Find out if it is dangerous to travel in those European countries
Stay safe while traveling to these great destinations in Europe
Europe is supposed to be the safest continent in the world, only two European countries rank in the top 50 of the most dangerous countries in the world (according to the Global Peace Index), Ukraine (10th), and Russia (13th); while 7 of the top 10 safest countries are indeed in Europe.
Still, for the average traveler, some countries in Europe have among the highest rates of petty crimes in the world. Pickpocketing and scams are quite common in places like Italy, Spain, and France. We all know that those kinds of crimes happen where a lot of tourists go.
Easter Europe especially, still suffer from a plethora of stereotypes of high crime rates and general unsafety. From our personal experience, people from every country I was in, mentioned their neighboring nations as dangerous. Serbians said I was crazy going to do free camping in Romania, so thought Romanians of Bulgaria, Bulgarians about Georgia, and so on. Well, that’s the sad fruit of ignorance and sometimes racism. Since all of these countries are generally safe for travelers.
About this post
This article is a collaborative effort, a bunch of travelers shares their experiences in some of the so-called most dangerous countries in Europe.
Some Advice on how to stay safe when traveling
Be prudent, attentive, smart, trust your guts, don’t get drunk, don’t get high (or at least do that only if you really really trust the people you’re with and the place you’re in). Study the place you’re going to travel, gather as much information as you can, be careful of sensitive topics, respect local customs.
Just exerting these precautions will make you safe almost everywhere, things can happen of course, but they can happen even if you’re not traveling
is Ukraine the most dangerous country in Europe?
Whenever I tell anyone I’m living in Ukraine, one of their first two questions is, “Is it safe?” (The other is, “Is it cold?”) Yes, absolutely! (And “Yes, especially in January!”) Ukraine came to international attention in 2014 with the Euromaidan Revolution, which saw the people ousting their corrupt president and restarting their government. This was followed by Russia’s annexation of Crimea and war in the east, which has drawn mostly negative media attention. However, Ukraine is the biggest country in Europe so you can easily stay far away from conflict zones and still enjoy the country – in fact, now is the perfect time to visit Ukraine!
Ukraine is undiscovered Europe. It’s full of ancient history, hearty cuisine, helpful people, and stunning nature. With fewer tourists visiting here than elsewhere in Europe, you really feel like you’ve stumbled upon one of Europe’s last puzzles. From the imposing Soviet architecture to the wildly romanticized marauding Cossacks to the early years of its recent independence, Ukraine’s history and culture will completely engross you.
Ukraine is also crazily affordable. Craft beers are a dollar or two, long-distance trains can cost less than fifteen bucks, and hostel dorm bunks are as low as five dollars! I live a very comfortable life in Kyiv and am able to afford amazing holidays in the Carpathian Mountains for a fraction of what they’d cost in the States or Europe.
There are some things to keep in mind to stay safe in Ukraine. Obviously, stay away from the war zone in the east. And if the rare political rally or protest erupts, avoid it, just to be on the safe side. The biggest thing to be mindful of is pickpockets and scammers. But in general, I’ve felt very safe living in and traveling around Ukraine for the last year and a half, and I hope others are inspired to come to visit this gorgeous country!
How dangerous is Belarus?
By Megan Starr
Belarus has somehow managed to achieve a reputation as one of the most unsafe countries in Europe and I cannot for the life of me figure out why. I have been twice and both times I felt safer than any other country I’ve visited in Europe.
Politically speaking, there are some liberties that you don’t necessarily receive in the country, but as long as you respect this and meet locals and see the country from another perspective than its political drama, you will find an Eastern European country filled with hospitable and friendly citizens who want nothing more than to just learn more about where you’re from and why you are visiting Belarus.
The first time I visited, tourism wasn’t booming (I was the only person I knew who had even visited at that time), but due to the visa-free Minsk International Airport scheme they currently are offering, many people are popping in for five days and getting to enjoy this wonderful country. Belarus is finally starting to open up a bit and when people visit, they realize that the only true danger of traveling to Belarus is overstaying your visa because you don’t want to leave.
How safe is to travel Kosovo?
For many people who grew up during the 1990s, most of what they will know about Kosovo is related to the Balkans war that devastated the region. However, while many of its neighbors – such as Montenegro and Croatia – have enjoyed booms in tourism since the war ended, Kosovo remains fairly untouched, even for travelers taking longer trips throughout the Balkans.
For those who make the effort to visit Kosovo, they will find a country that wants to move on from its tragic past and welcome tourists. There’s also plenty to see in Kosovo, including the picturesque Ottoman-influenced old town of Prizren, the dynamic capital of Pristina and plenty of hiking opportunities in the many national parks that exist throughout the country.
The war has been over in Kosovo for nearly two decades now so the country is as safe to visit as its neighboring ones. The main safety-related things to keep in mind when traveling in Kosovo is to not go hiking on unmarked trails as there is still a risk of unexploded landmines and stay up to date on the latest news when traveling close to the Kosovo and Serbia border – there are still occasional skirmishes that can happen. You should also avoid entering Serbia from Kosovo as this will constitute illegal entry into Serbia.
Should you travel to Abkhazia?
By Megan Starr
Before visiting Abkhazia back in 2013, I read someone’s recap of the unrecognized country that stated it was dangerous and every citizen was walking around with a gun in their back pocket ready to use it.
I don’t know why I still felt compelled to visit- perhaps it was the history or the thrill of going somewhere that someone told me not to visit. Either way, I arrived in a place that is highly misunderstood and I never saw a gun the entire time.
While I didn’t choose to walk around at night alone (I faced a huge language barrier and that was the main reason behind this), I walked around all day alone as a female and never felt any harm.
The locals tried chatting with me and everyone was so friendly and curious about why I was visiting their land. Abkhazia has a horrific history, as does the entire Caucasus region, but the tourism opportunities are there. Abkhazia is a land of rugged mountains, beautiful beaches, tasty food, and extremely friendly people. While it may not be at the top of everyone’s list, I think it leaves an opportunity to surprise those who visit.
Is it dangerous to visit Albania?
For some reason, Albania is imprinted in many people’s minds as a dangerous country – perhaps because of the movie Taken. While it’s true that there is an Albanian mafia, the reality is that the mafia families generally operate outside of Albania, not inside.
To summarize what a local once told me: The Albanian mafia has all left, after all, who would they steal from here? I spent three weeks in Albania, traveling entirely solo, and never felt a moment of danger. In fact, the locals are some of the kindest people I’ve met on all of my travels, always making sure I was all set with directions, food, you name it!
Once you get over Albania’s image problem, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to visit. Albania has some of the most beautiful beaches and landscapes in all of Europe. The food is delicious, fresh, and always affordable, and has a lot in common with the food of its neighbor to the south, Greece. It’s not very touristy yet, but it’s easy enough to get around with plenty of hotels and hostels and restaurants catering to intrepid visitors.
To stay safe in Albania, use normal precautions like not drinking to excess, watching when crossing the road (Albanian drivers are crazy!), and keeping an eye on your belongings. You may want to take a taxi rather than walking at night in the cities. Always ask before drinking tap water, as it is okay to drink in some areas but not in others, or stick to bottled water. Besides that, there are really no special concerns about traveling Albania.
is Romania a dangerous country?
By Daniele Giannotta – Cycloscope.net
Romania has a to struggle with a long-standing bad image, with the stereotypes of all Romanian being gypsies and all gypsies being criminal. While it’s true that there is a huge minority of Roma people in Romania, just with a little bit of research, you’ll easily find out how all these stereotypes are just based on racism, and how fascinating is the culture and history of this nomadic people.
During our three-weeks bicycle trip to Romania, the biggest problems we had were with stray dogs. Romania seriously has a problem with that, and some areas might be dangerous at night (or even during the day, especially for cyclists). It’s important to remember never to give your back to dogs and run away, they’ll just feel powerful, start chasing, and eventually bite you. Always face them, trying to use a low and loud tone of voice to scare them away.
As it goes for people, just exert the standard precautions, maybe even a bit more of that. Trust your guts and stay clear of suspicious people, don’t show off to much wealth, and don’t walk around drunk or high. If in Bucharest, choose a good hostel in a quiet neighborhood.
Romania really is a beautiful and interesting country, with a rural lifestyle still tied to old traditions (well, mainly because of poverty).
Should you be afraid to travel to Southern Italy?
By Daniele Giannotta – Cycloscope.net
As a Sicilian who also used to live in Naples, I consider myself quite an expert about Southern Italy. There are so many stereotypes about Southern Italy as probably no other place in the world.
First of all, let me say that we don’t walk around with Coppola hats and rifles, Mafia is mainly an economic thing involving politics and such, and you won’t see gun-shootings on the streets.
Pickpocketing is less common than in Rome (which is not a great achievement, considering that Rome ranks second after Barcelona for the number of petty theft), while is not impossible to find people who want to scam you. Just be aware of random people approaching you and proposing deals, don’t buy anything from them and don’t put money in their hands.
Some nightlife city areas are not super enjoyable during Saturday nights, because of baby-gangs wanting to pick up fights (we say “they open the cages of the zoo” Saturday night), but they are no big deal, just ignore them and don’t get involved.
There are just so many reasons to visit Southern Italy that mentioning them all will take another two or three articles! Just think of the amazing beaches, baroque architecture, volcanoes, food, fisherman hamlets, culture capitals, markets, and so on and on.