Is Madrid Safe for Solo Female Travelers?
It's the question everyone always wants to know. I travel solo every chance I get. If I’m not currently on a trip, odds are good that I’m spending all of my time planning my next solo trip. One of the first things I always Google before I book my ticket is “Is _____ safe for women to travel solo?” Safety is a number one priority, and unfortunately, there are a lot of places where it's just not safe to exist as a woman on her own.
So, is Madrid safe for solo female travelers? The short answer is - yes!
Madrid is the safest city I’ve ever been to. Where I’m from, I would never dream about walking around on my own at 3:00 in the morning. I’d probably have a panic attack if I had to walk around downtown without pepper spray in hand.
But in Madrid, that’s exactly what I did, at least once or twice a week. And - oh my god - I’ve never known greater freedom than being able to walk around alone in the middle of the night without feeling vulnerable. I don’t think I can properly describe it.
When I first got to Madrid, it felt wrong how safe it was. “What do you mean you’re going to walk home by yourself, it’s 2:00 am!” “What do you mean no one here walks around with pepper spray?”
Slowly I adjusted, and with that, I stopped being hyper-vigilant. I stopped looking over my shoulder. I walked with music actually playing in my headphones. I started going on walks in the middle of the night just because for the first time in my life I could.
I lived there for about a year, and I never had an incident where I felt unsafe. It is genuinely one of the greatest feelings to know that I am safe, and do not have to operate with strict rules to stay that way. I have never felt this way in the United States. Living like this was so freeing it was almost therapeutic.
That said, I did get catcalled in Madrid.
But not often, and definitely not as frequently as I generally did at home. During my year living in Madrid, I would get catcalled once or twice a month. But even when I would get catcalled while on my own in the middle of the night, I didn’t feel as scared as I would have been in the United States.
The difference is, in my experience, catcalling in the United States is more menacing. Catcalling in the U.S. usually entails groups of older men who are following me, threatening me, shouting slurs, or telling me what they want to do to my body. It’s terrifying.
I never once felt that malice in Madrid. In Madrid, it would be whistling or a “qué guapa” as you walk past. No following, no slurs, and no threats. No form of catcalling is acceptable, but never once did the catcalling in Madrid make me feel afraid.
The only real “danger” in Madrid that I ever experienced is the danger of having your phone stolen. The pickpockets here are very good at what they do. I have one friend who had 4 phones stolen in the 4 months she was there.
For the most part, you can avoid pickpocketing if you’re mindful.
Like anywhere else in the world, some areas are safer than others. The places to be wary of pickpockets are the Gran Via, the metros in the city center, and inside clubs. Out of all of the people that I know who had their phone stolen, about half of them had it stolen at a club.
When I go to a club, I only bring my ID, €20 cash, and my phone. No debit cards, and no extra money. If you can find a jacket with interior pockets, this is the best place to keep your valuables. I wear a fanny pack and put my phone in the innermost pocket. This way, I can clearly see my bag the entire time, and any potential phone thief has to unzip two zippers before they can get to my phone.
The most important thing is just to be aware of your surroundings. Never leave anything valuable on a restaurant table, even if you’re sitting right there. Don’t put your phone or your wallet in your back pocket where it can be easily grabbed. Try not to walk with your phone in your hand in a tourist area. If you keep these things in mind, you should be completely fine.
To recap, the chance of physical danger in Madrid is extremely low, but the chance of being pickpocketed is much higher if you’re not careful. As long as you’re conscious of your wallet and your phone when you go to a tourist area, you’ll be fine. Madrid is a beautiful city with so much history and culture, and it’s the perfect spot for your next solo adventure!