Yes, New Orleans is a safe city. You shouldn’t experience any trouble on a one-off visit, except in rare cases.
That said, New Orleans’ crime stats are inflated over the national median, and you should be aware that certain city neighbourhoods are DEFINITELY to be avoided. Whilst the overall risk to a fly-by visit is small, stay conscious that crime is not a joke in this city.
I would say that the essential concept of travel smarts (vital for a smooth trip anywhere) is equally valuable here. Staying on your toes, especially at night, will greatly reduce the outside chance of anything ruinous occurring on your NOLA adventure.
If common sense could solve all problems, however, I would be out of a job, so also included in this guide are specific tips and tricks to provide everything you need for a smooth, safe trip. So is New Orleans Safe? Whether you’re searching for an in-depth analysis or a casual skim, this guide is perfectly poised to deliver all the info you need.
There is no such thing as a perfect safety guide, and this article is no different. The question of “Is New Orleans Safe?” will ALWAYS have a different answer depending on the parties involved. But this article is written for savvy travellers from the perspective of savvy travellers.
The information present in this safety guide was accurate at the time of writing, however, the world is a changeable place, now more than ever. Between the pandemic, ever-worsening cultural division, and a click-hungry media, it can be hard to maintain what is truth and what is sensationalism.
Here, you will find safety knowledge and advice for travelling New Orleans. It won’t be down to the wire cutting edge info on the most current events, but it is layered in the expertise of veteran travellers. If you use our guide, do your own research, and practise common sense, you will have a safe trip to New Orleans.
If you see any outdated information in this guide, we would really appreciate it if you could reach out in the comments below. We strive to provide the most relevant travel information on the web and always appreciate input from our readers (nicely, please!). Otherwise, thanks for your ear and stay safe!
It’s a wild world out there. But it’s pretty damn special too. 🙂
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- Is New Orleans Safe to Visit Right Now?
- Safest Places in New Orleans
- 16 Top Safety Tips for Traveling to New Orleans
- Is New Orleans safe to travel alone?
- Is New Orleans safe for solo female travellers?
- Is New Orleans safe for families?
- Getting around New Orleans Safely
- Crime in New Orleans
- FAQs about Safety in New Orleans
- So, is New Orleans Safe?
Is New Orleans Safe to Visit Right Now?
To rephrase my earlier short form- yes, travelling to New Orleans is safe, but the consensus shows there are districts to avoid.
The city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. More than 80% of the city was flooded, thousands died and there was more than a 50% decline in population. The homeless population, following the hurricane, doubled to 12,000 people – 1 in 25 people in New Orleans were homeless.
Thankfully, things have improved greatly since then. Numerous neighbourhood and community organisations have helped work towards the redevelopment of the city, and the homeless population has fallen to a 10th of what it was at its peak.
Despite being well-known for crime, which mainly occurs away from the bulk of NOLA’s best places to visit, the city is safe. The main evidence- there are hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, and few of them encounter any problems at all.
The Jazz Festival (end of April), French Quarter Festival (mid-April), and – most notoriously – Mardi Gras season (falling sometime in March) draw huge crowds to the city. Visitors can expect a lot of people, a lot of drinking, and a lot of partying. This is great for a festive feeling, but if you’re looking for an introverted getaway, it might be best to avoid these times.
Safest Places in New Orleans
When choosing where you’ll be staying, a bit of research and caution is essential. You don’t want to end up in a sketchy area and ruin your trip to New Orleans.
If you’re going by stats, you’ll want to take a peek at Uptown, Lakeview and the Garden District. However, as a tourist, I’d say it’s better to sacrifice a little from the crime numbers for better placement and entertainment. I’ve listed 3 of the best tourist districts (which are safe too!) below.
- French Quarter: At the heart of the city, the French Quarter is where you can find great food, incredible music, and lively nightlife. Popular but safe – The French Quarter ranks as the safest neighbourhood in New Orleans, mainly because there are just so many people and therefore a high police presence.
- Central Business District: It is a haven for sports fans and shopaholics, as well as foodies, culture vultures and party animals. This neighbourhood is home to a variety of affordable hostels and inexpensive hotels. Thanks to safe and affordable accommodations, the district attracts plenty of travellers and offers great attractions at the same time.
- Mid-City/Lakeview: North of the city centre are the neighbouring districts of Mid-City and Lakeview. They offer a nice reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the French Quarter and Bourbon Street without being too far away. These districts offer an intriguing mix of things to do but focus heavily on natural or active activities. Mid-City and Lakeview are more residential and popular amongst families.
Unsafe areas in New Orleans
There are definitely places in New Orleans that aren’t particularly safe. Especially at night, you should take extra care when walking around. To keep you safe, I’ve lifted the neighbourhoods I’d avoid (during the day and at night):
- St. Claude: This area is almost considered a ghetto. You meet sketchy characters here that are up to no good and the crime rates are through the roof. Not a safe place at all!
- Desire: Super famous for the “Black Panther” shootout of 1970, don’t let the small population fool you into thinking this district is safe. The area has been flagged for high drug use.
- Central City: This district is located north of the CBD. The crime rate is 121% over the local average and 420% over the national average, which is quite a bit. If possible – avoid!
- Seventh Ward: This area is also known for violent crime. The statistics are looking pretty rough as well, so better stay away!
While all of these places CAN be visited, I’d recommend only doing it during the day. Definitely stay away at night. In fact, no matter where you are in New Orleans, be more careful after dark. If a street looks dodgy – avoid it! Don’t wander off alone and if possible, grab a taxi or Uber to get from A to B.
A wild and wonderful city, full of cultural and actual food flavours, New Orleans should definitely be on your USA travel itinerary. However, like many places in the world, it’s important to travel smart and have your guard up: New Orleans is not a theme park. To help your trip go smoothly, check out our safety tips for travelling to New Orleans below…
- Always be aware of your surroundings – No matter where you are, knowing what’s going on around you is important.
- Don’t walk around in quiet neighbourhoods – Much of the city is safe to walk around, but some secluded residential areas away from crowds may put you at risk.
- Stick to busy, well-lit streets after dark – Certain parts of the CBD and Warehouse District – usually quite busy – can empty out after dark, so try to stay where other people are.
- Limit the number of valuables you carry with you – These are better off in your safe in your room or left at home altogether. Get your hands on a money belt to keep your cash hidden while exploring the city.
- Try not to stick out like a tourist – It’s possible that you could be a victim of crime if you stand out like a tourist (SLR, sun hat, vacation T-shirt, flip flops, etc.)
- Take a cab instead of walking at night – Especially if you’ve been drinking; you don’t want to inadvertently find yourself in an unsafe area while mindlessly following Google Maps.
- Be careful of con games and scams – If you are approached by someone who wants to clean your shoes, show you a card trick, etcetera, politely decline and keep walking.
- Know about local laws – For example, you can only drink if you’re 21, but there are weirder ones: like not being able to drive between 11 pm and 5 am if you’re under 17.
- Don’t walk around with an open bottle of alcohol – It’s got to be in a plastic to-go cup (sorry, Earth).
- Don’t act up in front of the police – Especially during Mardi Gras. They have to put up with a lot of drunken people during this time – and won’t be in the mood to deal with you either.
- Be careful of getting too drunk – I know, good times often involve alcohol, but getting really drunk here could easily put yourself at risk. Mardi Gras may have a good atmosphere, but anywhere can become unsafe if you’re totally wasted.
- Research accommodation carefully – There has been a surge in Airbnbs in New Orleans, but make sure to see what neighbourhood they’re in; some are in residential neighbourhoods which may not be safe or even convenient.
- Be careful taking money out of ATMs – Pay attention to who’s around you; it’s a good idea to use ATMs either inside or during the day.
- Keep an eye on weather forecasts – As I mentioned, the weather can be serious in New Orleans. Take note and know what to do in extreme weather situations.
- Don’t keep your belongings in your back pocket – Phones, wallets, anything… Opportunist pickpockets will disappear them in the blink of an eye.
- Respect the sun and keep hydrated – It gets hot here, and there’s lots of surrounding nature to enjoy, but never forget to bring along plenty of water and sunscreen.
While there is a reputation for crime in New Orleans, you will most likely stay safe during your visit to the city. The best way to make yourself unsafe while you’re here is to put yourself in unsafe situations. Walking after dark in quiet neighbourhoods and getting way too drunk are just two of them. Use your common sense, and I reckon you’ll come out on top.
If you feel like sorting a New Orleans itinerary alone, then you will be pleased to know that it can be done – and safely, too. In fact, most places in the world are perfect for solo travel. You get to learn about new countries, yourself and have experiences you never would’ve thought possible.
However it is still important to travel safely – even more so when you’re by yourself – so I’ve put together a little guide for solo travellers in New Orleans to keep you safe.
- Avoid secluded areas. As a solo traveller, you will actually be more of a target for muggings and pickpocketing, which is more likely to occur in quiet areas away from crowds, where you can be singled out more easily.
- Keep your wits about you. Learn to figure out when a friendly stranger is being genuine, or if someone is trying to scam you or otherwise pull a fast one on you. As a rule of thumb, overfriendly strangers may well not have the best of intentions – no matter how “normal” they seem.
- Avoid altercations. This is a tip for pretty much any place, but in a place like New Orleans – where people are drinking and having fun – things can quickly escalate into a situation that didn’t need to happen. If someone’s being aggressive, just walk away; likewise, don’t react aggressively to other people.
- On a similar note, don’t drink too much. Knowing your limits is a good thing anywhere, but when you’re by yourself in a city you don’t know, it can be very easy for you to put yourself at risk by becoming so wasted that you don’t know what’s happening around you.
- Know how you’re going to get home from a night out. Our advice, and your best option, is to take a cab (or an Uber) if you’re going home at night.
- Getting to grips with the neighbourhood in which you are staying is a good way to stay safe. In order to do this, research before you travel and then ask at your accommodation where’s safe to walk around, what’s good to do in the area, and where you shouldn’t be going.
- Keep in touch with other people back home, your friends and/or family. Travelling by yourself does not mean that you have to go off grid, which is an unsafe way to travel. Instead, keep people you trust aware of where you’re staying, what you’re doing and where you’re going next.
- Having different ways to access your money is a very good idea. If something should happen to your bank card, it means being able to withdraw money; having a backup account, savings account, or even an emergency credit card, could really save you from a tricky situation.
- Get yourself on a group tour. It’s not a cop-out to take a tour (especially a walking tour) and is, in fact, a great way to get to know fellow travellers, learn things about the place you’re visiting, and get around safely. Make sure to research so that you find reputable tour companies and guides.
- Keep your phone charged, and have a spare battery pack in case it does run out of juice. Facing an emergency situation with a phone that has 2% battery is not going to make that situation any better.
Don’t let the fact that New Orleans is a party town put you off travelling there by yourself – it’s a great place to go by yourself.
The important thing to remember is to know your limits and remember that you only have yourself to rely on, so use your common sense and keep yourself out of potentially risky scenarios.
Is New Orleans safe for solo female travellers?
Taking on New Orleans is safe for the solo female traveller – and you won’t be alone. It may have a bit of a reputation for being a seedy party city, but don’t let that keep you away.
Aside from the hectic Mardi Gras, there are a bunch of unique experiences (and amazing food) to be had in New Orleans. Couple this with friendly people, a strong art scene and plenty of music, and you’ll see that this city is about way more than partying. Though by all means, if that’s what you’re here for then it’s one of the best party cities in the world!
It pays to be in the know, so I have put together my best safety tips for solo travellers in New Orleans to help you navigate the city securely.
- Know your limit. For women by themselves, knowing your limit when it comes to alcohol is really important. You don’t want to get to the point where you lose your phone, or you don’t know where your bag is, or how to get home. Being careful about how much you’re drinking can save you a lot of hassle.
- Join in a group activity. This could be anything from a bar crawl, to a cooking class, or any number of things. Not only will you get to learn stuff from local specialists, but you will also get to meet some like-minded people on the tour as well.
- Get in contact with other travellers, or even locals, before you arrive. Meet-up events and social hangouts are organised all the time, so do a bit of research. Other places to meet fellow females include social media such as Facebook groups Host A Sister, while groups such as Girls Love Travel boasts a community of travel-loving ladies who can answer questions and meet up with you.
- Don’t let your drink out of your sight. Drink spiking does happen and is a problem here. Don’t accept a drink from anyone you don’t know and make sure you can always see your drink.
- Ignore catcalls and harassment. This occurs in New Orleans, particularly during the events (Mardi Gras especially) and in and around bars. A good idea is to go to a less lively establishment and sit at the bar where the bar staff will be able to keep a safe eye on you.
- Ask your accommodation for recommendations. Great (and safe) things to do definitely exist!
- Stay somewhere safe and secure. It should be central (like the Warehouse Arts District), not in a residential neighbourhood. If a hostel, optioning for female-only dorms is a must. Do your research and only stay at places with good reviews.
- Share your travel itinerary. Having someone know where you are and what you’re up to is a whole lot safer than nobody having a clue where you are.
- Don’t disclose information you don’t need to. This could be anything from your marital status to where you’re staying and what you’re doing the next day; people don’t need to know, and it’s safer for you that they don’t.
Just use the same common sense that you would use for visiting any other city in the world, or the same way you keep yourself safe back home, and most likely there will be nothing to worry about!
Is New Orleans safe for families?
New Orleans is a fantastic city – and a great choice for a family vacation.
One of the toughest things that you may come across in New Orleans, especially if you’ve never been anywhere like this before, is the heat. It’s that sticky kind of heat that means you just sweat through everything. It can get overwhelming and make normal situations more stressful than they need to be.
It is also a good idea to keep an eye on the weather. Depending on the time of year you go, storms or tornados could really affect your time in New Orleans; it also rains a fair bit here, so make sure to pack accordingly and heed weather warnings.
There is a range of unbelievable airbnbs that are great for families, and you shouldn’t have any trouble finding suitable accommodation in town. Just be careful not to pick a dangerous neighbourhood. I would recommend Lakeview.
Overall, though it may not seem an obvious place to visit with your children in tow, not only is New Orleans a safe place to visit for families – it is also worthwhile.
Getting around New Orleans Safely
The New Orleans public transport is pretty reliable and is an attraction in itself. The top choice is the iconic streetcar, made famous in “A Streetcar Named Desire” (by Tennessee Williams).
Streetcars run frequently and cover a large portion of the city. They can get quite crowded, so watch your valuables, and keep an eye out for shady characters, especially at night. For more information on the New Orleans streetcars, head to www.norta.com.
Buses in New Orleans are perfectly safe to use, and a good public transportation option if you are staying further from the action. You can even take your bike with you, as buses are usually equipped with bike racks.
Taxis, Ubers and Lyfts are easy and convenient options if you have the means to pay for them. If you find yourself in a dodgy area late at night, don’t hesitate to call one!
Driving to New Orleans is a good option for getting there, but becomes a liability in the city. Not only is there slow traffic, but there is infrequent parking, fuel costs, and of course, the chance that your car gets nicked to worry about. Frankly, you’re better off using public transportation.
Crime in New Orleans
Sadly, New Orleans experiences more crime than a lot of America. It is rated safer than only 2 percent of other U.S. cities. In 2022 it was given (again) the grim title of “Murder Capital of the U.S.”, after having lost the title for several years. However, the bulk of crime in NOLA is non-violent.
For more info, check out New Orleans police department data. Thankfully, New Orleans crime is chiefly confined to non-tourist areas, but you should stay weary, especially at night.
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FAQs about Safety in New Orleans
Here’s what we’re usually asked about staying safe in New Orleans.
So, is New Orleans Safe?
Yes, New Orleans is safe. Of course, it takes a bit of effort to stay out of trouble, but as long as you use your common sense and stick to our travel tips, you’ll be perfectly fine.
New Orleans may have a high crime rate, but tourists will most likely see none of it. Yes, the city may also be known for its rabble-rousing Mardi Gras antics, but the main way to get into an unsafe situation during carnival time is by not looking out for yourself and not being aware of your surroundings. Trust your gut and know your limits – New Orleans is a fun, fascinating place to explore.
If you’ve been to New Orleans before, let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels!
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!