How Safe Is Houston for Travel?

Houston, United States
Safety Index:
59

Houston, Texas, is the fourth-largest city in the United States, with a population of 2.3 million.

While some cities are much smaller, with the metro area making up for the larger population, that’s not the case in Houston.

The city also sits on Galveston Bay, with the Gulf of Mexico just on the other side of Galveston.

This means you can have a day at the beach and enjoy the nightlife in a major city without a long drive.

This proximity to the gulf also puts it at great risk of hurricanes from June through November.

This is also one of the most well-known locations for NASA, with Johnson Space Center leading the way for manned flight and working on a program to take astronauts back to the moon.

While NASA’s locations here, including the popular tourist spot Space Center Houston, are technically in Clear Lake City, it is well known that they are referred to as Houston locations.

Houston is such a large city that you can quickly end up in a bad neighborhood, so we’re going to talk through the safe districts and the places to avoid.

Warnings & Dangers in Houston

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM

There's a medium overall risk with a high crime rate that just keeps growing. In fact, 2022 was the first year for a murder victim memorial where city leaders didn't read all the names of the victims because it would have taken hours.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM

Metro is the public transportation system in Houston, offering bus routes and rail lines. There are more than 2,200 taxis and just as many, if not more, rideshares available. Finding a rental car is easy too. Due to various risks with any option, treat this as overall medium risk.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM

More than 500 pickpockets and purse snatching happened in 2021, but that's a far cry from the 56,000 thefts that happened. You should always be on your guard because robbery rates are exceptionally high here, so if someone wants your stuff, they'll use any method necessary to get it. Cut the medium risk by keeping your belongings out of plain sight.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM

Houston faces a medium risk throughout the year, with flash flooding being one of the biggest challenges the city faces. Hurricane season can be devastating for this region, as we saw in August of 2017 with Hurricane Harvey. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are also possible.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM

The robbery rate here is more than four times the national average. Never fight back against a robber. This is a city where even getting upset by another driver can lead to a shooting, much less fighting back against an armed robber.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM

With the NASA presence, military locations, and massive population, there's a medium risk here. That risk comes with abundant security from local, state, and federal offices.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK : LOW

The city website has a list of common scams here, and while there aren't any scams where tourists are specifically targeted, you should know what potential exists. This is a city where you simply can't trust anyone posing as a person in need or pushing you to make a purchase of any kind.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM

Women face the same medium risk as men do. There might be parts of the city or times you're on the METRO system that might feel unsafe even if there isn't a present danger. The best way to avoid this is to travel in groups.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK : LOW

There are six water systems that serve the Houston area. In the 2021 Water Quality Report, all requirements were met or exceeded. You should have heightened awareness of water quality if there is flooding happening just before or during your visit. The city will send out notices should a water quality issue happen.

Safest Places to Visit in Houston

VisitHoustonTexas.com is the official tourism website for the city.

If you want to book attractions online, only use this official tourist site or individual tourist site for the best privacy.

The Heights is a historic district in Houston with a funky and eclectic vibe.

This is the perfect place for some for a unique dining experience or to browse through cool boutiques.

The Art Car Museum, otherwise known as the Garage Mahal, is also located here, with ordinary vehicles turned into stunning works of art.

Downtown Houston is the central business district but also has a lot of dining and shopping options.

You might choose to say at or near Avenida Houston, which is a massive convention facility with mixed-use restaurants, shopping, and entertainment.

You’ll also find the Downtown Aquarium and its 500,000-gallon tank here.

The aquarium takes you through a swamp, a shipwreck, a rainforest, and a sunken temple with several hands-on exhibits to spur the imagination.

The Galleria/Uptown part of the city is the premier shopping district and is home to the finest in food and shopping you’ll find in the city.

There’s an indoor mega mall and an outdoor district of shops to choose from while enjoying the beautiful park-like atmosphere along the way.

The Museum District lives up to its name with various museums.

Several of the attractions are free, helping you see more places without breaking your travel budget.

The Houston Zoo is in this district with 55 acres holding more than 6,000 animals.

Of course, Space Center Houston is one of the top tourist attractions, and it’s just down the road from Johnson Space Center.

Here you can explore the history and future of manned flights, from the moon all the way to Mars and beyond.

Rockets and astronaut suits are on display, along with a tram ride to see part of Johnson Space Center.

You can purchase VIP experiences to meet a real astronaut or get a behind-the-scenes look at astronaut training.

Houston is such a big city, it’s hard to get all the cool things to do into one article, even when just listing the safest things.

You can sign up for “experiences” that better fit your needs on the tourism website.

You’ll get discounts on tickets to certain areas, like a Museum Experience or a Space Explorer Pass.

There are food and drink experiences as well.

Places to Avoid in Houston

If you are traveling outside of the museums and tourist attractions, you should assume a neighborhood here is NOT safe unless proven otherwise.

Again, a city this large has so many micro-neighborhoods that it could be safe on one street and unsafe two blocks over.

In general, the east side and south side are filled with highly dangerous neighborhoods.

The Third Ward is a historic district celebrated for its civil rights fights of the past and holds a lot of diverse cultural landmarks.

At the same time, in 2022, this district is facing an increase in crime, and neighborhood residents are demanding the city take action.

It would be best to avoid the bars on Riverside Drive.

In February 2022, there was a shooting outside of one of those bars, and it was the tipping point for neighbors to demand action.

There are a lot of tourist sites that list Battleship Texas as a tourist attraction, but it’s no longer open.

It needed extensive repairs since it was the only ship of its kind from World War I and World War II.

Unfortunately, the dock location in Houston didn’t bring enough tourists.

Once it’s repaired, it will move to another city for tourists.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Houston

  1. You can research crime data using the community map on the police department’s website and do a deeper dive into neighborhoods on the Glenda Gordy Research Center website. The city also has an Excel document detailing all of the crimes from 2021.
  2. Houston is a very congested city, and that means a lot of cars on the road. One trend that is worrisome is road rage. Do not use your horn, mouth, or middle finger to express anger while driving. There has been a rash of shootings and assaults connected to road rage. If you are being followed by someone who appears angry, go directly to a police station or a safe public area and don’t get out of your car.
  3. Download the Crime Stoppers of Houston mobile app so you can have a direct line to contact the police. This will allow you to report information about a non-urgent crime without having to give your name. You can also call (713)222-8477.
  4. Downtown Houston has a series of underground tunnels that are climate-controlled and get you around the top attractions in the area. The tunnels are six miles long and have shops along the way, so it’s not just a boring walk through a tunnel. You can see a map of the system at downtownhouston.org.
  5. The Houston Police Department has dozens of crime safety tips on its website. Look under the Crime Prevention header. You can also subscribe to the department’s YouTube channel to get more information.
  6. Download the ParkHouston app, so you have a blueprint of the parking lots and garages available. You can also pay for parking through the app or use Google Pay. You can also text PARK to 77223 to pay via text. Your license plate is recorded when you park, so you don’t need a ticket or receipt.
  7. Sign up for emergency notifications through AlertHouston. This will let you know about any approaching severe weather, road flooding, or major accidents. You can’t afford to miss important weather information when visiting here.
  8. If you come across a flooded street, do not try to drive through the water. Turn around and find another way to get to your destination. It just takes a few inches of water to knock down a person or carry away a car.
  9. For those who have more questions about what to expect in Houston, use the city’s 311 service. You can email 311@houstontx.gov. This is also a great way to report any issues you see during your visit, like a pothole or fallen tree.
  10. Houston has at least 20,000 gang members involved, with more than 30 gangs. If you see large groups of people dressed in similar colors or a lot of graffiti in an area, it might be a gang neighborhood. Gang members might also make hand gestures toward each other or opposing gangs as a “symbol” of their gang affiliation. Gangsters can also travel into suburban areas as the drug addiction issue expands. If you ever suspect gang activity is happening, go the other way.

So... How Safe Is Houston Really?

“Houston, we have a problem.”

Some of the numbers can seem staggering, such as 25,444 violent crimes, 16,000 aggravated assaults, and 15,500 thefts.

It’s important to remember this is a city of 2.3 million, which means the raw data is going to be higher than other cities we’ve talked about.

That said, Houston still has a bad crime problem, and it’s only getting worse.

Homicides in the city went from 261 in 2020 to 473 in 2021.

Aggravated assault is up 35% in 2022, and robberies are up 12%.

The only real sigh of relief for a tourist is that the majority of violent crimes are domestic in nature, but it’s another breath-taking moment to find out the number of people who were innocent bystanders – especially the number of children – when those violent crimes took place.

65% of thefts are related to car break-ins, so you had better lock your car and roll the windows up each time you park.

Don’t leave anything personal inside, and take your rental car paperwork into the hotel with you.

Is Houston dangerous?

Yes.

Is it too dangerous to visit?

No.

Most of the big attractions are in places where violent crime isn’t as high.

You should stay on the main roadways and don’t go driving around without a clear path to get to your destination.

In any big city, you should be prepared for petty crimes and thefts.

Always have situational awareness and bring only the bare minimum with you as you visit all the great places in Houston, Texas.

How Does Houston Compare?

CitySafety Index
Houston59
Dallas64
Orlando64
Las Vegas62
San Francisco61
Vienna (Austria)88
Hong Kong (China)70
Manama (Bahrain)54

Useful Information

  • Visas - Foreign travelers need a passport along with either a U.S. Visa or Visa Waiver. The U.S. State Department has a long list of details on how to get a visa. You should prepare at least four months in advance.
  • Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here as currency, and you want to avoid carrying cash in Houston. Don't use public ATMs to exchange currency. A credit card is the best option to protect against fraud.
  • Weather - For the most part, you are escaping a harsh winter here, but you should still plan on a jacket and some sweatshirts or sweaters. Jeans will be comfortable most of the year but might feel too heavy in the humid summers. Bring comfortable walking shoes, bug spray, and sunscreen. The sun can be very intense here, especially in the spring and summer.
  • Airports - The Houston Airport System provides two commercial options - Bush Intercontinental Airport on the north side of the city and Hobby Airport on the south side.
  • Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is a must when this area can experience so many flight delays or cancelations due to weather. Any trip to a medical facility will cost a lot out of pocket, so look into health travel insurance too.
Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Houston Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 12° C
Feb 14° C
Mar 17° C
Apr 21° C
May 24° C
Jun 27° C
Jul 29° C
Aug 29° C
Sep 26° C
Oct 22° C
Nov 17° C
Dec 13° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
161821252831333330262117
Low
°C
791316202324242217129
High
°F
616470778288919186797063
Low
°F
454855616873757572635448

Where to Next?

24 Reviews on Houston

  1. u
    unknown says:

    who ever created this article about houston is Dumb and that person doesnt know anything about Houston at all.

    1. A
      Anonymous says:

      I was thinking the same thing

    2. T
      Terrance. Flack. natural texan says:

      But who everdid probably posted the same thing for other places. Lol

  2. R
    R.A.Cortez.. says:

    Good

    I think it was pretty close..the article, I’ve been here all my life born 1949,..never, ever felt an earthquake, that was a little out there,..but all and all the article was ok,..oh..all the streets around Houston are always being worked on and the drive around Houston isn’t fun..freeways…

    1. The earthquake they were referring to must have been them driving down the roads of southwest houston.

  3. Way hotter then It says.what Happend to the Sourthern Hospitality.

    1. No earthquake have ever happens in Houston

      plz Tell me that you don’t think that’s 29*c

  4. Idiocy

    Whoever wrote this article is an imbecile. Areas that locals don’t visit? If people live there and there are things to do who would be the people who avoid these areas? This article is hinged with racism and a white bread worldview. It doesn’t even cover hobby airport which is a major international hub. 👎🏽
    Houston is the most diverse city in the country and they were things to do all over the city. The things that are mentioned here are purely pedestrian

    1. G
      GNamdets says:

      Spot On!

      Agree, agree, agree!!!

  5. Ignore 60% of this

    Who wrote this? 😂 houston is the 4th largest city in the US & diverse. This article ja written for ppl who don’t get out often.

  6. Article of LIES!

    I moved to Houston from Northern California 18 years ago. I have traveled and lived all over the world because of my job. I LUV HOUSTON! I live on the Southwest side, Sugarland! But work all over the city including in the so call bad areas. I have never felt unsave. I walk downtown by my self during Astros and Texans games and people are so friendly. Yes it has some bad spots but for the 4th largest city in this country crime is low!

    Ignore this article…VISIT HOUSTON! LOTS OF THINGS TO DO!

    1. G
      GNamdets says:

      I moved here from Northern California 3 years ago and absolutely agree with you. I live just a bit NE of Houston and thoroughly enjoy all of my trips downtown. People need to be aware, and use common sense, anywhere they visit… be it their own neighborhood or in another country.

  7. Racists

    Whoever wrote this is the reason why all these people come here and treat houstonians like crap in their own city. Do not come here you are the problem, mean hateful wanna be entitled racists.

  8. S
    Sherry Wallis says:

    come on and have fun

    I think the person who wrote this review has never been here, much less lived in Houston. I’d be interested in knowing when we had an earthquake. I’ve been all over this city at all times of day and night–I’ll admit, mostly driving–and I’ve never felt unsafe or threatened. Our winters are usually very mild. I expect people from areas where it snows heavily would think the weather balmy. In the spring, especially around April 15 and the end of May, we often have very heavy rains (think monsoon). The best advice anyone could give you about this is, stay inside and off the roads, and don’t stay at a B&B on the banks of a river or bayou. And don’t drive into any water standing on the road unless you absolutely know how deep it is. Summers are very humid and hot, so people tend to stay inside. If you want to explore the city, you can wander through the tunnel system underground, which is cool and full of places to eat and shop. Then go to your air conditioned hotel, which is probably also on the tunnel. Good idea to layer your clothing inside, since some places can be very chilly. There’s a ton of stuff to do here–all sorts of entertainment venues, and a lot of free stuff to enjoy. And visitors are very welcome.

  9. Corrections

    Who made up Houston? Uhhhh, lets start.

    Houston-
    -Sex Trafficking is extremely high here, so for girls/woman its a High risk-duh.
    -Been here for 39 years, never have I heard of an earthquake.
    -NEVER have I heard of pickpocketting and Houston doesn’t have high crime.
    -I have lived through 4 bad hurricanes. Two were devastating.
    -Weather is extremely hot and always humid. Very short winter with very limited “freezing days”, and it has “lightly” snowed only 3 times in my entire life here.
    -Oil and Gas Jobs galore!
    -Retail is huge here.

    1. G
      GNamdets says:

      I guess you need to update this since our recent (02/2021) snowpocolypse, lol!!

  10. No earthquake have ever happens in Houston

    no earthquake ever has happened in Houston before

  11. Fairly accurate

    While true there are bad areas here like most large cities, you know when you are there as they are run down. Anything “ward” use caution, even though they have great restaurants and diversity. Houston has a large, vibrant asian town (Bellaire), an Indian/Pakistan district (Ghandi district) a Hispanic area (Passadena, right next to a Houston) and just about everything in the middle (Westheimer). I seriously have met more educated and/or hard working people from just about everywhere here than the East and West a Coast, and they are not usually snobby like those other areas. There is an excellent Museum district, medical district and every kind of ethnic/art/ cultural fest you can imagine. Rodeo, Japan Fest, Polish fest just to name a few.I lived in California and Mass and have been to every state. Every state has pros and cons, but I love Houston. What we don’t have in seasons or scenery, we have in just about everything else. Conservatives, progressives and everything In the middle are attracted to jobs, freedom and opportunities of this great city.

  12. S
    Single Educated & Gainfully Employed Female says:

    Very, Very SAFE!

    Very safe. Very interesting. Very many attractions. Very many things to do.
    Very comfortable. Very affordable. Very diversed. Very much into all sports. Very well known for barbecue. Very southern comfort. Very FUN!

    5 Stars for H-Towm
    1 Star for this misleading article

  13. A
    Anonymous says:

    D , pack a pistol and dont worry about it dont act scared and put a punk in its place and enjoy youself the Texas way i love Texas im going to Houston today

    It’s just very crowded and traffic is very bad is worse I can say. Any big city or anywhere there are good and b

  14. M
    Momma C says:

    I am 90 years old was born an raised in Cleveland Ohio moved to Houston when I was 21 an have lived here for over 55 years but have traveled an been in every state in the good old USA also bees to 5 -6 other countries but there is no place better than wonderful Houston Texas it is a safe place but like all large cities has areas that you don’t an should not go to. We have 12 children an 47 grand children an we all LOVE HOUSTON TEXAS There is soooo much to see an do in Houston so Come on over an have fun but always know where you are going!

    1. A
      Aussie Girl says:

      I’m so glad to read your review of Huston Texas, we are thinking of visiting next year, all the way from Melbourne, Australia, and I must admit that I was having second thoughts after reading the safety article!

  15. Houston is one of the best cities to visit (or live in) in the US

    Houston is not as unsafe as the article portrays it to be. 59 on the Safety Index? I don’t think so. Move it closer to 74 and we’re talking. Like others have already mentioned in the comments, considering this is the 4th largest city in the US, its crime stats are low. Of course there are pickpockets, thieves and murders. This is the case for every major city and for smaller ones even. But all things considered, Houston seems to be doing a better job at keeping its people safe. Plus the people here are generally nice or very nice, hospitable and friendly.

    Now let’s talk about some of the things you can visit in Houston (and there are way more than what I’ve added here). Honestly, Houston is pretty close to a “perfect” city. It has everything you could need and want, catering to people who want a “busy” feel, places that are calmer and you can be with yourself and a mix of both.

    One of the first things you should go to is the Museum District which comprises 19 amazing museums found in the downtown area. Don’t skip on any of them as everything is fantastic! This is probably one of the greatest, concentrated cultural areas in the world!

    Buffalo Bayou Park offers you great views or you can go on a bike ride or even paddle your way through it. At sunset, you can see 250,000 bats fly out from the Waugh Drive Bridge – believe me, this is something you want to see.

    Houston has some very inspiring and quite wonderful street art which you’ll be able to admire in lots of places from the city.

    If you’re into retro then Houston has you covered with it’s 19th Street in The Heights. Here you can find all kinds of interesting shops that sell retro decor or clothes and old collectibles. It’s a special place unlike anything else you’ll see.

  16. A
    Anonymous says:

    From the comments I’ve read, it seems that: 1. Most of the people who commented live in the suburbs (outside of beltway 8) 2. None of them have moved through Houston by foot or public transit and 3. They possibly aren’t a demographic that would be targeted more often (a young man or woman)

    The reality is though that crime is bad throughout most of the city besides the west parts of the city Many of the “bad” areas are being gentrified though such as third ward, second ward, northside village and parts of fifth ward, but all of these areas aren’t safe on foot most of the day, but especially at night depending on your awareness and what you look like.

    Far North, The south and the southwest portions of Houston (City Limits) are the areas with the highest rates of violent crime and car theft that I wouldn’t just randomly move through. The apartment complexes in the southwest side and most of the south side will have a visible presence of people that will notice if you don’t belong and possibly start something. This applies to other areas of the city. Downtown and Midtown aren’t safe to walk through at night, but fine in the daytime.
    The best site to check crime rates would be neighborhoodscout.com which gives a good picture of the safe and unsafe sections of the city. Houston’s crime rate speaks for itself so don’t listen to the people above who are giving a false perception of safety.

    Houston is a great city for many of the reasons listed above and I love living here, but most young people in the city know someone who’s been robbed, had stuff stolen out of their house or car, been assaulted or experienced it themselves. Depending on where in the city you are, gunshots can be heard at night. The police aren’t very responsive either although they won’t bother you.

    Be cautious or avoid the unsafe areas and you should be sure to have an amazing time here. 3/5 stars for safety. 5/5 for food and culture!

Rated 3.71 / 5 based on 24 user reviews.

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