Urban environments can be stressful places and as a majority of people now tend to live in cities, innovative ways to tackle citizens' insecurities and fears are needed. Smart decisions in planning safe urban places should be guided by the question of how citizens' perceived safety in cities can be improved. In this paper, using an exploratory approach of visual and narrative methods, we develop a framework that captures aspects, which lead to safety perceptions as positive experience. It contains three main themes that support safety perceptions in public spaces: place, perceived social presence and perceived information. We argue that safety perceptions are always a combination of multiple dimensions and aspects, and although safety is often divided into physical and mental safety, participants do refer to both of these interchangeably. Overall, our study contributes to the recent discussions about alternative approaches to safety, offers conceptual insights into the nature of safety as a positive experience and uncovers the broad spectrum of safety understandings as defined by citizens.