When you’re traveling or moving to a new country, safety is likely one of your top priorities. If you’re traveling somewhere in Europe, you’re in luck, because Europe is home to some of the world’s safest countries. In this article, we’ll explore ten of the safest countries in Europe, including what makes them safe, what different groups (like women and members of the LGBTQ+ community) should know, and more.
#7. Czech Republic
What safety metric are we using?
To identify the safest countries in Europe, we’re relying on the 2022 Global Peace Index. The Institute for Economics and Peace updates this measurement every year. It covers 99.7% of the world’s population, which gives us a comprehensive idea of global safety.
Iceland has consistently ranked as the safest country in the world and the safest in Europe. It owes this honor to a very low crime and murder rate. According to Statista, just five people were killed in 2020. The country also has a very stable government, a strong welfare system, and excellent healthcare. Iceland is very popular with tourists because of its stunning natural environment, but you should exercise caution around caves, glaciers, waterfalls, and hiking trails. There may not be much crime to worry about, but Mother Nature is still dangerous.
If you’re a woman traveling solo, Iceland is considered one of the safest places to go. The country has a very good ranking when it comes to gender equality. Sexual violence is still an issue, however, and it’s been gaining more attention recently. What if you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community? Iceland is a very accepting country and appears on many lists of the best places for tourists. Iceland is also predominantly white, but based on our research, it’s considered a safe place for Black travelers. It’s difficult to pinpoint how many Black people are residents because Iceland doesn’t gather statistics based on race.
Northern Ireland went through a very turbulent, violent time from the late 1960s till 1998, but since those years, it’s become one of the safest countries in Europe. According to Travel Safe Abroad, it has a very low crime rate, which includes violent crime. It also has a fairly stable political system and high-quality healthcare. As is the case with all countries, crime tends to be higher in bigger cities (like Dublin), so tourists should exercise caution and watch out for muggings and pickpockets.
Women can feel comfortable traveling alone in Ireland, although in Northern Ireland, reports of sexual offenses recently reached the highest levels on record. That includes domestic violence statistics, but tourists should also be careful when walking at night, going to bars, or meeting strangers. That’s good advice for anyone, including members of the LGBTQ+ community and Black tourists. Ireland is generally very accepting of gay people. Black people make up a very small percentage of the Irish population and many have talked about experiencing racism. Based on our research, however, Ireland doesn’t appear to be significantly dangerous for Black tourists.
Denmark enjoys very low crime rates, a stable political and welfare system, and good healthcare. Denmark also has a very strong sense of community and social cohesion, which means if you do run into trouble, you’ll find people willing to help you. You may run into some pickpockets and scams in the city, but not at a higher rate than other European cities.
Denmark has made significant strides toward gender equality in recent decades, which influences how people see women. The country frequently appears on lists of the safest countries for women traveling alone. It’s also considered one of Europe’s most gay-friendly countries, so members of the LGBTQ+ community can feel safe visiting, especially when they go to Copenhagen. Black tourists are also generally safe, though as is the case with many progressive countries, Denmark still struggles to accept the full reality of racism.
Austria has a very low crime rate and very few murders. In 2017, there were just 54 intentional murders with a population of almost 9 million people. The country also has a stable political system, good healthcare, and a strong economy. It’s very easy to get around in the big cities safely, though if you’re exploring the outdoors, you should be sure to exercise caution when hiking, skiing, swimming, and biking.
Women are usually very safe in Austria and can comfortably walk alone during the day or night. Risks are always higher at night and in the city, so solo travelers should still be careful. Austria is also very safe for the LGBTQ+ community. Vienna in particular has a strong gay community. As for the country’s racial diversity, there are very few Black people living in Austria and racial profiling is still an issue. Despite this, Austria is still generally safer for Black tourists.
Portugal has a high safety ranking thanks to its good healthcare system, stable political system, and very low crime rate. Most of the crimes that do occur are non-violent. Pickpocketing is the biggest issue, especially in cities where thieves have access to lots of tourists. If you experience pickpocketing, prioritize your physical safety and don’t try to fight them. Prevention is the best defense. Always stay alert to your surroundings, secure your belongings, keep your valuables hidden, and avoid heavy tourist areas.
Because Portugal has such a low violent crime rate, it’s very safe for women. Progress on gender equality is also going well. It’s comparable to the progress made in other European countries. The same can be said for LGBTQ+ acceptance in Portugal. The country is generally very welcoming and has legislation to protect LGBTQ+ rights. Bigger cities like Lisbon tend to be the most visibly inclusive. We found similar information regarding Black residents in Portugal. The country is generally safe and accepting, but racism still exists and is often dismissed.
Slovenia has a low crime rate. According to the OECD Better Life Index, 91% of people said they felt safe walking alone at night, which is much higher than in other OECD countries. The murder rate is also much lower. Slovenia also has a stable political system and almost universal healthcare coverage. Petty crime like pickpocketing does happen in cities and other tourist-heavy areas, but it doesn’t seem to be much worse than in any other European country. Slovenia is famous for its forests, so if you venture out, be sure you’re prepared for ticks. They’re very active in Slovenia.
If you’re a woman traveling alone, you should feel very safe in Slovenia. The country has good gender protection laws and scores high on various gender equality rankings. In 2022, Slovenia became the first country in Eastern Europe to legalize same-sex marriage. While it’s proven to be one of the more accepting countries in the region, LGBTQ+ tourists should exercise caution. The country is also mostly white, and while we couldn’t find specific information on safety for Black tourists, Slovenia’s overall low violent crime rate suggests it’s fairly safe.
#7. Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a safe country for travelers and residents. The crime rate is fairly low, both for violent and petty crimes. It also has high-quality healthcare, a strong political system, and low unemployment. At the time of writing, the war in Ukraine is impacting the region, but overall, the Czech Republic is safe. The risk of pickpockets, natural disasters, and mugging is low, though everyone should exercise the usual precautions.
Women are generally safe when traveling alone in the Czech Republic, though it’s always smart to avoid dimly lit areas, especially at night. Even the biggest city – Prague – is frequently ranked as one of the safest cities for women. It also ranks well for LGBTQ+ tourists; it’s recognized as one of the more welcoming areas in the region with surveys reporting high levels of acceptance. That said, gay marriage is not yet legal in the country at the time of writing, though registered partnerships are. Black people are also generally safe, though they’re more likely to deal with staring and racial profiling than white people.
Despite having a very high rate of gun ownership (especially for Europe), Switzerland doesn’t experience a lot of violent crime. The murder rate is very low and responsible gun ownership is taken very seriously. Petty crime is more common, but the rates are still very low. The country also ranks high for safety due to a good healthcare system, a stable government, and a stable economy.
Women can feel safe traveling in Switzerland, though extra caution should be taken when enjoying outdoor activities or tourist-heavy areas. Support for same-sex marriage and the LGBTQ+ community is very high, and in 2022, same-sex marriage and adoption were legalized. Racial discrimination is still an issue, especially for residents, but Black tourists will likely feel safe while visiting.
Like all of the European countries on this list, crime in Hungary is fairly low. There are very few intentional murders, so you’re more likely to deal with petty crimes like pickpocketing. At the time of writing, the biggest safety issue was the proximity to Ukraine, so tourists should not try and travel across the border. Hungary itself seems to still be safe.
Hungary, including the capital city of Budapest, is considered very safe for women traveling alone. Most people are welcoming and respectful, though women should exercise caution when going out alone at night. We’re also recommending members of the LGBTQ+ community be especially careful if they chose to visit Hungary. The government has been weakening protections for years and hostility against gay people is on the rise. For Black travelers, Hungary doesn’t seem to be significantly less safe than other countries in the region.
Finland has a similar crime rate compared to other Nordic countries, which makes it one of the safest countries in the world and Europe. Petty crime is more common than violent crime, and according to records, homicides are more likely to happen in private homes and between “socially excluded, male alcoholics.” Areas with more tourists tend to experience pickpocketing, but mugging is very rare.
Finland is often ranked as one of the best places to be a woman, so residents and travelers can feel comfortable exploring alone while maintaining necessary safety precautions. Acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community is very high and same-sex marriage has been legal since 2017. Racism exists in Finland (one study put Finland at the top of a list of EU countries with the most perceived racial discrimination, harassing speech, and gestures), but countries with low crime rates are generally safe for everyone, including Black tourists.