When I told my friends and family in the UK that I was moving to Guadalajara, Mexico, the overwhelming response was “is Guadalajara safe?” For many people, their only point of reference for Mexico’s second biggest city is the TV show Narcos. So, it’s easy to understand why my mates had looks of horror on their faces when I told them I was going there alone as a solo female traveler.
Despite its reputation, how safe is Guadalajara? The short answer is pretty safe. But, as with anywhere in the world, there are things we can do to avoid potential dangers. Here’s a full run-down of Guadalajara safety advice for female travelers.
Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that you need to be prepared for anything! Travel insurance has always been high my list of things to get before I travel but now more than ever its at the top of my list.
I’m pretty sure we have all had travel plans messed up because of COVID and not all insurers covered this. So when looking for travel insurance it’s important to check it covers travel disruption due to COVID-19, Hey Mondo, Passport Nomads, Safety Wing, and Travel Insurance Master all provide cover for this.
Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single trip cover, annual multi trip cover, and long term travel cover. You even have the option to start the cover when you are already on your trip, although you won’t be covered for the first 72 hours. For me my favourite feature is their app which offers you a 24/7 Dr chat and the ability to file a claim direct in the app.
Passport Nomads provides the most comprehensive cover for Digital Nomads. The game changer with them is that you have a red card and if you find yourself in need of medical care you just contact them and they will pre load your card with the funds to cover your treatment, meaning you won’t need to pay out of pocket and then put in a claim later.
Safety Wing is great value with monthly cover starting at $39. It’s super easy to use and it just renews each month. They have an excess of $250 and it’s simple to make a claim through their website. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy and I like that it renews on a monthly basis, so I don’t have to pay out a big lump sum up front.
I also use Travel Insurance Master for some short vacation type trips.
If you are doing shorter trips or an extended backpacking trip then Hey Mondo or Travel Insurance Master are the best option. If you are a digital nomad or planning travel of at least 6 months then go for Passport Nomads or SafetyWing.
Is Guadalajara Dangerous for Female Travelers?
As all female travelers know, travel can seemingly pose more dangers for us than it does for men. Mexico in general has a terrible reputation for women’s safety, and around ten women and girls are murdered each day with many more missing. As foreigners, we typically face a smaller risk of violent crime, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be cautious. Here are some things to consider for safety in Guadalajara:
Avoid Walking at Night
Walking alone at night as a woman is best avoided in any area of the city. Taking a car is extremely affordable, but avoid hailing cabs on the street and instead use an app that tracks your journey and vets its drivers. The DiDi app (an alternative to Uber) has some great safety features that make me feel more comfortable, including the ability to record your journey and call 911 via the app.
Let Someone Know Where You’re Going
Always let a friend know where you’re going and when you’ll be back so the alarm can be raised if something goes wrong. This is especially important when going on dates or meeting new friends. If you do find yourself feeling unsafe in the street, many parts of the city have emergency points where you can contact the police via an intercom button. Most people in Guadalajara are incredibly kind, so alerting staff in a bar or restaurant can also be a good option if you find yourself in an unpleasant situation.
Safety in Guadalajara – Neighborhood Guide
The metropolitan area of Guadalajara encompasses several municipalities and is huge. As with all big cities, there are areas that are safer than others, so choosing your home base is a big factor for Guadalajara safety. Here are some of the best options for solo female travelers:
Americana is the main expat hub of Guadalajara and most people choose to stay in this area. Many of the city’s best cafes, bars, and restaurants can be found around Americana and the zone is buzzing until the early hours most nights of the week. However, criminals know that most foreigners base themselves here and phone thefts aren’t uncommon (drive-by thefts on motorbikes are frequently reported). Avoid having valuables on show and always take an Uber/DiDi home and you should be safe here.
El Centro is much more rough and ready than other neighborhoods on this list, but with the right precautions, it’s safe enough to be a good option. Centro’s proximity to museums, galleries, historical sites, and markets makes it a great base for tourism. And, because the area is always busy, it can feel a little safer walking after dark. Always exercise caution, though, and be mindful of your surroundings when walking at night.
Providencia is close to the financial district and is one of Guadalajara’s wealthiest areas. Walking down the tree-lined streets and taking in the beautiful houses, you could easily be in the US or Europe. I’ve spent most of my time in Guadalajara living in Providencia and have never felt unsafe during the daytime. However, due to its residential nature, many parts of Provi are deserted after dark and it can feel intimidating walking through empty streets alone.
Zapopan is part of Guadalajara’s metropolitan area and is located northwest of the city. It’s a popular place for foreigners to stay, and with good reason. The center is packed full of museums, bars, restaurants, and stunning architecture, and the Basilica of Zapopan is definitely worth a visit. Colonia Seattle and the surrounding area is a quaint place to live that’s very walkable (in the day), and walking in the center itself feels safe.
Tlaquepaque is around 30 minutes in an Uber from downtown Guadalajara and is a great option for a slightly slower lifestyle. I felt perfectly safe wandering around the picturesque squares and streets in the center. In the evenings you’ll find plenty of families and couples eating street food and enjoying the warm weather, so it’s safe to spend time doing the same. Once out of the center the streets quickly become very quiet so avoid putting yourself in a position where you have to walk home alone after dark.
Is Guadalajara Safe? Guadalajara Safety Advice For Female Travelers
If someone was to ask me is Guadalajara dangerous, my answer would be no. As a female traveler, I’m all too aware of the potential dangers of visiting or living in new countries. And, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried before I arrived here. However, I can honestly say that I’ve rarely felt unsafe in Guadalajara. In almost all instances, I’ve found Tapatios (people from Guadalajara) to be kind, friendly, and welcoming. I and many of my female traveler friends wholeheartedly recommend Guadalajara for other female travelers.
How safe is Guadalajara? Let me know in the comments if you agree that the city is safe for female travelers, or if you have any Guadalajara safety tips of your own.
Need Somewhere to Stay in Guadalajara?
Here are a few of my favorite options:
NH Collection Guadalajara Providencia
Quinta Don Jose Boutique Hotel
If you are looking for a more in depth post about where to stay in all areas of Guadalajara, I wrote a whole post to help you decide the best area in Guadalajara to stay with my recommendations depending on your budget.