Newsreels and popular media might have you wondering, how safe is NYC for tourists? But we’re here to put your mind at ease, off the bat. The truth is that New York City is one of the safest big cities in the world. Visitors are constantly under the protection of the city’s friendly and vigilant police force. Having said this, that doesn’t mean that tourists in this city, like any other, don’t need to be cautious to stay safe. If you’re visiting New York and you’re concerned about safety, do some research to prepare yourself for your trip. Familiarizing yourself with the city’s hazards and being pragmatic and being prepared is all you need to ensure peace of mind.
How Safe is NYC for Tourists?
A Few Hazards To Be Aware Of
The crime rate is relatively low in New York City. When crimes occur they usually don’t take place in tourist-heavy areas. For example, most sightseers are unlikely to visit Harlem, the Bronx, or other boroughs where crimes are most likely to occur. That being said, there are a few things a tourist in New York City should be wary of. First off, it’s never a good idea to go through Central Park at night. While Central Park is an idyllic tourist attraction during the day, it is technically supposed to be closed late at night and in the early hours of the morning. The vast majority of cases of crime and violence in the park occur at night. It may seem tempting to take a stroll in Central Park after dark, but it’s safer to wait for the sun to come up. Generally speaking, you want to stay away from areas of the city when they are empty and deserted. Many commercial areas of the city like the Financial District tend to become deserted after business hours. The fewer people there are in an area make it less safe for a visitor. It’s especially important to be vigilant on the subway in New York and avoid taking the train late at night if possible. If you are riding the subway, try to stay in cars where there are many people rather than choosing a vacant car. Being in an empty train car isn’t a safe option for tourists. Especially when you may need to ask someone for directions. Probably the biggest threat in New York is pickpocketing. Protect yourself by wearing a wallet on the inside of your clothing and stay away from panhandlers.
Tips for Staying Safe in NYC
- Try to look like a local – When you’re dressing for sightseeing, try not to make yourself look overtly like a tourist. If there’s a thief or pickpocket around, they’re going to target those who seem unfamiliar with their surroundings. Don’t openly wander around with your head buried in a map – familiarize yourself with NYC’s grid system and you soon won’t need a map.
- Don’t showcase valuable possessions – One of the most important things you need to avoid is pickpockets. Always make sure that your valuables are hidden. Be discreet when you’re using your smartphone or a digital camera. Showcasing any valuable possessions can make you a prime target for a mugging.
- Travel in groups when you’re unfamiliar with an area- If you’re not familiar with the city and you’re vacationing in a group, try not to go off by yourself. Being alone and obviously from out of the area could possibly make you a target if you have the misfortune of finding yourself around the wrong people.
- Research destinations before you go – the more research you do, the better able you’ll be to find what you’re looking for.
- Don’t be afraid to ask police officers for help – During your stay in New York City, you’re probably going to see many of the ubiquitous NYPD cars and officers. You can expect New York City police officers to be very friendly and helpful when it comes to providing directions and addressing any concerns you have about safety.
- Take extra precaution in touristy places like Times Square and never leave your valuables unattended (do not put your purse on the floor or hang it off the back of your chair while dining).
Remember, ‘how safe is NYC for tourists’ doesn’t matter if you disregard all precautions, so just because NYC is considered one of the safest cities in the world, as a tourist in a busy, unfamiliar area, you still need to be careful.
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