The notorious history of Birmingham has a significant effect on the city’s safety levels today. Standing tall as the largest city in Alabama, Birmingham was once a frail-looking, crime-ridden place.
In 1960, Birmingham was racially segregated and thus, the tribune for bombings, racist violence, and non-violent protests. Fast forward to 2022, and a whopping 3.6 million tourists visit Birmingham, Alabama, annually.
A lot has changed, and Birmingham has morphed into one of the most attractive cities in America and across the world. The city has the nicest people and the most beautiful landscapes characterized by valleys and ridges cascading across different neighborhoods.
People yearn to visit Birmingham to get a taste of the nice weather, the deep south culture, and experience the vibrant outdoorsy life.
If you plan to vacation in Birmingham, Alabama, you probably want to furnish yourself with all the information needed to guarantee a great stay. So, to let you in on what’s most important, here is a closer look at how safe Birmingham, Alabama, is for visitors.
Is Birmingham, Alabama, Safe to Visit?
For the longest time, Birmingham has ranked top among the most dangerous cities in the U.S. It has the highest rate of violent crimes and murders.
While a lot is being done to control the situation, the city is yet to see a significant change in the state of security in Birmingham.
If you are a tourist adamant about visiting this part of America, there’s little doubt that you will have the best time of your life. However, you must remain vigilant and avoid sticking out or going to risky places. We’ll show you what we mean below.
Crime in Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham has a population of over 200,000, with 524 violent crimes reported per 100,000 every month. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reports, crime in Birmingham dates back decades.
In fact, the institution acknowledges that from as early as the 1900s, they’ve had special agents working in Birmingham, Alabama.
Following the 9/11 terror attack, Birmingham again took center stage and has since become the headquarters for nationwide crime solving and prevention, including atrocities such as acts of terror.
Ricks & Dangers in Birmingham
Birmingham can be one of the toughest places to live and maneuver, especially when you are a visitor. Below is a breakdown of some of the highest offenses and their prevalence rates.
General Risk: Medium
Overall, Birmingham is a safe city. However, its dangers cannot be overlooked. The high racist incidents, criminal activities, and general insecurity tarnish the city’s good reputation.
Transport and Taxis Risk: Medium
Considering you will be in a foreign area, you want to know that whichever mode of transport you choose, public or private, is safe. While reliable and secure, if you prefer to take public transportation, you will come across people who appear questionable.
The risk gets worse when traveling at night. If possible, take private means or hire a taxi to move you from one place to another. This keeps you from encountering shady characters, thieves, and pickpockets who may target you as a visitor.
Pickpocket Risk: Medium
Petty theft is a typical occurrence in cities globally. Surprisingly, pickpocketing cases are not as rampant as you’d expect in Birmingham, Alabama.
However, it is wise to keep a close eye on your possessions when out and about in public places. The red zones flagged for pickpocketing here include crowded areas or when using public transport.
Mugging Risk: Medium
You risk getting mugged on the street if you venture into some dangerous neighborhoods of Birmingham. North Birmingham neighborhoods are the most notorious for violent street crimes. Therefore, avoid this place to avoid getting mugged.
Terrorism Risk: Low
There have been isolated cases of mass shootings in Birmingham. Considering the government’s efforts to keep the city safe, Birmingham has remained out of the scope of terrorist attacks.
However, you should not put your guard down. Instead, keep your eyes open and stay aware of your surroundings.
Scam Risk: Medium
If you stick out too much, put on flashy clothes and jewelry, and look intoxicated, someone is likely to approach you to try to scam you. Avoid approaching strangers whenever you want to operate an ATM, need help, or feel lost.
Have some trusted contacts on speed dial. This way, you have someone to reach out to whenever you need fast assistance. Avoid distractions and watch out for suspicious people trying to get too close.
Women Travelers Risk: Low
Birmingham is safer for women than for men, especially if you are a man of color. However, this does not mean that women travelers are free to roam even at night. Take the necessary precautions to limit the chances of something going wrong.
Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods
Hundreds of thousands of people call Alabama home. Millions more are eager to travel to vacation in its capital city, Birmingham, every year.
However, it would be naïve to bury one’s head in the sand, oblivious that the state has a higher crime rate than usual. Below are some of the most dangerous neighborhoods that you should avoid.
Dangerous Places to Avoid/Be Extra Vigilant
Here are neighborhoods to avoid during your visit to Birmingham.
To attract investors, tourists, and retirees into Anniston County, the authorities have put in place significant measures to avert crimes and make this a safe place for all.
Anniston has a population of 23,000 people and has the highest cases of violent crimes and property crimes in Alabama.
Lanett is a small County with about 6,000 people in Chambers County. It remains one of the most dangerous places to be as a visitor or a local from another county.
Most nature enthusiasts can’t wait to visit the Noccalula Falls in Gadsden County. The only problem is that this area is well known as a dangerous place owing to the high levels of murders and general crimes.
If you are unsure whether the neighborhood you want to visit is safe, remember that areas in and around Kingston, the northeast, southwest of west end, gate city, and North Birmingham are the flagged areas.
Safe Places to Visit
Over the years, Southside and downtown Birmingham remain relatively safe. These areas boast luxurious condos, nightclubs, and five-star restaurants, a trend slowly moving further down towards Eastlake and Woodlawn.
Some of the safest neighborhoods in Birmingham, Alabama, include:
Your time in Birmingham may be incredible enough to make you want to extend your stay. In this case, consider living in or visiting Homewood, a Jefferson County Birmingham suburb with over 25,000 people.
Homewood boasts some of the most excellent restaurants, parks, and coffee shops. The area also has attractive homes where families and visitors live free of fear owing to the low crime cases.
The pride and joy of Shelby County, Helena is yet another safe neighborhood in Birmingham, Alabama. The residents here enjoy countryside living with fewer people compared to other densely populated, high-risk areas.
Vestavia Hills is one of the best neighborhoods to live in. Hinting at the security levels here, the suburb has a population of nearly 40,000 residents. It’s a high-rated neighborhood that proves secure and safe for locals and visitors on vacation.
Other safe places you may want to look at during your time in Birmingham include Alabaster, Springville, Mountain Brook, and Hoover, among many others.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Birmingham
Without proper knowledge of where you are in Birmingham, visitors can become easy targets for criminals out to attack or steal from you.
Some of the major attractions like the Birmingham Zoo, Railroad Park, Vulcan statue, and Birmingham Civil Rights Institute are only a few of the many places tourists visit in Birmingham. However, these locations are also nesting grounds for unscrupulous people.
Top safety tips to consider when traveling to Birmingham, Alabama, include:
Study the City Layout
Before venturing out on your own, consider studying the layout of Birmingham city. Preferably move around with a map so you can always check to confirm where you are and avoid venturing into dangerous neighborhoods.
Stay Aware of your Surroundings
Avoid putting on earphones with loud music as you walk on the streets. Staring down at your phone also distracts you from reading your surroundings. When fully alert, you can pinpoint suspicious people around you and likely avert what could be a robbery attempt on you.
If you look like a local, walk like a local, and talk like a local, there’s little chance that you will become a target. Avoid wearing expensive jewelry and flashy clothes and flaunting your gadgets in public. Remain polite, walk tall with confidence, and act like you belong.
Avoid Walking Alone at Night
If you must go out at night, consider self-driving or hiring a taxi. Walking around at night, especially while alone and as a foreigner, may land you in trouble with thugs or the police. You will be an easy target for thieves or risk getting arrested by the police if you don’t have your documentation.
Avoid Dark Alleys
Whether day or night, do not go down a poorly lit alley alone. You’ll be safer around populated spaces that have plenty of light. Before leaving your accommodation, consider studying the area you want to visit.
It’s good practice to know which areas to avoid because you never want to get lost in Birmingham, let alone in a dark alley.
Keep Your Door Locked
You are never too safe in Birmingham. Always double-check to see if your door is locked correctly. Note that this city has the highest recorded burglary cases in America.
Things to Consider When Visiting Birmingham, Alabama
From art museums, parks, botanical gardens, historical structures, and grand family attractions, Birmingham is one of the most interesting places to visit.
It’s never a dull day here, provided you can follow simple guidelines to maintain your safety. Are you planning on visiting Birmingham soon? Here’s a list of things you may want to consider first.
The U.S. doesn’t falter regarding monitoring who gets in and out of each of its states and cities. If you are a tourist looking to enter Birmingham, you must have proper documentation. This includes your visa and any other licenses and medical information necessary.
Carry Your Medicine
If you have an underlying health condition, consider bringing your prescription meds. The same medicine you take may appear different in a foreign state, further complicating the process of you accessing your prescription as needed.
The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) provides an international health checklist to tell you which shots you should get when going to certain countries.
The U.S. dollar is the main currency used in Birmingham, Alabama. ATMs are everywhere, and you can use credit or debit cards everywhere you shop.
The winters in Birmingham are barely as harsh as in other places in the U.S. The area has humid subtropical weather with super hot summers and relatively cold winter seasons. However, due to climate change, Alabama has unusually snowy winters.
For decades, Birmingham has had a severe problem with racism. As such, the police have had plenty of practice handling crimes triggered by racism.
The Birmingham Police department is one of the best trained and has proven quite capable of managing violence and general crime in red-zoned areas. Feel free to contact the police should you encounter problems or need reliable assistance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are the most frequently asked questions about Birmingham, Alabama.
What is the most dangerous city to live in Alabama?
Fairfield is one of Alabama’s toughest neighborhoods to visit or live in. The most prevalent crimes here include murders, attacks, and rape cases. Fairfield is easily the most dangerous city in Alabama.
Is Downtown Birmingham safe at night?
If you are familiar with the area and won’t be alone, Downtown Birmingham is safe during the day and night. However, at night, many deserted areas may work as hideouts for criminals. If you want to hang out at night in a safe area, Southside Birmingham is your best bet.
Is North Birmingham safe?
North Birmingham has plenty of abandoned homes, making it a haven for drug dealers, gangs, and prostitutes. The area experiences numerous shootings, making it to the local news broadcasts almost daily.
What percentage of Birmingham, Alabama population is Black?
68.29 percent of the people who live in Birmingham are black. 26.59 are whites, while the remaining percentage comprises other races, mostly Hispanics.
So, Is Birmingham, Alabama Safe?
Is Birmingham, Alabama, safe to live in and travel to? The definite answer is YES. However, there are valid concerns about the increasing crime rates that continue to dominate the scenes daily.
Whether or not you become a victim of a crime depends on the time of the day you travel and where you live. Traveling during the day is advisable, especially if you are alone and unsure how to navigate the city.
Common sense and instincts play a huge role in ensuring your stay in Birmingham remains incident-free. Above is a comprehensive look into the safety status of Birmingham, plus tips on what you can do to stay safe. Happy travels!