Everything you need to know about the safety in Munich – from crime statistics to more general impressions directly from a local
When I first heard someone asking me if Munich is safe, I was utterly flabbergasted. I was totally at a loss for words. I have been living in the city my entire adult life and to me, it feels to be one of the safest major cities in the world. There are so many beautiful things to do in Bavaria’s capital and it just seems surprising to even ask about it.
But still, Germany is a foreign country and I can understand why some tourists might wonder about the safety situation in Munich. In fact, I feel it’s quite prudent to do a little research before planning a trip (no matter the destination). Better safe than sorry, eh?
As a local, I’ll use this guide to highlight a couple of hard numbers and countless first-hand experiences. So, let’s get right into it, eh?
Note: Check out my detailed Munich itinerary if you are currently planning to visit my hometown.
How safe is Munich?
Let’s take a look at some statistics first. The Munich police regularly release official reports (German only; use google translate). According to them, Munich is by far the safest major city in Germany. They reported 6,469 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants in 2018. By comparison: In Hamburg, it’s 11,637, in Berlin 13,746. An impressive 6.,3 percent of these offenses have been successfully resolved.
Now, these numbers still might seem high without a context, but it’s a total number that includes everything – from forgery to immigration offenses, drug abuse, robbery, and murder. What might be more important is the fact that the crime statistics for Munich clearly indicate a decline by 11.5% since 2009. That particularly includes petty thefts, which fell by 4.8% in 2018 (last available numbers so far).
Sexual harassment is a bit on the rise if you look at the numbers: 1,472 cases in 2018. BUT what actually happened is that the penalties and definitions had been revised, which is actually a positive sign. There were a total of 277 severe sexual assaults that year. Setting dramatically different definitions aside, this still translates to less than half the number per inhabitant than in New York City.
But numbers are not everything. There’s also something as perceived security. No matter if you arrive at the central station, stroll across the famous Oktoberfest, or go shopping in the huge pedestrian area – you will soon notice quite the visible police presence. You might also notice that there are hardly any beggars or homeless people around.
In other German (or European cities), you’ll inadvertently find groups of punks, prostitutes, drug dealers or the infamous easter-European beggar mafia somewhere in the city. I well remember the first time I visited Berlin back in the 90ies, where I was offered sex and drugs in the first five minutes. In 20 years in Munich, that hasn’t happened to me a single time. There are also no illegal street vendors (you know, the kind selling you “authentic” Gucci bags & sunglasses) and other common sights in typical tourist cities.
That being said, Munich is very popular among burglars (it’s the most affluent region in Germany, after all). Which probably doesn’t concern you as a tourist overly much. Even though I did mention petty thefts were in decline, they still happen. Especially on Oktoberfest, so use your common sense. On a more positive note, I lost my wallet twice in the past years and in both cases they were returned to me (money including). In fact, that one time the police officer actually brought it back to my home!
Another fact: Ever since 1963 politicians from around the world come to Bavaria’s capital for the Munich Security Conference. It’s a peace dialogue where heads of states, ministers, and military talk about important worldwide developments. While this might not be of immediate concern for tourists, it still might put an emphasis on the special role Munich puts on security.
By the way, not only is Munich itself perfectly safe. The whole region around it actually boasts even better statistics. So, don’t worry at all when you plan a day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle, etc.
Is Munich safe at night?
Munich is very safe at night. When it gets dark, a foreign city is often twice as scary – especially when you don’t speak the language and you don’t know the place very well. But, generally speaking, there is no reason to be scared of walking home alone in the dark – there are just no crime statistics to support it.
The only area that is a bit more difficult is the area around the central station. This is, sadly, a common theme in most European cities. In Munich, it is kind of a special situation, as the subway doesn’t operate at night but the suburban train does. So, a lot of party goers will pass through Hauptbahnhof. This partially explains why two-thirds of the offenses were committed by drunk people in this area.
In my experience, that might sound a bit scary but actually isn’t and I never felt even the slightest be afraid when entering central station at night. Especially considering as there are both a lot of undercover agents at the central station (to catch drug dealers, etc) and regular officers – even at night. An interesting fact: The chance to be a victim of physical violence is actually twice as high for men than for women. It even gets more interesting, when you consider that the majority of the violence against women actually happens within a relationship.
I am quoting these facts here because, among my friends, it is actually almost exclusively the women who are scared to walk home alone. But at the end of the day, you can always grab a taxi home. Starting from March 2020, there will even be special taxis with female drivers! As there were two cases of harassment in 2019.
Munich Terror attacks
Since 9/11, but actually already years and years before, terror attacks have become a part of our reality. Paris, London, Los Angeles – the unconditional feeling of safety in the major metropolis in the world has long been shattered. In 2016, the Munich shooting shook my hometown. It was a terrible right-wing extremist terror attack that killed 9 people and injured 5 more.
What I also remember from that day was how very fast the Munich police reacted and they issued warnings to stay away from public places, shut down the public transport system, etc until they caught the gunman. For us, it was one of the scariest days ever. People don’t carry guns in Germany and shootings just don’t happen in Munich. Ever.
In fact, people still remembered the last terror attack quite vividly which happened in 1980. The Oktoberfest Bombing on September 20th killed 13 people and injured 211 after an improvised explosive device hit the main entrance of the largest folk festival in the world.
Both terror attacks lead to severe changes in our surveillance systems. These days, the entrance to Oktoberfest is quite “difficult”. There is no direct road to the festival grounds to avoid attacks with trucks, there is a security check, a security fence around the perimeter and so on. The year after the 2016 Munich shooting, things were a bit difficult and there was a noticeable drop in visitors. But things have recovered ever since. While we didn’t forget, we came to live with the thought and trust in the capabilities of our outstanding police.
If you go further back in Munich’s history, you will also stumble over the Munich massacre 1972 during the Olympic Summer Games and the 1970 Munich bus attack.
So, unfortunately, I cannot give you any guarantee it will never happen again. Munich has not the best track record when it comes to xenophobic terror attacks. If you are visiting the Dachau Concentration camp, you’ll see an even worse part of our history. But I can tell you that setting such rare horrible incidents aside, Munich is safe to visit, safe to live in and beautiful all year round.
I have been traveling all my life and seen amazing places all over the world. If you starting worrying about your safety in Munich, then you will be very hard-pressed to find a better place in the world for your next trip.
Germany has an extremely high hygienic standard. This does not only apply to hospitals but especially to grocery shops and restaurants. While there are some countries in the world, where you need to be careful when drinking or eating certain foods, Germany is none of them. As most people are vaccinated as well, common diseases are no problem either.
In spring and around Oktoberfest (beer tent = lots of people in a small, warm & humid place), catching a cold on the subway is a bit easier and it’s usually also the time when the flu is around. So, do take the usual precautions when you visit during that time.
And here is another important thing you should know: Germany has an excellent health care system and there is a pharmacy (literally!) around every corner. So, in the unlikely event that you actually need a doctor or medicine, it will be incredibly easy and cheap (!) to access it.
Is Munich safe for solo female travelers?
Munich is super safe for solo female travelers. Especially in the city center, you will have no problems walking around alone – even after dark. Chances are quite high that you are one of a thousand other women to do so. Also, people in Munich are used to tourists, so no matter your heritage and appearance you are unlikely to draw someone’s attention.
Generally speaking, the locals are a bit more reserved, so even catcalls or other milder forms of harassment will be absolutely no concern. Dress however you like, really! This also applies to going out in the evening, which is absolutely no problem for unaccompanied women (in fact it will get you in faster in certain clubs). This obviously means you shouldn’t be setting your common sense aside.
Be a bit careful around the central station and Karlsplatz at night, as there are usually a lot of drunk people (mostly returning from parties) around that area. It’s nothing to be scared off, though. It’s a very lively area, there are lots of lights, police officers, etc – but obviously drunk people sometimes act in ways they shouldn’t. But that’s probably no different in your hometown either.
Munich is also a very affluent & expensive city. Most districts underwent major changes in the past 10 years and it really doesn’t matter where you stay either (at least from a safety point of view). Again, the immediate area around the central station is a bit shadier but compared to other cities around the world, it’s probably very clean.
I do have to note, however, that I am a guy and I can only reflect the experiences from my female friends here. Still, as their accounts and the official crime statistics match my impressions, I felt I should add a little paragraph here since I know that safety issues are a concern for a lot of solo female travelers. In Munich, you really don’t have to worry!