The world's safest cities for travellers

You could say there are a lot of truly great things about Barcelona, but safety for travellers probably isn't one of them. This is a place that's a pickpocket's paradise, where you have to take a few precautions and stay out of certain areas to ensure you hang on to all of your valuables.

And yet Barcelona is apparently safe. In the Economist Intelligence Report that was released earlier this year, the Catalan capital was ranked the 15th safest city in the world, due to an increased police presence and reduction in crime. Still, it's not exactly what you'd call safe for unsuspecting travellers.

It's clear that, despite the official statistics, there are certain cities in the world that feel dodgy, and some in which you'll feel immediately comfortable and secure as a first-time visitor. Barcelona probably isn't one of them. But these are.

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo rates highly on anyone's scale – in fact outside of the occasionally seedy district of Roppongi, this is an incredibly safe city where you don't for a single second ever feel like you're in any danger. The locals are polite, friendly and respectful. I've seen group of girls leave their handbags on chairs in busy city streets while they go inside a restaurant to order, never for a second thinking that someone could steal them. It's that kind of city, perfect for anyone worried about their safety.

Zurich, Switzerland

Edgy: that's a word you wouldn't use to describe Zurich. Maybe "clean", or "well organised", or "safe". Because it is most definitely all of those things. There's nothing much that's going to happen to you in Zurich, besides some sort of freak accident involving a tram. You won't get robbed, because everyone in the city has far more money than you and couldn't be bothered with the trouble of it all. You might get lost. That's about as bad as it gets.

Singapore

This city-state has an incredibly low crime rate, and was number one in terms of personal safety on the Economist list. As a traveller, you never feel like you're in any danger in Singapore, whether that's going out at night in Chinatown or wandering the hawker centres throughout the city by day. Just don't be the one to try to change Singapore's good reputation: punishments for crime are notoriously harsh.

Stockholm, Sweden

"Stockholm just feels a bit dodgy," said no one ever. That's because the Swedish capital is one of those Scandinavian utopias of clean, safe streets and polite, if not overly friendly locals. Even in Sodermalm, which is about the edgiest area of Stockholm, you won't feel unsafe walking around at night. Anywhere, any time – travellers will feel comfortable in the Swedish capital.

Berlin, Germany

Berlin is not a city that often ranks highly on lists of safety, because it does have its problems. There's inequality in Berlin; it's not the pristine paradise that some of its Scandinavian neighbours appear to be. However, for travellers, Berlin still feels extremely safe, and I've included it here because it's such a great city to visit, and can very easily be done without any hassles. Petty crime is rare, and if you avoid wandering around certain areas on your own at night, you're unlikely to run into much trouble.

Montreal, Canada

Canada on the whole is a beautifully safe, peaceful country to travel in, and one of its safest cities would have to be Montreal. This is a place of more than 4 million people, and you never feel like any is out to harm you. Canadians are just that friendly. Compared to cities of similar size further south in the US, Montreal is a haven for travellers who just want some peace of mind.

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Las Vegas, USA

I know, this is an odd one. While huge efforts are being made to revamp the downtown area of Vegas, there are still a few blocks here and there where you'll be subconsciously holding onto your wallet. But the truth is that very few tourists ever make it downtown: the vast majority spend their time on the Strip, which is like Adult Disneyland, where everything is clean and safe, and everyone's having a good time.

Wellington, New Zealand

Our neighbours across the ditch know how to do personal safety. In all of the time I've spent in NZ, about the scariest thing that's ever happened was going bungy jumping, and I've only got myself to blame for that. The country's capital, Wellington, still feels like the sort of place where everyone knows each other, and as a traveller it's very unlikely that you'll find yourself in any sort of trouble there. Unless you run around bad-mouthing Richie McCaw, in which case you can take your chances.

What do you think are the safest cities in the world for travellers?

Email: b.groundwater@fairfaxmedia.com.au

Instagram: instagram.com/bengroundwater

See also:

The world's safest city revealed

Ten travel experiences you should never stop doing

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