Personal safety is really important factor when choosing a travel destination. After all, you will be far away from home, in a new and unknown environment, with limited knowledge of local language or customs. And there are so many different factors to consider, such as mugging, crime, road death toll, occurrence of terrorist attacks and wars… Well good news for you, Lithuania is in Europe, which is generally considered the safest region in the world. Nonetheless, there are some differences from country to country. So how safe is Lithuania?
The studies of the World Economic Forum and the Institute for Economics and Peace found that Lithuania is a safe country for tourists to visit! Most of other surveys also agree that Lithuania is among 30 safest countries in the world, safer than USA or UK. Why is that?
First of all, Lithuania is sheltered from natural disasters. There are no deadly earthquakes, volcano's, tsunamis, hurricanes or devastating floods. Forest fires can be a problem during dry summer seasons, however most of them are local and massive evacuation is never required.
Secondly, Lithuania is among the countries where the index of terrorism equals 0 (announced by the Institute for Economics and Peace). The list also includes Latvia, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovenia and other countries. Of course, attacks in Lithuania can’t be ruled out, however it’s just really unlikely you will happen on your holiday here.
Nonetheless, saying all that, there are things you should be cautious when coming to Lithuania.
Drivers in Lithuania are rather reckless, posing a danger to others. Drunk driving is still a problem, especially on Friday nights. But it’s getting better. Campaigns against so-called "war on the roads" have curbed this dangerous behavior and the accident rate is now similar to other European countries.
Lithuania doesn’t have unsafe districts or ghettos, where the police and locals are afraid to enter. However, districts with many bars (e.g. Vilnius street) may be less safe at night due to drunk people. Mugging might be a bigger threat in public, overcrowded spaces like train or bus stations. Yet in both cases, common sense and awareness helps.
One thing which might make you feel unsafe are aproaching beggars in the main tourist areas. Word of advice from local: don’t give them anything. The ones approaching tourists are not poor but rather use this as a lucrative job. They earn sums larger than an average salary as foreigners frequently hand out sums of money based on the prices in their own homelands while in Lithuania they are lower. These beggars have invented stories which they could tell in multiple languages, so they are well prepared.
If you do encounter problems 112 is the emergency phone number (as in the rest of the European Union). Or ask locals to help you out. Most of the times Lithuanians stay out of other persons' business as long as nobody gets harmed, but we will not turn away from a person who is clearly in distress.