How Safe Is Austin for Travel?

Austin, United States
Safety Index:
65

Austin, Texas, is weird, wild, and wonderful.

The latter of those three comes from U.S News & World Report, which ranked it as the Lucky #13 Best Place to Live.

Known for two decades by the slogan Keep Austin Weird, the phrase was displayed on t-shirts, hats, and bumper stickers across the globe.

This isn’t your typical stuffy and politically reserved capital city.

If there was a place in America for the “Cool Kids,” Austin would be a top contender.

The mix of college life, nightlife, entrepreneurial lifestyles, and good old Texas charm make it a great place to visit.

I’ve been to Austin twice in my life, and I never thought I’d spend hours just to see bats fly from under a bridge, but it’s one of the top calling cards here.

The other is the live music that streams from South Congress Avenue and beckons you for a closer listen.

The phrase The Live Music Capital of the World is even trademarked when referencing Austin.

This is also home to the uber-popular South by Southwest (SWSX), a film and media festival, which is more commonly called South By.

Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy exploring the Texas Hill Country and Lake Travis, taking a break from the city scene in exchange for some fishing, boating, or hiking.

Warnings & Dangers in Austin

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM

If you ask the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, he says the city is a "disaster" and "one of the most dangerous in America." There is very little to back up his statement. It's one of those cities teetering between low and medium risk, mostly because of crime rates that are *this close to being average but still tipping in the wrong direction. However, due to the influx of crime in the past two years, we're going with medium risk.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW

CapMetro is the bus system and rail line service in Austin. Uber, Lyft, and a variety of cab companies are available, and plenty of rental cars are available at the airport. There's a low risk. Be warned - whether you blame it on the drivers or the traffic or both, Austin's traffic is congested and aggressive. It could have something to do with the city growing by 20% in the past decade and not having enough infrastructure to keep up.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM

There were nearly 350 pickpockets and purse snatchings reported in 2020. Just seven of those were actual purse snatching, so pickpockets are pretty slick around here. This is a city with around a million people, so by comparison, the numbers aren't that bad. You do have to use standard safety practices to avoid being a petty theft victim. Don't let down your guard even if you're drinking and dancing the night away.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM

Don't laugh when I say there could be a hurricane impact in Austin. While the coast takes the direct brunt, the tropical system moves inland and dumps tons of rain, and can spawn tornadoes. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are possible throughout the year, as is flooding. Winter storms are rare, but there was one in 2021 that dumped half a foot of snow in Austin. There's a medium risk because of all the possibilities.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK : LOW

25% of the robberies in 2020 happened in public places, and the robbery rate is 40% higher than the national average. There's a low risk, but a possibility, it might happen to a tourist. While Austin is a nightlife town, use extra caution when you're visiting South Congress Avenue. There is a lot going on, and people lose their inhibitions in this fun town. Stay in groups and don't cut through alleys or dimly lit neighborhoods.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK : LOW

Being the state capital of such a large state as Texas, there's an elevated potential risk. Overall, there are larger Texas targets for a terror group to seek out.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK : LOW

Throughout the year, the typical utility and police scams happen. The biggest threat is when big events like South By are happening. In 2021, there was a trend of fake QR Codes being placed around town. People scanned the code to buy tickets, not knowing they were going through a fraudulent vendor who took their money.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM

Sexual assault rates are 20% higher here than the national average, and it's a town of young people looking to have fun. That can lead to danger. There's a medium risk because of all the possibilities a woman faces, from drunk people hitting on her to the dangers of walking around at night. I can honestly say I've walked around South Congress alone, as a younger woman, after having a few drinks, and I didn't feel like I was in danger - but it wasn't comfortable for me at all. There is a bit of sensory distortion with so much going on, and you'll see some shady, erratic, and drunk people. Only taking drinks from bartenders and keeping your glass covered when you're not taking a drink.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK : LOW

The 2021 Water Quality Report shows no violation and full compliance with state and federal standards. During the late winter storm, water pressure dropped, so the city issued a boil water order. This was out of an abundance of caution, and no violations happened during that time.

Safest Places to Visit in Austin

The Colorado River and Lake Austin are within the city limits.

There are plenty of boat rentals, and you can choose from a traditional boat for relaxing or a party boat to amp up the energy.

There’s a riverboat for rent and kayaks available to enjoy a day on the water.

Austin’s Duck Adventures takes people on a bus that transition to a boat, so it’s a great way to see a lot of the city in just 75 minutes.

LGBTQ+ lifestyle reigns in the Downtown Warehouse District.

Bars and nightclubs range from tropical-themed to Latino music pumping to laid back to elegant.

The Neon Grotto has amazing rooftop views of the city.

For county guys and gals, get your line dancing boots ready for the Broken Spoke.

It’s a Texas dance hall so authentic, you’ll be expecting Bud and Sissy from Urban Cowboy to walk through the door.

Live music can be found in any neighborhood, and there are nearly 200 options, so you should review AustinTexas.org to find the one that suits you best.

I can’t even begin to tackle all the options here!

The website also goes through all the distinct entertainment districts in town.

The Texas Capital is truly a tour-worthy place, starting with its stunning exterior that is sort of a salmon and pink color.

Be sure to enter from Congress Avenue to take “The Great Walk” and see some of the statues and memorials on the way inside.

Now we’re at the point where I tell you to reserve a seat to see bats fly.

The Congress Avenue Bridge has the largest urban bat colony you can find in America.

From spring through fall, people reserve a seat on the bridge, grass, or water hours in advance to see 1.5 million bats take off into the sky.

Grab a copy of the Austin Film Tourism Guide, and you can do a self-guided tour of movie locations throughout the Austin area.

You’ll be surprised how many moviemakers live here and keep creating films with the city as a backdrop.

Austin is one of many cities in Hill Country, so get outta town and do some exploring of the other unique towns here.

(Trust me, after a few nights of the Austin bar scene, you’ll want a break.)

Take note, if you’re trying to put Green, Texas in your GPS but can’t find it – the city is spelled Gruene.

Places to Avoid in Austin

It’s a good idea to stay east of I-35 to avoid the more dangerous parts of the city.

The Rundberg area is so risky that the city has an initiative called Restore Rundberg to help support and revitalize the neighborhood.

One of the best parts and biggest challenges of Austin can be the eclectic mix of people.

The average tourist might not know the difference between a group of people getting loud and having fun or a group of people doing drugs and ready to go break into cars.

There are a lot of homeless people either passed out or being pushy about you giving them money.

As I walked back to my hotel, a man kept pace with me, demanding that I set the aliens free (????).

So yeah, electric and a bit odd, but so much fun mixed in with the concerning moments.

You might inadvertently avoid places you didn’t want to in Austin as it’s a city brimming with speakeasies.

For example, there isn’t a floppy disk repair shop.

It’s really a bar with a secret code that even the prettiest smile or biggest muscles won’t get you into.

You have to ask around to find out the unique ways to get access to speakeasies.

I’m not telling you the secrets I know.

What happens in the speakeasy stays in the speakeasy.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Austin

  1. You still dial 911 for emergencies in Austin, but there’s a 311 number for non-emergencies or any concerns you have 24/7.
  2. Download the Austin Police Department app. You’ll thank me for this tip. You can read alerts, submit a crime tip, chat with an officer, search crime maps, or link to the police department’s social media accounts.
  3. Look for rainbow-colored police badge signs at various locations. This is a safe place for people being harassed or targeted by hate crime criminals.
  4. Austin Police also provides an easy-to-use interactive crime map. The map allows you to choose an address, zip code, or draw a boundary, and you’ll get a list of the crimes in that area with a map showing locations and details of each crime.
  5. Do not text and drive (or bicycle) while distracted. There’s a fine of up to $500 if you get caught. The only exception is if you are calling 911 or 311.
  6. Texas has an open carry law that allows people to carry a handgun in a holster even without a permit. Don’t be jarred if you see many people with guns. Amusement parks, government buildings, bars/nightclubs, and any business with a “No Guns Allowed” sign don’t allow people with guns inside. The guns can legally be carried anywhere in public outdoor areas.
  7. An opioid epidemic is sweeping the national, and many of these drugs come from Mexico. Add in a college town with an eclectic mix of people, and there are drugs on the streets of Austin. With the Fentanyl overdose rate increasing at an alarming rate, people must help stop the drug problem as much as possible or not be afraid to report drug activity to the police. The Narcotics Hotline is (512)974-8609.
  8. Austin Travis County Sexual Assault Response and Resource Team encourage anyone who has been a victim of sexual assault to speak up. There are reassuring FAQs on the police department’s website that clear up a few potentially confusing points. Yes, sexual assault can happen between people of the same gender or gender-fluid individuals. You should have a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE) within five days of the assault, but you do NOT have to file charges (though you are encouraged to do so). It doesn’t matter if you were drunk, on drugs, dressed provocatively, previously intimate with the person, engaged in a certain level of intimacy, etc. There is NO reason someone should force you to do something you don’t do.
  9. If you suspect or have information about gang activity, call the Gang Hotline at 512-974-8610. While many of the violent crimes in Austin are gang-on-gang incidents, those groups also lead the drug trade and have a cavalier attitude about the safety of innocent bystanders around them.
  10. True story – I was in Austin walking around, and I pushed the button to get a green light to cross the street. I thought I was alone. Suddenly a voice boomed from behind me, and I can only say my reaction was a combination of Kung Fu and Zumba. I even managed to slap myself in the face with my own purse. I tell you this, so you don’t face the same reaction I did – the city’s main intersections have a voice in addition to the pedestrian signals. The voice will say something like, “The walk sign is on across XX Road. Proceed through the crosswalk.”

So... How Safe Is Austin Really?

2021 was the city’s most deadly year on the street, with a record number of homicides.

89 people were killed.

One of the homicides started as a robbery but ended with the victim being shot.

He later died.

Another robbery victim was attacked while pumping gas at a well-lit gas station.

In a 2022 attack, a man was found dead at Auditorium Shores at Town Lake Park after being pummelled with large rocks.

A jogger found the body.

You just can’t fight back against the violent criminal in Austin, I don’t care where you are from, and it’s not worth risking your life.

Robbers and violent criminals here generally travel in groups.

73% of the violent crimes that happened in 2020 were against strangers.

That’s an unusually high number and more of a reason to use a lot of caution while enjoying Austin.

Just 37% of violent crimes happened in homes.

48% of thefts were related to car break-ins, so don’t leave a car unlocked or with the windows rolled down.

Not even a crack in the window is safe because thieves can easily push it down.

Don’t leave anything in plain sight, and never leave a vehicle running while you are away from it.

Even just a few seconds is enough time to be one of the 4,000 people who were motor vehicle theft victims in 2020.

The police chief admits the homicide rate will likely increase.

Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon told CBS Austin, “Homicides sometimes are so spontaneous there really isn’t a good way to prevent those.

What we try to do is look for the trends and patterns — if we’re seeing gang activity or more that are happening that are family violence related.

We have not seen those patterns strongly emerging to where we’d be sounding the alarm on it.”

While Austin is far from the most dangerous city in America, it’s still a city of around a million people, not just some fun college town.

You have to keep situational awareness at all times and do every smart safety step to enjoy your time here.

How Does Austin Compare?

CitySafety Index
Austin65
New York City67
Detroit56
San Diego67
Miami55
Cordoba (Argentina)61
Toronto (Canada)81
Melbourne (Australia)80

Useful Information

  • Visas - You'll need a U.S. Visa to get through Customs at the airport or when you cross the border. You can travel throughout Texas without showing your visa, but you'll need it for the return trip.
  • Currency - Use credit cards or pre-payment options for tickets as much as possible. For cash, you can only use the U.S. Dollar. There are some restaurants that are cash only, so you might want to hide a small amount of cash in an inside pocket.
  • Weather - The weather is mostly mild throughout the year but can get hot and humid in the summer. Bring various layers and sleeve/pant lengths so you can adapt to the different weather throughout the day. It's rare you'll need a thick winter coat, but double check the forecast in winter. Both times I visited here were in early spring, and the weather was just perfect day and night.
  • Airports - Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is on the southeast side of the city and 15 minutes from downtown. San Antonio's International Airport is an hour south of Austin.
  • Travel Insurance - You definitely want to consider travel insurance here for all the adventures that could lead to accidents. It's better to be safe than end up with a large hospital bill. Make sure you know how much accident insurance you have on the rental car too.
Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Austin Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 11° C
Feb 13° C
Mar 17° C
Apr 21° C
May 25° C
Jun 28° C
Jul 30° C
Aug 30° C
Sep 27° C
Oct 22° C
Nov 16° C
Dec 12° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
161923273033353632282217
Low
°C
571115192224242116106
High
°F
616673818691959790827263
Low
°F
414552596672757570615043

Where to Next?

19 Reviews on Austin

  1. False sense of safety

    I live in Austin. The good parts of town are more dangerous than rough looking parts of New York. Don’t be fooled. This is not a city safe for women to be alone at any time of the day or night. UT Austin female students must stick to campus with day classes. The university for decades hides the sexual assaults on campus that almost always take place at night. You can expect to be followed by perverts around town, ladies. The locals aren’t friendly. They are either wanting to know your business, or they want to do something to you. Beware of being racially profiled by locals and you know the rest that happens with that. The support for people of color and LGBTQ people is a facade put on to encourage tourism. I want to move away myself and need the money.

    1. Austin is garbage

      I agree. I’ve been here since 2002 and I’ve seen gentrification turn this place into an overpriced dumpster fire. I’m trying to escape Austin ASAP. Homeless population has exploded. I can’t ride the bus without almost having to stab somebody in self defense. Aggro psych bums everywhere… 45 murders this year. Fack Austin. Good luck to you.

      1. Exaggerations are the worst

        Trying to escape Robert? Take your exaggerations and go!

        1. Can it, Jim

          Jim, why don’t you fix the anti women/queer/people of color crime, home burglaries, car theft, homelessness, and the sinkhole this city has become? You seem peeved. Maybe people won’t leave your precious city then when it’s good again.

    2. Austin is a top, overall safe US city!

      Susan’s review is simply not accurate on a whole. I have lived in Austin for 20 years. Live near downtown. Overall a safe city for a large city, now number 10 in the US size wise.

      The areas the reviewer indicates on the northern side are filled with drugs and gangs but those are not touristy areas.
      No reason to go there.

      The homeless population has grown,is not ideal and some of these people suffer from mental illness so be aware and avoid where you can.

      Avoid “dirty 6th st.” after midnight. Gets a little dodgy.

      Overall, Austin is a world class and safe city! And I’ve been to 75 countries on all 7 continents so I’m an experienced traveler.

      Come enjoy our great city and friendly people. But take the typical city precautions.

      1. Jim is a phony and must work for a hotel or city council

        Do you work for the city council public relations team. Jim? Or are you the mayor’s office? Austin is dangerous all over. A man with a luxury condo I know sold it after being trailed by creepy types leaving Whole Foods back home. The Domain has muggings. Friendly people?! I didn’t know asking one’s ethnicity or sexual orientation is being friendly. Ah ha when they’re old men or women asking you out like predators and won’t stop so you have to leave the store? Maybe you’re one of them Jim, because you feel safe in Austin? You mean like an actor being kidnapped and escaping a running car that was pushed under the radar a while back? Austin is a city for white collar crooks and the people studying at UT to become them. Maybe Jim, you’ve never experienced someone trying to steal your purse, or anti gay slurs and violence directed towards male friends. Maybe you’ve never been sexually assaulted. Hats off to you, Jim. You must be the only person in town who doesn’t live for checking his Nest home surveillance to see if he’s been robbed again. Enjoy your precious bubble. Here everyone rich or poor gets the bad stuff. You must be a gift from heaven.

  2. I have lived here for like 15 years and between my friends and me I think that the most exciting thing that has happened is we went down to rainy street and saw some man naked rolling around in the street.

    But let’s be honest, that’s part of the fun.

  3. N
    Namjodh Singh says:

    Words to the Wise

    Austin has alot of homeless people. Most of them are either drug addicts or alcoholics or both. Avoid downtown late at night especially after the bars close. The other dangerous spots are Lamar and Rundberg , St. John’s and I-35, and 290 and I-35. There are less expensive hotels around the 290/I-35 area – Avoid Them. Some of your fellow guests will be sex workers or drug dealers.

  4. M
    Mike Coxmall says:

    Dumpster juice

    I live here. Austin is a gentrified, violent, yuppie/hipster dumpster fire. Traffic sucks. Public transportation is always late. Homeless camps all around because all the richies moving here to live in overpriced apartments. If you’re a millennial snowflake just stay in your bubbles and you’ll probably be okay. If you’re working class, don’t move here. You’ll get squeezed out like the rest of the have-nots. Austin will buckle and die a miserable hipster death. To the pricks who did this… go eat some gluten free gluten and get a tummy ache… or Ebola. Hell awaits your sorry asses. This is just limbo.

  5. M
    Mike Coxmall says:

    Hipster paradise/ rice-free rice

    I live here in Austin. It sucks. Austin is a gentrified, violent, yuppie/hipster dumpster fire. Traffic sucks. Public transportation is always late. Homeless camps all around because all the richies moving here to live in overpriced apartments. If you’re a millennial snowflake just stay in your bubbles and you’ll probably be okay. If you’re working class, don’t move here. You’ll get squeezed out like the rest of the have-nots. Austin will buckle and die a miserable hipster death. To the pricks who did this… go eat some gluten free gluten and get a tummy ache… or Ebola. Hell awaits your sorry asses. This is just limbo, you bearded, skinny legged, V-neck wearing anorexic biotches have a day of reckoning coming soon. Boo!

  6. ignore the ut side

    Austin is amazing there are alot of homeless people and some may be annoying if you can get by that then austin is great my favorite part is probably stassney and manchaca

  7. pretty good

    Austin is great shut up there are a few places to avoid like dirty 6 after 12 and the trafic is garbage but overall its amazing my fave is south austin

  8. Low crime, high traffic, lots to do!

    I have lived in Austin for 6 years and have never felt unsafe in any way. The worst parts about the city is the traffic and the heat during the summer. Yes, the homeless folks may make you feel uncomfortable at times (specifically downtown) and you should absolutely avoid dirty 6. But I don’t think that’s unlike any other major US city. There are endless things to do here!

    1. Love it here!

      Totally agreed. I have lived here in Austin for about a year, I moved because of the pandemic, I wanted a fresh start and so far Austin has been great! People are nice, and helpful, not like in many major cities such as NYC or the like. highly recommended for a visit.

  9. I've watched Austin for 50+ years

    I have lived in Austin for over 50 years. What used to be a nice, relaxing, fun, safe and caring city has morphed into a haven for homeless, drug-using, and ultra-liberals that want to defund our police. The city has grown from 200,000 to nearly 1.5 million. Obviously there will be growing pains, but with a very liberal mayor and city council, we are moving in the wrong direction. Safety is major concern. Gangs are a major problem for our city and they do not stay in just one area. Downtown gangs are common. As for UT, UT’s west campus is extremely dangerous, as is most of the downtown area. The section east of Congress Ave have become homes to druggies, and people looking for someone to take advantage of. I am not saying to stay away from my city, but you need to be cautious and realize that this is not the paradise that many consider it on the news channels. Most Texan know that Austin has jumped over Houston and Dallas for crime. Overall, traffic is the most dangerous. That’s probably why Austin is one of the highest auto insurance rates in the country.

  10. My home for years

    I had to google just how safe Austin is, I admit I was curious to see how people perceive it.
    I’ve lived here for more than four years now and if you take into account the pandemic, I was smart to do so. I never felt like my life was in danger or that I had to look over my shoulder, there are other cities that make me uneasy, Austin is clearly not one of them. Obviously, I can’t compare it with how it used to be, I just wanted to comment on its ups and downs from my own viewpoint.

    My political orientation has no value, this review comes from an unaffiliated citizen that lived in more than six different states only to discover that Texas is the place that feels most at home.
    Austin tends to get some bad rep for its infrastructure that is poorly developed and old, certainly not able to hold up the infusion of people that seem to favor Texas all of the sudden. This means that you have to expect to spend way too much time on the road, especially during rush hour. Audiobooks, podcasts or even some good music will make the wait less annoying but wasted time is one of my pet peeves so I would put this in the disadvantages column.

    The Downtown area is generally safe, I would say the colorful nightlife might bump you into one or two unpleasant characters but nothing a little prevention can’t fix. Also, watch your drinks, I never leave mine unattended, no matter where I’m at. Uber to and from the bar, regardless if you’re drinking alcohol or not, it’s best to avoid any unpleasant incidents with your car.

    Yes, 6th Street is riddled with homeless people which surprised me at first but now I just avoid it.

  11. Review of 26 years living in ATX

    Born in Texas and spent my whole memorable life in Austin until 2017. Then 4 years in Denver. Now Oregon. Austin was such a groovy place, and certain bits still are, but the truth is between the lack of infrastructure planning (impossible traffic), the ridiculous increase in cost of living around 2012, and the necessary but evil corperatization that has occured as a growing pain *plague* the city.

    That being said, the homeless and crime and general feeling of less safety is far from unique in Austin…Take any major city in the US and look at the last 5 years…..homeless pop., crime stats, and life satisfaction have dropped significantly.

    RIP the “up and coming music city” “OG” Austin, TX
    p.s. the lakes and rivers of central TX are top notch. They deserve all the glory

  12. Once beautiful city

    It’s sad to see cities going down because of the growing population of lowlifes. They vote for Democrats who are soft on crime, hard on the police, enable the lowlifes to keep living in their victimhood.

  13. D
    Dangelo says:

    An actual Austinite opinion

    I lived in Austin all my life and I’ve seen changes in this beautiful city. I come from a poor community with higher crime rate and now of days it’s much more safer than people give it credit. Homeless people are going to be around but what can you expect when people are becoming poorer in the US as generations become of age. The town had its culture until we saw an influx of out of towners come for the cheaper rent and housing prices. Opportunities are given out so I can understand why people come to this city but, it just feels water down. As the politics side republicans or conservatives don’t fit in for obvious reasons. This city has always been liberal or at the very lease had civil rights leaders, community run organizations, and well educated students from one of the universities we have here. Not saying conservatives aren’t intelligent or anything, but you arrive in a city where people are hippies and don’t condone certain old outdated attitudes. Not only that Austin is a blue bubble surrounded by red so people are not going to like the culture of diverse music and the younger crowd. Austin is a very young city with the average age being 30 years old. If anything for my fellow conservatives we do have a liberal problem with regards of gentrification. I know some closeted racist liberals who do in fact hate the homeless just as much if not more. Real state is a gangster in the city and pushes out the locals just as much. White collar individuals are oblivious to it and don’t really care. This is a safer city most of the people complaining in my opinion obviously never went anywhere else that has a high crime rate. You can’t expect a city of 1,000,000 to not have poverty and crime. Rural areas don’t have these problem like big cities have. I love the city but it’s not my city anymore, it belongs to real-estate and white color tech workers from California.

Rated 3.05 / 5 based on 19 user reviews.

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