Europe is the safest continent in the world. But among European cities, some are safer and some are a little more dangerous. What areas of the Old Continent have the lowest crime rate? What are the safest cities in Europe where you don’t have to worry about crime?
While it’s always sensible to exercise common sense, why not choose the most secure environment for your vacation or new home? In this article I’ll share with you Europe’s safest cities.
Europe’s Safe Cities Are Perfect for Immigrants and Visitors Alike
Europe has a lot going for it that attracts people who value a high quality of life. It has a peaceful society, a rich culture, a well-functioning welfare system, safe and modern public transportation, and stringent gun control laws. Life in Europe is, for the most part, free of violent crime and often even of petty crimes that are common on other continents.
Europe is also an excellent choice for travelers. It attracts millions of visitors due to its historic buildings, modern art museums, well-maintained public spaces, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site on seemingly every corner. With its very low crime rate, you can focus on exploring rather than having your wits about you.
Here’s how you can make your trip to Europe (or life in Europe) even safer by focusing on the safest cities.
How Do You Identify the Safest Cities in Europe?
Some articles on travel blogs make random lists of European cities that they believe are safe. But this subjective approach isn’t very helpful. For example, I stumbled upon an article claiming that Barcelona, a city notorious for pickpocketing, is safe. Such extreme falsehood would be funny if it weren’t making people go there thinking they would be safe, only to end up a victim of a crime.
Instead of reading these random lists, it’s better to rely on data coming from hundreds of individuals. And so it happens that there’s a website that gathers data on life quality (including safety) directly from people who live in or visit given cities.
It’s called Numbeo and among other indices, it has its own Safety Index. It’s created by contributors who answer surveys about their everyday life. The index takes into account the following types of crime:
- Level of crime
- Crime increasing in the past 3 years
- Worries home broken and things stolen
- Worries being mugged or robbed
- Worries car stolen
- Worries things from car stolen
- Worries attacked
- Worries being insulted
- Worries being subject to a physical attack because of your skin color, ethnic origin, gender or religion
- Problem people using or dealing drugs
- Problem property crimes such as vandalism and theft
- Problem violent crimes such as assault and armed robbery
- Problem corruption and bribery
The Index also includes a rating for safety concerns walking alone during the daylight as well as at night.
This comprehensive survey includes both questions about violent crime as well as petty crime. It’s helpful for everyone, including solo female travelers, people worrying about car theft, robbery or organized crime, visitors who have safety concerns about exploring crowded areas like the city center, etc.
When combined, these ratings result in a given city’s Safety Index, from 0 to 100, with 100 being virtually crime-free. The safest European city would score the highest in all aspects of safety, almost guaranteeing a worry-free visit or everyday life (though even in a place with strikingly low crime rates, some caution never hurts).
Here Are the Top 15 Safest European Cities
According to Numbeo’s Safety Index, these are the safest cities in Europe with very low crime rates. Most, but not all, are located in the European Union. While you may encounter petty criminals and dangerous neighborhoods everywhere, in these destinations it’ll be extremely unlikely.
1. Bern, Switzerland
The safest city in Europe is Bern, the de facto capital city of Switzerland. With a Safety Index of 82.2, it’s not only by far the safest city in Europe but also the seventh safest city in the world. The city offers both excellent safety during the day as well as at night, making it one of the safest capital cities globally.
Bern has a very low risk of all crime-related problems other than two that have a low risk (problem people using or dealing drugs and problem property crimes such as vandalism and theft).
The only notable concern coming from contributors is that crime has been increasing in the past three years. But even if it has increased slightly, the city is still extremely safe.
2. Munich, Germany
Bavaria’s capital Munich is right behind Bern, ranking second in Europe and eighth in the world. This important tourist city has a score of 80.0.
The city has a very low risk for most crimes. There are four issues that have a low risk instead of a very low risk: worries attacked, worries being insulted, problem people using or dealing drugs and problem property crimes such as vandalism and theft.
Like Bern, the only aspect that troubles people is that crime rate has been increasing in the past three years. Otherwise, the city is extremely safe during the day and also very safe at night.
3. Trondheim, Norway
As the fourth largest urban area in Norway, Trondheim is by far the safest city in the country, the third safest in Europe, and ranking tenth in the ranking of the safest cities in the world. It has a score of 79.4.
While safety at night is slightly lower than in the previous two cities, overall contributors rank it as an extremely safe city. Like in Bern and Munich, there’s also concern about crime increasing in the past three years.
Otherwise, like Bern, only two aspects have a low risk instead of very low: problem people using or dealing drugs and problem property crimes such as vandalism and theft.
4. Zurich, Switzerland
Switzerland makes an appearance on the list again, this time with its largest city. As one of the most expensive cities in the world, Zurich is an extremely safe city where you’ll worry more about running out of money than your wallet being stolen.
Like in the previous three cities, contributors also feel that crime has been increasing in the past three years. But otherwise, Zurich enjoys a very low risk of most crimes.
Three types of problems have a low risk instead of a very low one: worries being insulted, problem people using or dealing drugs and problem property crimes such as vandalism and theft.
5. The Hague (Den Haag), Netherlands
According to Numbeo, The Hague has the lowest crime rates in the Netherlands. Its safety for walking at night doesn’t score as high as in the previous four cities (but it’s still safe) but overall it’s another peaceful urban environment on the Old Continent.
The Hague has the same three types of problem issues described as having a low risk instead of a very low one as Zurich. But unlike the previous four cities, respondents don’t feel that crime rates in The Hague have been increasing in the past three years noticeably.
6. Ljubljana, Slovenia
Ljubljana enjoys very high scores for the safety of walking both during the day as well as at night. In this aspect, it’s by far one of the safest cities in Europe where you can enjoy the city center without much to worry about.
The biggest problem in Ljubljana, according to Numbeo contributors, are problems with corruption and bribery. While these are unlikely to affect travelers, the risk is described as moderate nonetheless.
The city has three types of crime described as having a low risk instead of a very low one: worries things from car stolen (not a worry in the five previous cities), problem people using or dealing drugs and problem property crimes such as vandalism and theft. Crime rates are also described as having increased in the last three years.
7. Zagreb, Croatia
The capital of Croatia has by far the highest score so far for its safety walking alone during the daylight and at night, making it a perfect destination for solo female travelers. You can definitely enjoy its pedestrian-friendly city center without any worries about your safety.
Like in Ljubljana, the biggest problem in Zagreb is corruption and bribery. In fact, it’s such a big concern that it poses a high risk, the first on this list so far. I’d argue, though, that this is largely irrelevant to visitors.
Other than that, crime rates have increased in the last three years and the risk associated with people using or dealing drugs, property crimes such as vandalism and theft, and stealing things from vehicles is described as low instead of very low.
8. Basel, Switzerland
Switzerland makes an appearance yet again. Basel is Switzerland’s third most populous city. There’s a noticeable difference between the safety the city offers of walking alone during the day and at night but it’s still considered safe any time of the day.
Like in almost every previous city, respondents complain that the city’s crime rate has increased in the last three years. Basel has six crime-related problems that have a low risk of happening instead of very low. They are about worries about home break-ins, worries attacked, worries insulted, worries being subject to a physical attack because of discrimination, and the two commonly mentioned issues before: people using or dealing drugs and property crimes such as vandalism and theft.
Don’t get me wrong, though: the risk for these crimes is still low and Basel is still one of the safest cities in Europe where you’re unlikely to have any problems.
9. Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Romania is the only country on this list located in Eastern Europe (Slovenia may also count depending on the definition of Eastern Europe). Cluj-Napoca, sometimes dubbed the “Silicon Valley of Eastern Europe,” is one of the country’s safest cities.
Cluj-Napoca enjoys very high levels of safety in almost all aspects. Unlike most cities so far covered in this ranking, respondents don’t feel that the crime has been increasing in the past three years noticeably.
The aspects of crime that pose a bit more worry (but are still described as a low risk) are: worries things stolen from car, worries being insulted and the two most common issues in every city: people using or dealing drugs and property crimes like vandalism and theft.
10. Eindhoven, Netherlands
The Netherlands has three cities in this ranking. Eindhoven, closing our top ten safest cities in Europe, is the second safest city in the country.
Eindhoven is the first city on this list with its overall crime level defined as low instead of very low. Survey respondents notice that crime levels have increased in the last three years.
In addition to the two usual problems every city before had, contributors also rank the following issues as having a low risk of happening (as opposed to very low for other aspects): worries home broken and things stolen, worries things from car stolen, and worries being insulted.
11. Groningen, Netherlands
Groningen immediately follows Eindhoven but with higher safety for walking alone at night and a lower safety for crimes described by Numbeo as “worries attacked” (getting a low risk instead of a very low one).
While all previous cities had a low risk of people using or dealing drugs, Groningen has a more noticeable problem. The risk is rated as “moderate” meaning an encounter with this type of problem is more likely.
Other than that, the risk is low instead of very low for home break-ins and vandalism and theft. Groningen is another city where respondents believe that crime levels have increased in the last three years.
12. Tallinn, Estonia
The capital city of Estonia is the second safest city in Northern Europe. Tallinn has one of the highest safety rankings for walking alone during the day (but not at night).
Tallinn is the first city in this ranking where more crime issues are ranked as having a low risk instead of a very low one.
Tallinn’s most troublesome areas (but let me emphasize it again: still posing a low risk) are: overall level of crime, worries things from car stolen, worries attacked, worries being insulted, worries being subject to a physical attack because of your skin color, ethnic origin, gender or religion, problem people using or dealing drugs, and problem property crimes such as vandalism and theft. There’s also a low risk of corruption and bribery.
Contributors also point out increasing crime in the last three years, though still at a low level.
13. Reykjavik, Iceland
The capital of Iceland is yet another capital city in this ranking. Ranking high for safety walking alone during the day and at night, you’ll be more worried about cold weather than crime rates.
Reykjavik has a very low level of crime though contributors notice it’s been increasing in the past three years. The greatest worries (though still categorized as a low risk) revolve around: home break-ins, stealing items from vehicles, people using or dealing drugs, vandalism and theft, assault and armed robbery (the first city in this ranking with a higher risk than “very low”) and corruption and bribery.
After doing some research, the worries about armed robbery may have been influenced by a few incidents involving criminals robbing stores and threatening the staff with knives.
14. Timisoara, Romania
Timisoara is the second Romanian city on the list. It’s not as safe as Cluj-Napoca, with more issues rated as having a low risk as opposed to most issues rated as very low risk for Cluj-Napoca.
Timisoara, like the previous Romanian city, doesn’t experience a noticeable increase in crime levels in the past three years (which is the case for only three cities in this ranking). It does have a very visible problem with corruption and bribery, though. The risk is described as high.
The city has a low risk of crime for the following issues: home break-ins, being mugged or robbed (first increased risk on this list for this type of crime), stealing things from cars, insults, people using or dealing drugs, and vandalism and theft.
15. Helsinki, Finland
Our ranking of the top 15 safest cities in Europe ends with the capital of Finland, Helsinki. It’s yet another major city that, despite its size, is very safe.
Among all the discussed cities in Europe, Helsinki has the lowest number of crime-related issues that have a very low risk. Only three have a very low risk (home break-ins, car theft, and corruption and bribery), with the rest being described as low.
Contributors also point out that the city’s crime rate has been increasing in the last three years.
Europe Is Home to Very Safe Cities
You may have noticed that some of the safest cities in Europe have an increased risk for some types of crime. But this risk is not high. It’s not even moderate. It’s just defined as “low.”
Because I focus on safety in this article, I pointed out which cities have a different than “very low” risk for certain types of issues. Having a low risk for these problems doesn’t mean that you have to worry. In reality, it’ll still be extremely unlikely to experience these problems, particularly as a short-term visitor.
I’m from Poland where the safest cities in almost all aspects have a low risk instead of a very low one. Do I worry about crime? Not particularly. In fact, I almost exclusively worry about it when traveling abroad as usually crime levels outside of Poland or Europe as a whole are much higher.
In other words, come and enjoy the beautiful cities of Europe. Most are extremely safe. Almost every single one, outside of a few notorious cities, are generally safe all the time (particularly if you exercise some basic caution you should keep in mind wherever you go anyway).
Other Articles You May Want to Read
For more articles on safety in Europe, you may want to read my article on the safest Eastern European cities and my article on whether Europe is safer than the US (in the article I compare between countries as a whole as well as between cities, also mentioning some of the safest cities in Europe).
I also published an article on the cheapest and safest places to live in the world and for the lovers of good weather, the safest warm countries in the world. For US readers, I also have an article on warm safe places in the US.
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