Visit Portugal10 Things You Should Not Say to a Portuguese Person… Ever!

Temidayo Soyinka11 months ago

Ola Amigos! We wanted to share some important advice with you before you come to Portugal.

Today, we will be writing about things you should refrain from saying when you visit Portugal.

When visiting any country in the world there are topics or words which the locals find offensive and Portugal is no different. You may not be aware of these things so in order to avoid getting on the wrong side of a local, read our list and enjoy your visit.

10 things you should not say to the Portuguese – no matter what

1. Don’t speak Spanish to a Portuguese person

This is an absolute no-no!

Portuguese people speak Portuguese, which is an entirely different language from Spanish. Unless you are a Spaniard, don’t try speaking in Spanish to a Portuguese person, they find it somewhat offensive and don’t like to be confused with Spain.

It’s a long story.

It is better you make a terrible attempt to speak Portuguese or better still, speak English, as most people in Portugal have a basic understanding of English.

2. Do not talk bad about the national football team

Football is a religion in Portugal.

They defend the Portuguese national team passionately. Avoid saying negative things about their football, even if it might be true.

‘Ronaldo is always better than Messi.’ Don’t say otherwise. You get it, right?

Portugal national football team 2018

3. Be careful what you say to people on the streets

Don’t go around Portugal being fresh or implying sexual innuendos to people, especially women who you don’t know, as the Portuguese frown on this behaviour.

You may be comfortable saying “Hello Sweetie,” or “Hello Baby,” but the Portuguese aren’t used to this tone (especially in English) and it might land you in hot water. Portugal has made verbal sexual street harassment a crime!

4. Don’t talk about the Colonial war or the dictatorship

Especially the Colonial War and the dictatorship and especially with elderly Portuguese people.

Talking about this brings up memories from dark times in Portugal’s history which they would rather not talk about as the scars have still not healed for a lot of people.

5. Don’t mock the history of the Portuguese

The Portuguese people are immensely proud of their history so they don’t appreciate jokes about their history.

If you have a thing or two to say about it or you want to be a critic of their history, you should choose your words very carefully.

monument to discoveries Lisbon
The Monument to the Discoveries (“Padrão dos Descobrimentos”), Lisbon.

6. Don’t make jokes about Portugal belonging to Spain

It’s not a funny joke to the Portuguese to say that Portugal is a colony of Spain. They really have a long history with Spain and are quite happy they are separated.

7. Don’t say “The problem with Portugal is…”

Especially if you’re sitting in a café with your friends. If you are talking loudly about things you don’t like about Portugal or the Portuguese, you may be asked to politely go home!

Makes sense.

8. Do not say to a Portuguese person that their coffee is terrible

The Portuguese have a long love affair with coffee and are proud of their product. The espresso is part of their culture. They drink it morning, noon and night so you should probably just acquire a taste for it.

Or drink tea.

coffee Portugal

9. Don’t say you’ve seen all of Portugal just because you’ve been to Lisbon and the Algarve

The Portuguese believe every region of Portugal is unique and you can’t know Portugal just by visiting a few cities. It’s definitely worth it to explore just a little bit more and soak up the cultures and diversity.

10. Never say the Portuguese are lazy

So they may enjoy the sun and seem to stroll around as if they don’t have a care in the world. Ok, and maybe they have trouble keeping an appointment exactly on time but that doesn’t mean they are lazy, by any means.

The Portuguese are very hard working people despite the considerably lower wages paid in Portugal compared to other European countries. They are proud of their achievements and you can see that in many of their industries.

Say the right things and you’ll go far

cultural and social etiquette in portugal

So, if you want to hold on to your Portuguese friends and make some new ones, avoid saying these things we talked about here and you’ll fit right in.

Generally, the Portuguese are easy going, tolerant and very welcoming of visitors to Portugal. Just be decent and polite to them and they will treat you graciously with all the Portuguese hospitality they are known for.

Do you agree with our list? Do you have any others to share? Leave a comment below as we’d love to hear from you,

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Temidayo Soyinka

I’m a freelance writer, who’s very passionate about economics and everything that is related to business. I’m pursuing a Masters Degree in Management in Portugal, where I live. I love photography, traveling and experiencing new cultures.

Jeronimos Monastery Lisbon

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