Is Portugal a safe place for travel? This sunny European destination has it all — great beaches, incredible history, and color around every corner. It's definitely a safe place for travelers (as long as they follow a couple of common-sense guidelines).
With some local help, we've put together this guide for staying safe in Portugal. It covers everything from the coronavirus pandemic to tips for solo travelers.
Portugal is known for taking COVID seriously. The country has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world: 87% of people are fully vaccinated as of September 2022.
However, the country has lifted nearly all COVID restrictions. There are no special entry requirements related to COVID for Americans. And masks are only required in healthcare settings.
While COVID is still a risk, American travelers say they feel at least as safe in Portugal as they do at home.
So, is Portugal safe? Yes — extremely safe! Portugal even ranked as the 3rd safest country in the world by the Global Peace Index in 2020.
So pack your bags! Just keep in mind that — like any destination — travelers should adhere to a few common-sense guidelines. Portugal is popular with travelers and pickpockets know it.
As in most popular tourist destinations, travelers in Portugal are at risk of petty theft and pickpocketing. Keep your personal items secure and in sight at all times.
Locals tell us that pickpocketing rates are particularly high in Lisbon. Use these tips while using the trams or when you're in a crowded area:
Getting local advice is a good way to stay safe. Our trip planners can explain how they avoid petty theft.
Locals tell us that there are some common scams in Portugal that you should know about (and know how to avoid). Here are some of the most popular scams:
The Rosemary Scam
In this scam, a Roma (gypsy) woman—often older—will offer you a sprig of rosemary, grab your hand, and start telling you your fortune before you can say no. When she’s done, she’ll ask for payment; if you don’t give it to her, she’ll make a scene until you do. The best way to handle this scam: just pull your hand away and walk away.
The Slip-and-fall Scam
If you’re on a train or tram and an elderly Roma woman “slips and falls” into you, mind your wallet, purse, and/or watch. Often, muggers will use a fall as an excuse to make physical contact with you—and take your stuff while you’re distracted. The best way to handle this: check your belongings immediately.
The Petition Scam
If a person or group of people approach you with a petition to sign, do not do so. They’re using as a distraction while someone else picks your pockets. The best way to handle this: just say no.
Portugal is a popular destination for solo travel, including for women traveling on their own.
Crime rates, harassment, and discrimination are low and catcalling is illegal in Portugal. That’s not to say it never happens, but it's considered a serious issue.
Still, it's always good to get personalized advice when you travel alone. Our trip planners can let you know how they navigate their hometown safely! With some local insights, you can enjoy all the great stuff to do in Portugal stress-free.
The tap water in Portugal is perfectly safe to drink. If you’re really worried about getting sick from the food or water while you’re there, just follow some basic preventative steps to avoid food poisoning and keep yourself healthy.
Or better yet, invest in a water botter with a filter. It's an easy thing you can do to travel in a more sustainable way.
The Algarve is a region along the southern coast of Portugal, made up of several small towns and gorgeous beachside resorts. Alongside Lisbon and Porto, locals tell us that the Algarve is a popular spot for families and retirees—and an excellent place to enjoy some of Portugal's best activities. It’s just as safe as the rest of the country. The biggest risk to travelers here is pickpocketing.
Locals tell us that the risk of encountering a natural disaster in Portugal is low. You won’t have to worry about hurricanes or huge tropical storms if you are staying near the beach.
English is widely spoken in Portugal, especially in urban areas. For the most part, locals tell us you will see English translations on major street signs and tourist destinations. And many Portuguese people speak English. That means you'll likely be able to communicate with taxi drivers and servers, even if you don't speak their language.
That being said, it's always helpful to learn a few basic Portuguese words. Our trip planners can let you know important key phrases. And if you do run into any issues during your trip, they'll also be available with phone support.
Just in case you do find yourself in an emergency situation while you are in Portugal, here are all the important numbers you should know:
And for more on Portugal travel, check out: