We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The Tripadvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Mexico city or Rio de Janeiro?

1 post
Mexico city or Rio de Janeiro?

I'm interested in visiting one of these two cities this year, but I'm having trouble deciding which. I love history, art, food, and culture, and in these respects it does seem as if Mexico City is ideal. But Rio does look incredibly beautiful, and I wouldn't mind sitting on Ipanema while sipping a cocktail. There is also the jungle nearby Rio, which sounds nice to explore. On the other hand, Mexico City has Teotehuacan nearby. Both cities have a bit of a reputation for danger, although I've heard mixed things about which is safer. The homicide rate is certainly lower in Mexico City, but many people seem to feel Rio is safer.

11 replies to this topic
Mexico City, Mexico
Level Contributor
1,715 posts
61 reviews
260 helpful votes
1. Re: Mexico city or Rio de Janeiro?

You should take common sense precautions in Mexico City, as in any big city. But in spite of all the bad press that Mexico gets, I do not think that it is a dangerous city for visitors. I cannot speak about the current situation in Rio, but decades ago when I visited, we were constantly warned by locals to be cautious. (I never had any problems though.) I enjoyed Rio, but I do not think it can even begin to compare with Mexico City in terms of "history, art, food and culture"... all the things you love.

2. Re: Mexico city or Rio de Janeiro?

Tripadvisor staff removed this post at the original author's request.

What are forum guidelines? Edited: 01 April 2024, 22:04
Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
2,101 posts
40 reviews
5 helpful votes
3. Re: Mexico city or Rio de Janeiro?

David G: I'm familiar with both CDMX and Rio de Janeiro. You don't say where you would be traveling from, to either of the destinations you ask about. For many travelers, the cost of airfare and the time it takes to get to a destination are key factors.

For residents of the USA, as one example, Mexico is the most popular foreign travel destination - largely due to reasonable (usually) airfare and a typically short travel time. For me, traveling to Rio means oftentimes paying an airfare double what it costs me to go to CDMX with a travel time about double as well. I intended to re-visit Rio this winter, but the cost of doing so was more than I wanted to pay. I’ll be back in CDMX and elsewhere in Mexico next month.

Both CDMX and Rio offer abundant lodging choices in all price ranges, and both offer good cuisines. Rio's seafood choices are better than what one finds in CDMX, but that's due primarily to the differing locations. Rio has a greater bay / waterfront and "WOW!" factor for me, similar how I often felt when I was in Acapulco.

Instead of beaches, CDMX offers architectural gems in Centro Historico, an astonishingly large number of museums and excellent national and international cuisines. I think the Mexican culture on display / experienced in CDMX is more 'front and center' than the Brazilian culture is in Rio. Although, those of us in / from the USA tend to have a greater familiarity with Mexico and Mexicans ... because there's so much interaction between the peoples of the two countries.

Bottom line: Generally speaking, I think the risk to personal safety is greater in Rio de Janeiro than in CDMX. But I wouldn’t say one destination is better than the other – it’s an apples to oranges comparison.

Personal safety is an important factor to consider, no matter our destinations. Though I’ve had no problems during 6 or more visits to Rio, I know others who’ve been robbed / hurt; it’s an issue widely discussed on many of the travel forums and when I’m there someone local is always urging me to be cautious.

I’ve been robbed / mugged walking on the street or crossing a pedestrian bridge, my apartment has been robbed in CDMX – in the span of 30+ years either visiting or living in the city. It’s been a long time since anything negative happened to me – and I’m one who travels deep into the ‘bowels’ of the city which can, at times, be risky behavior. As I’ve gotten older, know the city better, I take fewer risks by avoiding some areas at certain times of the day – but these are not areas a tourist, particularly foreign tourist will likely find.

The greatest challenge for those of us unfamiliar with a country / culture different than our own is we don’t know what we don’t know.

Edit: For some of us, particularly from the USA, Brazil is instituting new tourist visa requirements starting mid-April 2024. Keep that in mind.

Edited: 22 February 2024, 05:32
r c
Portland, Oregon
Level Contributor
26,654 posts
2 reviews
3 helpful votes
4. Re: Mexico city or Rio de Janeiro?


heres how i see your question.

your doctor needs to remove a leg for you to live. Pick one.

to me, it seems you need to vet your sources on travel. I dont need to know where you get your info from, but you should.

And if you are serious about travel then, doing 1 or the other isnt a big deal. Pick one and then do the other one on your next trip, if you make it that far. chances are you have more than 2 places on your llst and from my experience, once you do 1 trip, the world will open up as your oyster. And if you think you have a problem from choosing between 2, just wait for your list grow.

After my 1st solo trip way back in 2012, i decided to change the way i see and look at things. some sayings i came up with....

> I look at travel as WHEN not IF. WHEN i will go to Rio, and WHEN i will go to CDMX, when i will go to the many other places, not IF i will go here or there. So if you are again, serious about travel your question isnt necessary, because you will do both eventually again, if you are serious about travel.

> I also say that "travel is a do over". I say this since i dont have the time & money to do/see/experience everything on every trip.

You say you want......"....I love history, art, food, and culture...."

to me, this is like asking for air. Sorry. Keep in mind the USA is the baby country of the WORLD ! Its sad you dont have a location in your profile. Since im from the West coast its farily new ish for the USA. When i went to the East coast, there were signs on the little towns "established in 1700s" or so. Then when i went to Eruope, they were similar signs "established in 1600" or so...again ,the USA is the baby country.

Food, is again, like air. It will depend on what you seek/want.

Art? Again, it will depend on what you want.

since you are going to where people live, breath, eat, drink, sleep and work and so forth, you will find that.

"...Both cities have a bit of a reputation for danger, although I've heard mixed things about which is safer. The homicide rate is certainly lower in Mexico City, but many people seem to feel Rio is safer...."

again, vet those sources. Where i come from, we have alot of shootings. Maybe where you live there is the same?

here are the 3 rule of thumbs i live and travel by. Yours and others can agree/disagree...or add or subtract....and not in any order.

> Pay attention to my surroundings.

> use common sense.

> listen to my gut.

im a 62 y/o solo male traveler. been doing 1 month trips more or less every September since 2013. Started off in Europe and switched to S.America to challenge myself again and to get out of my comfort zone - again. i started off reading travel books and figuring out the questions i had on trains and subways. Once those were done after that, travel was easier. I dont speak spanish, portuguese, french, germany, czec, or anything else. but i get by and have been able to get my point across or ask for help or directions.

good luck

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
301 posts
136 reviews
88 helpful votes
5. Re: Mexico city or Rio de Janeiro?

We visited Rio several years ago. It was dangerous when we were there. We were warned to be cautious even during day time.

We went during the Rio Carnival, which was amazing. The Sambadrome parade was an unforgettable experience that ran from 9pm to 5am. Copacabana is a very beautiful beach, with lots of street parties during the carnival. The downside is that the hotel prices were very expensive, especially around the Copacabana and Ipanema areas.

I would say Mexico City is a lot safer area, (at least around the Historic Center area where we stayed). There's a lot of history in Mexico City.

Having been to both, I would do Rio Carnival first, and Mexico City next.

Houston, Texas
Destination Expert
for Mexico City, Oaxaca, Puebla
Level Contributor
2,099 posts
80 reviews
30 helpful votes
6. Re: Mexico city or Rio de Janeiro?

Rio de Janeiro

Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
2,101 posts
40 reviews
5 helpful votes
7. Re: Mexico city or Rio de Janeiro?

Albert F: Personal safety concerns (mostly thefts) are always heightened at Carnival in Rio - due to the influx of tourists and the wall-to-wall crowds in many areas. The situation in the Copacabana neighborhood at New Year's is similar. There have been times in the past when tourists have been beaten / robbed waiting for a tram up to Santa Teresa.

The TA Rio de Janeiro forum is a pretty good place to get information due to participation of knowledgeable locals. However, there are times on that forum when locals react negatively when someone asks the safety question.

Another consideration: speaking / understanding Brazilian Portuguese. I've never mastered that and the inability to communicate effectively can become problematic. For those of us from the USA, even if someone doesn't effectively communicate in Spanish, there's a familiarity with many words and if one stays to the most frequented destinations they can get by okay.

Montreal, Canada
Level Contributor
22 posts
26 reviews
15 helpful votes
8. Re: Mexico city or Rio de Janeiro?

Hi David.

I was in Rio and it wasn’t safe. This was long ago but I am told it hasn’t changed. Unlike Mexico City where the safe neighborhoods are bunched together, Rio has shankytowns all around on top so anyone can descend. I was stabbed near the cathedral because that day was a holiday and the police were on the beach, the cathedral was close to a police station. It is a different kind of dangerous and Mexico City has come a long way, you can walk in nice neighborhoods and take pictures on your phone, but even in nice neighborhoods in Rio you wouldn’t be safe flashing anything.

My dream is to go back to Rio, despite the experience. It was the most memorable place I visited. Just not yet!

Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
2,101 posts
40 reviews
5 helpful votes
9. Re: Mexico city or Rio de Janeiro?

#8: "Unlike Mexico City where the safe neighborhoods are bunched together, "

What you've written above is a misconception; not accurate.

As for comparisons between the two cities: apples to oranges, I'll agree. First-time and/or infrequent visitors to Rio are likely to face security concerns different than if they were in CDMX.

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
2,462 posts
45 reviews
41 helpful votes
10. Re: Mexico city or Rio de Janeiro?

I think it's more accurate to say that in Mexico City, some of the safer neighborhoods are in close proximity to others. And "safe" is very subjective.

For example, I think the following areas are generally considered safe; Roma is adjacent to Condesa, which is adjacent to Juarez, which is adjacent to Zona Rosa and Reforma.

That said, even the safer neighborhoods can have surprises, and some are adjacent to less safe neighborhoods, for example Roma is across a major road from Doctores.

Edited: 04 March 2024, 04:43
Reply to: Mexico city or Rio de Janeiro?
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted
© 2024 Tripadvisor LLC All rights reserved.

This is the version of our website addressed to speakers of English in New Zealand. If you are a resident of another country or region, please select the appropriate version of Tripadvisor for your country or region in the drop-down menu.