As a woman, it can be intimidating to travel abroad, especially alone or without anyone else you know. I am here to tell you that Madrid is the perfect city to travel to with CIEE, especially as a first-time international traveler. It is important to note that my experience has not been the same as everyone else’s and that while Madrid is a safe city, crime still happens.
If you are over 18 and want to go to a club or bar, go for it! But take precautions. I’m sure you have been told these things a million times, but I can’t go without mentioning them. Don’t go to clubs/bars alone have a buddy system, always know where your buddy is, never set your drink down or accept a drink from someone else, know how to get home before you start drinking, and be mindful of how your body responds to alcohol. I know for myself, the altitude affected how my body processed alcohol and made me a lightweight. Take it easy your first time to see if your tolerance has changed. I mention all of this because roofies and pickpocketing, especially phones, are common at bars and clubs.
As a foreigner, especially if you don’t speak Spanish, you will likely stick out and become a target for these things. This is not to scare you or deter you from going out, if you are mindful of your surroundings and stick with someone, you’ll be ok! Speaking about phones, keeping it in your hand or pocket isn’t enough, put it in a zipped pocket or purse to keep it from getting stolen. Please keep all this in mind! That being said, I never once had an issue or was scared at any point at a club or bar. Even walking and taking the metro at night alone I felt safe. Another important note, metros at this time close at 1:30 am. Don’t be afraid to take an Uber! They are incredibly professional and safe.
On the LGBTQ+ community:
One of the first things I noticed when people watching in Madrid was how common it was to see LGBTQ+ couples together holding hands etc. throughout the city. I think Madrid is an incredibly safe city to be an LGBTQ+ person in. But again, just because everything I saw was positive does not mean there is not any hate so be mindful! The neighborhood of Chueca is a must visit, it is the LGBTQ+ hub which is evident as soon as you step off the metro into the rainbow colored station.
TLDR: Your identity will not stop you from having a fun and safe trip in Madrid so long as you act responsibly, respectfully, and remain vigilant. I loved my trip with CIEE Madrid and I know you will too!