Is solo travel in Guadalajara safe? I stayed there for 30 days and never felt harmed despite roaming the streets by myself! Check out my personal experience and I hope it will encourage you to travel to Mexico!
📬 Reader Mail: Hey Trisha! Love your blog and all your Mexico content! My boss will be sending me to a 3-day conference in Guadalajara in December.
Though I think this is a good opportunity for my career and I really want to go, is Guadalajara safe? I want to stay a few more days as my work allowed me to do so but I don’t know if I am brave enough for it.
Please encourage me with your convincing powers! Your thoughts are always very motivating and empowering. I’m really torn right now!
– Andra McIntire, New York
Thanks a lot for your words. I really appreciate it! To be honest, I was a little freaked when I first went to Mexico but solo female travel in Guadalajara Mexico is absolutely safe.
The city is super female-friendly and is very modern. I’ll provide more details below but I hope you won’t miss this opportunity, especially if your work will pay for the trip. You should check it out and stay a bit!
I stayed in Guadalajara for 30 days and loved it. It’s not a place where I will choose to live though – but for a visit, it is worth it!
I still come to Guadalajara a lot since I just moved 4 hours away from the city. I have a car so I can always drive back.
Good luck and I hope you’ll push through!
⛔ Is Guadalajara safe?
I bet YES is a hard answer to believe due to the buzz of Narcos Mexico on Netflix. I didn’t follow the Cali Cartel season but when the Mexican version was added, I suddenly got intrigued.
We’ve all followed Pablo Escobar’s life and the journey of Medellin Cartel on the show but how is the Mexican Cartel different?
If you’ve seen it and watched all the seasons, you probably wouldn’t think about visiting Mexico anymore, or at least the places that were highlighted there such as Sinaloa and Guadalajara.
If you haven’t seen it, well, let’s start with an introduction to Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, the man behind the Guadalajara Cartel formed in the 1980s. He controlled all the drug trafficking not only within Mexico but in the USA borders as well.
Miguel is from Sinaloa, and the show highlighted his life growing up in that state. But most of the series is set in Guadalajara Mexico, where he formed the strongest Mexican cartel in the ’80s.
The show is violent and sometimes very graphic so by the time you finish the show, you will really feel like Mexico is a brutal country that shoots people on the street for no reason.
But we are missing the keyword ‘1980s’ here.
The day I checked in Guadalajara, my mom immediately freaked out and didn’t even give me the chance to tell her I was safe and was staying at a friend’s house.
My friend is French and lives in Guadalajara. She was visiting family and friends in France when I visited so I had her house to myself.
She wasn’t there to tell me what to do or where to go. But she did warn me not to walk at night and that I should always take the Uber.
🚕 Is there Uber in Guadalajara Mexico?
Uber in Guadalajara is very cheap. Most of my 15-minute rides are about $50 MXN ($2.50 USD approx). The only time I paid $200+ MXN ($10 USD) was when I went to Tlaquepaque, about 30 minutes from Guadalajara.
The Uber app is widely used in Guadalajara so for your safety, do not go with normal/regular taxis. I am sure lots of regular taxis are good guys but whenever I am traveling, I am more comfortable in using taxi apps as they are more secure and it’s very easy to identify the humanity of the driver.
You can even forward your current location to friends and families which is something you cannot do when riding a normal taxi.
🆚 Is Guadalajara safer than Mexico City?
Without looking at the crime rate facts and basing it on my personal experience, I don’t feel like one is safer than the other. Mexico City’s Roma and Condesa areas are great neighborhoods that I always stay in. You can always walk at night without problems and there are many foreigners doing the same.
But if you go out of these neighborhoods, things are a little bit different. I’d never walk and I will always take an Uber if I am outside of Roma and Condesa.
In the same manner that Guadalajara’s main avenue, Avenida Chapultepec is as busy as Roma and Condesa areas, I feel very confident walking here by myself. There are lots of people here all the time and the streets are well-lit,
However, in other areas in Guadalajara, I will always take an Uber and not walk by myself at night. If I am walking by myself, I make sure I am with friends but a lot of people in Guadalajara told me that even with friends, it can be dangerous! I just didn’t have that experience so I can’t really speak about that.
📍 What parts of Guadalajara are safe?
Also known as ‘centro’, Guadalajara’s centro historico is where all the famous sights and landmarks are. This is a super lively area bustling with tourist activities so you may want to explore this area first (or as soon as you arrive in GDL).
Even at night, Centro Historico is quite packed and busy so you can walk here in the evenings.
Colonia Americana is the preferred area in Guadalajara for young travelers as all the hostels and night clubs are in this area. This is probably the best area to stay in especially if you are traveling alone as you will be able to meet many other solo travelers here!
Probably the most colorful and most visited in all the Guadalajara neighborhoods, Tlaquepaque is about a 20-minute drive from Americana. This neighborhood is full of small cafes and colorful streets.
I do not recommend you stay here as it is far from the centro but you can explore it for half a day.
⛔ Areas to avoid in Guadalajara Mexico
Now, the areas above are based on my personal experiences. However, the state of Jalisco has issued a list of petty crimes in all the unsafe neighborhoods of Guadalajara.
Surprisingly, Americana and Centro (that I told you I felt safe being in) are in the list of dangerous neighborhoods for petty crimes like theft (person-to-person), business theft, and vehicle theft.
No tourist crimes have been reported but like anywhere else in the world, you should be vigilant with your things and don’t wear flashy jewelry.
Sadly, most of my Mexican friends tell me that these petty crimes only happen to locals and not foreigners. Mexico has a way of protecting their tourism reputation since most of the country relies on tourism.
🚶♀️ Is Guadalajara safe at night?
I’ve been told that it is though I never really pushed my luck. I’ve walked a lot of times by myself at night and did not find it scary. However, I only did this once or twice when I already have a grasp of the place.
When I already have this fixed route I was comfortable with, I did walk at night but I need to clarify that what I meant with ‘night’ is from 18:00 – 21:00 max. Beyond those hours, I always took the Uber because it’s really cheap!
My friend also lent me her bike and while I was riding to go work at a cafe in Guadalajara, one of the guys there told me that I shouldn’t also bike at night because there are many instances that bike riders were robbed (and probably hurt).
These are stories that I heard from locals while I was there. It didn’t happen to me so I really have no proof. But still, it’s great to be vigilant.
On another note, I walked a lot with friends at night (even up to 2:00 in the morning). Guadalajara is a very walkable city and the weather is great so when you are with a group, walk!
💃 Solo travel in Guadalajara Mexico: what’s it like?
I already have friends here
… so your experiences may be different from mine.
I am lucky to have fell on the lap of my tapatio friends whom I met from my travels all over Latin America. Tapatio is the term for people who live in Guadalajara so if you want to sound like a local, use this word!
My point is our experiences may be different since I already knew people before traveling here. I must admit that I was kind of paranoid at the beginning because of what I read on the news. I almost did not travel to Guadalajara because of this.
My main motivation of visiting Guadalajara are my friends so this really gave me the confidence and I did not think twice. I am so glad I did not!
Cat-calling in Guadalajara
Speaking of tapatio friends, I noticed the difference of how men pay attention to you more when you’re alone and that goes for all destinations in Mexico.
When I was walking with a Tinder date in Guadalajara, nobody even dared look. The same goes for when I am out with male friends.
I also feel like I was living in a great neighborhood so no one really cat-called me. If someone did, it was not as intense as my experiences in other parts of Mexico. Seriously, just ignore them.
Easy to meet people
I’m a digital nomad so I frequented many cafes in Guadalajara. Whenever I sit down in cafes, I surprisingly meet fellow digital nomads to hang out with.
If you are traveling alone, you can just talk to bartenders (start with Cerveceria Chapultepec). They’re always friendly and are chatty with foreigners.
I love how the Mexicans are so friendly but of course, if someone is attracted to you, it’s up to you to entertain that or not. I have no right to tell you or plant the idea to you that all men in Mexico will take advantage of you.
In general, men are the same everywhere.
✨ Guadalajara Mexico safety tips
While I believe that no city in the world is 100% safe (you know, there are many petty crimes all over), I really feel like you can have a good time in Guadalajara if you know how to take safety precautions.
Just the let you know, the crime rate in Guadalajara is labeled ‘medium risk’ and is definitely has lower crime rates than Mexico City.
Have fun in Guadalajara without worrying!
I hope you won’t come to Guadalajara and spend your vacation worrying about Guadalajara safety. There is really nothing to worry about!
Guadalajara is a fun city, especially for young travelers so do your best to enjoy it. The nightlife is very vibrant and there are always interesting people everywhere!
I particularly love the cafe culture of Guadalajara and the decent Internet speed. Most of my days there, I go to cafes and sit there all day!
These cafes are made for digital nomads so the office setting is very comfortable. I even challenged myself to go to different cafes every day because there are lots of them!
It’s also nice to walk at night at the Chapultepec (city center) because it’s a good way of seeing the Guadalajara lifestyle. Street food vendors, stalls selling Mexican souvenirs, lots and lots of street performers, etc.
I even had a chance to join a dancing class which they are literally doing in the middle of the plaza! Now that I remember, that was really fun!
Of course, I’ve had my share of late nights in Guadalajara which I did a lot with friends. Having local friends really makes a difference when you travel.
I came here without knowing anyone but when I put myself out there, I was able to meet people whom I now call my friends.
According to my research, there are still a lot of cartel wars in Guadalajara but while I was there for a whole month, I didn’t really feel it.
I’m sure you’ll only feel it when you are directly involved with it but if not, relax and follow these solo travel in Guadalajara safety tips.
Take Uber all the time
Again, if you are completely alone, Uber is your best way to go around Guadalajara. If you are with a group, I find walking a great way to explore this city.
Transport-wise, Guadalajara is at low risk. Uber drivers were reported very honest. I even had a time when I forgot my tripod and the driver returned it!
Do not leave your stuff unattended
Petty theft or pickpocket is ‘medium-risk in Guadalajara. Avoid wearing flashy jewelry (thank God I don’t do this) or anything that will attract thieves. Personally, I’ve walked around Guadalajara carrying all my camera gear but I was never robbed.
It’s just a matter of organizing yourself. It doesn’t mean that you can never go out without carrying your camera in public. Just be vigilant!
Don’t act like you are not from Guadalajara
Use local terms like tapatio and Mexican slangs like “wey.” Always look up while walking, say hola to everyone and don’t embrace your bag like you have a million dollar camera in it.
Within a day of being in Guadalajara, you will already pick up local customs and you will be familiar with the layout. This will equip you in not looking like a tourist in Guadalajara. And don’t wear tourist hats!
Speaking Spanish helps a lot
I have an Asian descent but I am fluent in Spanish. I’ve observed how people treat you differently when you speak Spanish (as a foreigner). They give you respect and in their mind, you already know a lot about Mexico so nobody will dare fool you or take advantage.
I’ve been living in Mexico for a while now and have picked up Mexican customs so I move like them. Guadalajarans are friendly and you just have to be open-minded about adapting.
Consider your source
Guadalajara has a lot of bad press but think about it: how did you find this post? Why are you researching solo travel in Guadalajara? Something interests you about this city, correct?
If you try to follow your gut and read thoroughly about Guadalajara, you will see how many people had been here without problems.
For me, I always connect with locals or the embassy to get valuable information. Otherwise, the people around me will just always say Guadalajara is not safe – and I refuse to believe that. I need to see it for myself! Make sure that your source is a local or someone who has been to Guadalajara.
🤝🏽 How to meet people in Guadalajara Mexico
Bumble or Tinder in Guadalajara
This is going to be funny and strange but during my very first trip to Guadalajara (the 30-day one), I was 100% dependent on the Bumble app.
My intention wasn’t to date (though I was with 1 or 2 interesting romantic dates; more on that later) but to meet people.
Using Bumble in a different way made me realize that I can also connect and make meaningful friendships without the idea of hooking up or getting laid.
Believe it or not, most of my friends in Guadalajara are from Bumble! I still see them up to this day whenever I visit.
Sitting alone at bars
Another interesting way of meeting people in Guadalajara is to just simply sit down at a bar and chat with bartenders.
Guadalajara is full of young people so most of them are very approachable. I even got a lot of free drinks just by sitting alone!
Salsa lessons on the street
Finally, if you visit the Chapultepec area on weekends, there is a free dance lesson (by donation) that is happening and there’s a lot of them. As you’ve already seen on Instagram, I love dancing!!! One Saturday, while I was walking alone at the center, I saw this group dancing on the streets.
Without asking, I joined in! I didn’t even know it was a formal class as they were just casually dancing on the street but it really was a class!
Contact me so I can connect you with cool people!
If you’re visiting Guadalajara, I can definitely connect you to my friends. I’ve introduced blog readers to my local friends a lot and they were always willing to accommodate. Just get in touch via e-mail or send a DM via Instagram, @psimonmyway.
I also live four hours away from Guadalajara so if you ever are in the city, you can never miss my beach town. You have to come here!