10 Most Dangerous Cities in Brazil

Updated On October 10, 2023

In 2016, Brazil got to show the world a taste of its culture by hosting the Summer Olympics. 

As beautiful as Rio and other cities across the country were to showcase, there were some behind-the-scenes issues.

Olympians and visitors were complaining about pickpockets and other crimes. 

Despite efforts by the local authorities, it’s hard to keep a country in check with the 9th highest crime rate.

The most common crimes committed in Brazil are violent.

Assault, homicide, and even kidnappings have become part of what’s to be expected, especially in bigger cities.

People still come and see the country because, for whatever reason, it’s the locals who mostly become victims of these crimes. 

If you’ve been thinking about taking a trip to Brazil, stay tuned.

We’re going to go through the most dangerous cities so you can be aware ahead of departure. 

10 Most Dangerous Cities in Brazil

Feira de Santana
Feira de Santana

1. Feira de Santana

One of the top 10 most dangerous cities in the world, Feira de Santana has quite a reputation. 

Located in the state of Bahia, with a murder rate of 62 per 100,000 people, this is a place you want to avoid entirely.

It’s attractive because the city sits on the ocean.

Perhaps that is what keeps it vulnerable. 

Vandalism and drugs are also big problems in Feira de Santana.


2. Fortaleza

Having one of the highest crime rates in a country that is already not that safe makes Fortaleza dangerous.

The city comes up at 77 on the crime index.

Violent crimes such as assault, armed robbery, and murder have been on the rise in recent years.

Vandalism and grand theft auto are also issues occurring more often in Fortaleza.


3. Mossoró

Just behind Feira de Santana in the homicide rate is Mossoró with 54 per 100,000 people.

The city also has one of the top murder rates in Brazil. 

This figure has jumped up a lot thanks to the increase in the population.

When a city suddenly has a decent number of new people moving in, it often comes with problems.

Rio Branco
Rio Branco

4. Rio Branco

On the Bolivian border, crime seems to be running especially high in Rio Branco. 

This city rates 91 on the crime index.

Each category of crime is considered very high. 

Pretty much the only thing locals aren’t worried about is being attacked due to racism.

Rio Branco scores the highest when it comes to drugs, violent crimes, and theft.


5. Salvador

Part of the Bay of All Saints is a piece of land that sticks out in the northeastern half of Brazil. 

Salvador is another beach town with high crime, showing up at 77 on the crime index. 

Drugs, vandalism, and assault are crimes most often committed here. 

Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro

6. Rio de Janeiro

The most visible and well-known city in Brazil, Rio also comes with a hefty crime rate.

In recent years, this major city had 27 violent deaths per 100,000 residents. 

That’s well above the national average. 

If you’re traveling here, Copacabana is the safest area. 

There is a song sharing that name, after all. 

Vitória da Conquista
Vitória da Conquista

7. Vitória da Conquista

Having the 10th-highest murder rate in the world isn’t a great way to start.

Vitória da Conquista also has the highest murder rate in Brazil at 61 per 100,000 inhabitants. 

The immense poverty has led to gangs, an abundance of property crime, and regular hauls of drugs and weapons. 


8. Manaus

Right on the Amazon River in northern Brazil is a town with a 71 on the crime index.

Vandalism, armed robbery, and even bribery are big problems in Manaus. 

Thanks to a murder rate of 38.25 per 100,000, this gang-ruled place is the 45th most dangerous in the world. 


9. Natal

On the very northeastern tip, Natal has a crime rate of 77. 

Corruption is just as bad here as violent crimes.

Gang violence is often directly attributed to drugs.

Property crimes such as home invasion are right under physical crimes.


10. Belem

A handful of years ago, Belem’s murder rate was at 68 per 100,000 residents. 

Luckily, that number has dropped since then.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t decreased enough to take it off the list of being a dangerous place. 

Militias making their own rules have made fighting crime hard. 

Violence is still quite common here on the Guama River.

5 Safety Tips for Traveling to Brazil

1. Save the Beaches for Daylight

It’s a fun thing many travelers do when they are at a beach destination.

Getting hotels close to the ocean inevitably means someone will want to sneak out at night.

It sounds romantic or exhilarating to be in the dark with the moonlight over the water.

The reality is, someone up to no good knows how popular it is to do such.

These characters are ready to take advantage of the situation. 

There’s no telling what exactly a group of criminals would do to a person alone or a couple innocently dipping in the water.

Don’t let yourself find out, either.

Only go to the beach during the day when there is a multitude of others around.  

2. Be Wary of Kissing Culture

One thing many tourists appreciate about Brazil is how open it is for PDAs.

Brazilians are openly loving and affectionate people.

Kisses are everywhere and it can be fun to indulge in the practice when you are on vacation.

The gesture can also be used on unsuspecting strangers who are just looking to have a good time and fit in.

There’s no better distraction than giving someone attention.

Sometimes, a pickpocket will work with someone else to get a non-local engaged in a game of flirting or chatting.

This can offer up enough time for their partner to sneak a wallet from a bag, among other things.

Rule of thumb, if you don’t know them, don’t stop for them, and don’t loosely carry precious belongings. 

3. Make Pickpocketing Pointless

It’s tempting to bring your best jewelry and credit cards on vacation.

Having the freedom to look your best and buy whatever you want is a driving force for many vacations.

However, especially in a place like Brazil, the opposite is true.

Don’t bring big bags with everything precious to walk around the town.

Take only what you need while out and about.

The smaller the bag, the harder it will be for anyone to slide their hand in.

Even better, get a necklace that you can store the essentials in and tuck under your shirt.

Not only will doing so free up your hands, but it will make you less of a target.

4. Take Taxis After Sunset

Walking around town during the day is a fantastic way to see the city or countryside.

Once the evening is on the horizon, however, it’s time to get off the foot and look for other means of transportation.

The night is when a majority of criminal activity takes place.

Those native to the area are on the lookout and can easily spot someone out of their element.

This is particularly true on empty streets. 

You wouldn’t want to be caught alone with anyone around. 

5. Take Guided Tours 

A popular activity many travelers partake in is checking out national parks.

The parks have unique compositions and impressive views.

Making the mistake of going without someone knowledgeable could be a mistake.

The parks aren’t always as helpful as you might be used to.

Depending on the park, it could be dangerous with an increased risk of getting lost.

Brazil Safety Overview

READ THE FULL REPORT: Brazil Safety Review

Safety Index:

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the safest city in Brazil?

Often ranked as the safest area in the country, Brasília is the US equivalent of Washington DC.

Essentially, it’s a federal district that acts as the nation’s capital.

That might have something to do with how safe it is since the area would be heavily guarded.

Another place not too far from Brasília is Belo Horizonte.

With comparable crime rates, Belo is considered basically as safe to live and tour in as Brasília.

Other cities considered safe in Brazil are Florianópolis, Curitiba, and Jaraguá do Sul.

Is Brazil a safe place for women to solo travel?

Even though there are plenty of safe places across the country, it would not be advisable for women to travel here alone.

Honestly, Brazil isn’t really the place where newbie travelers should start their adventures.

There’s too much to be cautious of for someone without experience with what to look for when in a new place.

This sentiment goes double time for women.

Unfortunately, the world is often not a safe place for women, regardless of resumes.

No matter how prepared a woman is, places like Brazil should really only be an option in multiples.

Is it safe to drink tap water in Brazil?

There are certain places in the world where the water filtration system is not as up to code as you may be used to.

Brazil happens to be one of those places.

While visiting, go out of your way to load up on bottled water and other beverages.

Before drinking from the bottles, be sure that the caps are securely on when you open them.

This policy also applies to ice and any drink you order while out that was made on location using water.

Sticking to bottled beverages is sure to help save you from any major stomach disruptions.

4 Comments on 10 Most Dangerous Cities in Brazil

  1. Don’t take guided tours from people on the street.

  2. Plus, the parks are often in remote areas.

    If you were to get hurt, it could be days before someone comes by. 

    Having a guide with you increases your chances of staying safe.

    Brazil did a great job hosting the Summer Olympics in 2016 and showcasing its culture, but behind-the-scenes issues such as high crime rates and violence make it a risky destination for tourists.

  3. Keep to the basic safety rules and you will have a wonderful time in this fascinating country . Brazil is an amazing country with wonderful people.

  4. I live in Rio and i can strongly say that Copacabana is not one of the safest areas around here. For sure, if you want to see tourist places, copacabana is really cool, but you need to pay attention to the pickpockets. If i may suggest two places you should go, one is , by far LEBLON one of the most safest neighborhood and similar to copacabana, with a beaultiful beach and good places to eat. The other one is URCA, an unique part of Rio, where you can enjoy the sunset while eating good brazilian food.

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