Washington DC

Washington DC is the capital city of the United States, and its political center. It has some of the US’s most famous and iconic landmark, such as the White House, the Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial or the Washington Monument. Tourists will also be able to enjoy some of the finest museums of the country (there are eleven Smithsonian museums within the city) or enjoy walks through the city parks – over 21% of the city’s surface. Washington DC used to be one of the most dangerous cities in the US, but thanks to a strong focus on crime prevention there has been a steep decline in the murder rate. DC is now much safer, but some areas are still problematic. SafeAround has compiled information from numerous sources make sure you have a safe trip while in Washington DC, and be aware of all potential dangers.

SAFETY INDEX

Warnings & Dangers

Mid Priority-96 OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM

Washington DC is an overall safe city, with some areas prone to muggings. With a rating of 69% the US, is ranked 51th out of 162 on the ranking of the safest and most dangerous countries.

Mid Priority-96 PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM

There is some pickpocket-related risk in the touristic parts of DC and some parts of the North Central area. Be vigilant on the DC Metro Subway, there have been reports of mobile phone snatch and grab thefts. A few simple precautions will minimize your chances of being pickpocketed.

Mid Priority-96 MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM

Tourists staying in DC will be fine, but in some parts of the city – shown on the map, there is a high risk of getting mugged in poorly-lit areas between the bars. Do not go there alone, particularly at night.

Mid Priority-96 SCAMS RISK : LOW

As in any touristic place, there may be people trying to scam you. Be aware of “gold ring” tricks, fake petitions, groups of teenagers acting strangely or trying to distract you; and people offering help with your luggage.

Mid Priority-96 TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW

Transports and taxis are generally very safe in DC.

Mid Priority-96 NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW

There are no natural hazards in DC other than some rare occurrences of strong blizzard.

Mid Priority-96 TERRORISM RISK : LOW

Miami has not recently been targeted by terrorist attacks, but it is best to stay alert.

Mid Priority-96 WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW

Washington DC is generally very safe for women travelers.

Carte

WHAT TO DO?

Downtown DC

Downtown Washington DC is the most famous part of the city, with the 2-mile long National Mall park going from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, passing by the Washington Monument, the White House, the Smithsonian and many other national landmarks. The other downtown neighborhoods  such as East End, West End and Waterfront have both business and leisure areas, with plenty of upscale cafés and restaurants The National Mall and its surroundings has one of the largest police presence in the US, as a result the area is the safest in all Washington DC.

North Central

The areas around Shaw, Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan/Columbia Heights are known as the North Central neighborhood, famous for their trendiness, their cultural diversity and the vibrant nightlife : the area has some of the most famous Jazz Clubs and was the birthplace of Duke Ellington. These areas have been rapidly gentrifying since the 90’s and crime level have therefore been lowered. However, there are risks of mugging in the bar and public housing areas. For your safety, avoid dark alleys and empty streets, as well crossing through parks. There have been many reports of pickpocketing incidents on 18th street (Adams Morgan neighborhood), especially when the bars close and drunk people invade the streets. The Columbia Heights area has the highest crime rate in the city according to Spotcrime.

West

The North West areas of the city are the most prestigious and wealthiest neighborhoods, with the famous Georgetown University near the Potomac River, the National Zoo or the National Cathedral. These are very quiet and family-friendly neighborhoods, and very safe. Map source: The Washington Post

Useful Information

The US has one of the harshest entry policy, sometimes asking for an interview even for a tourist visa. Prepare to pay fees up to USD 160 for your application. Some countries like the ones from the EU or Australia have a visa waiver program (ESTA) which can be filled online. See https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en.html for more information. Strong custom regulations also apply (see the CPB website for more details), and the Travel Safety Administration can open your luggage without your presence. www.doyouneedvisa.com is a useful website that can help you know if you need a visa or not based on your nationality and the country you’re visiting.
The currency in the United States is the US Dollar. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted countrywide, and ATMs are found nearly in every city. The costs can vary widely between the states, but it is fair to assume a $100 budget per day on average, $150 if you rent a car and around $300 for top end accomodation. A 10% service tipping is customary in many sectors such as airport and hotel bag porters, bartenders , hotel maids, restaurant servers and taxi drivers.
The weather in the US varies greatly between the states : from the mediterranean weather of California to the Glaciers of Alaska or the subtropical Florida, each region has its best time to visit; although major cities can be visited all year round. This graph can be useful for finding the best time to travel.
The main international airports are in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Dallas, Denver and San Francisco. If you’re looking fore cheap flight deals, you can find some on JetRadar
As in any country, we advise travelers to get a travel insurance that covers not only medical problems but also theft and loss of personal items. Learn more on our travel insurance page