Like most destinations, New York City has its good parts and bad parts. NYC is actually one of a few big cities around the world which are safe, but common sense is required for peace of mind.
As with all destinations, tourists should be naturally cautious, and familiarising yourself with possible hazards in New York City will ensure you’re well prepared for your visit.
So, is New York safe?
Tourist-heavy areas such as Manhattan are unlikely to have any crimes take place, and the crime rate in New York City is relatively low. Boroughs like Harlem, Queens and the Bronx are where crimes are most likely to occur, but tourists will rarely venture to them as the attractions are within the main city limits.
If you’re thinking of strolling through Central Park at night, don’t. Not only is it not safe to travel through any park at night, but this is when crimes are most likely to occur, with Central Park closing for the night and early hours of the morning. Visit this beautiful park during the day to capture it in its glory.
Commercial areas such as the Financial District will usually become deserted after business hours. When strolling through the city, just be aware of your surroundings and avoid areas where there are fewer people. It can be less safe for a visitor to be wandering around a deserted area, so you’ll want to stick to the beaten path or travel around during busier hours.
Is New York public transport safe?
It’s important to be alert and vigilant on the subway, and avoid taking the trains late at night. Pickpocketing is the biggest crime on New York’s subways, and if you’re riding the subway, pick one that has a few people already onboard rather than an empty car.
Protect yourself from pickpockets by having your wallet/purse and phone on the inside of your clothing, and stay away from panhandlers who may lurk around the entrance and exits of subway stations.
Travelling on the subway in NYC is like travelling on the tube in London, you’ll naturally be weary and cautious of those around you, so adopt the same attitude on the subway.
Tips for staying safe in New York
- Look like a local: when sightseeing, try not to dress too much like a tourist. If you’re walking around with your head in a map and your clothing stands out, it tells others that you’re not from the city, so pickpockets and thief’s can target those who are unfamiliar with their surroundings.
- Don’t put valuable possessions on show: always ensure your personal belongings are hidden and be discreet when using a smartphone or camera. When not in use, store them safely rather than walking around with them in your hands.
- Travel in groups: if you’re travelling with a group, stay with the group. Being alone can make you potentially vulnerable and a possible target by the wrong people. If you’re solo travelling, be aware of your surroundings and take precautions as necessary e.g. avoiding quiet places at night.