As travelers, expatriates, and global citizens, safety is paramount when choosing our next destination. Whether you’re planning a leisurely vacation, a business trip, or an international move to Europe, understanding the safety landscape of your chosen European country is crucial.
In this detailed guide, we’ll examine the safest country in Europe for 2023, while also considering other noteworthy candidates for the safest countries in Europe, as determined by the Global Peace Index (GPI). We’ll explore the factors that contribute to their security, provide insights into the current safety conditions, and offer valuable tips to ensure your travels or relocation are not only memorable but also worry-free.
Why prioritizing safety matters?
Whether you plan to take a trip to tourist areas or seek the safest European countries to live in for retiring abroad, there’s typically a list of essential criteria a country must fulfill. We all have a general idea of the criteria – natural beauty and incredible scenery, good weather, outdoor activities, well-developed infrastructure, rich cultural heritage, etc.
All of the above elements matter, but prioritizing factors like ease of doing business, investment opportunities, and a friendly tax system can make a difference for those moving abroad.
Yet, there’s a singular element that outweighs all others: safety. Regardless of a country’s level of development, abundant national parks, rich culture, or status as a tax haven, it would remain unattractive if most tourists and residents lacked a sense of security.
First and foremost, safety ensures the well-being and security of oneself and loved ones, providing peace of mind and enabling the exploration of a new environment with confidence. A safe environment is conducive to personal and professional growth, allowing you to thrive without worrying about potential hazards like petty crime or political instability.
Moreover, safety encourages positive interactions with the local community, promoting a sense of belonging and cultural integration for tourists and new residents. Furthermore, prioritizing safety enhances the overall quality of life in a new country, enabling you to make the most of your experiences and opportunities, free from unnecessary risks and concerns.
Croatia, located in Central Europe, is renowned for its stunning islands, pristine waterfalls, and well-preserved ancient Roman ruins and architecture. This picturesque setting was a prominent backdrop for Game of Thrones, the award-winning TV series.
With neighboring countries like Bosnia, Slovenia, and Italy, Croatia has made a mark in the European framework by being ranked the tenth safest country in Europe. To begin, a study conducted by Adventourely revealed that Croatia received the highest ranking for perceived safety when walking alone at night. This is particularly significant, considering that most individuals tend to feel most vulnerable at night.
Furthermore, the Central European country takes pride in its remarkable political harmony, boasting a record of low political unrest and internal conflicts.
Scandinavian countries have a strong reputation for being safe countries with the lowest crime rates and great social welfare systems, but even among Scandinavian countries, Finland stands out. Finland’s education system is amongst the world’s finest and is free at all levels.
The exceptional social welfare system, close-knit communities, and high living standards have consistently propelled it to achieve the highest happiness levels worldwide, year after year.
Additionally, Finland offers a secure environment as one of the safest European countries for solo female travelers, claiming the second position on the 2022 Women Peace and Security Index. For women venturing to witness the northern lights, this provides significant comfort and peace of mind regarding their personal safety.
The nation ranks within the top twenty countries in the Global Peace Index, Human Development Index, and Safety Perception Index, further underscoring its commitment to safety and well-being. Additionally, the Lahti region earned the prestigious title of Green Capital of Europe in 2021.
8. Czech Republic
Although experiencing a slight dip of five positions in the 2023 Global Peace Index rankings, this peaceful country maintains a superior position in overall safety and peacefulness compared to European countries like Germany and the United Kingdom, as well as the US.
What sets it apart as one of the world’s safest countries are its very low crime rate, consistent political stability, commitment to freedom of speech, secure and reliable public transportation, unwavering commitment to human rights, and nearly non-existent tensions between economic classes.
In addition to being a safe destination, the Czech Republic boasts a rich tapestry of cultural experiences, with well-preserved historic sites, including ancient castles. Furthermore, it is positioned among the nations least susceptible to natural disasters, as per the 2022 World Risk Report.
An obvious candidate for one of the safest European countries, Switzerland is famous worldwide for all the right reasons. Switzerland stands as one of the world’s oldest, politically stable, and economically prosperous nations. With its stellar banking and privacy laws, Switzerland has remained the favored choice for investors, entrepreneurs, and high-net-worth individuals. As one of the safest countries for banking, it has several entries in the top 10 safest banks in Europe.
The enduring policy of neutrality has played a pivotal role in maintaining Switzerland’s safety, stability, and distance from violence. The Swiss have long experienced a peaceful environment, free from the threat of war or turmoil.
It’s also worth noting that while Switzerland boasts low crime rates and some of safest cities in Europe, it has one of the highest gun ownership rates worldwide, which is a testament to the country’s effective governance
Slovenia asserts itself as one of the safest countries in Europe and globally, excelling in all three critical aspects – security, medical safety, and road security. Amidst an EU continent teeming with diverse cultures, world-class ski resorts, and a plethora of city breaks, it’s easy to overlook the smaller, less-explored, yet arguably more picturesque gems like Slovenia.
While the country has a rugged terrain, it’s extremely safe for visitors of all demographics. In 2016, Ljubljana, the capital city, earned the title of Green Capital of Europe, owing to its car-free city center, abundant green spaces, and the implementation of traffic regulations to enhance sustainability and environmental well-being.
If you’ve followed along until now, you may have noticed a trend between safety and countries with a colder climate; however, that’s not the case, and Portugal is a testament to that. The country ranks sixth among European countries on the Global Peace Index.
Its safety was largely attributed to its very low crime rate and political neutrality. As a great destination for tourism and one of the safest European countries for tourists, the country attracts many tourists worldwide.
In addition to being one of the safest countries in Europe, it’s one of the friendliest in the world toward foreign nationals, making it one of the safest European countries to study abroad. The Portuguese government has welcomed thousands of foreign nationals through the Portugal Golden Visa program.
Furthermore, its friendliness toward foreigners extends to taxes. While the country doesn’t boast low tax rates, it provides appealing tax advantages to foreign residents and Golden Visa holders through the Portugal NHR Tax regime. This allows foreigners to enjoy life in one of the safest countries in Europe while reducing their tax burden.
Check out this article for more information on the Portugal Golden Visa: Portugal Golden Visa: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide.
The landlocked country of Austria has a very profound reason for why it’s among the safest countries in Europe. The 1955 Austrian State Treaty, also known as the Austrian Independence Treaty, was crucial in establishing Austria as a safe country.
This treaty marked the end of the Allied occupation of Austria and its transition to full sovereignty. It ensured that Austria remained a permanently neutral country, meaning it would not partake in military alliances or join conflicts.
This neutrality clause from the treaty has had profound implications for Austria’s safety. By not aligning with any military blocs or engaging in military conflicts, Austria avoids the security risks associated with involvement in international disputes. This has contributed significantly to Austria’s reputation as a secure and peaceful country and one of the safest in Europe.
Year after year, Ireland draws millions of entrepreneurs, investors, international students, and tourists enticed by its stunning landscapes, rich culture, hospitable citizens, business-savvy atmosphere, quality education, and workforce known for its expertise.
Ireland epitomizes a global standard of excellence. It holds the remarkable distinction of being ranked third in the Global Peace Index, affirming its status as one of the most peaceful countries on Earth. Furthermore, the country is eighth on the UN’s Human Development Index.
The nation is also one of the safest European countries to visit in 2023, ranking among the top twenty on the Women Peace and Security Index. And many foreigners praise it for being the safest country in Europe for international students.
Besides being a beautiful country, Ireland has always been a very safe country and super-friendly to visitors and foreign residents. Ireland is highlighted as a favored destination for foreigners due to its exceptional safety standards. Moreover, its historical connection to the United States makes it one of the safest European countries for American tourists, and Ireland’s friendly atmosphere is exemplified by one of the lowest corporate tax rates in Europe
Scandinavian nations have consistently led rankings as not just the safest countries in Europe but worldwide. Across various metrics like quality of life, education, healthcare, safety, and overall happiness, Scandinavian countries consistently secure the top ten positions.
The Global Peace Index ranks Denmark as the second safest country in the world, and the Women Peace and Security Index places it in fourth position due to its low crime rates, highly satisfied population, and extremely low danger rating.
It also ranks within the top twenty in the Safety Perception Index, signifying that citizens and residents feel secure in five key domains: Health, violence, workplace, personal security, and environment.
The globally revered capital of Denmark, Copenhagen, is distinguished by its medieval castles, the iconic Little Mermaid Statue, and an undeniable allure. The city is extremely safe, being amongst the safest cities in Europe, and was ranked eighth in the world’s safest city study by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Safe Cities Index (SCI).
Since 2008, Iceland, a Nordic island nation, has held the highest position in the Global Peace Index. It is recognized as one of the world’s happiest, safest countries and where citizens feel the most content. Iceland sets itself apart as the sole member of NATO without a standing army, navy, or air force. The nation’s low crime rates and minimal corruption underscore its robust economic and political stability.
By securing third position on the latest Women, Peace, and Security Index, Iceland is also one of the safest places to travel as a woman.
Community bonds run deep in Iceland, with an impressive 98 percent of Icelanders reporting that they have a dependable support system in times of need. The close-knit community characteristic of island nations like this is a major advantage. Petty crime rates and registered criminal offenses are low because, in such closely-knit communities, the bonds between individuals are strong, allowing for collective action during challenging times.
This nation boasts a high level of development and holds a prestigious position as the third-ranked country on the UN’s Human Development Index. Additionally, it holds the impressive title of being the third happiest nation in the world, as per the World Happiness Report.
Taking into account metrics such as human development, happiness, healthcare, education, and law and order, Iceland emerges as a valid choice for the safest country in Europe.
Is safety the primary concern?
Priority should always be given to safety, but it’s not the only aspect to consider when choosing a destination. Regardless of the duration of your visit, ensuring a safe environment is crucial. However, the safest destinations must provide additional advantages beyond security.
At Global Citizen Solutions, we believe in a comprehensive approach. For a country to earn our endorsement, it must not only be safe but tax-friendly and conducive for businesses and investors.
Many countries on this list boast remarkable safety records while also imposing high tax rates. If you’re a tourist, this might not be a significant concern. However, as an expat or investor seeking a second residence, low taxes should be one of your main priorities.
Want a comprehensive approach to identifying your ideal location abroad? Contact us today for a free consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Safest Countries in Europe
What city in Europe has the lowest crime rate?
As to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Safe Cities Index (SCI), Amsterdam was ranked as the safest city in Europe.
Which is safer, Europe or the USA?
The safety of Europe versus the USA is subjective and depends on various factors, including the specific countries or regions being compared, individual experiences, and the metrics used to measure safety. Generally, both Europe and the USA have regions that are considered safe, while others may have higher crime rates.
It’s essential to research and consider specific locations within each region before making any conclusions about their overall safety.
What is the most stable European country?
The stability of European countries can be assessed in various ways, including political stability, economic stability, and social stability. According to the 2022 Worldwide Governance Indicators by the World Bank, Denmark was ranked as the most stable country in Europe and considered one of the best countries in the world to live.
What is the most Muslim-friendly country in Europe?
According to the 2022 Mastercard-Crescent Rating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI), the UK was voted one of the safest European countries for Muslims. This can be attributed to the UK’s commitment to diversity, multiculturalism, and religious freedom. The country has a well-established framework for protecting the rights of religious minorities, including Muslims.
What are the deadliest and safest countries?
As determined by the Global Peace Index, Iceland ranked as the safest country in Europe. Iceland, Denmark, and Ireland ranked as the three safest countries in the world. In contrast, the index ranked Afghanistan as the world’s most dangerous country, with Yemen and Syria second and third from bottom. Turkey, Ukraine, and Belarus ranked highly as unsafe countries in Europe.