In 2016, there have been at least 5 terrorist attacks in Germany, which is very unusual for that country. How does this affect travelers to Germany?

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    According to the list you linked, there were 3 this year.
    – dunni
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 8:55
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    You mean Ansbach? Then it's still 4, not five. Also, which McDonalds are you referring to? If you mean Munich, that was in a shopping mall (probably also with a McDonalds), and that wasn't a terror attack, it was a shooting like it happens in the US every day, probably targeted at immigrants (since 7 of 9 victims where immigrants).
    – dunni
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 8:57
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    I think the only reliable way to answer this question, is to wait until the tour operators and airlines publish new numbers, and to see if there is a decline there. Surely there will be people who cancel their immediate travel plans for the next 2 or 3 weeks, but on the long term, i don't think it will have that much effect.
    – dunni
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 9:16
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    By all indications, the Munich case was not terrorism. It was an amok case. No difference at all for the victims, but it puts it into perspective.
    – o.m.
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 16:38
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    Huh. Those four terrorist incidents have just one non-perpetrator death between all four of them; and then there's one mass shooting, the first in Germany for 6 years. Meanwhile, today there was a mass shooting of teenagers in Florida with two dead and 17 injured, but it's treated as a minor story even in the US itself; seemingly they're considered normal there now. You certainly wouldn't see "How does the wave of mass shootings in the US affect travellers". Curious what different attitudes we have to such things. Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 17:07

4 Answers 4


Human minds don't deal well with the statistics of low-probability events. Take a six-sided die and record a hundred throws. The chance that the first two results are both "6" is 1:36. The chance that there is another "6" after you throw a "6" anywhere in the sequence is just 1:6.

Consider the recent cases:

  • On July 24th, a Syrian refugee exploded a bomb in Ansbach. The terrorist killed himself, 15 people were injured, no fatalities.
  • On July 22th, a dual national shot nine other people and then himself in Munich. All indications suggest an amok case similar to Columbine.
  • On July 18th, a possibly Afghan refugee attacked train passengers with a knife and an ax near Würzburg. The terrorist was shot by police.

In 2015 there were 565 cases of murder or manslaughter in Germany, plus about 1500 murder or manslaughter attempts. This rate of about 0.7 murder cases per 100.000 inhabitants is normal for Western industrialized nations. By comparison, the United States has about 4 murder cases per 100.000 inhabitants.

This week was way above average for Germany and for Bavaria. Considering the low number of events, it is too early to call this the start of a trend.

Regarding German reaction to the Munich case, conservatives are suggesting to allow the domestic use of the military. Munich had mobilized some 2.300 police, including SWAT teams from other states, the Federal police, and Austrian police. At the same time, they say that the police performance was good. This is unlikely to affect tourists.

Liberals were talking about tougher weapons laws, but that seems to have slowed down when it became clear that the gun was illegal. It had beed "deactivated" for use as a theater prop and later reactivated. There is talk that European laws need to be harmonized in this regard -- if the weapon had been "deactivated" in Germany, it would have been harder to repair. Again this won't affect tourists.

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    Is there anything in your answer which does affect tourists or is it just a political rant?
    – Philipp
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 17:36
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    @Philipp I disagree with your assessment. The body question is "How does this affect travelers to Germany?" What I pull out of this answer is: not much at all. That is an answer.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 19:31
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    @Philipp, I wrote that possibly Germany is not as safe as it used to be regarding murder. I also wrote that the absolute numbers are low enough to be an insignificant threat. German motorists are much more dangerous than German murderers. Last but not least, knee-jerk political reactions are unlikely to hit tourists.
    – o.m.
    Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 5:11
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    @pnuts, that's want I meant be taking a reasonable look at probabilities.
    – o.m.
    Commented Jul 30, 2016 at 15:57
  • German murderers are a lot more dangerous than German motorists. Fortunately, there are much fewer of them! But given the choice between being in a dark alley with a murderer or a motorist, I'll pick the motorist...
    – gnasher729
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 15:22

Currently there are no travel restrictions I have heard of.

Politicians are still undecided about what measures to take. For example the mayor of Munich announced that he thinks that more bag controls should be in order and that he considers a ban of backpacks on the Oktoberfest which starts in two months. So as a tourist you should expect that your luggage might get checked more frequently than usual and you should avoid carrying larger bags or backpacks when you visit places with many people.

When there is a political reaction, I would expect that it will rather target immigration policy in general and asylum policy in particular because these are currently in the focus of public attention. Tourism and business travel are unlikely to be affected. But that's just my personal estimation.

Note that statistically speaking, you were still far more likely to die in a traffic accident than from a terrorist attack when you were in Germany in the past weeks.

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    " more likely to die in a traffic accident than from a terrorist attack " - by two orders of magnitude
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 13:51
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    @JonathanReez Indeed. Currently I am far more afraid of politicians and law enforcement who might overreact to terrorist attacks than I am afraid of terrorism itself. Especially in light of the right-populists who try to milk any terrorism incident to achieve their political goals.
    – Philipp
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 14:42
  • Do you have links to back up the two orders of magnitude claim?
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 21:04
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    @AndrewGrimm According to the federal department of statistics 1176 were killed and 144,133 injured in traffic accidents in Germany just from January to April this year. In international comparison this is actually very low. Until the terrorists reach a body-count in that order of magnitude I am not afraid of them.
    – Philipp
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 21:20
  • @Philipp that's not two orders of magnitude difference.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 22:33

I am the founder of the website CitySafe which aims to assess the crime and safety levels of large cities and countries worldwide (it’s still work-in-progress, but so far I have done c. 40 cities and countries).

For my answer, I am referring to the page about safety in Germany (including a crime map). (FYI, Citysafe’s rating algorithm has assessed a safety level of 85% (100% being the safest) to Germany, and 78% to Berlin.

While it's true that Germany has recently been targeted by terrorist attacks which resulted in few casualties, they are very rare and do no target tourists. The police presence has been greatly increased in large cities to deter further attacks.

Germany is a very safe country. Crimes rates are very low compared to southern European countries, and law is strictly enforced. It is ranked 14th on the ranking of world’s safest countries.


One thing you should definitely take care of is not to leave bags, suitcases or luggage unattended, especially not at airports and train stations. Not only because it possibly will get stolen but because security authorities are very sensitive to bomb alarms. I saw it twice in the last year that abandoned suitcases caused police action. In one case the area got evacuated and one suitcase was blown up with a jet of water. This happens occasionally in Germany(and most likely everywhere else) and it might get expensive when they find your shorts with your name embroidered afterwards.

There is a detailed and very useful travel advice for several countries by the German Auswärtiges Amt (Ministry of Foreign Affairs). They are up to date and very sensitive towards security. They also provide medical and general advice for travelers in many languages.

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