Be careful with your money and how much you want to pay the waiters. Viennese waiters, especially in the cafes and restaurants around Museumsquartier (MQ) and Stephansplatz
in the touristic Viennese 1st District, like to cheat both locals and tourists. They often ask
for about 50 cents more than the price actually is, hoping that the customer will not notice
because the bill number is uneven (for instance, they charged me 6,30 Euros even though
the real price should have been 5,70). This happened to me several times already, I was
not clever enough to check the prices on the menu. Always calculate the sum and then only add a small tip - a tip YOU decide, not the waiter by overcharging you without informing you! If you notice that the waiter cheated you, please always inform the chef of the cafe/restaurant - it's neither fair nor should it become "daily routine".
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.
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!).
The Gürtel is a major road that runs outside of and parallel to the Ringstrasse. It is possible to find inexpensive accommodations (apartments, hotels) along and outside of the Gürtel -- but my advice is to stay inside of the Gürtel for a couple of reasons. First, caution is needed when crossing the Gürtel because it is a very busy road with many fast-moving cars. Second, the Gürtel area near the Westbahnhof is a seedy red-light district.
When I first started looking for a place to stay in Vienna, I didn't know anything about the Gürtel -- and I almost rented a spacious apartment for a week in Fünfhaus (Vienna's 15th district) which lies outside of the Gürtel. The size of the apartment seemed too good to be true for the low quoted price -- which prompted me to do further investigation about the area on the internet. As it turned out, I am extremely glad that I decided to stay at a pension hotel in Neubau (7th district) inside of the Gürtel instead.
In email correspondence with the landlord about the apartment, I specifically told her that I wanted to stay in a clean and safe neighborhood -- and she assured me that the area surrounding the apartment was nice. Fortunately for me, I didn't trust her. My doubts of her veracity were confirmed during my stay in Vienna. Out of curiosity, I ventured out one evening to the location of the apartment at which I almost stayed -- and I was solicited by 3 street-walking prostitutes before I reached my destination. While I didn't feel like my safety was threatened, I would describe the area as seedy and unpleasant.
In a nutshell, the difference between Neubau (inside the Gürtel) and Fünfhaus (outside the Gürtel) is like day and night. Unless you absolutely need to save the extra money, I recommend not staying in Fünfhaus. With this tip, I have included the link to a website with an unflattering description of the Fünfhaus district.
Since Vienna is the big horse buggy town, of course the horses are involved in the game. The city has a loose regulation on the usage of protective doo doo collectors but not eveyone is using them. Eventhough horses are vegetarian, their doo doo smells reaaaallly bad so please make sure you dont step into some. PS The poo is everywhere in the street and yes there is a chance you wont notice before you step in it!
Although Vienna seems safe city, one shouldn't take it for granted. There are just too many people in Vienna and not all of them are well intentioned. Some places are not appealing especially during the night. Toilet at Stephansplatz U-Bahn station was always occupied by extremely drunk homeless people sleeping there. There are similarly destroyed people in Stephansplatz U-Bahn station. I had bad feeling about Stadtpark too. Also most of the U-Bahn stations become place you'd like to avoid during weekend nights. I was surprised how many people get drunk, then. Area I didn't like at all during the night is Praterstern. I visited all of these places alone, and never had any problems. But my suggestion is - if you walk Vienna during the night, have company. At least you'll feel better.
...because the green man (walk sign) was lit up!
Ok, I know, its an old British joke regarding chickens, but if you are from a country where the green man means no cars are moving, you will be surprised in Austria. Here a green man means that some cars still have the right to turn where you are crossing and you should still watch out especially to see that no-one is talking on their mobile phone and driving round the corner at the same time! Also watch out for trams as they may be running parallel to a crossing and a step in the wrong direction could ruin your holiday plans!
Apparently (although I have escaped all fines and arrests so far) it is also against the law to cross when the pedestrian light is red!
However if you have ever spent time in the South of Sicily, crossing roads in Vienna will be a piece of cake!
Bezirk (plural Bezirke) means 'district' in German. The city of Vienna consists of 23 districts (Bezirke). With this tip, I have included the link to a website that provides a map with the district divisions -- and a brief description of each district (Bezirk).
Vienna is a generally safe city, although it does, like any city of close to 2 million inhabitants, have its seamier side. The 10th district, Favoriten, is probably the roughest district - it is a residential area, although most popular with the lower echelons of society. It has a more cosmopolitan feel than other parts of town which can be verging on the twee, but ultimately it is the only part of Vienna I would have to suggest that it is not a wise idea to walk around at night. There are few severe violent attacks, but there is a lot of petty crime, and you may put yourself at an unnecessary risk. As my tongue-in-cheek title suggests, there are a lot of problem teenagers in the 10th.
Its almost a mathematical equation... Austrians like dogs therefore many Viennese people own dogs therefore they all take them for walks in the street plus there are no rules concerning clearing up after your dog so this equals a bit of a mess sometimes if you are not looking where you are going. Its really the only downside to the city and limits your gazing up in awe at some of the buildings.
In many southern cities and practically everywhere in the world crossing the
street may be very chaotic, even on X-crossings.
In Vienna you can feel safe:
People keep standing for about 4 minutes before crossing the street, staring at the
green traffic light for at least several minutes
before they finally walk off.
So what's the danger here?
Austrian police charge a certain amount of money if they detect people crossing the
street when the lights are red.
Ridiculous but true.
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....
Heading to the Rathaus I noticed so special view... There were some reconstruction activities in the street next to the Parliament but imagine the temporary shelter for workers on the top of the house...and such terribly placed without any sense... so watch out...who knows how long it will keep its position ..hehe
The following locations can sometimes be dangerous at night, often due to seedy-looking fellows hanging around there and probably involved in some sort illegal activity:
* The Prater... (especially under the strassenbahn cover and by the upstairs U-bahn exit)
* Karlsplatz... again, any of the U bahn stations one can usually find vagrants (heroin addicts usually)... but mostly near the park there.
* There also seem to be an ever-increasing number of panhandlers... Avoid them like the plague!
We recently came back from a great trip to Vienna, staying in the first district in a lovely hotel, which shall remain nameless since the event which took place has happened elsewhere but was the first occasion for this place.
There is a man (probably he is not the only one playing this type of game), no racist intentions here but he looked very like a Sikh without the turban (may or may not have had a beard). He was dressed very smartly in a light grey (I believe checked) suit, with a mobile phone, laptop/briefcase. He went past me rather quickly so the lasting impression I had was of a smartly dressed Asian in rather a rush after receiving a phone call on his mobile.
He was shortly followed by a poor lady shouting after him that he had taken her purse (U.S.; clutch bag?). A taxi driver at the door paid no attention whatsoever. Needless to say, I don't know whether the thief ran or not but he had vanished pretty quickly.
This Asian man had been masquerading as a hotel guest at breakfast. The mobile ringing was obviously a ploy for his escape as he put it to his ear and left. He had been seated near to the lady who had left her purse while going up to the buffet table. Saw his chance, grabbed the purse and made off. I would have paid little attention if it hadn't been for the fact he practically walked into me and it struck me as odd that a hotel guest would have to go off so urgently in response to a mobile call.
Beware at breakfast. Especially in hotels where the reception does not have a clear direct view of the entrance, or where the entrance doors are automatic (unfortunately this aids escape). Do not take your purse or valuables to breakfast with you unless you can balance your breakfast tray/plates with your gear. Leave valuables at the desk or locked in your room. Where possible don't keep all your money, tickets, passports etc all in one place - if they are found you could lose the lot.
This lady was very lucky in that the thief took her cash and threw the purse and remaining contents outside a guest house, so she got her passport ad tickets back.
Don't expect a great deal from the police - I dropped in to give what I could of a description: it was simply noted on a piece of paper (a piece of paper not any kind of form).