Main cultural differences between the USA and Portugal

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Main cultural differences between the USA and Portugal

There are several cultural differences between the USA and Portugal, including:

Time perception

Americans tend to have a more individualistic and time-sensitive culture, while Portuguese tend to be more relaxed and less punctual.

Family values

Family is very important in Portugal and extended families often live close to each other and spend a lot of time together. In contrast, Americans tend to place more emphasis on individual freedom and privacy.


Portuguese cuisine is heavily influenced by seafood and features dishes such as bacalhau (salt cod) and cataplana (seafood stew). American cuisine is diverse and can vary greatly depending on the region, but is often known for its fast food and large portion sizes.

Social norms

Americans tend to be more direct and assertive in their communication, while Portuguese tend to be more polite and indirect. Additionally, physical contact is more common in Portugal, such as cheek kisses as a greeting.


Portugal has many national holidays, many religious in nature, and many towns and cities celebrate their own festivals and saints. In contrast, most holidays in the USA are secular, such as Thanksgiving and Independence Day.


Differences between the gastronomy of the USA and Portugal

The gastronomy of the USA and Portugal have some similarities but also some notable differences, such as:


Portuguese cuisine is heavily influenced by seafood and features dishes such as bacalhau (salt cod) and cataplana (seafood stew) which is not as common in American cuisine. American cuisine makes extensive use of beef, chicken and pork, as well as grains such as wheat and corn.


Portuguese cuisine is heavily influenced by Mediterranean and African flavors and makes extensive use of herbs and spices such as cumin, paprika, and saffron. American cuisine is more varied, and different regions have different spices and flavors.


American portions are generally larger than Portuguese portions, with the emphasis on big meals and large servings.

Fast food

Fast food is more prevalent in the USA, with chains like McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC being some of the most popular. In contrast, fast food is not as popular in Portugal, where meals are generally cooked from scratch at home or in local restaurants.


American desserts tend to be sweeter and richer, with favorites such as apple pie and chocolate chip cookies, while traditional Portuguese desserts are often lighter, such as Pasteis de Nata (custard tarts) and Bolo de Arroz (rice cake).


Portugal is well known for their wines and Port, while beer and hard liquor are more popular in the USA.


Differences between hobbies in the USA and in Portugal

Hobbies can vary greatly between different individuals and regions, but here are some general differences in hobbies between the USA and Portugal:

Outdoor activities

Portugal has a long coastline and many beaches, so outdoor activities such as swimming, surfing, and fishing are popular hobbies. In contrast, Americans enjoy a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and hunting.


American football, basketball, and baseball are popular sports in the USA, while soccer (also known as football) is the most popular sport in Portugal. Other sports such as cycling, and futsal (indoor soccer) are also popular in Portugal.


Both countries have a diverse music scene with a variety of popular genres such as rock, pop, and hip hop. But Fado, a traditional Portuguese music genre, is unique to Portugal and is very popular among the locals.


Cooking and experimenting with different recipes is a popular hobby in both countries, but the ingredients and techniques used can be different.

Arts and crafts

Handicrafts such as knitting, crocheting, and quilting are popular hobbies in the USA, while traditional Portuguese crafts such as pottery, cork crafts and embroidery are popular in Portugal.


Portugal is known for its many festivals, such as the Festa de São João, which is celebrated in June in Porto, and is one of the most popular festivals in the country. The USA also has a lot of festivals, but they’re usually region-specific or holiday-related.

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