Last Updated on March 1, 2023 by Maryam Siddiqui
So what are the Portuguese people like? This is a question often asked by many individuals considering immigrating to Portugal. First off, Portugal is an amazing country, so many expats choose to live the twilight years of their lives in Portugal.
So how easy is it to fit in with the people? Well, to answer this question, you will need to know the Portuguese way of life. This article will bring to the fore all you need to know about the Portuguese people and give you insights on how to best fit in as an expat in Portugal. Tag along to find out more.
What are Portuguese people like?
To begin, Portugal has a population of more than 11 million people, according to the most recent census. However, out of the millions of residents, over 60% of the population lives in the coastal fourth of the nation. Major cities, for instance, Lisbon and Porto, harbor large populations.
It is no news that over 80% of the population identifies as Roman Catholics, despite the fact that only a small percentage attends mass regularly. Other religions do enjoy the freedom of worship as well.
Let’s face it; it is never easy to describe a national character; however, the Portuguese people are known to be kind and accommodating even to strangers.
It is not strange to find people going out of their way in Portugal just to help out a stranger.
Understand the Portuguese culture
If you’re relocating to a new country, understanding the local culture is something you should do before you officially move here. It’s important to respect and accept things that are a norm in the new country, in this case, Portugal.
And, of course, you are free to practice your own traditions and values. The Portuguese will really appreciate the co-existence of both cultures. So let’s tell you a bit more about the locals.
The Portuguese people do identify as Roman Catholics, and many of them are baptized and also get married in churches.
Portuguese, especially those in the rural, are quite superstitious. This is a result of intertwining the modern Roman catholic beliefs and pre-catholic beliefs. Some of the common superstitious beliefs include the phases of the moon and the evil eye.
One fundamental pillar of Portuguese culture is the family unit. Portuguese people really hold close and extended family ties dearly. And that’s how the concept of Sunday lunches has come into being!
It is, therefore, normal to find people living in close proximity to their parents and even grandparents.
For the Portuguese people, greetings are not complete without a kiss on both cheeks, starting from the right to the left or exchanging handshakes. This is a common practice everywhere you go in Portugal, whether rural or urban.
Once you are in Portugal, you will realize how much Portuguese people love dining in cafes. Right from early in the morning to late evening, you will find the Portuguese enjoying coffee at their local restaurants. Once you get into the culture, you will always find an excuse to grab a cup of coffee at any time.
The Portuguese are proud of their history
The Portuguese people are proud advocates of not only their culture but also their history. A good example of this is the fact that ancient practices and beliefs are kept alive and are transferred down generations.
You will find recipes that date back several decades or centuries used in the present day. While Portugal might be small, the residents really love their country. If you ask any of them, there is no city more beautiful than Lisbon.
Soccer is the National Passion
When it comes to sports, the love between the Portuguese people and soccer is unbreakable. In fact, soccer is the oldest sport in Portugal. The first soccer team, Boavista, was founded back in 1903.
The largest rival clubs right now in soccer are Sporting Lisbon and Benfica, but there are plenty of other football clubs in the country. Soccer doesn’t stop at the club level in Portugal; they have a strong national soccer team that is ranked 8 in the world according to FIFA ranking 2021.
It is common to find families and friends going to watch football matches in stadiums or go to a common friend’s house and watch the game from there; that is how they love soccer.
When the national team plays, there is a peculiar wave of national celebrations that you won’t miss. The celebrations get even bigger when the national team wins.
Being late is okay
If you are used to a fast-paced life, then you will feel like Portugal has more than 24 hours a day. The people have no hurry whatsoever; in fact, they believe that nothing is so important that it must be handled right now.
Getting late is one unique attribute of the Portuguese that is not shared by any other country in Europe. This slow-paced life is what attracts expats who are tired of constantly being under pressure to deliver a lot as soon as possible. This slow-moving lifestyle might just be the break you need in your life.
It really helps you to start appreciating life and each moment of the day with full consciousness. Working every day isn’t fun, but the Portuguese somehow make it to be.
Once you start to interact with more and more Portuguese people, you will soon realize that there’s so much happiness in the absolutely mundane tasks you’d be doing every day.
Family values matter
Similar to other southern people, the Portuguese don’t cherish anything more than sharing family reunions. A family Sunday lunch is a common practice in the country.
Every Sunday, each family gathers with children, parents, and grandparents, or even friends, to cook up a delish meal at home. Portuguese people love to make use of the fresh produce they buy every week from farmer’s markets. And the meals are a great way for everyone to connect with and update each other about their lives.
We take great pride in our family values and try to be there for one another as much as possible. Families are close-knit, and we try to spread this love among neighbors and friends nearby.
Also, during the weekdays, families love to have dinner together at the same time. The close-knit families in Portugal serve as a support system whenever needed.
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How do the Portuguese people receive strangers?
Portuguese people are great hosts, to say the least. This is especially true for grannies and mothers who go out of their way to make their guests comfortable.
If you are invited to a Portuguese home, that means you get to witness an elaborate preparation of a home-cooked meal and also the decoration of the house. The main goal is always to give their guest the best experience possible.
In a Portuguese home, there is always more than enough food. They are extremely nice, and questions like, “ Have you had enough?” or “Do you need anything else?” are common and frequent. With the delicious cuisine in front of you, we guarantee you’ll always be hungry for more!
As a guest, whenever you are invited for lunch, it is common practice to bring something for the family, for instance, flowers or a bottle of wine.
- You may also like to read our article: A New Forever Home: Are Immigrants Welcome In Portugal?
Do the Portuguese people speak English?
The Portuguese people know very well that any other country does not speak their language within Europe. Also, since the wealth of Portugal is largely run on tourism, most people strive to learn foreign languages to make communication easier.
Schools in Portugal have made it mandatory to learn two different languages, and English is compulsory. The older generation speaks French since it was the first language that was taught. Generally, Portuguese people will use whatever they can to make communication possible, even with a foreigner.
The newer generation is much more likely to be fluent in English. And young expat children face no difficulty in continuing to learn English because of all the International Schools in Lisbon, Porto, Algarve, and other cities.
Are Portuguese people modern?
Absolutely! The western type of dressing is common in Portugal, and most individuals in cities dress well.
However, traditional attires like black shawls for women and berets for men are also common in rural areas. Generally, western influence exists in the country, but the extent of the influence is dependent on a particular region.
With that being said, you are free to dress however you wish; no one will judge you for it.
How can an expat fit in while living in Portugal?
Fitting in anywhere is often hard; however, with a few pointers and several tricks up your sleeve, you will integrate into society and communities in no time. These are just but a few:
Try to learn to speak Portuguese
While some Portuguese natives may understand your language, it is encouraged for you to understand the language that is commonly spoken. Remember, it is only through communication that genuine connections are born.
So as an expat, making an effort to learn to speak Portuguese will be in your best interest. You don’t have to be fluent, but understanding the basics will help you a great deal.
Have an open mind and smile
First off, you have to know that integrating into a different community and country you are not used to can be difficult.
However, having an open mind will allow you to be receptive to the challenges that you will encounter and understand that is part of the process. Remember, a smile is a gesture of good intentions and positive energy.
Portuguese people are generally full of positive vibes, so you’ll see smiles all around. Even when walking down the street, try to smile at people you come across; some locals won’t shy away from wishing you Bom Dia every now and then either!
Remember cultural differences are normal
Understanding that different places have different cultural beliefs will allow you to get into society with an open mind. Prepare, and gather information about Portugal and the specific town you want to go to. You will get an insight into what to expect even before you get there.
The most Internationally famous Portuguese people
Portugal is home to some of the very famous people that you probably have heard of before. Right from soccer personalities to great writers of today and even the older generation.
Go through the following names, and you might realize you know more famous Portuguese people than you thought.
- Christiano Ronaldo
- Jose Mourinho
- Henry the navigator
- Vasco da Gama
- Antonio Guterres
- Amalia Rodriguez
Are you ready to live in Portugal?
Portugal is a great country, right from the weather, food, and even the way of life. However, it will be a disservice to mention all the good things about the country and fail to talk about the people.
Portuguese people are what make Portugal a great place to live. They are generous and welcoming even to foreigners. Join our Facebook Group – All about Portugal for Expats and ask expats how helpful the locals have been in their personal experiences.
Whenever you’re ready, Viv Europe would love to help you safely relocate to any city of your choice in Portugal. Contact us and book a consultation to decide what fits your demands and budget!