The city of Savannah in Georgia is one of the original colonial cities on the continent. It has all the charm of the antebellum south with pristine sandy beaches and many hotels and attractions to keep tourists entertained.
But is the city safe to travel to? It sort of depends on who you ask. Violent crimes and theft are high in the city, but if you’re a tourist doing touristy things and staying in touristy areas, you’re unlikely to encounter anything that will ruin your trip.
Most of the crime occurs in the western and southwestern parts of the city and is usually connected to drug or gang violence. As long as you avoid these areas and things, you should have no issues and have a pleasant trip.
That said, muggings, theft, and pickpocketing are all too common, so you should keep your wits and practice good safety while out and about in the city.
Is Savannah, Georgia, Safe to Visit?
According to the numbers, no. It’s relatively unsafe. It regularly makes lists of “20 Most Dangerous Cities in the US” and has a higher crime rate than the national average. It’s comparable to Sacramento, Dallas, and Chicago.
Most of the crime happens in poor neighborhoods after dark, making the city safer during the day. However, if you avoid bad areas, you can avoid most of the risks. You just need to stick to the historic district and downtown, and you’ll be fine.
Crime in Savannah, Georgia
The crime rate in Savannah is two times the national average, and murder and violent crime rates are higher. However, most of these crimes are not connected to tourists.
While some violent crime does include visitors to the city, most are directed toward gangs and residents. The main crimes that affect tourists are pickpocketing, petty theft, and muggings.
You can avoid most of these by using common sense and avoiding secluded areas like alleyways, desolate buildings, and parking lots. As long as you avoid the city’s rougher areas and play it smart, you should have no issues on your trip to Savannah.
Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods
There are plenty of neighborhoods you should avoid while in the city. Savannah has a significant poverty problem that contributes to the drug and gang violence in the city and drives people to commit crimes.
The main culprit is Garden City, west of the city center. Other bad areas include Cuyler Brownville, Woodville, West Savannah, Liberty City, Tatemville, Tremont, Cloverdale, Yamacraw Village, Cann Park, and Waters Ave.
Residents will recommend you avoid streets named after states or presidents, and in general, you should stick to the crowds and avoid wandering off the beaten path.
You should familiarize yourself with a city map and know what streets you shouldn’t cross downtown. Those would be west of Martin King Luther Boulevard, east of Broad Street, or south of Gwinnett Street.
Within these bounds, you’re in the safe downtown area; past them are some rough neighborhoods you’ll want to avoid.
Besides the neighborhoods in the city of Savannah, you should also watch out for the towns surrounding the city, including Thunderbolt, Georgia, which has an even higher crime rate than most of the neighborhoods on this list.
Pickpocketing and Petty Theft
By far, the most prevalent crimes that affect tourists are pickpocketing and petty theft. Pickpockets tend to hang around in crowds, and it can take them only a second to grab your stuff and then disappear.
There have even been cases where phones and wallets were stolen directly from hands before they vanished into crowded areas. So, you should put some safeguards into place.
Carry a purse that zips up and has cross-body straps, or if you have a backpack, carry it on the front to keep an eye on your stuff. Keep valuable documents and other monetary items in your hotel safe and only take the cash necessary with you.
You may want to invest in a money belt or carry a decoy wallet to fool pickpocketers. Alternatively, keep your hands on your valuables when in crowded places. It can be hard to steal something you’re holding onto tightly, after all!
You’ll want to avoid putting objects in your back pockets and keep items in your front pockets, which are harder to steal from. Keep a good handle on your things in crowded places like parks, public transportation, and attractions.
As for petty theft, keep an eye on your stuff, and don’t leave it lying around. If you have a car, lock it whenever you leave it, and hide any valuables you have inside.
If you have to leave trinkets and items inside your car, try to park in a well-lit, guarded lot. Car break-ins are common, so you’ll want to confirm that your insurance covers such cases before visiting.
Tornadoes and Flooding: Possible Natural Disasters
Tornadoes are a bit of a concern over the summer, July through September, when they are most common. Keep an eye on the news when storms come around and know what to do in case of a tornado warning.
Luckily, due to the topography and climate of the area, you won’t have to worry about hurricanes. Hurricane damage is minimal, and when there is a warning, the damage is nowhere near the areas of Florida and the Carolinas.
Most hurricanes pass by altogether. However, flooding is becoming an increasing problem in the area. As global warming continues, Savannah gets more severe flooding at regular intervals.
Watch for flood warnings whenever rain and storms hit the area, and know what to do if it gets very intense. You’ll want to be flexible with your planning during the rainy season here. However, since most of the year is dry, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
Women’s Safety and Night Safety
If you’re a woman, be extra cautious with your drinks, and don’t go into rough neighborhoods alone. Since Savannah has an open cup policy, public drunkenness is quite common; but this also gives rapists and robbers extra opportunities to slip something into your drink.
Always keep your drink close to you, and keep an eye on it at all times. Drink only in safe establishments, where other women congregate.
If you take your drink to go, the same rules apply, but you should also be wary of making yourself a target by appearing drunk, so be cautious of anyone approaching you. One thing you should avoid is walking around alone at night — especially if you’re drunk and walking around alone.
The historic district and downtown become riskier, as most muggings and other crimes occur in the darkness. You should avoid walking at night altogether, even though the busy and crowded streets are reasonably safe.
If you have to get around, taking a cab or an Uber is the best way to get between your hotel and bars. Taking a chance to walk at night alone simply isn’t worth it. That said, the busiest and most crowded streets of downtown and the historic district are somewhat safe at night.
They are regularly patrolled, and the bright lights deter any criminals. But if you walk just a block away from these streets, you can land yourself in hot water. It should go without saying that women should be very cautious, especially at night.
Scams and Fraud
Most scams in Savannah are cyber security crimes, like implanting chips in card readers and identity theft. While these can be hard to avoid, there are some precautions you can take.
You should try to use cash for most of your payments and only use your credit and debit cards at reputable establishments. Keep important identifying documents inside your hotel safe, and only carry copies if needed.
Don’t give out your info to anybody who strikes up a conversation on the street. If anyone purposely walks up and starts a conversation with you, it may be best to ignore them.
It’s better to be rude than to be robbed. Research any tours or attractions thoroughly, and read reviews to ensure they have a good reputation and protect their client’s payment information.
While the taxi and public transportation networks are pretty safe, you’ll still want to ride only in licensed cabs with reputable companies.
Typically, there’s some sort of sticker on the window of taxis that lets you know what company they are with. Also, only pull money out of ATMs at banks or hotels, and be wary of people lurking nearby.
It’s not uncommon to be robbed after pulling cash out of an ATM or getting your pin and account numbers stolen. ATMs inside hotels and banks have cameras around them, discouraging such crimes.
Muggings and Violent Crime
While most of the violent crime in Savannah doesn’t happen in downtown or the historic district, you should still be aware of it. Muggings can and do occur in these areas, regardless of the time of day (though they are more common at night).
Savannah has seen steady upticks in some violent crimes over the years, so you should be cautious as it’s not a problem going away anytime soon.
While muggings mainly target tourists or residents in wealthier areas, it happens in rougher neighborhoods at a higher rate. Avoid these neighborhoods and isolated areas, and you can avoid most of the danger.
However, Savannah also has a higher clearance rate than the national average, meaning that more crimes are solved, and more criminals are caught than in the rest of the country.
This is because most of the crime in Savannah affects residents rather than tourists, leading to more arrests since the criminals can be identified. Tourist crimes are typically random.
Things to Consider
As you can see, there’s a pretty high crime rate in Savannah, GA. However, most of it doesn’t affect tourists, and as long as you’re careful, you can have an enjoyable stay in this historic American city.
As long as you watch out for some things, it can be safe for tourists to visit. These include the following:
- Stay in a good area. Avoid the problem areas and try to stay in the historic district or downtown.
- Take pickpocketing and theft precautions. Know where your stuff is at all times.
- Keep an eye on the weather if it looks like rain, and know what to do in case of flooding or tornadoes.
- Keep your documents and information safe, and be careful when pulling money out of an ATM.
- Avoid walking around at night. Take a cab or an Uber.
- If you must walk around at night, stick to the busy touristy streets.
- Take the necessary precautions, but have fun on your trip!
Frequently Asked Questions
Savannah is outstanding, with plenty to see and do in the area, from haunted walking tours to bar-hopping your way through downtown. You can go shopping in the City Market, wander around the many parks and squares, and even visit landmarks that have helped shape US history.
Are you still wondering, “is Savannah, Georgia, safe?” Check out some of the most frequently asked questions below.
What are the safest areas to stay in Savannah, Georgia?
If you aren’t lucky enough to get a room in the historic district or downtown, you’ll have to make do with other neighborhoods. There are several safer neighborhoods in the city, so you can find a place that works for you.
South Harbor and Coffee Bluff are both reasonably safe, although they’re farther away from the city center. River St and East Bay St are both places with thriving nightlife outside downtown and along the river.
If you’re looking for some cheaper accommodations, check out Midtown and Pooler. Midtown is a residential area inside Savannah, while Pooler is a small town outside the city. They are on the cheaper side but still provide great stays.
Is southeast Savannah safe?
Yes, it’s considered by residents to be the safest area in the city. It’s where the wealthier residents of the city reside. It’s also where you’ll find the pricier neighborhoods and more expensive homes.
Is Savannah, Georgia walkable?
Yes, Savannah will typically have everything you need within walking distance of your accommodation. It’s filled with parks and squares that allow residents and tourists alike to enjoy the area’s natural beauty without getting out of the city.
You probably won’t need a car if you’re just planning on staying within the historic district and downtown. Most attractions are within walking distance of each other, or you can rent a bike in your hotel or on the street.
Is it worth visiting Savannah, Georgia?
Yes. Savannah has a southern charm that’s unique to itself. Antebellum buildings and their trademark hospitality and food make Savannah a great tourist destination. Not to mention the beach, which is reason enough to visit.
Which is safer: Savannah or Charleston?
They are very similar in terms of safety. They both have crime rates above the US average, but most tourists visit each city without encountering any problems. If you have to pick one, consider the vibes and attractions of each town more than the safety.
So, Is Savannah, Georgia, Safe?
Savannah is a beautiful city, so don’t let the statistics fool you. Plenty of people visit Savannah each year without incident, and if you play it safe, you should be one of them.
From the charming architecture, lovely beaches, and picturesque parks, Savannah is a feast for all your senses and is well worth the trip. Happy travels!