How to Stay Safe in Portugal

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Portugal is actually considered one of the safest countries in the European Union, but just as in any foreign country, it's always better to be safe than sorry. You certainly shouldn't spend your trip to Portugal in fear of something terrible happening, but keeping a few things in mind and taking some important precautions will ensure your safety while visiting this beautiful and peaceful country.

Things You'll Need

  • Travelers checks
  • Travelers insurance
  • Copy of passport
  • Copy of itinerary
  • Keep your money safe by using only credit cards with theft protection programs or by tucking any cash or travelers checks in a location difficult for pickpockets to violate. Purses and bulky wallets carried in your back pocket are obvious targets for pickpockets, so you should not carry your cash in these items. Tuck it in a sock, bra or other difficult-to-reach place.

  • Record all the numbers from your travelers checks and keep the documentation separate from the checks themselves.

  • Purchase travelers insurance before leaving for Portugal. Though it is hoped that everyone stays safe while visiting, emergencies do happen, so you should always be prepared by ensuring that you can get quality health care while abroad.

  • Make copies of your passport. If your passport is lost or stolen you'll still be able to use a copy as temporary identification until it is replaced. Carry a copy with you at all times.

  • Leave your valuables at home or locked up in a hotel safe. Flashy jewelry and expensive electronics are best left behind, especially in more urban areas of Lisbon and the Algarve.

  • Leave a copy of your itinerary with someone at home in case of emergencies.

  • Notify the American Embassy of your plans so they can easily find you if there is an emergency back home or if there are important alerts for tourists of Portugal.

  • Swim only under green flags on the beaches. A recent drowning of British vacationers has made international news, so it is important to understand that the warning flags on Portuguese beaches are not the same as those in the U.S. Yellow flags indicate a no-swim zone, but you may enter the water at the edges. A red flag signals extremely dangerous conditions--stay away.

  • Stay only in well-lit areas when in downtown Lisbon after dark. Most cities have petty crime problems, so it's always best to observe common sense in order to stay safe anywhere in the world.

Tips & Warnings

  • Though Portugal's water is considered safe to drink, it's always best to stick to bottled waters when you travel since your system may not be used to the naturally occurring bacteria that is present in all tap water.
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