Is London Safe for Travel in 2020?

ViaHero
Updated December 11, 2019

Is London safe? The quick answer is yes—London is absolutely safe for travel! Here, we'll break down everything you need to know about staying safe in lovely London—from general info to advice to solo travelers, tips for avoiding common local scams, areas to avoid, and more.

For even more safety tips—and some insight on where to get the best full English breakfast—have a local plan your trip. Not only will they offer a local’s perspective on London, but they’ll suggest activities, restaurants, and more based on your interests and travel style. Don’t see London like a tourist when you can see it like a local! Learn more.

"Linelly helped us beyond anything we could've planned ourselves. Everything she suggested for us was spot-on, and I feel we got the best experience by following a local's guidance."
Kate, Recent Traveler
Kate, Recent Traveler

London is safer than many American cities

We'll cut to the chase—London is safe
Millennium Bridge | Free-Photos/Pixabay

For starters, the crime rate in London is much lower than it is in many big American cities, including New York. Plus, the violent crime rate in London is lower than it is in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, San Diego, Philadelphia, and many others. In fact, London is considered to be so safe that most of its police don’t even carry guns.

The US State Department gives the UK a Level 2 rating

The US State Department assigns the United Kingdom a Level 2 safety rating—the same as most of Europe. Feel safe in Paris? You should feel safe in London.

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Advice for solo travelers

London is a great city for solo travel

  • The tube makes travel easy: Riding the tube (London’s metro) is a safe and easy way to get around town—of course, it’s also a great city to walk or bike! 

  •  London has tons of awesome solo activities: The surplus of museums, shows, and awesome walking tours means solo travelers have plenty of choices when it comes to activities and events. Since most museums in London are free, you can spend as much time as you want at each exhibit—and even come back a second time—without deferring to someone else’s schedule. 

  • Pub culture makes eating alone less intimidating: Even if you feel uncomfortable eating alone at a restaurant, it’s super chill to grab a bite and a beer at one of London’s many incredible pubs. If pubs aren’t your scene, London also has plenty of restaurants with counter service—perfect for a solo traveler.

Female solo travelers love London too

London is safe—female solo travelers love it
Camden Lock | Clem Onojeghuo/Unsplash

London is an extremely safe place for women traveling alone, but it’s wise to take the same precautions as in any big city: keep an eye on your belongings, don’t accept drinks from strangers, and be aware of your surroundings, especially when walking at night. 

For the best safety advice, connect with a woman living in London. They’ll have tons of tips on how they keep safe—whether that means ignoring cat-callers (yes, it’s an issue in London—like in most big cities), avoiding the tube at night, or sticking to certain neighborhoods and bars.

Common scams in London

Like in any big city, London has its fair share of scammers. The most common scams visitors may come across are:

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Vendors selling fake tickets to shows, music venues, or popular attractions

To avoid this, you can ask a London local to help you find the best tickets—not only will they know the reputable sites and kiosks, but this can help remove a stressful item from your travel to-do list. 

Pickpockets 

It’s common sense, but be sure to keep an eye on your belongings at all times—especially when on the Tube, the bus, or anywhere like a busy train or bus station. Some of the worst stations in London for pickpockets include King’s Cross, Oxford Circus, and Victoria stations. 

Pro tip: London police are on the look-out for unattended baggage, so be sure you don’t leave your suitcase somewhere and walk away—you may cause an international incident.

Stay safe with these transportation tips 

London is safe, and has great public transit
London tube | MicheleMex/Pixabay

When it comes to London transportation, there are a couple of things to keep in mind: 

  • Uber exists, but it may not be the best option: After much legal wrangling, Uber has officially lost its license to operate in London. The ride-sharing app will still be available as both sides iron out the details, but locals tell us that the public transit in London is so good that you probably won't need it. If you do want to use an app to call a cab, they suggest ones using one like MyTaxi.  
  • Only use black cabs: If you are hailing a cab from the street, be sure to only use the official black taxi cabs. 
  • The tube does not run all night: Some, but not all tube lines run 24/7. Many stop running at midnight. Be sure to plan out your travel home so you aren’t stranded in a place you don’t know. And if you do take the tube at night, try to avoid empty cars.
  • Use apps like Citymapper to navigate like a pro: The London-based Citymapper app makes getting around any city easy. And it’s free to download! 

When it comes to transportation in London, benefit from local advice—work with one of our trip planners to figure out which transportation method is best for you. 

Enjoy tourist hubs; but they can be places to avoid

Is London safe? Yes, but certain tourist hubs have high crime rates
Big Ben and Parliament | Marcin Nowak/Unsplash

Like any big city, international city, London has some areas with high crime rates (here, though, that crime is almost completely petty theft). This is especially true in places that attract a lot of tourists—they also attract a lot of pickpockets. Generally safer during the day, be careful in these neighborhoods at night: 

  • Westminster: Although a popular place to visit—the borough contains top London attractions like Big Ben and Parliament—Westminster has a consistently high pickpocketing rate. This is due, in part, to how many tourists visit. We wouldn’t caution against visiting Westminster, but do be aware that it’s a hub for thieves. 
  • Camden: Camden likewise contains many tourist attractions that make it a popular target for pickpockets, like the Camden Markets
  • Lambeth: Lambeth is a big borough in south London with a high crime rate. It also contains some cool attractions—the London Eye, for example—which makes it a hotspot for thieves and pickpockets. It also includes several more residential areas that are less safe—but most tourists won’t travel that far south, anyway. 

  • Southwark: Southwark contains the Globe Theatre, the Tate Modern, and Borough Market—and has one of the higher crime rates in London. As another tourist hub, most of the crimes here also include pickpocketing and theft. Again—we wouldn’t advise against visiting, but be careful, especially at night.

Emergency numbers

Although you probably won’t need emergency numbers, it’s always good to have them on hand. If you’re in an emergency, call 999 or 112: both will connect you to ambulance, fire, and police services. You call also call 101 for a non-urgent crime. 

And if you hire a local to plan your trip, they’ll also be available 24/7 with phone support in case you run into any issues.

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There you have it, folks—London is a safe place to visit. Follow these tips, and definitely connect with a London local for a safe, seamless trip. Not only can they explain how they stay safe, but they’ll design a custom itinerary based on your interests, handle logistics like buying tickets, and suggest neighborhoods that fit your travel style (and safety preferences). Questions? Send us a message!

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Still have questions about travel to London?
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You’ll see a unique side of a destination and travel independently—all while saving time and money in the planning process. Find a local today.

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