Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal, is, without doubt, one of the most popular cities to travel to at the moment. Unlike many cities, Lisbon sits right next to the Atlantic Ocean, and compared to other European cities, you can beat Lisbon’s weather, as it is sunny almost all the time.
But, is it one of the safest cities to visit? That is what we are here to find out. Join me as I run through everything you need to know about how to stay safe in Lisbon so you can enjoy all that this amazing city has to offer and discover Lisbon without any worries whatsoever.
Let’s jump in to everything you need to know about safety in Lisbon!
Lisbon is an extremely safe city, in fact, it is one of the safest European capitals and it is the capital of one of the safest countries on the planet. Portugal is actually rated as the fourth safest country in the world, so is Lisbon and Portugal safe?
Yes, it’s perfectly safe to visit Portugal and Lisbon is a very safe city too, but no capital city on earth is without crime, so what are Lisbon’s main safety issues for tourists and residents alike?
Well, the good news is that violent crime rates are extremely low, and violent crime will almost never target tourists either, it is usually to do with local residential issues. There is, however, quite a lot of petty crime in Lisbon and some scams to watch out for too.
The crimes that tourists should be aware of are few and far between in Lisbon, and none of them affect your safety, but they might affect your wallet.
Pickpocketing is the number one crime in this tourist destination and pickpockets tend to operate in the crowded tourist areas and around public transport too. Crowded tourist spots such as restaurants or outside busy train stations and on trams tend to be where the pickpockets operate most.
The pickpockets in Lisbon are good at what they do and tourists should never walk around with their passports on them as it is a risk not worth taking. You should also ensure that your money, purse, and wallet are in a safe place that is not easily accessed by pickpockets.
There are some scams to be aware of in Lisbon and they are mostly connected to pickpockets too. If someone asks you to sign a petition chances are this is a distraction to grab your attention so that pickpockets can come and relieve you of your hard-earned cash. Don’t engage them and simply ignore them, then nothing will happen.
The only other scam to keep an eye out for is taxis without a meter or with a “broken meter” as these taxis are guaranteed to overcharge you for your trip. The same goes for restaurants without prices on the menu, and although they are few and far between, be sure to avoid eating in one.
Despite the safety in Lisbon being fantastic overall, every city on the planet gets a little more dangerous at night and the same goes for Lisbon. While we think walking around Lisbon at night is absolutely safe, there are some things to think about when it comes to staying safe.
If you are planning to enjoy some of the awesome nightlife Lisbon has to offer or simply want to enjoy an evening stroll around the city, here are the things to be aware of. It is all pretty much common sense but it is easy to feel pretty safe, especially after a few beers, and forget about the safety considerations.
Walking in poorly lit areas is never a good idea and it is where pickpockets or other criminals prefer to lurk. Walking on well-lit streets with large groups of people around, like other tourists, is always a good idea as they are a safe place.
You should also never take shortcuts through quiet neighborhood streets, stick to the areas where there are more people. You should also try to walk with a group if you can for as much of your journey as possible.
As always, large groups of young men are best avoided, especially when it is late and the chances of them being drunk are quite high. You will also be offered drugs on the streets of Lisbon often, just say no thank you, and keep on moving.
Like with any city at night, it’s best to use taxis when in doubt, so grab a licensed taxi or an uber home if you have any concerns about getting home or are too drunk to navigate your way there.
Solo travelers always have to be a bit more on guard when visiting new cities, and this goes for male solo travelers and female solo travelers too. That being said, solo female travelers always have to be a little more vigilant than anyone else as they tend to be targeted more.
Good news for any solo female travelers reading this, Lisbon is a super safe place for you to visit alone. Your biggest worry will be pickpockets, everyone’s biggest worry, so be smart about not getting distracted, scammed, and keeping your valuables out of reach.
That is not to say crimes like sexual assault don’t happen though, and the precautions you should take are the same ones you should take when enjoying the nightlife at home.
As you can see, these are all the standard ways to operate as a solo female when exploring a city in the day and at night too. Lisbon is super safe for solo ladies and gents, so don’t be worried about going there, just use your common sense and you will stay safe.
The public transportation system in Lisbon is super safe, especially during the day but there are some things you should be aware of to ensure nothing happens.
Busy public transportation stations such as the Metro Stations and the Tram 28 station are where the majority of pickpockets hang out. They are waiting to pick your pocket amongst all the chaos and they even operate scams where they try to sell you fake public transportation tickets.
In these areas, never buy transportation tickets for anyone who is not official, and keep a tight grip on your valuables as you enter and exit the busy stations.
Also, travel on public transportation at night should be avoided at all costs in Lisbon as this is when crime rates on transport skyrocket. Muggings and thefts are much more common at night and you will see locals trying to hop on and off transport without paying, and this is all worth avoiding by using a taxi.
Having driven around Lisbon many times, I can say with confidence that it is a safe place to drive overall but it isn’t worth it if you can avoid it. The old streets of Lisbon are tiny and the one-way systems are enough to make every driver crazy as can be.
Also, if you do have a car in Lisbon, good luck finding a parking place, as there are 200,000 spaces for the 600,000 cars that call the city home. You will need to be very careful where you park too as you will get a ticket if you park illegally.
Driving around Lisbon is, therefore, more hassle than it is worth, especially when you consider the public transport is good enough to get you where you need to go, and efficiently.
Other considerations include the tolls you will be charged as you drive around Lisbon, and theft from cars is quite common also, so never leave any valuables in your vehicle either.
Yes, the tap water in Lisbon is safe to drink as it conforms with EU standards for safe drinking water so there is nothing to worry about. You can happily fill up your water bottle from any tap in the city without any concerns whatsoever.
Something that might put you off drinking the tap water is seeing locals who buy bottled water. If you go to a local supermarket like Lidl or InterMarche, you will see locals coming out with trollies full of plastic water bottles, which might make you think that the tap water isn’t safe.
This is simply not the case but if you are concerned about drinking water and you don’t want to get sick while traveling in Lisbon, you can always drink bottles of water as required.
I would like to say though, please avoid using disposable plastic water bottles at all costs, as it is one of the worst forms of waste for the planet. If you are worried about water quality, grab a reusable water bottle with a filter so you are not throwing any plastic away.
Overall, the food in Lisbon is safe to eat and it is absolutely delicious to boot. Good food can be found on almost every street and there are some great restaurants all over the city, so if you like food you are in for a treat.
Some Portuguese dishes you have to try when visiting Lisbon include pastel de Natas (custard tarts) which Portugal is famous for. Have one in the morning with a coffee on day one and chances are you will do it every day you are there.
Portuguese steak is pretty fantastic too as it comes in a sauce that you will never have tasted or be able to recreate (I’ve tried hard). One of the most traditional dishes is bacalhau which is salted fish with potatoes and eggs, and another great one is Befana, a fresh roll stuffed with marinated pork.
Use your common sense while eating your way around this tourist destination though. Look for establishments full of locals, order what they are ordering, and enjoy.
Eat seafood in Portugal if you love seafood as the mussels, fish, clams, and more are to die for. But, you need to ensure it is fresh and your best way of doing this is to pick a restaurant at the beach.
Beware of tourist traps though, as some restaurants are designed to overcharge you with priceless menus but don’t get confused when ordering fish as the price will be per kg, instead of per dish.
One famous meal everyone should try in Portugal is the Piri Piri chicken, it is some of the best in the world and there will be lots of restaurants serving it in Lisbon.
Lisbon and Portugal, in general, are great places for families to visit and exceptionally safe for a family visit too. There is so much for families to do in Lisbon and Portugal from exploring the neverending white sand beaches to exploring ancient sites, and cobblestone streets, going surfing, swimming, and lots more.
The one thing you should be cautious of when visiting Lisbon and Portugal as a family is the power of the ocean. The beaches are stunning and the waves are usually not too big during the summer but they can be huge between autumn and spring.
Be sure to check if there are any flags on the beaches, red being the no swimming flag and green being the ok to go swimming flag. If there are no lifeguards on the beach, make sure to have a look at the sea and make a common-sense call.
Rip currents can whisk you out to sea very quickly and the water can be very cold. Having surfed in Portugal for many years, these concerns are all too real but if you are there during the summer, chances are the sea will be flat calm, and safe to enjoy.
Generally speaking, there aren’t any parts of Lisbon that you must avoid as every part of the city is generally safe. That being said, as with every city on the planet, there are lower-income areas with housing difficulties that have much higher crime rates than other parts, and in Lisbon, these are the only places to avoid.
These areas mentioned above are the only bits of Lisbon to be avoided and chances are you will not stumble upon them since they are a good 1-2 hour walk outside of the city center. But, if you do happen to find yourself in one of them, you will probably be fine, that is how truly safe this magical city really is.
Considering just how safe Lisbon is, is it of course a safe place to live and if you are thinking about moving to Lisbon and living there, you should 100% go for it.
The only things to be aware of are all the safety measures we have mentioned already which include pickpockets around train stations, not taking public transport at night, and living in the right area.
I would recommend avoiding the areas in the outskirts of the city which I mentioned in the section above and to focus on the good areas such as Caparica, Cascais, Baixa, Bairro Alto, and Alvalade.
You should also be aware that most people in Lisbon rent and they don’t own a car either. Rent used to be very affordable but these days it has gone up with Lisbon’s popularity.
Plus, as I mentioned earlier, having a car in Lisbon is a huge hassle but you might want one if you plan on exploring the country and particularly if you like surfing as you will need to drive to the waves.
There isn’t really a bad time to visit Lisbon weather-wise as it can be sunny and 18 degrees celsius in February but that being said, the sea is super cold and the waves can be pretty huge, which will suit surfers.
Winter is a great time to visit Lisbon for a true city break as it is a very affordable time of year with flights and accommodation prices being at their lowest. This is also when the least amount of crowds venture to Lisbon so you will be able to explore a less crowded version of the city too. Surfers will also love the big winter swells, just be sure to bring a thick wetsuit with you.
The best time to visit Lisbon in my eyes is in the months of May, June, September, and October. This is when the weather is at its best, not being too hot like the months of July but not being too cold either like November to March.
These months also avoid the school holidays so prices will be more affordable. The sea at this time of year is a tad warmer, the waves are usually surfable but not too big to make the beaches unswimmable either so everyone can enjoy the ocean without any worry.
Summer, July, and August, are also wonderful in Lisbon as it never gets too hot since the cool air of the Atlantic regulates the temperatures quite well. The city is alive with all the locals and tourists sitting outside in the squares and streets and there is a great vibe. I would recommend booking somewhere with air conditioning though as it will help you avoid sticky sheets and a bad night’s sleep.
Overall, Lisbon is extremely safe and chances are nothing will happen while you’re staying there but there are some tips worth following to ensure you are safe at all times.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!