10 things you shouldn’t say to live a very happy life in Oporto

View of Oporto from the D. Luis I bridge / Wikimedia Commons
View of Oporto from the D. Luis I bridge / Wikimedia Commons
28 January 2019, Marilia Poiares

Starting a new life in a new country isn’t easy – learning a new language, customs and traditions can be difficult and we can all fall into faux pas, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time or place.

Since Oporto is one of the top destinations in Portugal and the tripeiros (Oporto locals) are very proud and set in their ways, we are here to help you make friends without any trouble. These are the 10 things you shouldn’t say to live a very happy life in Oporto, without offending the locals:

1. “You speak Spanish, right?”

It should be pretty clear that Spain and Portugal are two different countries with different languages but it's very easy to assume that Portuguese and Spanish are connected, especially since Portunhol (a Portuguese-Spanish hybrid) is spoken in some areas of the borders. Since Oporto is not on the border, some people might be annoyed by the fact that you just assume they speak Spanish – they are that proud of their language! So, to avoid trouble, when in doubt, assume they speak Portuguese.

2. “Wouldn’t you prefer to live in Lisbon?”

There’s something you need to know: there is a strong rivalry between the locals from Oporto and Lisbon that extends from cultural ways to football. Porto has a lot going on – it's a great city for art, culture, gastronomy, business, science… so, the idea that any other city in Portugal (especially Lisbon) is way better can be very insulting.

3. Assuming francesinha is the best dish in Oporto

We know, francesinha is delicious and a total must have if you are in Oporto. But, there is a lot more you don’t know about Oporto’s cuisine. Instead of asking a tripeiro about francesinha, ask them about their favourite dishes, the must have, the most traditional Portuguese dishes and you will be surprised by the incredible array of dishes from enchidos (different types of sausage-like meats), to bacalhau or the traditional tripas à moda do Porto.

4. Don’t ask for a bigger beer!

In Portugal a larger beer glass doesn’t mean a better beer and, if you want to camouflage yourself among the locals, order small draft beers, called fino, or a bottled one, specifying the bottle and its type.

5. Ordering a glass of Port wine with your dinner

This is a big no. Port is the pride and glory of the tripeiros but it is meant to be drank with dessert or on special occasions like holiday festivities. If you don’t want to horrify the locals, order a red wine from the Douro region or Vinho Verde to have with your meal and Oporto wine at the end of the meal, with your dessert.

6. “I’m on a diet”

In Oporto there is no diet. Period. So, if you really want to get to know the local gastronomy be prepared to run a few extra miles at the gym to make room for all the delicious food. Also, the locals are very proud of their food so think of them as your sweet grandmother that won’t let you leave the table if you haven’t finished every bite.

7. “This is so cheap!”

Generally for tourists prices in Portugal can seem very low. But keep in mind they reflect the economy of the country and people’s buying power. Something that seems very cheap for you can be a very high price for the locals so just be sensible about that.

8. “Let’s get wasted”

People in Oporto drink, and some might even say they drink a lot, but don’t think they go out to get drunk. Outings, especially on the weekend, can last until breakfast the next day and, since everyone likes to enjoy their time the best way possible, getting absolutely wasted in not an option (even though it can happen).

9. “I don’t drink”

Nem oito, nem oitenta” - neither 8 nor 80, meaning neither too much nor too little. This is the philosophy that defines the Portuguese and their way of life. You should enjoy a little bit of everything and that beautifully applies to enjoying the country’s food and wine. As we said previously, Portuguese people don’t need to get drunk to have fun, but they sure do enjoy themselves.

10. “I don’t like swearing”

Locals from Oporto swear a lot, it’s a cultural thing. So, if you aren’t a fan of swearing it can create a bit of an awkward atmosphere since they might take it as criticism or a way of saying they are rude or uneducated. If you don’t like to swear, don’t, but we recommend you don’t go around pointing it out.

With these tips we are sure your life in Oporto will be a lot easier!

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