Many cities that beguile diverse populations and feature inspirational places of interest may also include danger. There’s no such thing as a violence-free, crime-free or disease-free city, although some are visibly more damaged than others.
It’s difficult to quantify hazard, particularly because someone’s plain nuisance can be another person’s worst nightmare. Do you feel safe in your hometown? Do you think others feel safe, too? There’s a wealth of notorious cities all around Europe with really bad crime rates. Famous for their sketchy streets, nasty neighborhoods and terrifying population with no morals whatsoever, these places are not your average travel destination, so you might want to stay away. Ethnic tension, war, terrorism, and rioting are key elements that help experts find Europe’s most infamous cities. Things have changed a lot over the years, and the cities that we once thought were safe, are now scarier than ever before. Some cities are irrefutably dangerous places to explore, while others don’t seem that frightening at the surface. In their case, the danger is hidden someplace underneath. In spite of everything, traveling to Europe’s most dangerous cities is not uncommon, and believe it or not, there are many avid voyageurs excited to throw themselves into the urban jungle and find out exactly what makes them so notorious.
Statistical analyses say that 30% of Sofia’s residents don’t feel safe and have never felt safe in the capital. Even though the crime rate dropped significantly in 2010, levels of theft and robbery are still high enough to scare travelers and locals alike. The organized crime aspect is Sofia’s most worrying aspect. A horrifying event happened in 2010, when a local radio host was killed in broad daylight. The man responsible for the assassination was a notorious Bulgarian gangster, who was arrested but released a few days later because nobody was willing to testify against him.
The incident turned into a huge scandal and Bulgaria’s interior minister was forced to state in public that Sofia has been under the influence of 300 Bulgarian gangsters for the past 20 years, and that most prosecutors must abide by their rules if they want to survive. The US Embassy in the capital released in 2009 a list with 140 contract murders that happened in Sofia between the years 1993 and 2008. However, nobody was convicted because there were no witnesses.
If that’s not scary enough, there’s rioting all around the city with Bulgarians violently attacking Roma gypsies.
Mitrovica is a city split between Albanians and Serbs. In March 2004, 19 people were murdered in a riot between ethnic Albanians and Serbs; the violent acts started in Mitrovica, the divided town and currently, one of the most dangerous in Europe.
Constantly overstocked with tension and apprehension between the two demographic groups, Mitrovica still has NATO peace troops wondering around the city, trying to calm down the spirits. In 2008, when Kosovo became independent, the Serbs in the city refused to accept the Albanian authorities; some didn’t want to adhere to the Kosovan rule either.
Even today, there are many incidents happening between the Serbs and the Albanians. In 2010, former prime-minister Ramush Haradinj was finally convicted of war crimes by the Hague War Crime Tribunal.
EU auditors still highlight that the mission of the EU police in Kosovo is inefficient, and that Kosovo itself will remain affected by corruption and organized crime for years to come.
Once hailed as Western Europe’s murder capital, Glasgow is still considered a dangerous city with high crime rates.
In 2004, knife crime was increasing at an incredible pace and Glasgow became UK’s most violent metropolises. By 2005, statistical data showed that it had as much violence as Rio de Janeiro, and in 2008, Glasgow had more violence per capita than the famous New York City.
New studies are still being performed, and even though the crime rate has dropped significantly, the Scottish city just doesn’t want to surrender its title of UK’s most perilous city to live in.
There were 2.7 murders per 100,000 people in the city back in 2012. Compared to London (which had 1.67 per 100,000), Glasgow remained on top.
As opposite to Western Europe’s murder capital, Glasgow, Marseilles doesn’t seem to be worth a spot on a list with dangerous cities. Nevertheless, as bizarre as it may appear, Marseilles is not just France’s 2nd largest metropolis but also one of the country’s most unsafe cities to reside in.
Affected by turf wars and organized crime, Marseilles was once ruled by a drug lord better known as Gremlin. Although he was killed in 2006, whenever his name is brought up, it is instantly linked to the French city.
Marseilles has struggled a lot with race issues, drugs and runway unemployment over the years. Random violent acts and petty crimes are the regular norm in the city; in 2012 alone, 50% of all murders in France happened in Marseilles. Famous for its notorious street gangs, Marseilles will soon have its own mosque (the city officials agreed to proceed with the construction of the Grand Mosque). This is a clear indicative that from a demographic point of view, the city has a growing Muslim population that might soon lead to the extermination of “the white race”.
Several reports are highlighting that Marseilles, one of France’s oldest cities, will soon become a major Islamic hub. Proportionally speaking, the city’s drug related murders is just as high as New York’s. Nearly 300 AK-47 weapons were seized by the French police in 2011 in an ongoing war against non-white drug mobs who invaded southern Marseilles.
The general appearance of the metropolis, the chaos, filth, criminality rate and degradation is hidden in the suburbs, where travelers can’t see or experience it.
Grozny was named Europe’s most damaged city on the planet in 2003. Heavily hit by war at the beginning of the last decade, Grozny has been exposed to endless bombings, missile attacks, and shelling over the years.
Between 1994 and 1996, official sources highlight that more than 20,000 people were assassinated in Grozny. In 1999, throughout the second Chechen war, another 5,000 people were killed. Although things are starting to shape up, Grozny is still a broken city; many people don’t have jobs or homes, so they’re forced to live on the streets.
Right now, the violence is hidden underground. The Russia Mafia is still a predominant power in the city, even though they’ve learned to maintain their identities concealed and away from the public eye. The fights ended “officially” in 2006, but the criminal and political murders still abound.
The city’s organized crime is uncontrolled, and out of 60,000 buildings destroyed, only about 1,000 were rebuilt. This means that there are still hundreds of thousands of people who live in abandoned houses with no running water or electricity.
After Georgia’s conflict with Russia in 2008, some parts of the country are best left alone. In Tbilisi, the violent acts and the public turbulences are consistently growing.
In May 2012, the police was forced to interfere and fight against political protestors and the riot ended with the death of 2 people; that was not even the most disturbing aspect of the whole incident. Believe it or not, the Georgian authorities denied having used any excessive force.
Over the years, there have been many explosions in the city suburbs, as well as a couple of bombing attempts.
The security issue has improved a lot ever since. Nonetheless, there’s still a considerable crime risk, and in some part of the city terrorism thrives.
Kiev has not yet been placed on any black list with dangerous cities; however, recent aggressive clashes that started in 2013 will most likely convince travelers to think of a different itinerary.
Due to ongoing violent acts between the Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists, people are advised to avoid the eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk at all costs. Many people have been detained, threatened or kidnapped in these areas, not to mention that both Ukrainians and Russians are fully armed to protest and fight for their territory.
Several collisions have involved the use of aircraft, armored vehicles, and additional military weaponry, including air missiles. In Lviv, Oleg Salo, the regional governor was forced by protesters to sign his resignation. Later on, he declared that he was compelled to resign and therefore was reinstated. The Ukrainian government is used to jailing, prosecuting and poisoning political opponents. That being said, rumor has it that in Kiev things might get worse.
Ukraine’s international agreements and alliances, trade pacts and corruption topics, are issues of public concern. Also, the population is trying to understand the country’s feelings and orientation toward to Putin’s Russia. From a cultural point of view, Kiev is an outstanding city with beautiful architecture and exquisite attractions. Unfortunately, Ukraine’s issues with Russia are stirring things up. People are protesting in the street; they’re creating alliances and destroying the public space.
If the two countries don’t reach common ground soon, a war could emerge and Kiev together with its other important cities and regions may suffer irreparable damage.
Known as the most dangerous city in Italy, even Napoli's locals consider it to be an unpleasant and violent place. The reasoning behind why there is so much danger in the city, is partially due to the social inequality that has politicians losing their minds, as well as a high unemployment rate of 11%, making it one of the poorest cities in Europe. The city has a very strong connection with organized crime, and even when soccer star Mario Balotelli came to the city to visit, his tour was given by a huge mafia boss. For travelers, it seems as though Napoli is a place that should be avoided at all costs, if possible. This is because thieves in Napoli are so persistent, that they will watch your every move until you are at your most vulnerable state, so it is also advised for travelers who do make the trip to watch their bags as closely as possible. Also, many of the crimes that are committed are usually done near the central train station Piazza Garibaldi, where travelers are passing through.
Because the local opinion of the city is not much different than that of past travelers', 21 percent of residents claim that they do not feel safe in the city, and more than 25% of them apparently should under no circumstances be trusted. In fact, a blogger who is a Native Neopolitan states that "99% of all Neapolitans are criminal scumbags who will roll you for your shoes. They are the vilest, lowest dreck on the face of the planet and to call them beasts insults beasts."
Istanbul is one of Europe's most dangerous cities, due to the amount of terrorism that has been affecting it over the years. Collectively, the country is dealing with the threats of many groups, including Al-Quaeda and Kurdish separatists. Examples of such terror include an incident in 2003, when a double truck bomb killed 57, and injured 700. Then, five years later, a bomb was detonated in a very crowded neighborhood, killing 16. However, in terms of street crime, there is of course a prominent presence of mugging and such, but it is no different from any other European city in that respect. Therefore, there are a few precautions that are generally advised to tourists traveling in the area. For example, always keep your bag as close to your body as possible. Also, during the day until about midnight, try to stay in Sultanahmet, Beyoglu (Pera), Taksim and European part of Bosphorus- all relatively safe parts of the city. Note that when crossing the street, just because you see a green light, doesn't mean that it's safe to cross. There is a great deal of observing before acting that must be done in order to ensure one's safety when traveling to Istanbul.
Brussels, although a beautiful and worth city to visit, is apparently the European hot spot for harassment. There is a large concentration of Muslim citizens alongside native Belgians, which means that it's inevitable for the two cultures to clash. Brussels is also widely known for its internal ethnic tensions, harassment of people who appear to belong to a specific ethnic group, as well as drunk violence.
Lone women are not advised to travel alone through Brussels, and are highly encouraged to be wary of harassment by men and large groups. There has been an increase in numbers of beatings and fights due to drunk violence, and that number is only growing, so caution should be especially exercised around bars. The residents in Brussels are definitely fond of a drink, so as long as you're aware of your surroundings, as well as the sobriety of those around you, you should be fine.