You may be wondering, “Is NYC safe?” It’s a fair question. I’m a New York City local here to assure you that generally speaking, New York City is a safe place to visit.
It’s always important to take precautions when visiting a new place and New York City is no different. I’ve created this comprehensive guide with helpful tips and advice to ease any safety concerns you may have.
With these tips, you should feel more comfortable and prepared to explore the best places in New York City.
Table of Contents
- Things to Know About Safety in New York City
- 5 Safety Tips for New York City
- FAQs About Safety in New York City
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Is New York City Safe?
New York City is generally a safe destination for travelers who take precautions against petty crime like pickpocketing, especially in crowded areas. It is also advised to be mindful of heavy traffic at pedestrian crossings and be aware of your purse or wallet in busy places like Times Square.
New York City is the largest and most visited city in the United States. It’s totally valid to worry and wonder about safety here. Know that although the city’s crime rate may seem high, crime doesn’t usually affect areas that tourists spend time in. This includes areas for attractions like museums, shows, and more.
The risk of violent crime is low in the Big Apple but it’s important to stay alert and use common sense in crowded streets, dark alleys, and when riding the subway. Visitors can reduce their risk of petty theft and crime by sightseeing during the day and staying in tourist areas with well-lit streets.
Things to Know About Safety in New York City
Safe Neighborhoods and Areas in New York City
New York City is a huge city with five boroughs that range in safety, depending on where you go. The best places to stay are mainly in Manhattan, but there are lots of other great New York City neighborhoods.
Manhattan – Midtown, Tribeca, the Financial District, Greenwich Village, Murray Hill, Kips Bay, and Chelsea are good places to stay in Manhattan. The Upper East Side and Upper West Side are also good. Lower Manhattan is safe but much louder because of the nightlife.
Brooklyn – The best neighborhoods in Brooklyn include Dumbo, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Park Slope, and Brooklyn Heights.
Queens – I recommend Long Island City, Astoria, and Forest Hills if you’re staying in Queens.
Areas with the highest violent crime rates are in the Bronx, such as Hunts Point, Mott Haven, Highbridge, and Tremont. I’d avoid these neighborhoods as a precaution. However, Riverdale, Woodlawn, and Pelham Bay are hidden gems in the Bronx and very safe!
Trendy neighborhoods like East Harlem, Bushwick, and Midtown Manhattan carry a medium risk. However, these places are relatively safe to visit during the day. Just keep expensive jewelry at home and be extra cautious with your belongings.
Crime in New York City
New York City is a safe place to travel considering how big it is. Recent NYPD stats show crime is down in 2023. Like many big cities, New York had an increase in violent crimes during the Covid-19 pandemic. Generally speaking, crime doesn’t usually affect tourist areas.
With an estimated population of 1.63 million, your chance of being a victim of violent crime is 1 in 192 in Manhattan.
The most common crime affecting tourists is pickpocketing. Avoid deserted streets, public transportation, and quieter places like Central Park and Washington Square Park late at night to stay safe. Police officers are located all across the city to ease your safety concerns.
Common Scams in New York City
Be mindful of common scams when visiting New York City. The most common scam is pickpocketing and theft by petty thieves. Always have your valuable possessions hidden in tourist attractions and crowded subway cars.
💿 Free CD Scam – A common scam in places like Times Square and the West Village in Lower Manhattan is people trying to sell their CDs. A person will approach you with what seems like a free CD. It’s not. They will continue to harass you to pay, and there are often multiple people involved.
🚕 Fake Taxi Scam – Only take rides with certified taxi drivers. Fake Uber drivers and taxi scammers are commonplace, especially at New York’s major airports. Many tourists have paid double or triple for rides in unmetered cars. I would suggest avoiding black cabs and sticking to yellow and green cabs only.
🎟️ Ticket Scams – Only purchase tickets from official websites. Especially if you’re buying tickets for the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building. Anyone or anything that says “Authorized Ticket Agent” is usually a scam. Be mindful of people attempting to charge you for free attractions like the Staten Island Ferry as well. Act confident and try to look like a local to avoid standing out.
👉 Pro Tip: The New York Pass is a great website for finding attractions at discounted prices.
Hazardous Weather and Natural Disasters in New York City
New York City is generally safe to visit, but the weather can be unpredictable depending on what time of year you visit. There are a few seasonal safety tips to consider when planning your trip.
☔ Thunderstorms – New York City has seen a recent increase in severe thunderstorms. These storms often flood the subways and lead to delays and closures. Be extra cautious near the Hudson River and Downtown Brooklyn during flash floods. Thunderstorms are frequent during the summer and fall.
☀️ Heat and Humidity – The spring and summer bring heat and humidity. Take plenty of breaks to avoid dehydration, and stay near tree-lined streets for shade. You can expect to do a lot of walking. Note that the humidity can be dangerous for people with respiratory or related health issues.
🌨️ Snow and Ice – The winter can bring snow and ice, so be sure to pack proper footwear and enough warm clothes if you visit during this time.
Is New York City Safe for Solo Female Travelers?
New York City is a safe city for solo female travelers and a ton of fun! Use common sense and be aware of your surroundings as you would in any major city. Be extra careful with your belongings when riding in a crowded subway car.
Never leave your drink unattended if you go out for nightlife. Although uncommon, drink spiking is not unheard of. Avoid empty subway cars with no passengers if you’re taking the subway late at night as a solo traveler. Stick to more popular neighborhoods and avoid the South Bronx and areas with fewer people.
Lastly, waterfront areas like the Hudson River in Chelsea Park become quiet and have fewer visitors at night. Solo travelers should stick to visiting these areas during the day, even though they are relatively safe.
Is Tap Water Safe to Drink in New York City?
The tap water in New York City is safe to drink. The tap water meets all federal and state standards. You may find the water tastes or smells like chlorine at times.
The amounts of chlorine used to treat the water supply are not harmful or hazardous to your health. You can purchase bottled water if you don’t like the taste, but tap water is very safe to drink.
5 Safety Tips for New York City
Tip #1 – Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Travel safety tips in New York City are similar to most large cities in the Western World. Use common sense in crowded areas and stay alert to avoid attention from petty thieves.
Locate a police officer for assistance if you feel uncomfortable. The NYPD police force is the largest in the country, so it shouldn’t be hard to find an officer in any of the five boroughs.
The vast majority of NYC is relatively safe to walk around during the day. However, certain areas of the Bronx and Brooklyn have higher crime rates and can put you at risk. Be extra mindful if you visit less touristy areas and only visit during daytime hours.
Tip #2 – Avoid Central Park Late at Night
A trip to the Big Apple would be incomplete without visiting Central Park, which is a safe destination during the day. The famous landmark offers tons of fun things to do and sits between the Upper East Side and Upper West Side neighborhoods.
Central Park is a favorite hangout spot for visitors and native New Yorkers for running, picnicking, and long walks. However, avoid going at night.
Central Park is closed between 1 am and 6 am, and it can be dangerous to visit during these hours. The least safe areas are in the central and northern parts.
Tip #3 – Stay in Touristy Neighborhoods
There is no shortage of great places to visit in New York City that are safe. Knowing the right places to go will help you stay safe, especially for solo travelers and families. Stick to safe neighborhoods in Manhattan. Brooklyn and Queens also offer safe places for tourists to stay.
Tip #4 – Pay Attention to Traffic
Even native New Yorkers are mindful of traffic when crossing the street in congested areas. The Big Apple is full of drivers, and accidents are unfortunately common at any given time.
The city has invested in creating more bike lanes that share the street with drivers. You can rent a Citi Bike in any of the five boroughs any time of the day. However, be extra careful when crossing a street with bike lanes. Food delivery drivers on mopeds also use the bike lanes.
Heavy traffic is a common occurrence. Stay safe by being alert when sightseeing, especially when taking photos in touristy areas. Watch for narrow bike lanes when taking photos if you’re walking on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Tip #5 – Use Public Transportation Smartly
New York City’s public transportation system is one of the largest in the world. It travels extensively throughout Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. Download an app like Citymapper to navigate the subway system. Google Maps is also helpful to get around.
Be careful when waiting for the train. Stand behind the yellow line and never get too close to the tracks. If you drop your phone or other belongings onto the tracks, contact an MTA employee for help. Don’t ever attempt to retrieve something yourself!
Using the subway is much more affordable than taking taxis and Uber rides. However, be cautious late at night when riding the train. If you’re in an area with higher crime rates, staying safe is worth paying the extra cost.
📚Related Reading: NYC On a Budget
FAQs About Safety in New York City
What are the safest areas to stay in New York City?
The safest areas to stay in New York City are Chelsea, the Financial District, the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side, Midtown Manhattan, Greenwich Village, and the West Village in Manhattan. Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo, Williamsburg, and Park Slope are the safest neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Riverdale and Pelham Bay are the safest neighborhoods in the Bronx.
Is New York City a safe place to visit?
New York City is a safe place to visit overall. More serious crimes are less likely to happen in touristy parts of the city. Use common sense while you’re out, be cautious at night, and keep personal belongings hidden in crowded areas to avoid pickpocketing.
Is NYC safe to walk at night?
Most areas in NYC are safe to walk around at night. Stick to touristy or busy areas that are well-lit with many people on the streets. Avoid the South Bronx and deeper parts of Brooklyn where crime is more common. Be mindful of the Hudson River or other areas with fewer tourists and lights. Avoid Central Park between 1 am and 6 am.
Is Times Square safe at night?
Times Square is safe to visit at night. The area is well-lit with many people around and police still patrol the area late at night. However, there is an increased chance of pickpocketing and petty crime later into the night.
I hope this guide helped answer the question: “Is NYC Safe?” Crime statistics don’t reflect the entire city and with these tips, you should feel more prepared and at ease. Be sure to read our guide on New York City travel tips for more helpful information.
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