This is a serious and genuine warning so don't be put off by the cheerful picture of the Christmas tram. Basically, you need to be really careful on the streets in Vienna, especially on the Ringstrasse.
Here the off street area is very wide and you tend to think you can meander all over the place without paying attention. I discovered that this is not true when I narrowly missed being knocked down by a cyclist zooming by at considerable speed. It was entirely my own fault, as gazing at some point of interest, I crossed over from the pedestrian lane into the cyclists lane without thinking.This is very easily done so you really do need to be careful. I did learn a new word from the experience though. It was shouted at me very loudly. Scheisse ? Now I wonder what that means.
You also need to be careful of the tramlines when crossing the street.
Be careful with your belongings when you are in the public transports, in crowded public areas, in cafes and restaurants, etc., because there are pickpockets waiting to steal your valuables when you are distracted or unawares. Even though Vienna is relatively safer compared with other major European cities, it is still plagues with petty crimes, especially pickpockets.
Be vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Be alert always. Don't be easily distracted. Don't expose your wallets/purse, don't count your money in the open (you would think some tourists are smart enough not to do this!),
Pickpockets operate in groups and one or two will try to distract you and another will take your money/bag when you are not looking. Also do not leave your bags unattended while sitting in cafes or restaurants. Petty thieves will take the opportunity to grab your bags when you're not looking.
Whilst the horses that pull the Fiaker are now required to have a bag to catch their droppings, you are still advised to watch you step. A far bigger problem though is the fact that Viennese dogs seem to be poorly toilet-trained - sadly their snooty and uppity owners don't have the decency to use one of the (scarce) dog loos, but think it fine to allow their pets to foul. Take particular care in parks - I had to berate an ignorant old biddy that letting her dog foul near a children's play area was irresponsible. She went off grumbling and muttering that it was a trek to the nearest dog loo, but at least was better informed.
Fortunately since October 2006 there has been a new initiative launched with posters advising to "Nimm ein Sackerl für mein Gackerl" (Take a sack for my cack!).
OK so this is more an annoyance than a danger. I've been to a few cities in Europe and there are always men who try to pick you up just because you are visibly 'foreign' and single female traveller.
I met the most annoying man of all my travels, in the heart of the old city-at St Stephens (Stephensdom). I was looking for souvenirs at the stand (another indication that you are a tourist) when this man of Greek/Albanian extraction approached me. He was polite at first but warning bells kept ringing. Insisted on accompanying me on the rest of my sightseeing in spite of my polite, though indirect decline of his offer. (Maybe it is an asian disadvantage, our culture of always trying not to be impolite-i.e direct, hoping that unwanted men would get the message and go away. I guess it does not work.)
The last straw was when the idiot started to put his hand around my shoulders and caressing my arm. While I managed to make a swift exit, my excuse I have to go watch a concert (he insisted to follow me to the door, i guess to make sure that it was true)
The next day, I was in the old city again, and lo and behold the idiot was there, in his same jacket, standing around looking out for single asian female travellers and he saw me again, and started trailing me. He was insulted that I lied to him that I was catching a flight at the very time he saw me (he insisted on breakfast, lunch with me so I said I had to fly back).
This time, after mulling and fuming over the idiot's actions and words, I had more courage and was more impolite and direct and asked him to GO AWAY, LEAVE ME ALONE.
Later, I saw him talking to an asian female tourist, no doubt using the same intro line as he did with me- I guess he makes it a hobby hanging around the tourist area, hoping to trick timid, compliant females into bed, if not to cop a feel or two.
We all know we need to be on the alert for bag snatchers and pickpockets in crowded places in cities everywhere. What is perhaps not quite so easy to assess is that you can be set up as a victim without really realising it, as we were on a vitually empty U-bahn station. It was only my middle-aged impatience with a seemingly ill-mannered and dithering young girl that saved the day.
It was a very neat little operation. Two of us on the platform, no one else close by. The train pulled in, I stepped forward, my friend a step behind. A young girl slipped in front of me and stepped into the train first, then stopped just a few steps in from the door, apparently looking at the map over the door, blocking us from moving forward. Annoyed at her lack of manners as much as anything else and impatient with her, I pushed past her after a few seconds, sat down and was joined by my friend, who then told me how three other girls had crowded her, making it difficult for her to move forward. My moving forward had cleared the way for her to move, but not before she felt something on her bag. The girls moved to seats down the train and were joined by the girl who had stepped on first. They all got off together at the next stop, no doubt hoping to set up someone else in the same way. There's no doubt in my mind that, had I not moved as I did, my friend's bag would have been snatched and the girls would have been off the train just as the doors closed, ready to play the same trick again as soon as their friend joined them.
This is one of the safest and cleanest cities outside of Switzerland I have visited. Unless you streak with a Nazi flag tatooed on your face through the Prater Park at midnight I think you will be perfectly fine in Vienna.
This is a more of a warning for potential tourists... in the year 2005 when I was in Vienna there was extensive work being done on quite a few musuem's. Facades hidden behind scafolding, closed exhibits, and general displacement. I am not sure when works are scheduled to be completed, but I would most definitely check that the museum or building you wish to see is in fact open to the public.
Such a lovely city to be hidden away from view.
In the past 2 years petty crime and pickpocketing has enormously increased in trams, buses, the most frequented pedestrian areas (like Kaerntnerstrasse, Graben and Mariahilferstrasse) and, above all, the Vienna U-Bahn !
So be aware of those dangers, don`t leave your purse or briefcase unattended.
Frequently those pickpockets work in gangs, using children as the "approaching pickpocket", who passes his booties quickly to a grown-up. If you have problems or your purse has vanished, get out and inform the station-manager at the next stop immediately. As there are some police-officers in charge at various stations, your information may be important also for other passengers in danger of beeing robbed.
Dont forget to get a protocoll at the next police-station for your insurance !
The service-number below is valid from whole of Austria; there are english-speaking officers who will tell you the address of the next police-station.
Karlsplatz subway station is in the plain centre of Vienna, next to the Opera house. If you go down you`ll discover the other side of this elegant and impressive city. Especially in winter the subway station is packed with drunk, drugged and homeless people. Sometimes you can hardly breath there because of wads of cigarette smoke. Although they installed some kind of video surveillance last year and although there is a lot of police there, the situation is getting worse and worse in my opinion. BUT, although I walk through the subway station several times a week, I never had any problems with those people, I was never robbed or something like that. Only once some drug addicted insulted me because I didn`t give him money.
Having lived in Vienna for quite a while now, I can conclude this is one of the safest cities I've ever been to. There are no really "dangerous" areas at all, public transport is very safe.
The only real dangers, I guess, are pickpocketing and bicycle theft. Use caution and common sense.
Some areas (Karlsplatz, Praterstern, Schwedenplatz) have crowds of drug addicts hanging around. These people may look scary to some, but are generally harmless (I walk through Karlsplatz on a daily basis and have never seen any actual trouble). There's also a lot of police surveillance there. You may also see drunk and aggressive individuals sometimes, in that case simply stay away.
Just as in *any* major city of the world, it is always advisable to "blend in", stay calm, try not to look too much like a helpless and clueless tourist. Although I haven't seen any place in Vienna I wouldn't walk alone at night, it's probably sensible for women to stay in company if possible.
Vienna is incredibly safe, and you'll be unlikely to find many capital cities as big as this which feel as relaxed to walk about, even at night. There are a few dodgy places, but the only place I really felt uncomfortable at was the Praterstern station, where drunks were flopped all over the floor to be stepped over, or were staggering about bumping into people. The Westbahnhof is a bit rough too, in particular the underground, but nothing to be concerned about.
We waited for ages for a bus on a Sunday and eventually came to the conclusion they weren't running and took a tram instead. I've been told they do run on Sundays but you may find the timetable is reduced or different so check that out before wasting precious sightseeing time waiting for one!
As a rule of thumb you should always be careful about your belongings when you are in a crowded place.
In Vienna you should be particularly careful when visiting the Naschmarkt in the 5th district. It is one of the favourite "hunting grounds" of pick pockets in Vienna. My dad has been one of their victims and told me that he really didn't notice when they snatched his wallet out of his pocket.
I just moved here from London and have been rather disappointed with customer service. I find most shop assistants to be rude and unhelpful. My daughter's pushchair is searched in some supermarkets, i fins this unexcepetable. I find that most people in Vienna are rude and disrespectful to black people (most of this I think this is due to ignorance). The dog poo on the streets really bothers me. Apart these and some other stuff, i like Vienna, some of the people and the coffee.
The sign - Attention Pickpockets I've found at the entrance of Schonbrunn palace , but it is probably valid for Vienna in General (as in every big city - keep a close eye on your stuff)
In the Ubahn in the evening you can see some spooky characters.That's why they've put recently webcams and huge rooms with equipment and monitors in the main stations.
Better safe than sorry....