Take the opportunity to relax and enjoy the slower tempo – the Portuguese usually spend a couple of hours on lunch between midday and 3 p.m. They will often start with a soup, such as a Caldo Verde with potatoes, thinly sliced kale cabbage, and small pieces of chorizo sausage. Drinking wine with your lunch is very common.
The Portuguese eat their evening meal later than we are used to, often between 9 and 11 p.m. It’s only then that you will experience the genuine buzz of a Portuguese restaurant in full flow, but if you prefer a quieter more peaceful meal, stick to the normal “Swedish” mealtimes. Drinking wine with your late evening meal is less common.
• Tipping is usual. Restaurants will usually add the tips to the bill, but you can always add a little extra if the service was good. A little small change is sufficient in cafés and bars.
• Tap water is drinkable in most places in Portugal, although it might not taste too great. If you want to be sure of avoiding stomach upsets, however, you should buy bottled water, which is available from any grocery store.
• Take the chance to visit some of the small, local retailers, where you’ll find cold meats, cheese and bread. Maybe you could become a regular at a shop near your home and benefit from some extra special service and good prices?
• Be brave! Portuguese cuisine has a great deal to offer, over and above the classic “tourist dishes”. Ask if you can try something new, and ask for food and wine combination recommendations.