Given that Mexico City is the largest city on earth, it’s not hard to see why close to 9 million people choose to make it their home; not only is it the seat of the federal government of Mexico, but it is sprinkled with historical landmarks, museums, and parks and offers a vibrant history that spans from the heyday of the Aztecs. Mexico is a favorite vacation destination as well as corporate hub where visitors fly in from all over the world, despite the growing reports of violence and danger that are giving Mexico a reputation for not being travel-safe or tourist friendly. Most large cities have safe neighborhoods and rough ones, and Mexico City is no different. The safest neighborhoods in Mexico City have three common characteristics: they are considered historical or are close to historical districts, they are in primary tourist zones, and they have tight police-patrolled security both on the streets and in large public places. For those looking to travel to the grand Mexico City, these neighborhoods are the safest and most secure locations that the city has to offer.
Colonia Centro is located in the heart of Mexico City, and includes a mix of business and baking buildings, historical sites, and the central square. With a surrounding of more than 1,500 buildings, the area is well lit and often crowded with tourist and business traffic. This neighborhood also boasts a lot of must-see landmarks, like the relatively uncovered ruins of the Aztec’s Great Temple and many museums, restaurants, hotels, and places to shop. Some bars, clubs, and high-end restaurants are even located within historical buildings. The city underwent a massive $300 million renovation for Mexico City’s 675 anniversary. Travelers should rest assured when walking around the neighborhood to see the sights – police on horseback as well as many female police officers on foot patrol the Alameda Park and Centro Hisórico and are trained in the culture and history of the surrounding areas. The police can be identified easily from their traditional charroapparel, and many of them speak English.
Santa Fe is the perfect neighborhood for those travelers craving a taste of Mexico City’s contemporary culture; it’s not only the newest neighborhood, but also the most modern one. The international companies, universities, and banks offer a glimpse into the expanding twenty-first century nature of Mexico. The neighborhood itself resembles a traditional neighborhood in the United States, and the residents are affluent young professionals who accompany a sea of restaurants and colorful nightlife. Among the booming metropolis is a large shopping center, which is accessible through any of the major public transportation routes that go through Santa Fe. For those looking to make real estate investments, the neighborhood boasts an oversupply of commercial real estate that is the largest in the city. Because this neighborhood is one of Mexico City’s major business districts, the surroundings of corporate high rise buildings, shopping malls, three college campuses, and residential areas provide safe crowds and public areas allowing travelers to blend in and feel secure under the constant vigilance of security accompanying the big business district.
Xochimilco serves as a great escape for visitors looking for historical ambiance and a striking natural environment. The neighborhood is located 15 miles outside the town center, and boasts stretching canals and Floating Gardens that were adored by the Aztecs in ancient times. The canals make for a grand attraction alone, reaching across more than 50 miles, but the neighborhood mirrors traditional colonial-era style that draws large crowds granting travelers safety in numbers. Because Xochimilco is a historic district, it is a coveted neighborhood that the police force considers a privilege to protect. The neighborhood is quaint and modestly sized, with brick streets wrapping around restaurants and historic churches leading to a large main square where vendors sell rugs, vibrant pottery, and traditional clothing at the markets. The neighborhood also hosts 422 festivals every year that draws in many visitors longing for a taste of exotic Mexican culture and history. Declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1987, security around the neighborhood is abundant and monitored by the federal government.
San Angel was a colonial-era weekend retreat for nobles, but in modern times it is a striking neighborhood with traditional homes, winding cobblestone streets and charming museums. Many policemen patrol the area and linger around the renowned Bazar del Sábado, or Saturday Bazaar, which is located at Plaza San Jacinto. The bazaar offers an array of art and antiques, where treasures are sold right around small cantinas and restaurants. Nearby, the Centro Cultural Isidro Fabela, or Casa del Risco, boasts a large baroque fountain made of shattered porcelain. Within walking distance is the Iglesia San Jacinto church dating from the 16th-century, with a matching baroque-style altar. With many ecclesiastical sites around San Angel and large markets, the area is well lit and does not attract a large crime rate as it is carefully monitored day and night by the local police force.
Coyoacánis just east of San Angel, and is a suburban neighborhood renowned for its lovely town square, old estates, colonial-era cobblestone streets, and some of the most notable museums in Mexico City. It is ideal to travel to this neighborhood as a day trip, because it is difficult to find accommodations. Giving off an almost Bohemian essence, the neighborhood offers a hippie-style market on Sundays, and is known for its beatnik feel as the location of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Leon Trotsky’s home after their exile from Stalin’s regime in the USSR. This neighborhood does not attract a large group of affluent visitors, and as such is not considered a target for petty thievery and crime.
Although these neighborhoods are recognized as safe locations for traveling in Mexico City, it is important that travelers looking to explore the cityfollow tips for getting around safely. Travelers are discouraged from hailing taxis in the street; most hotels recommend that the concierge or front desk call for a cab. When they do so, they also take the number of the taxi as well as the driver’s name. Official Taxis, or Taxis Autorizados, have stands at airports and bus stations that are safe for visitors to hail on their own. It is also helpful to blend into crowds as much as possible by avoiding carrying maps or any symbols that would label someone as a tourist to avoid being a target for thievery. The hotel room safe is an ideal location to stash any extra cash, credit cards, or a passport. Visitors are advised to carry only a small amount of cash that they need for the moment. Most importantly, if travelers feel unsafe, hotel managers and staff are knowledgeable, and can point you in the right direction or alert you to any areas of the city that you can trust or to those areas that should avoid. Should you have items that are stolen abroad, more information can be found here.
For information on traveling to romantic spots in Mexico, check out romantic hotels in Puerto Vallarta.
Anna Patrick is a Communications major at Boston College and a frequent commuter between Boston and the Washington DC metropolitan area in Northern Virginia. A seasoned traveler, Patrick has lived in London and traveled extensively throughout Mexico, Canada, Austria, Germany, Italy, France, the Czech Republic, Greece, Scotland, England and Turkey.