From the icy fjords of Norway to the eye-watering Colosseum of Rome, the snow-capped Austrian Alps to the looming Eiffel Tower, the flamenco halls of Madrid to the rolling forests of Poland, this land of cheesy pastas and chocolate-topped Belgian waffles has oodles up its sleeve. But where are the safest cities in Europe?
That’s what we’re here to find out, with a list of the nine most risk-averse towns on the continent. The good news is that European cities are generally safe. Common sense and the usual savvy travel skills are usually enough to see you through any trip to any town in these parts. But there are some places where you simply won’t have to worry as much…
We’re talking cities with such low crime stats that they’d make residents of a Buddhist monastery blush. We’re talking metropolises that are famed around the globe for their cleanliness and welcoming attitude, their fantastic infrastructure and clean air. So, without further ado: The safest cities in Europe…
Copenhagen is surely one of the safest cities in Europe to travel to. Yep, the design-mad capital of Denmark isn’t only known for its crazy high prices. It was also ranked number one on the 2021 Safe Cities Index, making it officially the safest city on the planet according to research by The Economist. To put that into perspective, the Danish capital trumped the likes of Toronto, Wellington, Tokyo, and Sydney to the top of the list!
It’s all down to strikingly low crime rates across the board. Travel stat curator Numbeo lists Copenhagen as low risk for everything from car theft to police corruption and bribery. What’s more, official stats show that violent crimes, domestic crimes, and homicides are decreasing even further – something like four of the last five years have seen in excess of 10% dips in crime in CPH.
More than that, we’d say Copenhagen strikes a fantastic balance between safety and fun. It’s a truly joyful capital to get around. One moment you’ll be gawping up at the medieval towers of the Indre By old town, the next you’ll be dancing to jazz in the open-air bars of Nyhavn. You also get urban beaches, UNESCO sites, and multicultural neighbourhoods that burst with falafel shops and arty coffee houses.
Zürich, the largest city in Switzerland, is another exceptionally safe destination. In a report by the European Commission concerning the quality of life in different European cities, Zürich ranked incredibly highly. Over 50% of local respondents said they strongly agreed with the statement that they felt safe walking alone at night, while over 60% of people said they felt safe walking alone at night in their individual neighbourhood, indicating that safety here isn’t the preserve of the downtown core.
On top of this, the air quality is to be lauded. Zürich was ranked as the highest of the Sootfree Cities in the last 10 years, meaning it’s the best achiever when it comes to reducing air pollution. And there’s a lot to be said for the uber-efficient public transportation network, which mingles trams, trolleybuses, and loads of dedicated cycle paths to keep it as green as the Alpine foothills on the horizon.
To be honest, it’s hardly a surprise that Zürich ranks up top here. The town has long been a meeting point for international organizations and banking institutions, consistently scores high on liveability rankings, and has loads going for it – where else can you swim in pristine lake waters by morning and hike the trails of the Glarus Alps by afternoon?
Eager to visit Germany but want to make sure you find a safe destination? Be sure to consider the capital of Bavaria, Munich. According to Numbeo’s 2021 Crime Index, Munich is the eighth-safest city in the whole world. It’s a ranking that’s compiled using data from the citizens of any given city, which shows that the locals of this beer-sloshing town in the shadow of the Alps have a pretty good impression of their own home.
As if that’s still not enough to go on, the official police crime reports reveal that Munich is the safest city in Germany as a whole – there are just over 6,000 incidents per 100,000 head of population. And crime stats here are dropping, something like 11% in the last decade.
We also have a real soft spot for this place. The lush English Garden flows through the center to offer open green spaces for picnicking in the summer months. There are dome-topped churches standing tall over the old town, and enticing bratwurst stalls plying their trade below. Oh, and the mountains are less than an hour’s train south, in the form of the soaring Zugspitze, the highest peak in Germany.
With a population of approximately 120,000 people, the capital of Iceland can hardly be described as a metropolis. Here, everybody knows each other, so it should hardly come as a surprise that crime rates are strikingly low – a few moody Scandi crime dramas aside, that is. In fact, Reykjavik is widely considered to be one of the safest cities in the world, let alone in just Europe.
The whole country has a very low crime rate and it ranked number one on the 2021 Global Peace Index published by Vision of Humanity. The only thing that you might have to worry about in Iceland is the unpredictable weather. Never drive to unknown places without checking the forecast first and ask locals for advice if you don’t want to be buried under a snowstorm.
Apart from that, you can explore this city of strange churches and modern art museums to your heart’s content. Don’t miss the amazing Blue Lagoon – a manmade hot spring that’s fueled by the underwater geothermal energy of this volcano-topped nation.
Vision of Humanity placed Austria at the fifth place in its 2021 Global Peace Index. The overall crime rate here is around 21.5% – one of the lowest of any major city on the globe – and it’s showing even more signs of decreasing year on year to boot. For those reason and others, Vienna is known to be one of the safest cities in Europe, so you won’t have to worry if you come in search of salted pretzels and opera shows folks.
Generally speaking, the biggest worries here are pickpockets, petty criminals, and basic travel scams, though even those are very uncommon in this grand capital. The main thing you’re likely to have on your mind is what palace to visit next, the Hofburg or the Schonbrunn, the Belvedere or the Kinsky – there’s loads!
Vienna is also a moody place with intriguing historical locations. You can venture through the Old Town to find cafes like Centrale where the likes of Trotsky and Freud once ate strudel. It’s also near the Vienna Woods, which cover the lush hills to the west and bridge the gap to the lovely Austrian Alps.
Amsterdam’s a little bit like the schoolyard cool kid. It likes to project an image of grittiness and edginess but is actually a softy at heart. Yes, it’s home to the infamous Red Light District and is peppered with “coffee shops” that are more about marijuana than home-roasted beans, but it’s also among the safest cities in Europe – rated sixth overall in the Safe City Index published by the Economist back in 2021 (a list where the Dutch capital has almost always been in the top 10).
The biggest threat? You’ll never guess…It’s bike theft. But, then again, there are nearly a million two-wheeled vehicles whizzing around this city on any given day. If you rent – and it’s a top way to get around – be sure to use two locks and ensure you attach your ride to something solid when you lock it up. Apart from that, violent crime rates are very low, kidnappings are low, and corruption is low.
There are some areas to be especially careful in Amsterdam. The Red Light District is well policed and touristy, but drug crime and sex crime do happen there. Then there’s Amsterdam Zuidoost, which is known to be rougher than other parts of the city – we’d recommend avoiding entirely and not heading there at night.
Helsinki is not only known for being a safe city. It’s also known for the overarching honesty of its citizens. In 2021, an online magazine, The Reader’s Digest, conducted an experiment in order to verify which city had the most honest population in the world. Its reporters left 12 wallets in the streets of 16 metropolises all over the world containing the equivalent of $50. 11 out of 12 wallets were returned to their owners in Helsinki, beating other European hubs such as Amsterdam and Budapest.
That’s anecdotal evidence, but the stats seem to agree. An example: The country reported just over 330 violent crime incidents in the whole year ending 2021. Compare that to a rate of 398 violent crimes per 100,000 head of population in the United States! Yep, cities in the USA are something like 91% more dangerous than this European hub.
It’s also a pretty lovely town. The winters are cold – like, super cold. They are filled with sauna visits and ice bathing. But the summers are balmy and bright. People come out of hibernation around May time and get to the local marina beaches and fjords to swim.
According to the 2021 Global and Law Order report published by Gallup, Norway is the first country in the world when it comes to its citizen’s perception of safety. The data were collected by asking people whether they felt safe walking alone at night, their confidence in the local police and authority, and whether they had been robbed or assaulted in the past 12 months.
The capital of Norway is also extremely safe when it comes to traffic. An article published by the Guardian mentioned how in 2019 not even a single citizen died in a pedestrian fatality in Oslo, an incredibly positive achievement in a city counting approximately 700.000 inhabitants.
Now, you will have to pay for the luxury of feeling protected in Norway’s biggest town – the city is rated as both one of the safest cities in Europe but also one of the most expensive cities in Europe! We’re talking $10 a beer or more sorta’ expensive. The good news is that there’s plenty to see, from the Viking Ship Museum to the amazing national opera building to the surrounding beaches and fjords.
Sib…where? Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of this one. It’s not as famous as the likes of Paris and Rome. However, it is up there with the safest cities in Europe, offering something of a more off the beaten track option for travelers who want low-risk adventures on the continent this year.
Set in the shadow of the sometimes-snow-capped Southern Carpathians in the midst of moody Transylvania, the town is about five hours’ driving from Bucharest in the very heart of Romania. It’s been named a European Capital of Culture and awarded accolades for being among the most idyllic places to live on the continent. There are also low rates of car theft, robbery, burglary, and vandalism.
Prepare yourself for one seriously amazing city. It all centers on the checkered Large Square, where palaces and museums sprout between the covered cafes. You’ll also find historic Lutheran churches and medieval fortifications nearby, not to mention national parks like Cozia where you can hike the mountains to your heart’s content.
The safest cities in Europe – our conclusion
This list picks out nine of the safest cities in Europe. There’s a pretty good mix on offer to those looking to travel without any added stresses and worries, from the uber-cool design city of Copenhagen to the edgy party town of Amsterdam. Scandinavia makes a good showing here, offering towns like Oslo and Reykjavík. But there’s also a good range of options in Central and Western Europe, around the Alps and even out on the rolling hills of Transylvania in Romania.
What is the safest city to live in Europe?
According to the 2021 Safe Cities Index, published by The Economist, Copenhagen is the number one city not only in Europe but in the whole world in terms of safety. Regarding personal security, Copenhagen ranks 86.4, which puts it above any other major town. Overall, Copenhagen is one of the safest cities to live in and travel to.
Which European country is the safest?
Iceland is the safest country in Europe. This is mainly due to its very limited population and the overall honesty of its citizens. Similar to Oslo, in 2019 no pedestrian death has been recorded in the capital, Reykjavík, proving how the country is also scoring highly when it comes to traffic safety.
What country in Europe has the lowest crime rate?
According to Eurostat, Albania is the country with the lowest crime rate in Europe. Between 2017 and 2019 in fact the police have only registered 4.8 offenses per 100.0090 inhabitants. However, this data only refers to offenses recorded by the local authorities and does not take into account all the crimes that have not been reported to the police.