Porto is a safe city to visit and has very few of the social problems associated with a city of its size. Most tourists will not experience any issues or problems while on holiday to Porto or touring through the north of Portugal. The very small portion of visitors who experience any type of crime will be from opportunity thefts, which can be prevented by some very simple precautions and actions:
• Always place wallets safely in bags or deep in pockets.
• Do not “flash cash” or other expensive items.
• Only visit cash machines and ATMS during the day.
• Do not wear excessively expensive jewelery while walking around the city.
• Do not leave expensive or potentially expensive items visible in cars.
• While in busy areas (eg metro) be aware of your wallet and people around you.
The Ribeira river front at early evening
It is sad that many of these opportunist thieves are not Portuguese and travel to Portugal from less well-off European countries. As a destination Porto is significantly safer than the major tourist cities of Spain (eg Barcelona and Madrid) and has less recorded tourist thefts and crime than Lisbon, in part due to the large migrant and poorer population of Lisbon. It should be noted that Porto and Lisbon has a low crime rate when compared to other Western Europe capital cities and most of Lisbon’s crime is in areas where visitors would never think about going to.
The centre of the Porto is safe to walk around at night but always stay to well-lit areas and avoid dark cut through or alleys. Being severely intoxicated by alcohol does dramatically increase the risk of petty theft and if a little worse for-wear (often from Port tasting tours) take a taxi home. All hotels and bars will be happy to order a taxi. Portuguese police take a very relaxed approach to most situations and are surprisingly tolerant to tourist drunkenness but when involved in a situation can be very heavy handed. Portugal deals with drug offenses as a health issue and not a criminal issue. This very liberal view means that drugs are quiet openly sold on the street and expect dealers to come up to you selling drugs under the pretense of selling sun glasses.