The safest and most welcoming destinations in Europe

Weather forecast, scenery, cultural heritage, night life, outdoor activities, best value for money… We all have different criteria when it comes to choosing our travel destination abroad but safety is always at the top of our list. What are the least dangerous European countries? In which cities will you feel the more at ease? 
Discover our ranking of the safest European destinations by category. 

What is the safest and most peaceful European country?

Every year, the IEP (the Institute for Economics and Peace)* issues a report revealing its ranking of the safest counties in the World (its Global Peace Index). 
In 2023, three European countries took the lead: 
Iceland in first place, followed by Denmark and Ireland. 

4 interesting facts about Iceland and safety:

  • The Land of Fire and Ice has featured at the top of the list since it was first issued in 2008.
  • Iceland is one of the twenty or so countries with no military army.
  • Its crime rate is one of the lowest in the World and its police force the smallest in Europe (proportionately to its population).
  • In 2013, for the first time in Icelandic history, an armed man was fatally shot by the police. The event was so shocking for the country, it featured in international media

*To evaluate the degree of peacefulness in 163 states, the expert jury of the Global Peace Index (GPI) analyses the data collected from different sources in 3 main domains: the level of Societal Safety and Security, the extent of Ongoing Domestic and International Conflict and the degree of Militarization.

Where in Europe are you the least likely to be a victim of pickpocketing?

A crammed metro carriage, a moment of distraction while admiring a monument or enjoying a drink on a terrace and there’s your mobile or wallet gone! 
Being targeted by pickpockets can happen to anyone but the consequences are even worse when you are travelling abroad. 
Well aware of this infuriating calamity plaguing most major cities and to warn tourists (and locals!) of this risk, Quotezone, a British insurance comparator website, ranked* the European destinations where pickpockets are the most active

Even though you still have to stay on the lookout and remain careful with your belongings, the pickpocketing rate appears to be lower in Poland (in 2022, an average of 18 mentions per million visitors) and in Ireland (in 2022, an average of 30 mentions per million visitors). 

Beware of thieves! 

In Italy, be particularly careful in very touristy sites such as the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon in Rome, at the Duomo in Milan and in the Uffizi Galleries (Galleria degli Uffizi) in Florence. 
In France: Paris is the French city where reports of pickpocketing are the highest, particularly around its key attraction: the Eiffel Tower. 

*The study is based on the number of pickpocketing mentions in travellers’ reviews of the five main tourist sites of each country.

What is the best European destination for women travelling alone?

Women travel solo more and more often and safety is one of their main concerns. 
The number of times the terms “female travel alone” have been looked up has increased by 62% during the last three years across all search engines (source: Female Travel Statistics 2023 - Condor ferries). A trend also confirmed by the exponential number of travel agencies, blogs and social network accounts created in the last few years. 
If you are tempted by a solo adventure and want to find a destination in Europe known for being safe and pleasant for women. Look no more! 
Copenhagen is your best choice. 
The capital of Denmark takes first place in the ranking of the best European towns for women travelling solo (2023 ranking established by Tourlane the tailor made travel platform*). 
As for Stockholm in Sweden and Oslo in Norway, they take second and third place. Not so shabby! 

Did you know?

  1. The 3 Scandinavian capitals also take the lead of the world ranking.
  2. In 1971, the small island of Femø, located in the province of Småland (in South Denmark) welcomed the first feminist summer camp. Today, you can still book a stay at the Women’s camp and take part in an international program on female empowerment. 
    For more information: https://www.visitlolland-falster.com/

* based on the Women, Peace and Security index (WPS Index) of Georgetown University’s Institute for Women and the results of a Gallup survey of women living in 50 towns worldwide. This ranking is based on several criteria such as legal equality, equity with men, women’s representation in local companies and political life, the price of a bed in a female dorm, the quality and cost of phone networks and Internet connections and how safe women feel when walking alone at night in the city.

What is the safest and most LGBTQI+ friendly European country?

According to a study conducted by the Booking.com website, LGBTQI+ travellers are more and more worried of travelling abroad for their holidays. 
80% of those questioned mentioned that safety and well-being are part of their main criteria when choosing their destination. 
Legit concerns when it is public knowledge that acts of violence against the LGBTQI+ community have been on the rise lately in Europe and central Asia (according to the latest annual review of ILGA- Europe - released in February 2023). 
If you are looking for a safe and gay-friendly European destination for your next trip, you can refer to the 2023 rainbow map, published every year by the international NGO which fights against discriminations against the LGBTQI+ community. 
According to its latest ranking*, Malta, the European state island located in the Mediterranean sea, obtains the best score when it comes to legal equity, legislative progress and respectful policies on the matter. 

The top three European countries in terms of LGBT equality are:

  1. Malta
  2. Belgium
  3. Denmark 

Did you know? 

*This ranking of 49 European countries was established based on the score (from 0 to 100%) obtained by each country in different categories including measures implemented for more equality, against discrimination, better family policies, fight against criminality and hate speech, legal recognition of gender, freedom of expression and right to asylum.

What is the safest European city for cyclists?

If cycling is your fav’ activity and you are looking for a bike-friendly European destination, you can hop on your bike and head happily to Utrecht (Netherlands)! This town has rolled up to the first place of the World’s Most Bicycle Friendly Cities ranking. 
Among the main criteria to establish this Global Bicycle Cities Index feature the percentage of urban bicycle users on a daily basis, weather conditions, safety and crime (including accidents or bicycle theft), infrastructures (bike paths, bike-sharing opportunities) as well as the organisation of special events such as “no car days”. 

Did you know?

  • 51% of the Utrecht population uses their bikes daily.
  • The city’s slogan is “We all cycle”.
  • With over 12,500 spaces, Utrecht has the biggest bicycle parking in the World.
  • In the Top 10 of the best bicycle-friendly cities in the World, 9 are European!

Where are the safest roads in Europe?

Are you considering a road trip on the so-called Old Continent, renting a car to discover the outskirts of a European capital or hopping on a coach to enjoy the scenery as you reach your destination? The best way of preparing your trip is to check out how safe the roads of your chosen location are. 
The latest figures released by the European Commission (published in October 2023), reveal that 20,640 people died on EU roads in 2022. An average of 46 deaths per million inhabitants. But this death toll can quadruple from one EU state to another. 
According to these statistics, the safest roads (i.e. with the lowest death toll) are located in 3 countries of Northern Europe:

  1. Sweden (22 deaths per million inhabitants)
  2. Norway (23 deaths per million inhabitants)
  3. Iceland (24 deaths per million inhabitants) 

What you need to know when driving in Sweden

  1. Speed limit:
    • On the highway: 110 km/h – 120 km/h on some portions
    • On the road: 70 to 90 km/h
    • In cities: 50 km/h and 30 km/h in school areas
  2. Driving licence: as a foreign tourist, you can drive in Sweden with your licence as long as it is valid in the country where it was delivered.
  3. Winter tires are mandatory from November 1st to April 30th
  4. Be very careful to animals (elks, stags and reindeers) crossing the roads and possibly causing accidents. The risk is high and regularly signalled on the roads. 

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What is the best European country for expats?

If you are planning a permanent or temporary move in a European country, your best choice is Spain
The Iberian peninsula holds 2nd place (after Mexico) in the World ranking of the best places to live as an expat’ (according to a study conducted among 12,000 expats worldwide – source InterNations- Expat Insider – 2023)

What is the most welcoming European destination for tourists?

Amsterdam (the Netherlands), Rome (Italy) and Zagreb (Croatia) are the 3 European capitals which received the most positive feedbacks from foreign tourists (according to a survey carried out by the travel site Visaguide.

What is the most pleasant European city?

According to the 2023 "Global Liveability Index", the annual ranking established by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Vienna, the capital of Austria, offers the best quality of life in the World! The city particularly stood out in the following categories: health services, education, infrastructures, culture and safety. Will it keep its crown in 2024?