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Is Birmingham, Alabama Safe to Visit in 2024? | Safety Tips

Is Birmingham, Alabama Safe to Visit in 2024? | Safety Tips

The city of Birmingham, with its illustrious history, is one of Alabama’s most popular tourist destinations. Most of the 28 million people that visit Alabama visit Jefferson County, the county which contains Birmingham.

This storied city contains many of Alabama’s most famous sites, especially those that are linked to the Civil Rights Movement. But while it’s rich in history, culture, and good vibes, it Birmingham safe to visit? Here’s our take.

Is Birmingham, Alabama, Safe to Visit in 2024?

Birmingham Alabama theatre sign in green for a piece titled Is Birmingham Alabama Safe to Visit

Paul Brady Photography/Shutterstock

Yes and no. While the city does have crime rates that are higher than the national average, tourists are unlikely to be affected.

The most common crimes that occur in Birmingham include:

  • Theft
  • Theft from vehicles
  • Motor vehicle thefts
  • Burglaries
  • Assault
  • Homicide

As you can see, violent crimes are on the list of common crimes in the city; it’s true that the city has a very high crime rate. According to a national crime study, Birmingham is the 3rd most dangerous city in the United States.

While most people think big cities such as Chicago or New York City are the most dangerous cities in the United States, Birmingham is actually more dangerous.

However, the data is a bit more complicated. Some local Birmingham officials and professors complained that the ranking was unfair because the definition of a city differs from place to place.

The ranking didn’t compare Birmingham’s entire metropolitan area, including suburbs that have low crime rates, but did so for other cities, which helped them lower their crime rates by comparison.

Crime is also not evenly distributed in Birmingham. Certain neighborhoods have much higher crime rates than others, driving the crime rate up for the city overall.

These dangerous neighborhoods tend to be far away from where tourists venture. The average visitor is likely to have a very safe trip and not witness these crimes, especially if they do their research ahead of time about which areas to avoid.

Besides crime, it’s a good idea to look up any other problems you might encounter in Birmingham. As a smaller regional city, Birmingham doesn’t have many of the dangers you might encounter in bigger United States cities such as the threat of terrorism.

Civil unrest is also relatively rare. Protests sometimes happen, but these days they are usually peaceful. However, since protests can be unpredictable, it’s a good idea to avoid any marches while you are in town.

Natural disasters are another potential risk you have to consider when you are visiting Birmingham. The most common natural disasters Birmingham receives are hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes.

Tornadoes can happen during storms, so research emergency measures just in case it happens while you are in town, although they are not very common. Birmingham is far enough inland that it is in a low risk zone for hurricanes.

There have been damaging hurricanes in the past, but they only happen every few years or decades. However, if you visit during hurricane season, from July to late October, you can expect more rain than during other parts of the year.

Crime in Birmingham

Photo of the Rotary Pass Trail sign pictured on a cloudy day

Birmingham, United States: February 16, 2020: Group of Marathon Runners Pass Rotary Trail Sign/Kelly vanDellen/Shutterstock

Crime is the primary concern for most people visiting Birmingham. It is the biggest problem visitors might encounter. Plus, news reports across the country name Birmingham as one of the most dangerous cities in the country.

How much are those reports rooted in the truth? FBI crime data for Alabama, including Birmingham, can help shed some light on the situation there.

It is true that the city has a high crime rate. In 2018, there were a total of 17,320 crime incidents committed. After some calculations, this translates to a crime rate of 8225 incidents per 100,000 people.

Property crime makes up the majority of crimes committed in Birmingham, just like in most other cities. Property crimes make up 76.7% of total crimes committed.

The most common type of property crime is larceny-theft, which makes sense since this extremely broad category of crime includes many different forms of theft.

Violent crime makes up a significant portion of crime committed, at 24.3%. That is a bigger proportion than in most other cities in Alabama, showing that Birmingham has a comparatively much higher violent crime rate.

The most common violent crime rate is assault, which makes up about 70% of total violent crimes committed.

Since 2018, the crime rate has actually gotten worse in Birmingham. In early 2023, local news reported that the violent crime rate continued to rise and that 2022 had been the most dangerous year in the city’s recent history.

Local officials blamed many of the violent crimes on unresolved disputes between individuals that knew each other or were involved in some form of gang violence, not random violence.

Thus, tourists are not likely to be victims of violent crime since they don’t know people in the city well enough to be involved in disputes. Birmingham’s crime rate is highly stratified.

The city is home to some neighborhoods with very high crime rates and some neighborhoods and suburbs that are ranked some of the safest in the United States. As long as you know which neighborhoods to visit, it is very easy to avoid crime while visiting.

There are a few reasons why certain neighborhoods have higher crime rates than others. Although Birmingham is improving its social metrics in recent years, it still has high levels of inequality and racial segregation in areas such as schools.

Many impoverished neighborhoods in the city are riddled with gangs, who drive much of the city’s violent crime rate.

These facts can help give you some context for Birmingham’s crime rate, but you don’t need to know them to function in the city safely. What you need to know is good precautions to keep you safe, including which neighborhoods to avoid.


The most common crime you might encounter in the city is the same as anywhere — theft. This crime of opportunity is present throughout the world, including in Birmingham.

Most thefts affect businesses, not individuals, such as smash-and-grab larcenies or shoplifting. However, there are also thefts that affect individuals, such as pickpocketing, bag snatching, theft from vehicles, and motor vehicle theft.

Pickpocketing and bag snatching is not as common in Birmingham as in some other cities around the world, but it is still a good idea to be on your guard against this crime.

Make sure that you don’t flash your valuables such as expensive jewelry, luxury watches, or lots of cash. Don’t put your things anywhere where a thief can easily access them, such as unattended on a restaurant table or your back pocket in a crowded area.

Theft from vehicles is also a common form of theft. Of course, if you don’t have a car on your trip, you don’t have to worry about this crime. You can get around the city with public transportation and taxis if you are only in town for a few days.

If you do have a car with you, make sure that you never leave valuables in the car unattended. Put any possessions in the trunk or glove compartment where they are not visible. Always lock your car doors and roll up your windows.


The most common violent crime in Birmingham is assault, making up about 70% of total violent crimes according to FBI crime statistics. Assault ranges from simple fights to complex situations that sometimes land victims in the hospital.

The good news is that you don’t have to worry much about getting attacked on the streets. Most incidents of assault occur between people who already know each other or are somehow involved.

Criminals are not that interested in attacking tourists that have nothing to do with them. However, it is still a good idea to trust your instincts to avoid getting caught in the middle of a situation that you don’t want to be in.

If you notice a dispute is happening, especially at night or in a bar, try to get out of the area as arguments can escalate. Research bad neighborhoods in the city and stay away from them as those have higher rates of assault.

When visitors do get assaulted, it’s usually during robberies gone wrong.

Robberies tend to happen at night, so don’t walk alone in unfamiliar areas after dark and flash your valuables. If you are robbed, don’t fight back so you lower your risk of assault.

Avoiding Bad Areas

Dam in Anniston Alabama to illustrate an area to avoid

Phillip Foster/Shutterstock

Since the crime rate in Birmingham differs so drastically depending on where you go in the city, knowing which areas to avoid is one of the most important things you can do to stay safe.

Neighborhoods with high crime rates include:

  • North Birmingham
  • Ensley
  • West End

Most locals say that the city tends to get more dangerous as you move towards the east side, with higher rates of gang activity.

The area around Lakeshore Drive near the suburb of Hoover is also sketchy. Most of these neighborhoods are far away from places tourists might venture to during their trip to Birmingham.

Things to Consider

For a piece answer the question, "Is Birmingham Alabama Safe," an aerial image of the Birmingham Zoo seen in the fall

Felix Mizioznikov/Shutterstock

Here are a few additional safety tips to help you make your Birmingham vacation as smooth as possible:

  • Be prepared for the traffic. If you are driving into Birmingham, the major roads around the city tend to be full of traffic around rush hour. While it’s not as bad as it can get around bigger cities, it still is an unpleasant way to spend your vacation.
  • Vehicle theft sometimes happens. Make sure that you park in a secure place and avoid underground garages that are poorly lit. Never, ever leave the keys in the ignition, even if you are leaving for just a few minutes.
  • Expect Southern hospitality! Birmingham is in the South and has many of the things you might expect from the South, such as good food and friendliness. Respond in kind by greeting people and making small talk to avoid offending the locals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Jefferson County Courthouse pictured at night for a post titled Is Birmingham Safe to Visit

Tim Daugherty/Shutterstock

Here are some questions previous visitors have had about visiting Birmingham that you may also want to know the answers to:

Is it safe to go out at night in Birmingham?

Birmingham is safe to go out at night, but only if you take the right precautions such as taking taxis instead of walking, going with a group, and sticking to safe areas. Like in most cities, the crime rate increases in Birmingham after dark.

Is it safe to walk around downtown Birmingham?

You need to be careful when walking around downtown Birmingham as it gets sketchy after dark, but it is safe with the right precautions.

What is the safest part of Birmingham?

Many of Birmingham’s suburbs such as Vestavia Hills and Homewood are the safest parts of the metro area thanks to their low crime rate.

Is Birmingham, Alabama, worth visiting?

Birmingham in worth visiting if you are interested in Civil Rights history or if you're looking for a less conventional city destination

Is Birmingham, Alabama, a nice area?

The answer depends on which parts of the city you visit. While some are very nice, others struggle with problems such as high crime rates and poverty.

So, Is Birmingham, Alabama, Safe to Visit?

Although Birmingham has one of the highest crime rates in the United States, you can still visit it safely. That’s because crime mostly affects locals, not visitors, and you can avoid most bad incidents with the right precautions.

Happy travels!