Lisbon Travel Guide

Health & Safety

Lisbon is generally safe but use common sense precautions, especially at train stations and on public transport.

Some areas are best avoided late at night because of the risk of mugging: Bairro Alto, the alleys, Cais do Sodre. Some night clubs in Lisboa have a poor reputation.

Crime

According to Eurostat, the overall crime rate and in particular robberies are on the rise in Portugal.

Some areas on the outskirts of Lisbon are becoming more dangerous, but it is unlikely the average tourist will visit these areas. The most common crime against tourists is pickpocketing and theft from rental cars or on public transport. The metro carriages can become crowded and opportune for pickpockets but simple precautions are enough to maintain your safety while travelling on them.

There are some episodes of violent crimes (i.e. robberies) and some drug related crimes in places such as Bairro Alto and Santos, especially at night. Chances are you'll be approached at least a few times by certain types offering 'hash' or 'chocolate', especially in the downtown area on and around Rua Augusta. If you are of fair complexion or obviously a tourist you are more likely to be approached. Also, due to soaring house prices, the "Baixa" area (encompassing Rua Augusta, Terreiro do Paço, etc.) is not inhabited by a lot of people - as soon as the shops and offices close at night, the area sometimes becomes fair ground for muggers - caution is needed in back streets, and walking alone is not advised unless you know the area well. It's also encouraged to be wary of the Intendente-Martim Moniz area. Intendente is a well known area for prostitution and drug trafficking, and even though the situation has changed in the past couple of years (police now regularly patrol the area), it is still problematic. Martim Moniz is also notorious, at night the area occupied by shifty crowds that more often than not will cause some trouble. During the day, however, Martim-Moniz is quite safe and pleasant.

Criminals in Lisbon are very quick and witty and think of scams about how to get money from you (like pretending that they need to "borrow" money from you promising to pay you back in a few hours). In cases they might work in pairs, one offers drugs, while a second approaches you and the first pretending to be a cop, and asking you to pay a "fine" if you don't want to go to jail. Just walk away and avoid any interaction from the first moment, if you are approached. Remember that Lisbon is a big city and is very different from the rest of Portugal. Young tourists should be especially advised as they will likely be approached by many people especially near the Chiado Plaza. A firm 'no thank-you' or "não, obrigado", if you're a male; "não, obrigada", if you're female should be enough to deter them.

Also be careful with bank machines in the city center. Groups of adolescents occasionally stay close to the multibanco and wait until you have entered your pin. They then force you away from the machine and withdraw the maximum amount from the machine (€200 maximum per withdrawal; however, two withdrawals of €200 per day per bank card are allowed). Try to withdraw money earlier in the day and try to avoid some of the train stations late at night, especially Cais do Sodre station.

Also, if you are driving a car, you should be on the lookout for one of Lisbon's greatest plagues: "arrumadores" ("ushers"). These are drug addicts, petty thiefs or homeless people who stand near vacant car parking spaces and "help" you to park your car even though no help is obviously needed. As soon as you step out of the vehicle, the "arrumador" will try to extort money from you as payment for the "service". They might also pretend to be "official" parking space guards or security and promise to keep an eye on your car - obviously they will leave as soon as you give them money and walk away. If you ignore them or don't pay them, there is a slight risk of having your car robbed or damaged (scratched, windows broken, etc.).

Although "arrumadores" are not excessively dangerous, caution is always needed: many have been known to use this scam to attack or rob people, and instances of car jacking have been reported, specially when unescorted female drivers are concerned. Generally, you should always avoid "arrumadores" and simply look for another parking space (preferably in an area where more people are around) or just park in a private parking lot, which is a bit more expensive but a sure way to avoid this hassle.

Portugal has two main police forces - the Republican National Guard (GNR) and the Public Security Police (PSP). Both can be contacted, but the PSP is the main urban police force.

Walking and Driving

Lisbon has one of the highest rates of car accidents in the European Union, so be extra careful when crossing the streets. Drivers don't usually respect pedestrian crossings unless there is a red light for them to stop.

Driving can be tricky without a GPS system as there is poor signalling in the streets. Drivers overall are not too aggressive compared to other European capitals, although this is disputed by (mostly Spanish) tourists.

In case of Emergency

Ambulance, fire brigade, police: call 112.

Same number is used with both land line and mobile phone. The number works on any mobile phone, whether it is keylocked or not and with or without SIM card.

source: Wikivoyage

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