How Safe Is Raleigh for Travel?

Raleigh, United States
Safety Index:
74

Raleigh is the capital city of North Carolina and commonly mentioned in reference to its neighboring city of Durham, as in Raleigh-Durham.

You might also hear this region referred to as the Research Triangle, which includes Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill.

The name is derived due to the proximity to three major research universities.

This is the south where the tea is sweet, the barbecue is a breed of its own, and friendly hospitality reigns.

You can drink Cheerwine here at any age because it’s not a wine at all, but a cherry-flavored drink that has been dominant in this region since 1917.

While Raleigh is inland, you’re still just two hours from the closest beach and you can be in the Outer Banks in about half a day’s drive.

The city is right on the North Carolina “Fall Line”, which means the mountains give way to gently rolling hills as the land approaches the Atlantic seaboard.

Raleigh neighborhoods are defined by whether they are inside or outside the Beltline, which is a sloppy circle of highways that loop around the central part of the city.

Downtown is “Inside the Beltline” and many suburbs are “Outside the Beltline.”

In fall of 2022, the Raleigh community was added to a list of notoriety that no community wants – it was the sight of a mass shooting that left five people dead and two injured in a neighborhood east of the Beltline.

While this isn’t indicative of safety in the community, it was another act of jarring violence that American cities are battling in 2022 and beyond.

Warnings & Dangers in Raleigh

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK : LOW

There's a low risk in Raleigh with some increasing crime numbers that might be concerning for certain parts of town. It is by no means one of the "most dangerous" cities, but it's also not among the safest cities. U.S. News & World Report does rank it as the #6 Best Place to Live.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW

Public transportation in and around Raleigh is extensive. You can travel through just the city of Raleigh, go throughout the research triangle, or get transportation for special needs tourists. Taxis and rideshares are also available. Rental cars might be the best option, especially if you want to explore the region on your own timeline or take a trip to the beach. All options come with low risk.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM

You should use caution when you're in crowded areas, but there's not an overwhelming risk of being pickpocketed or having a purse snatched. In 2021, 112 incidents were reported. Carry only the minimum of what you need, like an ID and one credit card. Keep your mobile device out of sight unless you need to use it, so you don't draw attention to a valuable device.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM

Raleigh has been hit by dangerous tornadoes, and also is at risk of hurricanes that hit the coast moving inland, causing flooding and severe thunderstorms. Winters rarely get snow storms or ice storms, but when it does happen it can cripple the city's transportation system and make for dangerous driving.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK : LOW

30% of robberies happened in public outdoor spaces, known as a "highway robbery", but 56% of all robberies were in public spaces or local businesses. With just 13% of strangers being victims of violent crime, there's a lower risk here, but robbery rates overall are still higher than the national average. Use basic robbery deterrent skills, such as not wearing valuable jewelry or name-brand bags in public places. Never fight back against a robber, either. It's not worth risking your life.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM

The October 2022 mass shooting would be considered an act of domestic terrorism, and in 2016 there was an arrest of a terror group in Raleigh planning a "jihad" outside of the country. These stories can make you feel like there's a higher risk than there really is. While this region is large and even Raleigh is home to nearly half a million people, it's a medium risk at the highest concern level.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK : LOW

There's a low risk of a tourist being scammed, but scammers are always on the lookout for fresh targets. Never give personal information, like social security numbers, credit card numbers, or birthdates to anyone over the phone if you didn't initiate the phone call. Watch out for people pretending to be friendly but asking things about your best friend growing up, the street name of where you grew up, your mother's maiden name, etc. This can be a sign people are trying to figure out answers to your security questions.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW

Women statistically face a lower risk of being a victim of a violent crime in Raleigh. With the Research Triangle having so many universities, some visitors might want to party with the college crowd, which should come with standard safety measures. Buy your own drinks and keep them covered so nobody can slip a drug in. Don't go to private residence parties. Don't drink beyond your ability to make smart decisions. Don't walk at night by yourself and take taxis or rideshares instead of walking back to the hotel late at night.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK : LOW

The 2021 Water Quality Report shows no violations and full compliance with government standards. If you notice any water issues during your visit, report them by calling (919) 996-3245.

Safest Places to Visit in Raleigh

Visitraleigh.com is the official tourism website for the city and you should use it as a compass for all events and attractions.

This gives you cyber safety during research with safe links to click on during your research.

You can also email visit@visitRaleigh.com with any tourism questions you can’t find on the website.

Downtown Raleigh is a great place to start.

There’s a new Sip & Stroll District where you can carry around adult beverages while visiting shops, attractions, and restaurants.

Be sure to look for colored signs that indicate that Sip n’ Stroll Downtown is available at each establishment.

This helps you stay in the lines of the district.

You can’t just walk ANYWHERE downtown with a drink.

A map is available for download on the city website.

Beer lovers need to visit the Raleigh Beer Garden with 135 varieties on tap and a rooftop garden.

This is one of many places to eat, drink, and be merry in the Glenwood South District.

Plenty of hotels are nearby if you’re looking to be at the center of the action.

While you’re there, get a history lesson at the North Carolina Museum of History.

You can also visit the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and The Nature Research Center.

You shouldn’t miss it – there’s a massive globe outside the entrance!

To keep the kids entertained, check out the Marbles Kids Museum.

It’s an interactive place that explores imagination with hands-on activities with costumes.

You can explore a jungle safari or board a pirate ship in a safe, climate-controlled setting.

The Warehouse District is close to the Convention Center and has quickly risen to a “see-and-be-seen” place in the city with something for everyone.

Explore art galleries, dance the night away, or explore the business scene.

The CAM Raleigh is a homebase for artists supplemented by community events to draw crowds and explore creativity in every form.

Heading outside the Beltline now, you shouldn’t miss Historic Yates Mill Park.

With nearly 200 acres to explore, you can also tour Yates Mill and a gristmill, then sit by the pond and enjoy the scenery.

If you’re planning a special event during this trip, check out the farms in this area with beautiful venues.

Umstead State Park is another outdoor adventure area with hiking trails, camping opportunities, fishing holes, and even rustic cabins for those who wish to stay overnight.

While there’s plenty of shopping in various neighborhoods here, stop by the Raleigh Denim Workshop for one of the largest jeans-only stores made locally for all shapes and sizes.

Places to Avoid in Raleigh

There are some neighborhoods in the south and southeast sides of town that might be a little more dangerous than others, but there’s not a place where it’s just too dangerous to visit.

If you are choosing between staying in Raleigh or Durham, you’ll likely want to choose Raleigh because overall crime rates are lower.

Even Hedginham, where the mass shooting happened, was a residential area with more car break-ins than violent crimes.

The Neuse River Trail is a popular spot for bicycling and walking, and even that became a part of this mass murder.

While violent crime can happen in any neighborhood, and mass shootings rarely happen in high-crime areas, you shouldn’t have to worry about the bad parts of Raleigh, especially if you are from a larger city.

When you visit this area, the Neuse River Trail is still going to be a popular spot for outdoor activities, but don’t visit it as a macabre stop at the scene of a violent crime.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Raleigh

  1. Raleigh Police offer an annual report to detail crime trends and safety initiatives. You can also read the latest annual report right on the front page of the website. It’s very detailed, but not overwhelming to digest.
  2. Visit the Crime Reporting Center of the police department’s website to see how to report a crime, whether it’s an emergency or information you obtained later. You can also learn how to file a report on things like a car break-in or fender bender.
  3. If the mass shooting makes you think twice about visiting Raleigh, I recommend going to the “Updates on Mass Shooting” page to read about all the latest developments. This was truly a random act of violence by a 15-year-old. You can also learn how to support the community if you feel inclined to donate or offer assistance.
  4. Certain intersections in Raleigh have red light cameras that will take a picture of a vehicle running a red light and send a ticket. You won’t know you were caught until the ticket comes in the mail (and yes, they can track down rental car drivers). You can appeal or pay for a red light ticket online, so you won’t need to return to Raleigh to do so. Avoid this whole issue if you just stop at red lights and slow down when a light turns yellow. Don’t try to “beat the light.”
  5. If you choose to get around by bicycle, download the BikeRaleigh app. This will explain bike lanes, road markings, safety guidelines, and show a full map of bicycling areas on and off the main roads. You can also learn about the bike share program.
  6. The Passport Parking app will help you find a place to park, pay remotely, and keep all receipts of parking activity. You can also find the fares for different neighborhoods and identify no-parking zones.
  7. Anglers will need an out-of-state fishing license and you should review the different types of licenses and permits for certain fish and locations. You can also call the Wildlife Commission at (888)248-6834. You also have the option to email licenses@ncwildlife.org.
  8. For those using public transportation, review the list of ticket options before you purchase. There are 24-hour passes or 7-day passes. The discounts will make traveling hassle-free and save you some money.
  9. Sign up for ReadyWake Alerts (that’s Wake County), which will get you emergency notifications about severe weather, tropical storms, winter weather, or other safety concerns.
  10. Review the Ready Raleigh Guide on the city’s website. It goes through all the weather and emergency concerns a tourist could face and you’ll have all the phone numbers and safety information so you’re prepared for anything.

So... How Safe Is Raleigh Really?

Raleigh has the risk of an average American city.

The police department is refreshingly transparent with crime data, areas of concern, safety advice, and crime mapping.

I would advise any tourist to ANY American city to use the interactive crime mapping available to see local crime statistics closer to your visit.

Some cities have become more dangerous since the pandemic and others have seen plunging crime rates.

Even the data I can provide you today could change for a trip six months from now.

By and large, Raleigh has been a city of average risk rates for quite some time and has a lower average crime rate than nearby Durham.

That said, Chapel Hill is slightly safer than Raleigh.

The Research Triangle is one of those areas where common sense, basic safety practices, and situational awareness will go a long way.

There’s a lot of fun in this city, so use caution when you’re at nightclubs or drinking a lot – but you already know that.

The data from 2021 shows that just 13% of violent crimes happen against strangers and 41% of violent crimes happen in homes.

The biggest tourist crime prevention tactic is locking rental car doors and rolling up windows when parking, while also removing all personal belongings.

38% of thefts were related to car break-ins.

You’d be surprised how many people fall victim to this from leaving a car unlocked.

How Does Raleigh Compare?

CitySafety Index
Raleigh74
New Orleans57
Baltimore56
Boston67
Washington DC56
Niagara Falls (Canada)87
Calgary (Canada)82
Buenos Aires (Argentina)60

Useful Information

  • Visas - The U.S. State Department oversees the Visa process, and you'll need a Visa document to get through Customs when you arrive in the country. Since there are several kinds of visas, use the Visa Wizard on the State Department's website to guide you along. Follow each step explicitly, or you might be denied and have to start over.
  • Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here. There's a currency exchange office and ATM in Terminal 2 of the Raleigh airport. You don't need to carry a lot of cash, and keep your wallet - and cash - out of sight when you aren't using it. Don't carry all your money in one spot.
  • Weather - Raleigh gets a nice blend of all four seasons without too many extremes. This means you should bring layers of clothing, from short-sleeved shirts to sweatshirts/sweaters, khakis, or jeans. Shorts will be just fine in the summer. Bring bug spray and sunscreen. Don't forget comfortable walking shoes.
  • Airports - Raleigh-Durham International Airport is a smack dab between the two cities, about 15 miles from downtown Raleigh. It's a big enough airport that you don't need to go to Charlotte Douglas International Airport, but if you choose to, it's about a three-hour drive.
  • Travel Insurance - We recommend travel insurance, at least for your flight investment and accidental insurance, since health care costs are expensive without some kind of insurance.
Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Raleigh Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 5° C
Feb 7° C
Mar 11° C
Apr 16° C
May 20° C
Jun 25° C
Jul 27° C
Aug 26° C
Sep 23° C
Oct 16° C
Nov 11° C
Dec 7° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
101217222630323128221712
Low
°C
-114914192120171051
High
°F
505463727986908882726354
Low
°F
303439485766706863504134

Where to Next?

2 Reviews on Raleigh

  1. G
    Gabriel says:

    Will probably come back here

    Raleigh is much safer than you’d think, at least that was my experience after spending two weeks there. I had a lot of fun and never felt in danger at any moment. Of course I paid attention to my belongings and tried to stay away from shady places and people but those can be found anywhere.

  2. Safe

    As a former resident I can say that the city is very safe—outside of a few areas—your car won’t be broken into etc. Strong police presence on Glenwood, where the bars are, ensures even the rowdier crowd stays in check.

Rated 4.5 / 5 based on 2 user reviews.

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