close-up of a woman wearing a shirt with a rainbow on it carrying a backpack

Is Backpacking in Europe Safe?

If you’re planning on a backpacking tour in Europe, one question that’s probably crossed your mind is, “is it safe?” It’s a reasonable question that nearly everyone considers before packing their bags and leaving for an adventure. But at the end of the day, you need a straight answer: is backpacking in Europe safe, or not?

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t that simple. There are dozens of factors that influence the safety of one’s trip through Europe, from where you stay to how you travel. Determining safety is entirely dependant on how you plan on traveling. Thankfully, with the right knowledge, tips, and resources, backpacking through Europe can be extremely safe and fulfilling.

close-up of a woman wearing a shirt with a rainbow on it carrying a backpack
Before you set out on a backpacking adventure, take a few steps to protect yourself | © rawpixel/Unsplash

Before you leave for your trip abroad, consider these tips and tricks to make sure your European backpacking expedition is a safe one.

Travel to: Europe

Safety tips for backpacking in Europe

Don’t hitchhike

Hitching through Europe has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially as the millennial generation begins to travel. It’s affordable, relatively easy, and a way to meet new people. That being said, it puts you at serious risk. You have no idea who is driving you, or what their intentions are. And while kidnappings are somewhat rare, most people would consider hitchhiking an unnecessary risk.

Read reviews

As you travel, you’re probably going to end up in dozens of hostels, bed and breakfasts, or Airbnbs. But before you book, make sure you take the time to read the reviews. If a fellow traveller has had a negative experience or felt unsafe, you can bet they’re going to post about it in the comments. Reading these reviews can help you avoid staying somewhere that might put you in a risky situation.

A narrow street with a mountain in the background in Norway
Will your backpacking adventure take you to Norway? | © Lucija Ros/Unsplash

Check travel advisories

Most countries have a government-run travel advice and advisory resource that helps travelers make informed decisions about where and when they travel. This can be an incredibly helpful resource, highlighting local laws and culture, safety considerations, areas to avoid, and much more. Before and as you travel, you should be checking these sites to make sure your plans are still safe.

Keep important items close

Pickpockets and thieves have unbelievable methods of making your belongings their belongings. Airports, shopping centres, iconic landmarks, restaurants, and high-traffic areas in general are all targeted areas. Because it’s hard to avoid these places, you’ll need to keep your things safe. Money, passports, and important documents should all be kept as close to you as possible. Never put them in backpack pockets, suitcases, or pockets. The best place for them is in a money belt that’s under all of your clothes.

Travel with a tour company

If you’re set on traveling around Europe but want to keep safety as a top priority, consider travelling with a tour company. With professional guides, safe transportation, and well thought-out itineraries, you can rest easy knowing you’re being taken care of from the day you start to the day you finish. Hotels, tour sites, transportation, meals – it’s all taken care of. If you have safety concerns, your guides are with you every step of the way, meaning you can focus on traveling worry-free.

a row of multicoloured houses on a canal in Denmark
Colourful houses in Denmark | © Max Adulyanukosol/Unsplash

Safest countries in Europe

As mentioned earlier, European countries are for the most part safe. However, there are always countries that consistently rank favourably on the Global Peace Index, making them some of the best destinations for travellers looking to backpack through Europe without worry about their safety.

  • Iceland – Iceland consistently ranks as the safest country in the world. Thanks to its high levels of education, strict regulations on drugs and alcohol, and extremely small population size, the country experiences some of the lowest crime rates worldwide. So if you’re looking for somewhere safe and beautiful to go, Iceland is your go-to.
  • Denmark – For the most part, all Scandinavian countries are extremely safe, but Denmark is always at the top of the list. This colourfully-charming country is filled with half-timber houses, brightly painted storefronts, and medieval cobblestoned streets seemingly everywhere you go. Filled with beauty and history, this country is perfectly safe for every traveller.
  • Switzerland – If you’re into snow-covered mountains, delicious chocolates, and amazing hiking trails, Switzerland is for you. Known for its extremely friendly locals, dislike of conflict, and world-famous landmarks such as the Matterhorn, this is one country you can tour through nearly completely carefree – so pay it a visit and don’t worry one bit.
  • Norway – Yet another Scandinavian country on the list, Norway isn’t far behind Denmark and Iceland on the global list of safest countries. If you’re a nature traveller, Norway is known for its beautiful fjords, insane hiking trails, and glaciers that will make you feel like you’re at the North Pole. Plus, if you travel with the right attitude, you can really achieve that Viking feel.
  • Czech Republic – What many travellers consider to be a greatly-underrated European destination, the Czech Republic is a triple threat –  beautiful, historic, and safe. Home to a number of ornate castles, native craft beers, and beautifully preserved medieval cities, the Czech Republic is rising in popularity, thanks to it’s brag-worthy portfolio of security and beautiful destinations.
an arial shot of Reykjavik, Iceland
Iceland is recognized as the safest country in the world | © Tim Wright/Unsplash

When backpacking in Europe, know that for the most part, you are safe. There are very few places that put you at serious risk and as long as you do your due diligence and practise safe travel tips, you will be fine. That being said, remember that if you are really worried about traveling through Europe, you can always opt to join a tour group to give yourself peace of mind.

Do you have any tips for backpackers in Europe? Let us know in the comments!

Jesse is a blogger and content creator who loves travel, the outdoors, and her dog, Molly. When she isn't planning her next trip, she can be found watching Netflix documentaries, enjoying time by the water, or eating soft-serve ice cream. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, or check out her blog.

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