Believe it or not, behind the postcard-perfect façade, majestic cobblestone streets, and romantic glow of historical landmarks, certain European cities have earned a notorious reputation for having a dark side.
While it can be easy to get carried away by the romantic charm of visiting cities like Paris or Athens, it is worth researching to know which cities are more dangerous than others and what to be aware of. Luckily, we have summarised this so you can decide whether to visit these dangerous cities or opt for a safer alternative.
While you may notice that many of these dangerous cities are in France, the rest are scattered throughout the continent, and some may come as a surprise, so stick around while we uncover the details behind these unsafe areas.
As someone who has traveled extensively around Europe, I can share tips on staying safe, and together, we can explore the enigma behind the most dangerous cities that contradict Europe’s idyllic image.
In this article, we will dive into the crime rates of these European cities, what you should be aware of, and everything in between so you can understand more about what lies beneath the iconic images of these popular spots.
So, let’s jump in!
The 20 Most Dangerous Cities In Europe
1. Marseille, France
While Marseille boasts a picture-perfect location, with stunning coastal landscapes and picturesque views of the Mediterranean Sea, you should be aware of a darker side to the city.
Marseille is considered one of the most dangerous cities in Europe and, according to Numbeo, has the highest crime rate on the continent. With a crime index score of 65.2, Marseille soars above cities like Stockholm, Bologna, and Belfast, yet it is not the only city to feature a crime rate of this level.
Among the crimes to be aware of, the most common occurrences include car theft, muggings, robberies, and worries about safety in the home. Marseille can easily captivate you with its charm, but this city is one to be wary of.
If visiting, it is best to avoid certain areas like the northern districts and stick to safer places like La Panier or La Corniche. Most crimes in Marseille are gang-related, but no one wants to get caught up in a feud, so avoid walking alone at night and stay in well-lit tourist areas if you are visiting the city.
2. Coventry, United Kingdom
According to Numbeo, Coventry in the United Kingdom has a crime rate of 64.68, not far behind Marseille. When visiting Coventry, it is worth noting that the city’s most dangerous areas are Willenhall, Foleshill, Hillfields, and Wood End.
Crime rates have been increasing in Coventry over the past few years, and most of the crime happens in these four areas, which makes them twice as dangerous as the rest of the city.
While the whole city is not regarded as dangerous, these areas should be avoided, and in fact, there are safe areas to visit in Coventry, such as Earlsdon and Kenilworth.
Some of the leading crimes in Coventry include violent crime, problems with prostitution, antisocial behavior, and theft. According to local police, it is advised not to walk alone on streets at night and never display valuable items that can pose a risk of mugging.
Police are taking active measures in the areas mentioned with police patrol and active CCTV cameras to help target the high crime levels. Still, until things significantly improve, it is best to be cautious when visiting Coventry.
3. Birmingham, United Kingdom
Birmingham, UK, has great attractions like art galleries, museums, and chocolate factories, making it a popular spot for a weekend away. Yet, there are some things to know regarding safety in this city.
Birmingham has been regarded as the most dangerous major city in the West Midlands, and in 2022, the overall crime rate was 145 crimes per 1000 people.
According to Crimerate.co.uk, ‘Birmingham is the second most dangerous major city, and the 245th most dangerous location out of all towns, cities, and villages’, and care should be taken when visiting.
Birmingham is notorious for burglaries, but other crimes, such as criminal damage and arson, make it a city where you must be cautious. The most common crimes that appear to be prevalent in Birmingham include sexual offenses and violence.
Birmingham City Centre is said to have the worst crime in the city, while other areas to practice caution include Bordesley Green, Aston and Newtown, and Acock’s Green.
4. Montpellier, France
Sometimes regarded as the little brother of Marseille, Montpellier is a city deemed unsafe, where precautions should be taken. Located in the south of France, in a region known for its beautiful coastline and world-famous wines, Montpellier attracts plenty of tourists each year, but the city has a darker side, which visitors should be aware of.
With a crime index of 62.42 and a safety index of 37.6, it is clear that Montpellier, France, is a destination where you need to be more cautious than in other French cities.
While Montpellier can be considered safe, especially in the ‘nice neighborhoods,’ it has certain dangers that tourists should know about.
The city is known for pickpocketing, purse theft, and urban violence, and the city is increasingly seeing issues with drug trafficking and gang-related crime, the latter of which generally does not affect tourist regions.
Areas to be cautious about visiting are The Mosson, The Paillade, around Montpellier station, and Gambetta, to name but a few.
5. Naples, Italy
Naples is a world-famous city for its cuisine, specifically for inventing the pizza we know and love. Yet, it is also notorious for its crime, which many people already know.
The city’s reputation as a dangerous place has stuck around, and today, it is still a city where tourists need to take precautions. The city that was once named the murder capital of Europe may not be as unsafe as it once was, but organized crime is a massive problem in this city and other parts of Italy.
When visiting Naples, chances are you will have no incidents, mainly if you stick to the main tourist areas’ well-lit streets and avoid carrying valuables, which may increase your risk of theft.
Yet, the truth is that Naples is a city that has a significant connection to the Italian mafia, so it is advised never to walk alone or visit unfamiliar neighborhoods, especially at night.
While Naples is a popular tourist destination, staying cautious is essential to staying safe while on vacation.
6. Catania, Italy
Catania, a city on the island of Sicily, Italy, has often been referred to as the most dangerous city in Europe, and despite it being a popular tourist destination, precautions should be taken.
Due to the illegal activities of powerful mafia families and the city’s high crime rate, Catania remains a city that has earned the nickname ‘the black city.’ Of course, many people visit this bustling city without issues, but it is worth knowing that it has not yet left its lousy reputation.
In fact, despite the efforts of local police, the high crime rates have not decreased, and the city remains to have a big problem with drug trafficking.
While this is something that tourists may not encounter, it is always best to know the ins and outs of each city you visit to stay as safe as possible.
When visiting Catania, it is advisable to be cautious of pickpockets and constantly closely monitor your bags and valuables, especially in busy areas.
7. Liege, Belgium
Belgium, the home of Belgian fries, beer, and chocolate, may not come to mind as a dangerous country, but the city of Liege has a dark side. While the city is safe during the daytime, it is advised to avoid walking alone at night, and even if you are staying a few minutes from the center, it is advised to take a cab rather than walk. So, why is Liege so ‘dangerous’?
Liege, unlike some of the other cities, has an increasing crime rate, which focuses on drug-related crimes and street harassment. Compared to the capital, Brussels, Liege has an overall higher crime rate, which has increased in the past three years.
Theft from vehicles is also common, so if driving in the city, always ensure no valuables are left in your car and lock it securely before leaving it.
8. Grenoble, France
One prominent country on this list is France, and one of the most dangerous cities in Europe is Grenoble, located in the Spoth east of France. The city has problems with people using or dealing drugs as well as property crimes like vandalism and theft.
Grenoble can be a safe city for tourists to visit, but there are certain areas to avoid, such as Arlequin, Villeneuve, and Mistral.
It is worth noting that pickpocketing and bag snatching are common occurrences in urban areas and prevalent in many other French cities mentioned here.
It is advised to steer clear of the said neighborhoods by day and night, keep your valuables out of sight, and try to stay in well-lit and busy parts of the city to avoid any incidents. Overall, Grenoble is seeing a drop in specific crime rates, such as house burglary, yet other crime rates are still rising.
9. Paris, France
Paris may be a city that depicts the ideal destination for a romantic holiday, yet the city has some areas that should be avoided. And in fact, Paris is one of the most dangerous cities in Europe.
Beyond the Eiffel Tower and the quaint patisseries, Paris is dealing with an increasing crime rate like many other European cities. While tourists flock to this world-famous city to soak up the atmosphere and the iconic views, locals are beginning to feel the city’s insecurity, and more areas are becoming increasingly risky.
If visiting or planning to move there, it is worth noting that the most dangerous areas of Paris are the train stations of Gare de l’Est and the Gare du Nord at night, the central red-light district of Pigalle at night, and also Stalingrad and Chateau Rouge.
Generally speaking, Paris has plenty of safe areas to visit, but the 18th/19th ‘arrondissements’ (neighborhoods) are ones to be specifically aware of. To keep visitors safe, the Paris Police have a safety brochure with tips and advice for visiting the city.
10. Malmo, Sweden
Compared to other cities in the Nordic countries, Malmo is considered one of the most dangerous cities for various reasons. The city may not be as big as others on our list, but the crime rates are just as high, and precautions should be taken when visiting this Swedish city.
Safety can mean different things to different people depending on where you come from, and if you compare Malmo to the USA or Brazil, for instance, it is regarded as safe; however, in Europe, Malmo is viewed as being a dangerous city.
So, what do you need to be aware of? Purse snatchers and pickpockets are prevalent in busy touristy areas. In contrast, remote areas away from the center should be avoided, and walking alone at night in any part of the city should be avoided.
The area of Rosengard is one to be avoided since this is one of the riskiest parts of the town, and there are some problems with drug gangs, with many violent crime-related incidents taking place between gangs rather than tourists.
Look at this crime rate comparison between Malmo and Copenhagen, two cities merely separated by a bridge.
11. Athens, Greece
When we consider the most dangerous cities in Europe, we cannot forget about Athens, the capital of Greece. While this famous city is known for its incredible Greek ruins, it is also notorious for having some dangerous zones, making it an unsafe city to visit.
Regarding staying safe in Athens, it is worth noting that walking around certain areas at night is not advised, particularly Omonia and Patissia and some parts of Monastiraki, Ermou, Psiri, and Syntagma Square.
Athens is known for its historic attractions and vibrant nightlife, but try not to walk alone at night if you decide to venture out in the evening.
While serious crimes such as gun crimes are sporadic in Athens, you should be vigilant of petty crimes like pickpocketing and bag snatching, which can happen in busy touristy areas, by both adult and child thieves.
Some bad areas we have mentioned are seen as dangerous since they are frequented by drug dealers, anarchist groups, and thieves, so always stay in groups and avoid these areas at night.
12. Nice, France
Like many cities mentioned here, Nice in the South of France has good and bad areas, which you should know about. The South of France is known for its glorious coastline, luxurious villas, and shopping opportunities, but Nice has some dark spots behind this facade.
Crimes have been on the rise in this region of France in the past years, especially in Nice and Marseille, and the Mediterranean area, in general, has long been renowned for being a crime-ridden and corrupt region of the continent.
That is not to say that Nice and the south of France should be avoided, but caution should be taken when visiting. The areas to be vigilant in are the Arson and Riquier district, French Street (red light district), Pastor and Saint Roch districts, and around St Michels Bridge at night.
In addition, Las Planas is considered one of the most unsafe places in Nice, while Ariane, located in the northeast of the city, must also be avoided. While these areas are deemed unsafe, tourists should experience no issues in places like Old Town Nice, Port District, or The Gambetta District – just keep your wits about you and stay streetwise throughout the city.
13. Manchester, United Kingdom
When it comes to the UK, Manchester is among the most dangerous cities, so much so that it has made it to our list of the most dangerous cities in Europe, too.
Compared to other UK cities, Manchester has a huge problem with crime, and the rate of crime is 383 crimes per person. Crimes that are most common in this UK city include vehicle crimes, property crimes, burglary, shoplifting, and antisocial behavior, which makes some parts of the city unsafe to visit.
The city is experiencing a high increase in crime rates, so much so that the local police have stopped giving updates to the public. The safest areas in Manchester include Rusholme, Chorlton, Fallowfield, Didsbury, and Gorton, while the places to avoid are Moss Side, Cheetham Hill, Longsight, and Salford, to name but a few.
These areas have a history of crime, such as drug offenses, gang-related crime, theft, robbery, and antisocial behavior, so try to avoid these neighborhoods if visiting the city, especially at night.
As we mentioned, crime is increasing in Manchester, but the local police are trying to combat this issue with CCVT surveillance, manned guarding services, and mobile patrols.
14. Lyon, France
Lyon is considered one of the most dangerous cities in France, but while you may not experience any problems in many tourist areas, pickpocketing and scams are notorious.
When it comes to hazardous areas apart from petty crimes, there are areas in Lyon to steer clear of, especially if you are alone or visiting at night.
This recent survey ranked Lyon as the fifth most dangerous city in France after Lille, Paris, Orly, and Saint-Denis, stating that ‘Lyon presents a risk of being the victim of a crime or misdemeanor of 97.53 per 1000 inhabitants, or 9.8 %’.
But is Lyon really that dangerous? According to the survey, Lyon was considered safer than Bordeaux, Cannes, Grenoble, Rouen, and Puteaux, but there are things to be cautious about when visiting the city.
Just like other French cities, Lyon is made up of arrondissements or districts, and the riskiest places to visit are the 7th, 8th, and 9th districts.
The safest areas are Vieux Lyon, La Presqu’Ile, and Downtown Lyon, and many tourist areas are safe during the day; just be aware of pickpocketing and do not walk alone at night.
15. Brussels, Belgium
Regarding the most dangerous cities in Europe, we cannot forget about Brussels, Belgium. While this city is not necessarily a city to avoid, there are certain things to be aware of to stay safe during your visit.
According to Numbeo, Brussels has a crime index of 54.70, and the good news is that this famous city’s crime rate is decreasing. It can be said that Brussels is like many major cities in Europe in that the majority of the city is safe, at least by day, yet there are a few risky neighborhoods that should be avoided where possible.
Brussels is considered one of the major cities in Europe where pickpocketing is common, especially in busy touristy areas and on public transport like the train and subway. Yes, this may not sound as ‘dangerous’ per se as some other cities, but no one wants their vacation ruined by being robbed.
It is best to leave valuables in a safe at your hotel or avoid flashing anything expensive when out and about. While the police have successfully lowered the crime rate, it is still best to avoid areas like the Gare du Midi and Molenbeek, where crime is still prevalent.
16. Dnipro, Ukraine
While Dnipro is a popular city to visit and is generally safe in many areas, it is regarded as one of the most dangerous cities in Europe in terms of petty crimes.
Tourists are generally well received, and people are always willing to help, but it is worth knowing that there is a chance that you can be robbed of your belongings, especially if they are visible in public.
It is advised to remain vigilant, avoid walking alone on deserted streets, and avoid visiting unfamiliar neighborhoods by day or night.
Dnipro is not as dangerous compared to other cities listed above, yet purse snatching, pickpocketing, and muggings are common, so it is best to be wary.
Numbeo rated Dnipro’s crime index as 54.47, which is moderate compared to cities like Marseille, Paris, or Manchester.
According to this recent article, Dnipro has been regarded as the most dangerous city in Eastern Europe, where pickpocketing, scams, and violent crime are more prevalent than in other neighboring cities.
17. London, United Kingdom
London may be a world-famous destination, with iconic landmarks like Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, and Canary Wharf. Yet, it can certainly be dangerous, especially if you are unsure of the neighborhoods.
By day London is generally a safe city to visit, especially in touristy, built-up areas, but by night there are many places you should avoid.
London’s crime rate is 85% of the national crime rate, and violent crime is said to make up 23% of all crimes.
So, what should you be aware of when visiting London, one of the most dangerous cities in Europe? Areas to be cautious of include Westminster, Camden, Southwark, Lewisham, Lambeth, and Hackney.
The safest parts of London include Richmond, Harrow, Bexley, and Sutton, to name but a few. This report shows that the overall crime rate for London in 2022 was 95 crimes per 1000 people, most of which were violence and sexual offenses.
While London is an excellent city to visit, it is certainly worth being aware of which areas are crime-ridden and which are the safest, as with many major capital cities worldwide.
18. Odessa, Ukraine
Since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in 2022, Odesa has suffered repeated bombings, leaving it an unpredictable and dangerous place to visit, despite it becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site last year.
While Odessa is not as dangerous as other cities we have listed, the danger level has undoubtedly increased since the war began. Since tourists are not too common in this city, it is best to stay vigilant if you are visiting the city.
Petty theft can be an issue here, so always keep valuables out of sight and be aware of your surroundings when in the city. One of the significant reasons Odessa has been deemed unsafe in recent years is, of course, the volatility of the city and the military conflict, which is unpredictable.
The US government advises tourists not to travel to Ukraine due to Russia’s war against Ukraine. At the same time, the UK Government also warns against any travel to Ukraine due to the safety and security of the country.
19. Thessaloniki, Greece
Thessaloniki, located in the Peloponnese region of Greece, may not be as dangerous as Athens, but it is a city where precautions should be taken.
While it is unlikely that you will experience any violent crime in this popular city, you should know that pickpocketing and petty theft are common, especially in urban areas and busy tourist regions.
Thessaloniki has a crime index of 53.78, which puts it at a medium level of risk in terms of a global perspective.
Yes, the crime rate may have increased over the years, but the good news is that the crimes are rarely violent and focus on pickpocketing and other petty crimes.
With this in mind, if you want to make sure you are risk-free, always leave valuables in the hotel if you are sightseeing, and it may be wise to carry a ‘fake’ wallet or purse with some loose cash for any situation that may occur.
20. Dublin, Ireland
Lastly, one of the most dangerous cities in Europe is Dublin, Ireland. The city, famous for being the hub of Guinness, Trinity College, and the Phoenix Park – Europe’s largest enclosed park, also has a dark side.
There are plenty of places to avoid in this city, especially in recent times, as the level of crime has increased, even in broad daylight. Areas to avoid in general are the inner city of Dublin, Tallaght, Ballymun, and Blanchardstown and the regions highlighted here, which Dublins Deliveroo drivers created.
Ireland has been ranked as one of the safest countries in the world, but the capital is another story. During the day, the city is relatively safe, especially if you are in busy touristy areas.
Still, it is advised not to venture down unknown streets, wander around at night, or take certain public transport like the Dublin Bus. The safest areas to stick to are Dublin 4, Dublin 6, The Docklands, and some parts of Dublin 1.
Always trust your gut instinct or ask a friendly local for their advice if you are unsure.