When planning a trip to any destination, one of the top concerns for people is safety. We want to know which areas to avoid and which areas are safe to walk around at night. Malaga Spain is a vibrant and picturesque city that attracts millions of tourists each year. Known for its stunning beaches, rich history, and delicious cuisine, it’s no wonder why visitors flock to this gem of a city. However, like any popular tourist destination, safety is always a concern. In this article, we investigate the question: Is Malaga safe? We’ll explore crime in Malaga, personal experiences, and safety measures to help you make an informed decision before visiting this beautiful Spanish city.
Is Malaga safe to visit right now
The answer to the question is Malaga safe to visit RIGHT NOW is YES. Malaga is considered one of the safest cities in Europe and is even considered safe enough to walk alone at night. While Malaga is considered safe and the crime rate is fairly low, you should always exercise precaution when traveling.
It’s always advisable to use common sense and take basic precautions to ensure personal safety. It is recommended to avoid certain areas, but overall, safety in Malaga isn’t much of a concern for travelers.
Location of Malaga
Malaga is a beautiful city located in the southern region of Andalusia in Spain, nestled between the mountains of the Sierra de Mijas and the Mediterranean Sea. It is situated on the Costa del Sol, which translates to “Coast of the Sun,” and is known for its fantastic Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers.
This unique combination of coastal charm and scenic landscapes makes it an attractive destination for tourists from all over the world.
History of Malaga
Malaga is a city rich in history and cultural heritage. It has been inhabited for over 2,800 years making it one of Europe’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. From its foundation by the Phoenicians to its Roman occupation and subsequent Islamic rule, Malaga’s history is a captivating journey through time.
The earliest known settlers of Malaga were the Phoenicians who established a trading post called “Malaka” around 770 BC. They thrived due to their strategic location and trade connections with other Mediterranean civilizations. The Carthaginians later took control of Malaga in the 6th century BC before it ultimately fell under Roman domination in 205 BC during the Second Punic War.
Under Roman rule, Malaga prospered as an important port city known as “Malaca.” It became renowned for its production of olive oil and wine. The Romans constructed various public buildings such as theaters, baths, and aqueducts that still bear witness to their influence today. One notable example is the ancient theater located at the foot of Alcazaba fortress.
After centuries of Roman rule came the Visigothic period. However, this era was short-lived as Malaga was conquered by Muslim forces in 711 AD during their expansion into Iberia. Under Islamic rule, which lasted for nearly eight centuries until Christian reconquest in 1487-1489, Malaga flourished culturally and economically. During this time, Muslims transformed Malaga into a thriving center of commerce and scholarship.
Top crimes in Malaga that affect Tourists
Tourists normally don’t have to worry much about major crimes when traveling. We usually stick to the most populated areas near attractions. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Here are some of the crimes that people need to watch out for in all areas of Malaga.
The biggest crime you have to worry about is pickpocketing. Tourists are normally targeted because they are less familiar with the area which makes them more vulnerable. Pickpocketers tend to work in pairs where one might distract by asking a question and the other one takes your wallet.
I’ve had this happen to me and it’s the worst feeling. It creates such a headache trying to cancel the cards that were taken and it just ruins the entire day. Avoid carrying your wallet or phone in your back pocket when you’re out. Secure your wallet in your bag making sure your bag is also secure. Pickpockets want an easy and quick target so you don’t want to be that person. If it’s not easy for them to get to then it most likely won’t happen.
Tourists can fall victim to various scams while traveling. It happens all the time. Scammers target tourists because they aren’t familiar with the local customs or currency. Here are a few common scams that tourists should be aware of.
Make sure you only book a tour with a reputable company such as Get Your Guide or Viator. You’ll also find tour companies with storefronts in the touristy areas of Malaga. But be wary of people approaching you on the street to book a tour or buy tickets. Personally, I would never just go on a tour with anyone that approached me on the street. Just wave them off and look for your own tour to book so that you are sure that it’s safe.
Another scam to look out for is being overcharged. This can happen in all areas of Malaga, not just in the touristy areas. This is especially true since you’re dealing with a foreign currency that you aren’t familiar with. Make sure you look at your receipt carefully to check the prices and make sure you aren’t being charged for an item you didn’t order.
Download a currency conversion app before you leave from home. You won’t need Wi-Fi for those to work. Before you pay for something check the prices to be sure they are correct.
Fake or Counterfeit Items
Tourists might unknowingly purchase counterfeit goods, including fake designer products. Usually you’ll see these being sold on the streets. Just know that you won’t see real Louis Vuitton purses being sold on the streets of Malaga or any other city in the world. Yes, the prices might be very enticing but don’t fall for it.
Credit Card Fraud
Staying safe in Malaga means watching out for fraud. If you pull money out of an ATM make sure you’re in a well lit area, hopefully with plenty of people around. Download your credit card apps before you leave home and log in at the end of the day to check for any suspicious activity or fraud.
Is Malaga safe to travel alone
There are a lot of solo travelers out there, including female solo travelers, where safety is a top concern. Here are some tips for staying safe in Malaga when you travel alone.
- Research your destination before you travel. Identify the safe and unsafe areas and be aware of any travel advisories visiting your home country’s state department sites for warnings.
- Share your itinerary with family and friends. Make sure someone is aware of where you’ll be, your accommodation details, and how to reach you while you’re traveling. Check in with them through text or email or post on social media where they can see that you are safe.
- Blend in with the locals. Don’t dress and behave in ways that bring attention to you and scream “I’m a tourist“. Avoid wearing or carrying expensive items.
- Trust your instincts. If a situation feels uncomfortable or unsafe then trust your gut and leave. Don’t take unnecessary risks.
Is Malaga safe at night
When it comes to safety in Malaga at night, you can generally feel at ease. The city is considered safe for walking alone at night, however, it is always important to exercise caution and use common sense, just as you would in any other city.
I walked around Malaga at night in the main tourist area and never once felt unsafe. It doesn’t mean things don’t happen there but I personally didn’t feel worried. There were plenty of people around and I just stuck to the busier and more lit up areas.
If you’re traveling around Spain or need to get to Malaga by train, read my article How to buy a train ticket in Spain. I’ve done all the work for you figuring out how to travel by train in Spain.
Staying Safe in Malaga
Every city in the world has good and bad areas. Obviously you’ll want to avoid the bad areas of Malaga. Chances are low you’ll find yourself in those places but it’s good to be aware of which ones to avoid. Be familiar with where they are on a map so you can avoid them. The map belows shows Malaga and I’ve highlighted the main tourist area of the city. This is where you’ll likely spend the majority of your time.
Areas of Malaga you should avoid
Like every city in the world there are always going to be less than desirable areas that should be avoided. These are going to be areas further away from the tourist areas of Malaga. You’ll see from the maps below that it’s not likely you’ll find your way into these areas but it’s still good to know where they are just in case.
Palma-Palmilla is known for its social and economic challenges. It has a mix of residential and industrial areas and has faced issues such as poverty and drug trafficking. The neighborhood has been the focus of various urban regeneration and social integration projects aimed at improving living conditions and opportunities for its residents.
Los Asperones sits on the outskirts of Malaga pretty far away from the center of Malaga. It was only supposed to be a temporary housing area 35 years ago but unfortunately it still remains and is known for issues such as unemployment and poverty.
Areas of Malaga that are considered safe
These are the most popular areas of Malaga and are considered safe. All four of these areas of Malaga are connected to each other. You won’t need to worry about your safety in Malaga here but just be aware of your surroundings and watch your wallet.
Centro Historico de Malaga
The Historic Center is the cultural heart of Malaga and where the majority of tourist sites are. The streets are clean, buildings are well taken care of, and there are lots of people always around. You will likely spend almost all your time in this area and do not need to worry about your safety in Malaga while here.
Malagueta is the part of the main beach area of Malaga. You’ll find plenty of tourists here on the beach and in the water. There’s a nice walkway called Paseo de la Farola and it stretches from the Plaza de Toros (bullring) all the way to the La Farola lighthouse. There are plenty of restaurants in this area too.
Considered to be the artistic hub of Malaga, the Soho neighborhood is quickly becoming one of Malaga’s trendiest areas. You’ll find numerous art galleries, street art, and a lot of quirky cafes and bars. It’s a great place to shop for handmade items.
The La Merced area of Malaga has historical landmarks such as an 18th century church named Church of Our Lady of Mercy and the Picasso Museum. You’ll also find street art and many bars and restaurants. It’s one of the areas of Malaga that is considered very safe.
Is Malaga public transportation safe
Malaga, like many cities, has a good public transportation system that includes buses and a metro line as well as taxi and uber services. All of these transportation services are considered very safe and have an overall low risk of crime
Here are some general tips for staying safe in Malaga while using public transportation:
- Follow Local Advice: Stay informed about any specific safety guidelines or advice provided by local authorities or public transportation officials.
- Use Official Services: Stick to official and authorized public transportation services. Avoid using unlicensed or unofficial modes of transportation.
- Be Aware of Surroundings: Stay vigilant and be aware of your surroundings while waiting at stops or stations and while in the vehicle. Keep an eye on your belongings.
- Use Well-Lit Stops: When possible, use well-lit stops or stations, especially during the evening or night.
- Keep Valuables Secure: Keep your belongings secure and be cautious of pickpockets, especially in crowded areas. Use bags with zippers and keep them close to your body.
- Plan Your Routes: Plan your routes in advance, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area. Know the schedules and stops.
The biggest risk to using public transportation is pickpockets. It happens in nearly every city of the world and I have even been a victim of this. It sucks. Pickpocketing tends to happen in popular and crowded areas and this includes while on the bus or metro. So keep your bags in your sight and make sure they are zipped up and locked.
Tips for staying safe in Malaga Spain
Staying safe in a foreign country involves a combination of preparedness, awareness, and adaptability. Here are some general tips to help you with staying safe in Malaga Spain.
- Research: Before your trip, research your destination thoroughly. Understand local customs, laws, and cultural norms. Be aware of any travel advisories or safety concerns.
- Travel Insurance: Obtain comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and other unexpected events.
- Secure Important Documents: Keep copies of your passport, identification, travel insurance, and other essential documents in a secure location separate from the originals. Consider digital backups as well.
- Stay Informed: Stay informed about local news, especially regarding safety and security updates in the area you’re visiting.
- Blend In: Try to dress and behave in a way that respects local customs and doesn’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself as a tourist.
- Avoid Risky Areas: Be cautious about venturing into areas known for high crime rates or civil unrest. Consult locals or travel advisories for guidance on safe and unsafe neighborhoods.
- Use Reputable Transportation: Choose reputable transportation options, whether it’s public transportation or hired services. Be cautious with unlicensed taxis or informal modes of transportation.
- Be Cautious with Valuables: Keep your belongings secure and be mindful of pickpockets. Use anti-theft bags, money belts, and secure pockets.
- Stay Connected: Keep your phone charged, and have local emergency numbers saved. Share your travel itinerary with friends or family, so they know where you are.
- Learn Basic Local Phrases: Knowing basic phrases in the local language can be helpful in various situations, from asking for directions to seeking help.
- Trust Your Instincts: If a situation feels uncomfortable or unsafe, trust your instincts and remove yourself from it. Avoid unnecessary risks.
- Beware of Scams: Be aware of common scams targeting tourists, such as overcharging, fake tours, or distraction techniques.
Remember that safety measures can vary by destination, so it’s essential to adapt these tips to the specific circumstances of the country you are visiting. Always stay vigilant, use common sense, and prioritize your well-being.
Emergency numbers in Malaga Spain
There is a very low chance of needing emergency numbers when you’re traveling but it’s still a good idea to have them because you never know when they might be helpful.
If you happen to need to reach the Police, Fire, or you have a medical emergency, you’ll need to dial 112. This number can be dialed for any emergency and there are English-speaking operators available. It’s the universal emergency number throughout the European Union.
Looking for information about other cities in Spain? Head to our Guide to Spain page to find more articles on different cities in Spain.
Staying safe in Malaga should not be an issue if you follow general common sense. While it is important to exercise caution and be aware of one’s surroundings, the crime rates in Malaga are relatively low compared to other cities in Europe. With its beautiful beaches, rich cultural heritage, and vibrant atmosphere, Malaga remains a popular destination that can be enjoyed with peace of mind.