Germany is a large Western European country with a varied landscape from forests, rivers, and mountains to North Sea beaches and cosmopolitan cities. Germany has thousands of years of history behind it, but its more recent past has left a haunting mark on the rest of the continent. Berlin is one of the best places to learn about it, but you might still be wondering if it’s safe to visit Germany today.
Berlin is also home to a thriving art and nightlife scene, while Munich is known for its Oktoberfest celebrations and Frankfurt for its skyscrapers and financial hubs. Germany and its cities aren’t often associated with high levels of violent crime, but some destinations are less safe than others.
Our guide takes a look at the most dangerous places in Germany and some things that you can do to stay safe in the land of wiener-schnitzel and lederhosen. Let’s get into it.
Frankfurt am Main is the most populous city in the Hesse state of Germany with just over 760,000 inhabitants. It’s a major financial hub and plays host to the European Central Bank, but with 16,292 crimes per 100,000 people, Frankfurt is also the most dangerous place in Germany.
The city has a crime index of 44.52 and demonstrates levels of unrest that are above the national average of 37.52. However, Frankfurt is not a violent city, especially when compared to other major destinations in Europe like London which has a crime index of almost 54, or Glasgow with almost 1,600 incidences of violence per 100,000.
Frankfurt might have a high incident rate for criminal activity overall, but there’s virtually no risk of being a victim of armed robbery or serious assault here. The city also does not suffer from corruption and bribery, and despite Germany’s historical reputation for intolerance, the chance of being subject to a physical attack as a result of your skin color, ethnic origin, gender, or religion in Frankfurt is all low.
It’s considered very safe to walk around Frankfurt alone by day. There’s a lot to see in the city and it is well-known as the birthplace of writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, whose former home has been transformed into the Goethe House Museum for visitors to the city to enjoy. Frankfurt suffered considerable damage in World War II but it was rebuilt and among its rejuvenated landmarks is the Altstadt, or Old Town, where you’ll find the delightful Römerberg Square where Frankfurt’s iconic Christmas market is held every year.
That said, you should exercise caution if you’re navigating Frankfurt at night on your own. A lot of the high crime is attributed to the city’s large red-light district. Located in Bahnhofsviertel, the district has been dominated by prostitution since 1945 and it remains a catalyst for crime in Frankfurt, despite sex work being mostly legalized in Germany.
You’ll also find a lot of crime around the main station, an area that trickles into the red light district, as well as the airport thanks to its large size. All of these neighborhoods are best avoided by night but we recommend taking extra precautions during the day too.
Drug dealing and drug use remain the biggest issues in Frankfurt. Frankfurt demonstrates a high index of 66.62 for problems with people using or dealing drugs, which is higher than the numbers shown in London. Frankfurt has earned the title of Germany’s drug capital, and even “crack capital” and the problem is most likely to have taken hold over the city thanks to Frankfurt’s geographical location in the center of Germany and because people fly in and out of the city from all over the world every day.
A lesser-known city on Germany’s tourism scene, Bremen ranks very close to Frankfurt when it comes to the crime index. The small metropolis straddles the Weser River in northwest Germany and Bremen is most famous for its role in maritime trade. However, you can also expect moderate levels of violent crime, theft, vandalism, and drug use.
Bremen doesn’t suffer exceedingly high levels of any type of crime, but its medium risk across a number of incident categories makes it one of the more dangerous cities in Germany. In daily life, it’s as safe as any other German city, and walking around during daylight is much safer than in London, Naples, or New York at an index of 72.26.
Bremen is characterized by its Hanseatic architecture which represents the rich maritime history of the city. These buildings line the Market Square, along with the ornate Gothic town hall with its Renaissance facade and large model ships. Nearby you’ll find the giant Roland statue, a stone figure that symbolized free trade, and St. Peter’s cathedral with its twin spire and medieval crypts is also worth visiting.
All of these sites are a joy to explore by day, but with the safety index dropping to 42.44 by night, you might want to take some extra precautions if you’re walking around alone or even in company. That said, the worst crimes in Bremen are related to drug dealing and use, so staying away from all illegal substances during your time in the city can help you avoid danger.
Crime has also significantly increased in the last three years and Bremen is one of the worse cities for things like pickpocketing, burglary, and vandalism as a result of high poverty levels. If you keep your wits about you, you shouldn’t have to worry about these things. The risk of carjackings and religious or ethnic intolerance is very low.
The most famous of all Germany’s cities and the most frequented destination by tourists, Berlin needs little introduction. It’s the country’s capital and attracts 13.5 million visitors every year with its landmark sites, cultural scene, and turbulent 20th-century history.
Berlin is all about contrasts and historical buildings mingling with modern structures, symbolizing the intertwining of past and present that has always been reflective of Berlin’s appeal. But the crime also reflects somewhat of a contrast, as the country’s most popular and iconic destination is also one of the most dangerous places in Germany.
The crime index in Germany’s capital hovers around 43.17 and there are around 13,158 crimes per 100,000 inhabitants—a figure that has shrunk to its lowest level since Germany and Berlin’s unification but one that is still relatively high. To put things into perspective, London sees just 9,280 offenses per 100,000 and it’s one of the more dangerous cities in Europe.
Still, this isn’t to say Berlin is a crime-riddled capital. Its overall crime index is much lower than London’s and it demonstrates low to moderate risks of all natures of crime, with the worst problems being with drug use, vandalism, and theft. However, the figures are still lower than in Frankfurt and Bremen with a moderate index of around 45-48.
It’s considered very safe to walk alone during daylight in Berlin with a safety index of more than 77. It’s a great city to get around on foot but the subway is also efficient and relatively problem-free, although you should keep an eye out for pickpockets.
Berlin is well-known for its recent Holocaust history and a number of the key monuments honoring Jewish lives lost in World War II are highlights of the city. The gratified remains of the Berlin Wall are also a testament to Berlin’s historical division while the Brandenburg Gate symbolizes Berlin’s later reunification.
Still, the nightlife in Berlin is also an undoubted pull for many young visitors and the city has paved the way for an internationally-accredited techno music scene over the last few decades. It should come as a relief then that it’s also relatively safe to walk around at night in Berlin, with an index of 53.2 which measures as a moderate risk on the safety scale.
Places to avoid at night include Alexanderplatz and the northern area of Luisenstadt since drug-related incidents can be high, as well Kurfürstdamm which is a hotbed for pickpocketing and public transport which can feel sketchy when it is late at night.
Hamburg isn’t a crime-riddled city but you can expect moderate levels of petty theft, burglaries, vandalism, drug dealing, and even violence. Hamburg is a major port nestled in northern Germany. The Elbe River bridges Hamburg to the North Sea with hundreds of canals and large areas of parkland.
Hamburg is a pleasant and relatively safe city to walk around with areas like the Inner Alster lake and its boats and cafes, as well the central Jungfernstieg boulevard which connects the new town and the old town, being highlights for tourists. You’ll also spot 18th-century landmarks in the Altstadt (old town) like St. Michael’s Church, considered to be one of the finest Hanseatic Protestant baroque churches.
Still, Hamburg is considered less safe to walk around than Berlin, with a safety index of 68.71 during daylight and 47.51 by night. Hamburg feels like a typical European city when it comes to security. You can ask strangers for directions, engage in friendly conversations with locals, and wander into residential neighborhoods freely, but you should keep aware of your surroundings as you would in any other city.
The overall crime index in Hamburg is 42.59, which is above the national average, but the crime sits at just 2,400 per 100,000 residents, a fraction of the rate in Berlin and Frankfurt and there’s no reason to feel unsafe here.
Billstedt, Harburg, Wilhelmsburg, and Tandorf are some districts you can avoid if security is of concern. These areas can feel sketchy at night and aren’t as safe to walk around on your own. If you’re looking for a vacation rental in Hamburg, check out Eppendorf, Winterhude, and Blankenese instead.
Cologne is the largest city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s westernmost state where you’ll also find the cities of Dusseldorf and Munster. Also known locally as Köln, the city is 2,000 years old and it straddles the Rhine River. Cologne is a landmark to Gothic architecture and high culture with museums housing Piccaso masterpieces and Roman antiquities, but even with all the refinery, Cologne isn’t a complete stranger to crime.
It’s very safe to walk around alone during daylight with a safety index of 74.54, and a relatively high safety index at night too of 49.54. However, this is still lower than Berlin’s, and Cologne demonstrates moderate levels of theft, vandalism, drug use and dealing, verbal abuse, and even physical violence.
The general crime index is 42.03, which is pretty much on par with Hamburg’s and similar warnings apply. Cologne isn’t much more dangerous than any other European city, even if it is one of the most dangerous places in Germany, but there are some precautions you can take.
The Christmas Markets, which are an annual feature of many German cities, are one of the biggest pulls to Cologna for tourists, and their intricate decorations, aromatic stalls, and festive atmospheres are unmatched. But with all the crowds of unsuspecting tourists, they can be hotbeds for petty crimes and you should keep an eye out for pickpockets.
That said, Cologne is cosmopolitan and its citizens are hospitable and there’s no reason to feel unsafe here. Crime has increased in recent years in Cologne but it doesn’t have to affect visitors. Avoid the Altstadt area at night and don’t walk along the Rhine River alone when it s dark—these are the most dangerous areas in the city. You should watch your belongings around the Cathedral, central stations, and busy shopping streets too at any time of day.
Staying Safe in Germany: Our Top 7 Tips
- Leave your passport at home – You should always leave any valuables that you can back at your hotel, but your passport is a very important one. Carry around a driver’s license or photo of your passport to use as identification instead.
- Don’t flash your cash – You make yourself immediately vulnerable to thieves by showing your wealth. Leave the flashy jewelry at home and be careful when withdrawing money or paying in cash, we recommend carrying as little cash at a time as you can.
- Learn the emergency numbers – You should do this as soon as you land in any new destination—911 won’t do anything in Germany. Dial 112 in the case of medical or fire-related emergencies, and 110 to be put through to the police.
- Don’t walk around alone at night – Germany is generally very safe but this can change at night and dimly lit city streets are hotbeds for crime. Book an official taxi to get you home instead.
- Know your limits – Getting too wasted when you’re out in Germany puts you in a vulnerable position. Don’t take drinks from strangers, don’t leave your drinks unattended, and don’t overdo it. The German police won’t go easy on a rowdy tourist too.
- Keep your belongings close – Your mobile phone hanging out your back pocket is an invitation to thieves, as is leaving your bag on your floor next to you when al fresco dning. Keep valuables close, bags closed, and think about investing in a fanny back or money belt for your belongings.
- Avoid big gatherings – Terrorism is always a risk in Europe, especially in big cities. Be alert to threats, avoid political rallies, and stay away from crowded public places. This will protect you from a host of other crimes too.
Is Germany safe?
Generally speaking, Germany is a safe country with an overall crime index of just 37.60 and low levels of crime across the board, not including drug dealing, drug use, vandalism, and theft, of which there are moderate levels in Germany. It’s safe to walk around by day in every German city, but you should exercise caution at night as you would in any other European destination. There’s also an increased caution in Germany due to terrorism like much of northern Europe. Stay alert to threats and avoid big crowds where possible.
What is the safest city in Germany?
Munich is best known for its vibrant Oktoberfest celebrations, but the city also has a very high quality of life and the least crime in comparison to other German cities. The overall crime index is just 18.89, which is much less than the national and European average and there are very low levels of most types of crime. Walking around alone at night is even safer than walking around during the day in places like London, New York, and Milan. This isn’t to say you won’t face any issues and you always be streetwise, but the vast majority of visitors are not subjected to serious crime.
Is Berlin safe for solo female travelers?
Berlin, although one of the most dangerous places in Germany, is actually one of the safest cities in Europe for solo female travelers. This is because no destination in Germany is particularly riddled with crime, but it’s important to remember that Berlin is a bustling capital after all. Crime rates are higher at night and you should exercise caution around busy tourist areas, as well as isolated or dimly lit streets, but Berlin is a great place for a solo adventure and a very tolerant city. Most visitors face no problems.