Mexico is by far my favorite place on the planet, and I’m partial to recommending other solo female travelers to come here to explore. Something I love about Mexico is that every city, town, and region has their own special thing that makes it unique. From the mole in Oaxaca to the mind blowing Mayan ruins of the Yucatán, each place worth a visit.
Here’s my complete guide for making your solo trip to Mexico the best it can be:
The Best Destinations in Mexico for Solo Female Travelers:
1. Guanajuato City, Guanajuato
Guanajuato is a sprawling city that has a bit of everything. Because of its history as having once been one of the most wealthy places in Mexico, the streets are full of immaculately built buildings and some of the best architecture in the country. If it weren’t for the obvious Mexican elements, you might think you’ve been transported across the ocean to Spain!
While it is a larger city, there are a few smaller areas where travellers tend to congregate, making it easier than you’d expect to meet others. Sticking to the city center is always a great way to assure that you’ll cross paths with other travellers.
Guanajuato City itself is known for being pretty safe, but make sure to do your research on any places you plan to visit outside the city. The state of Guanajuato doesn’t have a great reputation for being safe, so if you have any doubts about any day trips it might be a good idea to go with a tour group.
2. Holbox, Quintana Roo
This little island in the Caribbean is an absolute dream. I was enchanted the first time I went and I’ve been dying to go back ever since. Holbox is a great place for solo female travelers because it’s small, quiet, and social all at the same time. There are no cars on the island and most people get around by golf cart, which makes it a great place for first-time travelers because it is super accessible and easy to get around.
You’re likely to see the same faces over and over again in Holbox, and that can be really fun if you’re looking to meet new people. The laid back vibe of the island also lends itself to easily striking up a conversation with a stranger and feeling at ease.
3. Mérida, Yucatán
We’ve written about Mérida before because it’s one of the most magical places in Mexico and safe, too. I lived there for 3 months while in college and I found it incredibly difficult to leave. It’s an enchanting city with a ton of things to do and a friendly atmosphere.
I love Mérida’s cosmopolitan vibe. There are many foreigners living there who own restaurants and shops around town. You can find a French bakery right next to a Mexican taquería next to an Irish pub, literally!
Mérida has been named Mexico’s safest city and the second safest city in all of North America. This is especially reassuring if you’re a solo female traveler. In my experience the street harassment in Mérida is significantly less frequent than in other places in Mexico and even in the States.
4. San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas
Oh, San Cristóbal. I have found that this city is the best in Mexico if you want to heal yourself and explore your spirituality. Located up in the mountains, San Cris is surrounded by nature. Whether you want to get out and hike in the woods, swim in a lake, or take a weekend trip to the beach, San Cris has it all.
I especially recommend San Cris for solo female travellers for a few reasons. First of all, it is easy (and fun!) to meet people here. It’s a very social city without the intense party atmosphere as other places. You can find chill breweries, coffee shops, and wineries to hang out and meet people at without the crazy spring break vibe you might find on the beach.
Another thing I love about San Cristóbal is how safe I feel here. Street harassment happens everywhere, but I have experienced far less than in other places. The overall relaxed feeling here is comforting and definitely makes me feel safer, which is something I hear from other women here all the time.
5. Oaxaca de Juarez, Oaxaca
Oaxaca’s biggest city is your perfect hub for Mexican culture, gastronomy, and natural wonders. Because of its location within Mexico, it’s also a great base if you want to go explore other areas. For example, if you want to trek to the beach at Puerto Escondido, you can easily get there from the city.
My absolute favorite thing about Oaxaca are the markets. I have spent days exploring each one, meandering and eating my way through. Besides that, there are a ton of things to do in Oaxaca and plenty of them can be done on a tour. These tours can be a great way to meet people if you want to make friends.
Oaxaca is pretty safe, but I don’t recommend walking anywhere at night alone. Even taxi drivers have creeped me out there, so keep that in mind if there are any nighttime activities you want to do. I found that I never was catcalled or harassed by a taxi driver when I had a man with me. A sad but true moment, for sure.
6. San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato
One of my favorite things about San Miguel de Allende is how warm and friendly the people are there. I once had a friend (a fellow solo female traveller) tell me that an elderly gentleman randomly gave her a bouquet of flowers on the street, just because!
For real though, San Miguel is incredibly enchanting and beautiful. The colonial architecture will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time and the gastronomy is incredible. It’s a very walkable city as well, so you can easily get around if you stay close to the city center.
If you’re big into art like me, San Miguel is heaven. It has been a hub for artists for literal centuries and you can find art galleries around just about every corner it seems. Being a relatively peaceful city, it’s a great place to ground and get into your own creativity, too!
How to Get Around:
- Cheap Airlines: The two best budget airlines here in Mexico are Aeroméxico and JetBlue, both of which fly to almost every airport in the country. I have found them both to be very reliable and a great bargain
- Buses: Most people travel from city to city by bus here in Mexico. There are many options for buses, but I suggest sticking to the official buses if you can, like ADO. ADO is very popular and is the cleanest and most reliable company that I have found.
- Colectivos: Also known as combis, these vans are great for short distances within a city or from one town to another. I don’t recommend taking them longer distances because they tend to get quite crowded and there is a higher risk that you could get pickpocketed. It’s helpful to have some command of Spanish if you plan to take these.
- Taxis: Taxis in Mexico are cheap and reliable. If you meet a nice taxi driver in your destination, see if you can get his number to call him directly next time you need a lift somewhere. If he can’t take you, he will send somebody trustworthy who can. Uber is also available in many major cities.
- Car Rentals: Sometimes a road trip is the best way to see parts of Mexico. I especially love rentals in Quintana Roo and Baja California. Be forewarned that they will never honor the price you book for online, so it’s best to show up and haggle in person.
- Rideshare: Blablacar has become more and more popular in Mexico, especially in urban areas in and around Mexico City.
- Walk: Especially with cities in Mexico, it is quite easy to get from place to place by walking. Due to the colonial architecture and city planning, things tend to be very close together in the city centers.
How to Meet Others While Traveling Solo in Mexico:
You might be surprised at how many people are traveling through Mexico solo. There are especially a lot of travelers from Central and South America who are making their way through Latin America by bike (yes, it’s a thing!), van, and hitchhiking.
- Don’t be afraid to make the first move and say “hello” to fellow travelers. Sometimes you have to be the one to break the ice, especially if others are already traveling in a group and have their pals with them. In my experience, this has led to making some wonderful friends that I still keep in contact with.
- Say “yes” to hanging out with strangers. I know this might sound a little intimidating to some, but you never know what adventure waits on the other side of a “yes.” Always trust your gut about the vibe someone gives you and, of course, if that person gives you a weird vibe it’s always best to say no. If not, I say go for it!
- Stay in a hostel for the first few days in a new place. I’m someone who really likes her own space when I travel. However, I have found that booking a hostel for the first couple nights in a new place has helped me meet people and socialize before eventually finding a private room or Airbnb that I can have to myself.
- Hit the apps (with caution!). Using apps like Tinder and Bumble can be a good way to meet people, even platonically. It’s always important to make it very clear what you’re looking for and be honest if you really just want to make friends. In my experience, it’s been totally chill and a really easy way to meet locals and travelers.
One way to meet other travelers and have an awesome experience while solo traveling in Mexico is to volunteer. Hostels are always looking for volunteers to help out in exchange for a place to stay. My favorite platform is Worldpackers.com (get $10 off your membership with discount code “BMTM”!) which has plenty of options in Mexico. From working on a farm to helping out in an eco village to the night shift at hostels, there’s something for everyone.
If you’re curious about what Worldpackers is all about, check out my post about my experience as a Worldpacker in the Mayan jungle.
How to Stay Safe While Traveling Solo in Mexico:
I have heard a lot of people (especially women) express grave concern about my solo traveling in Mexico, and I get it. What we see in the news about Mexico doesn’t really paint a pretty picture and for that reason a lot of people are afraid to travel alone here. My experience has been overwhelmingly positive, so I am happy to share some tips on how to stay safe:
- Always research where you want to go before you book anything. I don’t recommend simply jumping on a bus and seeing where it takes you here in Mexico. Some areas are definitely more risky than others to travel to, so try to avoid even bussing through those places if you can.
- Do not hitchhike. Obviously, if you’re an experienced hitchhiker and you feel fine about doing it in Mexico, go for it. I have hitchhiked all over Southern Africa but I would never give it a go here or even in my own country of the USA. It’s not common at all to hitchhike in Mexico, making it really unpredictable and potentially dangerous.
- Don’t walk home alone at night anywhere.
- Avoid drinking too much or being under the influence of any drugs with people you don’t know well. Even if it’s just going out with some people you met at your hostel, always make sure you have a plan for getting home and doing so with a clear head.
- Always lock up your valuables when staying at hostels. Even if the people staying there seem awesome and trustworthy, it never hurts to keep your things safe.
- DO bring a copy of your passport with you at all times, but DON’T bring the original copy out and about with you. Keep it locked up in a safe place.
- There is a chance you could get pulled off a bus by immigration officials while en route to your destination. Stay calm, don’t panic, and hand over your passport when they ask. They might hassle you about where you’re going and how long you’re staying. If that happens, just answer confidently and don’t budge. Don’t bribe them if they give you a hard time, either.
- Get travel insurance! Here’s an honest review on World Nomads, SafetyWings, and Faye Travel Insurance.
What to Pack:
Especially if you’re going on a longer journey through Mexico and hitting up various places, make sure to bring layers. The weather here is drastically different on the beach than it is in the mountains, so I advise being prepared for both extremes.
- Comfy walking shoes that go with everything. The list of shoes I own while living in Mexico is short: black work boots (Dr. Martens), black leather sandals (Sorel), running shoes, and huaraches (leather flats). These serve me well and I never have to worry about matching because they all go with everything.
- Light layered clothing that you feel comfortable in. I recommend traveling with as little clothing as possible in Mexico because of how easy it is to get your laundry done. It’s very cheap and accessible to do laundry here, so I survive off mostly jeans, jean shorts, cotton tops, and cardigans.
- Beach ready items such as your favorite swimsuit, coverup, and something to lay on. I don’t recommend a big bulky beach towel, so go for a lighter fabric throw if you can find one.
- Chargers and adapters from the U.S. work in Mexico, but make sure you have a backup because sometimes the ones they sell here can fry the cord if you’re not careful.
Where to Find the Best Food:
Mexico has the best food in the world. Okay, I said it, and I really do believe it, too! Each and every regional dish is bursting with flavors and I am always excited to try something new when I go to a new place. I mean, what did I even eat before I came to Mexico? Does it even matter? The food here really is THAT good.
- The Market. I would recommend going to the market a thousand times over going to any fancy restaurant in Mexico. In most cities, you can find a whole section of food stalls within the larger markets. I usually gravitate towards the ones with older women cooking and I haven’t been disappointed yet. If you’re not sure what to order, just ask what they recommend! I can often be caught asking: “¿Qué desayunaste tú?” (What did you eat for breakfast?).
- Where there is the longest line. Yep, I’m telling you to find that line and go stand in it. Here in Mexico, the places with the long lines of hungry people are usually where the best food is. Take a look at what everyone is ordering and make your choice from there. Pro-tip: ask when the place opens up and try to get there when it first opens to avoid the lines. In Mexico, mealtimes are much later than in the States, so your lunchtime might actually be the best time to go.
- Ask an abuelita. If you’re not sure where to get the best mole or cochinita, ask a local elderly woman. She won’t steer you wrong, I promise! Next time you’re browsing through the textiles at a market stall, ask the clerk where she recommends you go for a bite to eat.
Long-term Living and Working Remotely in Mexico:
There’s a reason why so many people migrated to Mexico to work remotely during the pandemic. The cost of living here is a fraction of what it is in the U.S. and most of Europe, the weather is incredible, and the people are lovely. If you’re considering spending a longer amount of time in Mexico, here are a few bits of info and tips:
- Visas: If you are from the U.S. or Canada, the typical tourist visa is for 180 days and you can get it easily at your point of entry. If you want to stay longer than that, it’s completely legal to leave Mexico, cross into another country, and come back after a couple days. Many expats do this regularly and there is little risk involved.
- Housing: Rent is very cheap in most of Mexico, but you will have to know where to look for long term housing as Airbnbs can get unnecessarily expensive for long stays (I’m talking many months). I recommend booking an Airbnb for the first week or so, and from there looking for a long-term option once you get here. You can find places on Facebook Marketplace, by asking other expats, or by simply walking around the area you’d like to live and looking for “for rent” signs. These will say “casa en renta” and with be either furnished (amueblada) or unfurnished (no amueblada).
- Working: If you want to work (legally) in Mexico for a Mexican business or enterprise, it is going to be tough. Wages are quite low here, even if you have great qualifications. You also would need the entity to sponsor your work visa, which can be a long and costly process, both for you and for them. However, if you’d like to teach English in Mexico, there are plenty of options for schools that sponsor visas and might even offer housing.
Regardless of how long you plan to stay, Mexico is an incredible country that might surprise you with how easy it is to get around. I’ve found that Mexico’s infrastructure allows for smooth and safe travel from place to place, a far cry from other places I’ve been.
Traveling alone as a woman in Mexico is totally doable and might become your favorite place to visit! Ready to book your flight yet?!
About the author: Emily is a Mexico travel enthusiast based in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. She is a part-time freelance writer for BMTM and part-time doula.