Updated: July 2, 2024

With beautiful landscapes, spectacular beaches, stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, and some of the friendliest people in the world, Portugal has many selling points that make it attractive to 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 seventh safest country in the world, according to the 2023 Global Peace Index (GPI). If you are visiting Portugal, which is one of the best tourist destinations in Europe, rest assured that it is one of the safest countries in the world.

In this article, we’ll delve into what makes Portugal a safe country to live in, including its stable socio-economic climate. We’ll also provide reasons why Portugal is an outstanding country for investors, retirees, and families alike.

How safe is Portugal?

Living in Portugal as an expat is a reality for many internationals, and the safety aspect is a key attraction. Although Portuguese society is known to be fairly peaceful, you should always exercise the usual precautions when visiting any foreign country. Popular tourist destinations are still home countries to the native citizens who have local customs and laws that need to be respected and obeyed. To gain a comprehensive understanding of safety in Portugal, let’s look at the key elements that contribute to its overall security.

General safety in Portugal 

When visiting Portugal or any other foreign country, it is essential to consider any general safety requirements, assess your need for medical and travel insurance according to visa requirements, and do research on your destination’s healthcare system and crime rate. In the section below, we will cover these topics to help you prepare for the journey ahead when you travel to Portugal.

Healthcare facilities  

The Portuguese healthcare system ranks 19th in the world according to Numbeo’s 2024 Healthcare Index by Country. A significant contributor to its success is the abundance of multilingual medical professionals who are excellent service providers and ensure effective communication and care in public and private facilities across the country. Portugal has a top-quality selection of medical from Lisbon to Porto and regions in between, including Centro Hospitalar de Lisboa Central and Hospital de Santa Maria in Lisbon.

Travel insurance  

Regardless of the type of visa you’re applying for, having comprehensive travel insurance that covers you and your essential belongings during your time in Portugal and the Schengen Area plays a vital role in securing a Portuguese visa. This type of coverage can help you pay for medical expenses and provide emergency evacuation should something unexpected occur during your journey. It may also protect against loss if there’s ever the need to cancel or interrupt plans.

Various excellent travel insurance options are available for secure travel in Portugal. These include AXA Assistance USA, Cat 70 GoReady (formerly known as April), Europ Assistance, MondialCare, the GlobeHopper Senior Plan, Allianz, and AXA’s Schengen Travel Insurance. Each offers robust medical coverage, ensuring healthcare costs and liabilities are covered. They also consider potential transportation delays, providing additional coverage for a worry-free travel experience.

Vaccinations and health precautions  

Before visiting Portugal, make sure that you are aware of which vaccinations and health measures must be taken. Taking these precautions will help safeguard you on your trip.

GC-ICON-10Women’s safety in Portugal  

Portugal is generally very safe for women travelers. The culture is welcoming, and incidents of violent crime are low compared to many other countries. However, standard safety precautions are advisable. Women should be cautious in less populated areas, especially at night, and be mindful of their belongings in crowded tourist spots. It’s also wise to have a plan for transportation at night, such as booking a reliable taxi service or using reputable ride-sharing apps.

LGBT safety  

The LGBT community is embraced mainly in Portugal, especially in major cities like Lisbon and Porto, where numerous LGBT-friendly venues and events exist. While public displays of affection might not attract attention in the cities, LGBT expats and tourists should be aware that more conservative attitudes may be encountered in rural areas.

Regional safety  

Here are Portugal’s safest cities for tourists and areas where you should exercise extra caution. 

  • Safest regions in Portugal  

While most of Portugal is safe, certain areas stand out for their low crime rates and high quality of life. Lisbon and Porto, despite being large cities, have relatively low levels of serious crime. Other towns, like Funchal in Madeira, and smaller cities such as Coimbra and Aveiro, are known for their tranquil atmosphere and friendly locals. These places offer a balance of safety and cultural experiences, making them ideal for travelers seeking security and adventure. 

  • General safety precautions in public

As in any country, heeding official warnings at transport hubs and tourist destinations is vital for your safety.  Some of Portugal’s neighborhoods, especially in larger cities, may have higher rates of petty crime. Be aware of petty crime in tourist hotspots in larger cities, such as Lisbon and Porto, and while traveling by public transportation. Keep your belongings close by, expensive items out of sight, and pay closer attention to crowds. By adhering to these simple guidelines, you should face no issues when in Portugal.

Nightlife safety  

Portugal boasts a vibrant and relatively safe nightlife scene, ideal for visitors seeking a memorable experience. However, it’s important to remain vigilant in bustling areas, especially in the bigger cities.   

Expat safety  

Portugal is known as being a welcoming country for expats, with many communities of foreigners living harmoniously in various regions. The low crime rate and friendly locals contribute to a sense of security among expats. However, like any other country, expats must familiarize themselves with local laws and customs. Additionally, while English is widely spoken, especially in tourist areas, learning basic Portuguese can greatly enhance interactions and help understand local norms and practices.  

Driving safety  

Driving in Portugal can be a pleasant experience, thanks to well-maintained roads and scenic routes. New drivers in Portugal should be aware of some challenges. Traffic in cities like Lisbon and Porto can be heavy, and narrow streets in older towns can be tricky to navigate. Drivers in Portugal are known for being fast and sometimes aggressive, so staying alert and cautious is key, especially on highways. Rural areas may have poorly lit roads, and animals on the road can be a hazard. It’s also important to be aware of Portugal’s strict laws against drinking and driving.  

What makes Portugal a great place to visit or live?

Portugal has shown the world how to attract international buyers and investors due to its high quality of life, affordability, safety, and tax-friendly incentives, creating continued interest from expats worldwide. Below, we have provided some key reasons why Portugal is an exceptional place to reside and invest in.

Portugal’s safety ranking  

Portugal is known to be a stable, safe, and peaceful country. It is even considered one of the safest countries to visit. The 2023 Global Peace Index ranked Portugal seventh, trailing only Iceland, New Zealand, Ireland, Denmark, Austria, and Singapore. This shows Portugal is also one of the safest Western European countries. According to the annual internal security report, crime has dropped consecutively for the last seven years. According to Numbeo’s 2024 Crime Index by Country, the Portugal safety ranking compared to other European countries stands at a high of 68.8 percent.

How to measure a safe and peaceful country?

The 2023 Global Peace Index is an excellent place to start when measuring a safe and peaceful country. The study was created by the Institute for Economics and Peace, a non-governmental organization that produces this study annually.

The GPI covers 99.7 percent of the world’s population, creating an almost conclusive set of data relating to peace levels on a global scale. 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators are used from highly respected sources to measure the state of peace across three domains:

  • The level of societal safety and security
  • The extent of ongoing domestic and international conflict
  • The degree of militarization.

Low crime rates  

According to Numbeo, Portugal has one of the lowest rates of violent crime in Europe, and Lisbon is amongst the safest cities in the European Union.

Alongside this, the autonomous Portuguese islands of Madeira and the Azores, in particular, experience meager 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 island’s lack of swans.

Although there are small amounts of theft, particularly in the major cities, Portugal is a very safe country. 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 unforeseen circumstances. If you have any problems, you can simply visit the nearest police station and complete a police report for the local authorities.

   

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. According to the PwC and the Urban Land Institute the Emerging Trends in Real Estate survey, Portugal currently ranks eighth in the list of cities attracting the most capital investments. Plus, the average rental yield in the Lisbon Metropolitan area currently stands at a favorable 6.7 percent.

Why invest in Portugal’s property market?  

Living in the seventh safest country in the world has its perks. Homebuyers can enjoy peace of mind knowing their homes and investments are secure in a country and market that offers reduced risk for investors. Prices in such a market are less volatile, making it easier to predict returns on investment. The fact that Portugal is a safe country is also a key reason why many digital nomads move here to work remotely or work for Portuguese companies and why international students choose to study here.

Moving with your family  

albufeira beach portugal real estate

As the seventh safest country in the world, Portugal also provides a safe environment to move to with a family. With many international schools in Portugal, an array of activities – hikes, beaches, national parks, city parks, and a robust education system, Portugal is a perfect country to move to with your family.

Family is vital to the Portuguese – indeed, family comes first. While many European countries value the importance of family, Portugal has a particular sense of devotion to family. Sundays are reserved for spending time with family, and it is common for young adults to head over to their grandmothers for Sunday lunch. Relocating to Portugal could mean building more profound family traditions.

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

Many locations to choose from  

From the buzzing capital of Lisbon to the sublime beaches in the Algarve, there are many locations where you can buy property in Portugal. Indeed, for such a small country, the diversity in landscapes is exceptional. Those looking for a historic city in the North have Porto, Braga, and Guimaraes as excellent options.

For the warmest climate in Portugal, opt for the Algarve, where many 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.

Political stability  

Portugal is known for its security due to its long-lasting political stability achieved by a well-established multi-party system and no disruptions when different parties assume power. The lasting peace traces back to the Carnation Revolution of 1974, followed shortly after by an enactment of the Portuguese Constitution.

Discover what it’s like living in Portugal as an American in our expert guide

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Wrapping Up Safety in Portugal

Portugal is one of Europe’s safest destinations to visit with a low crime rate. By following basic safety measures, you’re unlikely to encounter any issues and be able to enjoy your time in a country that offers gorgeous scenery and captivating history. Portugal is an excellent place for travelers who want a memorable experience with peace of mind within their surroundings.

Frequently Asked Questions About How Safe Portugal is

Portugal is a very safe country for US citizens to visit. It has a low crime rate, a well-developed tourist infrastructure, and a friendly local population. However, like any travel destination, it’s essential to exercise standard precautions, particularly in tourist-heavy areas.

Crime in Portugal is rather low. However, the most frequent criminal activities encountered by visitors are petty theft and pickpocketing, while violent crime occurrences remain relatively rare. Scams against tourists occur to a limited degree in busy tourist areas. ATM skimming and taxi overcharging are also reported in popular cities like Lisbon and Porto.

The Portuguese are very welcoming to tourists and usually go out of their way to help foreigners in Portugal. They can often be seen providing helpful advice about their favorite dining spots or attractions in the area. With time, visitors will quickly become part of this culture’s warm embrace that makes them feel right at home from day one!

Ranking ninth safest country for women according to the Women Peace and Security Index, Lisbon stands out as a secure city for visitors, particularly female travelers going alone. Portugal is also the seventh on the Global Peace Index.  

Drug-related crime has not been an issue in Portugal since 2001 when the government began treating the use and possession of small quantities of all illegal drugs as a public health issue. As the first country in the world to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of all drug types, this decision has led to positive results in relation to drug-related deaths and drug-related crimes.

You may be aware of the earthquake, the natural disaster that devastated the country in 1755. While there’s always a minimal risk of natural catastrophes, they have become extremely rare. Wildfire dangers in rural areas and flooding have been the only forms of natural disasters in recent years. It is always a good idea to monitor local media if you have any cause to worry about severe weather warnings.

According to the Global Peace Index 2023, Iceland is the safest country in the world, followed by New Zealand, Denmark, and Portugal. Several European cities are also considered very safe, such as Lisbon, Porto, and other big cities in Portugal.    

The Global Peace Index considers factors like crime rate, terrorist acts, violent demonstrations, political scenes, and relations with other countries. In 2023, Portugal ranked seventh 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, some petty crimes in the bigger cities may target tourists, such as bag snatching- particularly close to tourist attractions and large shopping centers. However, you will probably not come across any violent crimes. The Portuguese tend to be amiable, 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.   

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 who want to live in a bustling city.

For a more historic city, opt for Porto in the North or other cities such as Coimbra or Braga. The Algarve should be at the top of your list for those looking for good weather and beaches. The Silver Coast is also an excellent location for expats, especially those seeking an active outdoor lifestyle in a welcoming and accessible area. The Silver Coast is conveniently located just over an hour northwest of Lisbon and two and a half hours south of Porto by car.

It is safe and easy to travel 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 straightforward to get around by car. Hiring a car can be a good idea if you want to explore hidden beaches and more remote areas and travel on your own schedule.

Portugal has a very low crime rate and is one of the safest countries in Europe. The Portuguese police registered 90 attempted homicides in 2023, which is lower than the 97 murder cases reported a year earlier.

By following standard safety precautions, you should have no problems. In particular, the autonomous Portuguese islands of Madeira and the Azores experience very low crime rates.

According to the Global Peace Index, Portugal is the seventh safest country in the world, and it is a safe place for travelers. It would help if you always carried photo identification with you, abided by local laws, and stayed up to date with any travel advice from the Portuguese authorities when visiting.

If you have any problems, you can visit a police station (or tourist police stations (PSP), two of which are in Lisbon) and report the issue to the local authorities. You can also access consular assistance if required.

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.

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 ask Portugal if it is safe to travel alone, the answer is yes.

Portugal’s tourism is one of the cornerstones of the Portuguese economy. As such, there is a significant focus on this sector and on making travel easy 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. However, major urban centers like Lisbon may experience petty crime, which is common in any large city.

Portugal is generally a safe country to visit alone. It has a low crime rate, and violent crime is extremely rare. The main concerns to keep in mind are petty crimes such as pickpocketing and bag-snatching. So, remain especially vigilant when traveling on the trams and metro in major cities like Lisbon and Porto.

While the well-maintained roads and beautiful scenery make driving in Portugal appealing, there are some hidden hazards to watch out for, especially for new drivers. Unlike the shallow depths of a calm beach, the water’s edge in Portugal can sometimes be unpredictable.

Cliff erosion can cause falling rocks and hidden rocks to appear along the coast with little warning. Be aware that warning signs about cliff erosion might be in Portuguese and may not be readily understandable to visitors.

These dangers are especially important to consider during short stays, as new road hazards can emerge within just a few weeks. It’s important to stay alert at all times and be aware of Portugal’s strict laws against drinking and driving.

Portugal is a very safe country for women travelers, but as with any country, it is best to exercise caution in certain areas.

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.  

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

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

Yes, Portugal is one of the safest countries in the world, with low crime rates. The autonomous islands of Madeira and the Azores are some of the safest destinations. Mainland Portugal is also very secure.

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 live in Portugal, with this number continuing to increase. You will likely face no issues when visiting the country 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 have any issues, you can file a police report to the local authorities. We recommend staying updated with the latest travel advice when you visit Portugal.