Guadalajara is a thriving city in Mexico (the second largest, in fact) that is famous for its tequila and mariachi music. In fact, the Tequilas Del Señor is the oldest distillery in Guadalajara and has been producing tequila since 1957. As the birthplace of tequila, Guadalajara is no stranger to a good party and that is just what travelers can find in the city.

Mariachi music and delicious cuisine are also in ample supply throughout the city. Guadalajara is a place that celebrates its heritage through entertainment like music and cuisine. From traditional dishes to modern twists on Mexican foods, the city is known for its authentic dishes. Birria, pozole and antojitos are some of Guadalajara’s essential foods that travelers can enjoy during their visit.

Along with Mexican music, cuisine and tequila, travelers can enjoy the environmental attractions and historic landmarks of Guadalajara. These fun activities are why so many tourists are attracted to the city. But with the overall reputation of Mexico, which is influenced by the country’s crime rates, some travelers may feel unsure about their travels to Guadalajara. Check out these recommendations to make your next trip safe and sound.

Official Travel Advisories

Guadalajara is located in Jalisco, a state on the West Coast of Mexico that’s also home to another popular travel destination, Puerto Vallarta. Still, while Mexico in general is a popular tourist destination for US citizens, knowing where to go — and where to avoid — is critical. The US Department of State has ranked most of Jalisco state as “reconsider travel” because of the heightened risk of crime and kidnapping. This is because violent crime and gang activity are highly possible and tourists can become victims by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, it’s important to highlight that this directive doesn’t extend to known tourist districts like Guadalajara Metropolitan Area. In short, avoid wandering into areas outside of tourist zones to prevent becoming a victim of circumstances.

Is Guadalajara Safe for Tourists and Solo Travelers?

Travelers of Guadalajara should be sure to research the area before traveling to ensure their safety. 
pictured: The city center of Guadalajara complete with a tourism sign with the cities name and fountain that pedestrians walk around

Guadalajara is a beautiful tourist destination, but it does have a history of high crime, a reputation for known organized crime, and can pose some risks to tourists who don’t exercise appropriate caution and street smarts. That being said, the city attracts over a million tourists annually, including solo travelers, couples, groups, and families.

To be safe, stick to more populated areas, keep track of possessions, never walk around alone at night and avoid dangerous areas while in Guadalajara. While other common touristy cities may be fine for solo travel, Guadalajara isn’t one of those places. Group travel is safest as being with others reduces a person’s chances of being targeted for any crime — whether petty or serious.

This is especially true for female solo travelers, doing so in Guadalajara isn’t recommended or should be done with caution. While catcalling and aggressive behavior towards women isn’t unique to Guadalajara or Mexico, this is a common concern. As such roaming the city alone is a bad idea.

Common Scams to be Aware of in Guadalajara

The most typical scams tourists will experience in Guadalajara are those that are common to tourist attractions and center around being overcharged for transportation or excursions, getting fleeced by pickpockets, or having their funds drained by not so helpful faux friendly locals.

Getting overcharged for taxi rides is incredibly common — especially for tourists that don’t negotiate prices before agreeing to the ride. One way to avoid this is by asking taxi drivers to turn on their meter. This ensures that travelers know exactly how much they’re paying and won’t get hit with sticker shock when they reach their destination. But to further figure out pricing, try to use Google Maps or Waze to understand how far a ride will be, and how much is being charged per mile. Alternatively, opting for Uber completely eliminates the risk of overcharging since the price is set by the app’s algorithm and can’t be easily adjusted by the driver.

Encountering friendly locals can be an amazing way to get immersed in a culture when abroad, but be smart. Anyone offering to help out at an ATM to avoid paying bank fees should be met with suspicion. No one needs that much help at an ATM. Instead, the friendly “good Samaritan” scans the unsuspecting tourist’s cards, and later drains the bank account or credit limit. Don’t become a victim — refuse assistance at an ATM (and ideally only use indoor ATMs at real banks during business hours or in hotel lobbies).

Similarly, a new local friend insistently urging to visit a specific bar or restaurant is usually because the “nice local” has a deal with establishments to act as a ringer. They bring in tourists, encourage them to run up a tab but fail to disclose that the bill will be much higher than expected. Avoid this scam by suggesting an alternate restaurant or bar. Additionally, always check the menu prices before ordering anything.

The other most common scams fall under the pickpocket and hustler categories. Misdirection techniques like getting sprayed with condiments or someone “suddenly” noticing bird poop on a tourist’s clothing are meant to distract a mark so that thieves can mine their pockets or bags for valuables. Meanwhile, requests for picture taking or street guessing games are meant to con tourists into paying up — usually for more money than expected.

How to Stay Safe in Guadalajara

One of the best ways to stay safe in Guadalajara is to avoid wandering off into less frequented and non-touristy areas. While it can be tempting to go off the beaten path to get a “real experience”, just know that there’s a reason the US Department of State has cautioned both government employees and citizens from doing this. Aside from this key tip, using common sense will take people far. This also includes if tourists intend to engage in nightlife activities. Stick to venues in the tourist districts.

Don’t flash cash or expensive items in public. Similarly, coordinate ground transfers between the airport and hotel, as well as excursions ahead of time to avoid being overcharged. Keep an eye on valuables like cameras, phones, and of course passports. Also note that in Guadalajara the tap water isn’t safe to drink — even for brushing teeth. So, opting for bottled water only, and even requesting drinks without ice in restaurants or bars is the best way to avoid getting sick.

Where to Stay in Guadalajara

While Guadalajara’s central area is best for travelers who want to travel by foot, there are safe areas that may be worth the short trip. Chapalita and Providencia are the most popular and safe areas that travelers may want to stay in during their trip. These areas are more residential and as a result are more family-friendly (and all-around safer), so some travelers may desire to be in central downtown. But there are plenty of upscale local businesses like restaurants, shops and bars that travelers can enjoy in both neighborhoods. Plus, the areas are only 20 minutes away from central Guadalajara, so the attractions of the inner city are within reach. The tourist areas are generally safe but may not be considered the same at night, so nearby less urban areas may be better to ensure safety and comfort.

Guadalajara has public transportation that is accessible and makes exploring the city easier and safer. 
pictured: a historic building in Guadalajara with many pedestrians exploring the area on foot

Transportation in Guadalajara is quite simple. The city is easily explored on foot and has plenty of attractions that are within walking distance of each other. So, unless travelers want to see far away destinations, they can walk around Guadalajara very easily. The city buses are reliable but they are very popular with locals, so they may be full or a bit too snug for comfort. The metro is great for commuting locals but is less ideal for travelers trying to reach the city’s best attractions. Despite this, the metro is an affordable option since it costs around 40 cents per ride. From the Guadalajara International Airport (GDL), the city center is around 12 miles away. An alternative mode of transportation is opting to take taxis or rental cars. 

Best Time To Visit Guadalajara

Check out the best times to visit Guadalajara, Mexico to have a safe visit.
pictured: the central city area of Guadalajara, Mexico during fall with historical buildings and cloudy skies

The city of Guadalajara has experienced some strange weather that may strike fear into potential travelers. Hailstorms have occurred in the past, which may make some travelers fearful of the weather conditions of Guadalajara. But travelers will be glad to know that the weather in Guadalajara is fairly consistent. The area is temperate year-round, so the weather does not commonly deter travelers from visiting. Since it is an inland city that sits at a high elevation, visitors to Guadalajara can enjoy steady warm weather.

The best season to visit is during the fall. Between October and December, travelers can enjoy drier weather, which is a benefit since the area can be quite rainy. The temperatures during this season are usually between the mid-70s to 80 degrees. Compared to the average temperature of 90 degrees and high average rainfall during the summer, these weather conditions are more preferable for touring Guadalajara on foot. 

People Also Ask

Is Guadalajara safe for female travelers?

Guadalajara does have a higher crime rate than other cities in Mexico. But as with anywhere else, traveling as a solo woman, or in a small group of women can unfortunately attract suspicious people. Be mindful of your surroundings, avoid wandering alone — especially at night — and as with anywhere else, pay attention to open drinks.

Can US citizens travel to Guadalajara?

Yes, as with the rest of Mexico, US citizens can travel to Guadalajara with a valid US passport. For tourist and business travelers, they can take advantage of the 180-day visa-free entry policy with Mexico. Similarly, US citizens can also transit (enter Mexico from one country before traveling on to another) within Mexico for up to 30 days without a visa.

Is it safe to walk at night in Guadalajara?

Even in the more secure tourist districts, it’s best to exercise caution. Don’t take a solo stroll at night, instead stick with groups to reduce the chances of being targeted. Avoid desolate areas or districts outside of tourist zones as well.

Should You Visit Guadalajara?

There are plenty of places for visitors to stay in Guadalajara, but these places are the best for travelers concerned with safety. 
pictured: a residential area of Mexico with pedestrians walking in the streets

Guadalajara is a beautiful historic city located in Jalisco state. It’s a popular destination in Mexico that welcomes over one million tourists annually. Still, the city has a reputation for high crime — which is why tourists are urged to stick to known tourist districts like the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area. While solo travel can be a bit challenging, it’s possible to do so if travelers take smart precautions like opting for Ubers over regular taxis, avoiding desolate areas and popular scams, and being mindful about nighttime exploring.