Travel Scams In Portugal: Know Before You Go

Travel Scams In Portugal include The Rosemary Scam, The Slip-and-fall Scam, The Petition Scam, Overcharging in Restaurants, Fake Tickets and Tours, The Broken Taxi Meter, and so on.

This guide aims to shed light on various Travel Scams In Portugal and equip you with the knowledge to protect yourself and make the most of your visit.


Portugal, a fantastic country in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Bordered by Spain to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Portugal is a diverse and captivating destination.

From charming coastal cities to the beautiful hills of the interior, Portugal offers a mix of history, modern experiences, and stunning scenery.

Nevertheless, Portugal is an incredible destination where tradition, modern life, and natural wonders come together seamlessly.

About Travel Scams In Portugal
Image Credit: @nuno_lopes,

Stay Safe In Portugal: A Simple Guide To Avoiding Travel Scams In Portugal

The Rosemary Scam:

Imagine this: as you stroll through the charming streets of Lisbon, a seemingly friendly person hands you a sprig of rosemary, offering to tell your fortune. Before you know it, you get roped into a makeshift fortune-telling session, and when it concludes, you feel pressured to pay up. Hence, to avoid this scam, firmly decline the rosemary, keep moving, and don't engage.

The Slip-and-fall Scam:

This scam is especially common on public transportation. It involves someone pretending to fall or collide with you, using the distraction to make physical contact and snatch your belongings. Thus, be careful in crowded areas and check your belongings right away if such an incident happens. Also, report any suspicious behavior to authorities.

The Petition Scam:

Approached by individuals with petitions to sign? Consider carefully before putting pen to paper. This distraction tactic is often a trick to pick your pockets while you're focused on the petition. So, politely decline and keep moving.

Overcharging in Restaurants:

Some establishments may lure tourists with reasonable menu prices displayed outside, only to present a different, inflated menu when the bill arrives. Research and read reviews before dining, and if prices seem exorbitant, question the discrepancy or choose a different spot.

Fake Tickets and Tours:

Be cautious when purchasing tickets from street vendors, as they may sell invalid or fake tickets. Also, opt for reputable vendors or buy tickets directly from official sources to ensure validity.

The Broken Taxi Meter:

Before starting your taxi journey, ensure the meter is running. Some unscrupulous drivers may claim the meter is broken and overcharge you at the end of the ride. If the meter seems faulty, exit the taxi and find another one.

"Helpful" Strangers:

Beware of overly helpful strangers, especially in crowded areas. While some may genuinely offer assistance, others might have ulterior motives. Meanwhile, keep your belongings secure as well as maintain situational awareness.

Distraction Thefts in Crowded Places:

Crowded tourist spots, public transportation, and popular events are prime locations for pickpockets. Therefore, stay vigilant and secure your belongings. Henceforth, avoid displaying valuable items openly.

The Fake Police Scam:

Scammers posing as police officers might come up to you, claiming they need to check your belongings for counterfeit money or other illegal items. Consequently, always ask for official identification, and if in doubt, go to the nearest police station.

ATM Skimming:

When withdrawing money from ATMs, be vigilant for any suspicious devices attached to the machine. Also, don't forget to cover your PIN and use ATMs in well-lit, secure locations.

"Closed" Attractions:

A scam involves individuals telling you that the attraction you want to visit is closed. Hence, ignore such claims, verify the information independently, and consult official sources.

The "Helpful" Photographer:

Be cautious when accepting help from strangers offering to take your photo, especially if they insist on using their own equipment. They might disappear with your camera or demand payment for their services.

The "Found" Ring:

A common scam involves someone claiming to find a valuable ring and offering to sell it to you at a discounted price. So, avoid engaging in such transactions, as the ring is likely worthless.

Fake Police Fines:

Scammers may pose as police officers and claim you committed a minor infraction, demanding an on-the-spot fine. Request identification and inform them you will pay any fines at the local police station.

The Beach Distraction:

While you're enjoying the sun and surf, someone might distract you by creating a commotion or asking for help. Meanwhile, an accomplice may snatch your belongings. Therefore, stay alert and keep an eye on your belongings.

The "Free" Bracelet:

Street vendors may come up to you, offering what seems like a free bracelet and then aggressively demanding payment. In such cases, politely decline any unsolicited items.

Fake Accommodation Scams:

Be cautious when booking accommodation online, and use reputable platforms. Scammers may create fake listings to lure unsuspecting travelers. Read reviews and verify the legitimacy of the property.

The Fake Police Report:

Be cautious if someone posing as a police officer approaches you, claiming there's an issue with your passport or visa. Never hand over your documents easily. Moreover, insist on verifying their identity with the local police to stay safe.

The Broken Rental Car:

Watch out for scammers who target tourists with rental cars. They may pretend there's a problem with the vehicle and demand payment for repairs. So, use reputable rental companies, carefully check the car, and also, document any damage it already has.

The Unofficial Guide:

Watch out for people who aren't official guides but offer to show you popular places. Stick with authorized tour operators to make sure it's a real and safe experience.

Some Additional Tips For Protecting Yourself From Travel Scams In Portugal

Utilize Anti-Theft Accessories:

Gear up with anti-theft accessories like money belts, slash-resistant bags, and RFID-blocking wallets for an added shield against pickpockets and electronic theft.

Stay Updated on Local Scams:

Stay in the loop about the latest travel advisories and prevalent scams in the area you're exploring. Online travel forums, local news sources, and official tourism websites can offer valuable insights into ongoing scams.

Stay Wary of Distractions:

Scammers frequently employ distraction tactics to divert your attention while an accomplice pilfers your possessions. Stay watchful in crowded places, and exercise caution if someone seems overly friendly or insistent.

Opt for Reputable Transportation Services:

When using transportation services, especially taxis, choose official and reputable providers. Also, steer clear of rides from non-licensed drivers who might charge too much or take advantage of unsuspecting tourists.

Secure Your Accommodations:

Choose accommodations from trusted sources, and be cautious when approached by individuals offering alternative lodging. Likewise, stick to reputable booking platforms, as well as double-check the legitimacy of any last-minute offers.

Exercise Caution with Wi-Fi Connections:

Public Wi-Fi networks can be insecure, with scammers setting up fake networks to access your personal information. Employ a virtual private network (VPN) when connecting to public Wi-Fi, and refrain from accessing sensitive data in shared spaces.

Double-Check Bills and Receipts:

Check your bills and receipts carefully, especially in restaurants and shops. Some places may try to overcharge tourists, so it's important to verify prices and the items listed.

Steer Clear of Street Gambling Games:

Street gambling games might seem tempting but are often scams designed to take your money. Stay away from games or activities where you feel pressured to bet money, as the odds are likely against you.

Keep Emergency Contacts Handy:

Keep a list of emergency contacts, including local authorities and your country's embassy or consulate. Having these contacts easily accessible can be incredibly helpful in case of issues or emergencies.

Trust Your Instincts:

If something feels off or too good to be true, trust your instincts. Scammers often rely on creating a sense of urgency or excitement, so take a moment to assess the situation before making decisions.

FAQs About Travel Scams in Portugal

Is Portugal safe for tourists?

Absolutely! Portugal is generally very safe for tourists. Though, it's crucial to stay alert, especially in busy areas where small crimes might happen.

What are the common Travel Scams In Portugal?

Look out for common scams like pickpocketing, distractions, and street gambling. Stay informed about these tricks and be cautious, especially in crowded places.

Is it safe to use public transportation to avoid Travel Scams In Portugal?

Yes, using public transportation is safe. Keep an eye on your belongings, especially in crowded spaces. Choose official taxis and reliable services for added safety.

Are there safety concerns about Travel Scams In Portugal, specific to Lisbon?

Lisbon, like any big city, has pickpocketing concerns. Stay vigilant, particularly on popular tram routes. Exercise caution in places like Baixa and major train stations.

What safety precautions should I take at the beach to save myself from Travel Scams In Portugal?

Always check beach flags; chequered means unsupervised, red signals an unsafe beach, and green means safe for swimming. Never leave valuables alone on the beach.

Are forest fires a concern in Portugal?

Yes, in hot summers, rural areas like Monchique face a risk of forest fires. Stay updated on fire alerts and follow safety guidelines in nature preserves.

Is it necessary to learn Portuguese for travel or prevent Travel Scams In Portugal?

While many locals speak English, learning basic Portuguese phrases is a plus. Locals appreciate it, and it can be handy in various situations like emergency and scams.

How can I protect myself from Travel Scams In Portugal specially in tourist areas?

Stay alert, use anti-theft accessories, and keep emergency contacts close. Steer clear of street gambling, be cautious with Wi-Fi, and trust your instincts.

Is it safe to drink tap water in Portugal?

Absolutely! Tap water in Portugal is safe. If you're concerned, use a filtered water bottle or take simple steps to avoid food and water issues.

What emergency numbers should I be aware of in Portugal?

For emergencies, dial 112. For forest fires, call 117, and for maritime police, dial 210 911 100. Keep essential contacts, including your embassy, handy in case of any issues.

Our Closing Statement On Travel Scams in Portugal

Portugal is indeed a fantastic destination. However, staying aware of potential scams and taking proactive measures will enhance your safety and overall enjoyment. While exploring this beautiful country, stay informed, trust your instincts, and travel with confidence.

Now that you know our final verdict for Travel Scams in Portugal, here’s what we suggest you do:

Check Comments:

To learn more about Travel Scams in Portugal, check the comments below. If there are no comments, use the points mentioned earlier to check it yourself or follow our “Travel Scams in Portugal” article as above.

Spread Word:

One of the best ways to help fellow travelers stay informed about Travel Scams in Portugal is by sharing this article through your social media networks. By doing so, you contribute to creating a community of well-informed travelers.

Report Scams:

If you want to report other scams, file complaints, or share reviews about different travel or tourist scams, please visit our “Report A Scam, File Complaint, Or Post Your Review” section. There, you can share your reviews or complaints regarding those specific companies or activities.

More About Travel Scams In Portugal

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Portugal is incredible, and your trip should be too! Stay informed, trust your instincts, and explore with confidence. Safe travels!

author avatar
Pooja Ghimire Author, Researcher
Hello, I'm Pooja Ghimire, the author, researcher, and editor of this website. Having encountered numerous scams in the past, I now use my experience to help others avoid them. With involvement in the online industry since 2013, I've gained substantial knowledge about online businesses and activities. For additional details about me, our team, and our work, visit our "About Us" page. You can follow me on Facebook Profile.

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