Is Charleston, SC, safe?

Is Charleston, SC, Safe In 2024? Crime Rates & Safest Places


Charleston sits on a peninsula and is not too big of a city for being one of the most visited places in the country. Charleston boasts cobblestone streets, antebellum houses, the southern charm, and some of the best food you will ever taste. The people are nice and will say, “hi” as you walk by.  But is Charleston, SC safe?

With a city and the surrounding area that has grown by 600,000 people in the last 15 years, there is bound to be some crime.  Like most cities, you need to know which areas are safe and which areas to stay away from. 

Our good friend Shaun from The Traveling Drifter breaks this down for you.

Is Charleston, SC, Safe?

The short answer is yes, Charleston, SC, is a safe city and area. 

Of course, with saying that, there are certain areas that are not the safest.  But, if you are visiting on vacation, chances are, you will not be near any of the unsafe areas.  

Charleston, SC, is a safe city.

So let’s explore Charleston a little more about the crime and the locations to avoid. Then we can take a look at the safe locations that you will want to visit in Charleston. 

What is the crime like in Charleston, SC?

The numbers for Charleston, SC, for crime are going to look a bit skewed because the city of Charleston includes 3 major parts: Downtown, West Ashley and James Island.  The majority of tourists tend to stay in the historic downtown portion of Charleston.  

The Charleston population is roughly about 150,000.  This is where the bases of numbers will come from to explain the rate of crimes in Charleston.  

Violent Crime

The chance that a person will be a victim of a violent crime in Charleston is 1 in 227 or a rate of 4 per 1,000 inhabitants.  A violent crime is an armed robbery, aggravated assault, rape, or murder. 

In 2022, based on the rate per 1,000 people, there were 17 murders, 57 rapes, 101 armed robberies, and 487 assault crimes.  

Property Crime

The chance that a person will be a victim of property crime in Charleston is 1 in 45 or a rate of 22 per 1,000 inhabitants.  A property crime is motor vehicle theft, arson, larceny, or burglary.

In 2022, based on the rate per 1,000 people, there were 329 burglaries, 2,575 thefts, and 465 motor vehicle thefts.  

Crime in Charleston

When you take all the numbers, 662 violent crimes and 3,369 property crimes, it comes to a total of 4,031 total crimes in Charleston in 2022.  

With this information, it is known that Charleston falls right above the national average for crime.  Again, this is taken for the entire city area where everyone lives and works.  For tourist locations, it is quite safe, and crime tends to stay away.

Is Charleston safe at night?

For the most part, Charleston is safe at night as long as you stay in the tourist areas of downtown and the more popular sections of the city overall. 

In the tourist area, you will see lots of people walking the streets, bars will be open, and music will be playing.  You will have nothing to worry about as long as you stick to these areas while visiting.  

As you walk the streets at night, avoid the areas that will be mentioned, use common sense, and try to use the buddy system to stay as safe as possible.  

If you are out on King Street on Friday and Saturday nights, there will be a lot of people in the bars and restaurants, so please keep a close eye on your wallet and purses.  Most of these people will be tourists and college students.

Places To Avoid In Charleston, SC

In the question of is Charleston, SC safe?  There will be places on the peninsula that you will want to avoid.  Charleston is ever-changing, and there is a huge push for gentrification in the areas that I will be mentioning here. 

View of Charleston, SC, where there is a huge push for gentrification.

If you are visiting, I will avoid these areas just to be safe.  I am basing these suggestions on the downtown area only. 

East Side Neighborhood

Nassau Street and America Street are the main streets in the neighborhood.  They are located on the eastern part of the peninsula.  Mostly between East Bay Street to Meeting Street and then from Stuart Street to Mary Street.  

This area is a highly residential area that Charleston is working on gentrification for.  The population in this area is part of the lower to poor demographic.  Walking throughout the day is a high risk but at night,you should completely avoid it. 

East-Central Neighborhood

The East-Central Neighborhood is a smaller neighborhood.  This portion of the city has undergone a lot of gentrification in recent years.  The majority of the area is great, with amazing restaurants and breweries.  But, there are a few parts to avoid.  One of the areas is a 4-block section between Conroy Street to Cedar Street and N Hanover Street to Meeting Street.  

The restaurants and breweries have great parking but you should avoid walking the streets, especially at night.  A good rule for this area is, for anything close to the highway overpass system, stay away from it at night.  

Safest Places In Charleston

Now, let’s talk about some of the safest areas in Charleston, SC.  As I have mentioned in this post, you will be extremely safe if you stick to tourist areas

The boardwalk in Charleston, SC.

In many of these areas, you will be able to walk around throughout the late hours at night with no problem at all.  

📍French Quarter

The French Quarter is a small area with some of Charleston’s oldest buildings.  It stretches from Market Street to Broad Street and Meeting Street to the waterfront.  

Here you will find key places to visit such as Charleston City Market, Joe Riley Waterfront Park (with the famous pineapple fountain), and some of the best rooftop bars and restaurants.

📍Historic District

The Historic District is larger and basically goes from Calhoun Street to Broad Street and from one side of the peninsula to the other.  You will find many great historical buildings in this area.  The French Quarter is technically inside of the Historic District.

Here you will find key places to visit, such as: Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center (which you can take a ferry out to Fort Sumter), Eat at some of the best restaurants on Queen Street, and stroll through the campus of the College of Charleston.

📍South of Broad

South of Broad is one of Charleston’s most beautiful areas.  As the name suggests, the neighborhood is from Broad Street to the rest of the peninsula.  So water on three sides.  You will find some of the best tourist spots in town here. 

Here you will find key places to visit, such as Rainbow Row, The Battery, Whitepoint Gardens (beautiful to walk during the day and night), and many of the tiny streets surrounded by some of the oldest houses in Charleston.

Safety Tips For Travel To Charleston

✅ Avoid Walking Alone at Night

Common sense is one that happens to get forgotten a lot.  With Charleston being an old city, there are tight alleyways all around for someone to hide in.  Charleston is a great drinking city and if you are out at night, anything happens.  Just please use the buddy system.

✅ Wear Comfortable Shoes

This one might sound funny but trust me.  First, because of the old streets and sidewalks, you will want comfortable shoes or you will be done in a couple of hours.  I have seen plenty of people twist their ankles while wearing something with heels.  Second, in case anything happens, you will have the ability to run away.  

✅ Ride Shares

Charleston uses the rideshare app programs really well.  There are drivers all over the city always willing to help out.  Since Charleston is one of the most popular tourist locations in the country, the drivers take their jobs very seriously and are generally very safe. 

The Wrap-Up: Is Charleston SC Safe?

As you see, as long as you stay in the heavy tourist areas, you will have nothing to worry about. Charleston has done an amazing job in making most of the peninsula safe for its citizens and tourists. 

Charleston, SC is not only safe, but one of the most visited cities in the US.

So the main question should be, as a visitor, is Charleston, SC, safe in the tourist areas that I will be at?  

Crime does happen in any city, but if you stick to the areas that we have talked about in this post, then you will have nothing to worry about.  So, is Charleston, SC, safe?  Yes, yes, it is.