Europe is arguably the safest continent on the planet, but that doesn’t mean it’s without its risks. Some European cities can be quite dangerous, meaning you should take extra care to be safe. Here’s a list of Europe’s 25 most dangerous cities.
European Crime Rates
Crime rates and indices in certain European urban areas pose significant concerns regarding public safety and security. These measures provide valuable insights into the prevalence of crime and the overall safety of a city.
One commonly used index is the Global Peace Index (GPI), which ranks countries and cities based on various indicators, including levels of violence, crime rates, and perceived criminality. According to the GPI 2021 report, some European cities such as Lisbon, Barcelona, and Rome have relatively high crime rates compared to other cities within Europe.
Additionally, Eurostat data reveals that certain Eastern European cities like Sofia and Bucharest also experience higher crime rates compared to their Western counterparts.
However, it is important to note that while these statistics can provide a broad overview of crime trends in different cities, they should be interpreted with caution as factors like population density, socioeconomic conditions, and cultural dynamics can significantly influence crime rates.
The Most Violent European Cities
1. Tallinn, Estonia
Estonia’s capital city, Tallinn, is also the country’s most populous city and a popular tourist destination. Many people are attracted by the stunning architecture while there’s also plenty else for people to do.
The city is mostly safe and has a low crime rate of 22.58, although there is an increased risk of petty crime and even violent crime around the port area. However, Tallinn has a homicide rate of around 5.5 per 100,000 people despite its low crime rates.
2. Vilnius, Lithuania
As the capital city of Lithuania, Vilnius is also the largest city in the country. The city is known for its architecture and is also an important centre for music and arts.
The most significant risk to visitors to Vilnius is from petty theft, with violent crimes not at all common. The city also has a low crime rate of 26.95, making it relatively safe overall especially in broad daylight, and you should only avoid a few districts. However, the city traditionally has a high murder rate which was as high as 10.4 per 100,000 people in 2008.
3. Florence, Italy
Florence is one of Europe’s most popular destinations for arts and culture. This Italian city has famous galleries that contain some of the world’s most important art collections, while there’s also the striking Duomo cathedral that attracts visitors from far and wide.
Violent crime is not common in the city, but tourists still need to keep their wits about them. Crimes that people in Florence need to be mindful of include scams, stealing credit cards, and pickpocketing. Florence has a crime rate of 38.49
4. Belfast, Northern Ireland
Belfast is the largest city of Northern Ireland and the capital city. The city is a popular tourist destination with plenty to do, including the Titanic Belfast museum, which is devoted to the infamous RMS Titanic ship that was built in the city.
Belfast has seen considerable upheaval during the 1970s and 80s bombing campaigns, which are now in the past. The city has an average crime rate of 43.72. Be careful and you’re unlikely to have problems, but carelessness could find you in trouble.
5. Kaunas, Lithuania
Kaunas is one of Lithuania’s most important cultural, academic, and economic cities. The museums and theatres here will be of interest to people interested in history and the arts. Crime rates here are a little below average, with a rate of 37.84, but the homicide rate is relatively high at 5.4 per 100,000.
The high murder rate is largely contributed to by domestic disputes fuelled by alcohol. While such disputes tend not to affect other people, it’s still wise to be extra vigilant if you want to enjoy the city’s nightlife.
6. Milan, Italy
Milan is one of the most important cultural centres on earth and is home to some of the world’s most important museums and other historical sites. Like Italy’s capital city Rome, Milan is also one of the most important cities in the fashion world, with many of the biggest labels born here.
Although the main tourist areas are mostly safe, tourists should avoid straying into surrounding suburbs. It is still wise to be alert in the tourist areas because crimes like pickpocketing, theft, and theft help contribute to a crime rate of 44.12.
7. Sarajevo, Bosnia And Herzegovina
Sarajevo is the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The city is known as ‘Jerusalem of Europe’ due to its religious significance. The city was beleaguered in the 1990s and held under siege during the Bosnian war but has strongly recovered since.
Sarajevo’s troubled political past is now history, and normality has returned to the city. However, there is pickpocketing and other petty theft, as you would find in most other tourist destinations. While most tourists are unlikely to experience problems in the city, the crime rate is at 45.03 and rising.
8. Glasgow, Scotland
Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow is an ancient city that is brimming with activities for visitors. Old cathedrals and city districts meet art galleries and other modern attractions. The warm and hearty Scottish welcome can also be very endearing, but it’s wise not to let down your guard.
Glasgow is home to various gangs, and turf wars have occurred in the city. In 2010, the city had a murder rate of 5.1 in 100,000 people, with a crime rate of 45.38. Astonishingly, Glasgow murder rates in 2020 made up 20% of all crimes committed in the entirety of Scotland.
9. Istanbul, Turkey
Locate right on the border between Europe and Asia, Istanbul has long been a popular destination for tourists globally. Although the city has plenty to keep visitors excited, they shouldn’t let their guard down.
Most tourists here will experience no real problems, although they should be alert to pickpockets. The city can become more dangerous for people who stray away from the tourist centres, however. The city had a homicide rate of 2.6 per 100,000 people in 2017 and a current crime rate of 47.55.
10. Kiev, Ukraine
Kiev is Ukraine’s capital city, as well as its most populous. The city is also an important industrial, historical, and education centre and offers a lot for visitors to see and do.
Kiev has a reasonably high crime rate of 45.70, and the murder rate in 2010 was 3.2 per 100,000. Most areas are pretty safe, but you should take extra care on the suburbans trains where violent crimes are known to occur.
11. Dublin, Ireland
Ireland’s capital city, Dublin, is the second-largest city in the country and a popular tourist destination, helped by its rich history and entertainment.
Petty crimes like pickpocketing are relatively common in tourist areas like Grafton Street, making it wise to be extra vigilant, especially at night. Violent crimes are not common but, as with any other city, it’s best to avoid straying away from the centre and into the surrounding neighbourhoods. The city has a crime rate of 51.54.
12. Brussels, Belgium
Home to the European Parliament, Brussels can be considered to be at the heart of European politics. The city has plenty of places of interest to keep tourists busy, while visitors can also make the most of the chocolate, beer, and waffles.
Petty crimes like theft and pickpocketing are relatively high, but violent crimes are not usually something to be concerned about. However, one factor that does make Brussels a potentially dangerous location is that the city is often the target of terrorist attacks, and several terrorist groups have been found in the city. Brussels has a crime rate of 51.6.
13. London, England
How to the Queen of England and one of the planet’s most valuable cultural centres, London is not a city that most would not consider dangerous. However, the city does have issues with violent crime, including in recent years.
The big screen has immortalized some London gangsters, and there is still some gang activity in the city, but it’s not likely to affect the average person. However, serious knife crime is another problem in the city, while around 30% of London residents have been robbed or assaulted at least once. London has a crime rate of 53.36.
14. Odessa, Ukraine
Odessa is Ukraine’s third most populous city and a primary transport and tourism hub. The city is steeped in history, art and culture, making it a popular destination for visitors.
The city’s tourist centres are typically quite safe, albeit with the usual risks of pickpockets and other petty criminals. However, it would be best if you kept clear of the city’s open-air markets, where pickpocketing and even robberies are more common. As a result, Odessa has a fairly high crime rate of 53.75.
15. Paris, France
Paris is one of the world’s most famous cities and a global centre of art and culture. Millions travel here every year from around the globe to see some of the most famous landmarks on the planet.
Visitors will need to be careful, however, as pickpockets and are petty criminals are active. The city and the city has a relatively high crime rate of 55.13 and has been a target for terrorist attacks in the past.
16. Athens, Greece
Athens is one of the world’s most ancient cities, and tourists come from all over the world to take in the rich history and make the most of the local beaches. However, Greece has long been fairly poor, and things got considerably worse during the 2007-08 financial crisis.
The homicide rate for Greece was a fairly low 0.7 per 100,000 people in 2019. However, the city has a crime rate of 55.43, which includes drug use and violent crimes.
17. Malmo, Sweden
Malmo is Sweden’s third-largest city and an important commercial centre. The city is also home to museums, theatres, exciting architecture, and other places of interest for visitors.
Although Malmo is quite safe provided tourists take appropriate care, there is still a need to be careful. The city has a high crime rate of 56.14 and had a murder rate of 2.9 in 100,000 people, which is considerably higher than the national average.
18. Naples, Italy
Naples is perhaps best known for its proximity to Mount Vesuvius – the volcano that famously erupted and wiped out the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. The city has been a major tourist destination for hundreds of years, but it’s a hotbed of crime.
Naples is the home of the Camorra organization, a mafia-type group involved in a wide range of criminal activities. The city has a crime rate of 58.26, while murder rates are also relatively high for the country.
19. Catania, Italy
Catania is one of Italy’s largest cities and is located on the island of Sicily. Sicily is a popular tourist destination, and Catania has made moves to attract more tourists in recent years.
The city’s rich history and location appeal to tourists, but the city’s reputation for crime does not. While the city is probably safe for careful tourists, mafia organizations are active in the city, helping to give it a high crime rate of 60.68.
20. Birmingham, UK
Birmingham is the second-largest metropolitan area in the UK and is an important cultural, social, and financial centre. The city also has plenty to keep visitors entertained with museums, galleries, entertainment, and a range of other attractions.
However, studies have shown that around 42% of Birmingham’s inhabitants feel at risk in the city, partly due to the city’s knife crime problems and a high crime index of 61.26. Most visitors will be safe provided they avoid certain areas, but it’s certainly wise to be precautious.
21. Kyzyl, Russia
Kyzyl is an industrial city in Southern Russia that is not well known by tourism in general. However, there are some interesting historical spots for people who do make their way to the city.
Kyzyl has a reputation for being unsafe for tourists, which is largely fuelled by alcohol. The city is also known as a criminal hotspot, and the murder rate has been as high as 35 per 100,000. There has apparently been a decrease in these rates recently, but it’s still best to go to another destination instead.
22. Marseille, France
Marseille is one of Europe’s most important trading ports and the second-largest city in France. Marseille is also the oldest town in France, so you can expect to find plenty of history here, and tourists will find enough to keep them occupied.
However, Marseille has a serious crime problem, partly due to migrants facing poverty condition. A thriving drug trade exists in the city, with various criminal organizations contributing to a crime rate of 61.50. Most crimes here include mugging, credit card theft, and pickpocketing, although violent crimes are also a problem with contract murders
23. Donetsk, Ukraine
Donetsk is the 5th largest city in Ukraine and one of the country’s main industrial centres. The city has some interesting museums to visit as well as architecture that would tempt a lot of people. However, the city is one that’s best avoided.
Donetsk is a hot point of political chaos, social unrest, and violent protests. The Donetsk People’s Republic has a de facto administration of the city and claims it as their republic’s capital city, and fighting for control over the city is still ongoing. The city is also home to criminal organizations, and the crime rate is very high at 69.1
24. Grozny, Russia
Grozny is the capital city of Chechnya, a constituent republic of Russia. The city has been in the epicentre of two relatively recent wars and was recently built up again after extensive damage from explosions and missile attacks.
Although wars have now subsided, the city is still unsafe, and many governments advise their citizens against travelling to the region. The crime rate is an average 37.91, but this might partly be down to regular patrols on the streets. Nevertheless, serious crimes like kidnapping and terrorism are serious risks.
25. Shkodër, Albania
Shkodër, the traditional capital of Albania, is one of Albania’s most popular tourist spots and is the country’s 4th most populous city. Steeped in history and surrounded by beautiful countryside, the city has plenty to offer to visitors and local Albanians.
Unfortunately, crime is rife, including serious crimes such as human trafficking, extortion, and drug smuggling. The city has a murder rate of around 36 per 100,000 people. Reports have suggested that there are at least four criminal organizations operating in the city, contributing to the high crime rate of 76.56.
26. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Located in Amsterdam, the Red Light District is notorious for its high incidence of illegal activities. Being one of the most famous areas in Europe, it attracts both tourists and locals alike. However, this district has gained a reputation for criminal behavior due to its association with prostitution and drug trade.
26. Paris, France
Paris faces its own challenges in terms of petty theft. Known as a popular tourist destination, the city’s bustling streets and crowded attractions create an ideal environment for pickpockets to thrive.
The Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, and Champs-Élysées are particularly notorious hotspots for such criminal activities, where unsuspecting visitors often fall victim to skilled thieves. Pickpocketing incidents involve techniques that range from simple distractions to sophisticated maneuvers, leaving victims disheartened and financially compromised.
Efforts have been made by local authorities to combat this menace through increased surveillance and public awareness campaigns, but vigilance remains crucial for tourists exploring the enchanting streets of Paris.
27. Brussels, Belgium
Brussels, like many other urban areas, faces the issue of pickpocketing, which poses a significant concern for both residents and tourists alike. The city has gained notoriety as one of the major hotspots for this type of crime in Europe.
Pickpocketing incidents often occur in crowded places such as public transportation hubs, tourist attractions, and busy shopping areas. Criminals employ various techniques to distract their victims and snatch wallets, purses, or electronic devices without detection.
Despite efforts by local authorities to combat this problem through increased police presence and awareness campaigns, pickpocketing remains a persistent issue in Brussels. Tourists are advised to take precautions such as keeping valuables secure and being vigilant in crowded areas.
As with any urban environment prone to pickpocketing, visitors should exercise caution while exploring Brussels.
28. Porto, Portugal
Porto, Portugal is known for its crime rates, which can be a concern for both residents and tourists visiting the city. According to the latest statistics, Porto has experienced an increase in overall crime rates in recent years.
The most common types of crimes reported include theft, burglary, and drug-related offenses. Pickpocketing is also a significant issue in certain areas of Porto, particularly crowded tourist spots like Ribeira and São Bento train station. It is advised for visitors to take precautions such as keeping valuables secure and being aware of their surroundings.
However, it is important to note that crime rates can vary depending on the neighborhood within the city. Local authorities have been implementing measures to address this issue, including increased police presence and CCTV surveillance systems in strategic locations to ensure public safety.
29. Bucharest, Romania
Bucharest, Romania has been reported to have a number of scams targeting tourists and unsuspecting individuals. These scams often involve pickpocketing, fake taxis, and various street scams.
Pickpocketing is a common problem in crowded areas such as train stations and tourist attractions. Tourists are advised to keep their belongings secure and be aware of their surroundings.
Fake taxis are another concern in Bucharest, with drivers overcharging passengers or taking longer routes to increase the fare. It is recommended to use reputable taxi companies or transportation apps to avoid falling victim to this scam.
Additionally, there are various street scams where individuals may approach tourists offering help or selling counterfeit goods at inflated prices. Travelers should exercise caution and be wary of strangers approaching them with unsolicited assistance or offers that seem too good to be true.
30. Riga, Latvia
Visitors to Riga, a popular tourist destination in the Baltic region, should be aware of the prevalence of crime around its tourist spots and take appropriate precautions to ensure their safety.
While Riga offers numerous attractions and cultural sites that draw tourists from all over the world, it is important to acknowledge that the city also faces certain security challenges. Criminal activities such as pickpocketing, bag snatching, and scams are not uncommon in crowded areas frequented by visitors.
Tourist spots like Old Town and central markets tend to attract criminals due to their high footfall. To mitigate these risks, travelers should remain vigilant, keep their belongings secure, avoid displaying valuable items openly, and be cautious when approached by strangers.
Additionally, seeking advice from local authorities or hotels regarding safe areas can further enhance personal safety while enjoying Riga’s vibrant atmosphere.
31. Sofia, Bulgaria
Organized crime in Sofia poses significant challenges to the city’s security and stability, warranting attention from authorities and concern from the international community.
Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, has been grappling with a high level of organized criminal activities for several years. The presence of powerful criminal groups involved in various illicit activities such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, and extortion has contributed to an atmosphere of fear and insecurity within the city.
These criminal organizations are known for their sophisticated operations and extensive networks that span across national borders. The impact of organized crime on Sofia’s society is far-reaching, affecting not only public safety but also economic development and democratic governance.
Efforts to combat organized crime in Sofia require coordinated action from law enforcement agencies, judicial institutions, and international partnerships to dismantle these criminal networks and restore security to the city.
32. Podgorica, Montenegro
With a significantly high homicide rate, Podgorica struggles to address the underlying factors contributing to this issue and find effective solutions.
According to statistics, Podgorica has one of the highest homicide rates in Europe. The reasons behind this high rate are multi-faceted and complex. Socioeconomic disparities, organized crime, drug trafficking, and political instability have all been identified as contributing factors.
Additionally, the lack of trust in law enforcement agencies further exacerbates the problem, making it difficult for authorities to effectively combat crime and bring perpetrators to justice.
Despite efforts by the government to improve security measures and strengthen law enforcement institutions, more needs to be done in terms of addressing the root causes of violence and implementing comprehensive strategies that promote social cohesion and economic development.
Only through such holistic approaches can Podgorica hope to reduce its alarming homicide rate.
33. Kristiansand, Norway
Kristiansand, a city in Norway, has witnessed an alarming surge in criminal activities, prompting significant concern among officials and citizens alike. In recent years, the crime rate in Kristiansand has been on the rise, with various types of offenses being reported.
One notable increase is seen in property crimes such as theft and burglary. These incidents have not only affected individuals but have also impacted businesses and public spaces within the city.
Authorities have responded by implementing measures to combat this rise in crime, including increasing police patrols and enhancing surveillance systems. Additionally, community engagement programs and awareness campaigns have been launched to educate residents about crime prevention strategies.
Despite these efforts, addressing the root causes of this trend remains crucial for ensuring the safety and security of Kristiansand’s population.
Most Violent Places to Travel in Europe
Just like any other region on this planet, Europe has its dangerous elements. The key for tourists and residents alike is vigilance. Understand your risks and behave accordingly.