There is an innate sense of adventure within all of us and it is that instinct that sends us digging online to find a cheap flight somewhere beautiful, far away from home. We live for our vacations and special hotel reservations, to see the world. The majority of the planet is beautiful and there is nothing quite as magical as experiencing a foreign culture that appeals to you in an emotional and physical way. However, not all places should be visited by tourists for a variety of different reasons. As it turns out, there are many places in the world that are rather dangerous to visit. As such, we decided to elaborate on just which cities are the most dangerous to travel to.
Barquisimeto – Venezuela
The city of Barquisimeto is located in Venezuela and you might want to skip the cheap ticket and hotel reservation when it comes to this destination. With over one million citizens and tons of architecture it makes sense for this to become a hot spot for visitors. As the fourth largest city in Venezuela, in terms of population, we were surprised to see that it actually has been in a tail spin in regards to the tourism industry. Daily murders and a high rate of other violent crimes have dimmed what could have been an inspiring tourist destination.
Rio de Janeiro – Brazil
Rio de Janeiro is a thriving city located in Brazil and the city was recently put on full display for the Olympic Games and the World Cup. However Rio de Janeiro struggles mightily with crime of all kinds with most of the focus being on drug related activities. In addition to the threat of being mugged, attacked, and murdered has actually been escalating since the big media events have taken place. Right now estimates are at 35 murders per 100,000 people – yeah, we can barely digest these figures ourselves.
Sana’a – Yemen
Bordered by Saudi Arabia and Oman out to the East, the country has been struggling with political instability for far back as history will take you. The fact that Yemen is considered a developing country isn’t lost on us as the violence located in many of the biggest cities has been off the charts in recent years. Sana’a is a beautiful, old city that is filled with gorgeous architecture and vibrant culture. However there is an inherent danger in visiting the city, especially for tourists.
Ciudad Juarez – Mexico
Known by locals as Juaritos, Ciudad Jaurez is one of the most violent and corrupt cities in all of Mexico. Located south of El Paso, Texas and right off of the Rio Grande the city of Juaritos houses over 1.3 million people within its borders. Due to intense drug trafficking and a corrupt government there has been no clear way for Mexico to reclaim one of their largest cities. At several points in time, been ranked among the top two or three most violent cities on the planet.
St. Louis – United States
St. Louis and its surrounding areas were heavily in the news for the Ferguson riots but even before that the city had been heavily suffering from violence and disparate poverty. Despite successful sports franchises and a nice midwestern seat, St. Louis is an easy enough destination to avoid traveling to.
Guatemala City – Guatemala
The nation of Guatemala may have plenty of tourist friendly destinations but Guatemala City is definitely not one of those places. This Central American city is plagued by murder and various drug related crimes. Car jackings, bus jackings, and street robberies are considered the norm here unfortunately.
Acapulco – Mexico
If your first inclination to reading Acapulco on this list was a hearty ‘huh’ then you probably aren’t the only one. Acapulco used to be a trendy tourist spot for those seeking to steal some time in the sun and on the beautiful beaches. The deep blue water, tasty margaritas, and affordable food would be enough to bring anyone in for a weekend getaway. However and most unfortunately, Acapulco has been getting more and more dangerous by the year with the violence peaking in requiring the Mexican military to show up and handle things.
Nairobi – Kenya
Much like many of the South American countries on this list, Africa also suffers from violent cities beset in a beautiful location. Nairobi makes our list as a sprawling city that has suffered almost permanently from war and violence. Al Shabaab has left their mark on the city and these violent militants make this an unattractive destination for just about anyone to come visit. Locals are told not to go out after dark and tourists should listen to that suggestion doubly so.
Maceio – Brazil
For such a beautiful continent, South America is really racking up a ton of space on this list. Maceio, located in Brazil, is the next city that all tourists should consider avoiding as it averages 135 murders per 100,000 residents and you’re going to need more than a gorgeous ocean view to make me consider taking a trip there. Moreover and sadly, Maceio is competitive with Rio de Janeiro for the most violent city in the country.
San Salvador – El Salvador
If visiting Honduras isn’t scary enough then you can consider taking a trip to the tiny country of El Salvador. San Salvador isn’t known for much beyond their production of one of the most fierce gangs on Earth: MS 13. MS 13, along with the drug trade and explosive poverty, have led to San Salvador completely going off of the rails. There are safe places to visit in El Salvador, but this definitely isn’t one of them.
Cape Town – South Africa
While South Africa can be a beautiful place due to the diverse eco system, wonderful surfing, and brilliant beach towns there is enough trouble lurking. Cape Town is one of the more popular tourist destinations in all of South Africa but recent violent numbers show that this might not stay that way. People blame the South African government for not doing anything to stop the burgeoning gang problems and questions of corrupt city officials have only exacerbated these claims. If you are going to South Africa and want to make your way to Cape Town then you should stick to the tourist areas.
San Pedro Sula – Honduras
Honduras is located in the beautiful spit of land in Central America and is bordered by Guatemala and Nicaragua while cushioned in by the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Despite all of its beauty there is an innate sense of danger within the developing urban areas. San Pedro Sula in particular should be avoided by travelers at all cost. With a population of just over 1 million people, San Pedro Sula ranks in as one of the most dangerous cities on Earth. In fact it has been called the ‘Murder Capital of the World’ at many points in time. The reason for all of the violence can be laid at the feet of the various street gangs and drug traffickers that are fighting for turf control.
Medellin – Colombia
Medellin used to be the most violent city on the face of the planet thanks in large part to the illicit work of Pablo Escobar — the former leader of the Medellin Cartel. Since the death of Escobar crime has been gradually falling though it is still not a city that tourists or visitors should take lightly. Right now the murder per capita rate is sitting at 20 deaths per 100,000 people and this is the lowest the rate has been in decades. Though the city is trending in the right direction there is still a ton of work to do.
Durban – South Africa
Though you probably have never heard of it, Durban is the largest city in all of KwaZulu-Natul and the second largest city in all of South Africa, behind Johannesburg. With such a large population and violence encircling the city it only seemed to be inevitable that the city would come under fire as well. Currently the primary cause of crime is the drug trade which flows through Sub-Saharan Africa and the trade has been growing dramatically over the past two decades. Furthermore, the murder rate in 2015 was sitting at 35 murders per 100,000 people.
Kingston – Jamaica
Jamaica is a country on fire despite the tropical atmosphere and beautiful sights. For a long time Jamaica had some of the highest murder rates known in the world but that has been gradually changing. Now violent crime seems to be centrally located in cities like Kingston and Montego Bay. The majority of the violence revolves around gang activity which has been geared up for the trading of illegal drugs. It’s also violently against the LGBT crowd and mob violence has broken out on a regular enough basis that it has become a controversy in the city.
Detroit – Michigan
Detroit is a Midwestern city that has become all but completely avoidable thanks to its economic failure and violent decay. Moreover Detroit has been engulfed by violence which comes as a result of gang activity, a lack of jobs, and illegal drugs being moved through it to other Midwestern hot spots like St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Chicago. It has a murder rate of 45 people per 100,000 residents — numbers that are just staggering in a First World country.
Culiacan – Mexico
Mexico is a country that has hit or miss areas. Certain parts of the country are gorgeous and friendly to visitors while others are so beheld by crime violence that you cannot escape it. Culiacan is one city that most people would do well to bypass until the crime gets under control. Thanks to the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the most violent and famous cartels in the country, the city routinely erupts into bloody and violent fights. This is El Chapo’s home city and his roots run deep.
Obregon – Mexico
Obregon has been brought to its knees by violent gangs and the murder rates are out of control. As one of the deadliest cities in the world, the city of Obregon has already put out safety advice for visitors which includes: don’t wait alone at bus stops, always sit at the front of the bus, stay on the pavement, and be on the look out for people following you. Does this sound like a city anyone would be in a hurry to visit? We didn’t think so.
Palmira – Colombia
Visits to Colombia should be made via well informed guides and with boots on the ground on the other side, especially if you plan to visit Palmira. South America is beset by violent crime and Palmira is particularly entrenched with more than 70 murders per 100,000 residents. Political corruption, gangs, and abject poverty keep this once promising city from turning itself around — at least for the potential future.
Maturin – Brazil
We are still in South America and that is proving to be unfortunate. Maturin is the capital city of Monagas, located in northeast Venezuela. There are almost half a million people living there with the majority of them being employed in farming. Organized crime has taken this city down a big notch and there are almost 90 homicides per 100,000 residents.
Fortaleza – Brazil
Brazil hasn’t gotten a very good reputation thanks to their violent crime and we have to sigh and simply pass on the information. Fortaleza City is located in northeastern Brazil and it has everything you could want in a coast city: beautiful beaches, great water, and metro infrastructure. However, Fortaleza has been almost completely overtaken by the violent drug and human trafficking business. Cocaine is the common drug of choice but violence is the only universal factor between all residents.
Distrito Central – Honduras
Located in central Honduras and with a population surging past 1.2 million people, Distrito Central is one of the most dangerous cities in all of South America. Crime rates are climbing thanks to all sorts of factors including gangs, corruption, and a failing economy. Right now the crime rate shows 78 homicides per 100,000 residents and that doesn’t even touch on other crimes: carjacking, sexual assault, kidnappings and more.
Joao Pessoa – Brazil
Joao Pessoa was founded in 1585 and it is commonly known as ‘the city where the sun rises first’. Despite the fact that Joao Pessoa is one of the ‘greenest’ cities on the planet, it is still suffering in a major way from the prevalence of violent crime. In fact, the entire Northeastern part of Brazil consists of what residents call ‘The Valley of Fear’.
Caracas – Venezuela
South America accounts for the vast majority of violent crime on the planet despite having only 8% of the world’s population. For reference, more people are killed in Caracas than they are in Baghdad — a country literally torn apart by war. Caracas takes the ‘prize’ as the most violent city in the world. The Capital of Venezuela overtook San Pedro Sula, in Honduras, for the award with a rate of 120 murders per 100,000 citizens.
Maracaibo – Venezuela
Maracaibo is known as the center of Venezuela’s oil industry but here’s the thing, it has a startling rate of 28.85 homicides per 100,000 residents.
Macapa – Brazil
What’s most noteworthy about Macapa, Brazil is not its beaches but the fact that it has 30.25 homicides per 100,000 residents. And that says a lot.
Johannesburg – South Africa
A lot of positive and great things can be said for Johannesburg but when tons of protests litter the streets and the people are demanding that their own President step down, as he’s been accused of corruption and financial mismanagement, it’s a pretty big alarm bell shooting off. Oh yeah, it also has a rate of 30.31 homicides per 100,000 residents.
Victoria – Mexico
Unfortunately, the crime rate in Victoria, Mexico has reached frightening levels and not just for tourists but its own citizens. Additionally, 30.50 homicides per 100,000 residents is the new record high for the city. Looks like its time for the government to step up.
Pereira – Colombia
Here’s the thing, Pereira is a city smack dab in a mountainous, coffee-growing region of western Colombia which is known for its mild Arabica beans. Which sounds great but with 32.58 homicides per 100,000 residents, that’s a bit of a problem.
Curitiba – Brazil
Curitiba has some of the most important and stunning performance venues that it can easily boast about however, with 34.71 homicides per 100,000 residents, it has some work to do to get those tourist numbers on the rise.
Porto Alegre – Brazil
Porto Alegre may have a lot to proud of to lure in the tourist count but one shameful aspect of this city is the fact that it has 34.73 homicides per 100,000 residents!
Nelson Mandela Bay – South Africa
First of all, it’s important to know that Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality is one of eight Metropolitan municipalities in South Africa. Secondly, you need to remember that it has an alarming rate of 35.85 homicides per 100,000 residents.
Campina Grande – Brazil
Campina Grande is the second(!) most populous Brazilian city in the State of Paraíba after João Pessoa, the capital of course. Seems like that 36.04 homicides per 100,000 residents makes sense? No?
Campos dos Goytacazes – Brazil
With just a population of 472,300, it makes one wonder how in the world the city can have a rate of 36.16 homicides per 100,000 residents? Yeah, we’re pretty shocked ourselves.
Aracaju – Brazil
Aracaju, Brazil is known for one pretty big thing that’s always on people’s vacation list, that’s right, the beach! Although most people need to remember that it has 37.7 homicides per 100,000 residents so it’s best to stay on alert.
Recife – Brazil
Recife is the capital of Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco and its well known due to its many, many rivers, bridges, islets and peninsulas. Moreover though, it’s known for the rate of 38.12 homicides per 100,000 residents. Yeah. To put it lightly, dangerous is the word you’re looking for.
Vitória da Conquista – Brazil
Here’s the thing about beautiful Vitória da Conquista,which is a city in Bahia, Brazil, it has a whopping and scary rate of 38.46 homicides per 100,000 residents. *Gulp.*
Tijuana – Mexico
Were you just waiting for Tijuana, Mexico to end up on the list? Probably. With protests on the rise, so is the 39.09 homicides per 100,000 residents.
Gran Barcelona – Venezuela
Another city in Venezuela makes the list and unfortunately, that’s due to the rate of 40.08 homicides per 100,000 residents. Not good is putting it mildly.
“The Big Easy” boasts of round-the-clock nightlife, a vibrant music scene and intense but delicious cuisine which reflects the city’s history of French, African and American cultures. Some say that due to this massive melting pot of cultures, it explains the growing number of 41.44 homicides per 100,000 residents. Whether that’s true is another matter entirely.
Vitoria – Brazil
Sandy beaches are what you’ll find in sunny Vitoria, Brazil, however you’ll also encounter an alarming 41.99 homicides per 100,000 residents.
Teresina – Brazil
We’ve arrived to Teresina, the capital and most populous municipality in the Brazilian state of Piauí, which is the only capital in the Brazilian Northeast not located on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. More to the point however, it has a 42.64 homicides per 100,000 residents.
Goiânia y Aparecida de Goiânia – Brazil
Welcome to the beautiful city and municipality in central Goiás, Brazil, however, it has a dumbfounding 43.38 homicides per 100,000 residents.
Feira de Santana – Brazil
Feira de Santana is a city within Bahia, Brazil and unfortunately it has a rate of 45.5 homicides per 100,000 residents. Not my cup of tea either.
Baltimore is a major, major city in Maryland with a long and rich history as an important seaport but in recent years, riots and hate crimes have skyrocketed. Leaving the city with 54.98 homicides per 100,000 residents.
Valencia – Venezuela
Meet the third largest city of Venezuela, which has 72.31 homicides per 100,000 residents. Yeah, my eyes are wide open right now and I’m going, “Uhh…no.”
Cali – Colombia
Cali, Colombia has the hottest salsa dancing around and many clubs in the suburb of Juanchito – yah know, your typical par-tay city. Sadly, it comprises of 64.27 homicides per 100,000 residents. Furthermore, it goes without saying that it sounds scary and just as alluring.
Ciudad Guayana – Venezuela
Up next is Ciudad Guayana, a port city on the Orinoco and Caroní rivers in Bolívar state, Venezuela. Comprising of two towns, Puerto Ordaz and San Félix, it’s best known as a gateway to the Orinoco Delta and the Gran Sabana, a region filled full of grassy plains dotted with flat-top mountains called tepuis. Apart from this stunning scenery, it has 62.33 homicides per 100,000 residents. Uhh, no thanks.
Natal – Brazil
Ahh, Natal. In case you didn’t know, it is the capital city of the state of Rio Grande do Norte, on Brazil’s northeastern tip. Natal is well known for its insanely extensive coastal sand dunes and star-shaped Forte dos Reis Magos. Moreover, it should be known for it’s insanely high 60.66 homicides per 100,000 residents instead.
Salvador – Brazil
Salvador, the capital of Brazil’s northeastern state of Bahia, is well known for its stunning Portuguese colonial architecture, Afro-Brazilian culture, and a jaw dropping tropical coastline. However, it contains a staggering 60.63 homicides per 100,000 residents. Yikes.