Boston is the capital city of the state of Massachusetts. It is popular among tourists because of its rich history. The city hosts many museums where US history is kept and is also a destination city for sporting events and various live performances of all shapes and sizes.
Boston hosts over 16 million annual visitors and domestic and international tourists. You may also have it in your must-visit places this coming holiday, but what do you know about the city? Most travelers often focus on what they will see on-site and forget about safety or anything else.
When traveling to Boston, you should be more concerned about security than anything else. Believe it or not, the Boston crime rate is above the national average, making it less secure than most US cities.
With that in mind, is Boston safe? This article has you covered. We will review everything about the city. That includes the best hotels and how to get around the city.
Show Table of Contents
- What Do You Need To Visit Boston?
- Travel Insurance
- Transport around Boston
- Is Boston Safe to Visit?
- Boston Crime Rates
- Boston Violent Crime Rates
- Boston Property Crime Rate
- How to Stay Safe in Boston
- Don’t Walk in the Dark Alone
- Travel in Groups
- Carry a Personal Self-Defense Weapon
- Double the Door Security
- Hide your Wealth Status
- Avoid the Most Dangerous Neighborhoods
- Is Boston Safe for Female Solo Travelers?
- Boston Crime Rate vs. Most Dangerous Cities in the US
- Safest Neighborhoods in Boston
- North End
- West Roxbury
- Best Hotels to Stay in Boston
- Boston Omni Parker House Hotel
- Hampton Inn Boston Logan Airport
- Seaport Hotel
- citizenM Boston North Station
- Ramada by Wyndham Boston
- Is Boston a safe city?
- Is Boston a good place to live?
- Is Boston safer than Chicago or New York?
What Do You Need To Visit Boston?
You will need an international tourist visa from the United States Embassy. Besides that, you have a long checklist of items to consider, including the following:
Travel insurance is always recommended when traveling, as it helps cover medical costs, lost luggage, theft, and more. World Nomads and TravelInsurance.com are the two best in the business and will look out for you when things go awry on your trip.
For example, your medical insurance in your state or country may not cover you when you go to another country or state. You need a travel insurance policy to ensure your safety and convenience.
Apart from personal injuries, a travel insurance policy covers many other things during an emergency. You can even be compensated for a trip cut short and many others, but it depends on your insurer. Check out TravelInsurance.com or InsureMyTrip.
See Related: Best Boston Tours
Transport around Boston
Once you are in Boston, you may need to navigate the city. That may not be a problem if you have a tour guide. But without that, you can get into dangerous neighborhoods in Boston or waste time discovering the city. Find your tour guide at GetYourGuide or Viator to help you create memorable experiences in Boston.
Your tour guide can also help you arrange transportation to and from the places you want to visit. But renting a car is the best option if you need to explore everything yourself. Search and book yours at RentalCars or Kayak for reliable and flexible services.
Accommodation is another big consideration when visiting Boston or any other city. Different hotels and inns offer accommodation services, but the price differs. Use Booking.com to find what matches your pocketbook. We will talk about this in more detail later.
Your safety is another big thing to consider when visiting Boston. Boston is known for its higher-than-average crime rate. So, it would be best to look after yourself in this city. Fortunately, we will dedicate the better part of this article to that subject.
See Related: Do You Need a Car in Boston?
Is Boston Safe to Visit?
Many people have been asking about Boston safety. You should know about it when traveling to Boston – anywhere. Boston does have a crime rate higher than the national average, which factors crimes such as homicide, rape, kidnapping, robbery, etc.
Like any city, you must take precautions to avoid being scammed or harmed. The city receives 19 million visitors annually, so do not be discouraged from visiting if it is on your bucket list. Here are some tips to stay safe when you visit:
- Public transportation is considered relatively safe in Boston, but avoid riding it at night or instead ride with a large group.
- Keep important personal belongings in a bag accessible to you or wear them in front of your person. Pickpocketing and purse snatching can be common.
- Stay in well-lit areas and more populated locations
- Always travel with a buddy or group at night
- Always be aware of your surroundings and contact authorities if you notice anything suspicious
To answer this question, we will dig deeper into the crime rates in this city. We will also give tips on how to stay safe in Boston and neighborhoods in Boston where you can actually live.
Boston Crime Rates
To the untrained eye, Boston has alarming statistics about violent crimes such as homicide, burglary, robbery, rape, assault, and more.
But what do the statistics tell us about Boston Crimes? We will look at the city’s most common crimes to better understand Boston’s safety. But before that, let’s first talk about what crime rates mean.
Understanding a Crime Rate
US Crime rates are the most reliable way of quickly measuring the safety of a city or a town in the US. The figure is calculated by dividing the number of crimes recorded in an area by the number of people who live there.
The result is then multiplied by 100,000. That means a crime rate is expressed per 100,000 people. For simplicity’s sake, we will present our data per 1,000 people.
The FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics is responsible for releasing annual statistics of different cities in the United States. Every crime committed is grouped into either violent or property crime.
The violent crime category includes murder, manslaughter, rape, sexual assault, homicide, robbery, kidnapping, etc. On the other hand, property crimes include theft, burglary, motor vehicle theft, vandalism, shoplifting, arson, etc.
Property crimes are considered less dangerous, but it doesn’t mean such places are safe to visit.
Most states, cities, and towns compare their crime rates with the national average. So, we will talk about crime rates in Boston against the national values to help us determine how safe the city is to visitors and residents.
Boston Violent Crime Rates
The violent crime rate in Boston is slightly above the national average, according to the 2020 statistics published by Neighborhood Scout. All the data we will present here are derived from that publication.
Boston recorded 4,378 violent crimes in 2020, giving it a violent crime rate of 6.48 per 1,000 people. There were 58 murders, 193 rapes, 923 robberies, and 3,204 sex assaults. These are considered high, given the city has a population of about 675,000 as of 2020.
(It’s also worth noting that the national violent crime rate was at an all-time high in 2020 – which could explain some of it).
To help reduce the high violent crime rate, the Boston Police Department has recruited more officers and civilian members. The patrol team covers approximately 90 square miles and assures to keep law-abiding people in Boston safe. So yeah, hopefully, visitors can expect police officers to come to their rescue when up against the bad guys.
Let’s see how Boston’s crime rate compares to the national crime data.
Boston Violent Crimes vs US Violent Crimes (Total Rate Per 1,000 people)
So, what are your chances of falling victim to a violent crime in Boston? 1 in every 154 people in Boston city becomes a victim of some form of violent crime.
Boston City has higher violent crime rates than the national average from the above chart. However, it is still safer than about 19% of cities in the United States.
Boston Property Crime Rate
Can you live in Boston safely? Traveling to Boston and living in the city are two different entities. But can you actually live there safely? How safe are neighborhoods in Boston? We can answer these questions by looking at some property crime statistics.
In 2020, Boston recorded 1,722 burglaries, 10,479 thefts, and 1,292 motor vehicle thefts. That means 1 in 50 people becomes victims of one or two types of property crimes. Let’s look at the data from the chart below to understand the Boston property crime rate:
From the data presented, property crimes are more common than violent crimes in Boston, and both types of crime in all their forms are committed at a much higher than the national average per 1,000 people. They are also higher than the average Massachusetts crime rate.
The city’s crime rate may seem too high for your blood, but there are ways to stay safe here.
See Related: Best Travel Safes
How to Stay Safe in Boston
If you are a visitor or a resident, you must look after yourself and take safety precautions. Don’t allow yourself to become a victim of a violent crime.
As mentioned, Boston receives over 19 million tourists each year. These people visit the city to tour the infamous Harvard University or its many historical sites.
Some enjoy taking pictures at the Bunker Hill Monument, Old North Church, Old State House, Faneuil Hall, Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, or USS Constitution.
There are plenty of safe places you can visit in the city. These include:
- Brookline Reservoir Park
- Charles River Esplanade
- Boston Public Library
- Halibut Point State Park
- The Fenway Garden Society
- Boston Public Garden
- Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University
- Castle Island
However, you should not get too absorbed in these activities if it comes to compromising your safety the next time you visit Boston. Your safety in the city still comes first, and you can remain safe by doing the following:
Don’t Walk in the Dark Alone
The rate of violent crimes triples with the power of darkness.
Many people like to enjoy the nightlife on vacation. Boston booms with life after the dark, with many activities along well-lit streets in downtown Boston. But as a visitor to the city, we highly recommend you stay indoors at night.
If you must go outside, stick to major well-lit thoroughfares with a partner. Steer clear of dark places and avoid walking through small alleyways. These are often hot spots for all sorts of crimes. It is better to be in the company of a resident to lead you away from dangerous places.
Travel in Groups
Walking in a group increases your security. It’s not easy for someone to attack a group of people. You are more likely to be a victim if you walk alone. Don’t become easy prey for the bad guys looking for an easy target!
Also, every individual in the group should watch each other’s back. Stay alert to your surroundings when walking in downtown Boston.
Carry a Personal Self-Defense Weapon
The reality of city living in the US is you never know when a mugger can attack you when walking in the dark or during the day. Carry an authorized self-defense weapon such as pepper spray or a blinding spotlight to help you fight back against the assailant.
A pepper spray causes eye-watering, difficulty breathing, and coughing. On the other hand, a blinding light does what its name suggests. These effects are temporary but will give you time to escape to safety. So, at least learn some self-defense skills when visiting Boston.
Tasers are now legal for private ownership in Massachusetts. However, you need a gun license.
Double the Door Security
This applies to travelers who like using Airbnb or VRBO services instead of booking hotel rooms. This option is cheaper and often friendlier to your wallet. However, it exposes you to more risks.
You don’t know who might have a spare key…
Carry a portable lock that you attach as a secondary lock to keep yourself safe. It will keep you and your property safe from being a victim of crime. You can even boost your home security system using this simple trick!
Hide your Wealth Status
Many people like to show how loaded their pockets are. Don’t make that mistake if you are visiting Boston. Downtown Boston may be safe during the day, but a stocker after your possessions may follow your trail into the darkness.
Keep your wealth to yourself to avoid becoming a target of violent crimes. Try to blend in with people around you. Wearing expensive jewelry, wristwatches, shoes, and stuff like that can make bad guys zero in on you. Also, don’t show off your wallet when buying anything. Just keep a low profile to stay safe.
Also, don’t dress like a tourist. You’ll be an easy mark.
See Related: What Does a Tourist Look Like?
Avoid the Most Dangerous Neighborhoods
The Boston murder rate or general crime rate is higher in zoned areas. Crimes committed in these places are high, meaning you double your chances of becoming a victim of a crime if you go there.
The most dangerous areas in Boston include:
- Jamaica Plain
- Hyde Park
- North Dorchester
- South Dorchester
- East Boston
- South Boston
- Central Boston
Is Boston Safe for Female Solo Travelers?
Largely, yes. Female solo travelers are frequently preyed upon, but you don’t have to worry too much when visiting Boston.
But still, your safety comes first. Use the tips mentioned earlier, including not walking in the dark alone. Also, keep away from the most dangerous places. If you intend to stay in the city longer, choose a hotel for accommodation in the safest neighborhood in Boston.
See Related: Where to Stay in Salem, Massachusetts
Boston Crime Rate vs. Most Dangerous Cities in the US
Boston is not the most dangerous city in the United States. Memphis TN, Detroit, MI, Baltimore, MD, St. Louis, MO; and Little Rock, AK top the list.
Boston’s crime rate is about four times less than that of Memphis, the one at the tip-top of the list. It’s worth noting Memphis leads in both violent and petty crimes.
Boston does not even feature in the top 10 most crime-ridden cities in the US, but not by much – 83% of cities in the US have a lower crime rate than Boston.
See Related: Best Day Trips from Boston
Safest Neighborhoods in Boston
If you want to stay in Boston with even less risk of becoming a victim of crime, consider living in safer places with a low violent crime rate. According to the statistics and Boston residents, the following are safe neighborhoods to consider:
North End is considered the safest neighborhood in Boston. Many tourists crowd here each year when they visit Boston. It has the lowest crime rates, with few violent crimes reported.
The crime rate in Roslindale is about 47% lower than the Boston average. The recorded violent and property crimes per 100,000 people are lower than in other places. According to the FBI, this neighborhood is safer than most cities in Massachusetts.
Like other safe neighborhoods listed, this place also has a lower crime rate than the national and Boston average. It is famous for its artsy vibe and endless entertainment from live performances.
Fenway-Kenmore has an excellent livability score and is close to many attraction sites. You can get to the Red Sox and the historic Fenway Park. It also has a vibrant nightlife with many bars and restaurants, but it is better not to walk alone late at night.
West Roxbury also has an excellent result regarding safety and crime incidents. Your chances of being a crime victim in this place are minimal.
Best Hotels to Stay in Boston
Tourism in Boston is an excellent industry. With millions of domestic and international tourists coming to the city, finding a place to spend a night can be a real challenge. However, there is a workaround for this problem. Make your reservations early at Booking.com or Kayak.com for the best hotels.
Consider the following hotels:
Boston Omni Parker House Hotel
The hotel is located in downtown Boston on the Freedom Trail, just a few blocks from Boston Common. It is a luxury yet affordable hotel that features a 24/7, full-service restaurant, business center, and Wi-Fi. The rooms are classy, and the staff is lovely.
Hampton Inn Boston Logan Airport
Hampton Inn is the tourists’ favorite hotel because of its strategic location near the Logan International Airport. It also offers easy access to the city center and free airport shuttle services. The accommodations here are top-notch and kid-friendly. Enjoy your stay in Boston by making your reservations now!
Seaport Hotel is one of the best if you want beachfront rooms. It may be a little more expensive than other options, but it is worth your money. The rooms feature flat-screen TV sets, and it has on-site dining. Silver Line Bus Station is also located nearby for safe public transportation.
citizenM Boston North Station
The hotel is located in downtown Boston, just around the corner, from the North End neighborhood. Its location, design, staff, and facilities are all amazing. The beds are super comfy. You will enjoy every minute you spend in this hotel.
Ramada by Wyndham Boston
Ramada is the most cost-effective option we have on this list. Its location may be problematic, but it is the best choice if your budget is tight. The hotel features an outdoor saltwater pool and a free shuttle from the airport and subway station.
Is Boston a safe city?
Boston has a population of around 700,000 and sees 19 million visitors annually. Boston sees 655 violent crimes per 100,000, making the city less safe than 83 percent of US cities. The violent crime rate in Boston is nearly double the national violent crime rate. That said, the center of Boston and the more touristy areas of Boston are largely quite safe.
Is Boston a good place to live?
Believe it or not, Boston is one of the healthiest cities in the country, with a relatively high quality of life. Deutsche Bank even says Boston is the eighth-best city in the world regarding quality of life!
Is Boston safer than Chicago or New York?
None of these cities are ranked among the safest cities in their states, but Boston neighborhoods have much lower overall crime rates than Chicago and New York City.
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- About the Author
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a seasoned traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers find their next adventure, whether it’s exploring new places or revisiting old favorites.
He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wonderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). He loves listening to people’s stories from around the world as well as sharing his own experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.