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Vienna, Salzburg, Munich! Are they safe???

I have been to Vienna, Salzburg, and Munich over 17 years ago, and let's just say it was a different world then. I will be travelling with 2 young children, and I will be carrying multiple bags (as children have various needs throughout the touring day). My concern is NOT about terrorism, as that is uncommon, but rather my concern is violent street crime (not just mere pick pocketing).

The hotels I am researching are pretty centrally located (not on the outskirts of town), and we plan to mostly tour during the day (and not out in the evening) during Easter week (when the cities should be filled with tourists). I read about the on-goings on these cities on-line, and the opinions vary from one extreme of "very safe" and "hug a migrant" to the other extreme of "fear for your life". I am sure that the truth is somewhere in the middle (but where in the middle).

So my question is directed to people who either live in any of these cities AND/OR anyone who recently spent a significant amount of time in these cities AND/OR anyone who only visited for a couple days.

Please advise.

Regards.
George

Posted by
3105 posts

I don't know what online news you are seeing about these cities and violent crime in city centers but having been to all 3 in the past 3 years I always feel safer in these cities at any time of the day or night than cities in the US when it comes to violent crime.

Posted by
1175 posts

I just got back from the Germany,Austria&Switzerland tour where we went to all three cities and where I stayed for 4 extra days in Vienna as a solo female traveler. I felt very safe but just careful as to where I was and to wear my pocketbook across me and the pocketbook in front as I always do. Can anything happen of course. But they really are very nice safe cities. On the Vienna walking tour our guide said Vienna was a very safe city. I needed to know how to get somewhere and asked two policemen and they were so nice and helpful! The policeman said, just be careful in the subway there are pickpockets. One night I came back from a wonderful concert and it was late, I knew I had to walk through the museum quarter which I did not know if people would be around or not so instead of taking the tram back, I took a cab back to my hotel and it really was not much money to do so. That was all in Vienna. In Salzburg and Munich it is teemed with lots of people. If just mindful of where you are going and keeping an eye on the to young children you should be fine. Not scary or unsafe in those three cities.

Posted by
6868 posts

I assume you're asking because your travel experiences lately are a bit "rusty" ("17 years ago") and you're concerned primarily about the safety of small children. Violent crimes are crimes of opportunity and convenience. Reality check - What would be the motivation for such a crime against small children with no valuable assets (and their accompanying parent) during broad daylight? You hinted at carrying multiple bags - that's the only thing you should focus on...lighten the load as much as possible to prevent opportunity of pickpockets. Zip up backpacks, avoid distractions, and keep valuables safely hidden.

Posted by
276 posts

I'm with Mona. Swaying from the middle to very safe. I wouldn't run to your hotel room at dusk. Pick pocketing is probably the biggest concern. Take precautions, enjoy your trip and give your kids memories to remember.

Posted by
32 posts

Let me add that although I was last in Vienna, Salzburg, and Munich 17 years ago, I had multiple European vacations since then. My last great vacation was in 2014 in London and Paris. No problems whatsover, but this was prior to the mass migration "problem" (although many sources say it is not a problem). Which is basically the nature of my inquiry.

Posted by
12040 posts

The most sensible precaution you can take is to avoid large public demonstrations. These rarely become violent, but you can often count on a few anarchist troublemakers doing their best to stir things up. Otherwise, random violent crime in the center of these cities is extremely rare.

The current migrant issue has changed the overall safety of these cities very little. The recent shooting in Munich occurred in an area that few tourists ever visited, and the perpetrator was a longtime German citizen.

Almost any US city remains significantly more dangerous than most of the European cities that tourists flock to, both from crime and more significantly, automobile traffic.

Posted by
12875 posts

"Fear for your life" to "hug a migrant"...what's that? I don't buy either view. I've been back to Vienna every summer (sometime between May and June) since 2009, this past May/June for nine nights being the most recent. No problems at all.

What I noticed this trip different from last year's prior to the migrant crisis is that these SOS red/blue stations (SOS Stellen) have proliferated. They're all over in train stations, platforms, the underground passages with instructions in German and English. You can tell which of them are new...pretty obvious. The other difference is that more of a police presence at the stations in Salzburg and Westbahnhof, mostly after 1800, assisted by "security." They wear the yellow jackets with "Sicherheit" on the back.

Most likely, your activities will be in the center. Taking the tram and U-Bahn covers all those places. I took that too plus the S-Bahn out to the outskirts (the towns of Deutsch Wagram, which I saw, and Hollabrünn, which I didn't get to), to outlying districts, and from Wien Hbf to cross the Czech border....nothing out of the ordinary. I'll be back in Vienna end of May in 2017 too.

Posted by
3618 posts

You stated "...my concern is violent street crime (not just mere pick pocketing)." We've been to all three cities, and in my opinion, that concern should not be a concern at all. As a general rule I think one will encounter far less violent crime in all three cities combined than in one large American city -- sad to say. As another poster indicated, staying away from large demonstrations is a prudent idea no matter where one is located.

Posted by
3017 posts

I have been to Vienna and Munich this year and felt very safe in both of them. I am headed to Salzburg in December and am not concerned at all about my safety based on my time there in 2014. I do agree with the person who said it's probably a good idea to steer clear of protests. Think about signing up for the US Consulate's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. You just provide some basic identifying info and your travel dates. The US Consulate for the country you are visiting will notify you of anything that might be worth avoiding while you are there. I got an e-mail during a recent trip to France recommending that I avoid the US Embassy in Paris on a specific day due to a planned protest there.

Posted by
4677 posts

I have lived in Vienna with my two kids for 9 years. There is no such thing as violent street crime here. I've never experienced it, never heard or read of it happening. I should add that I work in and travel to the 10th district of Vienna every day - the "poorest" part of town. OP - where did you get the offensive idea that Vienna has a violent crime problem?

Posted by
12875 posts

"...am not concerned at all about my safety." Bravo, Dave! My sentiments exactly. This last trip in June I was in all three places too, but only at the train station twice in Salzburg.

Posted by
4677 posts

I put my kid on the train and subway where he goes by himself to and from school everyday. He's been doing this since he was 10, but many kids start doing this as young as 6 or 7. Not what you'd find in an unsafe city.

Posted by
183 posts

'Violent street crime' in Vienna is vanishingly rare and usually occurs in connection with gang conflicts or staggeringly drunk people. I assume your kids won't fall in either of those categories. Don't jaywalk, especially around the trams, and all will be well. :-)

Posted by
31465 posts

George,

It's probably best to take alarmist reports on the internet with a "grain of salt". There will always be fear mongers lurking about online, but in my experience they're usually not the best at reporting accurate, well researched facts.

I've been in all those cities, some numerous times over the years, and so far haven't had any problems. I routinely walk around later in the evenings, and have never observed or heard about any "violent street crime". The hotel I normally use in Munich is close to the main station and in what some would consider a "dodgy area", with strip clubs and bars. Again no problems.

Posted by
1482 posts

As said in previous posts, Vienna is very safe regarding violent crime, but pickpocketing has become a nuisance during the past years. Organized gangs from Romania and Bulgaria (free travel within the EU - alas) as well as from Serbia have taken over this business. Very often children are specially trained, because there is no penalty or court action possible in Austria if the perpetrator is under the age of 14.

Be careful in crowds, especially when entering public transport, or when people "accidentally" bump into you. Don't carry valuable items with you which you don't need when walking around (e.g. American documents [passport, driver's license, social security card], US$ cash, keys from your home, etc.). Although warned in beforehand, my wife's cousin lost those items last year, having insisted to keep them in her purse.

Posted by
13524 posts

gmarmaris, you have probably been reading this sort of thing (this pretty current):

On Saturday evening violence broke out in the Austrian capital between
two rival migrant gangs who fought each other with knives and iron
bars. Up to 50 young men were involved in the fighting which saw a
gang of Afghan migrants attack a group of Chechens. Police spokesman
Paul Eidenberger told Austrian paper Kronen Zeitung, “there were two
attempted murders and five serious injuries,” in the aftermath of the
violent brawl.

The Chechens were leaving a youth centre in Handelskai when they were
attacked. A social worker who witnessed the entire brawl said that the
Afghanis who attacked the Chechens outnumbered them five to one. The
men were beaten viciously.

Some of the victims were stabbed in the abdomen leading to two victims
being taken to hospital with life threatening injuries

Ignore it. This sort of thing doesn't happen anywhere near the tourist zones where the police are very vigilant. Like any city, there are good places and not so good places. I know people who spend a lot of time in Vienna and the only incident they have ever been involved with is a Roma pick pocket on a tram. I get there from time to time to shop and have never had an incident other than some creepy people at the train station. Austria is an amazingly safe place. Here is a good statement about them: nearly the same percentage of Austrians own guns as Americans (32% vs 36%). Yet, they don't shoot each other at even 1/10th the rate that Americans do.

As for the migrants, the Austrians have stepped up their efforts to control the situation. They have built a fence between themselves and Italy and they have authorized the building of a fence along the Hungarian border. Doubt they will ever need to actually build it as the Hungarians have effectively stopped the migrants at their southern border. Rather focus on their origins, I just keep an eye on groups of seemingly unemployed young males "hanging out" and young girls in Roma clothing.

I wouldn't hesitate to visit again.

Posted by
12040 posts

Ignore it. This sort of thing doesn't happen anywhere near the tourist zones where the police are very vigilant.

And it also appears that this was a very targeted attack over a specific local grudge. Not an issue to the average tourist.

Posted by
32 posts

Thank you for sharing that. The material that I find on-line with a generic Google search does not distinguish between "tourist areas" versus "non-tourist areas", thus it does mislead people who are not as familiar with the various neighborhoods/districts of Vienna.

Posted by
1482 posts

But we are too terrified to return on account of the crime and terrorism threat. It's gonna be rough.

This is a complete exaggeration. Any bigger city in the US is less safe than Vienna, Munich, and Salzburg.

Posted by
13524 posts

Any bigger city in the US is less safe than Vienna, Munich, and
Salzburg.

Wellllllllllllllll, the question should be: is the tourist neighborhood in town A safer than the neighborhoods where I live and work and frequent in my home town? By those standards, assuming you are a upper middle income WASP, I would assume that Vienna, Munich and Salzburg are not significantly different than your typical life in the US. If I were interested in going to Germany, I wouldn't hesitate.

Posted by
12875 posts

Why is it going to be rough? It would not bother me in the least. I am quite familiar with the tourist areas in Vienna, just look at the tourist material in your hotel to get such information. Naturally, I go to those areas, but, equally important, I also go to the non-tourist areas in Vienna by takng the S-Bahn, such as the Pulverturmgasse area or the Nussdorf station, etc or out to Deutsch Wagram. Then you who get to see who is getting on and off among the locals who live there regardless of their original nationality. These people you see are definitely not tourists regardless if they are Asian, Filipino, African, or middle eastern. If these locals can live with it and hack it, I had better do the same.

Posted by
4677 posts

The statement by Gene is absolutely ridiculous. He should hide in a cave if he thinks Austria is unsafe. It is about the safest place on the planet.

Posted by
13524 posts

The statement by Gene is absolutely ridiculous. He should hide in a
cave ...

Neither kind nor productive.

Posted by
4677 posts

King James - would you like me to beg forgiveness?

Posted by
12875 posts

I have a friend, one where we've known each other since grammar school, who is a "minority" ie, Asian-American, if you want to be ethnic about it, good old Calif boy, then 39, who in the early 1990s was sent over for a period of time (don't know the exact length of stay) by his firm to eastern Germany (Dresden) when the attacks/hostile acts committed against foreigners by the skins/ right wingers were going on. He didn't shirk from the assignment, went either with a colleague or solo. His German colleagues in Dresden reassured him nothing would happen to him personally, (nothing did) Knowing him I don't think he cared.

Posted by
444 posts

George,

I realize I am a bit late to this post. As a father of a 3 year old and a 10 year old, I have no fear traveling to these places. My family visited Munich last year and stayed in a hotel outside the city center a few stops out and we felt safe, even when walking back to the hotel at night. In 2017, we are visiting Vienna and Salzburg.

Our first family trip was to Switzerland and Italy when our smallest was 10 months and oldest 8. Before we returned home, our oldest said she wanted to come back again! We went back last year to Bacharach, Munich and Fussen in German and Wengen, Switzerland.

My wife said she thought having children opened the locals up to us. In restaurants, we were normally the center of attention for the owner/waitstaff. Sure you have to reduce your pace and the expected amount of stuff to see every day, but it forced us to prioritize and to really go slowly. We planned something for the kids every other day. The first two years, we had nap time in the middle of the day, so we stayed close to the attractions we wanted to see and got an early start then came back for a siesta most days. The kids really enjoyed it. Our trips were 16 and 15 days each. We discovered that about every five days, we needed a down day to do laundry and rest and focus on the kids. Go to a park, or a beach.

As far as crime, I have no fear in violent crime. It is rare. I fear forgetting/dropping something important to the kids ( pacifier, tablet, favorite stuffed toy) more than pickpockets.

With luggage, make sure it fits together over cobblestone streets and stays secure. Before our first trip, I took the family on forced marches with luggage and made them carry their luggage up and down stairs to simulate train and underground stations. Our 8 year old and my wife, got rid of lots of useless stuff.

One thing to remember, trouble is trouble no matter where you are. A bad area in your town looks much like a bad area in a foreign city. If you feel you are in the wrong area, turn around or hail a taxi and get out of there. Pickpockets will blend in to the environment.

For our first trip, our seven year old was afraid of being seperated from us. So we went to REI and bought security whistles and put them on a string around our heads. She was told, that if she could not find us to stop and don't move. Blow the whistle for 10 seconds every minute. We went to her school and she and my wife went off and i had to find them. It relieved her main concern. We also took a picture every morning of the both of them. The 8 year old took a picture of us every morning as well. Before our trip, we started cooking food we would experience on the trip so it was not a shock to them and they were familiar with it.

If you have any more questions, feel free to message me.

Have fun!

Wade