Is it Safe to Visit Porto? Is Porto Safe for Travel?

Before a trip to Porto, many wonder whether it’s a safe place. Are there any dangers near the famed Mercado do Bolhão market, perhaps the main station adorned by the incredible azulejo or the Dom Luis I bridge? Should we be wary of drug vendors? Are there pickpockets?

What to look out for in Portugal

On the 26th of march, 1995, Portugal entered the Schengen Agreement, and since the 1986, is a part of the European Union. That, in theory, should guarantee safety for tourists. Yet, it’s not entirely the case. Since Portugal is a fairly poor country, with its GDP stagnated ever since 2008, wealthy foreign tourists are quite tempting for many. Obviously not tempting enough for someone to get kidnapped or anything. Portugal, especially near the main tourist attractions, has a sizable problem with pickpockets, so be extra cautious and never leave your belongings, like bags or wallets behind.

What to look out for in Porto – drugs and favelas

Safety in Porto

We tend to associate recreational drug tourism with the Netherlands, but Portugal is also pretty liberal when it comes to drugs (which you can read more about here). Owning small amounts of various types is not really punishable, selling them on the other hand is illegal. That doesn’t prevent the crowds of drug vendors in Porto, from stopping the tourists in their tracks and offering fake goods.

If you want to use drugs, avoid the randomly encountered street drug vendors. They tend to work in bigger, well organised groups. Each transaction is observed by the nearby groups, sometimes even disguised as policemen. No matter what, keep in mind that in a situation where you’d buy something from a drug dealer, it’d be him that would then be in trouble.

porto safety

After such a transaction, it’s not uncommon that a group of thugs (or fake policemen) will stop you and demand cash in return for not selling you out to the police (which, as we know, wouldn’t result in anything). The way to beat these street dealers is to just ignore them. Police in Porto is visible near all tourist attractions, yet that does not mean there are no crimes happening on the streets. There are certain things which the police won’t even react to.

When straying away from the main streets, you won’t have to wander too far to reach the poor sections of the city. The Portuguese poverty districts are not as bad as, let’s say, the Brazilian ones, but if you’re unfamiliar with the city, it’s better not to visit these areas alone, especially in the evenings. Be wary of areas like Bairro do Aleixo, Bairro do Cerco, Bairro do Lagarteiro and Bairro Pinheiro Torres. You can easily tell, when you’re in a poverty district in Porto.

What to look out for in Porto – prices

Porto Safety

A dinner for two in a renowned restaurant like, for instance, Euskalduna Studio, Antiqvvm, O Paparico or Pedro Lemos can cost you a few hundred EUR, and it’s nothing out of the ordinary. Accommodation in a hotel like the InterContinental Palacio das Cardosas, the Infante Sagres, the Pestana Palácio do Freixo or  the Vidago Palace is also sure to cost you a lot. It’s the quality and the renown you pay the hundred of EUR for. Yet, there are places with nowhere near the standard and very comparable prices. You have to be wary of the prices in the random restaurants in Porto, where the exact same meal can cost you a few times less in the adjacent bar. Thankfully, the exchange booths tend to be legitimate in Porto.

Safety in Porto – helpful tips

If we just stay rational, Porto can feel like a fairly safe place. It’s important to not immediately give away the feel that you’re a very rich and a very lost tourist. If you have a watch worth a few thousand pounds, expensive jewellery or a flashy bag, you may want to leave these things in your hotel room. It’s better to stay on your course, rather than to wander off to a side alley and get lost (which is quite easy to do in Porto). The public transport, most restaurants and tourist offices are all safe in Porto. Portugal is also fairly secure from terrorist attacks.

If we don’t expose our riches too much and don’t leave our belongings around carelessly, Porto can be a relaxing place to rest in. Although it’s important to note, that the sun can get quite murderous in Portugal, so don’t forget some headwear and hydrate properly. The emergency number in Portugal is 112.

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