Is New York safe to visit? A comprehensive safety guide
New York is a diverse, global city described as the world’s most important cultural and economic capital. It’s a densely populated city in the US with an estimated population of over 8.3 million, distributed over around 302.6 square miles. It welcomes over 52 million visitors each year, who come here to discover its five distinct boroughs, visit world-renowned parks, and indulge in different flavors at its elegant restaurants.
While tourists love to visit New York City no matter the season, it becomes busier in summer, from June to August, and during winter, between November and December. Summer provides an ideal mix of indoor and outdoor activities, while winter offers excellent holiday events. With plenty of things to do and fun entertainment, New York lives up to its name as the City that Never Sleeps.
No matter when you plan to explore the Big Apple, your welfare and the safety of your belongings should be your utmost priority. That’s why it’s essential to follow safety tips and store your bags safely in New York City.
Is New York City safe to visit right now?
Put your mind at ease because New York is a safe city to visit in the United States. It receives a very high overall score of 77.8 on the Safe Cities Index, along with Barcelona, making it one of the safest of all the leading urban cities worldwide.
As with any big city, New York isn’t perfect and has its problems. Violent crimes aren’t necessarily a significant issue for tourists to be worried about, and when they do occur, they often don’t take place in touristy areas. The vast majority of crime and violence cases happen after dark. So though it may be tempting to stroll through the iconic Central Park at night, it’s best to wait until the sun comes up.
Your biggest threat would likely be petty theft and pickpocketing. Pay attention to what is going on around you and have some level of caution wherever you go. Although you can’t take your safety lightly in New York City, that’s not a reason to be scared and skip your trip to this spectacular destination.
Note that there’s no such thing as a perfect guide and that safety is unique to everyone. While this guide will feature ways to protect yourself from potential threats, the answer to the question "Is New York City Safe" is still up to you.
Whether you’re visiting New York for the first time or a seasoned traveler, don’t forget to research and familiarize yourself with the city’s hazards. Before starting your journey, check out your government’s official travel guidelines for the country or city you plan to visit.
Top petty crimes and scams in New York affecting tourists
Knowing the potential dangers that await you in New York will help maintain your safety while exploring the city. Here’s a short list of petty crimes and scams you might encounter and ways to protect yourself against them.
Pickpockets typically work as a team, and mobile phones are their favorite targets. Crowded streets, popular tourist areas, markets, and public transport are the highest risk areas for this petty crime. Use your common sense, and always keep an eye out for any suspicious distractions.
Don’t put any essential items in your back pocket. If you don’t want to invest in anti-theft bags, leave important documents like passports inside your backpack chains or at home. Another alternative is to store them in a Bounce storage locker, so you can access them quickly when needed. Also, avoid carrying a large amount of cash—only bring the bare minimum as you explore the city. If you have a purse, it should be a crossbody bag.
Scammers can be hard to spot; they may be in front of you without your knowledge. They often target people who look lost or are distracted on the streets of NYC. Sometimes, they appear as legit taxi drivers or scam you on the subway by offering a MetroCard with a certain number of swipes for a cheap rate.
Before getting on a cab from New York airport, look for the area designated for taxi drivers. These taxis are licensed and charge the right rate. To avoid getting overcharged by a taxi driver, always know the quickest way to your destination and the usual rate. Don’t interact with strangers in subway stations; everyone is busy with their business, so there's no reason for anyone to interact with you. Only buy MetroCards from designated machines and tellers.
Mugging or robbery can undoubtedly ruin your entire trip. Unfortunately, it is a common form of violent crime worldwide, and New York City isn’t an exception. There is a medium risk of getting mugged in the city, but you can lower it substantially by being prepared and taking simple precautions.
"Is Central Park safe," you might ask. Again, it’s a bad idea to stroll through Central Park after dark. Stay away from dark alleys, less-traveled spots, and dangerous parts of town at night. Avoid flashing valuables in public or displaying wealth. While wandering New York City and sightseeing, keep your valuables concealed and only take your camera, wallet, or phone when you need it. Be aware of those around you, especially in a crowded subway car. You’ll also want to look like you know where you’re going, so avoid appearing lost.
Is New York safe to travel alone
Yes, New York is one of the safest cities for all travelers, including families, women, and solo travelers. You can walk around during the day, see famous sights, and discover hidden gems without experiencing a threat to your safety.
Whether you’re looking to meet new people during your trip or want to spend time alone, New York is a safe place for solo female travelers. With a ranking of 32nd on the Bounce Women Travel Safety Index, it’s a city for solitary people, and it’s not uncommon to see people eating alone at restaurants, having a solo date at a gallery and museum, or sitting at a bar alone.
However, you still need to remain vigilant and follow travel safety tips. Keep your mobile phone charged in case of emergencies, and don’t be afraid to ask for help from police officers if you feel there's a threat to your personal safety or feel uncomfortable. Don’t walk alone at night and travel in groups in an unfamiliar area.
Safest neighborhoods in New York
The city of New York is home to millions of people from all walks of life, so you wouldn’t exactly know what kind of neighbors you’ll have or who you’ll meet. But before anything else, you’ll want to ensure you stay in a safe area throughout your visit. To save you the headache of worrying about your and your loved ones’ safety in NYC, we’ve highlighted some of the best neighborhoods you can consider and a few places to avoid.
Great Kills and Tottenville
These areas in the borough of Staten Island top the list of the safest neighborhoods for property and violent crimes in New York City based on the Crime & Safety Report. They are quiet, family-oriented neighborhoods where you can go for a walk independently, with a pet, or with family in peace. There are also no crime waves, and violent crimes are very unlikely.
Battery Park City
Battery Park City is a 92-acre residential area located at the southwestern tip of Manhattan along the scenic Hudson River. It’s at the heart of the city’s busiest borough, so don’t expect to have a quiet suburban life in the area. Though it has a highly-dense population, its crime rate is low, and people enjoy abundant outdoor space, nearly 36 acres of parks and open areas, and playgrounds.
Petty crimes invariably happen where most tourists congregate, so it’s not surprising that Midtown Manhattan is considered one of the most dangerous neighborhoods, especially at night. It is home to some of the city’s top attractions, including Times Square and the Empire State Building, so you can’t really skip this area during your trip. Watch out for scammers and pickpockets, and make sure you don’t stand out when visiting these tourist destinations. While the Upper East Side is pretty safe during the day, you'd want to stay away from dangerous streets or walking along at night.
Is New York public transportation safe?
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is the public transportation system in NYC, and subways and buses are on nearly every corner of New York. The city’s public transportation is generally safe. However, with the crime in the transit system increasing by over 40 percent, people are becoming more concerned, and it appears to be more dangerous than it actually is.
Petty crimes are what bring the numbers up, and they’re more common than violent crimes. It often involves pickpocketing or stealing someone’s wallet or phone from their seat after they doze off. So be alert and try not to fall asleep in a cab, bus, or train.
Important emergency numbers in New York
Suppose you feel your safety is compromised or need help from proper authorities. In that case, there are emergency numbers you call in New York City anytime. Save them in your phone, including your embassy number, to stay safe.
- US country code: +1
- New York area code: 212
- Police or Fire Emergencies: 911
- NYC Information: 311
- NYPD General Inquiries: 646-610-5000
- NYC victim hotline number: 866-689-4357
- Crime Stoppers: 800-577-TIPS
Keeping yourself safe in New York City
Knowledge is power, so keep yourself informed on essential safety travel tips and be sure to follow them. Remember that how safe New York City is would not matter if you ignore all safety precautions. Therefore, stay alert and use your common sense at all times. Use our tips on How to Get Around New York if you need additional help navigating the city.
Keeping yourself safe in New York is all up to you, so be mindful of your surroundings and everyone around you. Whether you’re here for work or leisure, you can take advantage of our guide on Where to Stay in New York: The Ultimate Guide to help you pick the best area with top accommodations.