Is Portugal Safe To Travel?

I often get asked is Portugal safe or is The Algarve or Porto safe and would I recommend it for a family holiday.

Today, both our family and Mariana our Porto expert will be talking about the safety of Portugal and if we recommend it for a holiday or not.

Is Portugal Safe To Travel

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Is Portugal Safe To Live?

When we first moved to Portugal, we did so from the Bolton region of the UK. We had neighbours that were not very nice, made me feel threatened, and I never felt safe doing the school run.

Then we moved to Portugal, first onto a campsite and then into our own apartment.

It was like you entered a different world.

A world full of very kind people, kids with manners and you never felt threatened at all.

My thoughts were that Portugal was in fact, very safe to live and we had made a great decision.

This was of course, early impressions of living in Portugal so let me fill you in on the everything.

We will also be joined by Mariana too who lived in Porto for 24 years for her opinion of Porto and the north of Portugal.

Meet Mariana

Mariana is a Portuguese Expat living in Yorkshire. She made the move from Porto in Northern Portugal to England when she married Jack in early 2023.  On a visit back to Porto  to visit family she spent 2 days exploring all the tourist hotspots of Porto including many hidden gems for the readers of Trip Meets Travel.

How Safe Is Portugal?

Portugal is much safer than other countries and will surprise you with just how safe a place Portugal is. How you can go out at night in Portugal, even how the alcohol age is lower in Portugal, and you don’t have loads of drunk idiots ruining things.

Let me give you some examples of the good and the bad of Portugal.

The Good….

silves park algarve portugal
Lets start with this picture of Jorge. This was taken in the park of a small town called Silves in The Algarve.

This photo was taken 7pm at night in the summer and we were all in the park. This park was our favourite and we have never found one that was as good since.

The park had a 1750m (just over a mile) running track around the outside as well as plenty of grass areas for playing football, you could see the river, and some exercise machines plus toilets and a burger place.

The kids would take their favourite ball, we would get a sundae from the burger place and have some family fun in the park.

But what we loved was how safe we felt among the teenage lads. They would be playing football, have a pizza they were sharing and one beer (bottle of sagres) each. They were never drunk, they never had anti-social behaviour and they would move out of the way if they ever saw us and the kids passing them.

Compared to in the UK when you wouldn’t feel safe in the park at night.

Now that was a game changer for just how safe The Algarve felt compared to the UK.

In the same way, you don’t feel unsafe in Portugal say if you are walking around a town centre on a Saturday night, hence why so many tourists visit Portugal every year.

The Good….

I put a lot of the good behaviour and lack of crime down to the upbringing that you see in Portugal. Kids are given responsibility younger because working parents need them to. Such as starting dinner or picking up their brother or sister from school. Or even taking on part time jobs much younger. They are also well behaved, and the Portuguese youngsters do have exceptional manners.

This all tends to lead to the kids being more mature and you feeling safer in the parks at night or at the beach.

The Bad….

On the bad side there is the gypsies and there is always a genuine fear that your child is going to be snatched. Every now and again there is an incident when an attempt is made to snatch a child. Usually that will be girls between the ages of 3 and 6 and there have been incidents when we have lived there.

I would also say that this happens in a lot of other European countries and to never take your eye off your kids.

We lived in the countryside so I only felt safe raising a little boy and a little girl by having a dog and our dog was a bit on the crazy side and nobody would go near him, which always made me feel more secure.

portuguese countryside cumeada
This is our road where we lived. So beautiful but always a risk when it came to gypsies but nobody was going to get past our Lab-husky Demon.

The Bad….

The crime rates in Portugal are very low and we feel there is a lot less fraudsters targeting holiday makers compared to other countries, but it still does happen.

For example, most people that have complained about pick pocketing have said it about places like Lisbon and about Albufeira, but only in these really touristy areas.

Yet in Spain there is a lot more cons such as taxi’s being overcharged, whilst taxi drivers in Portugal are a lot more honest.

The Bad….

There is only one time we have ever been the victims of petty crime. It was way back in 2013 and we were living in an apartment in the Silves area of The Algarve.

We had a communal garage, and someone had not locked it. The garage was broken into, and cars had their side windows smashed as people broke in and took car radios or what they could find in the car.

It’s the only time we have ever had an issue and the locals that lived nearby mentioned it was a one off and unusual for the area.

Is Portugal Safe For Solo Female Travellers?

Yes, it is. As a woman I have always felt 1000000% safe out and about in Portugal, a lot more so than I ever have in the UK. I do think like in other countries that petty theft exists and to prevent it you don’t want to be showing off expensive jewellery or loads of money as this will attract the wrong people.

Also, during our 13 years in Portugal we met many women that travelled solo and they always talked about how safe they felt in Portugal.

Is Portugal Safe For American Tourists?

Yes, it is. We have ZERO gun crime and we feel safe to go out on an evening. There is of course, a little bit of petty crime like there is in other similar countries, but crime levels are extremely low. Especially if you were to compare crime levels in the USA to Portugal.

Having lived in Portugal for 24 years, I can say Portugal is very safe. Yes, crimes happen like in any other country in the world but in comparison, Portugal is considered very safe.

I’ve never been a victim of any major crime, and to put it in perspective, I used to do a 2+ hour commute to go and come back from university, every day for 3 years, which meant leaving the house at really early hours and getting home late and nothing ever happened.

Of course, speaking as a female, you have to be 10x more attentive to your surroundings, especially if you’re alone and it’s dark, be smart about your choices but generally speaking I never had any troubles.

People tend to mind their business if you mind yours. For example, and like Sam has mentioned, Portugal has a big gypsy community that sometimes like to cause a bit of trouble. In Porto we haven’t had any incidents with them trying to take children, it’s more related to stealing and getting into verbal or sometimes physical altercations.

But don’t be scared, like I’ve said, if you mind your business, people tend to mind theirs. I’ve been approached by a family while waiting for my train before, it was dark, and I was alone, but they just asked for food and went their way.

Incidents with guns don’t happen very often, and when they do it tends to be, unfortunately, related to domestic violence cases. There’s never been any mass shootings. Crime against tourists, of any kind, is very low.

Portugal and Porto are also very accepting and welcoming, if perhaps you’re part of the LGBTQIA+ or if you’re a person or group with a different religion or colour. Of course, no one walks around with a label on their forehead, but know that you’re safe to be who you are in our city.

Even though Portugal still has a long way to go when it comes to certain issues, crime rates against the LGBTQIA+ community is extremely low. We also have a very high percentage of people of different religions and ethnicities living in the country, so again, you’ll feel safe and welcomed if you decide to visit Porto.

Is Lagos Portugal Safe?

Yes, Lagos, in the Algarve is safe to visit and is also a lovely place to go to. I find that the Luz region is off putting to many because of the Madeliene McCann disappearance, but we have been there many times since.

It is heartbreaking for local businesses in the Lagos area because it was once one of the most popular parts of The Algarve.

Is Porto Portugal Safe?

The northern cities of Portugal do have a bad rep, of course this is mainly because a city has a higher population compared to The Algarve, rather than Porto having a lot of crime.

Having lived in Porto my whole life, even coming from a council estate, I can assure you Porto is very safe.

I have to of course be honest and say that crimes do happen, but they do in any country or any region in the world that you might want to travel to.

We don’t have any gun violence related crimes, and like I’ve previously said, people just tend to mind their business if you mind yours.

I’ve walked the streets of Porto more times than I can count, alone and with people, carrying backpacks, suitcases, phone in hand, at various different times of the day as well.

I think that people that live in the centre/south of the country (a bit like the in the UK with the north-south difference), they tend to take our straightforwardness and the way we express ourselves as rudeness, but I guarantee you, and if you have the chance to go to Porto, especially after visiting the south of the country, that we’re very welcoming and attentive.

I think at times, because we have such strong accents, it can come off as a bit aggressive (my husband Jack always seems to think I’m arguing with my mum when I speak to her on the phone when we’re saying nothing but loving things to each other).

For example, if when you visit Porto, you go to Mercado do Bolhao, which you can find more about in our Porto things to do blog, you’ll experience first hand the essence of Porto. Don’t be startled if the vendors are loud, they aren’t screaming at you, it’s our way of showing that we’re passionate.

So, if you’re reading this, trying to make your decision on whether or not to travel to Porto, maybe seeing all the sights have sparked your interest, but safety was a big concern for you, coming from a true Portuguese, who has now experienced Porto both as a local and a tourist, Porto is very safe.

street safety in Porto
This is one of the streets of Porto. We recommend not having your phone in a loose pocket or showing off lots of money as it will encourage opportunists.

How Safe Is Lisbon Portugal?

If you are wondering about the crime rates of Lisbon and if Lisbon in Portugal is safe then note like Porto, Lisbon is also very safe.

Crime rates, generally speaking, are very low. Like mentioned previously, Portugal has very low gun violence and gun related crimes.

Lisbon is a bigger city, and with it being the capital, is a lot busier as well. So of course, if you’re exploring the city pay attention to your surroundings. Don’t carry things of a lot of value with you, or if you do, keep them safe in a backpack, for example.

Is Portugal Safer Than Spain?

I have always felt a lot safer in Portugal and felt it is more relaxed than I have in Spain. In Spain there is a lot of tourist scams like overcharging you for a taxi and then withholding your luggage if you don’t pay, or a lot more tourists pick pocketing.

Plus, Spain often attracts the younger British tourists, and the locals see the Brits as an easy target when they have had too much to drink.

Though, I still think Spain is worth a visit – just be careful if you are heading into cities that have a bad reputation such as Barcelona and Alicante.

Where To Stay In Porto

Porto has some brilliant places to stay especially for being close to all the major attractions. You also have something for every budget with cheap, mid-range and pure city centre comfort.

I have included below three amazing choices all with great reviews and perfect for city break to Porto.

Luxury Porto: InterContinental Porto Hotel is a five-star hotel in the city of Porto. Located in the Historic Centre region, its architecture bleeds right in with surrounding buildings. The rooms are beautifully decorated and will offer all the comfort you’re looking for. The hotel also offers an indoor sauna that you can take advantage of, as well as massages and body treatments – Click here for more details including loads of photos, reviews and more about the facilities.

InterContinental Porto Hotel

City Moderate: The Eurostars Porto Douro Hotel is a four star Hotel in Porto City if you’re looking for a solid mid-range. Located in the Old Town region, makes it perfect for you to explore the historic part of the city while getting a beautiful view of the Douro River right from your window –  Click here for photos, more info and to read the glowing reviews.

The Eurostars Porto Douro Hotel

City Budget: If you’re looking for a more budget friendly hotel then Moov Hotel Porto Centro Hotel will be a great option for you. The hotel offers multiple affordable rooms, and its location makes it easy to explore the Porto city centre, without breaking the bank – You can find out more here about this Porto budget hotel and just check out the photos, it is amazing.


Luxury Lisbon: If you’re thinking of travelling to Lisbon and are perhaps looking for a luxury stay on your city break then you might want to take a look at InterContinental Lisbon, an IHG Hotel. Located in the city centre, the Hotel offers dry cleaning/laundry services, a bar and even a gym. You’ll also have access to an on-site restaurant, with the most delicious and traditional Portuguese cuisine. Who wouldn’t want to stay here? – Click here, if you want to see more details about this five star hotel.

City Moderate: The BessaHotel Liberdade is a four star Hotel, located in Rossio Square. This brilliant Hotel offers a bunch of luxurious treatments and services while still being affordable – If you’d like to find out more make sure to click here.

BessaHotel Liberdade

City Budget: If you’d like to explore the beautiful city of Lisbon but are perhaps on a budget then make sure to check out SANA Capitol Hotel. This Hotel offers a variety of affordable rooms, without losing its comfortability and of course, maintaining high cleaning levels. Its location also makes it perfect for you to explore the city – You can find out more here about this Lisbon budget hotel.

SANA Capitol Hotel


Luxury Lagos: If Lagos is your city of choice then check out the Iberostar Selection Lagos Algarve five star hotel. Located in the city centre, this hotel offers a poolside bar, a terrace and a garden, along with other luxurious services – Click here, if you want to see more details about this five star hotel.

Iberostar Selection Lagos Algarve

City Moderate: The Tivoli Lagos is a four star Hotel, located in city of Lagos. The Hotel is equipped with a free breakfast buffet, a poolside bar and a terrace. Along with other relaxing services, from the comfort of your hotel – If you’d like to find out more details, along with reviews and pictures make sure to click here.

The Tivoli Lagos

City Budget: If you’re looking for a budget friendly hotel in the city of Lagos make sure to check out Solar de Mós. The hotel gives you the choice of various affordable rooms, while still being comfortable and visually appealing. So if a budget friendly hotel is your choice for your city break – Make sure to click this link to book your stay.

Solar de Mós


Luxury Albufeira: If you’re travelling to Albufeira and want to enjoy all the luxuries the seaside has to offer you’ll want to stay in W Residences Algarve. With 3 bars and a spa, you’re never going to leave your Hotel – Click here, if you want to see more details about this five star hotel.

W Residences Algarve

City Moderate: Located in Albufeira, Hotel Alisios offers you a white sand beach view that you’ll be able to take advantage of on your stay. Treat yourself to spa treatments and a beach bar – Book here now.

Hotel Alisios

City Budget: If you’re travelling to Albufeira and you’re looking for a budget friendly hotel why not check out Hotel Santa Eulália Praia. Located close to Parque Aventura (a very popular water park in Algarve) you’ll be able to enjoy all the comforts this hotel has to offer without breaking the bank  – You can check for more details here.

Hotel Santa Eulália Praia


Luxury Alvor: The Pestana Alvor Praia Beach & Golf Hotel is a five star hotel located in Alvor. On top of a breakfast buffet, a terrace and mini golf, this hotel is perfect for you to enjoy the beach. For those that are more active, you can do some surfing. Click here, if you want to see more details about this five star hotel, as well as more pictures and reviews.

Pestana Alvor Praia Beach & Golf Hotel

City Moderate: Check out the Agua Hotels Alvor Jardim, a four star hotel in the heart of Alvor. With a garden, dry cleaning/laundry services and a bar, this hotel might just be perfect for your stay – If you want to see more details, click here.

Agua Hotels Alvor Jardim

City Budget: If Alvor is your city of choice but you just don’t know where to stay let me give you some help – Pestana Alvor Atlântico Residences. This aparthotel offers a spa tub and a sauna, while still being very affordable – You can see more details, pictures and reviews right here.

Pestana Alvor Atlântico Residences


Luxury Portimão: If you’re travelling to Portimao and are looking for the perfect, more luxurious, hotel to stay then I have just the hotel for you Hotel Algarve Casino. This hotel offers a free breakfast buffet, a casino and a marina, and many, many other services – Click here, if you want to see more details about this five star hotel, as well as more pictures and reviews.

Hotel Algarve Casino

City Moderate: If you don’t have a big budget but want to be able to enjoy the luxuries that a hotel has to offer you might want to check out Jupiter Algarve Hotel. Located in the heart of Portimao and opposite praia da rocha beach, you’ll be able to enjoy a poolside bar, a terrace and even arcade/games room. Who would want to miss that? – If this is your hotel of choice click here to find more details and book your stay.

Jupiter Algarve Hotel

City Budget: If you’re looking for a city break in Portimao but are perhaps on a budget then Next Inn hotel might be just the right choice for you. On top of very affordable rooms, this hotel also offers a rooftop terrace and a library – Click here, if you want to see more details about budget friendly hotel.

Next Inn hotel

Are Portugal Beaches Safe?

We have talked about which areas of Portugal people worry about and now let’s talk about Portuguese beaches.

I have never felt unsafe on the beach in Portugal and have been to many of them. I do keep a very close eye on the kids just to be sure.

The beach problem is more a health and safety thing, rather than a crime thing. Such as people going in the sea when it is a red flag and getting into serious danger. So make sure you follow the rules of the beach.

Then the other issue is people are sunbathing right under the famous rocks and the problem here is the rocks come down easily from being so old and this can result in a rock landing on you. So to stay safe on Algarve beaches we recommend not sunbathing near the rocks.

are beaches safe in portugal
This is a picture my dad took in The Algarve and as you can see there are a lot of rocks and many are good for shade. But of course, these rocks are a big crumbling risk.

Is It Safe To Drink Tap Water In Portugal?

Yes, it is safe to drink tap water in Portugal and we drank the tap water for the whole of the 13 years that we lived in Portugal.

Though you often end up with loose stools when you first change from one country to another for water. Just like we did when we arrived in the UK after many years of Portuguese tap water.

But what we did have was a backup of bottled water in our garage because Portugal would have times when the water was turned off for maintenance and we would have say 3 days without a water supply.

Is It Safe To Drive In Portugal?

Okay, so this is the time when most drivers (especially British ones) will rant about the Portuguese drivers and say that they are an accident waiting to happen.

As a non-driver I have to agree, and they certainly make you feel unsafe.

I recommend paying extra attention when driving in Portugal and note that there are a lot more car incidents in The Algarve compared to the UK.

BUT if you are aware of their driving and that the roads aren’t all as perfect as they are in the UK or the US, then you will feel better about driving in Portugal.

And also note, Dom drove for us in The Algarve for 13 years and was always cautious and never had an accident.

Is It Safe To Rent A Car In Portugal?

Yes, it is 10000% safe to rent a car in Portugal and Dom has done so on numerous occasions. When we have been changing cars, or our car has been in the garage, plus when we moved back to the UK from Portugal, we had 3 weeks from car being sold to leaving.

I also managed the marketing for a Faro airport based car hire company many years ago, and the only thing that concerned me, is they had more bookings than cars, so you might be at risk especially with airport car hire of a double booking.

Another thing to consider is that its much cheaper to get car hire from a local business rather than at the airport something we are planning when we visit Crete at get Crete car hire.

Portugal Travel Safe

I recommend following a Portugal travel safe motto.

Look after yourself. Be cautious of your surroundings. Don’t come across as I have money and I just left it out on display.

Its easy when on holiday to get too into your holiday and forget to look after yourself. Portugal generally associates the UK with high drinking and being rich. So, there will always be that odd chancer that is waiting for you to drink too much and then take advantage.

But like I have said and like Mariana has pointed out, Portugal is perfectly safe 99.99999% of the time and you really don’t need to worry when you visit Portugal as its nothing like travelling in the US, and there are European countries with much higher crime rates.

Pin Is Portugal Safe For Later!

Well, that’s a wrap, do you have any questions then do ask below and if you want to refer back, to this later for planning your trip to Portugal then don’t forget to pin it to your travel board on Pinterest.

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About the author

Run by Sam, Dom, Kyle, Sofia & Jorge it documents our family’s love for eating out, day trips, road trips and great holidays.

We just love a trip, we love to travel, and here we will show you with a little planning, how to have a great adventure and create new memories along the way!

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