Fitting in with the Portuguese people and their way of life doesn’t have to be hard. Here are a few ways you can easily get by in Portugal.

Last Updated on January 31, 2022 by Victor Queiroz

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 accomodating 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

Again, the Portuguese people do identify as Roman Catholics and many of them are baptized and also get married in churches. 

The 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. 

Portuguese people

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 the late evenings, 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 to 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 of delivering a lot as soon as possible. This slow-moving lifestyle might just be the break you need in your life.

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. 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. 

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. 

Portugal lifestyle is about being caring

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. 

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 their language is not spoken by any other country 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.

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.

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 of learning 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.

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, 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. Whenever you are ready to move to Portugal, we; Viv Europe would love to help you safely relocate to any city of your choice in Portugal.  Also, you may join the Facebook group ‘All about Portugal for Expats’ for more information about Portugal.

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