Portugal may be a small country compared to its way bigger West European neighbours but make no mistake about the Portuguese. They are certainly not to be underestimated. Be it their long-standing maritime history, daring zeal for adventure and braving adversities, or preserving their traditional recipes and family values, the Portuguese take great pride in preserving their cultural heritage.
And while there is a lot that is quite well known about Portuguese culture, there is also much that is not so widely known or understood about their cultural traditions and customs.
We decided to dig deeper and have uncovered for you some very interesting and lesser known facts about Portuguese culture and traditions that may surprise you. They will also tell you what to expect when you visit this fascinating South West European country. Knowing these fun facts can be of great use when you visit Portugal to not appear ignorant and avoid any faux pas so that you conduct yourself in a polite and socially acceptable manner.
The centuries-old Portuguese language has crossed many international boundaries to be widely spoken in many countries even today. However it is indeed rare and a matter of great pride that the official language of one country is also adopted as the official language by no less than eight other countries. Portuguese is the official language of nine countries including Portugal - Brazil, Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde, Principe, Sao Tome, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea Bissau.
With a long North Atlantic Ocean coastline it is no surprise that saltwater fish is an important part of the food culture of Portugal. A lot of cod fish in particular is caught off the shores of Portugal making cod a popular and key ingredient in Portuguese cuisine. So much so that salted cod or bacalhau along with grilled sardines is considered the national dish of Portugal.
Talking of food, did you know that port wine is the national drink of Portugal?
The red and green flag of Portugal with a shield in the centre has been designed by national level artists. The colours and the shield is representative of Portugal’s conquest-strewn past. Green stands for hope while red is symbolic of the bloodshed during these conquests.
It is not for nothing that Portugal is also sometimes called by the nickname “country of tiles”. In fact there is a National Tile Museum in Lisbon that documents the fascinating history of the Portuguese love for decorating their walls and floors with beautiful tiles over centuries. Do drop in for a visit to this special museum when you make a trip to Portugal. It will be well worth your time.
In Portugal ubiquitous cafes play an important role in the lives of the people. For the Portuguese going to a cafe is not about going to grab a quick bite or only a day time affair. The cafe is a community hub of activity from early morning till late night.
Being culturally well informed about the place you intend to visit is an important trip preparation that any travel enthusiast should do. Check out our travel guide to Portugal to find out more about the country, best season to visit, top things to see and do and more such travel tips so that you can plan your visit accordingly.
Even when moving about in a largely safe European country such as Portugal, one should always remain alert and aware of one’s surroundings and keep a watch on one’s belongings. Remember to get travel insurance before you set out to enjoy your dream holiday to Portugal. Your travel insurance policy will be an important safeguard to cover you financially in case of a mishap such as a theft, pickpocket, an accident or sudden illness or even in the event that your trip itself is cancelled. Buying travel insurance is absolutely essential to secure your international trip so make sure you don’t leave home without it. While in Portugal make sure that you don’t miss out on savouring authentic Portuguese dishes.