Is Madrid Safe For Travel? Safety tips & places to avoid [2023]

Updated on:  
January 4, 2023
Reading Time:  
Jessica Bergin
There's nothing like planning an adventure abroad, and Spain's capital city has tons to see and do. But with so many sublime sights and alluring attractions, how safe is Madrid for visitors? Keep reading for a guide on Madrid's best safety practices and things you should avoid in 2023.

From the flickering lights in Puerta del Sol to stunning architecture and lush gardens in Retiro Park, Madrid is packed to the brim with serene sightseeing opportunities. Amongst the bustling boulevards, fascinating exhibitions, and awe-worthy architecture on display, millions of tourists frequent the city each year.

But with so many visitors, is Madrid truly as safe as other travelers claim it to be? 

As with practically every major European city, there's a high chance of pickpocketing and other petty crimes. In this Madrid safety guide, we'll dive into all of the nitty-gritty details. 

Whether you're a solo backpacker, a student, or a female traveler, look no further for everything you need to know. We'll cover all the common crimes, standard statistics, things to know, things you should avoid, and local safety tips to consider before traveling to Madrid, Spain.  

madrid park
Photo by Omer Karakus on Unsplash

How safe is Madrid? 

It's easy to get swept up in the beauty of Madrid, especially if it's your first time traveling. But, if you're heading into the capital city's biggest attractions, then taking some extra precautions is strongly advised. 

The most popular tourist spots and landmarks in Madrid are especially targeted by pickpocketers. When venturing into the city center, otherwise known as the Centro, it's important to stay watchful and keep your belongings safe. That being said, pickpocketing in Madrid is one of the biggest things you should look out for. We'll discuss some practical tips you can implement later on. 

Compared with the other major cities on the crime rate index, Madrid is a very safe destination for international travelers. It's perfectly safe to walk alone during the daytime and the evening. If you're wondering whether Madrid is safe for solo female travelers, then this statistic is nothing short of assuring. 

plaza madrid safety
Photo by Illan Riestra Nava on Unsplash 

Madrid Crime Rates 

According to recent data, the elderly and English-speaking tourists are the biggest targets in Madrid. The most common reported thefts are phones, wallets, jewelry, and backpacks, which generally occur in major tourist attractions. 

Compared to Barcelona, Madrid is ranked as a safer destination for visitors. Spain, in general, sits at a Level 2 risk, with low concerns for terrorism. 

Pickpocketing in Madrid 

English-speaking tourists are targeted throughout Europe, and Madrid is certainly no exception. High price-tag items such as Apple products (iPhone, iPad, iMac, etc.) are among the most reported. This is because these items sell for more money in Europe than in the United States. 

One of the most surprising facts about pickpockets in Madrid is that they are pretty young, generally under sixteen. Teens are the ones you should keep an eye out for. 

The most common areas for pickpocketing in Madrid are in the metro, bus stations, major plazas, tourist attractions, and the airport. 

madrid architecture
Photo by Quique Olivar on Unsplash 

What to do if you get pickpocketed in Madrid 

First and foremost, cancel your credit or debit card.

Call the company, or enter your banking app and cancel it directly through there. By blocking your cards ASAP, you can avoid any chances the robber has at spending all your money. Your cards are replaceable, and the emphasis should be placed not on what you've lost but on what you can do.

Worrying about what you can't control will only escalate the situation, so you must stay focused on what you can actually do.  

Secondly, your driver's license and other important identity cards will be a little more challenging to replace. That's why if there's only one thing you take away from this article, it's this: don't carry your passport or hard-to-replace items with you. If necessary, only keep photocopies on you. Leave your passport and other important documents in the safe in your accommodation. 

However, if your passport does get stolen, you will need to contact your country's embassy in Madrid. Most embassies have limited time schedules and are closed on Sundays, so it's important that you report it as quickly as possible to avoid further hassle. 

How to stay safe in Madrid 

Stay alert

Be aware of your surroundings, and stay cautious at all times. It's easier said than done, especially in a city as spectacular as Madrid. 

With so many wonderful things to do in Madrid, getting from one attraction to the next can sometimes leave you in a frenzy. Pickpockets and scammers take advantage of distracted visitors. 

Keep your valuables close

Keep your belongings close to, or preferably on your lap when eating out at a cafe or restaurant. You'd be surprised at how quickly things can get snatched. 

madrid coffee shop
Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Get a bum bag

Otherwise known as fanny packs, the bum bag is not only back in style, but it's something that can make a real difference! You'll be able to keep your belongings close, and during the cooler months, you can layer a jacket or coat over it for extra protection. If a bum bag isn't your thing, you could consider a money belt

Avoid purses and wallets

They're particularly an easy target for robbers and pickpockets, mainly because they're usually in a pocket or plain view. If you do choose to use a purse, make sure you've only got the essential items inside. 

Don't accept gifts from strangers

Although it can be flattering, just say no to any roses or bracelets that may be thrown your way. It's a scam! 

Choose the right neighborhood

Whether you're a seasoned traveler or your first time visiting the city, choosing a safe neighborhood is essential. Read our in-depth, detailed guide on where to stay in Madrid for everything you need to know. 

madrid building
Photo by Lucas Ricci on Unsplash

Other Scams in Madrid 

Beware of aspiring entrepreneurs who will try to sell you anything and everything on the streets. Balloon animals, roses, towels, food, and hand-made jewelry are a few amongst many of the myriad items scammers will try to sell to you. 

Usually, once you've laid your eyes on their product, they will push you and pressure you into purchasing them. Sometimes, if you refuse to pay, they'll threaten to call the police. If you do find yourself in one of these situations, be sure to remain calm. 

A lot of the time, these ambitious 'entrepreneurs' work with pickpocketers to serve as a distraction so that they can sneak up from behind and steal your belongings. 

If you do want to purchase locally-made, handcrafted goods, head to a market like the Mercado de San Miguel or El Rastro

So, is Madrid safe? 

To put it simply, yes, Madrid is safe to visit. Crime rates remain relatively low, with the only major concern being pickpocketing. Compared to other rivaling European cities, students, solo tourists, backpackers, and female travelers can safely navigate the city, both by day and night. 

With glamorous galleries, buzzing plazas, gorgeous architecture, and some of the country's best landmarks, Madrid is truly one of a kind. 

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Published on:  
May 27, 2022

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