Unlike many countries where handshakes or nods are the customary greetings, in Portugal, cheek kisses are a normal and widely practiced social gesture. This tradition may seem unfamiliar to travelers from other parts of the world, but it is deeply ingrained in Portuguese culture.

The practice of cheek kisses, known as "beijinho" or "dar dois beijinhos" in Portuguese, is a way of expressing warmth, friendliness, and establishing a personal connection. It is not limited to romantic partners but extends to friends, family, and even casual acquaintances.

When you first encounter cheek kisses in Lisbon, it's important to remember that it is a genuine display of hospitality and acceptance. It is not meant to be intrusive or romantic in nature. Instead, it is a way of welcoming others and forging a connection.

In Lisbon, the typical greeting involves two kisses on the cheek, one on each side. However, it's essential to note that this can vary across different regions of Portugal. In some areas, such as the north or the islands, three kisses may be the norm. Therefore, it's always best to observe and follow the lead of the locals when it comes to the number of kisses.

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For travelers, adapting to this cultural practice can enhance your experience in Lisbon and help you connect with the locals on a deeper level. It's an opportunity to embrace the warmth and friendliness of the Portuguese people. So, don't be taken aback or feel uncomfortable when someone leans in for a cheek kiss. Embrace it as a beautiful expression of Portuguese culture.

If you're unsure about whether to offer a cheek kiss or a handshake, it's generally safer to start with a handshake, especially in formal or professional settings. However, in most casual social situations, cheek kisses are the norm, and it's perfectly acceptable to follow suit.

By participating in the tradition of cheek kisses, you show respect for the local customs and create a bridge between cultures. You'll find that the Portuguese people appreciate your willingness to embrace their traditions and will reciprocate with even more warmth and hospitality.

So, when you travel to Lisbon and throughout Portugal, be prepared for cheek kisses as a regular part of social interactions. Embrace this cultural norm with an open heart and a friendly smile. Let the warmth of the Portuguese people envelop you as you exchange these delightful cheek kisses, building lasting connections and treasured memories.