Most travelers to Australia have to make a stop in Sydney, Australia’s biggest city. Over four million international travelers visit the city annually.
Sydney is home to some of Australia’s most recognizable landmarks, such as the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Once you get past the most obvious attractions, the city has plenty more to offer such as museums, parks, and family attractions such as the Taronga Zoo. Plus, you can take advantage of the city’s position on the water by heading to the famous nearby Bondi Beach.
Sydney certainly looks picture-perfect, but you might be wondering if the reality on the ground matches the images that you see.
Although Sydney has a lot of tourist attractions, at the end of the day it is a living, breathing big city with all of the problems big cities around the world have to deal with.
If you’re concerned about visiting Sydney, this travel guide can help put your mind at ease. Keep reading for detailed information about traveling safely to Sydney, including crime information. Let us be your guide!
Is Sydney Safe to Visit?
Yes. You don’t need to worry about visiting Sydney because this city is extremely safe. Although you should still take some basic precautions as there are a lot of uncertainties that come with visiting a big city, the crime rate in Sydney is very low.
Most visitors and residents don’t experience or witness any crime while they are in town. Sydney is actually one of the safest cities in the world!
According to the Safe Cities Index published by The Economist in 2019, Sydney is the fifth-safest big city in the world and the safest city in Australia. That is certainly a rousing endorsement of a trip to Sydney.
The ranking took into account many factors, including crime rates, public health, terrorism risk, and natural disasters, showing that Sydney is a very safe city no matter how you analyze it.
Australia overall is a very safe country, so it makes sense that even one of its bigger cities would be safe.
According to the Canadian government travel advisory, travelers to any part of Australia only need to use basic precautions and they have the green light to go. Some petty crime may occur, but violent crime anywhere in the country is at a very low rate.
That being said, Sydney does have problems just like any other place in the world. Tourists have been unlucky and been victims of crime in the past.
Some common crimes that can occur in Sydney include:
- Bag snatching
- Hotel room break-ins
- Drink spiking
- Alcohol-induced crime
As you can see, most of these incidents are petty, non-violent crimes. Although violent crime does happen in Sydney, it is very rare and you most likely will not encounter it as it affects primarily locals.
Like anywhere else in Australia, you need to be mindful of natural disasters and extreme weather in Sydney, even though you are in a big city.
According to the official Sydney city website, Sydney is prone to extreme weather events such as droughts, which sometimes cause wildfires near the city, and flash flooding.
Keep an eye on the local news and follow any emergency alerts or advisories that the Australian or local government issues during your stay.
One of the main draws of Sydney is the fact that the city is so close to lots of beautiful nature which you can take advantage of during your stay, but make sure that you do so safely.
If you’re an international visitor, Australia’s sun is probably stronger than what you’re used to since the Southern Hemisphere is closer to the sun, so apply lots of sunscreen and cover up during the hottest part of the day.
If you decide to go swimming, stick to beaches with lifeguards and flags posted at safe areas. Overall, Sydney is a very safe city to go to. You don’t have to worry as long as you take the same basic precautions you would when visiting any city.
Crime in Sydney
As is the case elsewhere in Australia, the crime rate in Sydney is low. While incidents still occur because this is a big city, they are comparatively rare compared to the overall population.
According to the New South Wales Bureau of Statistics, crime in the Greater Sydney area is at a stable, low rate, and the rate of property crime is actually predicted to decrease over the next five years.
In Greater Sydney, the only crime that has seen significant increases is theft from retail stores, which isn’t a crime that affects tourists anyway.
In 2022, the most common violent crime in Sydney was assault, and over 50% of assault incidents were related to domestic violence. There were only 36 homicides all year.
Most crimes that occurred in Greater Sydney were property crimes, with the most common ones being malicious damage to property, stealing offenses, and stealing from a retail store. Theft from vehicles is also a common problem in Sydney.
According to statistics, the crime rate for Sydney is actually lower than the crime rate for New South Wales as a whole. Your chances of being the victim of a property crime while in Sydney are 1 in 42, while your chances of being the victim of a violent crime are 1 in 79.
Public perception agrees that Sydney is a very safe city. According to Numbeo, which collects data from residents and expats in Sydney, the crime index score for Sydney is 34.56 out of 100, which is a low value.
People are worried about some crimes, such as drug use and minor property crimes, and some people think crime has increased over the past few years, but overall the situation in Sydney is positive.
There are a few reasons why Sydney’s crime rate is so low and has declined greatly since the 1970s and 1980s. According to local news, strict gun policies, lower rates of drug and alcohol abuse, better economic conditions, and better police efficiency all play a factor in Sydney’s falling crime rates.
Some people credit Sydney’s lockout laws, which placed strict time limits on alcohol service from 2014-2021, with lowering violent crime rates since alcohol-related crime was a serious problem in the city.
The only crime you are likely to encounter when you visit Sydney is petty theft. This is the most common crime in the city and the one that is most likely to target tourists.
Although the rates of pickpocketing here are not nearly as high as in some other places in the world, such as many of Europe’s major cities, you should still take basic precautions while you are in town.
Pickpockets and bag snatchers often operate around Sydney’s popular tourist attractions, such as the Opera House and Sydney Harbour. Crowded areas such as Central Station and public transportation also provide perfect cover for thieves.
Finally, robberies are more common in sketchier areas of town such as on George Street. A few basic precautions are usually enough to help you fend off petty theft in all of its forms.
New South Wales has a few tips for international students in Sydney that are helpful. You don’t need to keep a vise grip on your bags, but try to hold them close to your body, looped around a shoulder, and with clasps and zippers facing inwards.
You’ll see locals using their phones freely in public, so you don’t have to be very careful, but it’s good to keep your valuables mostly out of sight.
Some thieves turn to scams instead of outright robbery to get money from their victims. Be careful when using ATMs and only use them during the day in secure areas as some have ATM skimmers.
Only take licensed taxis or ride-hailing apps as unlicensed taxis will sometimes scam travelers. Accommodation scams target travelers as well.
When booking a place to stay in Sydney, beware if someone asks you to transfer money to an offshore bank account before booking as that is a robbery technique.
Although alcohol-related crime has declined drastically in Sydney over the past few years, in part due to the lockout laws that were the bane of the nightlife industry, it can still happen.
Australia has a binge-drinking culture and things can quickly get out of hand. Sometimes, criminals wait in bars and nightclubs to take advantage of unsuspecting visitors by spiking their drinks.
Tourists have been victims of drink spiking in the past, and perpetrators will rob or even assault them when they are incapacitated. When you are going out, always keep a close eye on your food and drink and never accept drinks from strangers.
Bar fights and assaults do still happen in Sydney clubs and bars. If you notice a situation escalating, get out of there quickly and never confront people as things have turned out badly in the past.
Avoiding Bad Areas
Although even the sketchy parts of Sydney are comparatively safe, there are still some parts you may want to avoid. George Street is a popular nightlife street in Sydney, but it can get rowdy at night, especially towards the southern end.
Be careful when going there and keep an eye on your valuables and your drinks. In fact, the entire Central Business District is a bit sketchy after dark.
You should still visit, but use basic precautions to stay safe. Some parts of Sydney that are safe during the day are not safe at night, such as Kings Cross, which is a bit of a red light district.
Avoid going into Hyde Park and other major parks after dark due to the prevalence of crime. Some Sydney suburbs have high crime rates, such as Redfern and Mount Druitt. However, these are areas where tourists rarely venture.
Things to Consider
Here are a few additional safety tips for Sydney:
- If you go swimming on Bondi Beach or any other beaches near Sydney, you might encounter jellyfish. If you get stung, wash out the wound with water or vinegar (urine is an urban myth).
- Thefts from vehicles are common crimes in Sydney. Never leave valuables unattended and don’t leave any possessions visible. The best precaution is not to get a vehicle at all — a car is more of a burden than an aid in the city.
- The emergency number for Australia is 000, and you should call it in case anything dangerous happens.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions that visitors to Sydney have asked before:
Is it safe to walk at night in Sydney?
Most parts of Sydney are safe to walk at night. Stick to well-lit areas, avoid places with a dangerous reputation after dark such as Hyde Park, and be careful of rowdy drunk crowds, and you should be fine.
Is Sydney safe for solo female travelers?
Sydney is one of the safest places in the world for solo female travelers due to its low crime rate and high gender equality. You should be careful in bars and clubs as women are often targeted for drink spiking, but besides that, you should be safe.
What is the safest city in Australia?
Sydney is actually the safest big city in Australia according to some metrics. Most of Australia’s cities are very safe, including Brisbane and Canberra.
What is the safest place in Sydney?
The neighborhoods and suburbs in northern Sydney tend to be safer than those in the south. Some safe areas include North Sydney, Hunters Hill, and Upper Lachlan Shire.
Is Sydney an expensive city?
All that safety does come with a price. Sydney is also one of the most expensive cities in the world in addition to being one of the safest. Accommodation, groceries, and nightlife are some of the most expensive in the world.
So, Is Sydney Safe to Visit?
Sydney is a very safe place to visit, especially if you take basic precautions. The biggest threat you face will probably be the sun, so make sure you wear plenty of sunscreen! So, with so much to see and do, what are you waiting for — book your trip today!