Large suspension bridge lit up blue against night skyPhoto by Eva Blue on Unsplash

SAFEST CITIES TO TRAVEL TO IN 2023

November 9, 2022

For the last three years we’ve created a list of the World’s Safest Cities for travel. Things have changed – significantly, and fast – but we’re back with another list, and some important newcomers to the top 15.

We’re going to unveil the list in little more than a paragraph, so if you’d prefer a slower reveal, click here to jump down the page. Otherwise, here we go.

From top to bottom the 15 safest cities are:

1. Reykjavik
2. Copenhagen
3. Montreal
4. Amsterdam
5. Seoul
6. Singapore
7. Tokyo
8. Berlin
9. London
10. Sydney
11. Barcelona
12. Honolulu
13. Rome
14. Dubai
15. Paris


Now, let’s talk a little about how we got there.

Woman walking in bike lane on busy city streetPhoto by Guilherme Stecanella on Unsplash


WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE WORLD’S SAFEST CITIES RESEARCH


Methodology
 

We started with readily available lists of the most popular international and domestic cities for travelers, culled from Expedia, American Express and other sources. That gave us a list of 29 cities for survey respondents to rank.

As part of the survey process we ask our survey respondents if they’ve actually visited any of these cities, and only travelers who have actually been to the cities are allowed to rank them on a variety of safety measures, using their first-hand knowledge as a yardstick.

To the survey ratings we added the most recent safe-cities index from The Economist, city ratings from GeoSure Global, and the Current Crime Index from Numbeo, and weighted everything to get a final result.

Caveat

These ratings look back to give a picture of what’s happening now. They can’t give you a safety rating into the future, but can be your safety compass when planning.

If you use this as a guide, understand how we got here, and pay attention to the headlines you should be fine.

Okay, let’s learn a little more about the safest cities for travelers.

Rows of colorful city buildingsPhoto by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


THE TOP 15 SAFEST CITIES IN THE WORLD


1. Reykjavik

Last Year’s Ranking: Not Ranked

Survey Score: 76.0

Overall Score: 76.6

Why It’s Ranked Highly

One of the best things about doing these rankings year after year is that we know how to spell “Reykjavik” now, because it’s been on our list two out of the last three years. And the fact that there’s so little variation between the survey score and the overall score tells you that all sources agree on Reykjavik’s safety (and its spelling).

What You Need To Watch Out For

Closing time. According to the State Department, Reykjavik can get a little rowdy when the bars close.

Boardwalk with brightly colored buildings and boatsPhoto by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash


2. Copenhagen

Last Year’s Ranking: Not Ranked

Survey Score: 71.6

Overall Score: 74.6

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Copenhagen is one of GeoSure’s top-rated cities for overall safety. It’s a beautiful, placid Scandinavian capital with a gorgeous harbor area and the timeless Tivoli amusement park.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Drugs. According to the State Department, “Freetown Christiania, located in the Christianshavn area of Copenhagen, is known for illicit drug activity. Drug enforcement efforts have resulted in clashes between the police and Christiania residents.”

City skyline reflecting violet and orange light into waterPhoto by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash


3. Montreal

Last Year’s Ranking: 1

Survey Score: 71.3

Overall Score: 73.7

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Less than a point separates Copenhagen and Montreal, which should give you an idea of Montreal’s relative safety. It’s one of The Economist’s top picks for safest cities, coming in just a tick behind … you guessed it: Copenhagen.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Firearms. You’re not allowed to bring firearms into Canada without the appropriate paperwork, including a Temporary Firearms Borrowing License. The Canadian Firearms Program website has the details.

Bikes parked on bridge over river in cityPhoto by Gaurav Jain on Unsplash


4. Amsterdam

Last Year’s Ranking: 2

Survey Score: 75.6

Overall Score: 73.2

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Survey respondents love Amsterdam. Who doesn’t? Numbeo, which gave Amsterdam the lowest score of any top-five city.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Bicyclists. Cyclists pedal around Amsterdam year-round, in all types of weather, and when the weather turns icy, as it often does in winter, cyclists are apt to skid out in front of cars without warning.

View over city with orange sunsetPhoto by Ping Onganankun on Unsplash


5. Seoul

Last Year’s Ranking: 15

Survey Score: 70.0

Overall Score: 69.4

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Survey respondents liked Seoul much better than they did in 2022, when the city only mustered a survey score of 55 from respondents.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Demonstrations. According to the State Department, demonstrations are frequent in Seoul and can sometimes turn violent. The Halloween 2022 stampede is an example of what can happen when crowds get out of hand in Seoul.

Subscribing to the STEP program can help you be informed of protests, so you can head the other way.

Lion statue spitting water into riverPhoto by Jinsun Han on Unsplash


6. Singapore

Last Year’s Ranking: 4

Survey Score: 62.7

Overall Score: 68.6

Why It’s Ranked Highly

High scores from GeoSure, Numbeo, and The Economist. Outside sources think more highly of Singapore’s safety than American travelers.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Crimes that aren’t crimes elsewhere. Jaywalking, littering, and spitting are all arrestable crimes in Singapore. Justice is fast and sometimes harsh – and caning is still a form of punishment.

Lit up city street in TokyoPhoto by Jezael Mengoza on Unsplash


7. Tokyo

Last Year’s Ranking: 3

Survey Score: 61.6

Overall Score: 68.3

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Just like Japan in our Safest Countries ratings, Tokyo receives low scores from American travelers for some reason, but significantly higher scores from other sources.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Driving under the influence. According to the State Department, “The blood-alcohol limit in Japan is 0.03%. Punishments can be up to $10,000 in fines and up to five years in prison.”

Large metal ball in BerlinPhoto by Tiago Aleixo on Unsplash


8. Berlin

Last Year’s Ranking: 9

Survey Score: 65.5

Overall Score: 67.1

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Once again, Numbeo does not show Berlin any love, ranking it below Ankara, Moscow, and Bangkok. Everyone else thinks it’s safe, however.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Drunken skinheads, according to the State Department. If they’re going to attack anyone, it’s going to be people perceived as Americans, late at night on dark streets. Protect yourself by sticking to main streets and not traveling alone, especially at night.

Big Ben under dark skyPhoto by Lucas Davies on Unsplash


9. London

Last Year’s Ranking: 6

Survey Score: 67.7

Overall Score: 67.045

Why It’s Ranked Highly

There seems to be numerical consensus on London’s safety, but that’s misleading. Numbeo says it’s less safe than Algiers or Medellin. GeoSure says it’s quite safe, however.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Traffic – and looking both ways before crossing a street. Americans tend to look the wrong way before crossing, and British drivers don’t always stop for pedestrians.

Harbor in Sydney next to Sydney Opera HousePhoto by Dan Freeman on Unsplash


10. Sydney

Last Year’s Ranking: Not Ranked

Survey Score: 61.1

Overall Score: 67.03

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Talk about close: One one-hundredth of a point separated London and Sydney. As for the latter, there’s consensus on the city’s safety from all sources – and why not? Sydney has a well-earned reputation for being as safe as it is beautiful.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Nothing, really.

View over BarcelonaPhoto by Dmitri Anikin on Unsplash


11. Barcelona

Last Year’s Ranking: 7

Survey Score: 65.0

Overall Score: 66.6

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Numbeo says Barcelona is about as safe as Dublin, which sounds right until you see that both cities are ranked below Kharkiv, Ukraine. That’s when you realize the Numbeo index measures crime specifically, not overall safety.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Drinking in the street. Per the State Department, “Most cities in Spain have banned the consumption of alcohol in the street, other than in registered street cafes and bars. You could be arrested or fined if you break the law.”

Coast of HonoluluPhoto by Aussie Active on Unsplash


12. Honolulu

Last Year’s Ranking: Not Ranked

Survey Score: 74.7

Overall Score: 66.3

Why It’s Ranked Highly

This former No. 1 safest city finished less than a point outside of the top 10.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Water safety. Rip currents are not unknown off of Waikiki Beach, and can sweep a swimmer under and out to sea. Read our post on safe travel in Hawaii for more.

Statues on side of building in RomePhoto by Carlos Ibanez on Unsplash


13. Rome

Last Year’s Ranking: 10

Survey Score: 68.2

Overall Score: 65.3

Why It’s Ranked Highly

American travelers think it’s a top-three destination for travel safety. Other measures aren’t as enthusiastic.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Motor scooters. They’re everywhere in Rome, and their drivers can have a casual interpretation of the country’s driving laws.

Skyscrapers of DubaiPhoto by David Rodrigo on Unsplash


14. Dubai

Last Year’s Ranking: 16

Survey Score: 64.0

Overall Score: 65.0

Why It’s Ranked Highly

A reversal: Numbeo thinks it's very safe (in the sense of having little crime); GeoSure disagrees (because of low safety marks for women and LGBTQ travelers).

What You Need To Watch Out For

Alcohol consumption outside of designated areas. Dubai follows Sharia law and there is little tolerance for public drunkenness and other acts outlined in our post on safe travel to Dubai.

Above paris and the Arc de TriomphePhoto by Rodrigo Kugnharski on Unsplash


15. Paris

Last Year’s Ranking: 13

Survey Score: 66.6

Overall Score: 64.7

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Another instance where a low Numbeo score is washed out by high scores from everywhere else – especially GeoSure, which gives it high marks for LGBTQ safety.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Pickpockets. According to the State Department, “Visitors to congested and popular tourist areas (e.g., museums, monuments, train stations, airports, and subways) should be particularly attentive to their surroundings.”

Busy city intersectionPhoto by Miltiadis Fragkidis on Unsplash


TRAVEL SAFETY HAS MULTIPLE DIMENSIONS

Because we had people who had actually visited specific cities doing the rating this year, we felt comfortable asking them about multiple aspects of travel safety, including safety from crime, terrorism, and disease, and safety for vulnerable groups such as travelers of color and LGBTQ+ travelers.

We used an average of the eight sub-category scores for the Safest Cities calculation employed above. Here are the top-10 lists for the sub-categories.

Violent Crime Safety

1. Reykjavik
2. Honolulu
3. Amsterdam
4. Montreal
5. Seoul
6. Copenhagen
7. Rome
8. San Juan
9. London
10. Paris

Reykjavik and Honolulu are as far apart as you can get climate-wise, but they’re kin when it comes to safety from violent crime. (Also: San Juan?)

Terrorism Safety

1. Amsterdam
2. Honolulu
3. Copenhagen
4. Reykjavik
5. Montreal
6. Seoul
7. Las Vegas
8. Miami
9. Rome
10. Punta Cana

Punta Cana may seem like an unusual city to make this top 10, but when was the last time it had terrorist activity?

Transportation Safety

1. Amsterdam
2. Reykjavik
3. Honolulu
4. Rome
5. Montreal
6. Berlin
7. Copenhagen
8. London
9. Seoul
10. Miami

Amsterdam and Reykjavik are known for being bike- and pedestrian-friendly, so no surprises there. But have any of our survey respondents ever driven in Miami?

Sunset over Vegas stripPhoto by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash


Health Measures

1. Barcelona
2. Amsterdam
3. Seoul
4. Copenhagen
5. Reykjavik
6. Honolulu
7. Montreal
8. London
9. Tokyo
10. Punta Cana

European and Asian destinations predominate – and there’s Punta Cana again.

Women/LGBTQ/POC Safety

1. Amsterdam
2. Reykjavik
3. Honolulu
4. Copenhagen
5. Montreal
6. Seoul
7. Paris
8. Miami
9. Las Vegas
10. Rome

No surprises here, just a bunch of European destinations plus some LGBTQ-friendly North American destinations.

Old European street carPhoto by Alex Wolo on Unsplash


RANKINGS BY AGE, GENDER, AND INCOME

Like past years, survey respondents had wildly different perceptions of the world’s safest countries depending on their age, gender, and income. After we broke apart the responses, here are some of the categories with the biggest deviation from the overall scores:

Millennial Survey Respondents (ages 25-44)

1. Honolulu
2. Reykjavik
3. Miami
4. Seoul
5. Amsterdam
6. Rome
7. London
8. Berlin
9. Sydney
10. Dubai

Last year Millennials eschewed domestic destinations in favor of international ones; this year there’s lots of Millennial love for Miami and Honolulu. A lot can change in a year.

Respondents With A Household Income Of More Than $100,000

1. Seoul
2. Amsterdam
3. Honolulu
4. London
5. Reykjavik
6. Paris
7. Berlin
8. Copenhagen
9. Las Vegas
10. New York

Higher-income travelers love Europe, like Vegas and Honolulu, but give the top spot to the South Korean capital.

Large city boat dockPhoto by Eugene Alkimov on Unsplash


Female Survey Respondents

1. Tokyo
2. Montreal
3. Amsterdam
4. Singapore
5. Sydney
6. San Juan
7. Rome
8. Seoul
9. Paris
10. Bangkok

San Juan and Seoul? Women definitely have a different idea of what constitutes a safe city.

Male Survey Respondents

1. Montreal
2. Amsterdam
3. Rome
4. Singapore
5. Las Vegas
6. London
7. Paris
8. Tokyo
9. Sydney
10. Miami

The usual suspects, more or less.

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