Georgia boasts a rich culture and history as well as a vibrant cuisine welcoming all those who venture down south. The capital, Atlanta, is one of the nation’s liveliest cities, with an up-and-coming arts scene, good old Southern cooking, and plenty of history, including important Civil Rights sites.
Outside of Atlanta, Georgia still has plenty to offer. Savannah is an elegant taste of the Old World with architecture and history like nowhere else in the United States.
The state also has many state parks with beautiful nature where you can go hiking, kayaking, and enjoy many more outdoor activities.
Georgia has so much to offer, it’s no wonder that in 2018 111.7 million visitors wanted to experience the state for themselves. Before you join them, you might be wondering if the state of Georgia is safe for you to visit.
But don’t worry — our travel experts did the hard work for you. We’ll show you whether this history-rich state is safe to visit, some common safety concerns and how to avoid them, and more. Let us be your guide!
Is Georgia Safe to Visit?
Yes, Georgia is generally a safe place to visit. Most tourists that come here don’t have any trouble.
Although the crime rate in Georgia is slightly elevated compared to other states, most of these violent crimes affect Georgia residents, not tourists, and are concentrated in certain areas. The violent crime rate in Georgia is slightly higher than the national average.
According to the FBI, in 2020 there were 400.1 violent crime incidents per 100,000 people in Georgia. These crime statistics are a bit worrying, but it’s important to put them in perspective.
According to the FBI’s own data set, in a minority of cases of aggravated assault and other violent crimes, the victim was a stranger to the offender.
That means that most violent crimes are targeted within local communities, and tourists are at a lower risk of being victims.
To contextualize Georgia’s crime statistics further, let’s look at what other countries have to say about visiting the United States. Australia tells its citizens to beware of violent crime, especially gun crimes, everywhere they go in the United States as the rate is much higher than in Australia.
While the rest of the United States sometimes looks down on Georgia, the truth is to people elsewhere all of the country has a negative reputation.
The United Kingdom issues similar advisories for its citizens, as well as advising travelers that local laws vary widely across the United States, especially on LGBT issues.
Unfortunately, Georgia is one of the worst states in the nation for LGBT rights, earning a “High Priority to Achieve Basic Equality” score from the Human Rights Campaign.
Besides laws, attitudes in much of Georgia are fairly conservative, so LGBT travelers and people of color sometimes run into incidents. Finally, not all of the threats to your safety in Georgia are human.
Georgia is one of the states that gets hit by hurricanes the most as it is on the Gulf Coast. It also receives frequent tornadoes, which are far less predictable. Check travel and weather advisories whenever you are out and about.
To recap, here are some of the main problems tourists worry about when visiting Georgia:
- Petty theft
- Aggravated assault
- Hate crimes
- Natural disasters
These threats are present, but the likelihood of you being a victim is very low. Let’s examine some of the most important ones in detail.
Crime in Georgia
There is abundant information about Georgia’s crime rate, which shows us that not all is sunshine and roses (or sunshine and peaches) in the beautiful Southern state.
According to FBI data, in 2021, there were 26,159 total violent crime incidents in Georgia. Of these, 2.5% were homicides, 11.1% were rape-related offenses, and 15.5% were robberies.
The most violent crimes were aggravated assault, at 71% of the total violent crime rate. Compared to the rest of the country, Georgia’s crime rate is middling — it’s not the worst in the country, but it’s also not the best either.
According to 2020 data, Georgia is #22 on the list of states with the highest violent crime rate in the country (if you were wondering which state is the worst, that would be Alaska).
Crime watchdog CrimeGrade.org gives Georgia middling grades for its crime rate. Its overall crime grade is C-, while its violent crime grade is a C+.
Georgia fares the worst when it comes to property crime rate, where it gets a D+. Property crimes include theft, vehicle theft, burglary and arson. They occur at a rate of 26.75 incidents per 100,000 people, which is fairly high.
As we mentioned above, most crime in Georgia occurs when the victim knows the offender, putting tourists at a lower risk than residents.
Most property crime occurs against people that own property or vehicles in the state, again meaning that residents are at a higher risk for being victims of a crime than visitors. Crime rates also vary drastically from region to region.
Generally, the northern regions of the state are safer than the south, according to the crime map provided by CrimeGrade.org. In Georgia, avoiding bad areas is crucial to staying safe.
Petty Theft and Robbery
The most common crime tourists are likely to encounter while in Georgia is theft or robbery. These are the most common crimes that affect tourists pretty much everywhere in the world.
Most robberies in Georgia are not violent but are crimes of opportunity that take advantage of people’s distraction. Pickpocketing is most common in Atlanta.
Pickpockets often operate on Atlanta public transportation, such as the metro line connecting the airport to the city, and take advantage of distracted tourists. The good news is that rates are very low overall and outside of Atlanta, practically nonexistent.
Basic precautions are enough to deter most pickpockets. Keep your valuables such as your phone and wallet deep in your bag instead of in an outside pocket.
Don’t let yourself get distracted by someone making a scene in public as pickpockets often work in groups to take people’s attention. More aggressive forms of robbery, such as vehicle theft and break-ins are common.
If you are renting a car, you should keep this in mind. Be careful where you park and opt for a reputable parking garage over street parking in a sketchy neighborhood.
Don’t leave valuables in your car as it is common for thieves to break into cars that seem like rentals to see if tourists left behind passports or other valuables.
Armed robbery is much more common in Georgia than in the rest of the United States. According to a study by the Center for American Progress, Georgia has the third-highest armed robbery rate in the United States.
The rate of gun crime is high overall due to high rates of gun ownership. The best way to protect yourself from armed robbery is to avoid sketchy areas, especially at night.
If you are mugged, hand over your valuables — nothing you own is more important than your life. Finally, since Georgia is a popular tourist destination, there are some scams that look to take advantage of tourists, especially in popular tourist destinations such as Atlanta or Savannah.
When taking a taxi, make sure that the meter is running or use a ride-hailing app such as Uber. Carefully check reviews before booking accommodation as some hotels and vacation rentals are actually scams.
The most common violent crime in Georgia is aggravated assault. According to the FBI, aggravated assault is an attack on one person by another with the goal of causing “grievous bodily harm,” often with a weapon.
Assault makes up 71% of Georgia’s violent crime incidence rate. Most assaults occur against local Georgians, not tourists.
In fact, in most cases of assault, the victim and the offender knew each other in some capacity. The rate of random assault, where someone attacks you on the street for no reason, is very, very low. A lot of violent crime in Georgia is tied to gang violence.
According to police estimates, about 80% of violent crime in Atlanta alone is tied to gang conflict. Many assaults happen between gang members as they fight over turf or other divisions.
Even though your risk as a tourist of becoming a victim of assault is already low, you can lower it further by taking the right precautions. Especially in big cities such as Atlanta, knowing which areas to avoid is important for keeping yourself safe.
Avoiding Bad Areas
The crime rate in Georgia varies drastically across the state. In some rural counties, people leave their doors unlocked, while in other places even the residents are nervous to walk outside at night.
With that in mind, you’ll understand why it’s so important that you know which areas of Georgia have higher crime rates. As a rule of thumb, the counties in the south tend to have higher crime rates than those in the north.
Cities such as College Park, Morrow, Macon, and Brunswick have higher crime rates than elsewhere in the state. Atlanta is the biggest city in the state, and has the highest level of income inequality in the United States.
As a result, it makes sense that its crime rate would vary drastically from neighborhood to neighborhood. Most of the more dangerous neighborhoods are concentrated to the south of the city, below Interstate 20.
Stay clear of Clayton County, South Fulton, and Forest Park as those have a bad reputation. Oakland City and Mechanicsville are also bad as they have the city’s highest crime rate.
Even quiet Savannah, which has a reputation as a tourist town, has its bad areas. West of the city center, the crime rate rises in neighborhoods such as Garden City.
In general, avoid walking alone at night and stick to well-trafficked streets when exploring unfamiliar parts of the city. Ask your hotel receptionist for more specific advice on where to avoid.
Things to Consider
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you plan your vacation to Georgia:
- Hurricane season runs from June to November, so watch travel advisories in advance.
- Thieves often target rental cars for theft, so make sure that you park somewhere safe. Try to book hotels with their own garages or parking lots.
- The heat in Georgia is no joke, so use sunscreen and drink plenty of water, whether you are exploring the cities or getting out into nature.
- Some parts of Georgia are more conservative than others, and can be bigoted towards non-white travelers. Be careful, especially when traveling in rural areas.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still want to know more about Georgia? Here are some more questions we answered:
Is it safe to travel to Georgia in 2023?
Yes, it is safe to travel to Georgia in 2023. Although the state has some bad areas, they are easy to avoid if you do your research.
What is the safest city in Georgia?
The city of Johns Creek has one of the lowest crime rates in Georgia and was voted one of the best places in the country to raise children. If you’re just visiting Georgia, you might not find much there, but it is a great place to live if you are thinking of relocating.
Is Georgia safe for solo female travelers?
Yes, Georgia is safe for solo female travelers. Just take basic precautions such as watching your drink in bars and not walking alone at night through unfamiliar areas.
What city in Georgia has the most crime?
Morrow is the city in Georgia with the highest crime rate. However, most crimes are property crimes. The city with the highest violent crime rate is College Park.
Is Atlanta a safe place?
The answer depends on where in Atlanta you are staying. Some neighborhoods in Atlanta are very safe, while others have some of the highest crime rates in the nation. Research the neighborhoods before you go.
So, Is Georgia Safe to Visit in 2023?
Despite the reputation it sometimes has in the rest of the United States, Georgia is safe to visit. Just do your research ahead of time on which parts of the state have higher crime rates and try to avoid them. So what are you waiting for — book your trip today!