How Safe Is Guadalajara for Travel?

Guadalajara, Mexico
Safety Index:
62

Guadalajara is the second-largest city in Mexico and is a cultural center with an inspiring combination of new and old.

The city is where Mariachi music began, and some say tequila also started here.

Charreria, a rodeo-like sport, also originated here and is still popular.

It is home to the Guadalajara International Film Festival.

The city also hosts the largest Spanish language book fair in the world.

 The city is also a silicon valley of sorts for Mexico, with a lot of hi-tech companies operating here.

The colonial heritage also remains strong, with architecture in famous cathedrals and other public buildings.

 It is bathed in tradition, but also vibrant in its modern cosmopolitan feel.

It is about 200 miles from the Pacific coast in a valley surrounded by mountains.

Warnings & Dangers in Guadalajara

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM

Guadalajara is a very large city with 4.4 million people, so some crime is to be expected.The U.S. State Dept. gives the state of Jalisco the second-highest warning level because of crime and Covid-19.Car theft is a major problem.Some caution is advised, but if you stay in tourist areas and don't venture out alone at night, you should not have any problems.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM

Registered taxis are safe, and hotels and restaurants will summon them for you.Do not hail taxis on the street or take rides with unregistered taxis.Buses and trains tend to be crowded and have pickpocket operators around. Armed robberies sometimes happen on buses. Chartered buses for groups are safe, but be careful on buses for the general public or trains.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK : HIGH

Especially on a crowded bus, or bus or train station, a pickpocket can steal your wallet without you realizing it at the time.They tend to focus on tourist areas and people who appear careless or intoxicated. Don't look like a tourist, protect your valuables, and don't let anyone see your electronics or cash.Blend in with the crowd to be a less obvious target.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW

There have been, and continue to be, minor earthquakes in the mountains of Jalisco around Guadalajara.They have been small for years and there has not been a major one in a long time.Hurricanes don't get this far inland, and flooding has not been an issue.  A natural disaster could happen, of course, but there has not been one in this area in a long time.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM

There seem to be two worlds at Guadalajara, one in the day and a different one at night.During the day it is very safe in tourist areas, but at night it can be dangerous.You should not be out alone, especially at night, and during the day don't get caught in areas where you could be trapped. Armed robberies involve buses or public transportation.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK : LOW

The risk was higher a few years ago when drug cartels were active in the area.The city has done a lot to distance itself from drug activities.Cartels and gangs are not very active now.There is very little terrorism in Mexico and not much at all in Guadalajara.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK : HIGH

There are more and more tourists in Guadalajara, and that means more scam operators are showing up.Scammers like to work on tourists, from fake tours, fake souvenirs, fake taxies, and everything else.Restaurants sometimes have a different menu for tourists, with higher prices than what locals pay.Places of business will add to your credit card bill if you are not paying attention.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM

If women stay in groups and stay in tourist areas there is very little danger.It is dangerous for a woman alone, however, and especially outside of the tourist areas or at night.There have also been cases of people taking advantage of intoxicated women in clubs.Don't go out alone, and don't accept drinks from strangers in bars.There is some risk, but it is not more dangerous than any other big city.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK : HIGH

If you drink tap water in Guadalajara, or anywhere in Mexico, you will very likely get sick for a day or two.Some of that is just differences in water, and some are due to pollution.Montezuma's Revenge is real.Don't take chances, even by using ice that restaurants may have made from tap water.

Safest Places to Visit in Guadalajara

The city’s historic center is a place you must see.

Amazing cultural and historic sights, museums, restaurants, and the best hotels. There is also added security.

Zapopan, a separate city within the greater city,  is home to the Basilica of Zapopan.

There are lots of concerts here and a great tourist area.

The fairgrounds and the exhibition center are home to many outstanding events.

The Chapalita district is home to many restaurants and some very nice homes.

It is a rich area of the city, and a pleasant cosmopolitan area to enjoy.

Tlaquepaque is an artisan area where pottery, textiles, and blown glass crafts are popular.

This is an artsy area, but some say it can be dangerous at night.

Colonia Americana is a trendy area with ancient buildings, trendy restaurants, and bars.

It has a thriving nightlife that many people enjoy, with a full dose of mariachi Mexican flair.

Places to Avoid in Guadalajara

El Cerro Del Cuatro, Tlapuepaque.

This is one of the most impoverished areas of the city, and one of the most dangerous.

There is no reason to come here.

Be careful anywhere in the city when you are not in a tourist zone.

Several neighborhoods are dangerous.

Ask locals, and at your hotel, about which areas to avoid.

Calzada de la endencia splits the metro area.

The east side of that tends to be underdeveloped, poor, and dangerous.

Oblatos is an area on the edge of town with majestic views of a canyon and the mountains.

It is safe during the day, but not at night.

It is a nice hiking area in the day, but at night there are a lot of drug deals and other unsavory types wandering around.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Guadalajara

1. Don’t drink the water.

This is constantly said about Mexico, and it is true.

It will make you sick for a couple of days and cost you some vacation time.

Avoid the ice too.

Many water systems are contaminated, and it is not worth the risk.

2. Avoid public transportation.

It is confusing and not well marked.

It is better to take tours or taxis.

Public transportation can also be even more dangerous at night.

Consider tour groups as a means of getting around.

3 Only use registered taxis, which are clearly labeled.

Your hotel or a restaurant will call a registered cab for you.

Fake taxis are used to rob people and rape women.

Don’t accept a ride from a random person on the street.

4. Don’t look or act like a tourist.

Keep your camera and other electronics hidden and use them discretely.

Always act like you know where you are going, even when you don’t.

Pickpockets and other criminals look for confused people to victimize and they won’t usually bother a person who looks confident.

5. Bring an umbrella and be prepared for rain.

In the summer months, rain is common in the afternoon, but it passes quickly and dries up fast.

Keep in mind summer can be very hot, so dress accordingly and use sunscreen.

6. Follow your gut feelings.

If something doesn’t feel right, there is probably something wrong.

Get away from such a situation immediately and don’t worry about being polite.

Even if you turn out to be wrong, it is better to not risk getting into a bad situation.

7. Don’t go out at night alone.

This is common advice for any city anywhere in the world, but it is very good advice.

Criminals are out at night, and they look for people who are alone that they can rob, or worse.

8. Know a little Spanish.

Knowing a few key phrases and words will be a big help in a new city.

People are more likely to want to help you if they see you at least trying to speak their language.

9. No drugs and not much drinking.

Don’t get involved in any shady deals or drugs, and don’t drink too much.

These are usually dangerous and violent people, and you could easily get seriously injured.

If the police get involved, your problems will only increase.

Criminals also look for intoxicated people to victimize.

10. Register with the State Department Enrollment Program.

You will get updates on your destination, and it will be easier for officials to find you if there is an emergency.

This will give you an app for your phone that will be very useful and will help keep you safe.

How Does Guadalajara Compare?

CitySafety Index
Guadalajara62
Playa del Carmen69
Cabo San Lucas68
Acapulco63
Cancun71
La Paz (Bolivia)52
Sao Paulo (Brazil)45
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)43

Useful Information

  • Visas - You will need a passport, but you will not need a Visa.A passport takes 8-10 weeks and costs about $100.You can get it faster if you pay more.There are also passport cards available for around $30.Be sure to keep this document safe and don't let it out of your hands.
  • Currency - The Peso is the basic currency in Mexico, and the exchange rate can change daily.You can make an exchange at the airport, but you don't want to carry too much cash around.Banks and ATM machines are good places to do currency exchange.
  • Weather - Guadalajara is a hot city in summer due to its tropical location.Some say the best time to visit is between November and March when the weather is not so hot. It can get cold at night during those months.The air is dry, but there are occasional showers in summer.
  • Airports - Guadalajara has a modern airport that is about 12 miles from the city center.There are shuttles to major hotels that are free or at a very low cost.There are registered taxis as well, to take you anywhere you want to go.There may also be buses, but they can be confusing if you don't know the area or the language.
  • Travel Insurance - A lot can go wrong when you travel.Usually, nothing too bad happens, but when it does, you need to have the peace of mind that you will be OK.Travel insurance will give you that peace of mind and will be a tremendous help if something does go wrong during your trip.
Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Guadalajara Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 16° C
Feb 17° C
Mar 19° C
Apr 22° C
May 23° C
Jun 24° C
Jul 22° C
Aug 22° C
Sep 22° C
Oct 21° C
Nov 18° C
Dec 16° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
252729323331282828282625
Low
°C
6781113161616151397
High
°F
778184909188828282827977
Low
°F
434546525561616159554845

Where to Next?

30 Reviews on Guadalajara

  1. My wife and I went to Guadalajara for our 5 year anniversary and while I didn’t feel unsafe or uneasy, my wife did. She was tense the entire trip there. We had some issues with items being stolen out of our hotel room and a group of men following us a few times who didn’t speak English. I know she don’t want to ever go back but I wouldn’t mind it. I am not intimidated very easily.

    1. J
      Joel Kraft says:

      Truthful.

      Right . You’re a tough guy. A couple cartel guys, all hit men, would pose no problem for you.

      1. W
        WorldTravellllller says:

        GDL visit

        There’s always one who has to act like the cartel is literally targeting US citizens and then only.

        Don’t get involved or partake in shady stuff and you’ll be left alone. You can be held up, mugged, beat, etc. in ANY city in the world. Not everything is cartel cartel cartel.

    2. A
      Andrew T Cochran says:

      Everything can be safe…it’s up to you

      I think it might be more about where you stay and the activities you engage in. I’ve been traveling to Guadalajara constantly for the last six months. I pretty much stick to the nicest areas and I don’t go out at night. Best place to stay is obviously the Hyatt Regency and from there you can walk to any number of amazing shops and stores and really nice restaurants so I never felt the need to go further than that.

      1. I speak Spanish my husband doesn’t . I want to go with him . He is American light skin . I hope people are friendly there with American citizens

    3. A
      Anonymous says:

      Why would you go somewhere that your life is in danger? We are talking about a vacation. I do not understand why you would put your life in danger.

  2. V
    Vincent K. says:

    Uncertain

    I loved the area when I traveled there back in 2008 but since all the issues with immigrants, I am a bit put off on going to Mexico. I am not sure if it would be safe. I know most areas in Mexico are risky but usually cities like this are okay. Anyone go more recently know?

    1. Just went in July 2020, it was safe, reminds me of old school mexico. Went to the plaza of mariachis at night, it was like downtown LA in the eighties lots of passed out drunks and drug addicts just best to avoid this area

  3. Safe And A Must!

    I have visited downtown Guadalajara a few times as an adult. It has certainly changed since I was a kid. These last couple of times I did not feel unsafe. I feel you need to be street smart as you are in any major metropolitan area. Being from Chicago this was a no brainer for me. Be smart and don’t look like a tourist and fumble with maps and smart phones. Plan your sites and enjoy a stroll. Make sure you’re in an area with lots of people. I would consider this a safe trip and will return again.

  4. H
    Harry Navel says:

    Big Navel

    My wife ate tomato soup out of my unusually large bellybutton in Guadalajara. It was a great trip that we’ll remember.

    1. jealous of navel

      ok then! got to try this lol

  5. J
    Juan Ciudadano says:

    Wretched

    Understandable. I live and work in GDL and have been held up. It Is becoming a nasty place with half-witted, obnoxious thugs driving around in their gruesome gringo-style pickups and shitty banda music everywhere. I am a Mexican Citizen, and being quite honest, would not recommend the place to say, Calgary résidents or peaceful tourists from Western Europe. Sad, but true: Narcos, corruption, and vulgarity prevail. GDL Is not the city of Bing Crosby golfing and Chapala visits anymore. It Is an oafish, provincial bastion of Sinaloa. Sad, very sad.

    1. F
      F. Parr says:

      You’re so full of it. Mexicans should be glad they got rid of you. I’ve been to Guadalajara many times and haven’t had any problems. Many things to enjoy as long as you don’t act stupid, which is the same everywhere.

      1. D
        Dean Market says:

        You speak the truth my friend!

        1. P
          Pedro Rojas says:

          Don’t judge

          Juan could have been VERY traumatized if he were in fact held up. His response appears extreme but it is important to consider the reason he reacted this way. Many locals are angry with the cartel and have a right to be fed up with cngj. Trying to take the high ground over a local sounds arrogant, selfish, and insensitive to their reality, which could be very painful if they grew up in one of gdl’s tougher neighborhoods. He clearly states that he still lives there. Guadalajara is a very nice city. Stay away from the area past La calzada independencia in the city center and Calle priciliano Sanchez at night. Also, ten blocks north of the cathedral on Pedro Loza should be a no go area. Try carnes garibaldi, tejuino, and a torta ahogada while you are there. Cheers.

      2. r
        r.riojas says:

        Exactly F. Parr. Like most big cities in the US if you go looking for trouble or participate in illegal activities then you are going to put yourself at risk. I have visited several times and never felt unsafe. Something can happen to you in any big city in the world just be aware of your surroundings and you’ll have a pleasant time. People love Paris but I had a bag stolen from me as I was walking from the Gare du Nord to my Airbnb and I am a physically large guy. I didn’t feel any safer there than I do when I go to Guadalajara. The danger is all blown out of proportion from the American media especially when most large US cities are just as bad. And remember Cartels most likely wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the huge drug habit of the US which is prevalent in all walks of life here and not just in minority communities.

      3. Lives under a bridge

        Another nasty troll here to attack people from behind the screen. I’m talking about you Parr, not the OP.

  6. A
    Anonymous says:

    Second trip

    This is my 2nd trip here, and I am pleased with my visit. As in any visit outside one’s
    comfort zone, be ever vigilant and have a way out of any situation. Go where there is plenty of people traffic, and most of all…look and act like a “native”. For the most part
    while visiting the many tourist venues that can be found, the people are friendly and polite. Of course, there’s always the few rude ones that don’t have any sense of respect for others, ie, cutting in front of you while you are taking a photo, or forcing themselves to the front of the line. Overall, I’ve enjoyed my trip. Gracias,
    Roberto de California.

  7. Awesome local experience

    I just came back from staying in a house in the Santa Maria/Talpita colonia – Was able to walk around that area day and night with no issues of feeling unsafe. Ventured off to Zona Medrano and multiple other tianquis of lots of people moving through small spaces.

    As in all big cities – be aware of your surroundings. But ultimately I’ve felt much uncomfortable in several areas here in the states.

  8. D
    David L Levine says:

    Check out this undiscovered gem in Mexico

    I just returned from my first trip to Guadalajara. I was pleasantly surprised at the charm the city exudes. Lots of lovely colonial architecture that goes on for block after block. I stayed at the Holiday Inn in Centro Ciudad (221 Juarez) which was well located for walking to the cathedral, museums, and other areas of interest. People were consistently friendly and helpful. American tourists were few and far between. Hotel couldn’t do currency exchanges but loads of stores on Ave were easily available with good rates and flexible hours. Museum of Guadalajara was a highlight containing exhibits on paleontology, history, and fine art. Interjet Airlines now flies non-stop from several North American cities, offering low rates (and surprising amount of legroom on its planes)

  9. V
    Vidal Demonti says:

    A wonderful experience

    I visited Guadalajara many times and stayed for months at the time. The experience has always been exceptional. I love the people, the ambiance, the climate. I always felt safe and never had any problems. I am recommending this city because I have personally experienced. Take your time, rent long term and enjoy the in·cred·i·ble life in this beautiful city.

  10. D
    Dean Market says:

    It's a great safe City!

    It is a great safe City when you travel you don’t go to the Hood rat areas! travel to the tourist areas only they’re very safe! mind your own business enjoy the city be happy nobody wants you! nobody needs anything from you! enjoy your yourself!

  11. I
    I love GDL says:

    I am from southern California Orange County
    my parents are from Guadalajara so as a young adult back in the 90’s my interest for the beautiful city struck me
    Been visiting Guadalajara since at least 4 times a year for at least 3 weeks to a month at time,
    Never once had an issue of any sort
    I been just about all over the world and i have to say Guadalajara is where I feel at home

    just be smart and be aware of your surroundings

    I feel more unsafe in
    LOS ANGELES
    NEW YORK CITY
    LAS VEGAS
    CHICAGO
    etc etc etc just to name a few

  12. A
    Anonymous says:

    Me and My boyfriend who is White are thinking about going to zapopan Jalisco do they pay extra attention to white Caucasion?

    1. M
      Missing Mexico says:

      I am a white Canadian woman who spent quite a bit of time living in Mexico. I visited Zapopan twice. No one looked at me twice, I didn’t feel that I stood out at all. I walked alone at night to the store, and didn’t feel unsafe. Although I don’t recommend walking alone at night any where. As for your husband I am sure he will be just fine. Always use common sense!

  13. Anything can happen to anyone anywhere

    I haven’t been, but hope to go to Guadalajara one day. I live for a few months of the year in zihuatanejo with my Mexican fiancé. Then work in the US to pay for Mexico. I love it there and I want to be there all the time!!! I want to travel to numerous cities all over Mexico. I love CDMX!! Just stay in Roma Norte and you can be out at night,safely,too. Guanajuato was gorgeous and is my pick above SanMigel. Mexico is my second home. Love,love,love it!!!!!

  14. Safe for Mexicans

    I am from Mexico and every part feels safe

  15. Who guards the guards?….

    Stayed with friends in Guadalajara in the 80’s for six months. Only problem I had was with undercover police who beat up my friend who was Mexican and from there. His father was in Govt, and recognised them. Also, had my passport confiscated when went to get extension. Told to call back next day. Official said they had lost it, but I saw it on his desk and snatched it back. He disappeared for 5 mins and returned telling me to be out of the country by Monday or I would be arrested. Left on Sunday pm, fortunately, and later learned they had turned up in jeeps with guns looking for me Monday morning.
    Have a great holiday ! Heard it’s gotten a lot worse…….

  16. Any watch outs?

    I am about to visit for 8 days. Staying at Hotel Morales. Any watch outs? It’s my first trip there do not sure about specific areas

Rated 4.03 / 5 based on 30 user reviews.

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