Traveling around the world can be the most amazing experience for any tourist, but it is also crucial to know exactly where you are traveling to and if that is a safe place for you – whether you’re traveling alone or in a group or with family. There are some very dangerous places so taking your time and doing the research before you decided to book that ticket as well as having a healthy knowledge about the area you are planning to visit along with know-how of the community is very important to be assured that not only will your trip be an enjoyable memorable experience but also a safe one as well.
In this list we look at 25 of the most dangerous cities in the world and why it’s best to consider avoid them when booking your dream vacation.
Table of Contents
1. Los Cabos, Mexico
Marketed as the paradise of Mexico, Los Cabos is actually the world’s most dangerous city on the list according to WorldAtlas as well as by the Citizens’ Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice report. Between 2016 and 2019 the murder rate in this city has increased with a hair raising 500% which serves as a tragic and worrisome oxymoron as the city is as regarded as the most popular tourist attraction located in all of Mexico because of the sheer beauty of the location and its stunning landscapes.
Tourists are constantly being targeted by both low and high level criminals which in most cases escalate into extremely violent situations that lead to very dangerous and violent crimes. Which makes it understandable that this city is number one on our list as the levels of violent crimes just continues to climb as the years go by which is why tourists are – out of all of the cities mentioned on this list – very strongly advised not to travel there under any circumstances.
2. Caracas, Venezuela
When taking into account the extreme downfall of the economic infrastructure in Venezuela itself, it becomes more clear why this entire area sound be a “red zone” for any and all tourists. The city of Caracas has become one of the most volatile and dangerous cities due to its very high political problems that plague the city. According to WorldNoMads, foreign tourists are prime targets for criminals of the city as low and high level crime has climbed to an all-time high stating that the possibility of being kidnapped from your hotel is almost as large as when traveling through the streets and neighbourhoods.
They state that: “Even popular tourist attractions, such as the Avila National Park, are increasingly associated with violent crime. The poor neighbourhoods, barrios (read slums) that cover the hills around Caracas are extremely dangerous. These are seldom patrolled by police and should be avoided”. Another cause for extreme concern is the rising of a crime named “express kidnapping” which is described as short-term abductions done by criminals with the aim of stealing from their victims and releasing them after a short period. However, with the increase in reported homicides some of those victims never see the light of day again.
3. Acapulco, Mexico
The Washington Post, dubbed this city the most dangerous city in the world back in 2017, and as the years progressed it seemingly only got worse with numerous crimes of theft, muggings, kidnappings, drug-related activities, extortion, rape, and murder is at the top of the confirmed reported crimes. The city deals with constant violence of rival gangs, fighting for territory with even the police officials stating in interviews: “They have the power, they can do whatever they want.”
This is no place for tourists to travel as even local and international news journalists have found themselves in incredibly dangerous situations as a result of the constant battle for territory by vigilante gangs as well as the Cartel. It is alleged that “Acapulco’s criminal underworld” has such a tight grip on the community that even locals are forced to make payments to certain groups in order to ensure their safety from the ongoing battle that rocks the city’s streets on a daily basis.
4. Natal, Brazil
Some recourses actually suggest that Natal is somewhat safe for tourists. But its high homicide rate and horrifying reputation for prosecution prove otherwise. There are even reports for human trafficking. Those who want to enjoy the nightlife have a great chance to cross paths with prostitutes. If you don’t want to get arrested for solicitation you can better avoid these situations.
This can lead to jail time and loss of your passport. And not to forget dangerous and physical encounters with their pimps. On top of that, there is also gang-related drug activity. Don’t get caught in the crossfire of rival dealers. Or by offending dangerous individuals. This can lead to violent crime or even death.
5. Tijuana, Mexico
According to an article written by TheGuardian, Tijuana is now considered the “Murder Capital of Mexico” and earns its spot as 5th most dangerous city in the world according to WorldAtlas. With almost 29 thousand open murder investigations in 2018 alone, the threat that this city holds to not only it’s citizens, terrified fleeing migrants and tourists alike, has reached an all-time high with the level of violent crimes reported steadily climbing each year. After further investigations it was branded as the city with the most killings in Mexico.
With a 127 murders just this year alone and more being reported everyday it is no wonder that tourists are strongly advised to stay clear from this city as it is almost assured that they will be targeted and fall victim to the numerous crimes plaguing the city and its steady stream of criminals and gangs as Victor Clark Alfaro, the leading expert on narco-traffic states that: “The cartel leaders – now the kind of people you’d meet at the country-club – have lost control of the low-level street dealers.” Which leads people to believe that not only is their gang violence but also gang on gang rival violence that tourist could potentially be caught up in the crossfire.
6. La Paz, Mexico
According to The Lonely Planet, not only is this city very dangerous regarding physical and violent crimes as seen by its very high murder rate which should already be a “red flag” for potential tourists considering traveling there, but it would seem that this city also has a well established reputation for hosting a plethora of scam artists who target tourist and it their own words: “La Paz is a big city, and if you’re a gringo, you stand out a bit” which should be cause of concern if you are a foreign traveller.
Regarding the reputation of having a scammer related issues, Numbeo, has cautioned tourists to be on the lookout for basically anyone that you don’t know as these criminals can range from the easily identifiable thugs to elderly people who distract tourists by spilling drinks on them and stealing their items as they try to clean themselves up. Records show that potential criminals will even go as far as spitting in the faces of their targets to catch them off guard and then robbing them. Yet again, if you are considering La Paz, give it a hard, hard pass.
7. Fortaleza, Brazil
Fortaleza has a very confusing reputation, as it is one of the most beautiful cities in Brazil, with buzzing tourist areas such as Jericoacoara and the Lençóis Maraheneses. However, as stated by TripSavvy, tourists are given a fair warning that this beautiful city might have a deep dark secret when it comes to the health and safety of both locals and tourists alike: “Don’t drink too many caipirinhas the next time you visit Fortaleza – if your guard is down, you might not ever leave Brazil!”
The non-tourist areas are notorious for dangerous criminal and gang activity that mainly revolves around drug dealing, extortion, kidnappings as well as cold-blooded murder. With a homicide rate in the 80% according to WorldAtlas, this beautiful city is the embodiment of a Venus flytrap – feel free to enjoy its beauty but don’t get too close as it just might eat you alive.
8. Ciudad Victoria, Mexico
According to CheatSheets, the source of this city’s violent crime problems stems a great deal from its issues with violence between rival drug cartels. With over 300 homicides and violent gang activity this city should be avoided by tourists at all costs to as it not only poses a threat for petty crimes such as robberies and scams but also more serious threats such as physical violence’s, kidnapping, extorsions, even having the possibility of being forced to act as mules to export illegal drugs out of the country not only puts their lives at risk but also the fact that they could be caught and taken to jail.
That does not just even cover the streets, but it is also noted that violence in local prisons is a constant happenstance in this city as there are reports of prison riots, shootings, and even prison escapes. Tourists are absolutely advised to not visit this city under any circumstance as the threat to their lives is a very real and scary possibility.
9. Ciudad Guyana, Venezuela
As we enter the top 10 most dangerous cities on this list, it becomes clearer why it’s so important to inform possible travelers about their safety when traveling. Ciudad Guyana is one of the most dangerous cities in the world and has a reputation to steadily prove that. With a safety index of 10.88%, according to Numbeo, it is clear to see why.
With high levels of possibility for any and all crimes including theft, muggings, drug dealing, kidnapping, rape and murder to occur while visiting there, it’s safe to say that tourists would be better off skipping this city as it’s just not – safety-wise – worth the time, money and general risk attached.
10. Belem, Brazil
This city is one of the largest populated cities in Brazil and as we have learned with large cities, they often fall prey to many criminals as well as criminal activity. In regards to this city, it’s pretty much the same as with many others on this list as it is very dangerous not only for locals but tourists alike with a very high homicide rate as well as plenty of recorded violent crime activity.
Crimes such as armed robbery, carjackings as well as a high possibility for violent crime related attacks. As this city does not entirely fall under a large tourism-based location due to where it is and the level of possible crimes, tourists are advised to rather spend their time in safer tourist areas found all around Brazil.
11. Vitoria da Conquista, Brazil
Even though this is a very small city – with only +-340 000 citizens – compared to the others mentioned on the list it still holds its reputation as being one of the most violent cities in the world.
According to KingdomOfMen, this city is renowned for having some of the largest organized crime activity with regards to the number of homicides and violent crimes recorded in the past few years. Tourists are yet again highly advised to avoids cities like these as they are almost assured to end up as another one of the statistics.
12. Culiacan, Mexico
According to TheTravel, out of their list of 20 places in Mexico tourists should never travel to, Culiacan City is number 2, making it the second most dangerous place on their list and after a lot of research it is completely understandable. Known for its extremely high homicide rates as well as drug cartel activity this city is referred to as being “the most gang infested state in Mexico”. Tourists are known for receiving strict warnings about this city as well as being told hair raising tales from locals around Mexico about the dangerous city and all of its nightmare inducing crimes.
Reports over the years have shown that not only is falling victim to a violent crime almost completely assured for tourists brave/naïve enough to travel there, but the chances of them coming home safely are basically nil. This city truly earns its reputation not only through actual fact-based statistics but also word of mouth from many of the neighbouring locals and should be given a hard pass on the itinerary of any and all tourists looking to visit Mexico.
13. St. Louis, United States
Although a lot of action has been taken by local authorities to drop the number of crimes in this city, it still, unfortunately, is not enough to keep it off of this list and even is considered according to multiple news outlets as well as yearly surveys to be one of the most dangerous cities in the United States.
According to Patch, a high of over 6000 violent crimes were reported in 2017 alone and the numbers continue to grow each year with hundreds of homicides, over 280 rapes as well as almost 2000 robberies and over 4000 cases of aggravated assault. As the numbers continue to grow even with the efforts set in place by local police tourists are strongly advised to give this city a skip when it comes to planning a fun get-away as the chances of falling victim to one of these crimes is at an all time high.
14. Maceio, Brazil
Yet another South American city on this list, it would seem that this country has a large problem with it’s high crime rate that includes the city of Maceio. According to The Lonely Planet, however, this city only has issues within it’s local non-tourism based areas and have alleged that as long as tourist don’t leave the city’s tourist areas they should stay “blissfully unaware” of the fact that it is one of the most dangerous cities in the world.
The city is surround by “slums” or very poor neighbourhoods that are riddled with criminals and gangs, known for high homicide rate, corrupt officials, drug trafficking etc. it would seem that most if not all of the police officials attempts at reducing crimes are targeted to tourists as they are a large part of the economic infrastructure growth of the city, however when venturing out of the “safe zones” tourists are advised to take heavy precautions to ensure their safety as not much help is provided outside of these areas.
15. Cape Town, South Africa
Although Cape Town is one of South Africa’s most beautiful cities, rich in history and culture, it is unfortunately also one of the most dangerous cities when tourists venture into areas that are strictly deemed as being unsafe. The country of South Africa itself is also regarded as one of the most dangerous cities in the world, struggling with a large amount of violent crimes and corrupt police officials as well as racists and xenophobic related crimes rocked the citizens for many years.
Cape Town and other major metro cities such as Johannesburg are no different. However, when using the right tourism companies tourist can feel safe when visiting the city but are strongly advised to not use the local transportation systems commonly referred to as “taxi’s” as well as not venture out on their own and only to visit safe areas as their chances of falling victim to both violent and petty crime is at an all-time high in certain “red flag” areas where poverty as well as gang related crimes such as high jackings, muggings at knife/gun point, rape and murder are very common to occur.
16. Kingston, Jamaica
Although Jamaica itself enjoys the reputation of being one of the Caribbean’s most famous tourist destination, the city of Kingston unfortunately does not. It is well known for being very dangerous and tourist are often ushered by travel agencies and both cruises to avoid the city as it could potentially lead to violent crimes as well as muggings, kidnappings – some even reported by certain transportation companies – as well as theft and other crimes.
An article provided by Oyster, gives a detailed list of do’s and don’ts when visiting Jamaica and its cities and strongly suggests tourist stay with trusted companies and guides and not to venture off on their own as they might potentially cross into dangerous territories guarded by gangs who are affiliated and known for their dangerous activities involving both petty and violent crimes.
17. San Salvador, El Salvador
The country of El Salvador already has a reputation all on its own, with this city sharing in its high rate of violent crime rate. Known for being a place plagued with drug-dealers, traffickers, and extortionists tourists are strongly advised to completely avoid this area altogether.
The continuing battle of crime as well as poverty related reports make for one unsafe destination for tourists as even migrants are reported to flee the cities and country as a whole to get away and have an opportunity for a safer life for their families.
18. Aracaju, Brazil
This city is commonly overlooked as it is nestled right in between two of the largest tourist attraction cities in Brazil, however due to its high rate of violent crimes it is understandable why tourists are advised to not visit this small city.
According to a list provided by Numbeo, the crimes in Aracaju range anywhere between moderate and very high for cases such as muggings, car theft – as well as high jackings – physical assault based on many variables such as race, origins, and religion as well as armed robbery, corruption, and bribery of officials and many more. With only a 37.91% safety score, tourists are generally told to avoid this city and rather visit the safer tourist-friendly cities in Brazil.
19. Feira de Santana, Brazil
A personal account written on Quora by Robert Santos in 2018 not only provides chilling numbers of the homicide rate for this city as well as stating: “10% of all homicides cases in Brazil are solved by the police (for comparison, in the UK is 85%, and in the US is 65%), not just you have a high chance of being murdered, but also, your murderer has a 90% chance – at least – of not serving a day in jail for that.”
When compared to multiple other accounts as well as statistics provided by WorldAtlas, this city is surely known for its horrifying reputation for not only murder but murder without any justice. Tourists are strongly advised not to travel to this city as it is extremely dangerous with its high rate of violent crime as well as no official help provided by local authorities who are also alleged to be involved in corruption activities as well as having ties to local gangs.
20. Ciudad Juárez, Mexico
A chilling feature article by TheStar, recalls events of a massacre at a birthday party with a total of 22 reported deaths by local criminals. This is only one of the hundreds of violent crimes reported over the years committed in this city. It even held the position of the most dangerous city in the world in 2007, however it has somewhat decreased over the years with officials working tirelessly to fight crime.
Although their efforts have been equally challenged by gangs and criminal activity with a large murder rate to counter all that they are trying to do. Tourists are advised to completely avoid this city as they are largely targeted – along with its local citizens – and has certainly earned its spot on this list. Numerous reports of murders, rape, kidnappings, drug trafficking, and much more have plagued the reputation of this city and is certainly one to completely consider avoiding when traveling to Mexico.
21. Baltimore, United States
Compared to other national cities, Baltimore has a much higher rate of being considered as a dangerous city due to its large record of violent crimes particularly in the central living areas such as Mount Vernon and Federal Hill, according to U.S. News Real Estate.
Although residence of the city are said to feel safer in certain areas it is still reported to be a playground for criminals targeting tourists at night with a combined rate of petty crime such as pickpockets and petty theft as well as violent crime reports involving muggins by gun-point, drug-related crimes and a higher than average murder rate.
22. Recife, Brazil
The Lonely Planet, suggests that even though violent crime has significantly gone down in this city over the past few years, tourists are still facing a large risk of becoming victims of petty crimes such as theft by pickpockets, muggers snatching belongings or even being held at knife/gunpoint by potential street criminals. Not only that but the dangers of shark attacks have led to the death and fatal injuries of more than 30 attacks per season, making the beach vacation a lot more dangerous for potential visitors of Praia Boa Viagem on Recife’s shores.
The placement of their local tourist police officials also breeds cause for concern as they are located only at the airport and has caused many delays in being of any help for tourist as they venture further away. All of this combined makes the city carry a large red flag on it’s back for potential visitors who are considering making it part of their travel itinerary.
23. Maturin, Venezuela
According to Faminternational, this city is actually ranked via survey as being 5th most dangerous city in the world when taking into account it’s high murder rate as well as recorded violent crime reports. With a collapsing economy and large influx of gang and drug related incidents the city has been deemed very dangerous for potential visitors as it not only struggles with a rampant shortage in food related industries as well as crimes such as drug trafficking, extortion & kidnappings (277 cases to be exact) as well as scary rumours of local police officials involvement and corruption to boot.
Faminternational, also states alleged allegations reporting that: “extrajudicial killings by police have frequently surfaced, contributing to a cycle of retaliatory violence between criminals and security forces” which leaves locals seeking the aid of private security or even “vigilantes” to help keep them safe.
24. Guatemala City, Guatemala
This city has increased its reputation over the years for being one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Although there are places that are considered to be safe for tourist the City of Guatemala itself is one that is most commonly deemed to be a no go for tourists.
Areas such as Zone 1, according to Tripsavvy, is said to be avoided as it is a very poor and dangerous area of the capital. There is said to be actual violent crimes reported of thefts at gunpoint, violent crimes as well as large gang and drug-related activity.
25. Salvador, Brazil
It’s no wonder that Salvador is on this list. According to TheConversation.com El Salvador is considered to be the “deadliest place in the world that is not a war zone.” This is all due to the extreme violence-related reports on both citizens as well as immigrants in the area. The most common issues are gang and drug-related incidents that have rocked the community and have branded the city of being extremely dangerous.
25 most dangerous cities
So as we reach the end of the list of the 25 most dangerous cities in the world, please be sure to thoroughly research all of your potential future travel destinations as one can never be too safe. With the old saying in mind, rather be safe than sorry, this list will hopefully provide a better understanding of why these cities are considered dangerous and why tourists should rather opt for safer locations when making their traveling arrangements.