It is easy to get distracted and feel out of place when you travel somewhere new which can be particularly relevant in big cities worldwide. While being distracted might mean you take a wrong turn somewhere, it can also mean you might fall victim to common scam tactics or even theft while traveling.
We've already discussed whether Paris is a safe city, but what about another famous European capital just across the Channel? London is a big, bustling city full of people year-round, but is it safe?
Is it safe to travel to London?
If you're thinking about traveling to London, the first thing you should know is that it's big. With over 8 million people spread out over 1,500 km
The other thing to know is that London is a sprawling city. Made up of 32 boroughs, you could find yourself in areas of London with different vibes and different levels of safety. Due to its size, you'll sometimes find yourself in large crowds when you'll need to be aware of your surroundings, and you may feel overwhelmed by people.
Overall, London is a statistically safe place to travel. Although London is still home to more violent crimes, the most common crimes are opportunistic crimes. According to the Crime Rate Index, the United Kingdom ranks 64th globally for crime rates. As London is the largest city in the country, it's not surprising that it would have higher crime rates than other, smaller cities.
Where should I avoid in London?
While there are plenty of beautiful and amazing places to visit in London, if safety is a priority for you, there are some parts you may wish to avoid. Much of London is considered safe, and you're likely to feel the same way as you wander around, but as tourists frequent some areas, they can be hot spots for theft.
Even though you may not wish to avoid them completely, be extra vigilant and aware of your surroundings when visiting popular tourist destinations like Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, or even walking down Oxford Street. These are some of the areas where pickpocketing can be rife.
Is London safe at night?
By night, as by day, much of London is safe, but as the sun sets, it's also essential to be more aware of your surroundings and remain on well-lit streets.
Areas in central London such as the West End or South Bank stay well-lit until the early hours and will allow you to feel more safe navigating in the dark. However, some areas like Camden and Shoreditch don't stay lit in the same way. With many dark, un-lit alleys, these areas should be navigated with caution at night.
One element that helps London be safer at night is night public transport. Night buses run seven days a week, and there are night tube and overground services on select lines running through the night on Friday and Saturday nights. This means that you can party until the early hours on the weekend and still have a reliable way to get home.
Areas outside of central London, such as Elephant & Castle, Lewisham, and Peckham, can have higher crime rates, and this statistic remains true at night. These areas, however, don't tend to have loads of tourist things to view, but it's important to keep them in mind when deciding where to go at night.
Another thing to be aware of at night in London (and the UK) is the drinking culture. Especially during the summer, pubs, clubs, and bars can be very crowded, and the later into the night you go, the more alcohol everyone has consumed. Late-night journeys back to your accommodation can therefore be rowdy and unsafe.
Safe places to stay in London
If you're looking to stay in a safe place in London, sticking to central London is the way to go.
Areas like Russell Square, King's Cross, South Kensington, Notting Hill, or even Westminster are well-lit, well-connected parts of the city. They are popular with tourists, but they're easy to access both on foot and by public transport, while also allowing you to be near the must-see spots of London.
If you're still feeling overwhelmed trying to find a place to stay in London, check out what we ranked as the top five hostels in London! We highly recommend Wombat's City Hostel. Located just next to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, you're in a well-connected area and on a safe street for any late-night returns.
Is London dangerous for tourists?
When traveling to any new place, you're usually at a disadvantage compared to locals because you do not know your way around and may potentially stick out in a crowd. This could put you at risk for pickpocketing, mugging, or scams directed at tourists.
When talking about safety in London, terrorism and knife crime are often mentioned. The average Londoner goes about their day with little to no thoughts about terrorism, and as tourists, you can rest assured that if they aren't concerned, you don't need to be either.
You may notice precautions in place like barriers on bridges or limited bins in some areas, but there should be little impact on your travels. While knife crime statistics have risen in recent years, these tend to be isolated to certain areas of London and can be gang-related, so it's unlikely to impact tourists.
Tips for staying safe in London
To help make your time in London safer and go smoothly, here are some nice tips to make you feel more at ease:
- Always know where your purse/bag/backpack is. Never leave it unattended, and always place bags between your legs at restaurants
- Avoid putting your phone in your back pocket
- Be aware of any events during your visit (like Notting Hill Carnival, any Royal celebrations, etc.)
- Plan your routes in advance
- Blend in (use your phone to map yourself rather than a paper map)
Is London safe for solo travelers?
Since London is a safe place to travel, it is especially for solo travelers. However, as you're traveling alone, you need to be extra cautious and vigilant with your things when you're out and about. You'll want to always keep hold of your belongings and be mindful of who you ask me to take your picture with if you want some solo pics for your Instagram grid.
When you're getting around London, stick to the lower level of the buses to be closer to the driver and other passengers, especially at night. It also means you're closer to the exit for when your stop comes or if you no longer wish to remain on the bus.
Train stations can also be crowded, so be aware of potentially crowded hours if you're headed on a day trip or passing through.
Keep calm and head to London!
The best part of traveling is being open and free while you explore new destinations. Don’t let the fear of being a part of a crime ruin your trip! All you have to do is remember to stay alert and cautious. While you're planning, check out our guide to 14 Iconic London Landmarks you must see on your next trip!
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