Is Guadalajara Safe? A Solo Female Perspective

Guadalajara doesn’t often make it onto the tourist list of places to visit. That’s a shame for many reasons, although safety is sometimes—and understandably—among them.

So, is Guadalajara safe?

Guadalajara isn’t among the safest destinations in Mexico. It has a pretty high crime index, and cartels are active in the city. 

However, knowing where (and where not) to go, practicing basic safety standards, and choosing well-located accommodations go a long way toward protecting you and your belongings. 

Guadalajara is architectural eye candy with friendly people and local delicacies; you’ll miss out on a lot by avoiding it. So, I’ll walk you through the ins and outs of safety in Guadalajara using a combination of statistics and personal experience.

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First Things First: A Disclaimer

I spent one month in Guadalajara. Overall, I had a positive experience safety-wise, though I took higher-than-average precautions.

The information I share here, with the exception of statistics from linked sources, is my personal opinion based on my encounters.

Everyone has unique experiences that shape their perception of any given destination.

So, take what you want from this article and leave the rest. And above all, never let your guard down just because I or anyone else tells you that a destination is relatively safe.

Trusting your gut and following basic safety practices are vital to improving your security in any destination.

May I Ask A Favor?

Since the recent bad press about safety in Mexico, we’ve seen an uptick in readers looking through our Mexico safety articles. I’m doing my best to answer the questions I receive. However, the safety situation in any destination can change fast, and I’m not currently on the ground in Mexico.

So, I’d appreciate you returning to this article after your trip and leaving a comment about your experience in Guadalajara.

There’s nothing like recent firsthand experience to paint a more realistic picture of Guadalajara’s current safety situation.

An Overview of Mexico’s Safety

Before we talk about safety in Guadalajara, the chart below offers insight into the health and safety of Mexico as a whole.

OrganizationIndex scoreCountry ranking
Global Health Security Index57.025 of 195 (good)
Global Peace Index2.61137 of 163 (bad)

Safety in Guadalajara: What the U.S. Department of State Says

Is Guadalajara safe? The downtown tourist district is safe around the cathedral.

Before embarking on my trip, I turned to the U.S. Department of State (DOS) to find answers to the question, “Is Guadalajara dangerous?”

As it turns out, the DOS labels Jalisco state, which is home to Guadalajara, as a Level 3, meaning you should reconsider travel. Crime and kidnapping are the reasons they list.

However, this information is misleading. 

If you scroll to the detailed section on safety in Jalisco state, you’ll find that while violent crimes and gang activity are widespread in most of Jalisco, the U.S. government doesn’t restrict its employees from visiting the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area.

Instead, they have travel restrictions in place for nearby highways, including:

  • Jalisco-Michoacan border and Federal Highway 110
  • Federal Highway 80 south of Cocula
  • State Highway 544 between Mascota and San Sebastian del Oeste

Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean you get a full stamp of safety approval from the United States.

On the contrary, they warn that criminal groups have no shame in battling out territories in the heart of tourist areas. While it’s rare for disgruntled groups to point their aggression at tourists intentionally, injured or killed bystander situations have occurred in Guadalajara.

Check out the chart below for context on what a Level 3 means to the DOS.

1Exercise normal precautions
2Exercise increased caution
3Reconsider travel
4Do not travel

Safety in Guadalajara: What the Statistics Say

Water fountains in Guadalajara.

In addition to the DOS’ data, Numbeo also helps shed light on the question, “Is Guadalajara safe?”

According to Numbeo, Guadalajara has a crime index of 62.12 on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being the highest crime. So, Guadalajara has a higher rate than you want to see. 

Furthermore, Numbeo states that Guadalajara’s crime rate has increased over the past three years.

For context, Mexico City has a slightly higher crime index, at 68.39

But this is where the numbers will throw you for a loop: Los Cabos, a place touted for drawing in luxury-seeking tourists, has a cringe-worthy crime index of 80.29

In contrast, Numbeo ranks Oakland, California, a place known for its high crime, as having a crime index of 67.06.

The reality is that none of these numbers are great; they’re a far cry from the low crime index in Merida, Mexico.

So, if you choose to travel to Guadalajara, staying alert and taking care of when and where you explore is paramount to having a safe trip.

Visiting Guadalajara as a Solo Female Traveler

A circular monument.

With less-than-ideal statistics so far, you might be wondering: How safe is Guadalajara for solo female travelers?

Guadalajara isn’t as safe as other destinations in Mexico for women traveling alone, but I did it for a month without incident. 

I found Guadalajara to be on par with the level of heightened caution I’ve taken when visiting places like Cancun and Mexico City

Cat calls happen. 

Questionable characters are around. 

And solo nighttime exploration is out of the question in most areas.

But by staying within the safest districts, not getting inebriated in public alone, and calling taxis to bring you to and from unfamiliar areas or taking you around at night, you’ll significantly decrease the chances of a negative solo female experience in Guadalajara.

That said, I don’t recommend Guadalajara if you’re a newbie solo female traveler. Solo travel comes with countless benefits; easing yourself into the rhythm of it in a safer destination is best to keep you coming back for more, in my opinion.

Is Guadalajara Safe at Night?

Is Guadalajara safe? The main plaza in Guadalajara at night is safe.

I’m going to come right out and say it: Guadalajara isn’t safe at night.

Yes, there are exceptions. Namely, what kind of “night” are we talking about? 6:30 pm during the winter months or 2:00 am any time of the year?

Furthermore, certain areas, such as the immediate area around the main plaza in Guadalajara, are safe in the early to mid-evening. Avenida Chapultepec in touristy Colonia Americana is packed with bars and restaurants, making it on the safer side for exploring at night.

But it doesn’t take long to encounter a dangerous street.

Even streets that are quite safe by day in downtown Guadalajara and Colonia Americana can turn more desolate and sketchy after dark.

So, use wise judgment if you meander around Guadalajara at night. Make sure to walk with a group and keep your alcohol consumption at bay.

Safest Districts in Guadalajara

There’s no 100% safe district in any city. However, by choosing to base yourself in one of the Guadalajara districts below, you’ll increase your chances of a safe experience.

  • Colonia Americana
  • Financial District
  • Downtown historical center
  • Tlaquepaque
  • Zapopan

Long ago, Guadalajara was divided into wealthy residents to the west and lower-class residents to the east. As a result, there tends to be less crime in western Guadalajara than in the eastern part of the city.

A good rule of thumb is to steer clear of most areas east of the Calzada and Oblatos.

On a personal note, I stayed at an Airbnb a 30-minute walk north of Guadalajara’s historical center in a district called Santa Teresita. It was cute and filled with local charm that I adored.

However, the streets became quiet at night, so I made sure to be in my apartment by dark or asked my Uber driver to wait until I was inside the door.

Transportation in Guadalajara

Guadalajara metro station.

Guadalajara is a massive city, so the chances are high that you’ll use public and/or private transportation while you’re there. Read on for details on Guadalajara’s transportation safety.

Is it safe to take an Uber in Guadalajara?

Taking an Uber is one of the safest ways to get around Guadalajara. It’s often safer than walking, even during the day, depending on the district. I used Uber at least a dozen times during my stay and always had a positive experience. 

Is it safe to take a street taxi in Guadalajara?

It’s safe to take a street taxi in Guadalajara if you call one in advance. However, it isn’t safe to hail a taxi off the street. There’s a high risk of encountering criminal pirate taxis in Guadalajara that pose as registered taxis. 

Is it safe to drive in Guadalajara?

It’s safe enough to drive in Guadalajara. But it helps if you know where you’re going to avoid dangerous streets. Furthermore, drivers have a loose interpretation of road rules, making it challenging for many foreigners to drive there.

Is it safe to take a bus in Guadalajara?

It’s safe to take local buses around Guadalajara, although you should take care of your belongings to prevent pickpockets. 

There’s a lower chance of encountering trouble if you take the bus during the day versus at night.

Guadalajara has a few long-distance bus stations as well. I took several long-distance buses during my stay, and you can read about my experience and tips on how to do so at the links below:

A Note on Airport Transfers

The Guadalajara airport is a prime place for pirate taxis to linger, along with genuine taxi drivers who want to overcharge tourists.

For this reason, if you fly into Guadalajara and plan on using a taxi to get to your accommodation, book a taxi at a designated taxi stand inside the airport.

You can also book your airport transfer in advance.

Many legitimate companies operate airport transfers in Guadalajara. However, my go-to company for transfers and tours is GetYourGuide.

What I like about GetYourGuide is that they’re an international, English-speaking company with 24/7 support. You can read customer reviews before booking your transfer, giving you a better idea of the service and vehicle quality to expect.

You can visit GetYourGuide to see pricing and availability for a Guadalajara airport transfer.

Is it safe to take the metro in Guadalajara?

Taking the Guadalajara metro is very safe. Guadalajara has a beautiful metro system, boasting 29 stations among two lines. I have no hesitations about taking the metro during daylight hours. 

However, from a personal standpoint, I’d think twice before taking the metro at night. If you’re interested in traveling to Tlaquepaque by public transportation, check out my guide on how to take the metro to Tlaquepaque from Guadalajara.

Is the Water Safe to Drink in Guadalajara?

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Don’t drink the water in Mexico,” and this rings true for Guadalajara.

Even locals boil or filter their tap water before drinking it. So, do your stomach a favor and load up on cheap water bottles you’ll find at stores throughout Guadalajara.

Earthquake Safety in Guadalajara

As with so many parts of Mexico, Guadalajara is prone to earthquakes.

Most earthquakes in Guadalajara are too small to feel. Nevertheless, assessing the area where you live and determining the safest place inside and outside your accommodation should a large earthquake strike is never a bad idea.

You can check Volcano Discovery for details on the most recent earthquakes in Guadalajara. When I wrote this article, five earthquakes had occurred in the last 24 hours!

How To Stay Safe in Guadalajara

Below are some basic safety precautions to take in Guadalajara. As you’ll see, there’s nothing unique about them—it’s wise to practice these tips regardless of where you travel.

  • Take a taxi at night
  • Don’t walk around showcasing expensive electronics
  • Only take out money from ATMs inside a bank
  • Never carry around all your credit cards and cash
  • Use a money belt
  • Don’t wear flashy jewelry
  • Ask locals for advice
  • Don’t leave an unopened drink unattended
  • If you’re going to get inebriated, do so with a trustworthy sober companion

Finally, trust your instinct. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

Other Safe Destinations in Mexico

I’ve explored much of Mexico as a solo female traveler, and below are the destinations where I’ve felt safer than in Guadalajara.

Should you be considering a trip to Cabo, learn why I don’t recommend it for solo female travelers.

The Bottom Line: Is Guadalajara Safe?

An old theater in Guadalajara.

There are several places in Mexico that are safer than Guadalajara. But although a trip to Guadalajara requires increased caution (to use the DOS’ phrase), it can be a great fit for the right traveler.

I strongly recommend checking the DOS’ website before booking your trip to Guadalajara and again shortly before you travel. It’s the best resource for having up-to-date information on knowing whether Guadalajara is safe to travel to right now.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments section if you have questions or if you’d like to share your experience visiting Guadalajara.

Above all, I wish you a wonderful trip to Guadalajara or wherever your travels take you.

14 thoughts on “Is Guadalajara Safe? A Solo Female Perspective”

  1. Hi and thanks for such and intelligent post on safety. I dislike the click bait that’s fear-based and those that also ignore the facts. What you wrote is just right.

    I do have a question–any recommendations for a place to stay near the center? I’ll be traveling alone and would be willing to spend a little ore for a quiet place, maybe an interior room.


    1. Hi Lisa,

      Santa Teresita, the district where I stayed, checks the box for being a quiet area. However, it’s a bit of a jaunt from the center. I also spent a brief period at Selina Guadalajara, which is on Avenida Chapultepec. Despite its location on a bustling street, my private room with windows facing the city (instead of Avenida Chapultepec) was quiet.

      Wishing you a wonderful trip!

  2. Great review and super common sense. I have traveled to Guadalajara Mexico once a month for the past 4 years. I find it to be a wonderful city with amazing people, culture and the best weather in the world. I am from Houston where Mexican culture is a part of daily life. In fact, Hispanic culture is Texas culture. Not surprising given Texas history. So people and surroundings are similar. But patients I travel with are shocked at the experience as compared to what is shown on the news. In fact , crime in Houston is far greater than in Guadalajara. Guadalajara is the 2nd largest city with 7 million people, beautiful and modern architecture and fabulous restaurants. And don’t expect Mexican food. The food is incredible and plentiful. The Andares and Puerto Hierra area is the Mecca of wealth and as clean or cleaner than any city in the USA. Enjoy your stay with confidence when you visit Tlaquepaque for shopping and lunch around noon. Be sure to visit Tequila and shop on the square. The history of Tequila is fascinating. Since I go there every month, I have a full time driver and return to certain places repeatedly for dining and sightseeing with patients. But like many areas of Houston, its wise to simply avoid. As you said…… ask the locals before going anywhere , have someone available who can translate, never go anywhere alone at night, never flash cash, stay sober and avoid neighborhoods you don’t know. Mexicans are beautiful and kind people. Totally different than the foreigners traveling from other countries through Mexico to get into the US. Why would anyone want to leave such a beautiful paradise? In fact, the nearby towns of Chapala and Ajiji are a favorite retirement place for Americans. Wonderful weather, great medical care in Guadalajara and extremely large population of retired Americans happily living like Kings and Queens on nothing more than SS. Several patients have moved to Guadalajara after visiting. Your description is 100% spot on. Don’t go there paranoid, but don’t be foolish. Crime is possible anywhere and at any time in the big cities in the US. My recommendations are to simply stay in groups, hire reputable driver, stay at modern downtown hotels and eat at high end dining places. Most of all dress comfortable, relax and have fun. You will be genuinely surprised at how safe you feel, how polite and nice the people are and how amazing the cuisine. Be well.

    1. John,

      I hope you see this. I am planning a trip to Jalisco, Guadalajara for surgery. The MD said they will pick me up at the airport and drop me off…the same for the recovery house. Is this safe, in your opinion? I will be traveling alone. Thank you!!!!

  3. Hi we are going on a girls trip and a few want to go out at night to a club or something. Some of us are weary especially with recent news of kidnappings / /secuesters. We are staying in the center district. Do you recommend any places and or best way to get to and from such place. Is hired driver at night okay?
    We are a group of 9 women.

    1. Hi Cristina,

      A hired driver is definitely the best way to get around Guadalajara at night. Your friends should avoid walking even short distances. You can ask your hotel to recommend a reputable driver/taxi company or use Uber. If you book a cab with Uber, you’ll find the same safety features they offer in the U.S., so you can send your location to a friend or family member to monitor your whereabouts in real time.

      I didn’t go clubbing in Guadalajara, so I don’t have recommendations in that respect. However, I’d encourage those who want to go out at night to be very careful with their drinks. They should purchase drinks with caps and watch the bartender open them with a bottle opener. Furthermore, they should always keep an eye on their drinks to prevent anyone from slipping something into them. At least one person in the group should remain sober.

      Like most cities across the world, going out clubbing at night in Guadalajara tends to come with an increased risk compared to exploring during the day. So, I think it’s wise to be cautious and plan accordingly.

  4. Did you visit Los Guachimonones in Teuchitlan outside of the city? Do you know the best way to get to an archaeological site from the city?

    1. Hi Lew,

      Yes, I took the bus to Los Guachimontones from Guadalajara. I wrote a step-by-step guide on how to do so, which you can view here.


      1. Hi Laura,
        A threesome is meeting up in Guadalajara airport to travel to San Juan de los Lagos. Any chance you’d share the name and phone number of your safe driver with us? I’d really appreciate that. Thanks, Rose

        1. Hi Rose,

          I always used Uber when traveling around the Guadalajara region. If you’d rather not use Uber, I recommend reaching out to your hotel or homestay host for a recommendation.

          Have a wonderful trip!

  5. Thanks so much for this article! I’m traveling with my husband to Guadalajara later this year for a wedding, but I was super concerned because of the travel advisory from the US government website. I was considering booking private transfers and group tours everywhere I want to go because I don’t feel confident just having us walk around by ourselves.

    1. You’re welcome, Michelle. I think that sounds like a reasonable approach. Just be sure to continue keeping an eye on the DOS’ travel advisory leading up to your trip. Enjoy Guadalajara and the wedding!

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