The amazing Southern city of Atlanta is becoming more and more popular among tourists and young people in search of a great place to live. Over 42 million people visit Atlanta each year, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States.
Atlanta has many historic sites, especially those relevant to the civil rights movement. Visitors can explore the Atlanta History Center, MLK Jr. National Historic Park, or the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
Younger visitors will get a kick out of the Georgia Aquarium, Zoo Atlanta, the World of Coca-Cola, and taking a break from sightseeing in Piedmont Park.
Make sure you take time to try some delicious soul food in Atlanta as well as the cuisines of the many immigrant communities. Atlanta certainly has a lot to keep any visitor entertained.
However, you might be wondering if a trip to the city is safe, especially since it has a bit of a reputation for crime. But don’t worry — we’re here to help.
This detailed travel guide can help you decide if a trip to Atlanta is safe or not. Keep reading for more detailed travel information, including information about crime; let us be your guide!
Is Atlanta Safe to Visit in 2023?
Yes. Atlanta is safe to visit, but only if you take the right precautions. The city has a moderately elevated crime rate, but you can avoid any problems by using basic street smarts, such as not walking alone after dark.
Plus, most crime incidents occur far away from neighborhoods popular with tourists. Atlanta experiences a moderate level of crime.
Common crime incidents include:
- Petty theft
Both property and violent crime incidents are present in Atlanta. However, the vast majority of crime victims are locals, not visitors.
Visitors have sometimes been the victims of crimes in Atlanta, but you can avoid becoming one of them if you follow basic precautions. Atlanta occasionally suffers from problems that other cities in the United States experience, such as civil unrest.
Throughout 2023, there have been frequent demonstrations against the building of a new police training center that activists have nicknamed “Cop City.”
Most protests against this structure have been around the proposed Cop City area, which is fairly removed from the center of town, but there have been protests in other parts of Atlanta.
Demonstrations in Atlanta can turn violent, with police clashing with protesters. If you notice a crowd gathering, it’s probably a good idea to stay away so you don’t get caught in the middle if something happens.
Plus, you may not know enough about the local political context to know what you are supporting if you join in on the demonstration.
There is a slight risk of terrorist attacks in Atlanta, especially as more and more businesses, including movie production studios, relocate to the city. However, there have been no recent deadly attacks, so the risk is minimal.
You may want to exercise some caution when in crowded public areas, but you don’t need to be on constant alert. Atlanta experiences many natural disasters, including severe storms, tornadoes, wildfires, floods, and hurricanes.
Hurricanes tend to hit coastal areas of Georgia hardest, but Atlanta has been affected as well.
Even if a hurricane isn’t severe, traveling to Atlanta during a tropical storm is unpleasant due to heavy rain, local flooding, and strong winds. Hurricane season lasts from June to November but is strongest from August to October.
Try to time your visit to avoid those periods. Tornado season tends to peak in April but usually affects other areas of Georgia more than Atlanta.
Crime in Atlanta
Most tourists visiting Atlanta are primarily concerned with crime. Some of this fear is due to stereotypes, as people consider Atlanta to be a crime-ridden city. However, these stereotypes are at least partially backed up by the facts.
Atlanta does have a crime rate above the national average. According to Neighborhood Scout, Atlanta’s crime rate is above the national average.
Its property crime rates and violent crime rates are both above the national and state medians. The FBI offers a detailed breakdown of crime in Atlanta. According to its official data, violent crime makes up about 14% of total crimes committed in Atlanta.
The most common violent crime is assault, which makes up about 62% of total violent crimes. The next most common violent crime is robbery, which makes up about 29% of total violent crimes.
Property crimes make up most crimes committed in Atlanta, at about 86% of the total. The most common property crime is larceny-theft, which makes up about 72% of total property crimes in Atlanta (this makes sense since larceny-theft is a very broad category of crime).
According to Atlanta police data, the most common form of larceny-theft is theft from vehicles. The next most common crime is motor vehicle theft, which makes up about 14% of total Atlanta property crimes.
There is some bad news regarding crime in Atlanta. Police in 2022 reported that homicide rates in the city increased by 7%. The rates of other crimes, such as burglary, also increased.
Many homicides and violent crime incidents are tied to gangs, and Atlanta has a serious street gang problem. However, gangs tend to operate mostly in certain neighborhoods, usually neighborhoods that are far away from popular tourist destinations.
There is also some good news regarding crime in Atlanta. Over time, both property and violent crimes have decreased in the city. Last year’s increases are just small blips in an overall positive trend.
The crime rate in Atlanta also fluctuates drastically based on neighborhood. Certain neighborhoods (usually those that are most popular with tourists) have lower crime rates, while others have drastically higher crime rates.
What do all these numbers tell us about crime in Atlanta? Crime is definitely a problem in the city.
However, the most common crimes are those that primarily affect locals, not visitors. As long as you use basic street smarts, you can avoid being the victim of a crime in Atlanta.
The most common crime in almost any place in the world is petty theft. Petty theft is the easiest theft for criminals to pull off and is a crime of opportunity instead of planning.
Tourists in Atlanta are sometimes victims of pickpocketing or bag snatching. Thefts are most common on MARTA, the city’s public transportation system. You can usually avoid this problem with some basic precautions.
Don’t flash valuables such as cameras and expensive jewelry while you are walking around town, as that makes you a target. Never leave valuables unattended or in a place where they are easy to reach.
The most common form of theft in Atlanta is theft from vehicles. This form of theft affects visitors and locals alike. The best way to prevent theft from vehicles is not to have a car in Atlanta.
The city’s traffic is notoriously thick anyway, and you don’t want to spend your vacation in a traffic jam.
You can get around using the MARTA, by hailing a taxi, or by booking a hotel in a central downtown area that is within walking distance from most attractions.
If you are driving to Atlanta or want to rent a car for day trips, take precautions against theft. Never, ever leave valuables in your car. If you can, try not to leave any belongings in the car, especially not in places that are visible.
Put your things in the glove compartment or trunk instead. Park in a secure location, such as a parking garage or paid lot (many hotels offer garages for guests).
Most visitors to Atlanta are worried about crimes that are more violent than petty theft. Most violent crimes don’t wind up affecting visitors, but robbery is the exception.
Tourists have been mugged or robbed in Atlanta before. Almost all robberies and muggings occur at night, although there have been egregious examples of daytime robberies.
Most robbery incidents occur in dangerous neighborhoods or in places that are sketchy after dark, such as around MARTA stations or in parks.
Since most robberies occur at night, the precautions you should take against robberies are very simple — don’t wander around alone after dark. If you are checking out Atlanta’s famous nightlife, take a taxi to and from the bars and clubs you will be visiting.
You can walk around in the evening in popular pedestrian areas but don’t do so alone, and don’t venture into unfamiliar areas or poorly lit streets. You also don’t want to make yourself seem like a target for robbers.
There is no need to carry around lots of cash or wear flashy, expensive jewelry in Atlanta. Try to blend in with others as much as possible so you don’t seem like a likely target.
Avoiding Bad Areas
Avoiding bad neighborhoods is key to staying safe in Atlanta. Most of the city’s worst neighborhoods are located away from the center and in the northwest and southwest of the city.
You may venture into those areas to go to the airport or the Dome but try to stick to those immediate areas.
Some neighborhoods to avoid in Atlanta include:
- Oakland City
- Lakewood Heights
- West End
- Grove Park
The areas around major transportation hubs, such as the Greyhound station, tend to be sketchy after dark. When in doubt, ask a local friend or your accommodation host for advice on which neighborhoods you may want to avoid.
Things to Consider
Here are a few other safety tips for visiting Atlanta:
- Time your arrival to be during the day. You don’t want to deal with navigating an unfamiliar city in the dark, especially since many transportation hubs, such as the airport and bus station, are somewhat dangerous after dark. Saving money on an inconveniently timed flight is not the best option.
- Avoid the summer. Not only is summer hurricane season, but the weather gets very hot and humid. Atlanta residents are used to it, but it may be hard on visitors (and it’s not the best weather for exploring). If you do visit during the summer, make sure that you stay hydrated.
- Never walk alone at night. Even neighborhoods that are mostly safe can have crime incidents after dark. When you walk alone, you are more vulnerable to situations like that.
- Don’t go on and on about crime. Atlanta locals are fiercely proud of their city and are often frustrated with the way other Americans treat it like a no-go city. Don’t constantly ask locals about how they deal with the crime or make a fuss about how dangerous the city is, as many find it offensive.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions other people have asked about visiting Atlanta:
Is Atlanta a safe place to live?
If you want to make your stay in Atlanta more permanent, you should know that it is a safe place to live — as long as you choose the right neighborhood. Ask a local friend for help when choosing an apartment to make sure you don’t rent somewhere dangerous.
Is Atlanta or NYC safer?
NYC has the worse reputation, but it actually has a lower crime rate than Atlanta. Many visitors feel safer in NYC than in Atlanta.
Is Atlanta a friendly city?
The stereotype of Southern hospitality is certainly true in Atlanta. Locals are very friendly, and you’ll always find people ready to help or just chit-chat.
Is it worth going to Atlanta?
Despite the challenge of visiting, it is absolutely worth going to Atlanta. The city has many wonderful attractions and a vibrant atmosphere.
Is Atlanta safe to walk at night?
You should exercise increased caution when walking at night in Atlanta or opt for a taxi instead. Crime tends to increase after dark, especially away from well-lit pedestrian areas. An evening stroll may be safe, but a late-night walk is probably not.
So, Should You Take a Trip to Atlanta?
Atlanta certainly has its challenges, such as an elevated crime rate. However, with some precautions and research about safe neighborhoods and those to avoid, you can also have a safe time in the city. Happy travels!