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Living in Portugal can change your life in many ways – for the better! Discover the fascinating Portuguese habits I adopted after moving here.

Last Updated on February 18, 2024 by Maryam Siddiqui

There really is something magical about living in Portugal; it changes your mind. You find yourself part of this entirely new culture, doing things you never got the chance to explore. It’s safe to say that the decision to move has been an exciting everlasting ride. What I refer to as the best part – here are some fascinating Portuguese habits I adopted while living here!

Portuguese people genuinely like to enjoy life for what it is, whether that means enjoying a long dinner with friends or valuing diversity. Some things are unique to Portuguese culture, like how being late is considered a charm! Don’t believe me? Keep reading to know more.

10 Portuguese habits I adopted living in Portugal

While I’ve drastically changed how I used to spend my days before moving to this country, there are 10 striking Portuguese habits I adopted over time. Take a look at what I mean:

1. Saying bom dia to everyone

In case you didn’t know, people here spend a lot of time outside of their homes.

I mean a LOT

As an introvert who loved curling up in a cozy spot in my room, it was confusing to see so many people sitting at cafés and parks throughout the day. But when you’re in love with the Portuguese sun, you can’t help but spend some time soaking up the golden sunshine! 

Since people are often around company, greeting strangers is also common. Whether you’re walking down the street or grabbing a quick coffee – Portuguese people sure know how to make someone’s day. They don’t judge how close an acquaintance you are; they’re friendly and will most likely greet you “bom dia” (good morning) with a smile on their face.

Our article on Learning Portuguese is a delightful read to know more common words before you move here. The locals will love you for trying even if you’re not great at it; don’t be shy. 

2. Drinking coffee after every meal

Portuguese people take their lunch and dinners very seriously – but more on that later!

I’ve grown to love drinking coffee, not just because of how delicious it tastes, but the entire concept around it. Out of all the Portuguese habits I adopted, treating each meal as an event is the one that’s brought me the most joy. 

The Portuguese drink an espresso coffee after every meal

It’s very common to ask for “um café” (a coffee) after finishing your meal. I’m still not sure if it’s the perfect blend of Arabica and Robusta beans that warms my soul or the quality time I get to spend with my friends! 

Either way, it’s great to keep the conversation going at the table and bring people together – something that the world could definitely use some more of. At times when I feel homesick, this is exactly what makes me feel like I made the right decision to move to Portugal. 

3. Taking a 2-hour lunch break daily

As I just mentioned above, the Portuguese people love spending quality time with people they adore. And while lunch breaks aren’t meant to be too long, you’ll frequently find yourself taking a 2-hour lunch break with people around you. 

I have to be honest; lunch breaks for me previously meant grabbing a quick sandwich with a drink and heading back to work. But that’s not how the Portuguese like to live. They prefer to spend their lunch breaks recharging and relaxing – this is one Portuguese habit I think everyone should adopt! 

I can now peacefully unwind and recharge mid-day, especially during weekdays, while sipping on my coffee and laughing with friends I cherish. It’s particularly beneficial to increase concentration and productivity when you resume working after the break. 

Portugal’s slow pace of life might seem different initially, as it was for me. But you start to appreciate it once you realize it helps you slow down and enjoy every moment. 

4. Conflict is avoidable – always

By now, you can probably tell that the culture is laid back and focuses on appreciating life. But being around people is bound to create some disagreements, right? 

I was pleasantly surprised to know that the Portuguese hardly ever get into conflict. Even if they do, it’s solved through calm conversations and effective communication. 

They’re simple people – they talk, smile, and complain a little, but not as much as the French or German. A bit of tiny, harmless complaining never hurt anyone. The typical communication style is direct and polite. I’ve learned that they’re passionate people who show a lot of emotions while communicating, but it hardly ever means they’re angry or displeased. 

5. Being on time is overrated

This has got to be my favorite one! 

I’ve always been somebody who wasn’t a fan of hustling all the while, chasing after the clock to reach places on time – constantly worrying about making a wrong impression by being late. It came as a shocker when I saw how Portuguese culture has a slow-paced life that truly values enjoying every moment you spend daily!

Being late to parties is a charm in Portugal. Parties rarely start at the time they’re scheduled, so you’ll never have to rush to get ready after work to reach on time. You’re allowed to take a deep breath of fresh sea breeze, get ready at your own pace, and then arrive at parties 15 to 30 minutes later – no one’s going to mind. 

With that being said, it’s nice to respect people’s time, so try not to be more than 30 minutes late, especially if it’s a weekday. No one really wants to end a good party early, so it’s best to make the most of it. 

6. Family time is valuable – and so is Sunday lunch

As an expat in Portugal, I initially had my set of doubts about moving here. After all, it’s normal, right? 

It’s always scary to leave your homeland and live independently elsewhere. However, I’ve felt grateful for the people around me every single day.  

Sunday family lunch in a tradition in Portugal

The hospitality I experience is so heartwarming, and that’s just how Portuguese people are! I was lucky enough to be welcomed into a Portuguese family who live next to me. They’ve taught me more about Portuguese culture than I could ever learn on my own. For example, the importance and value of family time. 

A nice gesture is to bring flowers, chocolates, or candy for your hosts – or even extend a return invitation for the next lunch.

All this time has passed, but they love to spend time together at least once a week, which is usually the Sunday family lunch. Portugal has truly felt like a home away from home.

7. Being proud of your homeland from far away

Moving to Portugal in no way means abandoning your true identity. You can be far from your homeland, but you never really leave it. While the Portuguese are very proud of their own culture, they understand what it means to be an immigrant. 

The Portuguese themselves are a nation of immigrants, so they’re able to empathize with how important it is to keep your culture alive. Although sometimes it does get tough to preserve your homeland’s culture in a completely different country, that doesn’t mean you’re less nationalistic. 

I was able to find my expat community here – and so can you!

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8. A kiss on each cheek

This is one of those Portuguese habits I adopted quite later on in my journey of being an expat simply because I was unaware of how kind and welcoming people are. 

Remember the start of this article when I talked about greeting people on the streets with bom dia? Embracing people close to you with a kiss on each cheek is also an ordinary practice. 

Regardless of the other person’s gender, you’ll often see a woman greet others hello and goodbye in this way. It’s not unusual for men to do the same, but they do tend to keep their distance from each other. Simple hugs are relatively more shared between them.

9. Cooking is always on your mind

I hope you haven’t forgotten what I said about Portuguese people taking their lunch and dinners very seriously! I’ve never loved cooking as much as this before. Maybe it’s the delicate fresh produce straight out of the farmer’s market, or perhaps the sense of community the people around me have made me feel. 

During a meal, the Portuguese usually plan what to cook next and who to have it with. Despite spending time outside at cafés and parks, they don’t eat out as much as the Spanish or Americans. Fast food is not a widespread concept, but cooking a hearty meal is. In fact, everyone knows how to cook at least one dish very well – probably with codfish. 

Codfish is a Portuguese favorite and an important part of the cuisine. Usually served with potatoes and greens – it’s a delicacy you can’t resist.

10. Welcoming others is a cultural habit

The last one in my list of Portuguese habits I adopted is practicing being kinder and more welcoming. Not all cultures value this equally, and I’m glad to be living around people who do.  

Portuguese habits I adopted after moving to Portugal

Being a kind and welcoming person – like the typical Portuguese – helps you feel lighter and happier. It’s similar to the famous saying, “If you do good, good will come to you”. Again, I was unaware of how ordinary it would be to welcome others with an open hand. 

However, I’ve experienced the robust power of kindness along the way.

Is Portugal a perfect place to live in?

I like to believe that there’s beauty in imperfection. 

Was my home country a perfect place to live in? Nope

Is Portugal a perfect place to live in? Nope.

Do I still love both of these places with all my heart? Absolutely! 

You see, there’s no such thing as “a perfect place”. But, Portugal’s quality of life compensates for all the downsides you’ll encounter. If I speak for myself, the welcoming culture, slow pace of life, stunning beaches, and tranquility I get to experience are precious to me. 

In Portugal, I’ve found something I don’t want to let go of. For me, that’s the closest to a perfect life I’ll ever achieve.

Is it worth moving to Portugal?

The answer is very subjective to every individual’s preferences. Each answer is different, just as each experience is unique. Most of our team at Viv Europe agrees that moving to Portugal is an excellent decision – one we took ourselves, and wouldn’t take back! What better way to move to Portugal than talking to a team of professionals who chose the same life for themselves? 

We’re not the only ones; you’ll find 10,000+ Portugal enthusiasts from around the world on our Facebook Group – All About Portugal For Expats talking about their experiences. Amongst these expats, we’ve helped numerous of them with their relocation process.

Still trying to figure out where to start? Book a consultation with us to start your own journey today! Viv Europe is here to take care of your needs, whether that means helping with the visa application, finding a property, or enrolling in school. See you soon!

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