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Portuguese Culture


Understanding Portugal's dynamic culture will help you get more from your new world adventure. The Portuguese are charming, courteous and good-humored people who know how to enjoy themselves. Nevertheless, you may find the following tips helpful:

  • The Portuguese have an innate sense of politeness and respect for others. They still retain many polite forms of address, including "o senhor" (male) or "a senhora" (female) where English uses "you";
  • Informal cheek-kisses are used between men and women, and women and women in most social situations. In formal and business situations a handshake is more appropriate;
  • Portuguese people stand close to one another and physical contact is also more common; a gentle gripping of the arm or a hand on the shoulder indicates warmth and trust, nothing untoward. 
  • The culture is fairly relaxed about public behavior and not easily upset when "rules" are broken;
  • Try to be punctual for meetings and appointments but don't be surprised if this is not reciprocated. If you are kept waiting for a few minutes, do not be offended;
  • The family is a revered institution; it is an important factor in many people's lives and children are often included in social occasions. If you do receive an invitation to a Portuguese home, take flowers or chocolates and something for the children, whom you will almost certainly meet;
  • Eating in Portugal is a serious business and a great pleasure. Lunch is rarely sacrificed. Mealtimes tend to be later than in northern Europe with lunch served from 1:00 pm until 3:00 pm and dinner between 8:00 pm and 11:00 pm;
  • In Lisbon, many people speak English and are happy to do so. Nevertheless, try to take a Portuguese language course, as the locals will appreciate your effort to speak Portuguese. A simple "Bom dia" (good morning) can open many doors;
  • Portuguese men and women mix easily together and educated women are very independent. It is a very safe country for women but common sense still applies, such as keeping to well-lit public areas after dark.


  Ten Things You Never Knew About Portugal

 26 million Americans sleep on Portuguese sheets.


Portugal is building one of Europe's largest solar power stations.


Norway, Finland and Denmark's rail networks are managed by Portuguese-designed software.


The King of Spain and the former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair wear Portuguese menswear label Vicri.


The Portuguese drink 22 million expressos or "bicas" per day.


Outside Lisbon, the biggest single community of Portuguese is found in Paris.


There are around 200 million Portuguese speakers worldwide.


Portugal is home to the Iberian lynx, the world's most endangered big cat


Cork for wine bottles is only produced in Portugal.


 The bulletproof shoe was invented in Portugal.