Called The Beautiful Game, the Portuguese are ardent futebol fans. From club matches to the national team, everyone has a favorite player and team that they follow with great devotion.
The game requires speed, dexterity, endurance and strategy. Portugal’s Cristiano Renaldo is arguably the best player in the world and José Marinho is widely recognized as a gifted manager.
For pro players, making the national team is the pinnacle of success. Many professional footballers play internationally for other teams; for example Renaldo plays for Real Madrid. As qualifying for the quadrennial World Cup approaches, players are named for the national team. Below the national team is club play. Premeira Liga, with 14 teams, is the premier league and the Segunda Ligafields 22 teams.
Every town and region has a host of amateur leagues, as well as college and school teams ranging from five-a-side to full teams. Naturally you can find a group of kids (or adults) kicking the ball around wherever there’s a bit of open space.
Futsal, 5-a-side indoor football, is played on a hard surface. There are several leagues divided into divisions. 1a Divisão is the top league.
All the rest
- Athletics: Portugal has a number of top long-distance runners and has done well at recent Olympic Games in London and Beijing; there are also a number of top cross-country runners from Portugal
- Canoeing: Portugal has many top Olympians in this sport; kayaking and canoeing are popular sports for tourists and locals alike
- Cycling: Volta a Portugal is the annual professional long-distance race; cycling tours and mountain bike trails are widely available in all regions
- Martial arts: Jogo do Pau is a traditional stick fighting martial art dating from the Middle Ages (fencing and judo are also popular)
- Motorsports: Rallying, motorcycle racing and A1 Grand Prix are popular spectator sports with some races (Rally Madeira and Lisboa-Dakar) receiving international attention
- Bullfights: Portuguese bullfights differ in style from the Spanish customs, notably the bull is not killed in the ring; running with the bulls, as in Pamplona, Spain, is popular in the Azores
- Golf: the Algarve has great courses and many of Portugal’s top pros play in the region
- Airsoft: known as paint ball in the U.S., the game is popular around the country
- Watersports: surfing, windsurfing, kite surfing and sailing are all popular, especially in the Algarve
- Portugal is considered to have some of the best waves in Europe, most notably around the central coastal town of Peniche. Recently, the largest wave ever surfed was recorded in Nazaré, about 30 minutes north of Peniche.
Portugal’s traditional needlework and fiber arts began in nunneries and as cottage industries. The fine linens, rugs, lacework provided a livelihood for many families and grew to be celebrated for craftsmanship. Portuguese textiles are well known the world over.
- Embroidery: Portuguese embroidery is highly sought after with its intricate stiches and rich colors; styles vary by region, with the best known examples coming from Madeira and Castelo Branco; white embroidery (white thread on white cloth) is also popular with modern needle workers
- Rug making/tapestry: Arraiolos in southern Portugal is famous for its pure wool carpets; designs are similar in motif and style to Persian rugs; Portalegre is well known for its finely detailed tapestry with as many as 25,000 stitches per square meter
- Knitting: Portuguese knitting is popular with knitters everywhere; also known as continental knitting
- Crocheting/lacemaking: fine thread crochet lace and bobbin lace making developed as another way to make ends meet in poorer families; well known styles include secret, love secret and Loulé lace
- Weaving: the region of Serra da Estrela is well known for its thick, dense waterproof blankets (mantas); 100% wool, the blankets are dye and chemical free
Traditional Portuguese folk dances, typically slower-paced than those of their Spanish neighbors, reflect the courtship and marriage customs of their native regions. Well-known dances include: fandango, vira, corrinhdo, chula and viranda. To dance well, time, practice, stamina and instruction are needed.