How safe is Moscow?
“How safe is Moscow?”
“Is it safe to travel to Moscow?”
I see these questions popping up all over the net again and again. Time to answer these questions once and for all with actual on-the-ground experience., so you're able to travel safely and with your mind at ease.
In this article you will find out all you need to know about your safety in the Russian capital:
- How safe is Moscow for travelers?
- How safe is Moscow at night?
- How safe are taxis in Moscow?
- How safe is Moscow for females?
- How safe is Moscow for Asians and Black people?
- How safe is Moscow to visit alone?
- Do Russians like Americans?
- Are there no go zones in Moscow?
- Is there corruption in Moscow?
- Is Moscow dangerous because of terrorism?
- Is Moscow safe for gay people, political activists and the sorts?
I've been living in Moscow for years and I'm dealing with these things on a daily basis, which means you get to read actual first-hand experience in this article.
Let’s address these one by one.
How safe is Moscow for travellers?
The first, biggest and most important answer, valid for all other questions as well, is:
Yes, Moscow is totally safe to travel to.
If you’re a tourist and plan to visit Moscow for party, business, the World Cup or any other reason, you have absolutely nothing to be afraid of.
I’m by no means a massive traveler but I’ve been to multiple countries in Europe and in the US. Moscow (and St.Petersburg for that matter) are at least as safe as any other big Western capital such as London, New York, Paris and many others.
Police presence in Moscow is high but not in an intrusive way. There’s very little petty crime such as pick-pocketing, scams or foreigners and the sorts. You’re very unlikely to encounter petty corruption by the police since this has been weeded out a few years ago.
Due to increasing numbers of immigrants Western capitals “feel” less safe to many people, irrespective of the fact whether this is true or not. Moscow is culturally more homogeneous and pretty much all people are White, in the American sense of the word.
In almost three years of living in Moscow, never have I been threatened, victim of a crime or even felt unsafe. Broadly speaking, your biggest enemy is your own stupidity, such as behaving inappropriately or carelessly when it comes to your belongings or other things.
In conclusion: yes, Moscow is absolutely safe.
How safe is Moscow at night?
Nighttime or daytime does not make a difference in terms of safety in Moscow.
If we’re talking safety on the streets, rest assured that you can go out at any time of the night to pretty much anywhere you would like within the city center. The amount of shady people or places where you would feel uncomfortable is close to zero.
I’ve lived in the suburbs as well and this has been the case there too, although as a tourist you’re unlikely to ever venture far from the center of Moscow at night (and if so, then only for the right reasons hopefully...).
If we’re talking safety in nightlife, pretty much all clubs in Moscow have security present on site. You will get patted down upon entering the club and that’s pretty much it. This is an almost unnoticeable inconvenience with the massive upside that regular and high-end clubs are totally safe.
More basic places are on the whole safe as well but approach them with care. Getting into a fight, being robbed and/or drugged are very rare events but they do happen. That’s one of the reasons why I generally advise against basic nightclubs or at least staying sober and in control of the situation. People there always will have less to lose than you.
How safe are taxis in Moscow?
On the whole taxis are absolutely safe. That is, if you’re smart enough to use Gett, Uber or some other taxi app like is the norm nowadays in Moscow. Even if some sort of scam or inconvenience were to happen, you’d always be able to complain about it.
As far as gypsy cabs go, random cars that you flag down on your own, I again advise against those. Unless you’re brave enough to enter a beat-up Lada in the middle of the night with two shady guys sitting in the front, you’ll be safe. But you’re definitely overpaying, nevermind the fact that people will drive like nutcases and probably ask you a million questions.
So another case of you being your biggest enemy.
How safe is Moscow for females?
I’m not a female so I cannot comment on topics like cat-calling and sexist comments. But female friends and acquaintances tell me that Moscow is and feels as safe as any other city to them. You can perfectly well go out alone at night as a girl without fearing for your security. Again, for lewd comments I am not the right person to ask.
How safe is Moscow for Asians and Black people?
I’m also not Asian or Black so my wealth of experience is rather small regarding this question. In general, the few minorities that I’ve met in Moscow have not complained about racism or feeling insecure because they look different.
If you’re a member of the politically correct thought-police you are unlikely to like the candid Russian approach regarding race. Very roughly speaking, Russians hold Western tourists in high regard, Asians and Black people are generally ok too. They tend to look down upon Central Asian migrants, who do a lot of low-paying jobs in Moscow and are inofficial second-class citizens.
So if you are from there, or could be mistaken for being from there, that might be a bit unpleasant here and there. But nothing that would endanger your security.
Speaking English always opens a lot of doors in Moscow, even if you might not get understood all the time.
How safe is Moscow to visit alone?
I think by now you’ve already gotten the idea of Moscow being really safe. Visiting alone or in a group doesn’t make a difference, so you can perfectly well do a solo trip to Moscow.
Do Russians like Americans?
On the whole, Muscovites will be indifferent to mildly curious to the fact that you are a foreigner. As a German I can say from my own experience that being European generally evokes good reactions. This goes for girls as much as in general.
All the Americans that I know and have known in Moscow have also never complained about hostile receptions. Unless you’re going to beat the drum for NATO opening shop in Ukraine or state that Russia is an inferior shithole, nobody will care either way. As always, some popular states like California, New York and Florida are instant winners and guaranteed to get you a good reception.
Are there no go zones in Moscow?
I already mentioned that Moscow’s city center is very safe. Moscow doesn’t have real quarters like other big cities do. In Europe you might see “ghettoization” of certain areas where migrants cluster and natives don’t always feel safe anymore. In Moscow, however, there is no equivalent of migrant neighborhoods, no go zones and the sorts. At best you could say that certain suburbs are far more depressing and you’ll see more alcoholism there. But unless you really go looking for trouble you’re unlikely to find it.
Is there police in Moscow and is there corruption?
Moscow overall has rather high police presence, though not quite as in other cities. In Paris for example you’ll see heavily armed police at big railway stations and the airport. Moscow has more but lighter police presence.
Metro stations, big malls, concerts and the sorts always have metal detectors that you need to go through. However, they’re not as thorough as at the airport and you simply walk through them. I assume they only check for weapons. If you’re carrying a big bag, you might be asked for a quick X-ray at metro stations and railway stations as well.
Police presence is highest at big events and holidays. Whole areas can get closed down and people have to pass through designated entrances. This is a big contrast to the rather open European security approach at comparable events. Not always convenient but it definitely works.
As far as corruption goes, you're unlikely to ever encounter it as a tourist or regular citizen. This only becomes an issue when you start running in certain business and political circles.
All that being said, do not count on the police having your back if you get yourself in trouble. The best way of staying safe in Moscow is not to rely on the rule of law but using your own brain.
Is Moscow safe for gay people, political activists and other "targeted groups"?
This is a favorite boogeyman of the Western press and a topic of unusually high interest. Short answer: if you’re gay or if you hate Putin with a passion, best to keep it to yourself. Another case of your own stupidity being your own biggest enemy.
Russian values are different from Western values and homosexuality isn’t looked too favorably upon. You’re free to be as homosexual as you like in Russia but best to do so at home or in designated nightclubs, where you can do so. Yes they exist, I’ve accidentally crashed gay nights more than once. Holding hands and kissing in public won’t get you arrested but sure as hell people will quite rashly tell you to stop it.
The same goes for political activities and discussions. Best to avoid both of those as much as possible and dedicate your time to better things like having the best night of your life in Moscow.