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Is Baltimore Safe? | Travel Tips & Safety Concerns

Is Baltimore Safe? | Travel Tips & Safety Concerns

Baltimore is the perfect destination if you’re looking for a vibrant and historic city to explore while in Maryland. Founded in 1729, Baltimore has a long, rich history that comes to life in its architecture, museums, and monuments.

The Inner Harbor is a must-see, with its iconic restaurants, shops, and attractions. And don’t forget to check out Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles.

Yet, despite its charms, many travelers wonder if Baltimore is safe. To answer this question, we’re taking an in-depth look at some of the safety concerns visitors should be aware of and offering travel tips on staying safe in this renowned city.

Is Baltimore Safe to Visit in 2022?

Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse at sunset, at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Maryland. for a piece titled Is Baltimore Safe to Visit

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While the answer is mostly yes, bad things can happen in Baltimore, just like in any other major city. Certain parts of the city are significantly safer than others, with some crime rates slowly declining in recent years.

However, Baltimore still has a long way to go before it becomes a genuinely safe city. The biggest safety concerns in Baltimore are violent crime, muggings, and theft.

Some areas of the city are considered very dangerous, and rates of violent crime and property crime are both high. Still, there’s merit in keeping an open mind regarding the crime.

The vast majority of crime in Baltimore is concentrated in high-poverty areas of the city, and most visitors to Baltimore will never find themselves in harm’s way. So, what does this mean for travelers?

Well, it’s essential to be aware of the risks and take precautions when visiting Baltimore. Keep your wits about you, don’t flash valuables publicly, and stick to well-lit and populated areas at night.

Avoid any areas that look or feel unsafe; if you take public transportation, stay alert and aware of your surroundings.

Crime in Baltimore

When considering if it’s safe in Baltimore, remember that the city has gained a bit of a reputation. In 2019, the second-deadliest year on record for Baltimore, the city’s homicide rate was 58.27 per 100,000 residents.

And unfortunately, the city hasn’t seen a significant decrease in violent crime yet. Protests over Freddie Gray’s death in 2015 through Baltimore in turmoil, leading to periods of rioting and looting.

While the city has largely recovered, some areas are still experiencing higher-than-normal tensions. Police-community relations are strained, and residents have been known to take matters into their own hands when enforcing justice.

While violent crime is certainly a concern, most are drug- and gang-related and occur in regions of the city that are of little interest to visitors.

The vast majority of crime in Baltimore is concentrated in high-poverty areas, in neighborhoods like Cherry Hill, West Baltimore, and Greenmount East. These are areas that you’ll want to avoid, especially at night.

While more likely to affect travelers, property crime has declined since 2015, when the rate was at a high of 525.3. By 2019, the city managed to bring that down to 417.5–although that’s still more than double the U.S. average of 178.6.

Muggings and theft are the most common property crimes in Baltimore, so taking steps to not make yourself an easy target is crucial.

For example, keep any valuables hidden, keep your purse or wallet with you at all times, and be particularly careful in crowded areas or transportation hubs like the Inner Harbor or Penn Station. Scams are another thing to watch out for.

Be wary of anyone who approaches you asking for money, especially if they’re offering something in return, like a “free” gift or a tour of the city. Also, be careful when withdrawing money from an ATM, as skimmers have been known to target machines in the city.

Avoiding Crimes in Baltimore

Night shot of Henderson's Wharf on the waterfront

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Of course, the best way to avoid crime is to travel with a group or tour operator. Many reputable companies offer guided tours of Baltimore, which can be a great option if you’re concerned about safety.

In addition, there are a few common-sense tips that can help keep you safe from crime while enjoying all that Baltimore has to offer, including:

  • Be aware of your surroundings. If you witness something suspicious, don’t hesitate to report it to the authorities immediately.
  • Don’t carry large amounts of cash or prized possessions with you. Keep your valuables in a safe place.
  • Find a guide and ask them to show you around if you can. They’ll be familiar with the city and know which areas to avoid.
  • Never walk alone at night in unfamiliar or dangerous areas. If you must walk, stay in well-lit, populated areas and keep your head up and phone handy so you’re ready to call for help if needed.
  • Keep your car doors locked and windows up while driving, even if you’re just making a quick stop. Park in well-lit areas or parking garages, and always lock your car when you leave it.
  • When traveling, take note of your surroundings and trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, leave the area immediately.

In general, Baltimore is a safe city to visit. Still, it’s essential to be aware of the risks and take precautions. These tips help ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to this memorable and lively metropolis.

Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods

As with any major city, certain areas of Baltimore are best avoided. The neighborhoods around West Baltimore are particularly unsafe due to high levels of crime and poverty, so we advise visitors to reconsider traveling there unless absolutely necessary.

Baltimore’s Cherry Hill neighborhood is best avoided by visitors for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, the area is known for its high crime rate. Gang activity is rampant, and frequent shootings and drug-related violence have been reported.

In addition, the neighborhood is quite run-down, with many abandoned buildings and lots of litter on the streets. All in all, it’s best to steer clear of Cherry Hill if you want to enjoy your visit to Baltimore.

Greenmount East is a historic neighborhood in Baltimore that has been struggling in recent years. The area has high crime and poverty rates, and many buildings are in disrepair. As a result, this  is not a safe or desirable place for visitors.

The area is notorious for its gang and drug activity, and the occasional shooting is not uncommon. In addition, many of the businesses in the area have closed down, leaving the streets feeling desolate and unwelcoming.

If taking a cruise or visiting the National Aquarium is on your itinerary, you’ll spend some time in Pulaski. Unfortunately, this area is known for its high crime rate, over 300% above the national average.

So, if you find yourself in Pulaski, stay vigilant and exercise caution. If possible, we recommend traveling in groups and avoiding this area entirely at night.

Of course, these aren’t all the most dangerous areas in Baltimore. If you’re unsure about whether a particular neighborhood is safe, talk to the locals for advice or avoid it altogether.

Things to Consider

Light rail train approaches a station, as seen from the front, for a piece on Is Baltimore Safe

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Before booking a trip to Baltimore, keep a few things in mind. First and foremost, Baltimore is a large city that spans over 90 miles, with a lot to see and do. From museums and historical sites to great restaurants and nightlife, there’s something for everyone in Baltimore.

However, because it is such a large city, it can be challenging to get around. Be sure to plan your itinerary in advance and allow plenty of time to get from one place to another.

Baltimore’s public transportation system can be a reliable way to get from place to place, but it’s not always the easiest to navigate. Taxis and ride-sharing apps are also available, although they can be expensive.

Another thing to consider is the weather. Baltimore can be pretty hot and humid in the summer, so if you’re visiting during that time of year, dress accordingly.

Bad weather, such as thunderstorms and hurricanes, can also disrupt travel plans, so it’s always advised to check the forecast before heading out. Winter in Baltimore can be unpredictable. Some years it’s mild, with temps rarely dipping below freezing and only a light dusting of snow.

Other years are harsher, with frigid temperatures and several snowstorms. Because of this, it’s always a good idea to pack your warmest clothes if you’re visiting during that season, just in case.

And finally, homelessness is a problem in Baltimore. It’s estimated that there are over 2,000 homeless people in the city on any given night, and they can be found throughout the downtown area.

While most are harmless, it’s sometimes hard for some people to witness such poverty and desperation. So if you’re not comfortable being around homeless people, know the chances of you encountering them are high.

Frequently Asked Questions

Buildings surrounding a concrete plaza in downtown area for a piece on Is Baltimore Safe

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After reading through all of this information, you might still have questions about what it’s like visiting Baltimore. So we’ve taken the time to find a few of the most commonly asked questions and answers.

What should I expect when visiting Baltimore?

Being the biggest city in Maryland and the 20th largest metro area in the United States, Baltimore is a diverse and historic place with plenty to see and do. From its Inner Harbor to its many neighborhoods and attractions, Baltimore will never leave you wanting.

When visiting Baltimore, one of the first things you’ll likely notice is the Inner Harbor. This vibrant area is full of shops, restaurants, and attractions and is a great place to start your exploration of the city.

If you’re looking for history, check out monuments like the Washington Monument and Mount Vernon Place, or take a tour of Fort McHenry. For a taste of local flavor, head to one of Baltimore’s many neighborhoods, each with its own unique character.

Canton, for example, is known for its nightlife and eclectic shops, while Fell’s Point is historic and charming. So no matter what you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it in Baltimore.

Is it safe to walk around Baltimore at night?

No city is completely safe, and Baltimore is no exception. However, many of the city’s most popular tourist attractions are located in well-lit and heavily populated areas, so walking around at night is generally safe. Still, remain alert and, if possible, travel with a group.

Of course, always exercise common sense and caution when traveling in an unfamiliar place, including Baltimore. If you’re unsure about a particular area, take a taxi or ride-sharing car instead of walking. And always pay attention to your surroundings, no matter where you are.

Is it safe to stay in Downtown Baltimore?

Downtown Baltimore is a busy, vibrant place with tons of appeal to visitors. However, as with any large city, crime can happen anywhere. The Inner Harbor area is usually busy and well-lit, making it relatively safe.

However, limiting the amount of cash you carry and guarding your belongings is wise. The streets around Lexington Market can be a bit more dangerous, especially at night.

Drug dealings, muggings, and theft are more common in this area, so keep your guard up. As the nation’s oldest open market, Lexington Market is definitely worth a visit during the day, but we advise against exploring it after dark.

If you’re staying in a hotel downtown, ask the staff about the best places to go and the areas to avoid. They should be able to give you a good idea of what parts of the city are safe to explore and can recommend some great places to eat, drink, and shop.

How many days should I spend in Baltimore?

The answer depends on what you’d like to get out of your trip to Baltimore. For instance, if you’re interested in history, you might spend a day touring the Inner Harbor, the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, or the Baltimore Museum of Industry. 

If you’re more interested in the arts, you might want to check out the American Visionary Art Museum or catch a performance at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

And if you’re simply looking to relax and enjoy some good food and drink, you might want to spend a day strolling through Fells Point or exploring the restaurants and bars in Canton.

Ultimately, only you can determine how long you’ll need to experience Baltimore’s best. Just keep in mind there’s always something new to see or do in this thriving city.

So, Is Baltimore Safe to Visit?

Baltimore is a massive and vibrant city with plenty to offer tourists. While crime can happen anywhere, most tourist attractions are located in well-lit and heavily populated areas, making them relatively safe.

However, we advise against exploring certain neighborhoods, especially Cherry Hill and West Baltimore, and recommend caution when traveling in unfamiliar areas.

And while it’s always important to take precautions when traveling to any city, there’s no need to be unduly worried about safety when visiting Baltimore. Just exercise common sense, and you’ll surely have a great time in Charm City. Happy travels!