It is probably part of the human condition to want to travel and explore new countries and cultures. It may even be a right of passage for many of us, with many travelling either after graduating school, or before settling into a career, mortgage and family. Others travel with their families, but regardless of when, most of us travel, or at least have a desire travel during some phase in our lives.
While there are millions of interesting destinations we may all want to check off our bucket list, some of those destinations may just be too impractical to visit nowadays unfortunately, either due to accessibility, or more often, safety. There are plenty of travel destinations some may consider dangerous that most who have been will tell you are safe as can be, and there are plenty more destinations that are universally considered among the safest in the world. This list deals with cities alone, and while there are, again, plenty more cities in the world considered universally safe for travellers, these ten have been voted in numerous surveys to be the top ten.
10. Copenhagen, Denmark
The capital city of Denmark, Copenhagen has long been considered one of the safest cities in Europe to live in, and an extremely safe destination for travel. Though the crime rate in certain areas of Copenhagen has been on the rise in recent years, it remains mostly confined to the western suburbs of the city proper, and is predominantly gang related, having little to no impact on tourists. While travel guides will warn of potential pick pocketing and petty theft around the city center, in reality, even petty crime in Copenhagen, and the whole of Denmark, remains much lower than most European and North American cities. Unfortunately, as with other Western European cities, a small minority of ethnicities have been singled out for racially motivated harassment in increasing numbers recently, but racism in Copenhagen, and Denmark is still less visible than in most cities of its size, making a trip to Copenhagen a safe bet.
9. Munich, Germany
Located in Bavaria, Munich is the third most populous city in Germany with 1.4 million residents. With at least eight distinct districts within the city, Munich has a rich and lengthy history dating back over a hundred years. If you want history, culture and architecture, then the city of Munich is as good a choice as any in Europe, but in reality, it’s the beer, more specifically the beer consumed during Oktoberfest that brings nearly 7 million visitors to the Bavarian capital annually. And don’t forget the football. F.C. Bayern Munich is one of the most well known and successful clubs in Europe and draws supporters from across the globe during the season. For a city with so much beer drinking, whether it be during Oktoberfest or a football match, Munich is remarkably safe. In fact, Munich is one of the safest cities not only in Germany, but also in Western Europe as a whole. Coupled with Munich’s liberal attitude towards immigrants and same sex couples, your level of intoxication is more likely to injure you than another person in this Bavarian city.
8. Seoul, South Korea
Seoul is one of the largest cities in the world, with an urban population nearing 12 million, and a metropolitan population of over 25 million. A city this size in most places in the world often experiences average, if not worse than average crime rates. In South Korea’s epicentre however, crime rates are remarkably low. Petty crime is extremely uncommon, and violent crime of any kind is nearly non-existent. While the older generations of South Koreans may have a more xenophobic attitude towards outsiders, especially outsiders seen together with South Koreans, the majority of the time it’s a mere nuisance and nothing serious. The younger generations of Koreans are far less likely to notice. Not only does Seoul boast every type of tourist attraction imaginable, from parks and temples to beautiful mountains, Seoul also boasts a vibrant night life as well. Furthermore, Seoul is also an extremely popular destination for those looking for adventure that also want to make some money, as South Korea is one of the most popular places for people to go and teach English. Being the largest city in the country, Seoul is easily the natural place to go if you want to extend your vacation and seek employment.
7. Reykjavik, Iceland
One of the safest countries in the world, the small island of Iceland’s capital Reykjavik has a population of only 200,000. As such, the amount of trouble one could find in a city so small, on an island no less, is relatively limited compared to many of Reykjavik’s counterparts. With its natural beauty, whale watching and geothermal pools and ability to catch the Northern Lights for a quarter of the year, Reykjavik is a gem in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean that more and more people are discovering. This writer had a friend who planned on staying a week, spent nearly six there and only came home because he’d spent his entire savings. Two years later he’s still saving, and planning on returning to Reykjavik for as long as possible, stating he’s never met “friendlier, more laid back people in his life.” A pretty ringing first hand endorsement from a person who’s travelled to 15 different countries. Though petty theft isn’t unheard of in Iceland’s capital, it is uncommon, and despite what some Nordic crime authors may have you believe, violent crime is extremely low. Again, alcohol (if you can afford it; alcohol in Iceland is obscenely expensive) is more likely to get one into trouble than anything else.
6. Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, is a city that includes 14 islands and a metropolitan area that contains roughly 2 million people. The third Scandinavian city on this list, Stockholm, as with most cities of its size, has minor issues with petty theft, but violent crime is particularly low (unless one gets in a bar fight) and is basically unheard of for visitors. There are sporadic issues with gang violence in certain suburbs of the city, but like almost every city in the world, the neighbourhoods where crime is most prevalent are the neighbourhoods that tourists do not have any reason to visit. Instead, enjoy Stockholm’s massive amount of green space (over 30% of the city) or its waterways and take in the nearly 800 years of history the city has to offer. Also, for heavy metal fans, it just so happens to be the birthplace of Swedish Death Metal, and the city where many of those classic bands still perform today. An added bonus is that most Swedes speak English, many fluently, so conversation is a little easier on the traveller.
5. Amsterdam, the Netherlands
For a city with the reputation of “anything goes,” Amsterdam is among the safest cities in the world. In fact, in a personal safety survey the city ranked 13th safest city in the world. With an urban population of over a million people, the fact that Amsterdam consistently ranks in the top 25 for safest cities in the world is no small feat. Perhaps it is the laissez faire attitude to many of the less conventional aspects of tourism that actually make crime in Amsterdam less prominent; after all, the more that is permitted, the less there is to get in trouble for. Again, like any major city, petty theft can occur, but violence is not something a visitor should need to worry about, even in the Red Light District at night. Furthermore, Amsterdam has also been voted as one of the safest solo female friendly tourists destinations, though women may still want to refrain from walking alone through the Red Light District and some parks at night.
4. Zurich, Switzerland
The financial center of Switzerland, Zurich is also the largest city in the country and a world renowned tourist destination. With an urban population of close to 400,000 inhabitants, and a metro area with over a million people, the (Swiss) German-speaking city is home to incredible architecture, many museums as well as plenty of natural beauty via the river Limmat and Lake Zurich, which the city sits on. Despite its high cost of both living and visiting, Zurich attracts tourists the world over to engage in history and a vibrant culinary scene. Along with a ever growing nightlife, Zurich is a destination with plentiful options for tourists, and it’s as safe as it is enjoyable. Petty theft, especially near busy train stations really should be the biggest worry for any traveller, though the odd fight may break out when people are intoxicated. As the city with the highest standard of living in the world, the level of safety in Zurich is not surprising.
3. Dubrovnik, Croatia
With a population of just over 40,000 Dubrovnik is by far and away the city with the smallest population on this list. Nicknamed the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” Dubrovnik’s main purpose and priority is tourism, and with its rich history and lush coastal beauty, it’s no surprise. The walled city’s feel harkens back to the Middle Ages when it was a powerful city-state. Though affected in a minor way by the Yugoslavian Wars of the early 1990s (bullet holes can still be seen pock marking a few buildings), Dubrovnik is an extremely safe city, so much so that most travel guides warn of the dangerous of slippery streets above all else.
2. Singapore, Singapore
As the second most densely populated city on the planet, Singapore is a remarkably safe city. A former British colony, Singapore is in fact an island city-state with nearly 6 million inhabitants in Southeast Asia. Considering the island’s small size compared to its population, remarkably, nearly 50% of Singapore is green space, a major attraction for visitors. Though Singapore may not be as exciting as much of Southeast Asia when it comes to nightlife, there are casinos, sporting events and even prostitution in some districts available to tourists. Voted one of the cleanest, friendliest and safest cities in the world, Singapore maintains its safety by imposing very strict laws against criminal activity, including the death penalty for drug offences. In Singapore even the sale of chewing gum is prohibited, so as long as you don’t carry drugs to Singapore, or hope to buy chewing gum while there, you should have a nice, and incredibly safe trip.
1. Tokyo, Japan
One of the most vibrant cities in the world, Tokyo has a population of over 13 million people in the urban core of the city alone, and a metropolitan population of nearly 36 million. A massive city, considering the geographical size of Japan as a whole, Tokyo is a prime destination for tourists, and a popular spot with those wishing to teach English abroad, and rightfully so. Tokyo has pretty much everything a traveller could ever want in a city culturally and geographically, from the modern, Western and cosmopolitan, to the rugged, natural and ancient. Tokyo is one of the safest cities in the world, period. It is very unlikely for a tourist to experience crime in Tokyo, and as long as one doesn’t act inappropriately and maintains common sense, Tokyo will be a safe and fantastic trip for any traveller.