Lago del Valle in Someido National Park, Asturias, Spain
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Travelling safely in Spain

Spain is a fairly safe country to travel to and was on place number 29 among the most peaceful countries in the world according to Global Peace Index in 2022. That said, you can there are some common tourist scams and muggings in big cities like Barcelona and Madrid and other touristy areas in the country.

There are few reports of harm to tourists, but rather the loss of their belongings. When travelling to smaller places and lesser touristy areas of Spain, scams and muggings are rarely heard of.

Generally speaking, you need to be aware of the most common scams, hold on to your bag and valuables, and avoid dark empty alleys at night, but there is no reason to be worried about your safety when travelling to Spain.

When it comes to dangerous animals, there is only one tiny predator you should be aware of when hiking in pine forests, which we will come back to later.

Theft and scams in Spain


Theft can occur, especially in large cities like Barcelona and Madrid, but also in touristy areas like Costa del Sol and Costa Brava.

The best thing you can do is to hold onto your bag (preferably in front of you,) not leave any zippers open, not keep your phone or wallet visible in your back pockets, etc.

Common scams

As mentioned before, scams are only common in big crowds and touristy places. Go off the beaten path, and you will not see any of the below. The two bottom scams are mainly happening in Barcelona (and possibly Madrid.)

Most common tourist scams in Spain:

  • Some taxi drivers do not use taximeters and ask for too much money at the end of the journey. Make sure you ask them to turn it on or agree on a price upfront. 

  • Some restaurants do not set prices on the menus and will ask for ridiculously high prices after the meal. Always ask for the price upfront.

  • Gypsy women are often seen outside tourist sites with rosemary that they put in your hand for good luck. Once you take it, they ask for money and might even snatch your wallet or some extra cash once you open your wallet. Avoid taking anything from them and keep your wallet in your bag.

  • If you get approached by a pair of “undercover” policemen asking to see your documents and ask questions about some person that is “under investigation” (might be someone you just crossed paths with), ask them to take you to the nearest police station to discuss further. Do not confront them in any other way. They are hard to detect as they carry fake badges, but will probably try to steal from you once you get your wallet and documentation out.

  • If someone comes after you with an item they picked up from the street claiming that you lost it and trying to give it back, it will probably be a distraction while someone else is snitching your valuables.

Staying safe outdoors

Forest fires

During the summer months, Spain is a hot and dry travel destination and wildfires are common. For this reason, there are strict rules about making fires in open spaces, in nature, and even on campgrounds. There are also huge fines for throwing cigarette butts out of the car window due to fire hazards.


There is no dangerous wildlife in Spain that you can expect to see on a hike, but you might meet wild boar in the forest in the evenings or early mornings. They are harmless unless they feel threatened. So if you see them, avoid blocking their way, be quiet, and walk around them. It is very rare that people get close to them, though.

However, there is one little predator that is becoming more and more of a plague in Spain’s pine forests. The Pine Processionary Caterpillars come out from their nests earlier every year and can be seen already in late December/early January. Generally, they should come out in March and be seen for the next couple of months. These small larvae will typically walk in a line nose-to-butt and can form lines up to 2 meters long.

They have millions of tiny arrow-like hairs that are poisonous and will create an allergic reaction when in contact with people’s skin. While they are not deadly to humans, they can kill a dog or even a small baby if they lick on the hairs.

They only live in pine trees and nest in white spider-web-like balls in the pine trees until they crawl down in a line looking for a place to dig themselves into the soil and eventually turn into moths (which are not dangerous.)

If you see them, do not panic, just don’t touch them or step on them/kill them as this will result in their little poisonous hairs flying around and possibly getting stuck on you and your clothes. If you hike with dogs, avoid pine forests during the season.

Swim safety in Spain

In Spain, there are no big hazards when swimming in the sea. Yet, some years there are a lot of jellyfish. These are not dangerous, but they burn, so you definitely want to avoid them. As anywhere, some years are worst than others, and some years you will not see them at all.

There are also beaches and areas with underwater currents, so make sure you always read the signs on any beach before entering the water. Luckily, Spain is full of safe Blue-flag beaches with lifeguards.

Safety in Spain's mountains

Spain is an underrated mountain destination and for this reason, there are often tourists taking on hikes in flip-flops that should only be tackled with proper hiking shoes or boots. Make sure you read up on the hike you plan to do and bring adequate footwear if you want to incorporate hiking on your trip.

You will be rescued by rescue crews and even by helicopter if you have an accident in the mountains in Spain. But if the accident is because of your own imprudence, you might see a huge fine.

Other safety considerations

Torrential rain and flooding in Spain

Beginning in late November, especially in southern Spain, there are periods of heavy torrential rain where it is basically impossible to walk out of the door.

Wind and rain can destroy parked cars, roads, and natural areas, and every year streets get flooded due to poor drainage systems. These rains (often accompanied by heavy thunder) can last for up to two weeks, but most of the time, it rains heavily at night and lightens up during the day.

Heat exhaustion

The summer in Spain can get extremely hot, especially outside of the coastal areas. The warmest cities are Seville and Cordoba, where temperatures can reach up to 50 degrees Celsius in July and August.

It is important to drink enough water, wear a hat, and you can cool down your face, neck, and head in water fountains to keep cool. It is important to be aware of the heat and not take on unnecessary activities on hot days, like hiking or rushing through too many tourist attractions in a day.


All drugs are illegal in Spain and will be penalized. However, it is legal to possess up to 100 grams of cannabis for personal use. Contradictory enough, it is not allowed to sell it or buy it.

Tap water

Tap water in Spain is mostly safe to drink. Some water fountains have signs saying “No Potable” which means not drinkable water. If it says “Agua Potable” it is safe to drink.

That said, some areas have tap water that tastes bad, and there is a lot of chlorine in the Spanish tap water. To make it taste better, you can use a filtered water bottle or a bottle like LifeStraw with a built-in water purifier so that you can not only get a better taste on the water, but you can fill it with any water and drink it safely.

LGBTIQ+ travel travel in Spain

Spain is generally a safe country for LGBTIQ+ travellers and being seen holding hands and kissing in public is normal. Some destinations are exceptionally LGBTIQ+ friendly, like Torremolinos, Sitges, and Benidorm.


It is advisable to purchase good travel insurance when travelling to Spain. Make sure you cover both accidents and theft. The public health system is good in Spain and you will get help at any “Urgencias” centre showing your insurance papers. If you plan on doing extreme sports, make sure you include this in your insurance. 

Planning a trip to Spain? Read our Spain travel guides

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Linn Haglund

Author - Linn Haglund

Originally from Norway, Linn is an avid traveller and freelance travel writer that has a passion for the outdoors, wildlife, and responsible travel. She is currently living the van life in southern Europe with her fiancé and their dog.

Having travelled in 50+ countries and lived in five countries, she has developed a fervour for helping people to travel more responsibly and leave a positive impact on their destinations through her blog, Brainy Backpackers.

Last Updated 28 June 2023

Frigiliana, a white Andalusia Village with view of the Costa del Sol Spain


On the southern tip of Europe, Spain is renowned for its beautiful beaches, vibrant cities and fascinating history.