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Europe’s Top Tourist Attractions Make the List of Pickpocketing Hotspots for 2024

Europe Italy Spain France Greece Germany Netherlands Portugal Ireland Poland Greece Travel Safety
by Katie Scott Aiton May 1, 2024

On a metro in Barcelona, a woman lost her footing as the train jolted and knocked into my shoulder, which propelled me off balance into the arms of the gentleman on my left. As I apologized, they took my phone from my front pocket.

After decades of traveling, you’d think I’d know better than to have valuables so easily accessible, but perhaps due to my experience, complacency had crept in. Most of us are aware of the scams. This metro bump is a classic, as is the asking-for-directions distraction grab and the train door bottleneck group robbery. These incidents happen in seconds. You often won’t realize anything has happened until you notice your wallet has gone when you go to pay for something later.

Although pickpocketing is anything but glamorous, it is a profession. Pickpockets are skilled in misdirection and utilize dexterity, often working in teams to target demographics perceived as easier targets, like crowded areas or tourists.

Having street smarts will go a long way to protect your valuables, but there are certain places in Europe where you need to be more careful than others. Recent data from Quotezone’s European Pickpocketing Index sheds light on the most likely places to encounter these light-fingered thieves and offers valuable tips to safeguard your belongings.

The index drew conclusions from reviews of the top five tourist attractions in each European country left by visitors on TripAdvisor. And while this does not paint a complete picture, it does indicate what types of experiences (both good and bad) people are having on the ground.

Topping the index is Italy, with its renowned tourist attractions like the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain in Rome and the Gallerie Degli Uffizi in Florence, seeing the highest number of pickpocketing mentions in online reviews.

France comes in second, with pickpocketing incidents frequently reported in Paris around the Eiffel Tower and other popular spots such as Arc de Triomphe, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, and the Louvre Museum.

Spain takes third place, perhaps not surprisingly, with Las Ramblas in Barcelona being the pickpocket hotspot.

Here are the top ten places in Europe with the highest reports of pickpocketing according to reviews on Trip Advisor.

  • Italy — Colosseum, Duomo di Milano, Gallerie Degli Uffizi, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon
  • France — Musée d’Orsay, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, Louvre Museum
  • Spain — Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, Plaza Mayor, Madrid,The Alhambra, Prado National Museum, Las Ramblas
  • Germany — Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag Building, Marienplatz, East Side Gallery, The Holocaust Memorial
  • Netherlands — Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum, Red Light District, Rijksmuseum,
  • Portugal — Castelo de S. Jorge, Oceanário de Lisboa, Ponte de Dom Luís I, Alfama, Mosteiro dos Jeronimos
  • Turkey — Hagia Sophia Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Topkapi Palace, Sultanahmet District, Blue Mosque
  • Greece — Acropolis, Acropolis Museum, Little Venice Mykonos, Medieval City, Rhodes town, Parthenon
  • Poland — Krakow’s Rynek Glowny Central Square, Państwowe Muzeum Auschwitz-Birkenau, Old Town Warsaw, Łazienki Królewskie w Warszawie, Rynek of Wroclaw
  • Republic of Ireland — Guinness Storehouse, The Book of Kells and the Old Library Exhibition, Killarney National Park, Irish Whiskey Museum, Temple Bar

Top tips for avoiding pickpockets

As stated, pickpockets are often professionals, but there are some basic things you can do to keep you and your possessions safe.

  • Conceal your valuables: Wear money belts or crossbody bags that are difficult to snatch. Never wear a single-strap bag over your shoulder and avoid putting valuables in easily accessible pockets.
  • Stay alert: Be mindful of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas. Don’t get distracted by performances or street vendors, which are common pickpocketing tactics.
  • Travel light: Carry only what you need for the day. Leave unnecessary valuables in your hotel safe.
  • Beware of bump-and-grab: Pickpockets often work in teams, creating distractions while another member steals belongings. Be wary of sudden bumps or jostles.
  • Photocopy important documents: Keep photocopies of passports and IDs separately.
  • Invest in anti-theft gear: Consider traveling with slash-proof bags or wallets with hidden compartments.

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