How Safe Is Asheville for Travel?

Updated On September 11, 2023
Asheville, United States
Safety Index:
57
* Based on Research & Crime Data

Nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, North Carolina, beckons travelers with its unique blend of natural beauty, vibrant arts and culture, and a burgeoning culinary scene.

For those seeking an adventure in the great outdoors, Asheville is a gateway to the stunning Appalachian Mountains.

The Blue Ridge Parkway, often referred to as “America’s Favorite Drive,” offers breathtaking vistas, hiking trails, and opportunities for wildlife watching.

Nearby Pisgah National Forest provides endless opportunities for hiking, camping, and exploring pristine waterfalls.

Of course, the Great Smoky Mountains are also a big draw to this region, which spans from Knoxville to Asheville.

Art and culture thrive in Asheville.

The city is known for its numerous galleries, studios, and theaters.

The Asheville Art Museum showcases a diverse collection of contemporary and traditional art, while the River Arts District is a haven for art lovers, featuring a myriad of working studios.

Food enthusiasts will be delighted by Asheville’s culinary offerings.

The city is a hub for farm-to-table dining, craft breweries, and vibrant farmers’ markets.

Asheville’s historic charm is evident in places like the Biltmore Estate, the largest privately-owned home in the U.S., where you can tour the opulent mansion and its stunning gardens.

The Thomas Wolfe Memorial and Grove Arcade also offer glimpses into the city’s rich history.

There’s a lot to love about Asheville, but a lot of safety concerns, too.

Let’s get started.

Warnings & Dangers in Asheville

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM

There's a medium risk in Asheville. Although there's a lot to do in town and nearby, the crime rates are surging, and no clear end is in sight.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW

Asheville Rides Transit (ART) is the public bus system to get around town. Plenty of taxis, rideshares, and rental cars are available. If you plan to drive through the Smokies, you'll likely want your own car. All options are a low risk.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM

The city has averaged about 25 pickpockets or purse snatchings a year over the past five years, giving it a medium risk. Don't leave your personal stuff in your car, either. Nearly 32% of all thefts are due to car break-ins. Shoplifting is the biggest theft category.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM

You can get severe weather throughout the year here, so treat that with a medium risk. November and spring bring the risk of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. Winter can bring snowstorms or ice storms. Flash flooding and dangerous lightning can ruin outdoor plans or make a trip to the mountains dangerous.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM

At least 25% of robberies are highway robberies, so treat this as another medium risk. That's especially true with the robbery incident increasing 20% from 2021 to 2022.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK: LOW

This is a low risk, and your bigger concern should be the local crime rates. However, always report any suspicious activity you see.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK: LOW

Review the "Recognizing Scams and Con Artists" section of the city's website. While you're more likely to get panhandled than scammed, you should know the signs of a scammer. The risk is low, and there are far greater risks in Asheville.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: MEDIUM

Women should use extra caution if traveling alone and at night. Due to the growing crime rates, it's not a city where you can just wander at will. Treat it with the same medium risk as the other categories.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK: LOW

Asheville's water has a low risk, and you can read the annual water quality report on the utility's website to learn more. I'd also bookmark that because there's an "AVL ALERT" section that shows past and current water issues with future scheduled outages. If you have any questions, call (828)251-1122.

Safest Places to Visit in Asheville

Explore Asheville is the name of the city’s tourism website.

You can download a digital version of the tourist guide or have one mailed to you.

I’d recommend using the digital guide so you don’t have to give any personal information.

For art enthusiasts, the Asheville Art Museum is a must-visit.

This dynamic cultural hub features a diverse collection of contemporary and traditional art, showcasing the creative spirit of the region.

You can spend hours getting lost in the captivating world of visual arts.

Asheville’s craft beer scene is legendary, so be sure to explore the numerous breweries dotted around the city.

Many offer outdoor seating options, making it easy to enjoy a refreshing brew in a safe environment.

If you’re seeking a bit of spirituality, the Asheville Salt Cave provides a unique experience.

This underground sanctuary offers halotherapy sessions, which are said to promote relaxation and well-being.

For a taste of local history, consider visiting the Thomas Wolfe Memorial.

This historic site was the childhood home of the famous author and offers insights into his life and work.

Nature lovers will find solace in the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic drive that offers breathtaking vistas of the surrounding mountains.

You can also embark on hiking adventures in nearby Pisgah National Forest, where trails cater to various skill levels.

Music enthusiasts should check out The Orange Peel, a renowned music venue that hosts a wide range of live performances, from indie rock to electronic dance music.

To satisfy your shopping cravings, the Grove Arcade is a charming architectural gem filled with boutique shops and eateries.

Lastly, don’t miss the chance to explore the scenic Botanical Gardens at Asheville.

These peaceful gardens are a great place to connect with nature while taking a leisurely walk.

If you’re looking for information on the Smoky Mountains, use VisitSmokies.org, as that covers the North Carolina side mostly.

VisitMySmokies.com is for the Gatlinburg side.

Places to Avoid in Asheville

Downtown Asheville has been a focal point of crime for a while.

Issues range from blight to homelessness to violent crimes.

A major city initiative is underway to clean up downtown and have residents help in the plan for a safer core community.

Some neighborhoods in Asheville, North Carolina, with higher crime rates include:

  • East and West Asheville
  • Deaverview
  • Hillcrest
  • Areas near Aston Park Tower

A lot of how dangerous these neighborhoods are will depend on where you are from.

It’s more likely you’d be surprised that a small town of just 100,000 people has such a high crime rate than feeling genuinely unsafe while visiting here.

Recently, crime has expanded from downtown to west and east Asheville, so it’s hard to find a place where you won’t face some risk of crime.

You can use the Community Crime Map on the city’s website to search for crimes near your chosen hotel or attractions.

It’s just not the charming Southern town you might expect… yet.

Bottom line – stick to an itinerary and don’t go to neighborhoods that you don’t have a reason to be in.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Asheville

  1. Asheville has its own police department. You can follow them on social media @ashevillepolice or call them at (828) 252-1110.
  2. Download the TIP2APD app to share anonymous crime information with police. You can also choose to send an anonymous text using the keyword TIP2APD and their message/tip to 847411.
  3. Sign up for emergency weather alerts through CodeRED’s website or app. You’re looking for Buncombe Alerts. Be sure to select the “Weather” and “Emergency” options.
  4. Downtown Asheville has six parking garages, and you can look for available sites using Google Maps or the city’s website. Keep in mind that some of these garages are known for having vagrants sleeping, living, or panhandling in them.
  5. Sign up for AVL Alerts to get city-specific information, like closed roads, weather delays, and other critical emergency updates.
  6. Winter visitors should check the city’s website for the Snow Mapper, which will show which roads have been plowed and which still need work. Before a snow event, you can see which roads would be plowed first.
  7. Asheville is one of many American cities dealing with a surge in drug overdoses. That’s because street drugs now often contain lethal amounts of fentanyl. While you should never do street drugs, it’s literally a matter of life and death. Even if it looks like a prescription pill, you shouldn’t trust anything that doesn’t come from a licensed pharmacy.
  8. With the increase in armed robberies and aggravated assaults in Asheville, please don’t get involved in any altercations or verbal arguments, even if you think you are trying to help. There are plenty of resources to get an officer quickly. Don’t risk your life.
  9. You’ll need a license through the state if you want to go fishing. The North Carolina Outdoors program offers the licenses online, and they’re easy to purchase.
  10. Don’t leave your car unlocked or any personal items in plain sight. Rashes of these break-ins hit different neighborhoods, and thieves will always go for the unlocked cars first.

So... How Safe Is Asheville Really?

Normally, this is the point where I’d go through a bunch of crime data to explain to you why a city is dangerous (or isn’t) and if the statistics back up the perceptions in the town.

In Asheville, I don’t need to do such a deep dive because all local leaders – including the police chief – say crime in the city at the end of 2022 was at historic levels.

That’s even after a slow climb of a 60% increase in crime since 2011.

Between 2021 and 2022, violent crime was up nearly 18% in just one year.

Over the past five years, most crimes have been among people who know each other, with just 20% of violent crimes targeting strangers.

“There are complex circumstances contributing to the safety issues that Asheville is currently seeing downtown, and it will take a community response to address these complexities,” the city said in a statement.

“Multiple City departments are coordinating a City government response, and we also need participation from community leaders and partners to address all the factors contributing to the rise in crime.”

I strongly encourage anyone visiting Asheville to read the developments of the downtown safety plan.

It went into effect in June 2023.

If you’re coming here to visit the Smokies, I would recommend staying closer to the park or the smaller tourist towns than Asheville.

If you are staying in the city, please use standard safety precautions as you would in any big city.

How Does Asheville Compare?

CitySafety Index
Asheville57
Houston59
Atlanta58
St. Louis58
Los Angeles56
Oakland57
New Orleans57
Sao Paulo (Brazil)45
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)43
Sofia (Bulgaria)73
Siem Reap (Cambodia)63
Phnom Penh (Cambodia)61
Niagara Falls (Canada)87

Useful Information

Visas

Visas

International guests need a visa or visa waiver, plus a passport to get through Customs and Border Patrol at the airport. You can see what visa you are eligible for on the U.S. State Department website.

Currency

Currency

The U.S. Dollar (USD) is the only currency you can use here. Due to the increase in robberies and thefts, I'd recommend using only credit cards. If you do need cash, use a bank's services inside and avoid ATMs, especially at night.

Weather

Weather

You'll get the four typical seasons here, but plan for extra layers during spring and fall when temperatures can fluctuate. It's hot and humid here in the summer. You'll need bug spray and sunscreen. Winters can be cold, but check the forecast before you go so you don't bring more than you'll need.

Airports

Airports

Asheville Regional Airport is just 16 miles south of the city. It has service to 16 cities. I'd recommend using the much larger Charlotte Douglas International Airport, which is two hours east.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

We always recommend comprehensive travel insurance to tourist destinations and make sure you have health travel coverage, too.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Asheville Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 3° C
Feb 5° C
Mar 9° C
Apr 14° C
May 18° C
Jun 22° C
Jul 24° C
Aug 24° C
Sep 20° C
Oct 14° C
Nov 9° C
Dec 6° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
81015202428292925201510
Low
°C
-2-1381216181814831
High
°F
465059687582848477685950
Low
°F
283037465461646457463734

North Carolina - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Apex84
Asheville57
Boone82
Cary83
Chapel Hill81
Charlotte56
Cornelius75
Corolla81
Davidson82
Duck79
Durham84
Elizabeth City79
Gastonia61
Goldsboro46
Greensboro77
Hatteras82
Hickory68
High Point62
Hope Mills53
Kannapolis82
Kill Devil Hills77
Kitty Hawk79
Manteo75
Mooresville77
Morehead City78
New Bern77
Raleigh74
Rocky Mount52
Rodanthe85
Statesville78
Wilmington84
Winston-Salem47

Where to Next?

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