Neighborhoods to avoid in Mexico City (with a handy map)

I might go on a little rant here but stay with me.

It is a pet peeve of mine to watch travel YouTubers or read bloggers talk about Mexico City and generalize so many things about it. The most relevant example here is going to be safety, but it applies to so many other areas.

Mexico City is enormous. It has almost 9 million people officially living there but there are at least another 10 million who cross the estate line to go to work there every day. So, on any given day, there are 20 million people in it. The city has an area of 1,485 square kilometers. That is almost twice as big as New York City and 13% bigger than Los Angeles.

These travel bloggers then stay for a couple of weeks in the hipster-type neighborhoods and believe that that is Mexico City. But no. Mexico City (and the whole country in general) is a city of contrasts. It is like 10 different cities rolled into one. You can literally see everything while living here.

This is why when it comes to neighborhoods, it has a little bit of everything. From extremely posh residential areas where you feel absolutely safe to shady areas where not even locals dare go into.

Is Mexico City safe?

In general, yes. Mexico City is as safe as any other big metropolitan city in the world. It is one of the places in Mexico that still feels like it has managed to remain shielded from the waves of violence that sadly have invaded parts of the country.

Not just that, but the crime rate numbers have improved slightly but steadily over the past 3 or 4 years. Just to give you an idea, the homicide rate in Mexico City is lower than in Dallas, Portland, Baltimore, and some other US cities.

Now, let’s be clear. That doesn’t mean it is perfect either. Petty crime and pickpocketing is as much of a problem as in any other large city so don’t walk around flashing expensive watches or being unaware of your surroundings. Apply basic safety measures and common sense and you’ll have a great time. It is a beautiful, vibrant city that is a joy to explore.

One thing that is curious about Mexico City in this regard is that despite being a city that receives over 100 million tourists every year, it doesn’t have as many scam artists or tourist traps as other destination cities like Paris or Cairo where you can’t turn a corner without someone trying to scam you.

Neighborhoods to avoid in Mexico City

There are, however, some areas of the city that you will definitely want to stay out of. As a tourist, you will stand out FAST in certain neighborhoods and where you could become an easy target.

These are not part of the cities where there is much to see or do anyway, so it is unlikely you will walk into them naturally, except for some parts of downtown that are very close to the museums and the cathedral. In that area, you can definitely take a wrong turn and end up in a bad neighborhood.

I made this map of the safe and unsafe neighborhoods in the city to help you navigate it a bit better. If you are only staying for a few days or weeks, pretty much all the tourist activities and things to do are in the green areas. These also make up the neighborhoods you will want to stay in if you plan to stay for longer periods of time.

The yellow areas are ok to visit during the day, or if you are going with a local who is familiar with the area. If you want to visit something in these areas, just be a little more aware of your surroundings and be smart.

The red areas. Stay out of them. Most of them are barrios (neighborhoods) that you will not need to go to, but you might be tempted to visit a couple of them that you might have seen in a Youtube video or something. Places like Tepito or the southern parts of Xochimilco include these. Some tourists try to go because of morbid curiosity or because they sound exotic or like an adventure. But don’t do it. It is not worth it. Don’t take unnecessary risks in a different country.

Click the image to enlarge it.

Mexico City safe neighborhoods map
Mexico City safe neighborhoods map

Anything outside the blue border is a different estate called Estado de Mexico and should be considered red at least when it comes to neighborhoods to stay in during your visit.

Let’s take a look at each of these neighborhoods to avoid in Mexico City individually.



Nicknamed by the locals as “El Barrio Bravo” (the rough hood), Tepito is a neighborhood that by day is a giant street market. It is full of bootleg sneakers, perfumes, designer handbags, etc. You can find anything you want here, including illegal substances and stolen goods.

While it has always been a shady spot, for the past 10 to 15 years it has become the headquarters of organized crime in the city. Mexico City’s police have done a decent job of keeping things contained and stopping it from growing and spilling out too much into other areas but this is a very hot spot.

It is not too far from centro historico where you will probably want to go to check out the Palacio de Bellas Artes, the cathedral, or the nearby bar and clubs area in Garibaldi, and while those streets are safer and always have cops and lots of people around, it is easy to walk a few streets in the wrong direction and end up in the outskirts of Tepito. So if you are in the area just stick to the places you want to visit and don’t wander around too much.


The southeastern part of Mexico City is one of the places where the contrasts of the city are most notorious. While in nearby places like Coyoacan you’ll find expensive condos, beautiful colonial homes worth millions of dollars, and gorgeous walking parks, 30 minutes away you can find places like Iztapalapa.

Iztapalapa is one of the poorest municipalities in the city. Here you will find neighborhoods that haven’t had a working water system for years and streets that have had potholes older than some of the residents. It is an outlying area that has been very much neglected historically.

It is no wonder that Iztapalapa is still one of the places with the highest crime rate in the city.

However, Iztapalapa is also very culturally significant in the city. It is the birthplace of some famous Mexican celebrities and music bands such as Los Angeles Azules. It is also the place where the worldwide famous yearly representation of Christ’s crucifixion where the actors are really lashed and beaten takes place during easter.

I’ve had the chance to go to a couple of parties there and they were great. But my recommendation is to stay away unless you are going with a bunch of locals and to always stay inside.



You might have seen the flower-covered boats on top of a lake with people having lots of fun drinking Tequila and listening to Mariachi music. Those are called trajineras and they are the most famous attraction of Xochimilco.

This place is the largest municipality in the city and a lot of it is still not urbanized. This is one of the few places left in the city where you might find some raw nature. But it’s not really a safe place to just adventure yourself into.

The parts of the park and lake where the trajineras are located are pretty safe. You can spend a nice, fun day there eating quesadillas, riding horses, buying plants, and riding the trajineras. This is the area that I marked in yellow on the map above. Just don’t go wandering around outside that area and make sure to leave before sunset.

Aragon, Gustavo A. Madero, Magdalena de Las Salinas, Agricola Oriental

The northeastern part of the city, locally called Oriente, is also full of neighborhoods to avoid in Mexico City.

While this area is more urbanized and is relatively safe for locals, it does have a higher crime rate than other zones. This part of town is mostly full of low-class working-class families. Most of the factories in the city are concentrated here so if you are going as a tourist there isn’t much to do here and you are unlikely to end up here anyway.

I still decided to add it in case you are looking for a long-term stay in the city because you might run into some cheap housing in the area which might look like a good deal. I’d recommend looking elsewhere.


Mexico City’s centro historico (historic center) is a bit of a weird place to a foreigner. This downtown area is full of museums, theaters, parks, bars, shops, and even a cathedral. Being the center of the city, and with so many tourist attractions, you would expect it to be one of the safer areas. But it isn’t. While it isn’t a place you should completely avoid, it is definitely an area where you need to stay alert on and preferably don’t go around wandering into random streets and places. There are lots of pickpocketers and straight-up robberies in the area. And that is by day. At night, you REALLY should avoid it.

The museum of Templo mayor, the restaurants, coffee shops, and the Palacio de bellas artes in the area are really worth visiting though. Just make sure to be aware of your surroundings and don’t stick around after sunset. There are also many good hotels in the area, if you decide to stay in one of them, make sure to call an uber to get there at night as you don’t want to be walking around the area too late.

If you are looking for a bar/club area, try the Condesa or San Angel neighborhoods instead.


  • Mexico City has some very safe, beautiful neighborhoods that will make up for a great experience in the city.
  • Sadly, it also has a few that are unsafe even to locals and that you will want to avoid.
  • Some of the neighborhoods to avoid in Mexico City are Tepito, La Merced, Iztapalapa, Aragon, and Xochimilco.