Is It Safe in New York City?

Use common sense and keep to well-populated areas of NYC

Crowds of people crossing street on zebra crossing in New York, USA
Alexander Spatari / Getty Images

Despite having a population of more than 8 million people, New York City consistently ranks in the top 10 safest large cities (defined as those with more than 500,000 residents) in the United States . It's generally safe for travelers, which is why is sees more than 65 million visitors per year. However, crime happens—as with any major city—and tourists should take the necessary precautions to avoid being targeted by criminal activity.

Swindlers and thieves are skilled at identifying out-of-towners and folks that may seem disoriented or confused, so make a plan before you head out for the day and explore with an air of confidence. Tourists may be preyed upon by pickpockets in populated places like subway stations and airports, so keep your valuables on your person, and preferably not in your back pocket.

Is New York City Dangerous?

New York City is not generally considered to be a dangerous place to visit or to live, but there are certain neighborhoods that are safer than others. The City of New York's interactive crime map shows the most crime—including burglaries, assaults, rapes, murders, and robberies reported to local police departments—concentrated in the areas of Washington Heights and Hell's Kitchen in Manhattan; Hunts Point and Tremont in The Bronx; Clinton Hill and East New York in Brooklyn; and Hillside in Queens. On the map, you can filter the results by date range and crime type.

Tourists should focus their travels on low-crime areas such as Manhattan's Upper East Side and Upper West Side, and Brooklyn's Williamsburg. Even so, it would be impossible to travel to a section of New York City that is entirely crime-free. During the daytime, almost all areas of Manhattan are safe for walking—even Harlem and Alphabet City, though you may consider avoiding these neighborhoods after dark. Times Square is a great place to visit at night and it stays populated until after midnight when theater-goers head home.

One of the most common crimes that target tourists, besides pickpocketing, is taxi scams. You can avoid getting ripped off by unauthorized taxi drivers by only getting into marked cabs, identifiable in Manhattan as the yellow ones with ID numbers. Have a ballpark idea of the cost of your trip before you hop in (you can do this simply by talking to a hotel receptionist). Fares vary, but taxis in New York City generally start with a $2.50 charge, then cost $2.50 per mile (so long as the vehicle is going at least 12 miles per hour). Be cautious of Ubers and Lyfts.

Is New York City Safe for Solo Travelers?

New York City is generally safe for solo travel. During rush hour times, you'll see countless people walking alone on the sidewalks and riding solo on the subway just to get to and from work. Stick to the populated areas and limit your ventures out to daylight hours and you should be fine.

If you're concerned about your safety as a solo traveler, consider staying within a short walk to a subway station to limit your solo walking time. The neighborhoods of West Village, East Village, and Upper West Side are all safe bets in Manhattan. If you stay in a hostel, you may even meet some fellow solo travelers with whom to explore.

Safety Tips for LGBTQ+ Travelers

New York City is certainly one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world. New York City's annual Pride March typically attracts about 2 million people and there are a reported 270,000 self-identifying gay and bisexual individuals living in the city , which is more than Los Angeles and San Francisco combined. Needless to say, the birthplace of the famous Stonewall uprising, a 1969 LGBTQ+ rights movement, welcomes travelers of all genders and sexual orientations with open arms.

Gay City News' event calendar is a great way to find LGBTQ+-centered happenings in New York City, many of which are likely to take place in Greenwich Village or Hell's Kitchen these days. If you happen to experience homophobia, whether verbally or by means of physical violence, during your visit, you can report it to the City of New York by filling out an online form.

Safety Tips for BIPOC Travelers

According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, New York City residents are about 43 percent White, 29 percent Hispanic or Latino, 24 percent Black or African American, and 14 percent Asian. The Big Apple is truly a melting pot of races, cultures, and ethnicities, but that doesn't mean it's immune to racism. In a 2020 City Commission on Human Rights report , New York residents described racism as "inescapable" in the city; however, visiting on a tourism basis is generally safe. BIPOC travelers should follow the standard recommendations against visiting high-crime areas and maintain awareness of their surroundings. If you fall victim to an act of racism, you should report the incident directly to the City Commission on Human Rights.

Watch Now: Planning Your Visit to New York City

Safety Tips for Travelers

Traveling in New York City is generally safe, but there are certain precautions every visitor should take to avoid hairy situations.

  • Avoid drawing attention to yourself as a tourist: Don't stand on street corners looking at maps and do your best to walk confidently, quickly, and with purpose like a true New Yorker.
  • In crowded subways, keep your wallet in your front pocket, rather than the rear, and keep your purse closed and held in front of you or on the side.
  • Don't flaunt jewelry, cameras, your smartphone, or cash in public. If you need to organize your wallet, duck into a store.
  • Use caution when using ATMs and don't carry too much cash around with you—most places accept credit cards and there are ATMs on most corners.
  • If you need to use navigation on your smartphone, stop in a store or otherwise private place to look at it instead of walking with your phone out in plain sight.
  • Many business districts are desolate at night—keep this in mind when deciding whether to walk or take a cab.
  • If taking the subway late at night, stand near the sign that says, "during off-hours trains stop here," or in view of the MetroCard booth. Ride in cars that contain other people, preferably in the conductor's car.
  • Pickpockets and swindlers often work in teams, where one person will cause a commotion, either by falling or dropping something, while the other person pickpockets unsuspecting folks who try to help or stop to look. Crowded street performances can provide pickpockets a similar opportunity—so while it's fine to watch the musicians or artists, be aware of your surroundings and where your wallet and valuables are. Sidewalk card and shell games are most often scams as well—participation almost guarantees you'll be giving your money away.
  • Should you find yourself the victim of a crime, contact the New York City Police Department at 311 or 911 in the case of an emergency. Calls to 311 can be made for free from a payphone and are answered 24 hours a day by a live operator.
Article Sources
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  1. The Economist Intelligence Unit. "Safe Cities Index 2017."

  2. City of New York. NYC Crime Map. 2020.

  3. Gallup. "San Francisco Metro Area Ranks Highest in LGBT Percentage." March 20, 2015

  4. U.S. Census Bureau. "New York City Population Estimates." July 1, 2019.

  5. New York City Commission on Human Rights. "Black New Yorkers on their experiences with anti-Black racism." 2020.