Is San Francisco safe to visit? A comprehensive safety guide
San Francisco, nicknamed the Golden Gate City, is a beautiful city located in Northern California. The city is vibrant and full of life, despite the fact that it was significantly damaged after a massive earthquake back in 1906. The city has since rebuilt to become a major financial, commercial and distribution hub, and it is also a great vacation destination.
Over 21 million people traveled to San Francisco in 2021, most of them here to spend time around the gorgeous San Francisco Bay area and to experience the city's diverse culture. On top of that, the city is home to over 800,000 citizens which puts it in the top five biggest metropolitan areas in the country. The most popular time of year for tourism is during the summer between June and September since it is the dry season and when the weather is most agreeable.
Anytime that you're visiting San Francisco, and especially during the busy season, you'll want to make sure that your belongings are safe. Stow them safely with luggage storage in San Francisco. The fantastic protection plan provided by Bounce is guaranteed and storage partners can store bags of any size.
Is San Francisco safe to visit right now?
The first step to being safe while traveling is to do some research about where you're going. Currently, the United States does not have any active travel advisories or restrictions, so as long as you practice regular security precautions you'll be fine. Before booking your trip and packing your bags you should check in with the guidelines that your own government sets for the country and city that you're traveling to.
According to the Global Peace Index, the US has a ranking of 122. San Francisco itself is fairly safe and has a safety index of 61 which is in the mid-high safety range, and the chances of you being a victim of violent crime are low.
The main things that you'll have to look out for are petty crimes, most notably pickpockets and, in some cases, muggings. You should also be aware that there is a moderate risk of natural disasters like earthquakes. There is no such thing as a flawless guide, but if you follow the safety tips that we introduce, along with using common sense, you'll be well prepared for a safe trip to San Francisco.
Top petty crimes and scams in San Francisco affecting tourists
Listed below are some of San Francisco's most common petty crimes and what you can do to protect yourself from them. Take notes, they'll come in handy.
Petty theft and pickpocketing
These are two of the most common issues for tourists traveling to a big city. In San Francisco pickpockets often strike in crowded environments like public transportation hubs, and it can also happen in areas with lots of tourists where thieves can get away with it in plain sight.
To protect yourself from being a victim we suggest carrying smaller purses and not leaving your smartphone or wallet in a back pocket that is easily accessible. If you're in a busy location you can also carry your bag in front of you where you can see it and, of course, never leave your bags unattended. A foolproof way of keeping your items from being stolen is by stowing them with Bounce.
In San Francisco, muggings do happen. The chances of you being a victim during the daytime or in crowded areas are low, but it is still important to learn how to protect yourself. Muggers will usually target individuals who have something valuable to steal, like an expensive watch, jewelry or electronic device. The best way to not make yourself a target is to leave your expensive accessories at home and to not frequent dangerous neighborhoods. If you're ever in this situation, prioritize your safety and do not resist the attacker.
Earthquakes are a common occurrence in San Francisco as it lies on top of three seismic faults, and you don't know when they are going to happen. You might spend months in the city without experiencing one, but you should be prepared just in case. If an earthquake strikes you should immediately drop what you're doing, take cover under a sturdy surface and hold on until the disaster ceases. The San Francisco Department of Building Inspection does not recommend going outside or near doorways or windows when there is a quake.
Is San Francisco safe to travel alone
If you don't have anyone to travel with, or you just like vacationing alone, San Francisco is a great place to go. The risk of violent crimes for solo travelers is low so you can feel safe in San Francisco, and it has so much to offer even for those who aren't traveling with a group. Our best advice for solo travelers is to be extra aware of your surroundings and to avoid certain neighborhoods that are less safe, which we will go over in a bit.
Even if you're a woman traveling alone, this city is a wonderful destination as the United States is ranked 32nd on the Bounce Women Travel Safety Index. If you do decide to enjoy the nightlife in Downtown San Francisco you just have to follow the same safety precautions as back home; never accept drinks from strangers, remain sober enough to be safe, and don't give out any sensitive information about yourself or where you're staying.
Safest neighborhoods in San Francisco
When you're looking at where to stay and planning your travel itinerary, it is a great idea to research the different San Francisco neighborhoods to find out which ones are safe and which ones aren't. Here are a few to not miss, as well as some that require awareness when there.
The Financial District is an urban playground with plenty of tech and finance industries, and there are great restaurants nearby, too. It is a safe place to go with a crime rate that is lower than the national average, so add it to your list of places to visit.
This neighborhood offers fantastic views thanks to its close proximity to the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean. Spend some time here admiring the landmarks, or take a trip to the nearby Ocean Beach.
As the LGBTQ+ hub of San Francisco, Bernal Heights offers a friendly and welcoming environment for everyone. This colorful area has fantastic architecture and some cool shops to check out.
The places listed above are perfectly safe to visit, but where do you need to be careful? We suggest staying away from Golden Gate Park at night as it is void of tourists in the evenings and has a large homeless population. Although the homeless people won't bother you it can still be a dangerous neighborhood due to the lack of lighting, plus it has a reputation for property crime and car break-ins.
We also advise caution in Western Addition, the Tenderloin District, Mission District near Valencia Street, or the area around South of Market street, especially at night, since they have higher crime rates.
Is San Francisco public transportation safe?
Car theft is not unheard of in San Fran which is why you should always keep your vehicle in safe parking garages since street parking is not always secure, or use the transit system to get around. San Francisco's safety in terms of public transportation depends on several factors, like where you are and the time of day. There are cable cars that can bring you between Powell Street near Union Square to 5th Street, and the cable car is usually busy at all times of the day.
In general, you shouldn't feel unsafe making your way around the touristy neighborhoods, but should still be cautious of what is happening around you. Remember, pickpockets often strike on the transit system, so keeping a firm hold on your bags is important.
As nighttime approaches, using public transit can become a bit more dangerous simply because fewer people will be around. Try to travel in groups or avoid the buses and trains at night altogether if you want to be extra safe, especially if the ridership is quiet.
Important emergency numbers in San Francisco
San Francisco is not a dangerous city, but if at any time you feel uncomfortable or need help there are some emergency numbers that you can call to get in contact with the local police presence. While you visit San Francisco you should keep these numbers handy in case you ever need them, and be aware of your embassy number.
- Police, Fire or Medical Emergency: 911
- Police Non-Emergency Number: 1-415-553-0123
- City Information and Services: 311
Staying safe in San Francisco
So, is San Francisco dangerous? Overall it is a safe city with a fascinating historical district, stunning green spaces and a lovely geography with steep hills. It does not have a high crime rate but certain neighborhoods do experience petty crimes like car thefts, property crimes and pickpocketing which is why you should be prepared, just in case.
Want to learn about how to move around the entire city? Read this guide on How to Get Around San Francisco. You'll find useful information on the best San Fran neighborhoods by reading Where to Stay in San Francisco: The Ultimate Guide.