Atlanta is Georgia’s largest city and capital, offering many attractions and exciting activities every traveler will relish. From its eclectic culinary scene, rich historical heritage, buzzing southern culture, and affluent shopping districts, Atlanta ticks all the boxes for a mind-blowing travel bucket list.
Even with the plenty that Atlanta has to offer, is it safe? The question will likely cross your mind if you plan to visit the city. Like all other cities in the US, it is essential to know what to expect and the limits when visiting.
Unfortunately, Georgia’s capital doesn’t boast the best reputation in safety compared to other American cities. To some, a mere mention of Atlanta rings danger in their heads.
The city faces violent crimes, especially among gangs, which explains that one neighborhood can be a tourist haven and the next a crime hotspot. Most crimes in Atlanta happen between locals, and you’d be unlucky if you’re only visiting for a short stay.
Also, the city struggles with a prevalent drug problem, but this doesn’t define Atlanta. You can still explore the hidden gems without qualms about safety. Read on to learn about Atlanta’s safety, including insightful tips to avoid danger during your stay.
Is Atlanta Safe to Visit?
Atlanta is moderately safe to visit, but you must proceed cautiously and be mindful of the areas you explore.
According to statistics, Georgia’s capital is more dangerous than most cities in the US, ranking high among the country’s homicide-prone cities. Nevertheless, it shouldn’t deter you from experiencing Southern hospitality, among other fun-filled attractions in Atlanta.
Recent reports from the Atlanta Police Department and the FBI US indicate a significant drop in the city’s crime rate. Atlanta’s violent scene isn’t statistically comparable to that of Detroit, New Orleans, or Baltimore.
Also, the property crime rate in Georgia’s capital has significantly decreased since 2009. The year 2023 forecasts suggest a decline in crime rates compared to 2018.
Most of the violent crimes in Atlanta are gang-affiliated, and drug trafficking rarely affects visitors. These crimes are prevalent in specific neighborhoods; gang activity accounts for up to 80% of property and violent crimes.
The prevalent gang-related crimes in Georgia’s capital include:
- Sexual assault
- Aggravated assault
- Car theft
Unfortunately, Atlanta’s past of drug-related crime doesn’t seem to go away. Georgia’s capital developed as a significant drug trafficking hub in the late 1990s. The Atlanta Police Department is constantly under pressure from a Mexican shipment of cocaine and other associated substances.
The revitalization initiative encouraged crime reduction even in some of the worst neighborhoods and is closely linked to attempts to reduce net crime in metro Atlanta.
Crime in Atlanta
Sadly, crime in Atlanta is above the national average and remains a significant problem. However, various law enforcement interventions are gradually making inroads in Atlanta, substantially improving the city’s crime rate.
Atlanta recorded a 27% decrease in crime between 2009 and 2016. Over 50% fewer burglaries and 17% fewer assaults were committed.
Conversely, cases of homicides and severe assaults increased between 2019 and 2021 — the COVID-19 lockdown played a big part in this statistic.
There are risky areas in Atlanta with a lot of gang activity and conflict between big gangs such as Crips, the Bloods, Le Gran Familia, Riverside, Latin Kings, and Vice Lords.
These gangs make headlines, and often not for good reasons other than the arrest of the Aryan Brotherhood members, which garnered media attention. Despite not necessarily being a high-crime target area, some neighborhoods in Atlanta are socioeconomically diverse and may pose a concern to travelers.
The homicide rate in Georgia’s capital peaked in 1990 and has subsequently decreased, following national patterns. Homicide cases in Atlanta decreased by about 50% from 2000 to 2010.
But since 2013, the number of homicides in Atlanta has increased, with a significant percentage of the cases remaining unsolved. The latest reports show an increase in homicides in 2022 for the third time.
According to data from the Atlanta Police Department, more homicides were recorded in northwest Atlanta, southwest Atlanta, and neighborhoods near Downtown and Midtown Atlanta. So, remain vigilant and avoid moving around at night if you plan to explore these neighborhoods.
Property theft is the most reported crime in Atlanta, with up to 18,000 theft cases annually. Only 1% of US cities have a higher theft rate than Atlanta, and you’re more likely to become a victim of theft than crimes in the city.
The theft rate in Atlanta worsens in the northeast and south neighborhoods, featuring a rate of 117 thefts in every 1000 people. While theft doesn’t involve violence, it isn’t worth the emotional effects. Never let hotel workers use your key to enter your room to avoid theft.
Although it’s reasonable to believe that most employees are trustworthy, giving them access to your valuables with your key opens the door to theft opportunities. Also, store all your valuables in the safe — it won’t guarantee safety, but it will deter some thieves.
Finally, vehicle theft is relatively widespread in Atlanta. Consider locking your car and leaving nothing inside. Even insignificant items might be mistaken for valuable property, so it’s best to empty your vehicle to avoid a shattered window.
There is a medium chance of getting pickpocketed or having your valuables snatched in Atlanta. Therefore, when visiting the capital of Georgia, you should exercise extreme caution.
Only carry what you need and avoid showing off valuable accessories when touring Atlanta. Women’s mobile phones and men’s wallets are potential targets for pilferers.
So, you should carry them in front pockets to make it more challenging for pickpockets to access them. If you must bring valuables, consider stashing them in a theft-proof backpack or a waist pack.
Atlanta’s burglary rate is 3.57 per 1000 people; however, it’s relatively lower in the city’s northeastern area. The city ranks higher in the cities with the highest burglary rates, with only 12% of cities in the US having a higher rate.
Retail districts with high people density are prime target regions for burglary and other crimes. So, examine crime maps to learn the facts and stats and make a more enlightened decision about visiting Atlanta and where to stay.
If you notice you’re being followed during your stay in Georgia’s capital, don’t go to your accommodation. Instead, you can drop by the police or local fire station to seek help.
Atlanta experiences a robbery rate of 1.73 per 1000. Robbery is more prevalent in the southern neighborhoods of the city. Gang-related offenses drive robbery statistics in Atlanta. If a robber approaches, don’t attempt to fight back, as Atlanta averages more than two daily shootings.
When it comes to auto theft, Atlanta obtains a failing rating. It has a substantially better ranking, and just 7% of cities have a higher auto theft rate than Atlanta. So even if a nice person approaches your vehicle, be cautious.
Atlanta’s vehicle theft rate is about 4.24 per 1000 people, and the northeast areas have fewer automobile thefts than the rest of the city. These figures indicate that leaving your car running or unlocked is risky.
Atlanta has a medium risk of scams, and visitors are easy targets for scammers. Stay put for scammers who will attempt anything to divert your attention.
Avoid any circumstance in which someone is trying to “assist” you, even if it’s as simple as taking a photo with your phone or participating in a street game involving audience participation.
The major scam in Atlanta is street beggars who might follow you around the downtown area and attempt to steal if you become distracted. Also, to prevent card skimming in this city, you should only use your ATMs in banks equipped with cameras.
Avoiding Bad Areas
Atlanta isn’t all doom and gloom — there are safe neighborhoods with fun-packed attractions and spectacular scenes for every traveler. Georgia’s capital is top-ranked on National Geographic as one of the best destinations globally for nature lovers.
If you want to go about Atlanta safely, staying in the suburbs, north of the midtown, and the city’s eastern side is a good rule of thumb.
You can also check out the Atlanta CityPASS to access a comprehensive list of tourist destinations in the city. This way, you can trust that you’re visiting reputable locations because the tourist commission has certified every attraction on the app.
Here are some of the safest neighborhoods in Atlanta:
- Midtown Atlanta
- Virginia Highland
- East Atlanta
- Inman Park
Conversely, like most big cities globally, Georgia’s capital has sketchy areas you’d want to shun during your visit. The Atlanta Police Department provides three different crime mapping options, allowing you to research the area around your hotel and the locations of your top tourist sites before you travel.
Consider checking ADP’s website to observe the crime patterns closer to your visit. There aren’t any 100% safe areas of Atlanta, although some areas have more crime than others.
Generally, the more you head south and west from downtown Atlanta, the more potential danger you may face. Neighborhoods in these areas typically don’t have fascinating tourist destinations, so you are better off avoiding unnecessary visits.
Below are some of the worst neighborhoods in Atlanta.
- Oakland City
- Center Hill
- Adair Park
- Lakewood Heights
- Vine City
- Cascade Heights
- Old Fourth Ward
- West End
Things to Consider
Below are some factors to consider if you’re planning a vacation in Atlanta:
- Atlanta roads feature LIT lanes designed for bicycle users. If you plan to drive during your visit, never drive, park, or obstruct the LIT lanes to avoid getting a ticket.
- To avoid carrying cash, keep your card preloaded.
- Avoid purchasing scalped tickets if you want to watch a big sports game, such as the Atlanta Falcons, the Atlanta Hawks, or the Atlanta Braves.
- No valuable is worth your life; if someone threatens you, heed, cooperate and file a report to the authorities.
- Solo travelers to Atlanta should avoid arriving at night or leaving their drinks unattended, as it can be risky.
- You can rent a scooter to beat the rush hour traffic in Atlanta. But you can’t ride it on the sidewalk.
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s look at some FAQs on how safe it is to visit Atlanta:
Is it safe to walk in downtown Atlanta?
Downtown Atlanta is safe, and you can better understand what the city offers on foot. However, it is best to stay cautious after nightfall since downtown Atlanta’s streets have become deserted. Preferably, you should consider walking in groups to explore downtown Atlanta at night.
What is the best way to get around Atlanta safely?
Public transport is a pretty reliable and safe way to move around Atlanta. MARTA is Atlanta’s leading public transit service, operating subways, buses, and streetcars.
MARTA is as safe as any primary metropolitan city’s public transportation, although some neighborhoods are statistically less safe, especially at night. For a more convenient option, consider hopping into a licensed taxi.
Are LGBTQAI+ travelers safe in Atlanta?
Atlanta is a flourishing, welcoming city that fosters varied communities and minority commercial outlets and is a popular LGBTQAI+ tourism destination.
The atmosphere is friendly and lets tourists feel at ease. In addition, Atlanta boasts excellent scores on the Human Rights Campaign’s Equality Index, demonstrating its devotion to LGBTQAI+ equality in all policies.
How’s the Weather like in Atlanta?
Atlanta experiences hot, humid summers and short, chilly, damp, and occasionally gloomy winters. The best time to tour Atlanta for warm-weather activities is from early May through June and late August to October.
Is Atlanta safe to visit alone?
Provided you’re familiar with the city’s layout and recognize the places to avoid, Atlanta can be a safe destination for a solo visit. However, like any other metropolis, there are dangers to be aware of while traveling alone in a large city like Atlanta.
So, Is Atlanta Safe to Visit?
There is no doubt that several visitors stream into Atlanta each year and take delight in the city’s welcoming Southern hospitality, history, culinary scene, music, and overall ambiance.
It is chosen as a destination to visit by reputable travel publications for a reason. While Atlanta is moderately safe, there’s violent crime.
When you first see the statistics, they might seem pretty overwhelming, but you soon realize that there are roughly 500,000 people who reside within the city’s borders, so everything is relative. But it’s a good idea to stick to well-trafficked tourist areas. Safe travels!