What Are the Safest Eastern European Countries to Visit?

What Are the Safest Eastern European Countries to Visit?

KEY TAKEAWAYS
The safest Eastern European countries to visit are Slovenia, Czech Republic, Croatia, Poland, and Hungary.

Eastern Europe is becoming a more and more popular travel destination for foreign visitors from all over the world. If you’re wondering what are the safest Eastern European countries to visit, in this article you’ll learn about the crime rates in this region. You’ll also learn which countries in Eastern Europe are best for a trouble-free trip. This all comes from data as well as my personal experience as a person from the region.

I was born in Poland and have traveled extensively around Europe, including destinations in the center and east such as the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Slovenia, and Croatia. I prefer spending time in a safe country over worrying about crime (actually, I can’t enjoy my trip at all if I’m worried about safety) so I’m a good example of a person for whom I’m writing this article as well.

If you’re interested in safe destinations in Europe, I published an article on the safest cities in Europe.

You may also want to read my articles on the cheapest and safest places to live in the world and safest warm countries to live in. I also compared European countries to the US in terms of safety.

Before I cover which countries in Eastern Europe are safe, there’s one important question to answer: what countries even belong to this region? As you’ll see in the next section, it’s not so clear.

If you aren’t interested in learning which countries are considered Eastern European, you can skip to What Are the Safest Countries in Eastern Europe to Visit?

What Countries Belong to Eastern Europe?

It’s not so easy to define which countries belong to Eastern Europe. There are different criteria we can use to classify them such as geography, geopolitics, culture, religion, etc. It’s all a bit complicated but also interesting if you plan to spend more time in the region and understand it better.

If we were to go with the United Nations geoscheme for Europe, the Eastern European nations are:

  1. Belarus
  2. Bulgaria
  3. Czech Republic
  4. Hungary
  5. Poland
  6. Moldova
  7. Romania
  8. Russia
  9. Slovakia
  10. Ukraine

This is a rather short list that doesn’t include some nations that many people would deem a part of Eastern Europe. For the widest definition, here are all the countries that may be described as fully or partly belonging to Eastern Europe, grouped into a few categories.

Baltic States

These three countries by the Baltic Sea are sometimes considered Northern Europe and sometimes Eastern Europe.

  1. Estonia
  2. Latvia
  3. Lithuania

Caucasus States

Located between Eastern Europe and Western Asia, these countries may be considered Eastern European as well.

  1. Armenia
  2. Azerbaijan
  3. Georgia

Post-Soviet States

These countries of the former Soviet Union are considered Eastern European:

  1. Belarus
  2. Moldova (usually grouped with post-Soviet states but sometimes considered Southeastern Europe)
  3. Russia
  4. Ukraine

Central Europe

Central Europe is an area between Western Europe and Eastern Europe. It’s often considered Eastern European.

  1. Czech Republic
  2. Croatia (sometimes considered Central Europe and sometimes Southeastern Europe)
  3. Hungary
  4. Poland
  5. Romania (sometimes considered Central Europe and sometimes Southeastern Europe)
  6. Serbia (sometimes considered Central Europe and sometimes Southeastern Europe)
  7. Slovakia
  8. Slovenia (sometimes considered Central Europe and sometimes Southeastern Europe)

Southeastern Europe

This region mostly covers the Balkans and is sometimes considered Eastern Europe, sometimes Southern Europe, and sometimes Central Europe.

  1. Albania
  2. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  3. Bulgaria
  4. Cyprus (geographically in Asia)
  5. Croatia (sometimes considered Central Europe and sometimes Southeastern Europe)
  6. Greece (sometimes considered Southern Europe)
  7. Moldova (usually grouped with post-Soviet states but sometimes considered Southeastern Europe)
  8. Montenegro
  9. North Macedonia
  10. Romania (sometimes considered Central Europe and sometimes Southeastern Europe)
  11. Serbia (sometimes considered Central Europe and sometimes Southeastern Europe)
  12. Slovenia (sometimes considered Central Europe and sometimes Southeastern Europe)
  13. Turkey (East Thrace)
  14. Kosovo

Note that these labels are fluid and not everyone will agree with them. There’s no clear definition.

I wouldn’t call Poland, the country I’m from, an Eastern European country. It’s in Central Europe and it differs in many aspects from Eastern European nations to the east. In fact, most people in Poland (and primarily young people who consider themselves more aligned with Western Europe and its influence) wouldn’t.

But that’s how Poland is often grouped, so that’s what I’m going to use as well to cover all countries that might be deemed Eastern European.

What Are the Safest Countries in Eastern Europe to Visit?

What Are the Safest Countries in Eastern Europe to Visit?

It may surprise you to hear that but many places in Eastern Europe are some of the safest areas in the world. While many people believe that all Western European countries and their major cities are much safer, data doesn’t prove it.

For example, popular among American travelers France has much more crime than Slovenia or Czech Republic. In fact, Slovenia is extremely safe compared to France.

While no country is free of crime, Eastern Europe is relatively free of violent crime that plagues regions like South or Central America.

The crime rate overall, including petty crime, is also very low. In fact, many other countries that are described as “generally safe” and are popular among tourists are more dangerous than Eastern Europe.

Here’s data to prove it. I’m going to use three different sources using different safety methodologies. All include violent crimes as that’s the biggest concern of most people.

Each country is ranked in the most loosely defined Eastern European region (including Eastern, Central, and Southeast Europe as well as the Caucasus). In the parenthesis I also include each country’s global ranking.

Top 15 Safest Countries in Eastern Europe by Numbeo’s Crime Index

Let’s see which country is safest according to Numbeo’s Crime Index. These stats come from people living in these countries who submitted data themselves.

For comparison, the United States rank #87, the United Kingdom #77, Ireland #69, Canada #61, Australia #66, and New Zealand #65.

  1. Armenia (#7 globally)
  2. Slovenia (#10 globally)
  3. Croatia (#11 globally)
  4. Estonia (#12 globally)
  5. Georgia (#17 globally)
  6. Czech Republic (#19 globally)
  7. Slovakia (#28 globally)
  8. Cyprus (#29 globally)
  9. Azerbaijan (#32 globally)
  10. Poland (#33 globally)
  11. Romania (#35 globally)
  12. Lithuania (#36 globally)
  13. Hungary (#40 globally)
  14. Serbia (#45 globally)
  15. Bulgaria (#46 globally)

Source: Crime Index by Country 2022 Mid-Year

Top 15 Safest Countries in Eastern Europe by Global Peace Index

Now let’s see which country is safest according to the Global Peace Index. This index isn’t perfect for assessing safety when traveling but does point toward stable, more secure countries.

For comparison, the United States rank #129, the United Kingdom #34, Ireland #3, Canada #12, Australia #27, and New Zealand #2.

  1. Slovenia (#7 globally)
  2. Czech Republic (#8 globally)
  3. Hungary (#13 globally)
  4. Croatia (#15 globally)
  5. Slovakia (#20 globally)
  6. Bulgaria (#24 globally)
  7. Poland (#25 globally)
  8. Romania (#31 globally)
  9. Estonia (#33 globally)
  10. Latvia (#35 globally)
  11. North Macedonia (#36 globally)
  12. Lithuania (#37 globally)
  13. Albania (#41 globally)
  14. Montenegro (#48 globally)
  15. Serbia (#52 globally)

Source: 2022 Global Peace Index

Top 15 Safest Countries in Eastern Europe by Intentional Homicide Rate

Finally, let’s see which country is safest according to the intentional homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants as counted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Note that small countries may rank worse because even one homicide may affect the country’s ranking a lot.

For comparison, the United States rank #137, the United Kingdom #58, Ireland #29, Canada #79, Australia #36, and New Zealand #99.

  1. Slovenia (#20 globally)
  2. Czech Republic (#28 globally)
  3. Poland (#31 globally)
  4. Greece (#33 globally)
  5. Hungary (#34 globally)
  6. Bulgaria (#40 globally)
  7. Croatia (#41 globally)
  8. Bosnia and Herzegovina (#50 globally)
  9. Cyprus (#51 globally)
  10. North Macedonia (#55 globally)
  11. Slovakia (#56 globally)
  12. Romania (#66 globally)
  13. Armenia (#72 globally)
  14. Albania (#80 globally)
  15. Georgia (#83 globally)

Source: Intentional Homicide Victims from UNODC

Top 5 Safest Destinations in Eastern Europe

According to the data above, here are the top 5 safest countries in Eastern Europe.

1. Slovenia

Lake Bled, Slovenia

Slovenia is by far the safest country in Eastern Europe, dominating in all three rankings. It’s also one of the safest countries in the whole world, ranking in top10 to top20 in the rankings we used to assess safety.

Slovenia is a small, peaceful nation with just a little over 2 million people. Slovenia is actually in Central Europe but it’s often considered a part of Eastern Europe. Its largest city, the capital city of Ljubljana, has less than 300,000 residents. Despite its small area, it’s a diverse country spanning from the Alps to the Mediterranean Sea. One of Slovenia’s most well-known tourist attractions is Lake Bled with an island housing a historic church.

Nature lovers will appreciate the fact that about 60% of the country’s area is forested. I’ve been to Slovenia and I can confirm that it’s a very green country where I felt safe both in the countryside and its cities.

2. Czech Republic

Prague, Czech Republic

The Czech Republic, also known as Czechia, is the second safest country in Eastern Europe, ranking only slightly worse than Slovenia. It’s one of the best countries in the world for tourists who value having a safe, worry-free trip. Similarly to Slovenia, Czechia is a Central European country often considered an Eastern European country

The population of the country is a little over 10 million people, with about 20% of the population concentrated in the three biggest cities of Prague, Brno, and Ostrava. The capital, Prague, is one of the most popular tourists destinations in this part of the world. Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world and one of the most notable attractions of the country.

I’ve been briefly to the Czech Republic exploring the Krkonoše mountain range. I haven’t been to any big cities but I’m sure I would have felt safe there as the country reminded me a lot of my native, similarly safe, Poland.

3. Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Croatia, as a country located between Central and Southeast Europe, is sometimes also considered an Eastern European nation. It ranks very highly in safety worldwide, not just in Europe.

The population of Croatia is just 4 million people. Because of its spectacular beaches on the Adriatic Coast, Croatia is one of the most popular destinations for European tourists. More than 11 million people visit the country each year, almost triple the number of its inhabitants. Croatia is also known for its medieval cities, one of which is Dubrovnik.

I’ve been to Croatia on a rock climbing trip to Paklenica National Park. I had no worries whatsoever about my safety, neither in its small towns nor its capital. It’s a phenomenal place for a trouble-free beach vacation.

4. Poland

Wrocław, Poland

Poland is in Central Europe but is often grouped together as a part of Eastern Europe. Like all the countries covered so far, Poland scores highly in safety not only in the region but also in the entire world.

The population of Poland is over 38 million people. It makes it the fifth-most populous country of the European Union. It’s also one of the largest countries in the region, spanning from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Tatra mountains in the south. Among tourists, Poland is particularly famous for its medieval old towns in cities like Kraków and Wrocław. Other common destinations include the German Auschwitz concentration camp and the 13th-century Wieliczka Salt Mine.

I’ve had friends from foreign countries telling me that tourists in Poland get an equal treatment to locals. If you’re considering visiting one of the more populous European countries that also happens to be one of world’s safest countries, I encourage you to visit Poland. I suggest visiting between late spring and late summer.

5. Hungary

Budapest, Hungary

Like Poland, Hungary is in Central Europe but is often considered an Eastern European country (even by the United Nations). Hungary scores a little worse than the previous countries in Numbeo’s Crime Index (mostly due to Budapest) but is still one of the safest destinations in the world.

Hungary has a little bit less than 10 million inhabitants. Its capital, Budapest, where almost 20% of the population lives, is one of the top tourist destinations in Central Europe. It’s primarily known for its remarkable old town by the Danube River as well as thermal baths. The second most popular attraction of Hungary is Lake Balaton, the largest lake in Central Europe. Each year, it attracts millions of people who vacation in resorts around it.

I haven’t been to Hungary so I can’t speak from personal experience. But what I could find from my research is that I wouldn’t worry much about exploring this country, particularly in places other than Budapest.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the safest Eastern European country?

Slovenia is by far the safest Eastern European country, if counting Central Europe. If using the UN definition of Eastern Europe, the safest country is the Czech Republic.

Which Eastern European countries are safe?

The top five safest Eastern European countries are Slovenia, Czech Republic, Croatia, Poland, and Hungary.

Is Eastern Europe safe to visit?

Most countries in this region are safer than more popular Western European countries. If you felt safe in France, Spain, Ireland, or Italy, you’ll feel way safer in Eastern Europe. Yes, the infrastructure may be different and the culture is different, too, but crime won’t be one of your worries.

What is the safest city in Eastern Europe?

According to Numbeo’s Crime Index, the safest Eastern European city is Oradea in Romania. It’s a city with about 200,000 inhabitants located in the western part of Romania. It ranks highly in standard of living and is considered one of the most livable cities in the world.

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