the absolute safest cities in Mexico, the cities here are certainly safe enough to visit. Other popular areas to visit in Baja California Sur are the small fishing village of Todos Santos and the nearby beautiful city of La Paz.
For more information on visiting Los Cabos, be sure to check out my Los Cabos travel guide.
Located just a couple of hours from Merida and Cancun, Valladolid is one of the safest places to visit in Mexico and one of the best parts of Mexico to use as a base for visiting archaeological sites. The Yucatan Peninsula is absolutely riddled with ancient ruins, and Valladolid is right in the heart of it all. In fact, Valladolid is largely considered to be the basecamp of Chichen Itza.
While Chichen Itza is certainly the main attraction, some of the best things to do in Valladolid have nothing to do with Mayan ruins at all. Some of our favorite cenotes in Mexico are located in and around Valladolid, and the food here is delicious, too!
For more information about visiting Valladolid, be sure to check out my Valladolid travel guide.
Known as the birthplace of Mexican culture, Guadalajara is Mexico’s second most populous city and is fairly safe to visit, especially given its size. Guadalajara is the capital city of the state of Jalisco, which is the home of Tequila, mariachi, sombreros, lucha libre, and many other key elements of Mexican culture!
The city of Tequila is a short road trip away from Guadalajara, and it is another incredible place to go to catch live music of the mariachi variety. The best time to visit Guadalajara is in September, around Mexico’s Independence Day. The festivities are very patriotic and a lot of fun!
While many people hold the belief that public transportation is unsafe, I would contend that it is the best way to get around Guadalajara. The metro system is well-connected, and it is incredibly affordable!
For more information about visiting Guadalajara, be sure to check out my Guadalajara travel guide.
12. Isla Holbox
Isla Holbox is an island located off the coast of Cancun. Located in the state of Quintana Roo, this island doesn’t allow the use of cars and is one of the most tranquil places in all of Mexico. From white-sand beaches to palm trees swaying in the wind, you can visit Isla Holbox without a care in the world.
This island is not for everyone, as the amenities are certainly less than in big resort areas like Cancun. But for people who love peace and quiet Isla Holbox is about as good as it gets.
13. Isla Mujeres
Also located off of the coast of Cancun, Isla Mujeres is a Caribbean island known for its beautiful white-sand beaches, clear water, and pure relaxation. While it isn’t quite as remote as Isla Holbox, Isla Mujeres is a very peaceful place to spend a beach vacation in Mexico. There is very little crime at all on Isla Mujeres, as its only function is as a tourist haven.
While the cartels certainly have a presence in popular party destinations like Cancun and Playa del Carmen, they usually have less of an interest in laid-back destinations like Isla Mujeres and Isla Holbox. The only way to reach Isla Mujeres is by ferry.
Just like the two previous places on this list, Cozumel is an island off of the Caribbean coast of Mexico. Just a few miles east of Playa del Carmen, Cozumel is the biggest island in Mexico and it offers visitors some of the purest beaches in the entire country.
Cozumel is especially popular for snorkeling and scuba diving, and for good reason! There is a vibrant reef that surrounds the island.
For more information about visiting Cozumel, be sure to check out my Cozumel travel guide.
15. San Cristobal de las Casas
Located in the southern state of Chiapas, San Cristobal de las Casas is one of the best cities in Mexico to experience indigenous culture. There are many indigenous communities located in and around San Cristobal, and the city has a much less colonial feeling than most of Mexico’s other major cities.
The state of Chiapas is known for its coffee production and incredible hiking, and outdoors exploring is easily the most popular activity here. The incredible ruins of Palenque are not far from here, either, and they are another perfectly safe destination to visit while in Mexico.
Thanks for reading my post on the safest places in Mexico! Hopefully, you have an incredible and safe time visiting these amazing destinations. If you decide to go, let us know! If you have any questions or thoughts, drop a comment below.