4 Essential Tips for Safe Solo Travel for Women in Spain

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Ladies, listen up. Here are our top tips for women traveling solo around Spain, so you can have a safe and stress free holiday.

A woman stands in front of Arc de Triomf in Barcelona, Spain Photo © Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Spain is flooded with travelers every year – especially during summer and in the major cities. Stacks of women travel solo around the country, so if you're planning a solo trip to Spain, you're not alone. Most locals won't raise an eyebrow, however, there are petty criminals who make a living ripping off tourists – so this might make you an easy target.

There's very little for women to be worried about, but there are a few things you can do to avoid travel hiccups, unwanted attention and uncomfortable situations. 

Violent crime against tourists is scarce in Spain, but petty theft is unfortunately common, so while you shouldn't be paranoid while wandering, you do need to stay alert. Here are four important things to know before you go.

Pickpockets and thieves in Spain

If you're struggling with heavy luggage and looking lost when you arrive in a new city, you're sure to attract the wrong kind of attention, especially on the Metro. Packing light means you're more mobile and less vulnerable to pickpockets or thieves.

Handbags are like a bullseye for thieves and can it can be disastrous if yours is stolen. Rather than tossing all your stuff into one bag and making a lucky dip out of your valuables, it's better to carry your cash and cards in a money belt, hidden pocket or at least a zipped-off compartment inside the bag.

Carry your bag in front of you and close to your body when you're on the Metro or in a crowded place. Wearing the strap across your body rather than over the shoulder makes it harder for someone to snatch it off you. The same applies for camera straps and long necklaces.

Thieves sometimes fly by on motorbikes or scooters, ripping your bag/camera/ice cream from your hands before tearing off around the corner. Be especially wary of this tactic while waiting near the road at busy intersections.

When eating at a cafe or restaurant, the safest place to store your bag is on your lap. But if you do want to put it down try to place it against a wall or somewhere you can keep an eye on it and no one can snatch it from behind. Looping the straps around your chair leg or your actual leg means if anyone starts probing, you'll know about it.

Social etiquette in Spain

Spain is very cosmopolitan and multicultural but in some regards quite conservative, the legacy of a sternly Catholic history. Styles of dress differ across the country, becoming a bit more relaxed as you head south, but as a general rule you should avoid overly revealing outfits and bright colors.

At the beach, everything is on show but dress standards tighten as you move away from the water. Wandering through the city in a bikini top will instantly single you out as a tourist and a potential target.

The further you travel from the big cities, the more conservative the fashion will become. Pickpockets tend to stick to areas thick with tourists so the threat of theft is also lessened in small rural towns. However, you may get some unwanted attention, especially if you're wearing your comfy short shorts.

In the main streets, it will be little more than disapproving scowls or perhaps a few comments as you pass. The best thing to do is just ignore them. Acknowledging or challenging them will likely just spur them on.

How to avoid unwanted attention

Although friendly, most Spanish people aren't overly assertive with strangers. Anyone who approaches you out of the blue on the street, on public transport or around tourist hotspots should be treated with suspicion, especially if they try to touch you or get close.

In social situations, it's a slightly different story so you needn't always assume sinister intentions.

People in Spain may be a little more overt and expressive than you're used to, waving their arms animatedly while talking. This can be a little intimidating coming from a stranger, especially if they're up close.

Eye contact isn't quite as suggestive here either; so don't read too much into it if someone holds your gaze. On the other hand, it is still odd for someone to stare unerringly.

It comes down to your own assessment of the situation. If you feel like something's a little amiss, it probably is. If you're feeling uncomfortable or threatened, don't put up with it for the sake of politeness.

Just firmly ask your newfound friend to leave. If it's early in the piece you can just pretend not to understand them. If they persist, talk to a nearby security guard or policeman.

If you're traveling solo you're more likely to experience this one. Eating and drinking are really just an excuse for socializing in Spain, so a woman sitting alone at a bar or cafe sometimes draws some stares.

If you're determined to avoid awkwardness or unwelcome companions you could try draping a jacket over the seat opposite you, making it appear like you're with a friend. Take any valuables out of the pockets first of course.

Nightlife Safety in Spain

If you're heading out for the night it's safest to go in a group and make sure you don't get separated from your friends.

The dress code still applies after sundown so steer clear of clingy clothing and showing lots of skin. Some Spanish guys are under the impression all foreign girls are promiscuous and will be much more forward and even aggressive with tourists than with local girls. Make it clear you're not impressed and they should wise up pretty quickly.

Personal attacks and sexual assaults against tourists are rare but they do happen. Other tourists are often the perpetrators so don't assume someone's safe just because they're traveling too.

Beware of drink spiking and date rape drugs. Buy all your own drinks and don't leave them unattended. The bartenders here are rather generous with their measurements too so be careful not to overdo it.

Try not to reveal too much information about where you're staying and if you're traveling alone definitely don't make mention of it. Anyone who seems a little too interested in these sorts of details should raise alarm bells.

A taxi is essential if you're more than a block or so from your accommodation. The Spanish party well into the wee hours and things can get a little weird and dodgy on the streets by the time you're heading home. Taking a cab by yourself isn't ideal but your main concern should be avoiding unlicensed taxis. Authorized drivers will have their licenses on show in the cab and should have a certificate displayed on the car.

Traveling in Spain shouldn't be any more dangerous than heading to the shops in your hometown. If you're well-informed, confident and savvy there will be nothing to stop you from falling in love with this vivacious country.

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  • Armando Cuesta said

    Great article and comments, especially the last one, Maria. Cheers.

  • Daniela said

    I am so annoyed at all of these articles telling women - specifically women - why they need to be aware in (otherwise relatively safe) counties when traveling alone. Hello, I have news for you - theft can happen to men, men can be dressed inappropriately (entering a church, etc), men can attract unwanted amigos (sometimes female ones too, imagine that..) - Also, this happens in every country. Have you even traveled at all? Are you even a woman? My money is on that the answers to the last two questions are "no." Really useless article. Please do some real research if you're going to make women feel belittled by addressing the obvious.

  • Maca said

    Hi! This year I travelled solo across Spain, for almost a month. I did everything from Barcelona to Vasque country and Andalucia. It was AMAZING.
    In every place I went to I'd ask what were the safe areas and wether I was ok being alone, with my camera (I take pictures, so it's a pretty big camera) and looking like a tourist since I get lost 99% of them time.
    I have to say EVERYWHERE, everywhere I went to the response was "don't worry. You can be alone no matter what time it is." I felt absolutely safe even between the narrow streets in Seville and the gypsy corners of Granada. The country is magical, they love visitors and each time someone would approach me was to help me.
    Having said that, common sense is needed everywhere nowadays. But it's not worse than any other country we are used to.

  • Daniel said

    "Anyone who approaches you out of the blue on the street, on public transport or around tourist hotspots should be treated with suspicion, especially if they try to touch you or get close"

    Yes...and do not forget we eat foreigners...if you are visiting Spain but do not want to enjoy your holidays, please follow carefully this misinformation.

    Indeed, we voted 4 Tourexit

    Daniel, Spain

  • Pedro said

    Wherever you see the word 'Spain', you can use 'England' 'USA', 'Germany' or any other civilised country. All the text is just the common sense anyone should use when travelling abroad. By the way, black American tourists will probably be safer in Spain than sightseeing in their own country. Here you can even take your ID our out of your pocket without being killed, no matter what your colour is. I've only been to the USA once, and I actually saw policement shooting someone else on the street, with lots of people -myself included- around (I didn't stop to see what was happening). Honestly, walking on the street in Spain seems much safer.

  • Christian said

    This is BULLSHIT! You cant wear bright colors in spain?????!! Thats crazy, every summer fluor and neon colors are weared all around, this is really Bullshit, and says spain is very religious... 85% of spanish people supports gay marriage. Is the top in the rank list, you can google it. Better remake your article...

  • Cristal said

    I feel so much better about traveling solo to Spain after reading your comment Maca. It's my first time traveling to a foreign country alone, but I feel more excitement than fear now! :)

  • Eric Lissard said

    Spain is a country full of intentional drug users. I was shocked to see entire families taking drugs just to… work harder, feel better.
    Spain has no manners, people are EXTREMELY RUDE (spit in bars, on the street, throw their trash on the floor) and act like savages (they give alcohol to children, put stuff in under aged girls drinks etc.)!
    The attitude of its investors is the worst in Europe, their banks are bad… people are apparently helpful until they get closer then they are curious about you, in worst ways.
    They have the lowest education level I’ve seen in Europe, they barely can read and love to enslave other people to do their work as they are incapable to do anything by themselves,

    Not to mention they hate Hispanics (South America) and consider them as inferior and "primitive".
    I would recommend Spain only to refugees and to Moroccans as their second home!

    Please DON’T you EVER go to SPAIN! Visit Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Holland anywhere you will spend your money without regrets and always be surrounded by kind people.

  • elrubatan said

    I've been to Spain twice once with my family (1972) and once alone (1984). I am Hispanic and I am a person of color. I have been to Madrid and Toledo. I am an American citizen and I was born in the USA. Having said that, I did experience some racism in Spain, but for the most part people were pretty friendly where I went. I also have a good deal of fluency in the Spanish language and that helps a lot when you are traveling. The next time I visit, I would like to go to the Southern part of the country. Look man, woman, or dog Madrid is like a Spanish version of New York, so use the same common sense there as would in any major city in the US. It may be safer in Spain or the rest of Western Europe, but just remember they have crime and drug problems like other parts of the world. Though some countries may have larger problems in this area than others, I think it is always a good idea to dress appropriately for the situation and act or err on the side caution because you are in a country that is different than your own unless you speak the language and know the culture and the region you are travelling to and are familiar with the laws and customs of your destination. Be careful, have fun.

  • Ariane said

    I was skeptical about traveling to Spain alone, but I think I may go right ahead and do it!! You can't wait on others to experience the world!!

  • Kate said

    Ok I've been to Spain twice. And Portugal and Italy twice. I love Europe and just like anywhere else you just need to watch yourself. There ARE some gypsies that you should be cautious around. And be smart, backpacks with waist straps etc. backpacks with cameras and valuables can be found with openings from the back. Eric (who peed in your Cheerios)? Just like almost everywhere else, there may be some icky people. Enjoy Spain, it's always felt pretty safe to me.

  • spanish buajajaj said

    yeah girls, im a native spanish girl, and yeah....


    Even for the spanish women.

  • Kristian said

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  • emma said

    I have just booked 6 nights in Granada, I am a women of 55 and have travelled on my own several times, mostly in Greece where I have experienced absolutely no trouble at all. This will be my first alone trip in Spain so of course I am a bit nervous, but really, not extremely worried.
    I am arriving at the bus station in Granada in the evening and will take a taxi to city center where my apartment is situated. Any tips about how i will recognize serious and good taxi companies in Granada, that have a license?

  • Jorge said

    Ok, I am spaniard, but I live in Italy now, and for my experience in Spain I can say it's the kindest country of Europe. People are really friendly, and they're used to tourists so don't have fear of asking any question. I mean, I think this article is BULLSHIT. In Spain you are safer than in any other country because there are always people in the streets. Also, I've seen one comment form Eric that says that spaniards are the rudest people of Europe, and that's not true. That kind of kindness you only find it in the south, but we discard the other countries that are not in Europe because you could say they are not safe, and Spain and Portugal (but specially Spain) are the kindest people of Europe. Also in the article says that we are very religious and you shouldn't wear some clothes. Well, girls, let me tell you something, that's not true. Spain is the country that has the highest LGBT acceptance, and you can wear any clothes of any colours. Maybe people look at you in the street, but that's just because they are seeing a orange spot (for example) in the middle of the crowd, so don't worry. Also, if someone gets near to talk to you, it can be for this three options. That they want to ask you question, that you look pretty to their eyes and they want to start a conversation/make you a compliment or that they've seen you alone and they just felt sorry for you and they just want to make you feel better. So girls, don't worry when visiting Spain, it's a wonderful place with the best beaches at the east side of the Atlantic, so just enjoy your trip and have fun

    Jorge, Italy

  • Rimo said

    Thank you for the Info

    I guess the tips are fare and necessary for traveling solo in all countries

    Spanish culture
    Men do comment to women which isn’t necessary something dangerous or something that you need to be alerted for
    Just avoid giving personal information where you headed where are you staying and of course going out with a stranger

    Dress code
    When mentioned not to wear shorts that’s not necessary true but not to show so much skin is True which applies to all countries
    Showing so much skin means women are looking for different attention and they are putting themselves in danger
    Comfy pants and tops preferred

  • Cameron Page said

    My wife and I are excited about the vacation we've booked in Europe to Spain and definitely, we will go to the Canary. Tenerife is one of our eyeing place for our 1st stop :) There so many things we want to do from a page we've read https://www.canaryislandsinfo.co.uk/tenerife/places/el-medano/.I wanted to know if you have experience traveling to this wonderful Island.

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  • Dee said

    Is this a serious article or a troll wrote it?
    First off. Whoever wrote all that nonsense must have never been to Spain. What a load of crap. Spain. A country I travel to every year because I love it. It's a first world country. And believe me. Men there aren't desperate to meet any foreign tourists to hook up. They have very very beautiful women of their own. The cat calls aren't just for you. It's because like any men anywhere they love women. Also people in Spain aren't devoutly religious anymore. That was many generations ago. The reason foreigners stand out with their choice of clothing is because the Spanish like to dress up and when they see someone in plaid shorts, sandals and Hawaiian shirts they know that's a tourist. If anything you'll be shocked to find out that transportation in the US is very backwards compared to the modern system in Spain

  • Regina said

    This is my story... During New Year’s night my friends and I went to Gatsby Barcelona club. In the morning, while we were exiting the club I couldn’t find ticket from wardrobe, we explained situation to security guys, showed picture of my coat, color and brand. Almost all clothes in wardrobe was dark, mine coat was light beige color, and it was rare to see this color coat that night. They couldn’t find coat anyway and I was kicked out from club at 4 am in the morning wearing light dress in month of January!!!! Request to call the manager was rejected. Even when my friend managed to find a person with ticket to wardrobe, and she was waiting for me in queue to get clothes, security didn’t let me in! I ve never experienced such treatment ever! Be careful and attentive if you decide to go there, what i really don’t suggest to anyone!

  • Ruth-Anne said

    Thank you all, it is great to hear both sides, and both views. I look so forward to seeing your country. I hope to find a place, where I can ride the andalusians for one day. I do not want to assume, but I am hoping to find such a place. I am not into big cities, but I will be spending a few nights in Madrid, and then Potugal Lisbon. But I am mor interested in countryside and small towns. Thanks again. All this input is do inspiring.

  • Leander Herman said

    I'm half Indonesian and half Dutch and my wife is from Philippines we had lived in Calahonda, Spain for more than 8 years i could say this entire article is bull shit sorry for my rude response but the point here is my wife walks very often in the streets alone and was never bothered by any Spanish men.

    The Spanish are the most tolerant and most multi cultural people i've ever meet i could say and say this i had been to Greece and even lived there for 3 years, comparing Spain to Greece those Souvlakis in Greece are nothing more than racist/rapist bastards and i could say i had lived here in Spain happily with my wife and never witnessed any of this in the years i've been living here and i could mention that it's also the safest country in Europe where you could live.

    Go and walk in Greece alone when your coloured i could tell you how many times you will be harassed by the Gay Police of Greece compared to Spain, In Spain they treat you as a human being compared to most of the racists in Europe. And 1 reason i had put a lot of effort in learning Spanish becoz towards all of Europe i actually respect the Spanish they are good and kind people.

  • Ninguno said

    Leander Herman I can not agree more with you. I am a Spanish living in Germany since 8 years ago

  • Lin h. Murf said

    Wow, I will take your article in stride and depend also on my common sense and knowledge. This article brought in all types of people with all kinds of different perceptions and views on the subject at hand. I can truly say hope that I don't run into most of them on the streets.So much hostility and so very rude. I am an American and there we can have an opinion and freedom of speech. This person gathered his info and passed it on. Folk should take it into account along with their common sense, knowledge and own life experiences as a woman. Can we all just calm down and just enjoy one another and SPAIN !! God Help Us All.

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