Is London safe to visit? A comprehensive safety guide
London is an ageless city with endless stories and an unforgettable charm. It is the capital of England and home to many major landmarks that are known around the world. Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace are some of the places that attract people from all over the globe, and it is one of the most popular European cities to travel to.
Overall about 30 million people get to know London each year, making it the third most visited city in the whole world! Considering that London also has a population density of over 9.5 million it can get quite crowded, especially during the spring and summertime when tourism spikes. The winter months can be busy, too as locals and travelers enjoy the Christmas festivities and wonderful spirit.
When traveling in a big city or somewhere unfamiliar it is extra important to be safe and aware of your surroundings. It can also be harder to keep track of your belongings in a busy city, so make sure that your things are safe in a London luggage storage location while you're out enjoying the attractions. Bounce has several spots located all around town for your convenience, so drop your bags and go have fun.
Is London safe to visit right now?
Yes, most areas in London are safe to visit and the United Kingdom ranks with a Global Peace Index of 33. London has a similar or lower rate of crime than other popular European cities, and most of the incidents take place in rural areas. The government cautions to be on alert while traveling to the city and keep an eye out for suspicious behavior in places with big groups like sporting events, street markets, music venues, celebrations and political events.
As a tourist, the most common petty crime that you could experience is thievery in terms of pickpocketing, purse snatching and the like. You should also beware of mugging, although the chances of that happening around tourist attractions with crowds are very low.
Keep reading to learn about how to be safe in London, and remember that the safety of you and your items is your responsibility. The safety tips that we will mention may be familiar to people who have previous experience traveling. If you are new to the wanderlust life, be sure to use these points to your advantage.
Top petty crimes and scams in London affecting tourists
Even the safest cities experience some sort of crime and, as a major city, London is no different. Below are a few crimes to watch out for and some advice for staying safe in London.
Bag stealing and pickpocketing
This is the most common petty crime in London and should be taken seriously. The best way to protect yourself is by not bringing any unnecessary belongings with you, especially expensive valuables, and using a Bounce luggage locker is a great way to protect your items. Keep your wallet close and have an extra strong hold on your passport and mobile phone when you are using them, as some thieves might try to snatch them and run.
Mugging and assault may happen in some parts of the city, although the frequency decreases in highly populated areas. The best way to protect yourself from these dangers is to be mindful of your surroundings, not wear flashy clothing or expensive accessories, and not travel alone in rural areas.
Spiked drinks and food
As long as you're careful and use common sense, spiked drinks and food won't be a danger. However, it is still important to be aware of it so you are more careful. When you are out at a restaurant, club or bar you should never leave your drink unattended or in the care of a stranger, and do not accept drinks or food from new acquaintances. This includes snacks, gum and even cigarettes.
ATM and credit card fraud
If possible, it is wise to use cash when paying for things in London. ATM frauds are not too common but they do happen, and the risk is higher when you are using your credit card. To be safe, cover the keypad when you're entering your PIN and stick to using ATM machines that are inside buildings or banks. Cybercrimes can also occur, so be smart when connecting to public wi-fi networks. As a side note, be wary of fake tickets and scammers when buying entry to various attractions.
Is London safe to travel alone
As a top tourist destination and exciting city, many people will want to travel to London alone. Luckily it has a good safety rating, with a 26 on the Bounce Women Travel Safety Index. This trendy destination is a very safe city for cautious solo travelers, and even women traveling on their own should feel secure. However, the best way to make sure that you have a good vacation is to be careful and use common sense.
There are still some areas in the city that should be avoided, whether you are traveling alone or not. Be extra cautious when using public transit while traveling solo and at night. The bus station, train stations and underground tube stations have a higher risk of being dangerous for solo travelers, and you should also avoid walking around by yourself in the dark. It is best to stick to well lit main roads and highly populated areas since all the lights and people will discourage muggers from striking.
Safest neighborhoods in London
When you visit London, do some research before booking a hotel to decide which neighborhood is the best for you. Overall, anywhere in central London will be fine and West London has a good reputation as well. Below are some of the safest places to stay in this great city, as well as some areas where extra caution is wise.
Richmond Upon Thames
Located right by the River Thames, this delightful London neighborhood is not only beautiful but also a safe place to stay. It has the lowest reports of common crime than anywhere else in the city.
Harrow is a pretty borough ranked as the second safest London neighborhood, and it is rare that inhabitants in the area report non urgent crime occurring here.
You can feel safe while staying in Bexley as it is another one of the best neighborhoods in the city for safety. Consider staying here during your trip to experience its uniqueness.
As with all big cities, some neighborhoods in London are not as safe. Caution should be heightened when spending time in Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, and Camden. They are listed as experiencing more street crime than others, so always visit in a group.
Is London public transportation safe?
Sometimes violent crime can occur while using public transportation. For London travel, this often happens when using unlicensed taxis which is why you should always be street wise and never enter a suspicious vehicle. Real taxis will be clearly labeled, and the black cabs are safe to use.
Additionally, crimes like pickpocketing and scamming can occur on public transit and in stations like King's Cross. Thieves will take advantage of the busyness of the crowded places to get away with the crime unnoticed, and you'll be a bigger target if you are distracted or look like you don't know where you're going.
To be safe, avoid wearing headphones or looking at maps so you can be more aware of your surroundings and take the usual precautions when it comes to your belongings. This includes leaving valuables in a luggage locker, not carrying lots of money on you and keeping your passport in a secure pocket. Greater caution should be taken at night time, and if you run into trouble while using the public transit services you can contact Transport For London to report a crime.
Important emergency numbers in London
Like all major cities, London provides emergency services that can connect you to the local police station or other professionals that will help you. Write them down or keep them in your emergency contacts during your trip.
- Main emergency number (police, fire department, ambulance): 999 or 112
- Non urgent crime: 101
- Non emergency medical number: 111
For the main emergency numbers you can use 999 anywhere from within the city and 112 from anywhere around the world. You will be directed to the same call center, so both numbers ultimately lead to the same place. These numbers should be used when a real emergency is happening, and the number for non urgent crime is best used to report a previous incident. When using your phone in a foreign city remember to be aware of your embassy number.
Preparing for a safe London vacation
Brick Lane, Trafalgar Square, Notting Hill, and places in the West End like Covent Garden and Leicester Square; all of these spots are waiting for you to discover. This is a huge city and crime definitely exists, but as long as you are careful and follow these London safety tips then you are going to be fine.
The best way to ensure safety in London is to be prepared, so check out these other guides on How to Get Around London and Where to Stay in London: The Ultimate Guide. Once you know how to navigate London and its different areas you will be ready to explore this amazing city.