10 Portuguese words to know (and use) while visiting the Algarve this year

Visiting the sunny Algarve for a well-deserved holiday?

To enhance your experience and infuse a sense of playfulness we’ve curated a list of 10 Portuguese words (or expressions) that will make your Algarve trip even more enjoyable. Whether you’re seeking tranquility on the beach, exploring local traditions, or indulging in delightful treats, these words will add a touch of whimsy to your Algarve adventure.

In fact 10 (+1) — just because. Hope you enjoy!

First things first. Good Morning. Good Afternoon. Good Night.

While pretty much everyone in the Algarve knows more than the basics of English and will be able to understand a foreign greeting in several languages, saying it in Portuguese adds an extra layer of kindness, connection, and charisma to that first impression. Olá is the Portuguese generic way of saying Hi — in case you prefer a passe-partout version of it.

You can use it any time of the day.

Politeness matters, and we know it.

Always say please (por favor), and thank you (obrigado), right? And since we’re on it, sorry (desculpe) too, if needed. In the specific case of the word OBRIGADO, if you are a girl, you’ll end it in the feminine form, with an A — OBRIGADA.

With those three words, you’ll certainly be able to show gratitude and respect in a charming style and solve any kind of misunderstanding that stands in the way. But fear nothing. The Portuguese people are widely known for their great hospitality skills.

It’s a national institution, and a mystery only few can explain.

The “Bola de Berlim” also known as bolinhaaa is a kind of donut without a hole, covered in sugar, and filled with some sort of pastry cream (usually made with eggs). It tastes 100x better at the beach, especially when you just got out from the sea. You can have one on most beaches, during the whole day.

Nowadays they exist in many flavors: with cream, without cream, with chocolate, alfarroba, strawberry jam, and even pistachio. Our favorite? We still go for the classical one.

Hot summers require cold drinks, and despite the mandatory disclaimer “drink responsibly” you’ll most probably find yourself asking for a cold beer during your holiday.

Imperial is served on a 20cl glass, and with a Caneca you’ll get 35cl of beer. You can always ask for a bigger cup, but constant refills will keep your drink cooler. Another popular (and very local way) of drinking a fresh beer is the so-called mini — a tiny super casual bottle you may find in any Portuguese bar. Sagres and Super Bock are the main local brands.

Protector solar stands for sunscreen, and it’s an absolute must in the sunny Algarve. No other comments needed, right? Only basic self + skin care.

Toilettes in French, lavabos in Spanish, WC or bathroom in English. Casa de Banho is the Portuguese literal translation of this last one. The full sentence would be “Onde fica a casa de banho, por favor? — in case you wish to practice the first set of words in this article too.

Big deal.

For some of us, caffeine is like the ultimate first thing in the morning, so make sure to have it right. Café means coffee, but when you say you want a café or bica you’re asking for an expresso. In other regions of Portugal they also call it italiana. A café pingado is like a regular coffee with a hint of milk, and an abatanado is an americano — a very long coffee on a bigger cup.

Then you have other variants such as em chávena fria (on a cold cup), galão (the Portuguese latte), or garoto (expresso cup with milk and some drops of black coffee). Some coffee shops offer plant-based options.

Do you know that gesture you make when you ask for the bill at a restaurant? You can also say: A conta, por favor. And, if you want to pay by card you just have to add: Com cartão. Pro tip: Some places only accept cash, so please make sure to always carry some real-life money with you.

Two of the most Portuguese concepts ever.

Saudade — A Portuguese word encapsulating the bittersweet longing or nostalgia for someone or something that is absent. It is believed that the expression emerged during the Age of Discovery, in XV and XVI centuries. These journeys were long and dangerous, with little chance of returning home. Therefore, the word came to be used in this context to express the feeling of deep nostalgia that navigators experienced in relation to their families, friends and their country of origin.

Azulejos — Intricately painted ceramic tiles often found in Portuguese architecture, showcasing vibrant patterns and historical narratives. Do you know why many of them are painted in shades of blue? Back in the days, Europeans were fascinated by the elegance and delicacy of Chinese porcelain — from Ming Dinasty. The intense blue, which until today covers churches and buildings in Portugal is a Chinese heritage, but it was learned from the Dutch.

Foodie alert. This one is for you…

Percebes also known as barnacles. Graceful mariners of the rocky realm, these crustaceans adorn its surfaces with their exquisite shells. You will often hear they “taste like the Ocean”.

Amêijoas, or clams are a type of bivalve also very appreciated for their special and fresh flavor. The most popular recipe is “Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato” — briefly steamed with olive oil, garlic, and coriander. The sauce is to die for, so ask for an extra basket of bread.

Who’s the ocean’s silver queen? Sardinha, of course. These petite flavor bombs know how to deliver their yummy charm, whether grilled or canned. Some will say they are too smelly or have too many fish bones. We leave it to your consideration.

The main difference between these three it’s their intensity in time. Adeus (or goodbye) is the most dramatic and definitive version of it — even if you can also use it casually. Is suitable for when you leave a restaurant or a shop you won’t come back to. We use the friendly até logo when we plan to see each other later that day. And até breve would be the equivalent of see you soon.

This said, that’s our wish for today.

A warm até breve in one of our villas, or in the lovely streets of the Algarve.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *