Live abroad

Meet people and make friends in Portugal



Joanna Horanin

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Last updated at 25/07/2024, 09:45

Hi, I'm Joanna, the author of The Blond Travels. In the worlds of Thailand and Portugal, I feel like a fish in water - and it's no coincidence! I've been exploring Thailand for over a decade, and I've settled in Portugal for 6 years now. My mission is to support Dreamers - just like you - in discovering these fascinating countries and helping those in love with them find their own place on Earth, preferably for good! Let's uncover these unique corners of the world together.

You decided to come to Portugal. You’ve been here for a while and starting to feel at home. But, you’re still lonely. It’s time to make new friends! Here is how to do it when you’re an immigrant in Portugal.

Living abroad is sometimes hard. New surroundings, new language, new enviroment, new people….In order to feel good in a new country, it’s important to make friends, who will support you and with whom you can meet up from time to time. I know it’s sometimes hard to reach out to total strangers. That’s why I wrote this post, so new people in Portugal can find friends. I hope that thanks to it, you’ll feel much better.

Getting to know new people in Portugal – Why it might be hard?

I’ve heard a lot of times that Portuguese people are close and reluctant to letting strangers into their tight circle of friends. I don’t think that difficulties in finding friends don’t come from the mentality of the local people, but from something else.

The Portuguese might seem distant. Women have an opinion of being jealous and seeing the immigrant females as their competition. Men usually stick to their own circle of friends.

Is it hard to get to know them?

Yes. But, the same we can say about the Norwegians if you’re an immigrant in Norway, about the Thais, if you’re a white person living in Thailand, or about the Germans, if you’ve just moved there. Every nation has its own mentality and approach to strangers, but the difficulty with getting to know them comes from the fact that YOU, my Lovely Dreamer, are the stranger. THEY were brought up in their country, they went to school there, they go to work and their free time spend with people they feel comfortable with. They won’t go out of their circles to make you welcome. You must reach out to them. You have to put a bit of an effort to get to know the locals.

If you’d like to make friends in Portugal, you need to consider your place of living. In Lisbon, or Porto, it’s easy to find someone, who would be willing to spend time wtih you.
In the countryside, or in small towns, it will be harder, especially if you don’t know the language.

So, how to find new friends in Portugal?

Ready to meet other people? Here is how you can do it!

Before you go

Before you leave your country, take some time to meet people online. Join Facebook groups (Lisbon Expats, or Lisbon Digital Nomads), get an Instragram account, look for bloggers and people living in the area where you’ll be living. I met so many people this way!

Start learning Portuguese

It’s worth thinking of learning Portuguese earlier. You can join Tandem, or start learning on Italki.

Knowing the language is curcial if you want to meet new people in Portugal.


Patook is an application that will help you to find friends. You put your details, your interests and hobbies, and the algorithm shows you people that might suit you in the area.


Join It’s a webiste, which has different interest groups for different people. I used to go hiking with the hiking group every week and made some friends through it, too.

If you’re single

Bumble and Tinder are dating apps. I know a few women and men, who not only found partners, but also made friends through them.

At work

It’s one of the best ways of making new friends in Portugal.

If you work here, you can easily meet others, go for lunch or drinks with them and meet with them over the weekend.
Be open to new culture and new experiences. It might not be easy at first, but I’m sure you will be able to meet others through work very easily and quickly.

Outside of your home and work

I’m an introvert, so getting to know others is a challenge for me. However, if you’re an open person and you’re not shy, chat to people in cafes, restaurants and on the street. The Portuguese are very nice and friendly. They like when someone learns their language and I’m sure you won’t have any problems with making friends with them.

I wonder which of these ideas is the best for you? Are you going to try them out?
How do you meet people abroad? Let me know! Leave a comment!