Advertisement

Vienna For Members

Reader question: Is Vienna a safe city to visit?

Hayley Maguire
Hayley Maguire - [email protected]
Reader question: Is Vienna a safe city to visit?
The Red Cross is opening more homeless shelter places after a string of attacks on homeless people in the city. Photo: Jacek Dylag

This is a frequent question for visitors to Austria or those looking to move to the capital. To find out more, we took a closer look at the crime figures in Vienna, and the city’s reputation for safety.

Advertisement

Vienna is regularly named as the world’s most liveable city due to affordable rent, strong infrastructure and a high standard of healthcare.

Austria’s capital city also has a reputation as being one of the safest cities in the world, but what is the reality? Is Vienna really as safe as it is rumoured to be?

Here’s what you need to be aware of when exploring Austria’s capital city.

READ ALSO: What happens when a foreign national gets arrested in Austria?

Crime rates in Vienna

After two years of falling crime rates during the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, it rose by almost 17 percent in 2022 with 168,303 crimes reported. This includes everything from violent crime to pickpocketing and scams.

However, the overall crime rate was still below the 2019 figure of 173,574 crimes. Crime has also significantly declined in the past decade with 212,503 reports filed in Vienna in 2013.

Pickpockets

The Vienna State Police says tackling pickpocketing is a high priority for 2023. This comes as official figures show reported pickpocket crimes in Vienna increased by 24.5 percent in 2022, compared with 2021.

As a result, the Vienna police force has vowed to deploy more uniformed and civil law enforcement officers in public spaces in 2023.

Like in all big cities, pickpocket hotspots include popular tourist attractions, busy areas and public transport. Pickpocket crimes are also often reported at the city’s annual Christmas markets and in the city centre.

Crime hotspots

Sociologist Kenan Güngör describes Vienna as “a very safe city”, but there are still some districts that are more associated with crime than others. 

Examples include the Praterstern or Keplerplatz in Favoriten, which has one of the highest crime rates in the city (and the highest population). 

A reputation for crime in these areas is mostly due to drug dealing and groups of men, often from migrant communities, gathering, according to an article in Der Standard.

Especially for women these districts can lead to some concerns, particularly following the rape of an 18-year-old in a public toilet in the Praterstern in 2022, although such crimes are rare in Vienna.

READ ALSO: Vienna tops ranking of world’s most liveable cities – again

Advertisement

Strikes/protests

Like many other cities in Europe, Vienna has been targeted by environmental protesters in recent years. This action mostly disrupts traffic routes and is typically peaceful.

However, in March, police used pepper spray to break up a demonstration at the European Gas Conference after protesters tried to block roads leading to the hotel where the event was taking place.

And earlier this year, strike action by transport workers in Germany and Austria caused disruptions for commuters and travellers as many flights and train services were cancelled. 

Violent crime

Last year, 27,240 violent crimes were reported, according to official police figures. 

Almost 57 percent of the violent crimes committed were preceded by a relationship between the offender and the victim. As in previous years, knives were the most frequently used weapons. 

During 2022, 16 homicides were recorded (five men and 11 women were killed), of which three remain unsolved, police said. There were 365 reports filed for rape (2019: 323) and 1,244 cases of robbery. 

Bank robberies continue to be rare in Vienna, with only three cases recorded last year.

Advertisement

LGBTQ+

Vienna was recently named as one of the world’s most LGBTQ+-friendly cities by Time Out – a ranking voted for by LGBTQ+ travellers.

Austria’s capital is also home to the Rainbow Ball (Regenbogen Ball), a black tie waltz that marks the unofficial start of Vienna’s gay calendar. All proceeds raised at the event go to the LGBTQ+ community.

But despite the general acceptance of the community in Vienna, police arrested three people on suspicion of plotting a terror attack during the Vienna Pride event in June.

Speaking after the arrests, Omar Haijawi-Pirchner, from Austria’s State Protection and Intelligence Directorate (DSN), said: “In our democratic society, hate and terror have no place.”

READ ALSO: ‘A spy paradise’: Austria confirmed as a location for global espionage

Espionage

For decades, rumours have swirled that Vienna is a global hub for spies – mostly due to its location in the centre of Europe and the country’s neutrality. But is Vienna really a city of spies?

Some reports suggest that, yes, Austria’s capital city is in fact the espionage capital of Europe. A recent Financial Times article even described Vienna as the “Wild West” of spying.

And earlier this year, Austria’s opposition parties tried to criminalise espionage in Austria, further reinforcing Vienna’s reputation as a spy hub. Currently, if the target of spying is not the Austrian Federal Government, the authorities are not required to take action.

Advertisement

So far, a vote on the legislation has been suspended twice by the government, although it may take place later this year following a consultation between legal departments. 

In the meantime, a western intelligence official told the Financial Times: “If they changed the law, they’d have to try and enforce it — and the fact of the matter is, they probably can’t.”

More

Comments

Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also