Generally, NYC is a safe place to travel (believe us—we love this city). With some local input, we created this guide to staying safe in New York City. It covers everything from the COVID pandemic to tips for solo travelers.
Early on, New York City was hit particularly hard by COVID. But the situation has changed dramatically since the spring of 2020 -- the city is open for travel and more energetic than ever. Whether you’re ready to make your first trip to NYC or you’ve been many times, the city is ready to welcome you in 2024.
Here’s what to know before you go:
Both vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans can visit New York City.
If you are not a U.S. citizen or U.S. immigrant, you must provide proof of vaccination to enter the country.
For the most part, vaccine and mask requirements have been lifted. However, some businesses may still choose to require them.
Masks are recommended on public transportation.
Is NYC safe? Absolutely! In fact, New York City was recently rated one of the top 15 safest cities in the world.
NYC came out ahead of Paris, Rome, Washington D.C., and Chicago. So if you’re comfortable munching on macarons in Paris, you’ll be fine purchasing pizza in Manhattan.
Stay alert and don't sling your bag over your shoulder on the subway — that'll make you an easy target for pickpockets.
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!
You may have read that the crime rate in NYC went up in 2022 compared to 2021, but (and this is what counts) the city is still very safe. In fact, NYC is one of the top five safest large cities in the United States. And it’s important to note that crimes like shootings and burglaries declined.
The larger trend is declining crime rates, this small uptick doesn’t negate the fact that the crime rate dropped for more than 25 years in a row and in 2017 reached levels not seen since the 1950s.
Translation: These days, New York City is more Friends than Jessica Jones.
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 to 2K (and pickpocketing accounts for much of today’s transit crime).
On average, 3.8 million people use the subway every day so some incidents are bound to happen. But with so many places to visit in New York, locals tell us that the subway is the best (and cheapest) form of New York transportation.
Taking the subway for the first time can be intimidating. Our NYC locals say it's easy once you get the hang of it, but they can share more tips if you're nervous.
A seven-day unlimited MetroCard might be a better value than a pay-per-ride MetroCard depending on the length of your trip and how much you plan to use the subway.
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.
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.
Given its size (eight million people!!) New York doesn’t do too badly when it comes to clean streets. In 2022, the Department of Sanitation recorded that 89.6% 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. And some argue that NYC’s pizza is the best because it’s made with NYC tap water.
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!
New York City is very safe. 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:
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!