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Solo Travel in Spain Safety Tips

Hi everyone,
I'll be traveling solo for the very first time and need your thoughts on female solo travel safety in Andalucia. Here's what I have thought about so far and need people's advice on best practices for solo travel:

Established group messaging with my cousins who are not traveling with me so I can check in with them twice daily (morning and evening)
Booked a hotel in Granada and Seville that are in the city center so I don't have to travel far to get back to the hotel at night
Bring a whistle as an alert if I'm in trouble or danger

Are there any places in Granada and Seville that I should absolutely avoid at night, by myself?
Is it safe to walk around alone during the day in the small, winding streets of both cities, that are less traveled?

Thanks in advance for your feedback! I'm very excited for the trip but also want to be safe while I'm there.

Posted by
1836 posts

I don’t know of anywhere in the tourist centers specifically to avoid. Everything seems very safe to me, obviously take normal precautions. During the day the small alley like streets are fine. Definitely don’t miss them - wandering around is part of the charm of the region! They are fine at night too (it’s not like they become unsafe at night), but the lack of visibility would make me hesitate about certain very dark deserted alleyway streets late at night. It’s more a gut level thing. If there are people around, or lighting, or open bars/restaurants visible on the street then I’d feel fine.

One good thing to remember is that in Andalucia people are out and about very late. There will be families, tourists, locals walking around well past midnight. Dinner doesn’t even start till after 10 for many people. So you won’t be alone unless you are out really, really late. I personally feel safer when there are people around so that’s a great thing about Spain.

Posted by
4859 posts

Europe in general is considerably safer than any city in the US - look at the statistics and decide. Worries about safety are overblown, although I realize a first-time traveler may not appreciate this. I think checking in twice a day is serious overkill. I traveled to Italy in my 20s solo and had no issues at all (except with men who were not scary but just way too eager and grabby); there is nothing in Andalucia or Spain that would imply any greater dangers. Spain has a culture of dining late in the evening, and folks walk in the streets late at night. You will never be alone as there will be others "out and about". If you're young (I assume you are), stay in a hostel or look for opportunities to hang out and dine with other people so you feel more comfortable.

Posted by
2244 posts

I'm not a woman so I can't speak from that perspective but I can say that I've been to many parts of the US where I would not consider walking after dark yet I've not been to any part of Spain where I have similar concerns.

Posted by
12036 posts

I'm planning a trip of my own to Andalucía and have done a great deal of reading from a variety of sources (haven't yet tackled my RS guidebook). Although good common sense is always important anywhere, I've encountered precisely one comment about a less-than-totally-safe area. A relatively current Eyewitness Guide includes this text about a neighborhood in Almeria: "It is inadvisable for visitors to wander around the Alcazaba district alone or late at night."

I'm a small, 60+ female who travels alone. I simply don't think about street safety. Of course, I'm ready to crash long before the locals head home from dinner out, so the streets are always bustling during the part of the evening when I'm walking around.

Posted by
107 posts

Andalucía is, as previous comments have noted, quite safe.

One place I would take note of: parts of the Albayzin in Granada can feel a bit sketchy late at night. I can’t remember which parts exactly, but I do remember thinking to myself, “I should probably keep my head down and just keep walking.” I’m a athletic-sized male in my upper-20s, but even I prefer to avoid sticky situations if I can.

It’s more about securing one’s valuables and having common sense than avoiding any specific place. When in doubt, pull our your cell phone and pretend you’re talking to someone on it. You’re less likely to be harassed or targeted if you’re on the phone with someone (or at least, if they think you are).

Posted by
4598 posts

Lonely Planet 2018 advises that the Sacramonte neighborhood in Granada is unsafe for solo women to wander.
I'm a guy and I was in Granada 3 nights last week and did not feel anything threatening. Children are out late with their families and there was even a baby at a New Years Eve party!
But I grew up in a Chicago neighborhood where they tell tourists not to go.

https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen/read/articles/granadas-sacromonte-district

Posted by
1836 posts

I guess I can see that deep in Sacramonte could be a little iffy late at night alone. The Albayzin feels perfectly fine to me, I’ve stayed there several times and am a fairly small woman.

In general I’m not out at 3AM anywhere, but from sundown to past midnight (when I tend to head to my hotel in Spain) I’ve never felt unsafe.

Posted by
437 posts

This tricky for me to answer. Partly because I'm not female and don't have that perspective, other than second-hand. And partly because I'm concerned over getting the right balance between reassuring you and making you too complacent. But -

Granada and Sevilla are large urban centres and, of course, both have less salubrious districts. In the case of Sevilla, notoriously Las 3000 Viviendas, which you absolutely should avoid, day or night. But these are not areas the average tourist (or local) is likely to visit, even accidentally. They won't appear in guidebooks or be on a walking route to anywhere that is. The places you will be are not dangerous. It's certainly safe to walk around the small, winding streets of the historic centres - you'll find lots of others doing the same, day and night.

The more likely hazard in either city centre is theft - pick-pocketing, stealing of unattended bags. Whilst petty crime isn't out of control, it is still prevalent enough to make it wise to always take particular care of your belongings (and leave things you don't need with you back at the hotel).

On the other hand, physical assaults on tourists are very rare. And if "night" means late evening, you'll find lots of other people around in the city centres at 10 or 11, and later.

I'm not a single woman, but personally, I wouldn't have thought the Albaicin is dangerous after dark and you'll find it's main streets and plazas busy; but walking around deserted side-streets could be creepy and there is some bag-snatching apparently. So perhaps stick to the busier parts. Also personally, I'd avoid Sacramonte alone late at night, especially avoid wandering into the rough-ground, cave parts.

You must do what makes you comfortable, but twice daily checking-in seems excessively prudent for Spain. More importantly, what will your cousins do if you fail to check-in? Do they have a realistic plan?

There are no guarantees in life, but I'm 99.99% sure you will leave Spain thinking physical safety was never a concern during your visit.

Posted by
351 posts

You have already received sound advice about Granada and Seville, so there are a few things that I would like to add as a woman who does a lot of solo travel across the globe, although not in Granada and Seville where I traveled with my husband.

  • Use a good walking navigation system (either GoogleMaps or Anchor Pointer). It is easy to get turned around on some of the streets in both Seville and Granada and knowing where you are going and how to find your way around without pointless wandering will help your confidence.
  • Bring a door stop. I do this anytime I travel by myself.
  • Ask your hotel regarding any safety concerns, they will be up-to-date on anything happening in the cities
  • Use walking tours, especially food tours. They are not only a great way to see some of the sites and learn about the food and culture along the way, they provide companionship. We took food tours by Devour in both Seville and Granada (unfortunately, they stopped the Granada tours).

Have a great trip,
Sandy

Posted by
11839 posts

The only concern I've ever had is petty theft. Just be smart about it. Don't leave a phone or camera sitting on your table if you're outside. Don't carry a lot of cash or cards in pockets or day bag. Either leave them in a safe in your room or wear a money belt. Often narrow streets will seem deserted after dark and that may give you an uneasy feeling, but they are safe and you will either enjoy the wandering or soon come to a busy plaza.

Posted by
75 posts

Antonette, I am a woman and usually travel solo two or more times per year. I feel more safe traveling alone in Europe than I do in the US. That being said, I am aware that petty theft can happen to anyone. When I travel solo, I have redundant systems in place on the off-chance my cross-body bag is snatched (or the ATM eats my card!). I opened a second online bank account specifically so that I have a spare ATM in case of theft. I carry that back-up ATM card and back-up credit card either in an under-the-clothing money belt, or locked in my suitcase in the hotel.

I made a solo visit both to Granada and Sevilla in September 2018. I enjoyed both cities and felt safe day and night. I can highly recommend the "free" walking tour of Sacramonte at sunset. Beautiful! I also visited one of the gypsy caves in Sacramonte to see flamenco. Rather than walk back alone to my apartment at 11:30pm, I opted to take a cab.

Enjoy your first solo trip. You got this!

Posted by
4409 posts

I'm a single woman you travels quite a bit on my own.
I really wouldn't commit to contacting relatives twice a day. It will just add hassle to your trip and cause worry if for some reason you are unable to make contact. If you wouldn't do this at home there really is no need to do it when travelling.
Don't bother with a whistle. In the very unlikely event you need to blow it anyone who might hear it are unlikely to react, other than to think "what's that whistle?" And then go on with their day. If you ever found yourself in a position where you really need to call for help its usually better to shout "fire", or what ever the Spanish word is. People have been proven to react to fire much more than "help" etc

Posted by
2468 posts

Antonette, I am an extremely safety conscious person, and I think your twice a day contact is too much. Just check in once per day, and give them your itinerary.

I do think it’s a good idea to select lodging where there is a front desk person or someone on-site, I.e. hotel or B&B. Even though my phone has a flashlight, I brought a small flashlight for my pocket and next to my bed at night.

Walk purposeful like you know what you’re doing. In other words, be aware of what’s happening around you.

Always wear your money belt with your passport, credit card and ATM cards and large Euro bills. Then you’re well prepared to deal with any other issue.

This one is important: always, always, always trust your gut instinct and don’t feel embarrassed to immediately get out of any situation that doesn’t feel right.

Overall, think through everyone’s advice, take it to heart, and then enjoy your trip! Spain is wonderful!

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks, everyone, for your valuable feedback! My first solo travel was a success! I went to Granada, Cordoba and Seville for a week. I didn’t feel unsafe at all the whole time I was in Spain. There were always a lot of people on the streets and people were really nice. I did check in with my cousins every night and sent them a picture of the day :) and also brought a doorstop. I got lost a couple of times during the day but no worries there. Met other travelers, a couple of them even live in my neighborhood! Small world!

Most family members were concerned I was going solo. All my friends were proud and happy for me that I was doing it! At the end of it all, I genuinely enjoyed my time and would definitely do it again!

Posted by
534 posts

I'm not sure how old you are but most survival skills in Spain for solo travelers are the same as the US. First, the most likely crime you will encounter is pickpocketing, for that reason I always try to carry as little as possible and if I drink I drink in moderation. Don't get drunk, if anyone tries to solicite for a charity or to buy something just walk past and don't engage. Always trust your gut, I walked though the Arab quarter in Granada alone and there were some streets that I didn't go down just because there was no one around. Was I being precautious, yes but I just didn't have a good feeling.

As for at night, if you stay on the main path and the squares in the center of town you can go out alone until after 10:30. I once ate at a restaurant at 10:30pm that still had small children eating at the next table. I never felt unsafe at night in the center which is more than I can say for my own city.

Finally, take a walking tour of both cities. I've met some fun people on these tours and is a nice break from going solo. Also after speaking Spanish all the time, it was great to finally be able to talk in English to others who shared my enthusiasm for Spain.

Posted by
2174 posts

I have nothing to add because the basic safety tips have already been well covered by other members above, if anything to mention that, in general terms, you're very unlikely to have any interest in visiting the few areas you shouldn't (ie Las 3000 Viviendas in Sevilla) as there's nothing a regular visitor would be attracted to.

Also, contrary to some cities in other parts of the world, there aren't dodgy streets but dodgy areas instead so you can't really get in the middle of a dodgy area by mistake, it's not a matter of crossing the wrong street -if you catch my drift. You are very likely to notice (perceive?) when you're heading towards an area that isn't advisable to go to.

Posted by
2468 posts

Antonette, so happy to hear that you had a wonderful solo trip to Spain!