Updated: September 27, 2023

With beautiful landscapes, spectacular beaches, stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, and some of the friendliest people in the world, there are many selling points to Portugal that make it attractive to both lifestyle buyers and investors. Perhaps not so well known, and which Portugal does not boast about so much, is the irresistible fact that Portugal is the sixth safest country in the world, according to the 2022 Global Peace Index (GPI). If you are visiting Portugal, alongside being one of the best tourist destinations, rest assured that it is one of the safest countries in the world.

In this article, we’ll delve into what makes Portugal such a safe country to live in, including a rundown of its stable socio-economic climate, before providing you with some crucial reasons why Portugal is an outstanding country to live in – for investors, retirees, and families alike. 

For more information, check out our article Why Portugal is the Best Country to Live In.

How to measure a safe and peaceful country?

When it comes to measuring a safe and peaceful country, the 2022 Global Peace Index is a good place to start. This is created by the Institute for Economics and Peace, a non-governmental organization that produces this study on an annual basis. 

The GPI covers 99.7 percent of the world’s population, creating an almost conclusive set of data relating to the level of peace across the world. 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators are used from highly respected sources to measure the state of peace across three domains: (1) the level of societal safety and security, (2) the extent of ongoing domestic and international conflict, and (3) the degree of militarization. 


What makes Portugal the sixth safest county in the world?

Portugal is known to be a stable, safe, and extremely beautiful country. It is even considered one of the safest countries portugal sixth safest country in the world to visit. In fact, the 2022 Global Peace Index ranked Portugal sixth, trailing only Iceland, New Zealand, Ireland, Denmark, and Austria, showing it to be one of the safest countries in the European Union and the safest in Western Europe after Iceland and Ireland. Additionally, according to the annual internal security report, crime has dropped consecutively for the last seven years. 

There are many reasons why Portugal is one of the safest countries in the world, making one of the best tourist destinations. One of the key reasons is down to the political climate in the country, which has been stable for years. In addition to this, Portugal has some of the lowest crime rates out of European countries. You may be aware of the earthquake, the natural disaster, that devastated the country in 1755. While there is always a very small risk of natural catastrophes, in recent years, wildfire dangers in rural areas and flooding have been the only forms of natural disasters. 

Portugal has shown the world how to attract international buyers and investors, not only due to safety reasons but also because of its high quality of life, affordability, and tax-friendly incentives, creating continued interest from expats across the world.


Low crime rates

Portugal has one of the lowest rates of violent crime in Europe, and Lisbon and Porto, alongside other big cities, are amongst the safest cities in the European Union. Alongside this, the autonomous Portuguese islands of Madeira and the Azores, in particular, experience very low crime rates. For example, in Madeira, news items have sometimes been regarded as slightly comical as crime-worthy items are somewhat lacking. In one case, a man tried to enter a hospital on the island accompanied by a swan – creating some puzzlement, given the lacking number of swans on the island. Although there are small amounts of theft, particularly in the major cities, Portugal is a very safe country and, if you exercise caution and use common sense, you should not have many problems.

You can also get travel insurance when visiting Portugal to safeguard against any unforeseen circumstances, and if you do have any problems, you can simply visit the nearest police station and complete a police report for the local authorities. 


Why invest or live in Portugal?

There are many reasons to invest or live in Portugal. Whether you are moving with a family, retiring here, or simply investing in the real estate market, there are many incentives to choose Portugal. Here, we’ll delve into some of the advantages of living in Portugal.


Portugal – the sixth safest country in the world

Homebuyers and investors can rest assured knowing that their homes and investments are in safe hands. Indeed, living in the sixth safest country in the world has its perks. As a safe country in terms of societal safety and security, this is evidently an attraction for expats and tourists that are looking to visit the country. Even international university students will be swayed by how safe a country is when determining which country to study in. 

For investors, this is beneficial as there are many options for short and long-term rentals, allowing you to make strong returns on investments in the real estate market here. 


A thriving real estate market

Buying a property in a safe, stable country is one thing. But to buy property in a thriving market that is going from strength to strength is another. Indeed, Portugal is often featured in publications such as Forbes and International Living to be one of the best countries to buy property. The average rental yield in the capital city of Lisbon stands at 5.6 percent, significantly higher than for properties in London, Paris, and Madrid.


Moving with your family

As the sixth safest country in the world, Portugal also provides a very safe environment to move to with a family. With many international schools, an array of activities – hikes, beaches, national parks, city parks, and a strong education system, Portugal is a very good country to move to with your family. You can see more about the education system in Portugal here.

Family is very important to the Portuguese – indeed, family comes first. While many European countries value the importance of family, there is a particular sense of devotion to family in Portugal. Sundays are reserved to spend time and eat good food with family, and it is common for young adults to head over to their grandmothers for Sunday lunch. Relocating to Portugal could mean building deeper family traditions.

The weather also helps in Portugal, as it is possible every month to head outside and make the most of the good weather and mild climate. You also have an excellent public transportation system in place for much of the country. In Lisbon and Porto, you can easily get around by metro, bus, and tram networks. Metro stations and public transport cover most of the two largest cities in Portugal, making getting around quick and easy while also being affordable. With three international airports, the Lisbon Airport, Porto Airport, and Faro Airport, it is also very straightforward to travel internationally. 


portugal as the sixth safest country in the world Many locations to choose from

From the buzzing capital of Lisbon to the sublime beaches in the Algarve, there are a vast array of locations to buy property in Portugal. Indeed, for such a small country, the diversity in landscapes is very special. For those looking for a historic city in the North, you have Porto, Braga, and Guimaraes as excellent options. 

For the warmest climate in Portugal, opt for the Algarve, where the multitude of beaches will enable you to relax in style. Expats are also drawn to the Silver Coast, given its proximity to Lisbon and Porto, stunning landscapes, and more authentic Portuguese lifestyle.


The non-habitual residence (NHR)  scheme

The non-habitual residence (NHR) scheme was introduced by the Portuguese government in 2009. This was to make Portugal an attractive incentive for expats, by providing them with tax-friendly policies.

Any individual that has not been a Portuguese resident in the previous five years is able to apply for the NHR scheme. You can gain significant beneficial tax treatment for the initial ten years of residency in the country. Additionally, if you are employed or self-employed and deemed to have “high value-added activity within Portugal”, then you will be able to have a special tax rate of 20 percent. Note that in some special cases, there can even be a special tax exemption for certain foreign-sourced incomes. This can include pensions, employment income, self-employment income, rental income, specific capital gains, and some investment income.

The NHR scheme is particularly appealing for those looking to retire in Portugal and live off their pension income and dividends from investments. If structured correctly, it is possible to optimize your tax affairs for ten years. 


The Portugal Golden Visa

Introduced in 2012 by the Portuguese government, the Portugal Golden Visa allows investors to gain citizenship for a certain investment amount through various pathways. This provides investors with an entryway to the rest of Europe and has proved to be one of the most popular residency-by-investment programs in the world – you can see more about the Portugal Golden Visa in our article: Golden Visa in Portugal. If you are interested in investing in real estate for the Portugal Golden Visa, this investment option of the Portugal Golden Visa is coming to an end

You can learn more about Portugal’s cultural production Golden Visa in our article: Portugal’s Cultural Production Golden Visa.


Goldcrest: Your Buyer’s Agent in Portugal

Goldcrest is an independent buyer’s agent based in Lisbon. With years of experience in the Lisbon real estate market, we are ready to assist you – whether you are moving with a family, seeking to retire in Portugal, or would simply like to discuss investment opportunities in Portugal. 

You can book a call with us – contact us today

Whether you are looking for a large villa in the Algarve with a private swimming pool, or a historic townhouse in Porto, we can help. Using a buyer’s agent will help you discover a range of properties specific to your search criteria. In addition to this, they can assist you in determining whether you are making a sound investment, as they work solely for their clients.

Frequently Asked Questions about Whether Portugal is Safe

What is the safest country in the world?

According to the Global Peace Index 2022, Iceland is the safest country in the world, followed by New Zealand, Denmark, and Portugal. Several European cities are considered very safe, and this is also the case with Lisbon, Porto, and other big cities in Portugal. 

Why is Portugal such a safe country?

The Global Peace Index considers factors like crime rate, terrorist acts, violent demonstrations, political scenes, and relations with other countries. In 2022, Portugal ranked sixth out of 163 countries on the index. Portugal also has a stable socio-political environment, a low violent crime rate, friendly people, and a family-centered and relaxed vibe. While the country is relatively safe, there may be some petty crimes in the bigger city that target tourists, such as bag snatching- particularly close to tourist attractions and in large shopping centres. However, you will probably not come across any violent crimes. The Portuguese tend to have an amiable demeanor, and it is rare to see anyone turn violent. If you exercise normal precautions and maintain common sense when you visit Portugal, you should face no problems. The autonomous islands of Madeira and the Azores are particularly safe, with local media stories occasionally appearing comically given the types of stories sometimes reported. 

Where is the best place to live in Portugal?

This will largely depend on what you are looking for, as it will vary depending on if you are moving with family or looking to retire in Portugal. The cosmopolitan city of Lisbon is an excellent option for investors and those that want to live in a bustling city. For a more historic city, opt for Porto in the North or various other cities such as Coimbra or Braga. For those that are looking for good weather and beaches, the Algarve should come top of your list. The Silver Coast is also an excellent location for expats.

It is also very quick to get from the south to the north of Portugal by public transportation, with many train stations across the country and trains running regularly between the major cities. It is also very easy to get around by car. Particularly if you want to explore hidden beaches and more remote areas, and get around on your own schedule, then hiring a car can be a good idea. 

Does Portugal have a high crime rate?

Portugal has a very low crime rate. In fact, it’s one of the safest countries in Europe. If you follow normal safety precautions, you should face no problems. The autonomous Portuguese islands of Madeira and the Azores, in particular, experience very low crime rates.

Is Portugal safe to travel to?

Ranked as the sixth safest country in the world on the GPI, Portugal is definitely a safe place for travelers. You should always carry photo identification with you and abide by local laws, and stay up to date with any travel advice from the Portuguese authorities when visiting.
With the exception of wildfire dangers, there are also low risks from natural disasters. If you do have any problems, you can visit a police station (or tourist police stations (PSP), of which there are two in Lisbon) and report the problem to the local authorities. You can also access consular assistance if required. 

Is Lisbon, Portugal safe?

Yes, Lisbon is a safe city. While some of the streets outside the city center may have poorly lit streets, and there are some instances of petty theft, such as bag snatching, the capital of Portugal is considered a safe place to live and visit.

Is Porto, Portugal safe?

Yes, Porto is a very safe city with a stress free lifestyle. As with any large city, there are instances of petty theft, but Porto is one of the safest cities to live in Europe. If you are asking the question Is Portugal safe to travel alone, then the answer is definitely yes.

Is Portugal safe for tourists?

Portugal tourism is one of the cornerstones of the Portuguese economy, and as such, there is a great focus on this sector and on making travel as easy as possible for visitors. Indeed, Portugal stands out as one of the most secure destinations worldwide for travelers. Instances of crime are minimal, and incidents of violent crime are rare. Although major urban centers like Lisbon may experience petty crime, this is expected in any large city.

Is portugal safe for solo female travelers?

Women travelers will find Portugal to be a very safe country to visit, but, as with any country, it is best to always exercise caution in certain areas.

What are the risks of traveling to Portugal?

Traveling to Portugal generally poses low risks. Exercise caution against pickpocketing, drive attentively due to winding roads, respect ocean safety, be aware of natural hazards, and carry travel insurance. Stay informed, follow local guidelines, and enjoy your trip to this beautiful country.

Is it safe to use public transportation in Portugal?

Yes, it is safe to use public transportation in Portugal, with trains, metro services, buses and trams all easy to navigate.

What should I do in case of an emergency while in Portugal? Is the emergency services system reliable?

If you need medical treatment or a medical evaluation, you can visit one of the many healthcare centers. If it is an emergency or you have a serious injury, the emergency number is 112.

Is portugal safe to live?

Yes, Portugal is one of the safest countries in the world, with low crime rates. Particularly, of you visit the autonomous islands of Madeira and the Azores, you’ll find them to be some of the safest destinations to visit. With this said, mainland Portugal is also very safe. In the 2022 Global Peace Index, Portugal ranked in 6th position.

Is portugal safe for American tourists?

Yes, Portugal is very safe for American tourists, with many US citizens visiting and even moving to Portugal each year. More than 7,000 Americans currently live in Portugal, and the number continues to increase. When it comes to visiting the country, you will likely face no issues if you follow local laws. However, although Portugal is one of the safest countries in the world, it is still best to exercise caution, particularly in busy areas and tourist hotspots where petty crime may occur. If you do have any issues, you can file a police report to the local authorities. We recommend staying up to date with the latest travel advice when you visit Portugal.