Is Vienna a safe city? How safe is it for women?

Whether you are planning a trip to Vienna, Austria or considering moving here, one of the things many people want to know before they arrive is the answer to one or both of these questions — “Is Vienna a safe city?” and “How safe is Vienna for women?

As a woman who has not only lived in Vienna for more than five years, but has also lived in some of the biggest cities around the world before coming here, commenting on safety in Vienna is something I often do.

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So, is Vienna a safe city, how safe is it for women, and are you likely to experience any safety issues while you are here?

Vienna is a safe city — officially

Since I turned 18 years old, I have pretty much made it my life’s work to live in as many places as possible.

That is why, before coming to Vienna, I had lived in the United Kingdom (born and raised), in the United States — Cincinnati, Ohio, Denver, Colorado, Dallas, Texas, San Francisco and Los Angeles, California and Wilmington, North Carolina — in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and in Bangkok, Thailand.

I only mention this to let you know I have lived in many large cities, and spent extensive amounts of time in many many more and, while during my 15 years in Bangkok, I came to think of that city as one of the world’s safest (surprising to some, but it’s true), I have to admit, Vienna is even safer.

 

It is not only me that thinks that, of course, as Austria has been officially named the fifth most peaceful country on the Global Peace Index, 2021.

Considering Vienna is the capital of Austria, and has a population of 1.9 million people, if the city had major crime problems, you can guarantee Austria’s position on the Peace Index would be much lower.

It is not.

Mercer’s most recent Quality of Living City ranking (2019) also names Vienna the world’s best city to live in for quality of life. It has held that top position for a decade.

Safety is a big part of why certain cities are ranked towards the top of the list, while others are ranked at the bottom.

In 2019, Mercer also included a separate ranking on personal safety for the first time. On that list, Vienna was in the sixth spot — just behind Luxembourg City, Helsinki, Basel, Bern and Zurich. (All European cities, please note).

 

Museums Quartier, Vienna

Is Vienna a safe city?

In the five and a half years I have lived in Vienna, I have not experienced one minute of worrying about my safety.

Not when walking around the city alone, which I do every day. Not when taking the U-bahn train at 2am after a night at a nightclub, not when shopping or going to concerts, not in bars or restaurants, not out on the street late at night — not anywhere.

Austrians, generally, tend to be polite, calm, and well-mannered people who don’t force their way into your personal space or behave inappropriately.

Sure, they can drink just as well as anyone, and I have seen a few Austrians drunk in my many nights at bars, nightclubs and concerts (I’m a music journalist, so I tend to out at night quite a lot), but unlike my birth nationality the British, who unfortunately have a reputation for being obnoxious and sometimes dangerous drunks, it is rare to experience a rude or dangerous Austrian drunk.

The same goes for the other nationalities living in Vienna, as the politeness of Austrians seems to rub off on them.

Besides, Austrians have no problem calling the police if someone is being an idiot, or threatening someone around them, and I image those who have learn their lesson quickly.

Particularly as Vienna’s police arrive quite fast.

In fact, after more than 30 years traveling around the world predominantly alone, I have to say I have never felt as safe as I do in Vienna.

 

Crowded places like outdoor concerts in Vienna are where you may encounter pickpockets. Keep your belongings close to you

Crime in Vienna

Of course, just like anywhere in the world, there is crime in Vienna and, in the last couple of years, the city has experienced a couple of horrific events that have shocked Austrians and others living in the city.

In November, 2020, a lone gunman shot and killed four people and injured 23 others in Vienna’s busy city center.

He was subsequently identified as an ISIL sympathizer after he was killed by Austrian police.

(*Do note, however, while the attacker may have been Muslim, other Muslim men out in the city with friends and family helped carry gunshot victims to safety).

In another crime that shocked the country, in July of this year a 13-year-old girl was drugged, raped and murdered by three Afghan asylum seekers.

While horrific events, both incidents were such a shock to Austrians particularly as crimes as horrendous as these rarely happen in the city.

As the U.S. State Department’s OSAC said about Vienna in 2020 when talking about travel to the city for Americans:

Austria has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe, and violent crime is rare. Crime rates generally decreased slightly during 2019, except for a notable increase in reported cybercrime. The most common crime experienced by U.S. citizens is purse/wallet snatching, typically in crowded public areas.

Other crimes of opportunity included those in trains, restaurants, shopping areas, and crowded tourist areas in which criminals distracted a victim who usually was not in direct physical control of valuables. These crimes were overwhelmingly non-violent, and seldom involved weapons.

 

Is Vienna safe for women?

Yes. Overwhelmingly yes.

Of course, any woman out in Vienna alone, particularly late at night, should always be aware of what and who is around them.

Like anywhere else in the world, don’t leave bars or nightclubs with people you do not know. Don’t take money out of ATMs while standing on the sidewalk late at night. Don’t get so drunk you are not in charge of your own safety.

You know, the usual common sense things you should practice anywhere in the world as a woman traveling or living alone, or even with friends or family.

But, overall, as a woman who has lived in Vienna for more than five years, I have to stress I never feel threatened or afraid out on the street in Vienna — even late at night.

I don’t feel unsafe in bars, nightclubs or restaurants, on public transportation, while shopping, going to concerts, museums or other tourist spots — in tourist areas, or in general areas of Vienna.

Every other woman I know, Austrian and otherwise, has commented the same thing.

So, is Vienna a safe city? It’s one of the safest cities in the world.

Is Vienna safe for women? Yes.

 

Michelle Topham