Portuguese Culture

Do's and Don'ts

Primary Author
Chara Scroope,


  • Consider how you dress and present yourself. Portuguese tend to dress modestly with a sense of quality and elegance. It is important to dress in a respectful manner, particularly when entering formal spaces such as a church. Casual attire (e.g. barefoot, beachwear) is inappropriate in public and can make one seem unsophisticated.
  • Similarly, it is important to speak respectfully and politely. Portuguese place high importance on being polite. Reciprocating this will be appreciated by your Portuguese counterpart.
  • Show respect for Catholicism and the Christian tradition. Portugal’s history is deeply connected to Christianity and being disrespectful may cause great offence.
  • Be compassionate and caring should your Portuguese counterpart share their experiences about their financial and job security. In the early years of the 21st century, Portugal experienced a dramatic improvement to the standard of living, higher incomes and reduced unemployment due to economic growth. However, the country was one of the hardest hit by the Euro-zone debt crisis that emerged in 2009. Various government measures were unable to halt the country’s economic meltdown. Today, many families are still recovering from these events.


  • Avoid comparing Portugal to Spain or assuming similarities between the two countries. Despite their close geographical proximity to one another, the two countries are quite distinct. Be particularly aware of their differences regarding language; a Portuguese person does not necessarily understand Spanish and vice versa.
  • Take care when talking about topics relating to the wars, politics and religion. While these subjects are not necessarily taboo, they are sensitive areas. Allow your counterpart to initiate and guide the conversation and be considerate in how you present your opinions.
  • Do not boast about yourself or exaggerate your achievements, status or wealth. Portuguese appreciate a sense of modesty.

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