Solo travel anywhere can be daunting, but with Mexico’s reputation, a lot of people have asked me if Mexico solo travel is safe, in particular in Mexico City. This huge, hectic behemoth certainly sounds scary, but solo travel in Mexico City can be an incredible experience. I spent four months in Mexico City as a solo female traveller, so got to know the city and fell in love with the people, food and culture here. I’ll give you the truth about solo travel in Mexico City and answer for once and all if Mexico City is safe for solo female travellers.
Getting to Mexico City
Chances are, you’ll arrive in Mexico City by air, so you will arrive at Mexico City Airport, also known as Benito Juarez International Airport. It is the busiest airport in Latin America and, like Mexico City itself, it can be overwhelming.
Is Mexico City Airport Safe?
Despite its size, Mexico City Airport is safe. Their website has all the information you might need to know about arriving at the airport and which transport to take for your onward journey. As you would at any airport, keep a close eye on your belongings. To get from Mexico City into town, for solo travellers I recommend taking one of the official Mexico City Airport taxi companies which operate from terminal one and terminal two. You pre-pay for your journey at the booth near the arrival gate and give the receipt to the driver. Full details can be found here.
It is also possible to arrange Uber from the airport, take a shuttle, arrange a private airport transfer or take the metro into town, however for a first-time female solo traveller in Mexico City an official airport taxi was definitely the best option for me.
Where to stay in Mexico City as a Female Solo Traveller
Each area in Mexico City has its own distinct personality and vibe. Most visitors stay in Condesa, Roma, the Historic Centre, Polanco or Zona Rosa. Personally, I think the best neighbourhood to stay in Mexico City for solo female travellers is around Roma and Condesa. This area is full of cool bars and restaurants, leafy streets and a hip crowd, and is very safe.
You could also choose a hostel or hotel close to the Zocalo in the Centro Historico to get your fill of history, although the area is a bit dodgy at night during the day you are perfectly placed to explore the city. You could also consider upmarket Polanco where there are more hotels or the Zona Rosa which is traditionally a student area with lots of bars, although that is better if you are travelling in a group.
My Favourite Hostels and Hotels in Mexico City for Solo Female Travellers
When I travel alone, I often prefer to stay in hostels so I can meet other travellers more easily. I loved Hostel Home in Roma, it really did feel like home. They have a private room, a female dorm room and two mixed dorm rooms to choose from, although they do fill up fast so book in advance if you can. There are plenty of bars and restaurants close by, although if you do go out alone at night, I still recommend taking an Uber home.
This boutique hotel is an absolute gem in Mexico City Centre, across the park from the Palacio de Bellas Artes. There are some bars and restaurants downstairs in the same building so you don’t need to go far in the evening to grab a bite to eat, and a fabulous Mezcal Bar too where you can buy bottles to take home (or drink yourself!). The rooms here are very comfortable, and the service is excellent. The outdoor roof terrace is also a lovely place to chill out in one of the hammocks.
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Areas to Avoid in Mexico City
As with any large city, there are places in Mexico City which you should avoid, especially as a solo female traveller. However, these are areas where you are not likely to go as a tourist anyway, so you are certainly not missing out. The neighbourhoods of Tepito, Doctores, Ciudad Neza, and Iztapalapa are dangerous areas in Mexico City for locals and tourists alike, so are not safe to visit at all, and be very careful in the neighbourhood of Merced which has a huge market. During the day, you shouldn’t have any problems in the more popular tourist areas like the Centro Historico, Coyoacan, Roma and Condesa, and Chapultepec, but at night be more wary, especially in the Centro Historico. I have heard mixed opinions about Xochimilco, I found it fine during the day but visiting the canals and colourful boats is best to do in a group or with a tour, and best avoided after dark.
If you are nervous about visiting areas like the markets and Xochimilco alone, try one of these tours:
Getting Around Mexico City
Mexico City is enormous, and it can take a long time to get around, especially in rush hour. If you can, try to avoid travelling anywhere at all during rush hour, as the roads are packed and the public transport full to capacity.
Uber in Mexico City
Uber is going strong in Mexico City and is one of the safest ways to get around the city as a solo female traveller, especially after dark. If you haven’t used Uber before, download the app here, and input the code claire7147ue for a discount on your first trip. Enter in your destination and Uber will calculate where your nearest available driver is and give you an estimate of how much it will cost. Ubers are usually safer than taxis as you can track the location of the driver, all payment is done via the app so you don’t have to worry about handing over any cash, and you can even share your journey with friends and family so they can see exactly where you are. However, during the day you might find it quicker to use the Metro as traffic can be horrendous.
Mexico City Public Transportation
Mexico City Buses
I didn’t take any buses across Mexico City itself but did take a bus to Teotihuacan and to nearby cities such as Puebla. There are four bus stations in Mexico City, roughly at each compass point for North, South, East and West, and are all reachable by metro. The Metro is by far the easiest way to get around Mexico City.
Using the Metro in Mexico City
Due to notoriously bad traffic congestion in Mexico City, it is often faster and easier to take the Metro than use any other form of transport. The metro system in Mexico City is surprisingly good. Frequent, safe and cheap, the network of metro lines whizz you across the city for a mere 5 pesos per journey, just buy however many tickets you might need at the ticket booth, and hop on.
However, for women traveling to Mexico City alone, I highly recommend using the women-only carriages in the metro, as unfortunately groping & sexual harassment is not uncommon in the mixed carriages – to the extent that Mexico City Transport installed ‘penis seats’ on some of their carriages to highlight the unpleasantness women have to endure in mixed carriages. The women-only carriages will be at the front or back of the train, and are signed ‘Solo Mujeres’. Sometimes there are still a few men on the carriages, but it is a much more comfortable way to travel than being crammed in the mixed carriages. Pickpocketing is also common on the metro, as in most major cities, so be careful with your belongings. And try to avoid rush hour!
General Tips for Female Solo Travellers in Mexico City
Mexican people are friendly and chatty, and may well come up to you, especially if you look very different from a typical Mexican person. I am blonde and quite tall so often had funny looks and curious questions. On the whole, this is completely harmless and nothing to worry about. However, if you are alone there is no harm in being cautious. Try to avoid places that are very quiet, luckily in Mexico City, there are usually lots of people around to help if you do run into trouble. Learning a few words of Spanish can help you to do day to day things like order food or ask someone for directions, so try to learn a little Spanish before you arrive in Mexico City.
Pickpocketing is common, especially on the metro and in crowded tourist areas like the Centro Historico and Coyoacan. You should be fine exploring during the day, but try to plan so you will be back at your hotel or hostel before dark, otherwise take an Uber back to where you are staying. As with any big city, don’t flash expensive jewellery or camera equipment and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Although I hate to say it, dressing conservatively also helps to avoid unwanted attention. Of course, I think women should be able to wear whatever we want wherever we want, however, Mexico City is far more conservative than the beach destinations of Cancun or Tulum – it is a city, so showing a lot of skin will get you noticed, and not in a good way.
Street Food in Mexico City
I have to mention street food as this was one of my favourite things about Mexico City. Some people assume that eating street food is dangerous or that you will get food poisoning but if you don’t even try a street food taco then frankly you haven’t lived! The key to eating street food safely is to find where the locals eat. If there is a queue of local people waiting at a street food stand, that is the one you should go for. The food will be cooked quickly and won’t be standing there a long time, and so many people can’t be wrong! A word of warning though, be careful with the hot sauce as some of them will blow your head off!! If you still aren’t feeling confident then a street food tour could set your mind at ease, with a guide showing you around the best street food places in Mexico City.
Is Mexico City Safe for Solo Female Travellers?
I can’t deny than Mexico City has its problems, but in the four months I spent there I didn’t have any issues myself. If you follow these tips and keep a close eye on your belongings you should be fine. Don’t be afraid to visit Mexico City, it is a beautiful city with a fascinating culture and incredible cuisine!
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Have you visited Mexico City solo? I’d love to see if you think Mexico City is safe for solo female travellers, please share your comments below.
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