Latin America

Is Guadalajara Safe in 2023? Travel safety tips & things to know

Updated on:  
December 30, 2022
Reading Time:  
5
 minutes
Dreaming about visiting Guadalajara but just aren't sure if it's a safe choice? In this article, we'll address any safety concerns you may have before visiting this lively city. Explore this guide and travel in confidence!

So you're looking to travel around South America for the first or the third time but just aren't ready for somewhere like Puerto Rico

Mexico is a safe bet to dip your toes into the culture, vibe, and customs of South America, especially if it's your first time down south. However, beaten tracks such as Cancun and Mexico City just aren't calling your name. 

You do a little digging and find Guadalajara—a bustling city home to Mariachi, tequila, and authentic Mexican culture. But you're hesitant about booking your ticket because you just aren't sure if it's a safe choice. 

Sound about right? 

Don't worry, you've come to the right place to find your answers.

Guadalajara mexico building
Image Courtesy of Roman Lopez on Unsplash

Is Mexico Safe?

Mexico is a stunning country known for its sandy beaches, friendly locals, and vibrant culture. Filled with flamboyant festivals, mesmerizing historical sites, and food that will make your mouth water, it isn't hard to see why it's a premium vacation spot for 32 million people each year. 

However, it's no secret that Mexico also comes with a higher-than-average crime rate. According to the Crime Rate Index, Mexico stands at 54.19, which is lower than other South American countries but higher than Europe. Still, some places in Mexico are safer than others.

So where does Guadalajara stand? Somewhere in the middle. 

This article will highlight safety concerns and crime rates in Guadalajara and whether it is a safe destination for solo female travelers. More importantly, we'll talk about how you can keep yourself safe while visiting this lovely city.

But first, let's get to know Mexico's second-largest city. 

Where is Guadalajara? 

Guadalajara is the capital city of Jalisco, a state in Mexico that sits between Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta. It is nestled within a mountain valley and sits at an elevation of 1,556 meters. The famed hometown of Mariachi and tequila, Guadalajara is renowned for being the cultural center of Mexico. 

The city is a gorgeous mix of contemporary and historic architecture and is tied together by a thriving arts community. You can find markets filled with crafts, as well as spectacular festivals throughout the year. Guadalajara also plays host to an international film festival and the largest book fair in the Americas. 

How safe is Guadalajara?

Now, on to the essential question: Is Guadalajara safe to visit? 

The answer to that is Guadalajara sits at the medium-safe level for many reasons. 

Jalisco state is known for violent crime, gang-affiliated crime, and kidnapping. Although you may be wondering how this qualifies as medium-safe, for the most part, these crimes only involve locals. In Guadalajara, some of the biggest crimes involve auto theft which, again, is unlikely to affect you as a tourist. 

That being said, there is still some crime that tourists have to contend with, namely, pickpocketing and scams—something that most travelers deal with no matter where they are. 

There are a few things that you can do to prevent such crimes, like wearing a money belt or ensuring your luggage has travel luggage locks

Is Guadalajara Safer than Mexico City?

Between the two cities, Guadalajara is less safe than Mexico City. 

Both cities are large and sprawling, so some crime is to be expected. Guadalajara, on average, has 21.5 murders per 100k residents, while Mexico city has 14.5. Again, violent crimes like this have little effect on the tourist population.

Mexico, from sandy beaches to vibrant cities, relies heavily on the tourism industry for income. This means that, for the most part, locals are eager for you to enjoy your time while touring their beautiful country, so you can be assured that most of them are friendly and hospitable. 

Of course, this doesn't mean that you're free to let your guard down while traveling. Staying diligent is always important, especially in large cities like Guadalajara. This means staying in tourist areas, not venturing out alone at night, and having a full battery on your phone. Use a portable power bank to keep your phone at 100% at all times. 

Guadalajara mexico streets
Image Courtesy of Roman Lopez on Unsplash

Is Guadalajara Safe for Solo Female Travelers?

For the most part, Guadalajara is a medium-safe destination for solo female travelers. 

Of course, you'd need to take the same safety precautions as with any other location: staying in safe parts of the city, letting people know your travel plans, and not going out at night alone.  

Unfortunately, female travelers, in general, should expect catcalling and advances from locals while out and about. It's best to ignore them and keep moving and to stay in public tourist places where there are a lot of people around.

It is recommended that you stay in a shared accommodation space such as a hostel. This will not only keep you in the tourist parts of the city, but you'll also be surrounded by other travelers if you decide to go on tours or hostel bar crawls. 

As a solo female traveler, you can stay safe by being diligent. Only drive with registered taxis (which restaurants and hotels will be willing to call for you), protect your cards from ATM skimmers, and trust your gut, no matter what. Doing these things will help you enjoy your time in Guadalajara. 

Is Guadalajara safe at Night?

Like many bustling cities, Guadalajara by day is different from Guadalajara by night. For most travelers, going out at night should be avoided—especially alone. Even in the tourist parts of the city, it becomes dangerous to walk around at night unless in a large group. 

If you're itching to try out the colorful nightlife of Guadalajara, you could go out on bar crawls with your hostel. Many hostels will host events and tours. This is a safe option for night exploration as you'll be led by someone familiar with the city while surrounded by other travelers. 

Common Crimes in Guadalajara

While visiting Guadalajara, it's best to know the most common crimes that occur. Being aware and diligent is key to keeping yourself safe while exploring Mexico's cultural center. 

Guadalajara mexico at night
Image Courtesy of Roman Lopez on Unsplash

Pickpocketing

In crowded spaces such as on buses or popular tourist sights, it's not uncommon for pickpocketing to happen. 

Pickpockets are usually skilled in distraction and sleight of hand, so keep your wits about you while in busier areas. As pickpockets usually target wallets, it's important not to put all your cash and cards in one place. 

A simple way to reduce your chance of being pickpocketed is to blend in. Don't look like a tourist, and you won't be targeted for tourist scams or petty crime. You'll also want to avoid public transportation when possible. 

Scams

Faking an emergency, spilling something on or near you, or even sending a kid, are all techniques that scammers use to trick you into letting your guard down. Don't fall for them.

Instead, if someone comes up to you, send them immediately on their way or quickly leave the area. Even restaurants and establishments can scam you, so always pay attention to your surroundings. 

Mugging

During the day, Guadalajara is a relatively safe place to explore as long as you stay in tourist areas. However, the city becomes a bit more unfriendly at night. 

Mugging usually occurs at night or in dark alleys, so it's best to avoid both of these entirely—especially alone and especially as a solo female traveler. 

So How Safe is Guadalajara Really?  

If you take the right precautions and keep your wits about you, Guadalajara can be a safe, fun, and intriguing destination filled with Mexican culture. 

However, like most large cities, it does come with its fair share of crime. Tourists are usually safe from violent crime in Guadalajara but may have to contend with petty theft, pickpocketing, and scams. Educating yourself and staying diligent on your travels is extremely important if you want to stay safe.

All in all, Guadalajara is a vibrant, cultural center brimming with massive potential. If you want to see truly authentic Mexico, then Guadalajara is the place for you. If you're considering other Mexican cities, SayulitaCabo San LucasPuerto VallartaCancun, and Tulum are other top spots.

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Published on:  
December 30, 2022

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