With so many police TV shows taking place in the Big Apple, you are likely asking yourself ahead of your trip, “Is New York City safe?”
We are here to reassure you that NYC is safe, provided you follow some rules along with your common sense.
This post covers important information on NYC safety and 7 tips on how to stay safe in New York City based on local input.
- How Dangerous Is New York?
- Is New York City Safe To Visit?
- 7 Tips For Staying Safe
- Which Neighborhoods Are Safe?
- Things To Do In NYC
- Where to Stay in NYC
Is New York City Dangerous For Visitors?
If you are thinking about coming to NYC, but are wondering “Is New York dangerous?”, the answer is a qualified no.
Like most large cities around the world, crime exists in New York City.
But most serious or violent crimes occur between people who know each other, and usually in neighborhoods that tourists don’t go to.
Having said that, petty thefts like pickpocketing happen in NYC.
If you educate yourself about how to be safe in NYC, it’s unlikely that you will have any problems.
And remember, you could also join other travelers on one of our pay-what-you-wish group walking tours.
Is New York City Safe To Visit?
Yes, NYC is safe to visit. We say this based on our guides’ and blog writers’ first-hand knowledge.
We also have lots of input from hundreds of other New Yorkers.
Keep in mind that crime rates vary by neighborhood and your itinerary most likely won't include traveling to neighborhoods that are off the beaten track, so you should be quite safe in New York City.
That's not to say that you should walk around Times Square with your purse open or your wallet or cell phone in your back pocket!
Crime can happen anywhere in NYC - to visitors and locals alike.
Know the lay of the land before you go somewhere, and always pay attention to what’s going on around you. Don’t leave your common sense at home!
7 Safety Tips To Stay Safe In NYC
1. Try to blend in with the locals
There’s nothing wrong with being a tourist.
New Yorkers love tourists, so much so, that you can always ask someone for help with directions or if you need any other kinds of assistance.
However, if you have your head buried in a map, you practically have the word “tourist” written on your back and may be a target for petty theft.
Spend a few minutes reading up on the neighborhood you are visiting so you won’t be caught off guard.
Look like you know where you’re going. Chances are someone may come up to you and ask YOU for directions!
2. Don’t hesitate to ask for help
New York has a large police force and there is a police presence, especially in crowded touristy neighborhoods and outside big venues after a concert or sports event.
If you have a question or safety concern, ask a police officer.
If you don’t see one immediately, you can ask a local or even head into a store and ask the counterperson.
Also, many subway stations in popular neighborhoods have small police stations inside.
3. Keep valuables tucked away
Keep your backpacks and pocketbooks closed when you are not getting something from them. Don’t casually handle your valuables like wallets or expensive jewelry.
Do not flash your phone around more than needed, especially at night. Phones are an easy grab for a pickpocket.
Also, chain-snatching is not uncommon in NYC, especially on the subways. Again, just use your common sense and keep your eyes on your bags.
4. Don’t wander into dark, unpopulated areas at night
Stick to streets that are well-lit and fairly populated.
Even during the day, if you find yourself in a nearly empty neighborhood that looks run down, you shouldn’t linger.
5. Pay extra attention on the subway
You should have no hesitation riding the subway, provided you follow these safety tips.
First, always make sure your valuables are out of sight and your bags are closed. Don’t keep your wallet or phone in your back pocket.
Second, be aware of who is around you in a crowded subway car. The subway is most crowded during rush hours (8 am to 10 am and again from 5 pm to 7 pm).
Even when the subway is not crowded, don't let your guard down and leave your backpack or bag open with valuables in plain sight.
Avoid riding the subway late at night, up until 10 pm/11 pm you should be ok.
If you do take the subway at night, try to ride in the conductor’s car which is located in the middle of the train.
To learn the ins and outs of taking the subway, check out our guide on navigating the subway.
6. Taking a taxi in New York City Is Safe
Yellow taxis are very regulated by the city and are safe to take. Taxi drivers for the most part are very friendly.
It’s best not to advertise that you are tourists since it is possible - though rare- that a driver might take a longer route than necessary so that the meter runs longer and they earn a higher fare.
7. Airports and safety
Just a few tips when you arrive at any of the city’s three airports JFK, LaGuardia, or Newark.
Don’t leave your bags and suitcases unattended, even if you head into the restrooms. If a stranger offers to carry your bags, say no.
Which Neighborhoods Of New York City Are Safe For Tourists?
The tourist areas you will likely want to visit in Manhattan are safe, though the above rules apply anywhere in NYC.
Note that even popular neighborhoods can be drastically different between day and night.
See our post about Manhattan neighborhoods for an overview of parts of Manhattan that you might end up visiting or even staying in.
If you take one of our pay-what-you-like walking tours, you will be able to see the highlights of these neighborhoods with a guide who knows where it is safe to go and where it is not.
Midtown Manhattan is safe, especially during the day. It includes several neighborhoods, some safer than others, depending on the time of day or night.
Its borders are the Hudson River on the west, the East River on the east, 14th Street on the South and 59th Street on the north.
The closer you get to the river, on either side, the more residential it is, and there isn't much to do unless you have a specific destination like a theater or a restaurant in mind.
It’s best to not wander around late at night, especially on the west side of Midtown Manhattan past 9th Avenue, as you won't see much and it is not very populated at night.
See all the highlights of Midtown Manhattan on one of our many pay-what-you-like walking tours.
Times Square is a lively and fairly busy area both day and night. It is also a magnet for pickpockets and other petty thieves who blend into the crowded streets.
Always be aware of your surroundings and keep your valuables tucked away and out of reach.
Both areas are fairly safe during the day, especially the High Line Park as it will be crowded with tourists and locals.
The High Line is safe during official park hours.
Union Square, Gramercy Park and the Flatiron District
These neighborhoods are all safe during the day, but at night Gramercy Park and the Flatiron District quiet down.
Stick to the avenues and avoid dark, quiet residential streets.
Lower Manhattan encompasses many neighborhoods that both tourists and locals love.
Other than Midtown, this is an area you will likely be spending some time exploring.
For most of these neighborhoods, the same safety etiquette for Midtown applies, with a few exceptions.
During the day the Financial District is very safe. It is heavily populated with business people and tourists.
Still, keep valuables out of sight and your eyes on your purses and back pockets.
At night, when offices are closed, some parts of the neighborhood area can be desolate so best to avoid the area unless you have a specific destination.
The Financial District also includes the neighborhoods of the Southstreet Seaport, Battery Park City and TriBeCa which are safe during the day, but quieter and less populated very late at night as they are residential.
The Village is also quite safe during the day and night.
Though crime rates in Greenwich Village have seen an uptick since 2020, the majority of crimes are burglary and theft such as shoplifting or apartment break-ins.
As a visitor, you don't need to worry about those types of crimes.
During the day, the East Village is fairly safe, though you probably shouldn't go farther east than Tompkins Square Park which can be sketchy sometimes.
After dark, pay attention to your surroundings and follow all the safety tips above in this post.
Chinatown, Little Italy and SoHo
These neighborhoods are very popular with tourists both day and night.
This is a mixed blessing. While densely populated areas in NYC are safe for the most part, petty thieves love tourist neighborhoods that are crowded.
During the day, you should be fine walking down the small streets of these neighborhoods.
In the evenings, especially in Chinatown, stick to the main streets. Read more about these neighborhoods here.
Generally, this neighborhood in NYC is safe by day. At night, it is best to stay on streets that have restaurants and bars.
We have a post on staying safe in the Lower East side.
Central Park is safe, provided you don’t stray too far off the main paths, and even then you won't typically encounter any issues. Central Park at night is a different story.
For tips about exploring Central park and tips to stay safe, read our post on “Is Central Park Safe?”
For decades, tourists - and even some locals think Harlem is dangerous. The answer is not as simple as a yes or no. Read our post, “Is Harlem Safe?” for a fuller answer.
Upper West Side
The Upper West Side is bordered by Central Park on the east and the Hudson River on the west, 59th Street on the south and 110th Street on the north.
This part of Manhattan is safe, though not as much late at night. Be careful in Riverside Park and don’t spend time there after dark.
Upper East Side
This part of Manhattan is safe during the day. Its borders are 5th Avenue to the East River, between 59th Street and 96th Street.
There is a busy nightlife but If you are there for some reason late at night, avoid the side streets as they are quiet, residential and not very populated.
Brooklyn is a very large borough and there are many neighborhoods.
Some Brooklyn areas have the highest crime rates in NYC, but these neighborhoods are not destinations of interest to tourists.
We offer several pay-what-you-like walking tours of Brooklyn you might like to join.
Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge is pretty safe during the day as tourists and locals cross the bridge all year round.
Don’t cross the bridge too late at night, up until 11 pm it should be fine.
Read our guide to walking the Brooklyn Bridge for other tips.
The stunning neighborhood is very safe during the day, but at night it is very quiet as the area is almost exclusively residential so be on alert when walking around after dark.
During the day DUMBO is safe to visit, but at night fewer people are out as it is mostly a residential building with a few streets of shops.
Stick to well-lit streets and have a map of sights with you. See our post on things to do in DUMBO for guidance on what to see there.
During the day Williamsburg is safe if you stick to its main streets. At night, don’t stray from its few main streets or wander into areas that are not lit well or are desolate.
Our post on things to do in Williamsburg will give you a lay of the land.