A Quick Guide to Portuguese Culture
23rd December 2015
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We’re quite keen holiday makers here in the UK, choosing to travel to many different destinations each year.  Some of us choose to go outside of Europe, visiting places such as India, Africa, Thailand or Australia.  Others of us enjoy somewhere a little more local, even remaining in the UK for our holiday.  Whilst Spain is incredibly popular, Portugal, especially the Algarve is a pretty desirable destination for many too. 

Whether we’re planning a holiday to Portugal or have planned to spend time in the company of Portuguese friends and colleagues, it is always a positive asset and very polite to know and have the ability to reflect some of their culture.  Here’s a quick guide to Portuguese culture.

Greetings – In formal situations in Portugal, whether this be a business meeting or social occasion with those you haven’t met before it’s custom to shake hands with males, females and older children, looking them in the eye as you do so.  With those you know better in a social situation, men great each other with a hug, patting each other on the back.  Women kiss each other on both cheeks starting from the right cheek.

Body Language – The Portuguese do not use a lot of gestures, it’s therefore preferable to minimise your body movement, especially restricting pointing gestures, as these could be considered as being a little rude and you’ll create the wrong impression.

Personal Space – In formal situations or when you don’t know those around you so well, it’s better to keep some space between you, around arms length.  When people are more familiar with you in Portugal, you will find that they do share slight touching gestures, say a slight tap on the arm to enhance a point they are making within a conversation etc.  You will see men and women link arms and people kiss in public.  You will see public displays of affection, which are considered to be the norm with obvious limits.

Giving Gifts – If you’ve been invited for dinner by the Portuguese, it is appropriate to take along a gift of either flowers or good quality chocolates.  Avoid taking wine unless you know what the host prefers to drink.  If you take flowers as a gift, ensure that they are not red, as these are used as a gesture for love, you should also ensure that you count the number of flowers within the bouquet or bunch, because if there’s thirteen, this will be seen as unlucky.  If you receive a gift it is preferred that you open it in front of the person who has given it to you; this is considered polite.

Dining Etiquette – In formal situations, you should remain standing at the table until you’re invited to be seated.  In less formal or social situations, being seated is fine.  It’s polite to wait until the host has said ‘bon appetit’ before you all start eating.  However, if you were visiting a restaurant, these guidelines to dining would not necessarily apply.


Whilst we’re away and immediately after our return we enjoy that holiday feeling and strive to hold onto it.  So, if we’ve enjoyed a fabulous holiday in Portugal, how do we relive the memories? Well, this can be done right here in Corby by booking a fantastic meal at A Tasca for great authentic tastes in a Portuguese restaurant.



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