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These Are The Safest Countries To Visit In Europe For 2024

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Conflict seems to be erupting everywhere, from the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, to ethnic tensions in the Caucasus to Venezuela's call to annex neighboring Guyana; not even Europe has come out unscathed, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine is still ongoing.

The days of worrying about dangerous pathogens and wearing face coverings are behind us, but safety remains a huge concern for travelers going abroad, and despite once being deemed low-risk, ‘bastion of civilization' Europe may no longer be super safe as it once was.

Young beautiful pretty blonde tourist girl in warm hat and coat with backpack walking at cold autumn in Europe city enjoying her travel in Zurich Switzerland

Other than the bloodshed taking place, the continent has been shaken to its core lately by a string of terrorist threats and rising crime, and visitors are now wondering whether they should be exercising a greater degree of caution when visiting, and most pressingly, where.

Despair not: In this article, we have rounded up all of the safest European destinations for 2024, as well as the not-so-safe ones, so you can finally make better informed decisions:

How Are All These Countries Even Ranked?

European Union Flag Flying Against The European Parliament In Brussels, Belgium, European Union

In order to establish what are the safest countries in Europe, as well as the least safe, we looked at the State Department's classification of destinations based on risk levels and using the United Nations (UN) geoscheme for Europe, we listed them under four separate categories.

Those are Eastern Europe, Northern Europe, Southern Europe, and Western Europe.

It is worth noting these definitions may change depending on the geopolitical context, so in order to avoid controversy, we have opted for the widely accepted UN classification, which excludes at least one country that is geopolitically considered European, but it is located in Asia.

Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque In Famagusta, Northern Cyprus

After the distinction was made, we arranged them into three categories: low-risk countries, medium-risk countries, and high-risk countries, based on the State Department's classification.

The low-risk subsection corresponds to countries the State Department defines as Level 1, or as being safe for visiting, or in their own wording, tourists may exercise normal cautions.

At the medium-risk level, or Level 2, they are not yet discouraged from visiting, but due to different safety concerns, they must maintain a higher level of situational awareness.

Finally, high-risk countries equal Levels 3 and 4 on the State Department's list, ranging from places Americans must reconsider visiting due to crime, to unfriendly countries where their lives would be at risk.

We will start at Level 1.

Aerial View Of Cathedral Of Assumption In Varna, On The Black Sea Coast Of Bulgaria, Eastern Europe

The Low-Risk Countries

Eastern Europe

  • Bulgaria
  • Czechia
  • Hungary
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Slovakia

For decades now, Eastern Europe has had a reputation of being Europe's backwater province where crime and scamming is rampant, development is delayed compared to their Western counterparts, and the ghost of communism still hangs in the air.

Panoramic view above at Charles Bridge Prague Castle

Shockingly, there are as many countries listed as perfectly safe in Eastern Europe as there are in the West, signaling a clear shift in violence trends that can be attributed to a ‘catch-up' with their peers, especially in the last two decades.

Czechia is no longer struggling with rampant corruption as much as it was through their Moscow puppet state years. Bulgaria may be among the least developed European states, but it posts some of the lowest rates of crime, and even Romania has made great strides towards tackling drug and human trafficking.

All in all, tourists do not need to excessively worry about safety traveling across much of Eastern Europe, especially when all of the countries listed above belong in the European Union (EU), as well as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and are not directly affected by warfare.

View Of Bratislava, Capital Of Slovakia, Eastern Europe

Northern Europe

  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Norway

Comprising the Baltic Coast, the Scandinavia peninsula, and its associated Nordic states, Northern Europe has historically been perceived as safe and frequently feature among the happiest, best-developed, and least-corrupt zones in the world.

Borgund Stave Church In Vestland County, Norway, Scandinavia, Northern Europe

The State Department corroborates those perceptions, as nearly every sovereign state in Northern Europe, with the exception of two, has made it to the ‘Low-Risk' list:

Whether it's re-tracing the Iron Curtain route through Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, or country-hopping across the Nordics, tourists are not required to keep on constant high alert: all types of crime, from pickpocketing to violent acts, are either not that common or non-existent.

In Iceland, perhaps the safest of them all, mothers are free to leave their young children sleeping in pushchairs outside as they are certain they will be left undisturbed, and people rarely feel the need to lock their doors when going to sleep at night.

The northern lights seen above Reykjavik, Iceland

Southern Europe

  • Andorra
  • Croatia
  • Greece
  • Malta
  • Montenegro
  • North Macedonia
  • Portugal
  • Slovenia
*Southeastern EU member state Cyprus is missing from the main list as it is not classed by the UN as being part of the European geoscheme, due to being technically located in Asia. Regardless, Cyprus is considered by the State Department a Level 1 country.
Quaint Adriatic Village On The Shores Of The Adriatic Sea, Montenegro, South Eastern Europe, Balkan Peninsula

The Southern European low-risk list is quite extensive, and it includes both hugely popular tourist hotspots, like Croatia, Greece and Portugal, and other lesser-known states many travelers may have never been formally introduced to, such as Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Slovenia.

A majority of these countries form part, at least partially, of Europe's largely undiscovered Balkan Peninsula, with the exception of Andorra, Malta, and Portugal, which only goes to show it's often the least crowded destinations tourists feel the safest visiting.

Due to their smaller crowds, friendly locals, and cheaper prices, they have been quickly gaining ground against their Western rivals as tourists flock into the sunny, off-path Balkans to escape the hectic scenes seen across Italy and Spain.

Traditional Tram In Porto, Portugal, Southern Europe

Portugal is deserving of a nod as well, as crime in the Iberian nation has dropped continuously over the last seven years, and it ranks as the seventh most peaceful country worldwide.

Western Europe

  • Austria
  • Liechtenstein
  • Luxembourg
  • Switzerland

With only four Western European countries listed in this category, you may be surprised to learn the region is not as well-protected and ‘low-risk' as Eastern vs Western stereotypes would have you believe: in fact, nearly every major tourist destination expected to be seen here is missing.

Scenic Hallstatt Village In The Austrian Alps, Austria, Western Europe

France did not make the list, and neither did Germany or The Netherlands.

Still, Austria has managed to cling on to its Level 1 status after enacting strict border measures that have helped curb illegal migration, a factor linked to rising crime rates, and both Luxembourg and Switzerland do not seem to have been affected by their neighbors' violence upticks, either.

The Medium-Risk Countries

Eastern Europe

  • Moldova

Eastern Europe's only ‘medium-risk' destination, Moldova is a tiny country sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania that has long been torn between its aspiration to join the European Union and become part of a freer, fairer Europe and its complicated ties to a belligerent Russia.

Triumphal Arch In Chisinau, Capital Of Moldova, Eastern Europe

Still to this day, Russia-backed separatists control a part of Moldova known as Transnistria, and tensions between the widely-recognized Moldovan administration and the non-recognized state remain far from being resolved.

Following Russia's war on Ukraine, there has been additional tension in Moldova, where a large Russian minority lives and the Government has time and again expressed its concern that Russia could attempt an incursion into the territory.

This has not yet happened, and it seems unlikely that Russia has failed to bring Ukraine under control as planned, but tourists are still encouraged to be more cautious about visiting Moldova due to the unpredictability of the Transnistrian conflict.

Aerial View Of The Gates Of Chisinau, A Communist Era Landmark In Chisinau, Capital City Of Moldova, Eastern Europe

Northern Europe

  • Denmark
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom

Countries in Northern Europe featured on the Medium-Risk list are here mostly because of the increased terrorism threat they face, with Scandinavian state Sweden in particular being hit by an ‘epidemic-like' wave of extremism.

In September alone, as many as eleven people died as a result of shootings and bombings, making Sweden one of the riskiest countries not only in Northern Europe but all of the continent for violent attacks. They may be exceptional events, but they have regrettably become more common.

Panorama Of Gamla Stan, The Old Town Of Stockholm, Sweden, Scandinavia, Northern Europe

These are likely to have been accentuated following a series of Qur'an burnings in Stockholm that have irked Muslim-majority countries and jihadist organizations. With that being said, tourists are not urged to stay away from Sweden, as it retains its Level 2 status.

The same is true for Denmark and the United Kingdom, where terrorist groups have continued to plot attacks.

Luckily, all three have reinforced safety measures, and they are prepared for dealing with, and neutralizing threats when they present themselves.

A tourist woman in winter clothing enjoys the view to the beautiful Nyhavn area in Copenhagen, Denmark, during winter time

Southern Europe

  • Albania
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Holy See (Vatican)
  • Italy
  • San Marino
  • Serbia
  • Spain
*Kosovo is not listed above as it is not a UN member and thus does not feature on their geoscheme for Europe. Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008, and since then, it's struggled to gain international recognition. Civil unrest, crime, and terrorism are some of the main issues affecting the territory, which is also a Medium-Risk destination.
Tourist girl on summer vacation exploring the historic town of Berat in sunny Albania copy

Across Level 2 Southern Europe, both crime and terrorist attacks are a common concern, with non-EU states suffering from a lack of ability to protect and assist visitors in more remote regions, and failures in dismantling illicit drug networks, and more developed EU countries facing the challenges of illegal migration and extremism.

The non-EU group is largely made up of Balkan countries, including Albania and Serbia, where rates of urban crime are moderately higher, while the EU duo of Spain and Italy, and the latter's associated micro-states, San Marino and the Vatican, are often targeted by terrorist agents.

aerial view of Turin, italy

Like in Northern Europe, these are infrequent, but cannot be completely ruled out: in that case, you should keep being aware of your surroundings when out in public, particularly crowded areas, and familiarize yourself with the Red Cross' safety tips.

Western Europe

  • Belgium
  • France
  • Germany
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands

The Western European countries below have failed to make it to the Low-Risk list due to, again, the threat of terrorism and increased levels of crime.

The Eiffel Tower in the fall

In France, a teacher was brutally robbed of his life this year after a terrorist carried out an attack in a school, only weeks ahead of a second terror plot in Paris resulting in another death, and in Belgium, yet another radicalized individual was responsible for the murder of two German tourists following a shooting in central Brussels.

These are also countries that have been at the front of Europe's migration crisis, being popular destinations for hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants, a worrying trend that has led to ghettoization and a wide range of other urban issues.

Cityscape Of Brussels, Capital City Of Belgium, With The Landmark Tower Of Grand Place Rising High Above The Old Town

These have led France to tighten its immigration and criminal laws only this week in an attempt to stem such acts, and make it easier to expel foreigners who commit atrocities in French soil; the Netherlands is taking a tougher stance, too, following the election of a hardline right-leaning party that has promised to tackle crime.

Be that as it may, these destinations continue to be deemed medium-risk by U.S. authorities.

The High-Risk Ones

  • Belarus
  • Russia
  • Ukraine
Church Of The Savior On Spilled Blood In St Petersburg, Russia

There are only three high-risk countries in Europe currently, and they are all located in the Eastern section. Those are Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine, which are all involved in a months-long conflict resulting from Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Belarus is not officially participating in the war, but as it essentially functions as an extension of Russia, due to the State Union between both countries and their close cooperation, it has been equally identified as an aggressor.

Aerial View Of Minsk Belarus

For the duration of the conflict, tourists are strongly discouraged from visiting all three states involved, as Russia continues to amass troops near the Ukrainian border, in Belarus, and in occupied territories of Ukraine, as well as firing missiles against her.

As an American, visiting Russia or Belarus in particular is strongly discouraged, as U.S. citizens and other nationals hailing from ‘unfriendly countries' have been routinely victims of persecution, arbitrary imprisonments and abuse.

That is not the case in Ukraine, a pro-Western country that is in fact fighting to retain its independence from Russia.

Lviv, Ukraine, Eastern Europe

There are no high-risk countries in Northern, Southern, or Western Europe.

As you can see, a majority of countries in Europe are deemed either low or medium risk, with only three countries being placed at the highest risk level due to their involvement in the Russo-Ukrainian War.

There is no denying crime is rising, and Europe is sure to have challenging times ahead as it navigates the consequences of the latest war and other geopolitical developments, but this does not mean tourists should be overly worried about their safety while country-hopping around the Old Continent.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.