How safe is Vienna (and Austria) for tourists and to move around? Vienna is very safe; it is ranked on average as number 3 to 5 on the world’s safest country list (on various indexes). Also, Vienna is ranked as the most livable city in the world several times in a row and there is a good reason for it. The city has everything you need for a nice and fulfilled life, and this includes safety.
So, let’s see various aspects of safety in Vienna for tourists and visitors. Please note – everything mentioned here about Vienna also applies to Austria in general for most parts.
Political and social unrests risks
Austria is a stable country with functional democracy and institutions. However, democracy also means freedom of expression and the right to protest, which happens often in Vienna, and especially during the past two years of pandemics.
There are plenty of protests and political manifestations and some of them turn violent. Not as violent to raise a concern about overall safety, but an altercation with police is commonplace during the protests, which we witnessed several times during anti-COVID-19 measures protests.
General advice is to avoid protest areas, which happen mostly in the city center and the main squares. All the protests are scheduled in advance and are approved by authorities to provide proper safety and they are usually very streamlined. Usual times for protests are in the afternoon between 3 and 5 PM, so they will not mess up your sightseeing too much when they happen.
The overall risk from political and social unrest is low.
Traffic in Vienna is well-organized and safe. Pedestrian crossings are marked properly and most of them have traffic lights with green lights on demand (you press the button if you want to cross). Drivers follow the rules and stop at pedestrian crossings without exceptions.
Ride on public transport is safe and pleasant. You just need to be aware of movements and hold yourself tight, especially when a vehicle is turning or when stopping at the station – stops can be somewhat abrupt and especially during rush hours.
One thing that you should be paying attention to as a visitor in Vienna is your walking path, meaning following pedestrian routes and not walking on bicycle tracks. They are marked very well (mostly), but they are crossing and overlap each other, especially near pedestrian crossings and you might be in the way of people on bicycles and scooters. Many of them drive very fast and accidents can happen.
If you are renting a bicycle or a scooter, you will need to follow local traffic rules and use only dedicated paths.
Public transport – underground, buses and trams are considered very safe to use due to the comprehensive network of CCTV cameras covering stations and vehicles and frequent patrolling of security staff at stations and on the transport as well (and especially on the underground).
The overall traffic safety risk is low.
Tourists’ traps and scams
There are very few tourist traps, such as overpriced restaurants and cafes, costly and low-quality souvenirs, and so on, but all these establishments have clearly marked prices and menus and it is easy to avoid them.
Most of these are in the city center and are easy to spot, especially souvenir shops. Our advice is if you like some souvenirs and it seems expensive, continue walking and you might find the same souvenir at a lower price outside of the city center.
Recently, there is a group of people in Kärntner Straße, in the very city center, who try to trick tourists into playing a shell game (instead of cups and balls, they use empty matchboxes). There is a group of about ten people with a very organized performance, where one person is hiding a small ball under three matchbox boxes and asking passersby to guess where the ball is. The rest of the group is pretending they are also tourists and encouraging onlookers to play. Police usually intervene very quickly in these scams.
The overall risk from tourist traps and scammers is low.
Violent crime, mugging, and pickpocketing
Violent crime is very rare in Vienna and the risk of this kind of crime is very low. Some other types of crime, such as mugging, and pickpocketing is more possible but still rare.
To avoid pickpocketers, use common sense and don’t bring your valuables with you, and keep your wallet, phone, documents, and keys safe and close to you. If you are carrying a backpack, make sure it is closed, and if you want to feel safer, carry it in your hands.
Avoid remaining more than necessary in crowded areas, such as main squares and underground stations. This is important, especially during festive seasons and events like Christmas markets. Don’t leave your valuables unattended, especially when you are sitting in the open areas of cafes or restaurants.
Overall safety risk from crime is low.
Extreme weather risks
Vienna has nice weather during most of the year. However, during autumn, winter, and early spring, there can be very windy, with a lot of rain or snow and with thunderstorms. There is an active warning for visitors to avoid public parks during thunderstorms.
There is a danger of flooding in the area along the Danube River as there was a large flood several years ago. There is a notification system in place and if you happen to be in the area in case of torrential rains that cause flooding, you should be vigilant.
If you happen to travel to the mountains, be careful with extreme weather – storms and snow avalanches.
The risk of extreme weather is low to medium (depending on the season).
On November 2, 2020, a terrorist attack happened in Vienna, where a lone gunman killed 4 and injured 22 people. This took the international community and terrorism experts by surprise since Vienna and Austria are not considered targets of international terror groups. Despite the fact that this terrorist acted alone, there is still a valid threat of further attacks, due to a known network of extremists residing in Austria.
Nonetheless, the overall risk of terror attacks in Vienna is medium to low.
Outside of the current pandemic with COVID-19, there are no notable health risks in Vienna you should be concerned with. However, if you are planning to do hiking a bit outside of Vienna during the summer, beware of ticks, as they can attack you and possibly transmit a disease.
Namely, they transfer TBE – tick-borne encephalitis. This is a dangerous disease and if untreated can be fatal in some cases. There is an active campaign for vaccination against TBE and both children and adults are encouraged to inoculate before summer.
In case you don’t want to get a vaccine, you can use repellents and/or avoid wearing shorts when walking through the grass.
In general, Vienna has good-quality air, high-quality drinking water, and plenty of green areas, so this adds to the health hazards being very low.
Other than TBE, the overall health risk in Vienna (and Austria) is very low.
Solo travelers, women travelers – how safe it is in Vienna and Austria?
Traveling by yourself (traveling solo) to Austria and Vienna is considered safe. Women travelers can also travel alone without major concerns. Women feel safe in Vienna in every aspect of their visit – accommodation, public transport, bars, restaurants, museums and galleries, shopping, nightlife, walking on a street alone, both during day and night, etc. Vienna is one of the safest cities in the world this is reflected in the safety of solo women travelers as well.
Therefore, the safety risk for solo travelers is low.
Family-friendly travel, children safety, and overall friendliness in Vienna
Vienna is a family and child-friendly place, not only from a safety perspective but for all amenities and possibilities offered to families with children.
Children up to the age of 14 can use any public transport for free and most of the museums are free of charge for children. Restaurants are family-oriented, and they have family sitting areas, playrooms (for larger restaurants), baby changing rooms and highchairs, children’s menus, and entertainment (coloring books, small toys, etc.).
People in Vienna are usually friendly and helpful and will be happy to guide you if you are lost or looking for an address or a landmark. Viennese usually speak English and communication is easy. Shop assistants, cashiers, and wait staff are very friendly and helpful and will make your stay in their establishment enjoyable.
Overall, Vienna is family and child-friendly, and people are friendly.
Nighttime safety and Vienna nightlife
Vienna has a rich and diverse nightlife and it will be a pity to miss it when you are here. Vienna at night is safe, almost as much as during the day, the only difference being that at night you might encounter drunk people (more than you do during the day, anyway). But worry not, this is not a problem, being drunk does not necessarily mean violence so this shouldn’t be an issue.
Even when you go from venue to venue or you take public transport well past midnight, you will be safe to do so, without much of a concern. You will, of course, need to be vigilant and avoid people who might be drunk or too euphoric at that time of the night.
Overall, the nightlife in Vienna is safe.
Areas to avoid in Vienna
Just to be on the safe side, there are certain areas you should avoid late at night, not because of some specific risk, but to avoid unnecessary unpleasant experiences.
Vigilance is advised in the following areas:
- Karlsplatz station and Gumpendorfer Strasse
- Praterstern and Ausstellungsstrasse
- North of Westbahnhof along the Neubaugürtel
- South of Gumpendorfer Strasse
This is mostly due to red-light premises in the areas and the possibility of drunk people roaming around. During the day, these areas are as safe as the rest of Vienna.
If you want to call an ambulance directly then dial 144. For the police direct number is 133. The same rule applies if calling from a foreign SIM – add 0043 before the number.
The operators might not speak English but knowing your address or place where you are, and the type of emergency should be understood well enough. In case of difficulties communicating, just ask any nearby local and they will be happy to help.
So, the final verdict: is Vienna safe? Vienna is a safe place to visit for everybody – families, children, women solo travelers. The high level of safety is in all aspects of one’s visit and can be something you should not be concerned about during your travel to Vienna. You should be vigilant as you should be anywhere in the world, but overall, Vienna is a very safe city to visit and enjoy to the fullest. Almost every aspect of safety in Vienna also applies to Austria as a whole. Safe travels and see you soon!