For many of us at the moment, holidays are something of a distant memory. Especially foreign ones. As, hopefully, the world returns to some level of normality over the coming months and years, they’ll return. Which is great news. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a nice relaxing trip abroad to warmer climes?
You need to pick your spot carefully, though. A week in Gran Canaria is likely to be a pretty safe sojourn, with your biggest risks being sunburn or a dodgy paella. But if you decide to go further afield, you may very well find yourself exposed to a level of risk from crime that you hadn’t anticipated.
We recently brought you a look at the most dangerous cities to live in the world. Here are the most dangerous holiday destinations in that very same world…
You have to go some to become the most dangerous city in a country like Mexico. It takes some beating to record a higher murder rate than the likes of Tijuana, Guadalajara, Juárez and Culiacán, the home of the Sinaloan drug cartel. Yet somehow the otherwise idyllic Acapulco manages it.
The resort city, on Mexico’s Pacific coast, was once the playground of the rich and famous. The great and the good of the western world flocked to the place to enjoy its natural beauty and golden beaches. Not so anymore. Now it’s the most dangerous place in the entire country. Again, no mean feat for a nation that sees upwards of 30,000 murders a year. The US government puts Mexico on a par with Libya and Syria in terms of danger to visitors.
Of course, cartel violence is behind it all. The murder rate is the only thing in Acapulco goin’ loco now.
When it comes to perfect vacation locales, you’d be hard-pressed to come up with a destination that doesn’t scream ‘PARADISE!’ more than the Caribbean archipelago that is The Bahamas. At least that’s what you may think, however. The reality can be quite different.
Don’t get us wrong, head to a pricey Bahaman resort and stay in the confines of the villa and you’ll likely return home thinking the place is some sort of hot Heaven on Earth. But wander off into the real Bahamas and you’ll scarper believing anything but.
Pickpocketing, muggings, burglaries, assaults, sexual assault, armed robberies, kidnappings… In places like Nassau, crime is rife. The country’s capital doesn’t have a history of tourist-targeted violence, but if you try to go native and go into the wrong neighbourhood you may very well wish you hadn’t.
Durban, South Africa
Stunning coastal views and beaches, some of Africa’s finest botanical gardens, bird parks, zoos, huge aquariums, casinos and theme parks… Durban’s got a lot going for it. You can add armed robberies, muggings, kidnappings, looting, shootings and plenty more crimes to that list.
The city has the nickname ‘South Africa’s playground’ and, with the range of fun things to see and do, you can understand why. The trouble is, Durban’s also a playground for criminals. Many act out of poverty and desperation, but large scale crime syndicates also operate out of ‘Durbs’. One of the main reasons is that the city is now one of the primary drug trafficking routes for drugs leaving and entering Sub-Saharan Africa.
There are plenty of reasons why a tourist might want to visit the Central American country of Guatemala: culture, rainforests, Spanish colonial architecture, the weather, beaches, lakes, open-air markets… not to mention the stunning Mayan temples.
There are plenty of reasons why a tourist might want to avoid visiting the Central American country of Guatemala: muggings, carjackings, armed robberies, kidnapping, sexual assault, extortion and murder.
It’s a shame. Guatemala relies on tourism. Crime puts off tourism. The country’s tourist board would be quick to point out a few things, though. First, murders have halved in the country in the past seven years. In 2014, there were 30 murders per annum for every 100,000 citizens (the country has 16.5 million residents). In 2021, that figure was just 15 per 100k. So things are improving.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio is one of the major cities of the world, a place that any true traveller or explorer likely feels they have to visit at some point in their lives. The Copacabana beach, the Carnaval, the epic and an enormous statue of Christ the Redeemer - all bucket-list attractions. The city is the cultural hub of one of the world’s largest countries, after all. But proceed with caution if you take a trip there.
We’ve no desire to frighten anyone unnecessarily and we absolutely wouldn’t advise that you rule out holidays to any of the places on this list. All we’d say is do your research, keep your eyes open and be safe. That’s what everyone else (mostly) does.
The crime rate in Rio de Janeiro is high. Very high. Yet still, some 1.2 million tourists are attracted to ‘The Marvellous City’ each and every year. Those that are wise enough to keep to the safer areas of town and entirely avoid the favelas generally enjoy their holiday free of a violent attack. Most.
If you ever go to Jamaica, you should really avoid the settlements there at all costs. They're not safe for tourists at all. They're not really safe for those folk that live there either. Flankers, Canterbury, Race Course, Rose Heights, Tivoli Gardens, Norwood, Whithorn, Hart Street, Spanish Town, Canterbury, Glendevon and Clavers Street. There are towns and parts of Kingston and Montego Bay that should be avoided. You're a walking target in these areas.
Most of the violence is gang-related, so holidaymakers are generally safe. But stray from your accommodation and don't be surprised if your bags, cameras or phones are snatched.
As for a murder rate, you’re looking at around 45 for every 100,000 residents. Although, again, this is largely gang on gang violence.
Hopefully, we’ve not frightened you too much here. If you’re careful and smart, you’ll likely be fine in any of these places. But if you’re worried? Maybe just stick to Bognor Regis. Just watch out for the seagulls that nick chips.