Updated: January 5, 2024
With beautiful landscapes, spectacular beaches, stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, and some of the friendliest people in the world, many selling points to Portugal 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, 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 a safe country to live in, including its stable socio-economic climate. We’ll also provide 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 safe is Portugal?
To gain a comprehensive understanding of safety in Portugal, let’s look at the key elements that contribute to its overall security.
Health and medical safety
When visiting Portugal, it is essential to consider health and medical safety. Travel insurance plays a vital role in having all the required vaccinations before traveling and taking preventive measures for one’s well-being. Healthcare facilities’ quality must also be considered when preparing for a trip to any destination.
The Portuguese healthcare system has been described as superior quality, even in rural areas. The country continues to have one of the best healthcare systems in the world, as Porto ranks 12th in the 2023 Health Care Index by Numbeo. A major contributor to its success is the abundance of medical professionals providing preventative and ongoing care through a mix of public and private facilities all over Portugal. Some notable hospitals include Centro Hospitalar de Lisboa Central and Hospital de Santa Maria, located in Lisbon, among others from regions like Porto or Coimbra. Excellent service providers across the country are multi-lingual, ensuring effective communication should there be health-related concerns when traveling around rural areas.
When planning a trip to Portugal, travel insurance is essential to your preparations. 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 this country. 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, it is essential to seek medical advice from a healthcare specialist on what vaccinations and health measures must be taken. In addition to vaccines, some precautions can safeguard your trip, such as practicing good hygiene habits like washing hands regularly or steering clear of contact with wild animals so you can enjoy yourself safely during your time away without worrying too much about contracting any illnesses. Finally, ensuring all food eaten has been cooked properly will help keep stomach aches and diseases at bay!
Women’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.
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, more conservative attitudes may be encountered in rural areas.
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.
- Places to be cautious about
Transport hubs, and tourist destinations. Heeding official warnings is vital for your safety.
As in any country, there are areas in Portugal where caution is more necessary. Some neighborhoods 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). It can also help to ensure that your belongings are close by at all times, keeping expensive items out of sight, and paying closer attention when amongst crowds. By adhering to these simple guidelines, you should face no issues when in Portugal.
Given Portugal’s ‘significant’ terrorism alert level (level 3 out of 5), it’s crucial to remain vigilant, mainly as terrorists have targeted European cities,
Portugal boasts a vibrant and relatively safe nightlife scene, ideal for visitors seeking a memorable experience. However, keep in mind that it’s important to remain vigilant in bustling areas, particulalry in the bigger cities.
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 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 safety reasons and its high quality of life, affordability, 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 lovely 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.
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. This 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 the level of peace globally. 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
Portugal has one of the lowest rates of violent crime in Europe, and Lisbon is amongst the safest cities in the European Union, according to Numbeo.
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 lack 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 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. Indeed, Portugal is often featured in publications such as Forbes and International Living as 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.
Why invest in Portugal’s property market?
Living in the seventh safest country in the world has its perks. Homebuyers can rest assured knowing their homes and investments are safe. Portugal’s stable market means 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 international students choose to study here.
Moving with your family
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, there is a particular sense of devotion to family in Portugal. 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 every month to head outside 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 to 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.
Portugal is known for its security due to its long-lasting political stability. This has been 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.
Ready to Experience the Safety and Charm of Portugal?
In an emergency, you should dial 112 to get assistance from the police, fire, and medical services in Portugal. Tourist police stations are accessible throughout major cities to provide safety guidance and information tailored towards travelers. The upcoming subsections will discuss both emergency services in Portugal.
If you are still wondering whether it is safe to visit Portugal, rest assured that the country offers gorgeous scenery and history and is one of Europe’s safest countries. It is an excellent place for travelers who want security and relaxation. Portugal is also a highly ranked and safe country to visit, with low crime rates and strong safety measures. You can enjoy Portugal safely by following simple precautions, dialing 112 in an emergency, and taking proper vaccinations before the trip. Lisbon and Porto are larger cities with low crime levels, while rural areas offer an inviting experience when local customs are observed. By being mindful of your environment, you can explore all Portugal offers in confidence and comfort!
Frequently Asked Questions about How Safe Portugal Is in 2023
Is Portugal safe for US citizens?
Yes, Portugal is generally safe for US citizens. It has a low crime rate, well-developed tourist infrastructure, and a friendly local population. However, like any travel destination, it’s important to exercise standard precautions, particularly in tourist-heavy areas.
What are the most common crimes in Portugal
Common crimes in Portugal typically involve pickpocketing, petty theft, and occasional scams, particularly in busy tourist areas. ATM skimming and taxi overcharging are also reported in cities like popular cities like Lisbon and Porto.
Are the Portuguese friendly to tourists?
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!
How safe is Lisbon for tourists?
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.
What are the most common types of crime in Portugal?
In Portugal, petty theft and pickpocketing are the most frequent criminal activities encountered by visitors, while violent crime occurrences remain relatively rare. Scams against tourists occur to a limited degree.
How safe is Portugal in terms of natural disasters?
You may be aware of the earthquake, the natural disaster that devastated the country in 1755. While there’s always a very small risk of natural catastrophes, wildfire dangers in rural areas and flooding have been the only forms of natural disasters in recent years.
What is the safest country in the world?
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 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 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.
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 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.
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 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 get around on your schedule.
Does Portugal have a high crime rate?
Portugal has a very low crime rate. It’s one of the safest countries in Europe. If you follow standard safety precautions, you should face no problems. In particular, the autonomous Portuguese islands of Madeira and the Azores experience very low crime rates.
Is Portugal safe to travel?
Portugal is the seventh safest country in the world on the GPI and is a safe place for travelers. It would help if you always carried photo identification with you, abide by local laws, and stay up to date with any travel advice from the Portuguese authorities when visiting.
Except for wildfire dangers, there are also low risks from natural disasters. 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.
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 ask Portugal if it is safe to travel alone, the answer is yes.
Is Portugal safe for tourists?
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. 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 a very safe country to visit, but, as with any country, it is best always to 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?
You can visit one of the many healthcare centers if you need medical treatment or a medical evaluation. If it is an emergency or you have a severe 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, if you visit the autonomous islands of Madeira and the Azores, you’ll find them some of the safest destinations. 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 live in Portugal, which continues 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.