Is Spain Safe?

In this article

Spain is one of the most visited European countries, welcoming visitors from all around the world. It is located on the Iberian Peninsula, with Portugal on the west side of the Mediterranean coast. This country is known for its rich cultural heritage and beaches. Its vibrant nightlife, delicious cuisines, and popular festivities are some of the common reasons people visit Spain.
However, tourists looking to explore the beauty of Spain are always concerned about the safety of the country.
Read on to get an overview of the crime rate and the occurrence of social unrest in the country. We will also explore the entry requirements, driving customs, and laws surrounding dressing, alcohol, and drug use in Spain in this article.

Safety in Spain: Crime Rate Overview

Spain has a high safety coefficient and a low crime rate. The crime rate in Spain generally is about 34%. Other metrics of the crime rate, including thieves breaking into homes and cars, are all average below 35%. Crimes and discrimination against people of color, gender, and a minority religion or ethnic origin are very low at 20.16%.
Crimes like theft in public transportation, petty theft, fraud, drink spiking, tourist scams, and robbery are relatively common in Spain, especially around large cities with many tourists. However, law enforcement agencies do their best to keep the crime rates minimal, making Spain of the safest places in Europe. Foreign tourists who follow the essential safety tips can experience a danger-free stay while in the country.

Political Situation and Social Unrest

Spain is relatively safe, but once in a while, it witnesses pockets of protests and social unrest, especially in certain cities like Catalonia and Barcelona. Protests with many people can quickly turn violent, requiring the intervention of security operatives. In such situations, movement and transportation on the road, rail and air may be disrupted.
Protests usually arise in response to difficult living conditions, like the protest in March 2022. The protest saw lorry drivers, fishermen, and farmers on the streets protesting the hike in energy prices. If these protests are not handled in time, they may result in civil unrest. Tourists should monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities to avoid locations affected by protests or prone to social unrest.

Is Spain Safe From Terrorism?

Spain has seen its fair share of attacks from terrorists, and the alert for terrorism in Spain is high. The security operatives in the country have been able to prevent attacks and arrest terrorists. The most recent attacks happened in August 2017, where two terrorist attacks claimed about 24 lives, and left 152 injured.
Terrorist attacks have been targeted at public places like transport hubs, sporting venues, public transport, places of worship, tourist attractions, shopping areas and major events that attract large crowds. When on a tourist visit to Spain, be aware of possible threats when planning activities, and monitor the media for news and security updates. Also, follow the advice local authorities give, keep the emergency number handy and have local emergency contacts.

Getting Around in Spain: Transportation Safety

Spain has several transportation options that tourists can use while in the country. Although significant transportation hubs are common targets for terrorist attacks, security personnel do their best to guard against them. Tourists should be wary of pickpockets and petty thieves in public transport systems, especially around major cities and tourist attraction sites.
Tourists can get around Spain on flights, Uber, licensed taxis, rental cars, buses, metros, and the national rail system called Renfe. Before going to Spain on a tourist visit, find out about the local transport systems in the area you plan to stay, as some require you to book tickets ahead of time. When in doubt about how the system works, speak to a local or your travel agent, they will be of help.

Driving Customs and Traffic Pace

Most tourists use any of the public transport systems when moving around the cities in Spain. There are only a few places in the countryside and rural areas that you can only access on foot or by driving. All foreign drivers must have a Driver's license and International Driving Permit (IDP), passport, insurance documents and documents proving your ownership or a rental. For your safety, you should also bring fluorescent jackets for all occupants, a fire extinguisher, and two warning triangles.
The driving system is similar to the driving system in America. Cars drive on the right, and drivers sit on the left. All roads have speed limits, and they differ based on the type of road. Expressways and major highways have a speed limit of 75 mph (120 kmph), other roads are 56 mph (90 kmph), urban areas are 31 mph (50 kmph), and built-up areas have the least at 19 mph (30 kmph). Breaking any of these rules can attract heavy fines or cause your vehicle to be impounded.

Local Laws Tourists Should Be Aware of

When visiting Spain, you are subject to the laws of the land, and you must obey them if you want to have a fun stay in Spain. As a tourist, you must always carry a personal ID and provide it on request by a police officer. If you do not provide an ID, the police can detain you until they can confirm your identity. You can present your original driver's license or your passport on request.
Other local laws you must abide by are:
  • You cannot take milk, meat or products containing them into Spain unless under special conditions.
  • You must not photograph military installations.
  • Wearing swimwear, a bikini, or shorts with a bare chest on the street is prohibited in some areas; if caught, you will pay a fine.
  • In some places, due to security reasons, you must remove your niqab or burka once you enter their building.

Local Laws on Alcohol and Illegal Substances

The Spanish government is against alcohol, drugs, illegal substances and sexuality in public places. Some places in Spain have banned drinking alcohol on the streets and will issue an instant fine to offenders. Sexual activities in public spaces and beaches are prohibited and can attract a fine.
Drugs and illegal substances on the other hand have more stringent rules. You can be arrested and detained if caught with a small amount of drugs or illicit substances. Larger proportions of drugs can lead to prosecution and even jail time. Drugs and alcohol are, however, allowed on private property like your home and designated Cannabis Clubs. It is legal to grow cannabis and do other drugs on your private property.

Spain COVID-19 Restrictions and Preventative Measures

Many places in Spain still have their Covid restrictions, especially in locations with many visitors and tourists. On a tourist visit to Spain, obey the local rules and regulations and covid precautions set by the authorities.
Generally, you need a facemask in a public transport system, at large events or places with large gatherings of people, and in an enclosed public space like a cinema, restaurant or shopping centres. You must also wear a mask when visiting health facilities, pharmacies, and medical centers. You may be required to provide proof of vaccination at the airport and other places before entering. Get vaccinated, get your evidence, and have your face mask with you at all times, and you will be safe in Spain.

Climate and Natural Disasters

Spain has its fair share of natural disasters and climatic conditions that might make it unsafe. Spain witnesses earthquakes, floods, severe weather, and forest fires with little or no warning. Many parts of Spain get flooded, destroying infrastructures and properties and disrupting transport. When visiting Spain, pay attention to the media so it can inform you beforehand of impending disasters and how to avoid them.
In summer, Spain is prone to forest fires, especially when temperatures rise above 40ºC. It is a criminal offense to start a forest fire in Spain, even if it is not intentional. If you start any fire in public, make sure you put it out completely before leaving. Avoid throwing cigarette ends away indiscriminately because it can start a fire later. In case of a fire, follow the locals' instructions on evacuation steps.
Spain usually experiences earthquakes, but very massive quakes are rare. The last recorded quake happened in 2021 in the Canary Islands and caused only minor damage. Pay attention to the local media for updates. Also, keep in touch with family members or your travel crew in case of a natural disaster.

Outdoor Activities & Adventure Tourism

Spain is a go-to place for outdoor activities and adventures like kitesurfing, rock climbing, skateboarding, canyoning, and paragliding. Tourists from around the world visit Spain yearly to participate in these activities. The dangers associated with each of the outdoor activities differ from each other, with some being more dangerous. Adventures like running the bulls in Pamplona, or jumping from fountains are very risky, with many participants being badly injured or killed in the process due to the shallow depths and hidden rocks. Some insurance companies may not cover the cost of treatment if you get injured while participating in very risky games.
When going for adventures, ensure you go for less risky options and go with others. Go with a group of other tourists led by a local tour operator. Also, ensure there are first aid kits and swift medical response teams close by, waiting for evacuation orders in case of an accident.

Is Spain Safe for American Tourists?

Spain is one of the safest countries for American tourists, as they experience only a few serious crimes. American tourists however have to be wary of pickpockets and petty thieves, as they are in abundant supply, especially in larger cities and crowded areas. Drink spiking, petty crime and tourist frauds are prevalent occurrences. If you fall victim to these schemes, locate the nearest police station and complain. You can get a police report for your stolen passports while they work on retrieving them for you.
Walk amid people, avoid walking alone, and use ATMs in the bank rather than those on the sidewalk to prevent ATM fraud. Keep your personal belongings and valuables on you or always at arm's reach to keep them safe from theft.

Spain Entry Requirements: Travel Documents & Visas

Spain is a member of the Schengen area, and whatever applies to the Schengen area applies to Spain. To enter Spain, you must provide your international passport, an ETIAS visa waiver or a visa, depending on your country of origin. The visa waiver allows its holders to visit European countries and the Schengen zone without a visa.
Visitors from America are eligible for the ETIAS travel authorization; hence they only need to provide the visa waiver and their international passport. Citizens of countries that are not eligible for the visa waiver must provide a tourist or Schengen visa with their passport before being admitted into the country.

Is It Safe to Travel to Spain: Final Thoughts

Spain is a fun place to visit, with its endless supply of exciting places and activities to enjoy. It is a haven for tourists, with a relatively low crime rate. The crime rates are minimal, and you will be safe with standard precautionary measures like being aware of your surroundings. This is one of the reasons behind the booming expat community in Spain and countless remote workers moving to the country since the introduction of its digital nomad visa.
You need to pay close attention to petty crime and pickpockets, as their activities are popular around tourist sites and public places.
Natural disasters and extreme climatic conditions occur in Spain. If you are in a place prone to these natural disasters, always be on the lookout for forecasts from local media. You should also pay attention to the media for cases of social unrest and terrorism. While terrorism is not very common, protests and social unrest are common, and you need to be aware. You will be safe in Spain if you pay attention to these precautions.
Written by: Fikayomi Abisola
Abisola is an ETIAS Travel and Immigration writer with several years of writing experience in the industry. Abisola has a unique enthusiasm for travels, tours, and tourism and loves to educate travellers about the criteria involved in international travelling.

FAQs

  • 1. Is Spain safe at night?

    Spain is relatively safe at all times of the day; however, tourists are more prone to attacks at night, especially if they are walking alone on poorly lit streets. While in Spain, avoid walking alone at night. The night sees an increase in street crime and violent crime.
  • 2. How safe is Spain for solo female travelers?

    Solo female travelers have nothing to fear while in Spain, especially sexual assault. Provided they exercise preventive measures, they are safe in the country. As a solo female traveler, remain vigilant and avoid problematic places.
  • 3. Is Spain a secure country?

    Spain is a very secure country with a meager crime rate. It is one of the safest European cities, and that is why tourists visit them in large numbers every year.
  • 4. Is Spain safe to travel to?

    Spain is very safe to travel to at this time. Although they have had their share of extreme weather conditions, earthquakes, forest fires, and political unrest. However, the country is safe to travel to, as the local authorities take charge of most activities.
  • 5. How safe Is Spain compared to the rest of Europe?

    Spain is a relatively safe country in comparison to the rest of Europe. Of the 43 other countries in Europe, Spain is ranked in the 25th place, with one being the most dangerous and 44 being the safest. In relation to the rest of Europe, Spain is relatively safe.

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