Virginia : Safety by CityUnited States - safety as a country
If you’re looking to experience excellent weather, beaches, mountains, and history on your trip to the United States, then Virginia is a state you can’t afford to miss.
With its proximity to the nation’s capital – Washington D.C. – and positioning in the Southern United States, Virginia offers a mix of urban excitement, the colonial architecture and hospitality that define the American South, and the breathtaking views of Appalachia.
Not only does this state offer some of the best beaches and weather that you can find on the United States East Coast, but it is also an incredibly safe destination.
Before booking your trip to Virginia, check out this list of anything you may need to look out for to ensure your time is as safe as possible.
Warnings & Dangers in Virginia
OVERALL RISK: LOW
While Virginia has experienced a slight crime increase in recent years, it is still a perfectly safe travel destination, and it has the lowest violent crime rate in the whole South-Eastern United States and the sixth-lowest violent crime rate in the country. Even though Virginia is very safe, remember to follow safety precautions and not travel to dangerous neighborhoods to make sure your trip is as safe as possible.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
Taxis, public transportation, and ridesharing services are all safe to use in Virginia. Like anywhere else, just be mindful of your surroundings and your property. When riding in taxis, remember to ride in the back seat and keep windows open.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
Pickpocketing is, unfortunately, a problem anywhere you go, but since Virginia has a property crime rate that is well below the national average, you won’t have to worry too much about this happening to you. Just be aware of your surroundings, and don’t leave your hotel with anything too valuable.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Virginia has a mild, subtropical climate, and natural disasters are uncommon. With that being said, Summers and Falls see their fair share of cyclones, tornadoes, and the occasional hurricane. If you are traveling to Virginia’s mountainous regions during the Winter and Spring, then you can expect to see heavy snowfall and blizzards. If you are traveling during times when severe weather is common, then keep an eye on the forecast and pay attention to weather warnings.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
Virginia has some of the lowest property crime and violent crime rates in the country, so the odds you will face a mugging are very low. Avoid walking through dangerous neighborhoods or poorly-lit areas whenever possible.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
In October 2021, Virginia’s law enforcement was placed on high alert following the discovery of a possible ISIS-linked terror plot. However, nothing ever developed from this alleged planned attack. Keep in mind that Virginia has one of the lowest violent crime rates in the country, and the state’s proximity to Washington D.C. means that it is well protected. During your trip, you are in very little danger.
SCAMS RISK: MEDIUM
Tourists are targeted by scammers and panhandlers everywhere in the world, and Virginia is no exception. To avoid being scammed, simply go about your business and don't engage in conversations with strangers. To be extra safe, research what local scams are popular in Virginia before you travel.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Virginia has a very low violent crime rate compared to the rest of the country, so solo travelers should feel perfectly safe in Virginia. Just to be safe, stay in groups when possible and don't wander into unfamiliar or dimly lit areas.
TAP WATER RISK: MEDIUM
The tap water in Virginia’s urban areas is safe to drink and use. For example, Richmond Virginia’s tap water is regularly treated and continuously meets or surpasses EPA thresholds. However, rural, Appalachian areas often experience issues accessing clean water, so keep this in mind depending on where in the state you plan on traveling.
Safest Places to Visit in Virginia
Since Virginia has one of the lowest violent crime rates in the county, you should have no worries about booking your trip to this beautiful and historic state.
Even the urban areas and tourist hubs throughout the state are extremely safe, and according to FBI statistics, Virginia Beach has one of the lowest violent crime rates for a city of its size.
Cities like Lexington and Alexandria also have crime rates that are well below the national average.
Places to Avoid in Virginia
While Virginia is one of the safest, most historic, and most beautiful states in the country, like everywhere else, it has its fair share of spots that should be avoided.
The Woodville, Fairfield, and Gilpin neighborhoods in Richmond have violent crime rates that are above the national average, and they are best avoided on your travels.
These are the main urban areas of Virginia, however, more rural towns like Galax and Danville have violent crime rates that are above the national average.
You should keep in mind though that the areas throughout the state with the highest crime rates are in rural areas and have low populations, which will increase any violent crime per capita that occurs there.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Virginia
- If you choose to visit or stay in cities like Richmond and Norfolk, understand that these cities have neighborhoods that are not safe for travelers. Keep location in mind when planning excursions and booking your hotel.
- Keep the risk of severe weather in mind while you travel. Even though Virginia has very mild weather most of the year, the Summer and Fall months sometimes see cyclones, tornadoes, and sometimes even hurricanes. To be safe, monitor the weather closely before your trip, and pay attention to severe weather warnings.
- For women travelers especially, keep staying alert when walking at night. Plan your walks ahead of time to avoid dangerous and unfamiliar areas, and avoid walking or taking cabs alone if possible.
- If you are traveling to popular tourist hubs like Virginia Beach, don’t let your possessions and valuables out of sight. Even though the odds of you being a victim of theft are low, scammers and thieves are always on the lookout for their next targets.
- Keep your hotel room safe. While Virginia is a perfectly safe travel destination, you can be sure to protect yourself and your belongings by locking your hotel room windows, bolting the door, and keeping your valuables in a safe or at the front desk. Another trick is to keep the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door at all times.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Even in safe states like Virginia, there is no harm in being extra cautious while traveling. Be aware of suspicious behavior, keep an eye on your belongings, and if possible, don’t wander alone.
- When in doubt, seek help from locals. During your trip, you will experience true Southern hospitality, and Virginia residents are more than happy to help visitors. So, you shouldn’t be worried about asking them for advice or directions. Wherever you go, locals can be a valuable resource if you need assistance.
- Don’t draw too much attention to yourself. Making yourself obvious to criminals targeting tourists is never a good idea.
- Give your bank the details of your trip ahead of time. By informing your bank about your travels before you leave, you can ensure that your account will not be flagged for suspicious activity when you use it in a foreign country. Giving your bank your itinerary can save you a lot of stress in the case that your account and money are frozen.
- Buy travel insurance when you book your trip. Even though biting the bullet and spending money on travel insurance can feel like an unnecessary expense at the moment, you can save yourself from several emergencies and worst-case scenarios during your trip by buying it. Ease of mind is invaluable.
So... How Safe Is Virginia Really?
Virginia is a perfectly safe travel destination, and if you have any desire to see one of the most historic states in the Union with gorgeous colonial architecture, then visiting Virginia is a must.
Although some neighborhoods in Virginia’s cities like Richmond and Norfolk are best avoided and have their share of safety concerns, the state offers so much for those looking to experience Southern charm, tradition, beaches, and tranquil weather.
During your trip, you can maximize your safety by following simple safety guidelines.
Stay out of dimly lit areas and bad neighborhoods, be wary of scammers and accepting unsolicited help, and don’t bring important documents out of the hotel room with you unless it is necessary.
If you keep these in mind, your trip to Virginia is sure to be a safe and pleasant one.
How Does Virginia Compare?
If your home country is part of the Visa Waiver Program, you can stay in the United States for 90 days without a visa. Otherwise, you will need either a B-1 visa if they are traveling for business or a B-2 visa if they are traveling for leisure. For assistance and more information, go to usembassy.gov to find out what specific requirements travelers from your home country have before they can travel to the United States.
Like most countries, you can get the best rate on currency exchange by taking care of it at the airport upon entry. If you are flying into Ronald Regan Washington National Airport, there is a currency exchange office on the concourse level of Terminal C. Likewise, at the Norfolk International Airport, you can exchange foreign currency for U.S. dollars at the CXI MacArthur Center.
Because Virginia has a mild, sub-tropical climate, you will find the weather to be some of the most pleasant that you will find anywhere in the United States. Keep in mind that Summer and Fall in Virginia present severe weather risks including cyclones and tornadoes, so keep this in mind as you book your trip. However, aside from the occasional storm, there are very few weather risks in Virginia.
If you are flying into Virginia from overseas, then you are probably going to fly into Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, which services the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, or the Norfolk International Airport. Both airports are large and easy to navigate, and taxis are easily available at Ronald Reagan 24/7.
The best way to protect yourself and your belongings while traveling is to buy travel insurance. It may feel expensive at the moment, but you will be happy you bought it in the event of an unfortunate accident, or you are the victim of a crime.
Virginia Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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Virginia - Safety by City