Baltimore does not have the best reputation when it comes to safety. Thanks to the HBO series "The Wire," people who have never visited Baltimore tend to think residents bide their time dodging bullets and the city often ranks highly on various lists enumerating the most dangerous cities in the U.S. Unfortunately, the city's high rates of crime, poverty, confirm some of the grimmer images of Baltimore, but these are not consistent across every neighborhood.
There are plenty of reasons to love Baltimore. It has excellent restaurants, diverse neighborhoods, fun museums, fantastic art, and bright minds. Several of the city's projects, including the Inner Harbor, have been lauded as shining examples of redevelopment. And despite all of the city's problems, many dedicated people are working hard to change Baltimore's story.
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Is Baltimore Dangerous?
In Baltimore, you can visit the popular Inner Harbor area without much worry. Police regularly patrol this area and other neighborhoods that tourists frequent, like Little Italy, Fells Point, Federal Hill, and Mount Vernon. Although the crime rates in Baltimore should not be downplayed, average travelers should not be too concerned. Most crimes—especially drug and gang-related activity—occur in isolated areas of the city that tourists have very little reason to visit like West Baltimore.
In general, the biggest annoyance for visitors in well-trodden areas of the city is by and large people asking for money. Most will leave you alone after you give them some change or do nothing. If someone follows or heckles you, it is best to ignore the person and be on your way. Most likely, they will give up without confrontation.
Is Baltimore Safe for Solo Travelers?
Baltimore can be a good city for solo travelers that stick to the revitalized parts of town, but tourists, alone or in a group, should generally avoid walking around late at night. At night, you are more likely to be a victim of mugging. During the day, you should be wary of pickpockets. Pay attention to your belongings and keep them firmly by your side while walking. You should never leave valuables, like laptops or cell phones, unattended or out in the open.
Is Baltimore Safe for Female Travelers?
In addition to all the general precautions, female travelers should be prepared to experience some catcalling. Street harassment is illegal in Baltimore, but it can still happen from time to time. Female travelers should stick to the highly-trafficked tourist areas during the daytime, avoid going out at night, and take a taxi or ride-share if they need to get across town.
Safety Tips for LGBTQ+ Travelers
Baltimore's LGBTQ+ community has a long history in the city with drag culture dating back to the 1930s. The city is home to historic gay villages like Mount Vernon and there is an established nightlife scene with pubs and dance clubs. Maryland is a conservative state, but it ranks highly for tolerance on the Spartacus Gay Travel Index, earning extra points for its anti-discrimination laws. Homophobic encounters are not unheard of within Baltimore in recent years, transphobic attacks have garnered national attention.
Safety Tips for BIPOC Travelers
Baltimore has the fifth largest population of African Americans of any city in the U.S. and the community has played a large part in defining the culture of the city. BIPOC travelers should be aware that like many cities across the U.S., Baltimore's African American population struggles with unfair discrimination from law enforcement. Racially-motivated hate crimes are not something the typical tourist has to worry about, but BIPOC tourists can take extra precautions by staying in the city's main areas and not walking around late at night.
Safety Tips for Travelers
Although Baltimore has some rough areas, many parts of the city are perfectly safe. However, travelers should know what to expect to stay vigilant.
- Be aware of your environment and understand where you are going and how to get there. If you get lost or find yourself in a sticky situation, act like you know what you're doing until you can get your bearings.
- Don't flash money or valuables like jewelry and cell phones. So long as you exercise the normal precautions, you would in any other city, you shouldn't need to worry.
- If you have a car, never leave anything in sight to reduce the chance of robbery.
- Take extra precaution when out at night and consider taking using a cab to get around instead of walking or public transportation. Avoid walking alone if you can.