The most dangerous big cities you can visit

Curated by BuffaloTripAugust 13, 2015 Viewed: 1387

The world, in my experience, is mostly a safe place. I traveled in Egypt after the Revolution, Greece during its first round of financial troubles, Thailand during a coup d'état and the Middle East on more than one anniversary of September 11, to name just a few of my trips others have termed "risky."

To be sure, the only "danger" I've experienced was a pickpocketing on one of the most upscale beaches in Rio de Janeiro – which, to be fair, is generally known as one of the most dangerous large cities on the planet.

On the flip side, it would be ignorant to assume that danger doesn't exist, so while it's good to travel without dwelling on all the terrible things that could happen to you, it's just as wise to be aware of the facts. Here are the five most dangerous large cities in the world, according to homicide rate.

Caracas is the most dangerous large city in the world. Superyessicanova via Wikimedia Commons

1.  Caracas, Venezuela

It's no secret that Venezuelans have been living in tough times, in particular following the death of former leader Hugo Chavez, since whose passing prices have risen astronomically. Economic inequality is one of the main reasons murder rates in Caracas are so high, at nearly 116 homicides per 100,000 residents – the highest of any large city in the world. Unfortunately, it's unlikely that any tourists will come to Venezuela given its reputation, an economic loss that will only make things worse.

Acapulco isn't just famous for its beaches anymore. randomaze via Wikimedia Commons

2.  Acapulco, Mexico

Acapulco has long had a reputation as a leading beach destination, to say nothing of the beautiful mountainous landscapes that have made it a jewel of Mexico's Pacific Coast. Violence associated with Mexican drug cartels has resulted not only in the murders of many Mexicans caught in the drug trade, but even some unaffiliated tourists. Approximately 104 people per 100,000 meet their end in murder each year in Acapulco, although it's unclear how many of them are tourists.

Don't be fooled by Fortaleza's beautiful beaches – not everything about this city is paradise. Portal de Copa via Wikimedia Commons

3.  Fortaleza, Brazil

The northeastern Brazilian city of Fortaleza is infamous for its beautiful beaches, as well as its proximity to legendary Brazilian tourist spots like Jericoacoara and the Lençóis Maranhenses. Sadly, the color of the waters just off shore aren't the only thing about this coastal metropolis. Fortaleza's murder rate of 66 homicides per 100,000 residents is alarmingly high. Don't drink too many caipirinhas the next time you visit Fortaleza – if your guard is down, you might not ever leave Brazil!

Salsa dancing is not the only thing Cali is (in)famous for. Aleko via Wikimedia Commons

4.  Cali, Colombia

Among tourists to Colombia and locals alike, Cali (officially, Santiago de Cali) is known as the city of salsa dancing. Another fact about Cali that might have you quickly moving your feet is the murder rate, which stands at around 65 for every 100,000 people in the city as of 2014. Cali's a great city for partying, but that's not a party you want to be part of!

Go out in San Salvador in night and you might not wake up. Jose Alejandro Alvarez Ramirez

5.  San Salvador, El Salvador

Central American cities are notorious for being unsafe, to the point where many travel blogs and guide books recommend avoiding them altogether, instead advising travelers to spend their time in smaller tourist towns and in natural areas. San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, is unfortunately illustrative of this tendency: 61 out of every 100,000 residents die here each year as a result of homicide. The next time you visit El Salvador, stick to safe places like El Boqueron National Park or Lake Ilopango.


Written by Robert Schrader, Weird and Amazing Travel Expert / about.com. You can see more Robert Schrader here.