Getting out there (as difficult as it may seem at first!) is the best way to make new friends and integrate with your new community. There is a rich and varied cultural offering across the country, and plenty of activities to enjoy with your new friends.
Sun and water sports are one of the most popular ways to spend time in Portugal, with swimming, scuba diving, snorkelling, windsurfing and sailing found across its shores. Golf is also popular, as are other outdoor pursuits such as archery, horseback riding, paintball games and tennis.
International films are shown in cinemas in Lisbon, Porto and other tourist towns. Nightclubs are also found across these cities, as well as discos and intimate bars. There is a long-established theatre tradition (the revista) and many small museums and galleries across the country. Dining out is a national pastime, and there are many restaurants that specialise in local and international cuisine.
Portugal’s rich history provides sightseeing experiences for those looking for culture – from the Basilica in Mafra to the National Palace. The country is home to fifteen UNESCO World Heritage Sites, ranking it 8th in Europe and 17th in the world.
The Portuguese people are reserved and patient, but flexible and friendly. You will find that the Catholic Church has considerable influence, but family still forms the basis of Portuguese life.
With most of the heavily populated areas of Portugal located on the coast, it’s unsurprising that a lot of local pastimes are connected to the sea. Fishing is very popular, and it’s usually won’t be long before new expats meet somebody with a boat. Similarly, surfing, jet skiing and other watersports are widely enjoyed, as well as boating and canoeing.
General fitness is easy to maintain in Portugal (at least for those with the motivation!). Municipal facilities are surprisingly good, with many councils providing outdoor gyms for free use, inexpensive public swimming pools and other amenities. Fitness classes such as Zumba and Yoga are increasingly popular throughout the country.
Educational classes are popular, with many locations offering dance classes, pottery classes and of course Portuguese language courses.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning reading. This may come as a surprise to those not “in the know”, but Portugal is very proud of its rich literary heritage, and of authors such as José Saramago and Fernando Pessoa. These figures are treated with equal reverence to sporting stars and musicians – and for anyone tiring of an increasingly superficial world, this is something to be thankful for.