Madrid, the colorful capital of Spain, is full of culture, rich history, great vibes, and a booming after-dark nightlife.
But like all places, certain areas are better off unexplored to ensure your safety.
The city’s crime rate is low, partly because of all the precautions that have been taken.
Madrid is well-lit at all hours of the day and night, and the public transportation is reliable and runs frequently. This helps tourists and locals alike to navigate amongst all the chaos of a big city.
If you’re a young tourist like me looking to roam but are still cautious about where you stay and locations that are safe to explore by yourself, then you have come to the right article!
I will discuss:
- The safest neighborhoods in Madrid
- The neighborhoods you want to avoid
- The best places to stay.
Madrid is a spectacular place for young adults, so don’t let the size of it freak you out. Remember to be aware and take precautions – and most of all, enjoy your stay in one of the most magical places in Spain!
Neighborhoods You Should Avoid While Exploring Madrid as a Tourist
With a population of over 6 million people, Madrid is a buzzing, fast-paced city – a true melting pot of people, cultures, and history. As exciting as it might be, you need to stay aware of your surroundings to stay safe as a tourist.
Below is a list of the four neighborhoods in Madrid you should avoid as a visitor:
1. Puente de Vallecas
This is one of the 21 districts of Madrid and is southeast of the city center of Madrid. The district is known for its Latin gang problems and crimes involving drugs, trafficking, and other petty crimes.
This district is located 30 minutes away from the city center and has a population of 244,000.
Although its crimes are not as bad as in other European cities, it is still recommended to stay away from this area – especially after dark.
As a tourist, there aren’t many reasons to visit this district; after all, it’s out of the way from all the top tourist destinations and sights. Usually, people travel here to visit family and friends in the area.
Carabanchel is a district south of the city center of Madrid and has a population of 240,000. The District is known for its diverse neighborhood full of immigrants and native-born Spaniards.
Interestingly, the district was the scene of fighting during the Spanish Civil War in 1936. During the Battle of Madrid, Nationalist troops tried to fight their way into the area – causing significant casualties.
It was also home to one of Spain’s most notorious prisons: Carabanchel Prison. This prison was known for its many political prisoners during the Franco era but was closed in 1998.
Nowadays Carabanchel is well known for its creativity. The area has more than 130 artists spread amongst 40 studios.
If this is something that pulls you towards visiting the district, then make sure you are looking out for yourself and are aware of your surroundings! I would recommend visiting with a friend at all times.
3. Cañada Real
This is Europe’s biggest shanty town with an estimated 9000 residents. It has a high crime rate, especially with the consumption and selling of Class-A drugs.
The undeveloped area stretches out over 15 km along the M-50 motorway from Cañada de Coslada to the border between Madrid and Getafe. The town is rumored to not have had electricity for over 2 years!
Cañada Real is southeast of Madrid’s city center and is a 36 km journey, so the likelihood of stumbling across this town unintentionally is low.
This district in Spain is known for its extreme gang-related violence and is located south of the center of Madrid.
History shows this District started to become negatively affected by drug consumption in the 1980s.
However, from the 2000s, Usera has now become home to Madrid’s Chinatown which has increased the district’s safety level.
If you do decide to check out this District, make sure to be aware of your surroundings and keep valuables in a safe place!
5. City Center of Madrid
The City center of Madrid is typically a safe area. However, as a tourist who is easy to identify as someone visiting the country, it is important to look out for pickpockets and scammers.
Below are a few suggestions I have from my recent trip to Madrid:
Tips for Staying Safe in Madrid
Stay aware of your surroundings
Always be aware of where you are and what you are doing!
Pickpockets and scammers can spot an inexperienced traveler from a mile away, which often makes them the victim of low-level crimes.
Remember to blend in with other travelers and Spanish residents. It is important to not speak too loudly in public areas about where you are going or what you are doing, and always have a plan of where you are going before leaving your accommodation.
Keep valuables secure
This is extremely important to avoid being pickpocketed! I would recommend a cross-bag slouch; these are gender diverse and sit tightly on you.
The thick strap keeps it secure and prevents easy access. I keep my valuables like my phone, passport, wallet, and camera in a slouch bag, and it works like a charm.
Use well-lit and busy streets
This is especially important if you are a female traveler!
The city center streets are usually well-lit after dark, but if you do find yourself in a dark alleyway, then make your way quickly to one of the busier areas to stay safe.
Use reputable transportation options
To avoid scammers, use reliable transportation!
Trains and buses are safe options, especially in daylight. If you do decide to use taxis, make sure it’s a legitimate taxi with the taxi sign and ID badge. I find Uber to be reliable as well.
Best Areas to Stay in Madrid
The best areas to stay in Madrid would have to be La Latina, the city center, and Malasana.
These areas have great options including hostels, Airbnb, and hotels – providing ample options for all types of travelers.
As a solo female traveler, I recently stayed in a hostel in Malasana. Not only was it close to everything, but it was also very secure and safe. Check out Bastardo Hostel!
Overall, Madrid is a safe place for all types of travelers to explore, and I’d wager that the vibrant capital will be a place you’ll remember forever.
The diverse culture is captivating, and it is absolutely one of my favorite places in Spain. However, it never hurts to be careful and to have your wits about you in an unfamiliar place!
I hope this article has eased your anxieties and answered any burning questions you may have about traveling to Madrid safely. Remember to always be aware of your surroundings and keep your valuables safe.
What are the safe zones in Madrid?
Madrid is typically a safe place to travel. Safe zones include City Center, Centro, La Latina, Lavapiés, Huertas, Malasaña, Chueca, Argüelles, and Moncloa.
Is it safe to walk around at night in Madrid?
Yes, it typically is safe to walk around at night in Madrid. Stay in well-lit areas and with groups of people to avoid any dodgy situations!
Is Madrid safe for American tourists?
Yes, Madrid is safe for American tourists. Just be a smart traveler and blend in with the locals! Remember to keep your valuables close to you and avoid loud speaking of plans in public settings.
How safe are taxis in Madrid?
Taxis here are generally quite safe. Remember to check if they have a taxi sign and valid ID. I like using Ubers with verification codes to stay extra safe.