The Safest European Countries in 2023

Waterfall in Iceland

Safety is a massive factor when it comes to travel. After all, no one wants to visit somewhere where they’ll be constantly on edge, looking over their shoulder! Luckily for potential visitors, Europe is generally a very safe continent.  But what are the safest countries in Europe? 

If you’re looking to plan your very own Euro trip, you’ve come to the right place. To help you choose your next destination, we’ve dived into all the facts and figures to put together this list of the safest European countries. 

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How Did We Decide the Safest European Countries?

To assemble this list of the safest countries in Europe, we have used our own travel experience, combined with the results of the Global Peace Index (2023 edition). This annual report compiled by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), weighs up a number of factors to determine the world’s safest countries, including perceived criminality within society, crime rates and militarisation. 

Each country is given a ranking and then put in a league table. 163 countries are listed in the GPI and as of 2023, seven of the world’s top ten safest countries in the world are located in Europe. That is quite some achievement! 

To make it easy for you to cross-reference the countries listed, we have clearly stated their position within the Global Peace Index along with their GPI score, based on the many factors used to compile the report. To provide some context, every country listed below has a better GPI rating than the United States which sits at position 131 out of 163. 

The Top 7 Safest Countries in Europe

Disclaimer: International travel safety advice can change quickly and often without warning. Before you visit any destination, you should always do your own research to ensure that you understand any potential risks associated with visiting a specific country. 

1. Iceland

  • Global Peace Index ranking: 1/163
  • Global Peace Index score: 1.124

According to the GPI, Iceland is officially the safest country in Europe. In fact, it is actually the safest country in the world and has been since the introduction of the GPI back in 2008! With a small population of around just 350,000, visitors to Iceland report describing a warm welcome and community feel. 

Northern lights
Iceland is the safest country in the Europe!

Unlike in most countries, petty crime is uncommon here with more serious and violent incidents being outright unusual. As such, it is a great destination for solo travellers. Relatedly, Iceland was again recently ranked the most gender-equal country in the world, making it a great destination for women. 

Arguably the biggest concern for travellers to Iceland should be the impact of the almighty Mother Nature. Iceland is known for its epic landscapes and rugged terrain but this can present additional risks. Flooding, avalanches and landslides can and do happen. These kinds of events can also have an impact on road travel, causing main routes to be closed, sometimes for months at a time. 

Well known for its challenging and rewarding treks, hikers visiting Iceland should make sure to keep a close eye on weather conditions as storms can pull in quickly and pose a danger to those on the trails. Likewise, those trekking should always make sure that they are carrying a GPS, especially in more remote areas of the country. 

Laugavegur, Iceland
The epic scenery of the Laugavegur Trail.

Traveller Highlights in Iceland:

  • Take on one of Europe’s best hikes! The Laugavegur Trail is a multi-day trek which weaves through the epic landscapes of southern Iceland. 
  • Drive the famous Golden Circle. Arguably the country’s most famous road trip, this route will showcase national parks, geysers and even thermal baths! 
  • Marvel at the northern lights. Also known as the aurora borealis, Iceland is one of the best places in the world to see this natural wonder. 
  • Laze in the Blue Lagoon spa. Thermal baths and incredible views? Sign us up! 
  • Go chasing waterfalls. For photographers and nature lovers alike, the incredible Dettifoss waterfall will not disappoint.

2. Denmark

  • Global Peace Index ranking: 2/163
  • Global Peace Index score: 1.31

With low levels of organised conflict and violent crime, Denmark is a very safe destination. Much like other Scandinavian countries, Denmark is a frontrunner when it comes to social issues and the happiness levels of its population. 

Copenhagen Denmark
Copenhagen has been dubbed the world’s safest city!

Petty crime is low even in the big cities, although we always advise keeping your valuables close and not leaving your belongings unattended. In 2021, Copenhagen was christened the safest city in the entire world by the Economist. 

The risk from natural disasters is pretty much non-existent in Denmark and the road rules are usually obeyed. If you are a pedestrian, you will also be expected to obey the rules of the road. There are heavy fines and potential prison time for those caught drunk driving or speeding. 

Tourist infrastructure in the country is generally very good and it is easy to get around. Despite English not being the national language, most locals will have some degree of conversationality so if you get lost, just ask someone for help and they are likely to oblige. 

Copenhagen little mermaid
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s the Little Mermaid!

Traveller Highlights in Denmark:

  • See the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s character, this statue was given as a gift to the country in 1913. 
  • Visit the Viking Ship Museum. Situated in Roskilde, this museum provides an excellent insight into the history of Denmark and the world’s most fearsome seafarers. 
  • Take in the sights by bike. As one of the flattest countries in the world, Denmark is a haven for cyclists.
  • Explore Kronborg Castle. Believed to be in part the inspiration for Shakespeare’s play Hamlet (despite the Bard never having visited himself), this impressive fortress is a must-visit. 
  • Be a kid at Legoland. Who said that grown-ups can’t still play with Lego?! 

3. Ireland

  • Global Peace Index ranking: 3/163
  • Global Peace Index score: 1.312

Famous for its fabulously friendly welcome (top o’ the morning to ya!), Ireland is the second-safest country in Europe. Every year, the country attracts millions of visitors, most of whom visit to check out the lush green landscapes, dramatic coastline and rich cultural heritage. It has also become increasingly popular with genealogy tourists

Cliffs of Moher
Ireland attracts visitors from all over the world for its natural wonders.

The transport infrastructure in Ireland is pretty good and the roads are generally well maintained – however, you should always be aware of potholes, especially in more rural areas. If you are planning to rent a car for your trip, keep in mind that in Ireland they drive on the left-hand side. 

Crime levels in Ireland are generally pretty low but you should still follow basic personal safety protocols to protect yourself and your belongings, especially in larger cities such as Dublin. Most crime tends to occur when alcohol has been involved so don’t linger on the streets after a night out and get a taxi back to your accommodation. 

The Cliffs of Moher are one of the country’s largest tourist attractions and understandably so. If you are visiting this area, take heed of any warning signs and do not veer from the established walking paths. There have sadly been incidents of some travellers falling to their deaths after straying from the official trail. 

Dublin Temple Bar
Many of the safety issues in Ireland are a result of excessive alcohol consumption.

Traveller Highlights in Ireland:

  • Enjoy a night out at Temple Bar in European nightlife hotspot Dublin. Trust us when we say that the Irish know how to party! 
  • Walk along the Cliffs of Moher. These vertigo-inducing cliffs offer jaw-dropping views out to the Aran Islands.
  • Road trip the Ring of Kerry. This 11-mile loop is a great way to take in the sights and sounds of Ireland. While it can be driven in around three and half hours if you don’t stop, we recommend turning this into a day event! 
  • Take a trip to Skellig Michael. Used as the filming destination for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Skellig Micheal is home to an island monastery and promises to be a magical stop on any Ireland itinerary. 
  • Kiss the Blarney Stone. Located at Blarney Castle, this tradition has been around for centuries. It is said that visitors that kiss the Blarney Stone will be given the gift of persuasiveness and eloquence. Who doesn’t want a bit of that?!

Want to learn more about the world’s safest countries? Check out the following posts:

4. Austria

  • Global Peace Index ranking: 5/163
  • Global Peace Index score: 1.316

Let’s have a show of Hans for everybody who expected Austria to be on our list of safest European countries… (See what I did there? 😉) Bad puns aside, Austria has long been a popular destination with travellers looking to visit Europe. 

Top Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants in Salzburg, Austria
The hills are alive with the sound of music, with songs they have sung for a thousand years!

It is overall incredibly safe, with all crime levels pretty low. There is risk of being pickpocketed on public transport but this is far from a common occurrence. As with any visit to a place you’re not familiar with, the best advice is to keep your valuables hidden and be vigilant when you’re out and about. 

Austria is a great destination for first-time travellers because it has a rich cultural history to explore. Many people speak English in the country so if you get lost or need help, you will likely share a common language, at least to some degree. 

Best known as a winter destination for its amazing skiing, travellers should be aware of the usual risks associated with alpine destinations. Avalanches and mudslides happen and you should always make sure to check the weather before you head out for the day. As always with any kind of adventure activity, tell somebody where you are going before you leave.

Traveller Highlights in Austria:

  • Go skiing. Austria is one of the best winter destinations in the entire world!
  • See where the Sound of Music was filmed. It might be an oldie but it sure is a goodie! This classic movie starring Julie Andrews was shot all around Salzburg and is a must-do for any fan.
  • Visit the Music Capital of the World. Vienna is the home of musical prodigies such as Mozart and Beethoven!
  • Explore the cute Christmas markets. For around a month, tiny winter wonderlands pop up in different cities all over the country!
  • Check out Treppe ins Nichts. Also known in English as ‘The Stairway to Nothingness’, this glass shelf offers incredible 360 views (if you’re brave enough! 😱). 

5. Portugal

  • Global Peace Index ranking: 7/163
  • Global Peace Index score: 1.333

Portugal is a hugely popular destination for backpackers, expats and digital nomads travelling Europe. With astounding coastline, slick cities, rich culture and mouthwatering cuisine, Portugal is a great all-round destination. 

Lisbon rooftops, Portugal
The terracotta roofs of buildings in Lisbon, Portugal.

The country is extremely safe, ranking at number six overall on the Global Peace Index’s 2022 report. This makes it the fifth-safest country in Europe. It has good relationships with its neighbours and the political system is generally viewed as stable. 

The biggest risk to travellers is pickpocketing which frequently happens on public transport and in tourist areas. I was actually pickpocketed on the metro in Porto travelling to the airport. Never leave your belongings unattended and always keep a close eye on your surroundings. Travel insurance is a good recommendation too! 

​​As Portugal is such a popular tourist destination, scams that specifically target visitors can and do happen. You should always trust your gut and never hand money over before you have received the goods or services requested. 

Portugal algarve
With attractions like this, it’s no wonder Portugal is so popular!

Traveller Highlights in Portugal:

  • Enjoy a pastel de nata. Arguably one of the finest foods in Europe, the Portuguese custard tart is guaranteed to make you drool. 
  • Ride the waves in Porto. Porto is the perfect city break and as if that wasn’t reason enough to visit, it is right on the beach. Surfing is huge here and lessons are available to beginners. 
  • Nature spot at Ria Formosa National Park. Located in the Algarve, this diverse ecosystem is home to a number of rare and interesting species. Grab a pair of binoculars and look to the skies for inspiration. 
  • Take a boat trip. Head to one of Europe’s most famous wine destinations, the Douro Valley. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is just itching to be explored and a boat trip is a great way to take in the cultural landscape.
  • Journey onboard the Lisbon trams. Tourist trap or not? You decide. 

6. Slovenia 

  • Global Peace Index ranking: 8/163
  • Global Peace Index score: 1.334

Slovenia is a destination often overlooked by those heading to Europe. It really shouldn’t be though! Mostly, the country attracts visitors in search of idyllic scenery and amazing natural wonders. 

Lake bled, Slovenia from above
Lake Bled is the top tourist spot with good reason.

Arguably the most famous tourist hotspot there is Lake Bled which promises postcard-perfect views at every turn. Slovenia is also known to be immaculately clean, further heightening the natural beauty that sits all around. 

Levels of violent crime are low and political instability is not much of a concern. With a low rate of militarisation, it is an extremely safe destination. As such, it attracts lots of solo tourists as well as intrepid families!

Although in general, the risk of scams is low, reports do come in about taxi drivers charging overinflated fairs, especially from and to airports. If in doubt, refuse to ride and instead wait for a taxi with a meter. 

Slovenia hills
Slovenia is great destination for hikers!

Traveller Highlights in Slovenia:

  • Visit Lake Bled. Fresh mountain air, epic castles and clear waters await those that journey to Slovenia’s biggest attraction.
  • Explore Slovenia’s capital city. Ljubljana is full of character. When you’re there, visit the castle atop the hill, wander around the colourful streets and take your pick of the delicious local fare. 
  • See the Škocjan Caves. I know what you’re thinking, caves can get a bit samey, right? Not the Škocjan Caves! This UNESCO World Heritage Site needs to be seen to be believed!
  • Hike! Home to some of the most incredible scenery in the entire world, there is no shortage of incredible hiking trails all over Slovenia. Triglav National Park is an absolute must-visit for walkers. 
  • Rent a car and hit the road. Nothing beats the freedom of travelling on your own schedule and feeling the wind in your hair. 

7. Switzerland

  • Global Peace Index ranking: 10/163
  • Global Peace Index score: 1.339

Ranked the tenth safest country in the world, Switzerland benefits from a very low crime rate, with many towns reporting zero incidents of crime year on year! In the country’s larger population centres – Bern, Geneva, Zurich – there are some reports of petty theft or pickpocketing but even this is rare. 

Switzerland alps
The Swiss Alps are riddled with hiking trails!

Within pop culture, Switzerland is best known for its strict banking privacy laws – or Bella Swan’s pronouncement of her neutrality within the Twilight saga – but there are strict anti-laundering procedures in place, so dodgy dealings rarely make their way into the country. In fact, the Twilight reference is actually more accurate because Switzerland maintains a state of armed neutrality and hasn’t been properly involved in war since the early 1800s! 

Most risk in Switzerland comes from its mountainous terrain. Landslides, avalanches, adverse weather conditions and altitude sickness are the most common dangers, especially during winter ski seasons. Ensure you have adequate travel insurance if you’re visiting the Alps or Jura mountains at any time of the year.

Switzerland in winter
No matter when you visit, Switzerland has a lot to offer!

Traveller Highlights in Switzerland:

  • Lace-up your hiking boots. Switzerland is a hiker’s paradise. Whether it’s a big climb up the Matterhorn or the multi-day Tour du Mont Blanc, epic adventures await those who want them. There are plenty of shorter day hikes too, so it doesn’t matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find it! 
  • Eat fondue. Did you even visit Switzerland if you didn’t eat fondue?! This concoction of wine and melted cheese is served in a communal pot over a stove. Dip an assortment of bread and veggies into the cheese and enjoy!
  • Cycle. Switzerland is a haven for cyclists. Bikes can be rented for a low cost, or are sometimes free, from stations all over the country. Every city has communal bikes, as do many towns. Make the most of excellent cycle paths and routes for a cost-effective way to get around!
  • Do winter sports. Whether you’re an experienced skier/snowboarder or a total newbie, there are plenty of things to do in Switzerland in winter!
  • Take on Europe’s highest bungee jump. Located atop the Contra Dam (also known as the Verzasca Dam) this 220-metre bungee jump will earn you some serious bragging rights! The dam was featured in the Bond flick Golden Eye, so follow in Pierce Brosnan’s footsteps and jump from the dam yourself!

Safety In Europe FAQs

Which European country is safest to visit?

According to the Global Peace Index 2023, the safest country to visit in Europe and indeed the entire world is Iceland. Denmark and Ireland are the second and third safest countries in Europe. 

Is Europe safer than the USA?

Yes, statistically Europe is much safer than the USA. America sits at position 131 on the GPI. The only European countries lower than this are Turkey, Russia and Ukraine (and two of those are literally at war). 

Can I travel safely alone in Europe?

Yes, it’s safe to travel alone in Europe. As with anywhere in the world, you should exercise some caution and be aware of your surroundings. Some cities, like Barcelona, are known hunting grounds for pickpockets, so use some common sense when visiting. You should also avoid getting involved in any protests and behave sensibly at night. Avoid walking around alone while intoxicated and try to avoid sketchy-looking areas.

Is Europe safe for solo female travellers?

For solo female travellers, Europe is one of the safest destinations in the world. But, nowhere is truly safe. Practice normal levels of caution. Try to avoid walking around alone after dark in big cities and be careful when in bars or clubs. There are many schemes in Europe to protect women from harassment in public places but these are often not properly advertised or poorly implemented. 

What is the most dangerous country to visit in Europe?

Right now, the most dangerous country to visit in Europe is Russia, closely followed by Ukraine. Turkey is the third most dangerous country in Europe according to the 2023 Global Peace Index.

Discover more travel inspiration in our unique facts about Europe post!

What are your thoughts on this list of the safest countries in Europe? Is there anywhere else you’ve felt really safe when travelling that we’ve missed?

Sheree Hooker author bio pic
Sheree Hooker | Editor @ Europe Backpacker + Winging The World

Sheree is the awkward wanderluster behind Winging the World, a travel blog designed to show that even the most useless of us can travel. Follow Sheree’s adventures as she blunders around the globe, falling into squat toilets, getting into cars with machete men and running away from angry peacocks.

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Sheree is the awkward British wanderluster behind, a travel blog designed to show that even the most useless of us can travel. Follow Sheree’s adventures as she blunders around the globe, falling into squat toilets, getting into cars with machete men and running away from angry peacocks.

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