A Social Etiquette Guide in Portugal


Every country has its perks and getting to know the local etiquette in advance is soooo important. That’s why we’ve put together this little guide to help your life a little easier around Lusitanian lands:)

Portuguese culture was greatly influenced by the Catholic Church and traditional Christian values which reflects in the contemporary etiquette in the country. Portuguese people are traditional and conservative and don’t easily accept innovation and radical changes – both in the community and family.

Portuguese greetings

It’s appropriate to shake hands with everyone present in formal situations; this applies to men, women, and older children. The handshake, whether at a social or business meeting, is accompanied by direct eye contact and the appropriate greeting. And it’s also done at the end of the meeting upon leaving. When greeting friends, men embrace each other, and women kiss both cheeks, starting with the right. Between women, you only shake hands on very formal occasions, and if you don’t know the person at all.


The Portuguese are usually very direct in their communication style. They will tell you the truth right away but in a polite manner. Communication tends to be more on the formal side when in public and a lot less in private.

Portuguese dress code

The Portuguese dress more conservatively, where women usually wear dresses, and men, jackets and sometimes, ties. Business etiquette dictates suits and ties or sports jackets and ties for men, and dresses, skirts, and jackets or trouser suits for women. As outdated as it seems, people are fashion conscious and believe that clothes indicate social standing and success.

What is the Rule for Gift-giving

When invited to a home for dinner, bring flowers, chocolates, or candy for the hostess. Avoid bringing wine unless you know which wines your hosts prefer. A return invitation to the hostess is appropriate. And, when you receive a gift, the Portuguese consider it polite to open the gift in front of them.

Etiquette Dining

If you are invited to dinner, arrive no more than 15 minutes after the stipulated time. Also, remain standing until invited to sit down, and always ask if there’s a specific seat for you. Table manners are continental; hold the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating. And eat only after the hostess says “Bom Apetite”.


Portuguese people take words very seriously, and for them, if they are committed to something, they’ll do whatever it takes to keep their word and they’ll expect the same, so always pay attention to what you say.

Portuguese people are kind and cordial and that’s one of the things we love about the country. What about you? Have you ever been in an awkward situation in Portugal due to etiquette? Let us know:)