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See New York City like a local. Work with a local to plan your trip.

Is New York City Safe to Visit in 2020?

ViaHero
Updated November 23, 2020

Generally, NYC is a safe place to travel (believe us—it's nothing like Taxi Driver). With some local input, we created this guide to staying safe in New York City. It covers everything from the coronavirus to tips for solo travelers.

Whether you're visiting NYC or planning a staycation, work with a local to build your trip. Our New York locals can plan a safe trip away from the crowds—and offer up-to-date info you may not find online. Learn more

NOTE: Visitors from certain states will have to quarantine for 14 days, per Governor Cuomo's order. See the full list of states HERE

"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

When will NYC be safe for travel?

Like most places around the world, NYC battled the coronavirus. In the spring, the city was the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. So, when will it be safe to visit NYC? 

Here's the latest: 

November 23rd: The coronavirus is still present in New York, albeit at a lower rate than other states. Cases have been rising, however. 

Visitors from other states were previously required to quarantine. Now, travelers can "test out" of the quarantine by testing negative for the coronavirus

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Read on below for more about staying safe in New York City: 

NYC is one of the safest cities in the world

New York City recently rated amongst the top 25 safest cities in the world. NYC came out ahead of Paris, Rome, Washington D.C., and Dallas. So if you’re comfortable picking out baguettes in Paris, you’ll be fine purchasing hot dogs in Manhattan.

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The crime rate has been dropping for decades

NYC keeps getting safer and safer. As of March 2019, New York City’s crime rate fell to an all-time low. The overall crime rate dropped a whopping 6.2%—giving New York the lowest crime rate since March 1994. In recent years, the New York City crime rate has reached low levels not seen since the 1950s

Translation: These days, New York City is more “Friends” than “Jessica Jones”.

Solo female travelers <3 NYC

With a strong safety record and a million things to do, see, and experience, New York City is a favorite destination for solo female travelers. Locals in NYC rave about all the wonderful solo activities in NYC (browse the books at The Strand! Take a stroll in Central Park! Check out an incredible museum!). They tell us that catcalling is no worse than in any other major metropolitan area. And just like anywhere else, ignoring it is your best bet.

Plus, locals in NYC tell us that it's surprisingly easy to keep a New York trip under budget when traveling alone—table for one, please! 

Work with a local to plan your trip.
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The subway is perfectly safe to use

One of the most frequently asked questions about travel to NYC concerns the subway: is it safe? Absolutely! Subway crime has fallen drastically since the nineties. In 1990 the subway saw more than 17K crimes per year—today, that number is closer 2k (and pickpocketing accounts for much of today’s transit crime).

Four million people use the subway every day, which means that there are almost always other people around (even late at night). Plus, with so many places to visit in New York, the subway is the best (and cheapest) form of New York transportation.

Taking the subway for the first time can be intimidating—but our NYC locals say it's easy once you get the hang of it. 

Local Tip:

Avoid empty subway cars. Seeing an empty car approach a crowded station may seem like a stroke of good luck, but New Yorkers are skipping that car for a reason. 

Most violent crime takes place far from the city center

Serious and violent crimes—murder, robbery, etc.—largely take place far on the outskirts of the city. NYC crime rates in the past year are highest in remote neighborhoods in outlying boroughs (e.g. the north Bronx and southeast Brooklyn). Manhattan, most of Brooklyn, and Queens have much lower rates of violent crimes.

Local Tip:

When it comes to New York City travel prices, it’s actually really easy to find great deals on accommodations outside of Manhattan—especially in charming and safe Brooklyn neighborhoods like Park Slope and Williamsburg that provide easy access to Manhattan.

The streets might be dirty, but the water is super clean

Given its size (eight million people!!) New York doesn’t do too badly when it comes to clean streets. In 2017, the Department of Sanitation recorded that 95% of the streets in NYC were “acceptably clean.” Still, the city has an *interesting* way of gathering trash—i.e. leaving it out in front of buildings in bags.

But hey—the water quality is world-renowned for its quality. It comes from the fresh, cool springs of upstate New York. So you don’t have to worry about the tap water at all; in fact, it’s better than the bottled stuff.

Local Tip:

Heads up: you will probably see a rat or two. Maybe it’ll be dragging some pizza. If that’s the case, congratulations—you’ve become internet famous!

Conclusion: it’s a big city—exercise normal precautions

New York City is safer than ever. But it’s still one of the biggest cities in the world. And as James Madison once noted, men are not angels—which means normal precautions are still important. Locals recommend following these common-sense safety tips: 

  • Don’t keep your wallet or phone in your back pocket (especially on the subway)
  • Stay aware of your surroundings at all times
  • Avoid dangerous neighborhoods with bad reputations (for more info on this, talk to a local who knows the city).

As most New Yorkers will tell you, living in a city this big means dealing with some wild stuff. Yes, there will be buskers on the subway, aggressive performers in Times Square, and some out-of-this-world fashion. It’s all part of the magic NYC experience. Take it in stride!

Still have questions about travel to New York City?
Why not ask someone who lives there? ViaHero connects you with a local to help plan your trip. They’ll create a guidebook based on your personal travel style.
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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