Is Copenhagen safe? A guide to safety in the Danish capital

Denmark is one of the safest countries in the world, but is Copenhagen safe? In this guide we’re going to look at crime in Copenhagen and explain if there are any areas in Copenhagen to avoid. If you want to stay safe during your visit, read on…

When traveling to international destinations for the first time, staying safe is at the top of many people’s priorities — regardless of whether you’re visiting for a few days or upping sticks and settling somewhere.

Denmark is one of the most peaceful countries on the planet, and even in its capital, you’ll rarely – if ever – feel in danger. Crime does exist, but rates are much lower than in most other major urban areas – even for violent crime.

But while you shouldn’t have any issues in Copenhagen, making sure that you’re up-to-speed on how to stay safe is a good idea. This article will discuss how much of a safe city Copenhagen is.

How safe is Copenhagen?

Copenhagen regularly ranks as one of the planet’s least dangerous places to visit and live in several surveys. In the 2021 Safe Cities Index (SCI), Denmark’s capital was named the world’s safest city.

The SCI annual report, commissioned by The Economist, ranked safety in multiple categories. Copenhagen ranked top of the personal security category, scoring 86.4 out of 100.

Despite not doing as well for health security, the introduction of an environmental security section saw the city finish sixth.

Copenhagen finished well ahead of cities in the United States on the report for personal security. The highest-ranking US city was New York, which had a score of 66.9 out of 100.

The Economist’s report also highlighted digital security and various other categories.

Is there crime in Copenhagen?

Looking at news headlines, it’s easy to think that Copenhagen is a crime-free utopia. But even if it’s at a much lower level than in most places, people do break the law here — just as is the case in almost every city and country.

While petty crime isn’t as common as in other European cities, it still exists, especially during the peak tourist season, which takes place over the summer. Possible risk areas include busy train stations like Copenhagen’s Central Station, Nørreport, and Vesterport.

Other areas where you should be mindful of pickpocketing include Strøget, the main shopping street running through the city centre, and tourist locations like Nyhavn. It’s also worth keeping an eye on your belongings when in and around the main square.

Copenhagen is one of the world’s most bicycle-friendly cities — and many places look up to Denmark’s capital for inspiration. The city has over 600,000 bikes, and many Danes use two wheels as their primary form of transportation throughout the year.

Bike theft is one of the most common crimes in Copenhagen, and over half of all stolen bike crimes in Denmark happen in the capital and its surrounding regions. Most stolen bike incidents go unpunished.

But before you panic, it’s worth noting that incidents are dropping in Copenhagen and other parts of the country — as reported by Statistics Danmark.

Thousands of incidents occur yearly and can do so for multiple reasons. Sometimes, the thief wants to profit by selling it online; other times, a drunken local might find an unlocked bike to cycle home after a night of too many beers.

Is Copenhagen safe for tourists in terms of violent crime?

If you’re visiting a city or moving there, you’re probably more worried about someone pulling a gun or knife on you than a person stealing your bike. The good news is that violent crime levels in Copenhagen are low.

Over the whole of Denmark, homicide rates per year typically average out at just under 50 — which is lower than 1 per 100,000.

As the largest city in the country, Copenhagen is where the bulk of incidents occur. However, most homicides and shootings result from gang violence or incidents where the attacker knew the victim. You don’t have anything to worry about as a foreign visitor or a local.

Is Copenhagen safe from terrorism?

Many cities in Europe have suffered terror attacks in the 21st century, and Copenhagen is one of those. An attack did occur in 2015 when a gunman killed two people in the city. In the years since, authorities in Denmark have foiled various attack attempts.

Despite the above, Copenhagen is one of the safest cities from a terrorism perspective — and you shouldn’t need to worry about an incident occurring here. Like everywhere, use basic precautions and report anything that looks suspicious.

Is Copenhagen safe for female travelers?

Yes — Copenhagen is exceptionally safe for female travelers. Even at night, you shouldn’t run into issues as a woman.

Why is Copenhagen safe?

Despite a significant population increase in recent years (and one that shows no signs of slowing down), Copenhagen has done a fantastic job at remaining one of the world’s safest cities. But why is crime so low in the city?

Several factors contribute to Copenhagen’s position as the world’s safest city, and we’ll discuss three of the main ones below.

High levels of trust

Trust is one of the very cornerstones of Danish culture, which is a recurring theme in all of the Nordic countries.

People in Denmark don’t tend to look at each other like suspicious individuals with questionable motives — hence why you’ll frequently see babies sleeping outdoors while their parents are inside shopping or enjoying a coffee.

It’s also why the country regularly ranks as one of the world’s happiest

The default approach in Copenhagen is that if someone says they’ll do something, they will. Similarly, people (for the most part) respect others’ properties; it’s not uncommon to see unlocked bikes and young children walking to and from school on their own.

Copenhagen also has great social cohesion. People tend to look out for each other; someone will almost always be willing to help if you ask them for directions, and the same is true if you ever find yourself in trouble.

Low income inequality

People in Copenhagen enjoy pretty high salaries. Even if you’re a cleaning assistant or work at a local supermarket, you’ll receive higher pay for those positions than in most parts of the world.

Denmark also has a high income tax rate, and Copenhagen isn’t exempt from that. If you live in the capital, you can expect to pay between 37% and 53% depending on how much you earn.

Very few people are disproportionately rich or poor, and there’s a large middle class with a narrow wealth gap.

Generally speaking, crime occurs in more deprived communities. And since Copenhagen has fewer of those than most places, it makes sense for the city to enjoy a low crime rate.

Are there any areas in Copenhagen to avoid?

When moving to a city, you never want to move into a dangerous neighborhood. And even if you’re only coming for a few days, the same is true. Copenhagen doesn’t really have any “bad” areas that you’ll find in many European capitals and other cities on the globe.

However, crime rates are higher in some districts than you’ll find elsewhere — and the city has some areas that are a little less desirable to live in.

Blågårds Plads has been the scene of violent gang-related crime in recent years. However, it’s also right next to the trendy Blågårdsgade, which has several bars — so as long as you don’t join a gang, you shouldn’t have problems around here.

Moreover, a selection of gangs around that area agreed to a ceasefire in 2017.

Brønshøj-Husum also doesn’t have the best reputation among Copenhageners, and social problems do exist in the area. Some parts of Bispebjerg are known for similar issues, and the same is true for small areas of Nørrebro — such as Mjølnerparken.

While some of the above might be considered areas in Copenhagen to avoid, the truth is that a bad part of Denmark’s capital is nowhere near as dangerous in — say — Chicago or Los Angeles.

If you keep yourself to yourself, your chances of becoming a victim of crime are still low.

How can I stay safe in Copenhagen?

Despite Copenhagen’s low crime rates, you should still exercise some caution in and around the city. Above all else, use common sense and the same level of vigilance as you would anywhere else.

For example, you shouldn’t keep anything in your back pocket, and it’s a good idea to watch your personal belongings as a general rule, especially in tourist areas.

When in busy areas, consider double-locking your bike. Many sellers give you a basic lock, along with something a little more robust.

Alternatively, you can buy one bike and use something like Donkey Republic in crowded areas (or buy a rickety one that you don’t care about having stolen).

Copenhagen is one of the safest capital cities in the world for visitors and residents alike 

Is Copenhagen safe, then? The simple answer is yes.

Copenhagen is regularly named among the world’s safest cities by the Economist Intelligence Unit (and various other institutions) for good reasons: it simply is.

For a relatively large capital, you have almost nothing to worry about when walking around Copenhagen — regardless of your gender or the time of day.

The capital of Denmark’s high levels of social cohesion and low-income inequality have both played a part, as has Denmark’s welfare state — which ensures that you’re protected if something goes wrong.

Now that you know Copenhagen is safe, it’s time to learn more about its main districts. Why not check out our article and get to know the city on a deeper level?

Scandification: Discovering Scandinavia.

Now read these:
Amazing things to do in Copenhagen
What is Copenhagen famous for?
Best tourist attractions in Copenhagen
The best museums in Copenhagen
The best parks in Copenhagen
How expensive is Copenhagen?
Michelin dining in Copenhagen
Interesting facts about Denmark

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