Here at Traveling in Spain, we know how the mood of a holiday can change completely when some of your most precious and important belongings get stolen. We don’t want that to happen to you on your perfect trip to Spain!
Unfortunately, anyone can be a victim of crime and tourists are prime targets. With a little bit of background and safety tips, you can stop that from happening. So look no further, because we have the best tips on how to safely travel in Spain.
Is It Safe To Travel To Spain?
Is Spain safe? Spain is actually not an extremely dangerous place, and travelers can be sure to have a great time in the country where people make the most of their days drinking sangria, eating tapas and soaking up the sun.
Of course, your safety is important to us, so we decided to take a look at how safe Spain really is. The Institute for Economics and Peace published The Global Peace Index 2018 and it ranks Spain in the top 30 of the world’s safest countries. We guess it’s safe to say that you can start planning your trip!
However, in big cities with crowded areas, pickpockets and muggers target tourists. As a tourist, you are a vulnerable target. You’re not constantly on the move, you may have a lot of baggage with you, or seem lost or distracted in a busy location, like the big Spanish monuments. That’s why you should know what to expect when it comes to crime in Spain.
Crime In Spain: Is It Safe To Travel To Spain Right Now?
Is it safe to travel to Spain? If you know what crime to expect, you can be cautious and prevent yourself from becoming a victim, while still enjoying your holiday. Thieves target busy places where they can’t get noticed, like touristic areas and transport hubs. Beaches and restaurants are the top locations for bag snatchers and phone thieves – so make sure to keep an eye on your belongings at all times, and keep your bag closed.
Pickpocketing and Muggings
Spain is a top tourist destination, making pickpocketing a major risk for travelers. The risk of getting mugged is lower than pickpocketing, but you should always be aware of your surroundings and stay alert.
Pickpockets like to operate in big cities, metro and train stations, and busy attractions where tourists flock together. They prefer to work in groups. One person (or a group) can easily distract you while the others reach into your pocket to grab your wallet.
In Spain, you can expect to find con-artists and scammers trying to trick tourists for their own advantage. Watch out for any people who want to show you a trick, groups approaching you, or people offering any help or assistance on the streets. If something sounds suspicious, it probably is. Refuse help kindly and keep on walking – we don’t have time to waste on scammers!
Spain has not recently been a target of a terrorist attack, but other countries in Europe have been targeted – meaning Spain is at medium risk. However, don’t let that influence you too much. Terrorist attacks can happen anywhere in the world at any given time. Other travelers have not been put off by the possibility of a terrorist attack, and tourists still flock to Spain yearly to admire and enjoy its beauty and culture.
Safest Cities In Spain
You might have heard that you need to avoid the capital Madrid and Barcelona due to the fact that both these cities are at a high risk of petty crime. It’s also the two cities in Spain running the highest risk of a terrorist attack. Despite speculation around terrorist attacks, the overall safety of big cities in Spain has moved up the list, making us feel more reassured to book a trip.
However, the safest is always the smaller towns. These are also often the most beautiful and unique places to visit in Spain, and a holiday spent outside of the cities is a very different, and equally exciting one.
Safety in Barcelona, Spain: Crime Rate
The Safe Cities Index Report released by the Economist Intelligence Unit in 2017, actually ranks Madrid and Barcelona in the 12th and 13th position of the 60 safest cities in the world. Madrid went up 13 places, and even Barcelona moved up 7 places since 2015, despite the terrorist attack that took place in 2017.
Crime, Spain, and violence are terms that we rarely hear together! Violent crime rates are relatively low. The most common are pickpocketing and other petty crimes due to the high concentration of tourists.
Holiday In Spain: Before you leave
People could steal from you when you leave your things unattended, or if you seem careless or lost. So before starting your journey to Spain, get clued up on the crime front and avoid being an unlucky victim of crime.
Follow these tips before you go on your journey to make sure that you have all your backup documents ready, in case of an emergency:
- Take cards and receipts you won’t be using out of your wallet before leaving on holiday.
- Why have everything in one wallet? Split your cash and carry only as much as you need. Take an extra credit card with you if possible.
- Scan copies of your passport, credit cards, and important documents and email them to yourself. Alternatively, you can store them on your online cloud.
- Pack a few rubber elastics. We’ve heard that adding these around your wallet will make it more difficult to grab out of a tight front-pocket.
Safety Tips For Transportation
Taking the metro, the bus or your rental car? When using personal or public transportation in Spain, take our tips into consideration.
- Beware of jam-packed metros – especially when carrying a lot of stuff. Thieves will come up close to you and while people bumping against each other in public transport seems normal – this might be a scam to search your pockets or steal your luggage.
- Car break-ins are common in Spanish cities. Use the hotel safe or hotel room to store your valuables. Thieves check cars for hidden valuables, even if nothing is in sight.
Safety On The Streets
Walking the streets of Spain is more dangerous at night than during the day. Stay in busy areas and follow our tips on how to be safe on the streets.
- Wear backpacks and camera bags in front of you to avoid the risk of getting them grabbed or slashed off your back.
- If you’re out late at night, avoid quiet streets and take a taxi back to your accommodation. Another option is a chauffeur service.
- Avoid using ATM’s at night or in quiet locations. You may get followed and robbed.
It’s also a good idea to travel in groups! If you’re backpacking Spain solo and you’d prefer to explore with a group – both to share the experience and to make sure you’re 100% safe, consider joining a group tour of the cities! Two of our favorite day tours are a segway tour of Barcelona, and the various options for a bike tour in Madrid. These are a great way to meet people, and combine fun, exercise, and sightseeing.
Travel Warnings, Spain: Tried And True Scams
These tricks and scams have been around Spain for a long time. There are a lot of variations on these schemes, so it might be good to familiarize yourself with them to spot dangerous situations from a distance.
A person steps on your leg and pretends to be brushing off the dirt. While you’re watching, the other thief is going through your pockets.
Dropping Coins Scam
Someone will accidentally drop coins or other objects in front of you. As you assist in picking them up, another thieve is busy stealing your wallet.
Watch Out For Women And Children
Watch out for groups of individuals (usually women or children) that suddenly surround you with a paperclip board in front of your eyes. While you can’t see someone will try to steal things from you.
Shoe Polish Scam
A thief might try to polish your shoes without your permissionand upon refusal, another would’ve already searched your pockets.
Thieves in Spain are known to try and sell scarves, flowers, herbs or tell your fortune to you. These colourful characters will not accept your money – and zip your wallet closed for you. Of course, you will only realize later that your money is gone. Please avoid engaging with people selling things off the street.
What To Do When You Get Robbed In Spain
The best thing to do when you get robbed in Spain is to file a police report. This can only be done while you are still in the country. Depending on what you lost, you might need to organize documents to fly back to your own country.
- If your cards get stolen, cancel them immediately.
- File a police report (called denuncia in Spanish) for items that are insured or have high value
- If your passport is stolen, you need to find out if you need a temporary passport to leave the country. Check with your airline if you will need a passport to complete your travels.
- You can either report a crime online, by calling or visiting your nearest police station
- This number is available for English speaking tourists (from 9am – 9pm). They will be able to assist you with any questions you might have.
If you find yourself in any threatening situation, try to cooperate. Giving up your items are surely better than being threatened or getting hurt. If you see people acting suspicious, continue walking, always keep your hands in your front pockets or hold on to your bag firmly.
Well, now that you know what to watch out for you can be sure to protect yourself and keep your belongings safe. Spain, safety, and sangrias should all go hand-in-hand. Que tengas buen viaje – have a safe trip, because it’s time to relax and enjoy the magnificent culture and city life of Spain. Salud!