How Safe Is Pittsburgh for Travel?

Pittsburgh, United States
Safety Index:
63

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a city with a view, from incredible skyline shots to nearly 100 neighborhoods, making it a cultural destination.

The city sits on the connection where two rivers merge into the larger Ohio River, making it a city with great water views.

There are also about 450 bridges here.

Nearly 303,000 people call this place home, and with all the attractions, you might just fall in love with it too.

Also known as Steel City, the steel industry can ebb and flow, directly impacting the city’s economy.

That has pushed more technological, artistic, and cultural economic drivers.

You had better warm up your legs before walking around here because there are steep streets and plenty of stairs.

First-time visitors can be caught off guard by some of the steep inclines.

In fact, Pittsburgh is home to the steepest street in the country.

This city is the hometown of icon Mister Rogers, whose friendly nature and warm personality won over the world.

He’s honored at a museum here.

You’ll also find incredible sports fans in Pittsburgh and a hard-working group of down-to-earth people.

Warnings & Dangers in Pittsburgh

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM

Not all the neighborhoods here are suited for Mister Rogers, and with a crime explosion in 2022, we're erring on the safe side by deeming this a medium risk. It's a great city, but you'll need big-city safety skills here.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW

Pittsburgh Regional Transit has buses and a light rail system to get you around if you don't have a car. Some people here might still refer to this system as the Port Authority, but it's the same system. Taxis and rideshares are also an option. Rental cars are available at the airport and in the city. Use standard caution with any option.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW

Pittsburgh isn't transparent with its pickpocketing statistics, but this is a big city with crowded spaces, so use the same caution as you would in any city. Don't carry a wallet in your back pocket and if you are carrying a purse, keep your hand over the seam as you walk.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW

This area can get some nasty winter storms and severe weather during the warmer months. Flooding is a concern since three waterways run through this area. Review the emergency management plan, and you'll be prepared for anything.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM

With a robbery rate 40% higher than the national average, you should use extra caution here and make a point to stay out of dangerous neighborhoods. Violent crime is rising in 2022, even compared to the 2021 numbers. While it's safer in museums and entertainment areas, you should always stay aware of your surroundings and never fight back if a robber does approach you.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK : LOW

Pittsburgh could be on a terror group's list for a physical, chemical, or cyber attack, but it's not the largest city in the state. Philadelphia would likely be a bigger target. If you notice anything suspicious, report it to suspicious@pittsburghpa.gov.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK : LOW

Text and cyber scams against residents are the biggest concern here, so as a tourist, you don't have much to worry about other than basic cyber safety. Don't use public WiFi if you are reviewing personal information or bank data.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW

There's nothing in the crime data from 2021 that would suggest a woman is at a higher risk than a man, but you should always be careful walking around alone. Avoid being out alone at night and use taxis or rideshares if you don't have a car instead of walking.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK : LOW

The 2021 Water Quality Report shows two violations involving too few samples taken of chlorine in the water. The issue has been addressed and is detailed in the report. The rest of the samples were in full compliance. The same does not go for the river water here, and it's one of the most polluted waterways in the country.

Safest Places to Visit in Pittsburgh

Visitpittsburgh.com is the official tourism website.

Use that as a starting guide for your favorite attractions since you’ll know they are backed up by the official organization for tourists.

Look for the passes that provide a discount for multiple attractions booked at once.

Let’s start at the top and work our way down.

Mt. Washington sounds like a place that’s far away, but it’s really just up the hill from the city.

Here you’ll get incredible skyline views of the city and stand in the very place George Washington did centuries ago.

To get up the mountain, ride one of the incline trains – Monogahela or Duquense – up the side of the mountain for less than $3.

You’ll find shopping and dining at the top and bottom of the inclines.

Keep in mind that you’ll pay for the view, so the restaurants with incredible views will have (much) higher prices.

It wouldn’t be a trip to Pittsburgh without a boat tour.

The Gateway Clipper Fleet has water tours for all kinds of activities – lunch, dinner, sunset, and kid-friendly.

You can also use the boat as a shuttle if you’re attending a major league sports event in Pittsburgh.

You can also look at the tours available from Rivers of Steel Riverboat.

The Andy Warhol Museum has the largest collection of the artist’s work right in his hometown.

There are seven stories to explore and an underground area, but a new expansion was announced in 2022 that will take up six city blocks.

Tours are available by helicopter, on foot, or by trolley.

You can choose between learning about the steel history of Pittsburgh, exploring the culinary world, getting a better look at art, or sipping some of the best brews in the ‘Burgh.

Point State Park is in an area known as the Golden Triangle.

It’s where the three rivers meet and close to all the excitement of downtown while in an official state park.

You can also tour Fort Pitt and Fort Duquesne to learn about the history of this city.

Allegheny Commons Park has two kid-friendly attractions.

You can see birds of all kinds at the National Aviary, and across the street is the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, where you can see Mr. Roger’s real neighborhood.

Nearby you can explore Randyland, a folk artist tribute museum to Randy Gilson, and the Mattress Factory, a modern art gallery.

While it has nothing to do with mattresses, it is built in an old mattress warehouse.

That’s how it got its unique name.

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium take you through habitats from all over the world in one convenient location.

The season runs from April through October, and one ticket gets you into both locations.

Nearby, the Highland Park Super Playground is a great stop for the kids too.

Places to Avoid in Pittsburgh

The south side of the city, east of Mt. Washington, should be avoided.

The far eastern side and part of the north side of the city are dangerous.

In Pittsburgh, it will be very clear if you are in a neighborhood, you shouldn’t be.

Don’t wait for that moment to happen if you can.

Just stay in the tourist areas.

This isn’t a city you can just drive around and explore from the safety of your car.

With the rise in crime for 2022, crime is becoming more widespread.

Check the latest crime data from the police department before you go, and try to stick around the downtown area or Mt. Washington.

Avoid going east of Highland Park if you can, but there’s not much a tourist would be there for anyway.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Pittsburgh

  1. Sign up for Stop The Violence community updates a few months before you arrive to keep up with the latest safety information from the police department.
  2. You can use a crime statistics tool available from the police department to look at crimes in each neighborhood. It looks like the latest information runs about four months behind, but you can get hyper-local information with an interactive search function. For example, if you just want to know about car thefts in Allentown, you can choose those factors only.
  3. One great resource the city provides is the Community Safety Pittsburgh website. This site is solely dedicated to keeping people safe and telling them how to report information if there is an issue. A list of daily crimes is published, and you can contact the residential groups that assist in Community Watch.
  4. When using the Community Safety site, search for alerts in your neighborhood or the one you’ll visit on a given day. You can see if there are road closures, crime scenes, suspects on the loose, or missing people.
  5. When you’re in Pittsburgh, you can call 311 to find city information or report issues like potholes. This is for city services only. 911 is still the number to call for emergencies. If you want to contact 311 outside of the Pittsburgh area, call (412)255-2621. Another option is to download the myBurgh app.
  6. ParkPGH is the website and app you can use to find open parking in the city. You find a location, see how many spots are available, see the costs, and know any height restrictions. This is much safer and smarter than driving around aimlessly in a new town.
  7. The city has a SNOW LEVEL scale that determines parking rules, road closures, and the availability of services like public transportation. If you’re visiting during winter, keep an eye on this tool so you can better gauge if you should venture out in the snow or stay in.
  8. The city of Pittsburgh doesn’t have an emergency alert system as of October 2022, but the emergency management division tells me one is coming. Until then, please use a free weather app with notifications enabled so you can get a heads-up about severe or winter weather coming.
  9. Another great resource to learn about this community is Engage Pittsburgh. This special website gives hyper-local event and updated amenity information for tourists and locals. You can also look at accessibility information for different neighborhoods.
  10. With hundreds of bridges in Pittsburgh, you should use extra caution if it’s extremely cold, even without snow or ice. “Black Ice” can form, which is part of the freeze-thaw cycle, and bridges are going to freeze over first. You could be on a dry road and then hit an icy bridge.
  11. BONUS: If you are flying into Pittsburgh, be sure to keep your head up when taking a taxi or rideshare into the city. There’s an amazing view as you enter the city with the skyline in front of you. I don’t want anyone to miss this great view with their head buried in a phone or tablet.

So... How Safe Is Pittsburgh Really?

In the summer of 2022, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey reached a breaking point for the spark of violence on city streets.

He unveiled the Pittsburgh Plan for Peace.

While many of the crimes are happening among groups who know each other, like gangs or drug dealers, there are too many innocent people also getting caught in the literal crossfire.

The plan details, in part, “Overall, the bulk of these crimes occur within our Central, East End, and Northside communities that are disproportionately segregated and poor, with lower rates of homeownership and more abandoned structures, under-resourced schools, struggling local businesses and a shortage of other needed neighborhood amenities.”

Pittsburgh is also dealing with increased drug overdoses as the Opioid Crisis spreads across America.

None of the challenges in Pittsburgh is different than in many other large cities, aside from Pittsburgh having violent crime go up in 2022 while other cities are going down.

A shooting at an Airbnb party left two people dead on Easter and left nine people injured.

It’s that kind of crime that steals headlines, but it’s also not generally in the areas we’ve mentioned above.

This is a big city and a working-class town.

You’ll need street smarts, common sense, and good safety practices.

You will also see some of the coolest attractions in the Rust Belt, and you’ll have incredible views to savor for years.

How Does Pittsburgh Compare?

CitySafety Index
Pittsburgh63
Baltimore56
Boston67
Washington DC56
New York City67
Calgary (Canada)82
Buenos Aires (Argentina)60
Vancouver (Canada)82

Useful Information

  • Visas - Use the U.S. State Department's "Visa Wizard" to find out what kind of Visa you need for a trip from outside the country. You'll have to do an in-person interview regardless, and you can get tips for nailing that interview on the same site. You can travel throughout Pennsylvania without having to show your visa, but you'll need a passport as your legal ID.
  • Currency - Only the U.S. Dollar is accepted here, and many attractions of pre-purchased tickets online. That's the best way to avoid pulling out your wallet. Keep your wallet and purse out of plain sight and only carry what you need. Check your credit card charges daily to track potentially fraudulent activity.
  • Weather - Winters can be brutal here, so layer up with insulation and accessories for your head and hands. Cold weather can last into April, but you'll find the summers here are warm - sometimes hot - with high humidity. Bring good walking shoes for those hills you'll be walking on, and bug spray will be helpful too.
  • Airports - Pittsburgh International Airport is about 30 minutes from downtown, but check the traffic maps to make sure you have enough time if you're driving during rush hours. Remember to savor the sight of driving into the city when you arrive.
  • Travel Insurance - It's just smart traveling to get insurance for your expensive flight, baggage, health, and car rental. Winter weather can be dangerous for driving, and severe weather can cancel flights.
Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Pittsburgh Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan -3° C
Feb -1° C
Mar 6° C
Apr 11° C
May 17° C
Jun 22° C
Jul 23° C
Aug 23° C
Sep 19° C
Oct 12° C
Nov 7° C
Dec 2° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
231016222728282417105
Low
°C
-7-515111618181473-2
High
°F
363750617281828275635041
Low
°F
192334415261646457453728

Where to Next?

7 Reviews on Pittsburgh

  1. Contrary to your write-up, I doubt that there’s been more than one day in the last century that the temperature has risen to 104 degrees celsius in Pittsburgh. It certainly isn’t the July “average” as stated in your article.

    1. A
      Anonymous says:

      Thank you. I was thinking the same thing…

    2. 1
      104 c = 219 f says:

      There is no place on earth that has risen to 104 c. Ever

    3. I’m about to move there and I swear I’ve seen the Mon river boil after I was having too much fun in the South Side Flats.

  2. it was fine

    Got stabbed there once, not too fun, would do it again

  3. I enjoyed my trip to Pittsburgh

    Pittsburgh was nice when I was there. Their downtown eateries are tasty :), I liked the bridges and spent some time admiring them plus Mt. Washington was also a nice view. Didn’t encounter anything dangerous but then again we kept to the tourist paths.

  4. M
    Midnite Mayor of Shadyside says:

    Watch Out for Lyme Disease

    Be careful regarding deer ticks. Lyme disease is a big and increasing problem in the city limits. Ticks are present in large numbers in city parks. The nymphs are so small that they are hard to detect.

Rated 3.86 / 5 based on 7 user reviews.

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