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Mexico’s Safest Tourist Destination Is Also One Of Its Most Beautiful

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Amid the surge in demand for international travel, Mexico continues to soar in popularity, easily claiming the spot of the most-visited country among Americans.

Despite their love for Mexico, with its laid-back atmosphere, and incredible culture, one of the things that persists at the back of U.S. vacationers' minds is safety. After all, Mexico is repeatedly portrayed in the media as a place where crime occurs regularly and gang activity is rampant.

Colonial Architecture In Merida, Yucatan State In The Yucatan Peninsula Of Mexico, Latin America

Most of these claims are unfounded, as anyone who has been South of the border will know, but there are regions in Mexico where more caution is urged, like any other country, and where we could argue tourism should be discouraged.

Luckily, there are other parts where safety risks are minimal, and tourists are welcome to a stress-free holiday. That is the case with the lesser-known Yucatan, the safest state in Mexico and also one of its most beautiful:

The Safest State In Mexico

Not to be mistaken for the Yucatan Peninsula, of which it is a part of, the Yucatan state has been named the safest tourist destination in Mexico by U.S. authorities.

Merida Plaza In The Colonial City Of Merida, Mexico, Latin America

According to the State Department, it is one of only two Mexican states to be issued a Level 1 status.

If you're used to following State Department updates, you will know this is the best status a destination can strive for, as it essentially means safety levels are high and normal precautions apply.

Understanding U.S. Travel Advisories

For example, some of the world's safest and most stable countries have been added to the Level 1 listing, including Iceland and Finland, where crime and violence rates are remarkably low.

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Colonial Architecture Of Merida, Yucatan State, Mexico

Level 2 applies to countries or territories where criminal activity may take place or disruption can occur, be it protests or terrorism, and more caution is necessary, though travel is not discouraged as the risks are not significant.

At Level 3, however, travel should be ‘reconsidered', either due to security issues – read on Colombia – or major civil unrest, the case recently with Peru. Level 4 is reserved for no-go countries where threat to life is significant, such as countries at war (Russia and Ukraine) or unfriendly states like North Korea.

Colonial Architecture In Merida, Yucatan State, Mexico

Mexico is such a popular destination for Americans going on vacation that U.S. authorities issue individual warnings from each Mexican state or territory individually, so while the country is, on average, within Level 2, Yucatan is one of two of the safest states.

The only other state to be added to Level 1 is Campeche, also in the Yucatan Peninsula.

One Of The Most Beautiful Yet Lesser-Known Parts Of Mexico

Yucatan is located at the Northernmost tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, and it has a rich history pre-dating the arrival of the Spanish colonizers.

Traditional Street Market In Merida, Yucatan State, Mexico, Latin America

Like much of the wider Mayan World, the region held great importance within Mayan civilization as the location of several important city-states and smaller settlements.

The legendary Chichen Itza, once one of the most powerful Mayan cities and now a world-renowned archaeological site, can be found within the state's boundaries.

After the European conquest, Yucatan underwent severe changes, especially concerning its cultural and social development. The Spaniards brought their colonial architecture, razed Mayan villages to the ground, and either decimated or forced the native populace to assimilate.

Mexican Flag Flying Atop A Historic Fort In Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

As a result of colonization, Yucatan's culture is now an amalgamation of Mayan and Spanish influences. It is a territory where you're as likely to find European-style towns that wouldn't look out of place in Spain and far older Mayan temples shrouded in myth.

An Exciting State Capital

The capital is Merida, a typical colonial gem built atop the ashes of the ruined Mayan Ti'ho in the early 16th century.

A big, vibrant city, Merida has been described in a United Nations report as the best place to live in Mexico based on social markers such as the human development index and urban safety and as a regional center for the culture, having been named North America's Capital of Culture twice.

Yellow Colonial Arch In Merida, A Colonial Era City In The Yucatan Peninsula Of Mexico

Its historical center is said to be the third largest in the American continent, and the landmark Cathedral of Merida, built from disassembled stones of Ti'ho, is one of the oldest in the Americas, completed in 1598.

Merida has enough attractions to fill up an entire article or week-long itinerary, but you will want to head out of the city to experience the true magic of Yucatan.

Unspoiled Beaches And Nature

Straddling the Gulf of Mexico, the state is jam-packed with gorgeous beach zones, such as Progreso, an up-and-coming resort town with a more ‘chill' vibe compared to Tulum in Quintana Roo.

woman at beach in Mexico

The beaches here are spotless, and the sea is crystal-clear, and if you're lucky enough, you might be able to spot a flamboyance of flamingos as they feed on the shallow waters.

El Cuyo is another popular swimming spot within short driving distance of Merida and a small fishing village yet to be tarnished by overdevelopment, hosting a select number of luxury boutique hotels and guest stays.

Further inland, there are numerous cenotes and other Mayan-era underground complexes awaiting discovery, as well as historical ruins that will keep the History buff in you appeased.

cenote in mexico
Mayan Ruins And Colonial Treasures

Other than, of course, Chichen Itza, there are incredible, not-as-popular ruins to be visited in Ek' Balam, in the Northern Mayan lowlands, and Uxmal, famous for its unique, rounded Pyramid of the Magician.

The state is also the proud home of four Magical Towns, as defined by Mexican Tourism authorities. These are the ‘Yellow City' of Izamal, Valladolid, Sisal, and Mani.

The title is awarded to destinations known to have contributed massively to Mexican nationhood through their culture or historical relevance, reasserting Yucatan's prestige as a cultural hotspot.

Young Female Tourist In Izamal, The Yellow City Of Yucatan, Mexico

Taking these amazing attributes into account, it's not hard to see why it's considered one of the prettiest areas of Mexico.

How To Get To Yucatan

Merida has an international airport hosting flights operating from the following airlines departing from these U.S. hubs:

  • American Airlines

Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami

  • United Airlines


Traveler at Train Station

Soon enough, visitors to the Yucatan Peninsula will enjoy nonstop train links to Merida, and other tourist destinations in the Yucatan State from Cancun and Cancun Airport, upon the launch of the highly-anticipated Maya Train this December.

The new tourist train, Mexico's largest infrastructure project in years, is set to improve connectivity across the Yucatan Peninsula and its three states and bring tourists closer to smaller destinations where international flights are not as frequent.

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

Terrence Crick

Thursday 20th of July 2023

Exactly he should stay home.


Tuesday 11th of July 2023

Safe? Yes. Pretty? Yes. Scammers and solicitors? Yes yes yes. I went in January of this year and hated it. Sure I could walk around unharmed but constantly stopped to buy something or taken to shops where they remove price tags and charge you what they want. I will never ever return to Merida and it left such a bad taste in my mouth that I’ve written off Mexico for good. There are far more prettier places to visit in this world.


Sunday 27th of August 2023

@A.May, As a resident of Mérida for 7 years I find your comments udder b.s. I have not seen one homeless person or a beggar. Even during the scamdemic. Hope you fell better soon. Saludos....Pancho

Vic G

Monday 17th of July 2023


You, my negative friend just has bad luck. I've been there a bunch of times, and have not experienced anything like that. Do us a favor and stay in your cave and don't go anywhere.

Michelle Johnson

Monday 10th of July 2023

Agree. My brother and sister-in-law moved to Merida this year. I visited in March. It's great! Felt very safe and lots to see and do.


Sunday 9th of July 2023

I could not agree more. We have been going to Merida for a good number of years, a large group of expats from around the world, an English library, a fantastic symphony and city that loves its music. If you want colonial stay down town, if you want big box stores, go to the suburbs. You can wander around late at night downtown and never get the feeling you would get in LA, NYC, or other big US Cities if you did the same thing. Excellent dental and medical care. Several Universities in the City. At one time the city was one of the wealthiest in the world due to the vast amounts of henequen fiber produced in the area and used to make rope for sailing ships back in the day. A week is hardly enough time to even start to explore the area. You do not need a car in the city as taxi, uber and the local bus service will get you anywhere you want to go. Suggest going late November to early April. By May it is getting hot and humid, but it is still an enjoyable place to go. Numerous supermercados, or you can go to the big market downtown where you can buy just about anything. You will be amazed. Most big supermarkets make their own tortillas and you can get them hot of the machine. If you want US style shopping go to Costco or Walmart. The people are polite and welcoming and traffic is rational. Driving it is closer to the US style than some place like Italy. Strongly suggest you find a place in the Centro District which is the old colonial part of the city. Many of the homes have been fixed up, some haven't, it is part of the cities charm. If you stay down town you can walk to most of the places you might want to see as the city is very flat. If you are not staying at a hotel, the addresses can take some getting used to. Basically if you have the Spanish you tell your Uber or Taxi driver to go to Calle x between Calle Y and Calle Z. Be sure to add Centro, since the same street numbers may exist elsewhere in the city. Most Uber drivers speak enough English to get you where you want to go.


Wednesday 12th of July 2023

@PWebber, Merida was wonderful in 1986 even without the library in English, ect. Enjoy this wonderful ciy, thanks for the update.