From one-of-a-kind festivals to jaw-dropping architecture to sun-drenched beaches, Spain is packed with incredible things to see and do. It’s no wonder this country is one of the most-visited in the world (second only to France), receiving over 80 million tourists last year. And now there’s one more reason to start planning a trip there, especially if you’re a woman travelling alone: Spain recently topped the charts as the safest country for solo female travel.
While more and more women are exploring the world solo, the trope that “women shouldn’t `travel alone” still lives on in many circles. But there’s no reason to let this urban legend hold you back, though it would also be a mistake to assume that travel is 100% safe. In either case, too many travellers – solo females included – are tempted to make decisions based on anecdotal stories, overhyped media coverage, or stereotypes about other cultures.
But female travellers will be much more likely to stay safe and have a positive experience by making decisions based on facts. In an effort to understand and quantify the things that truly affect women while travelling, a travel duo named, Asher & Lyric, gathered data on the world’s top fifty most-visited countries and created the Women’s Danger Index. And that’s how they determined that Spain is the safest country for solo female travellers. In fact, it scored far ahead of the next safest countries, Singapore and Ireland.
The study found that Spain is a place where single female travellers are unlikely to encounter problems and where, in the rare event that something happens, they should be able to receive the help they need and seek justice for what was done. Not only are rates of violence against women low in Spain, cultural attitudes about gender are generally progressive there, and women can typically trust that the legal system will protect them. Taken together, these attributes make it a very low-risk country for foreign women to visit on their own.
The Women’s Danger Index
The Women’s Danger Index uses eight criteria to determine where solo female travellers are likely to be the safest, and Spain rated very well on six of them.
The two most important factors in the Index are the percentage of women who feel safe walking alone at night and the number of female victims of intentional homicide (per 100,000 people). On both of these key criteria, Spain rated very well, earning a “green” score of 0-25.
Another place Spain scored well is the percentage of women who agreed that beating a female partner is justified under certain circumstances. In Spain, only ten percent agreed, which is among the lowest of any country. (Sadly, there are several countries in which over seventy percent of women agreed with this statement).
The percentage of women who have ever experienced non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime is also exceedingly low in Spain, at just three percent. The occurrence of intimate partner violence is slightly higher, as denoted by its “yellow” score of 25-50, although only four countries earned a “green” score in this category. Since tourists are generally more concerned about non-partner violence, female travellers can still feel confident that their risk of sexual violence in Spain is extremely low.
Lastly, the Index considers three aggregate scores, which have been calculated by other sources. The legal discrimination score measures laws and regulations that limit women or differentiate by gender. The gender inequality index compares how men and women fare on factors related to health, empowerment, and the labour market. Not surprisingly, Spain scored well on both of these indices.
The global gender gap is the third aggregate score, and it measures a variety of disparities between men and women. This final factor is where Spain fared the worst, and it’s the only one on which it earned an “orange” score of 50-75. Like the measure of intimate partner violence, however, this is another category in which no country scores particularly well (no countries earned “green” scores and just three earned “yellow”), so Spain still comes in near the top of the list.
Even though Spain isn’t at the top of every category, it’s easily the safest country in total, earning an overall rating of “B+” on the Women’s Danger Index. (Unfortunately, no country in the study earned an A). While there could be a few other countries that would score even higher, Spain is the safest among the most popular tourist destinations.
Spain Safety Tips
Of course, even though Spain is a safe country, travelling isn’t without risk, and it’s still important for female travellers to use common sense and take some simple precautions. Below are a few of the most important things to keep in mind while visiting Spain.
Be alert in crowded areas.
Female travellers are most likely to encounter problems in crowded places, tourist areas, and dodgy neighbourhoods, particularly in Barcelona. Make sure you remain alert there, especially in the Gothic Quarter, Parc Guell, Plaza Real, and the area around Sagrada Familia.
Throughout Spain and elsewhere, harassment and theft tend to be most common at beaches, around museums and major attractions, at bus and train stations, and on public transportation. Go with others when possible, and keep your guard up if you’re alone.
Don’t leave drinks unattended.
This advice is just as important in a safe country like Spain as it is anywhere else. Only take drinks that were served by the bartender, and don’t drink anything that’s been left unattended.
Avoid walking alone at night.
Even though Spanish women largely report feeling safe when walking alone at night, it’s still smarter not to, especially if you’re in an isolated or unfamiliar area. Try to go out in a group or take public transportation or a taxi or ride-share when possible.
Whether you’ve been there once or a dozen times, Spain is an incredible country to visit. There are always new things to discover, and it’s equally appealing as a destination for families, couples, groups of friends, or solo travellers. And if you’re a female planning to travel alone, you can rest assured that Spain is a good choice.