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Is Portugal Safe to Visit in 2022? | Safety Tips

Is Portugal Safe to Visit in 2022? | Safety Tips

Charming cobblestone villages, golden-hued beaches, and colossal waves – your vacation in Portugal will not only be idyllic but also filled with adventure. But as with other destinations, you must do your research to make the most out of your trip.

Whether you are into history and heritage or beach parties, Portugal has something to offer, thanks to its wide range of exciting activities that suit all ages and tastes.

Before visiting this magical country, you’re probably wondering if it’s safe. To help you prepare best for your Portugal adventure, we’ve compiled this guide for you.

Is Portugal Safe to Visit in 2022?

For a piece answering, "Is Portugal Safe," Porto, Portugal old town on the Douro River

ESB Professional/Shutterstock

One of the first questions people ask when they’re ready to explore a new destination is whether it is safe or not. It’s a valid concern, especially if you’re traveling with your family.

The good news is that Portugal is often considered one of the safest countries in Europe to visit.

It even ranked third out of 163 countries on the Global Peace Index. The index is scored by considering factors like crime rate, terrorist acts, violent demonstrations, political scene, and relations with other countries.

In all these, Portugal scores well. Portugal also does not take its gun laws lightly, and this is one of the reasons why it’s considered safe.

Violent crimes rarely happen in Portugal, and when they do occur, crimes generally don’t involve tourists. Despite this, every traveler should follow the usual precautions and stay in populated places.

Crime in Portugal

Portugal is a destination that will take your breath away. Despite its popularity, it remains one of the most well-loved destinations in Europe.

This reputation is due to its untamed beauty, dynamic urban landscape, and rich culture. When it comes to crime, the most often-committed crime involving tourists in Portugal is robbery.

It’s not a very common concern, so there’s no need to get too worked up about it. The robbery rate in the country was 102.8 cases per 100,000 population in 2018.  

Pickpocketing

Although pickpocketing is common in Lisbon, most other cities are considered safe.

Theft 

Luggage theft and purse snatching can happen in tourist destinations such as Lisbon, Porto, and Algarve. This unpleasant event occurs because many thieves assume tourists carry tons of money, so they will grab the chance to steal.

Considering this, always watch your things, especially when visiting different sights or dining in restaurants. Do not leave your wallet or phones unattended. If you’re bringing your phone or camera, be sure to keep it out of sight. 

Petty theft on the streets also happens, especially in Lisbon. To stay safe, avoid flashing valuables such as:

  • Rings
  • Necklaces
  • Cameras
  • Phones 

Beachgoers should be watchful when it comes to their belongings when they go to the water to cool off. Always keep your stuff in sight, and don’t leave anything in an isolated place. Keep your valuables in a beach locker or at your hotel. 

Night Crime

Portugal street pictured at night looking down a dimly lit alleyway

Iryna Savina/Shutterstock

In Portugal, you must also exercise caution when heading late for dinner or a night out. Keep in mind that locals usually eat dinner rather late, about 9 p.m. The clubs in the country also open at a later time and go on until the wee hours of the morning.

While it’s pretty safe for bar hopping and clubbing in major cities such as Lisbon, make sure to exercise caution because like everywhere, drinking too much alcohol can put you at risk of becoming a victim of crime.

It’s also important to never take a drink from someone you don’t know. While it’s not common in Portugal, be wary of drink spiking and always keep your drink with you at all times. Tourists may also encounter scam artists offering fake drugs.

Transportation Crimes 

When it comes to transportation, especially long-distance ones, you shouldn’t be highly concerned. The transportation in Portugal is comfortable and affordable. The luggage is stowed underneath the bus, so simply lock your luggage, and you’ll be fine. 

If you want to go the extra mile, check your window whenever any luggage is removed to ensure that your property is not accidentally taken at brief stops.

Subway cars and buses can provide an opportunity for thieves to snatch things that are unattended, so always keep an eye on your things, especially if the subway is busy. If possible, keep your passport and minimal cash in your money belt or cross-body strap.

When traveling using your car, do not leave items unattended, even for a short time. If you need to get out of your car, hide your valuables. Foreign-registered cars, as well as rental cars, are commonly targeted by thieves.

Sexual Assault 

Women travelers do not have to worry about sexual assaults because it’s extremely rare. Catcalling and verbal harassment are illegal in the country. Portugal is also safe for the LGBTQ community, especially in large cities.

Most towns in Portugal even organize large pride events and offer the best nightlight for the community. Sexual assaults involving women are not common.

But some have reported drinks getting spiked at clubs in Lisbon, particularly in Barrio Alta. Don’t accept a drink from a stranger and always use your common sense. Note that Portugal is thought of as one of the safest destinations for members of the LGBTQ community.

Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods

Barrio Alto district for a piece on Is Portugal Safe

Pixel to the People/Shutterstock

Bad neighborhoods do exist in Portugal, but they’re usually far from tourist zones. In these areas, it’s important to be vigilant, especially late at night or in the early morning. 

Things are pretty safe in bigger cities such as Lisbon, Porto, Faro, and Albufeira, but the same cannot be said for neighborhoods such as Alfama, Bairro Alto, Belem, and Castle of São Jorge.

Amadora also has a high crime index of 53.40 compared with other major cities in Portugal. Tourists are also warned to be careful on numbers 15 and 28 trams in Lisbon by the UK government.

Things to Consider

Here are some pointers to remember when visiting Portugal. 

Be Wary of Scams

There are various scams that tourists could encounter, especially in big cities like Lisbon. One example is the Rosemary scam, where an older woman will offer you rosemary and start telling you stories about fortune before you can decline. 

Next, she will ask for payment and make a scene if you refuse to hand over money. If you encounter this scam, simply walk away.

Slip and fall scams are also common in Portugal, where a person will slip or fall into you and get your valuables. If this happens, always check your belongings. Never make physical contact with people you don’t know. 

Some tourists fall for petition scams, where someone will approach you and ask you to sign a petition. This step is usually only a distraction while their accomplice will get your valuables.

Do Not Overdrink

Although it’s common to drink in Portugal, you must be careful with alcohol. Drinking too much will make you a target for pickpockets, scam artists, and harassers. If you plan to drink, it’s best to drink responsibly and keep yourself on a limit.

When you’re at the club or bar, never put down your drink or leave your bag unattended. Moreover, do not accept drinks from people you do not know or interact with strangers unless it’s necessary.

Be Careful When Walking Alone

It’s perfectly fine to walk around Portugal and visit the sights alone. However, it’s still recommended to be on guard when you walk from your place to the bus stop or from your car to the hotel, especially at night.

Be Respectful to Authorities

Always remember that you are representing your country. Be courteous to locals. Keep in mind that typical traffic rules in your country may not apply in Portugal.

The police will pull you over or fine you if you break the law. If you do get in trouble, do not act aggressively. The authorities are only doing their job to keep things safe. 

Learn Basic Portuguese Phrases

Being able to say a few words in the native language will help you greatly. However, you do not need to learn too much because most locals can speak English. 

Considering this, you’ll be able to communicate with locals and explore the country even if English is the only language you know. 

Keep Your Passport and Cash in a Safe Place

It’s important to keep your passport and other sensitive documents in a secure place. Most hotels provide a safe for guests. When it comes to your cash, it’s best to only carry what you need.

You have to have cash when it comes to public transportation and paying for food or giving tips. Most establishments in Portugal accept international cards anyway. If you need a large amount of money, only withdraw at ATMs in the city center. 

Use Taxis

Riding a taxi in Portugal is recommended if you are unsure about taking public transportation, especially late at night. Always use a licensed taxi, and check if the meter is in operation. 

Invest in Travel Insurance

Don’t let anything ruin your holiday. Be sure to invest in travel insurance because it can cover you in case of emergencies. It can keep your plans intact and can reimburse your expenses. 

Travel insurance is extremely important because even if Portugal is a safe country, you never know when unfortunate situations may arise. 

Do Not Use Open Flat Purses

Try not to use flat purses because they can be easily snatched. It’s recommended to bring a fanny pack or a small cross-body bag. A money belt tucked inside your clothes is also a good idea. 

Avoid Dark Areas

The crime rate in Portugal is relatively low, but you should be mindful of some places. Avoid dark and narrow alleys, especially when you’re walking alone. 

Be Wary of Exchanging Money

When exchanging money in Portugal, always look at the exchange receipt. Ask the cashier to count the money and inspect their work to avoid scams. 

Do Not Trust Anyone You Just Met

When traveling, you will encounter people who will want to befriend you. Just remember to exercise caution because people are not always who they say they are. Sometimes, they will pretend to be nice to you to scam you. 

Pick a Reputable Hotel

When choosing a hotel, pick the one with high ratings. This way, you can be sure that you will stay in a safe area and that it’s maintained. If you’re staying in a hostel, check the reviews first.

For people who prefer private accommodation or AirBnbs, ask your host to show you the map of the area where the property is located. 

Avoid Wearing Flashy Jewelry

Due to the high number of tourists in the country, pickpockets and snatch thieves are known to be on the loose. Do not wear big and flashy jewelry because it will attract too much attention.

Stay Alert When Driving

Although Portugal has a higher safety rating when it comes to driving, you should always be alert because it’s not completely risk-free. There are bad areas that tourists should avoid. If you’re lost, ask for directions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Camilo Beach (Praia do Camilo) at Algarve pictured for a piece titled Is Portugal Safe to Visit

DaLiu/Shutterstock

Here are some of the most common questions tourists have about Portugal:

Is Portugal safe for tourists?

Portugal is a safe country to visit. Violent crimes rarely happen in the country.

Is Portugal safe for LGBTQ travelers?

Portugal is one of the friendliest countries in Europe. LGBTQ travelers are always welcome and can be assured that they will receive a warm welcome.

Is Portugal safe at night?

Lisbon is considered one of the safest cities to visit. There are criminal records of tourists being targeted, but it’s rare.

Is Portugal safe to travel solo in?

Portugal is ideal for solo travelers, and most itineraries are easy to complete on your own.

What should I be careful of in Portugal?

Portugal is considered one of the safest countries in Europe, but petty theft can happen, especially in crowded areas. Keep your valuables safe as you would in any country.

Are there slums in Portugal?

There are slums in Portugal, but they’re usually far from tourist areas. You can easily avoid them. Poverty is not as alarming in Portugal compared to other European countries. Some poverty-stricken areas in Portugal include Cova da Moura, located on the edge of Lisbon.

Can people own guns in Portugal?

Yes. However, Portuguese citizens are only allowed to own firearms for target shooting, pest control, hunting, and collecting. People in Portugal cannot own firearms for self-defense reasons.

Is Lisbon a safe city?

Lisbon is one of the safest cities in Europe and is considered one of the most tourist-friendly destinations.

Are Portugal’s beaches safe?

Portuguese beaches are safe. However, there have been reports of theft, so beachgoers should be careful.

Is Porto safe at night?

Porto is safe to visit at night. However, there are areas that travelers are advised to avoid after dark.

Is Lisbon safe for solo female travelers?

Lisbon is a safe destination for female travelers. However, it’s still up to the traveler to exercise caution.

So, Is Portugal Safe to Visit?

Out of all the countries in the world, Portugal is one of the safest and ideal places for travelers of all types. With the tips we’ve mentioned, you’ll be able to visit with confidence and enjoy a safe and comfortable stay. Happy travels!