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Should you greet people with kisses? Remove your shoes indoors? Offer to pay the bill at dinner? How to avoid offending the locals on your European summer holiday revealed

If you’re planning a European escape this summer, you might be wondering how you can make a good impression on the locals.

It’s clearly a top priority for travellers – this year, there has been a 52 per cent increase in Google searches for ‘what is offensive in Europe’.

But worry not. Help is at hand via language app Preply, which has created a ‘European Etiquette Guide’ to help you brush up on European customs ahead of your jaunt.

In composing the guide, the language site surveyed 1,600 Europeans, asking them questions about everything from the do’s and don’ts of greeting people to whether you should remove your shoes in someone’s home. The results of the survey are illustrated below in a series of colour-coded maps – the blue-coloured countries didn’t produce enough data to contribute to the survey results. Scroll down to see how you should behave on your next European getaway…

IN EUROPE, DO YOU REALLY GIVE TWO KISSES ON THE CHEEK TO SAY HELLO?

Language app Preply conducted a survey to investigate European customs and to see how you can avoid offending locals on your next trip to Europe. Residents of 23 countries said that they would only give two kisses on the cheeks when saying hello if it was initiated by the other person Language app Preply conducted a survey to investigate European customs and to see how you can avoid offending locals on your next trip to Europe. Residents of 23 countries said that they would only give two kisses on the cheeks when saying hello if it was initiated by the other person

Language app Preply conducted a survey to investigate European customs and to see how you can avoid offending locals on your next trip to Europe. Residents of 23 countries said that they would only give two kisses on the cheeks when saying hello if it was initiated by the other person

Residents in Slovenia, Estonia, Denmark, and Sweden voted that they would never greet someone with two kisses Residents in Slovenia, Estonia, Denmark, and Sweden voted that they would never greet someone with two kisses

Residents in Slovenia, Estonia, Denmark, and Sweden voted that they would never greet someone with two kisses

Preply notes that kissing on the cheeks is a greeting etiquette that’s ‘famously associated’ with Europe.

However, residents of 23 out of the 27 countries surveyed said they would only give two kisses on the cheeks when saying hello if it was initiated by the other person.

If you’re thinking of holidaying in Slovenia, Estonia, Denmark, and Sweden, take note – those dwelling in these four countries said they would never greet someone with two kisses.

Preply notes that Covid-19 ‘may play a part in the decline’ of this cheek-kissing custom, ‘as people have become more aware of the potential risks of close contact’.

WHAT IS THE PREFERRED METHOD OF GREETING SOMEONE?

The best way to greet someone in Latvia and Denmark, the survey found, was by giving them a hug The best way to greet someone in Latvia and Denmark, the survey found, was by giving them a hug

The best way to greet someone in Latvia and Denmark, the survey found, was by giving them a hug 

Across Europe, the majority of people voted that shaking hands is the most appropriate way to greet people – residents of 21 countries feel this way.

Latvia and Denmark, meanwhile, are the only two countries where the majority vote was for hugging.

WHO SHOULD PAY THE BILL AT DINNER IN EUROPE?

Generally, the survey found that in Europe, you only need to offer to pay the bill if it is a special occasion Generally, the survey found that in Europe, you only need to offer to pay the bill if it is a special occasion

Generally, the survey found that in Europe, you only need to offer to pay the bill if it is a special occasion

Residents of Ireland, Hungary and Cyprus - said that they would always offer to pay the bill when out for dinner with friends Residents of Ireland, Hungary and Cyprus - said that they would always offer to pay the bill when out for dinner with friends

Residents of Ireland, Hungary and Cyprus – said that they would always offer to pay the bill when out for dinner with friends

Preply notes that Europe is known for its incredible cuisine, so going out for dinner is top of many people’s to-do lists on a European jaunt. However, the task of figuring out how to pay the bill can be ‘tricky’, the language app says.

Generally, the survey found that in Europe, you only need to offer to pay the bill if it is a special occasion, or if you had invited everyone. A huge majority of 24 countries chose this answer.

Meanwhile, residents of three countries – Ireland, Hungary and Cyprus – said that they would always offer to pay the bill.

WOULD A EUROPEAN TAKE THEIR SHOES OFF WHEN ENTERING SOMEONE’S HOUSE? 

In Spain, Italy and Portugal, the majority of residents prefer to keep their shoes on when visiting a friend's house In Spain, Italy and Portugal, the majority of residents prefer to keep their shoes on when visiting a friend's house

In Spain, Italy and Portugal, the majority of residents prefer to keep their shoes on when visiting a friend’s house 

Residents of 21 of the countries surveyed answered that they would always take their shoes off when visiting somebody else¿s home Residents of 21 of the countries surveyed answered that they would always take their shoes off when visiting somebody else¿s home

Residents of 21 of the countries surveyed answered that they would always take their shoes off when visiting somebody else’s home

‘As a visitor, taking your shoes off at your host’s front door is a simple way to show respect to their home from the get-go,’ says Preply. It adds that removing shoes means you avoid treading dirt into the carpet and shows ‘that you are relaxed in your host’s presence and comfortable in their home’.

Residents of 21 of the countries surveyed – including the UK, Germany and France – answered that they would always take their shoes off when visiting somebody else’s home.

Locals in Spain, Italy and Portugal, however, shared a different opinion, with the majority of residents preferring to keep their shoes on. Giving insight into why this is the case, Preply notes that in sunny locations, ‘carpets, which can be hard to clean and easy to stain, are not as common as they are in places that need additional warmth, such as the UK’.

WOULD A EUROPEAN TAKE A GIFT TO SOMEONE’S HOUSE WHEN YOU’VE BEEN INVITED OVER?

The survey found that 16 countries believe it¿s common practice to bring a gift when invited over to a friend¿s house The survey found that 16 countries believe it¿s common practice to bring a gift when invited over to a friend¿s house

The survey found that 16 countries believe it’s common practice to bring a gift when invited over to a friend’s house

Finland is the only country where the majority said that they would never bring a gift when visiting a friend Finland is the only country where the majority said that they would never bring a gift when visiting a friend

Finland is the only country where the majority said that they would never bring a gift when visiting a friend

The survey found that 16 countries believe it’s common practice to bring a gift when invited over to a friend’s house. However, in nine other countries, including Austria, the UK and Spain, the majority answered that they prefer to reserve gift-giving for special occasions.

Finland is the only country where the majority said that they would never bring a gift when visiting a friend.

Preply notes that the percentage of married people versus single people bringing gifts was 12 per cent higher, ‘proving a combined income and encouragement from a partner makes this a much more feasible gesture’.

It adds: ‘The gift can typically be something small, such as a bottle of wine for you to enjoy together or a beautiful bouquet to display in their home.’

DO YOU OFFER A DRINK OR SNACK TO YOUR GUESTS WHEN THEY COME TO YOUR HOUSE?

Residents of all 27 countries surveyed admitted they would present their guests with food or beverages when they drop by Residents of all 27 countries surveyed admitted they would present their guests with food or beverages when they drop by

Residents of all 27 countries surveyed admitted they would present their guests with food or beverages when they drop by

Offering a guest a drink or a snack when they call over to your home is common practice across Europe, Preply has found. 

In fact, residents of all 27 countries surveyed admitted that they would present their guests with food or beverages when they drop by.  

WOULD YOU OFFER TO HELP WITH HOUSEHOLD CHORES WHEN VISITING A FRIEND’S HOUSE?

The survey found that locals in 21 countries, including the UK, Italy and Austria, would offer assistance with chores when visiting a friend's house The survey found that locals in 21 countries, including the UK, Italy and Austria, would offer assistance with chores when visiting a friend's house

The survey found that locals in 21 countries, including the UK, Italy and Austria, would offer assistance with chores when visiting a friend’s house

Germans were the only Europeans who said they would never offer to help with household chores when visiting a friend Germans were the only Europeans who said they would never offer to help with household chores when visiting a friend

Germans were the only Europeans who said they would never offer to help with household chores when visiting a friend

Offering to help your host with household chores is a subject that divides Europe, the survey suggests. 

It found that locals in 21 countries, including the UK, Italy and Austria, would offer assistance with chores when visiting a friend’s house. 

Germans were the only Europeans who said they would never offer their help, while residents of Finland, Lithuania, Czechia, Latvia and Slovenia admitted they’d give a helping hand only if asked to. 

DO YOU FINISH YOUR FOOD WHEN YOU ARE EATING IN SOMEONE ELSE’S HOUSE?

Residents of every country surveyed said that they would always finish their food at a friend's house as a sign of respect to the host Residents of every country surveyed said that they would always finish their food at a friend's house as a sign of respect to the host

Residents of every country surveyed said that they would always finish their food at a friend’s house as a sign of respect to the host 

‘When at someone else’s house, finishing all of the food on your plate is considered a key factor of etiquette when eating, as it is a polite and a kind gesture towards the person who has cooked it,’ says Preply.

The countries surveyed were united in agreement when it comes to this dinner table etiquette – the majority in each location said that they would always finish their food as a sign of respect to their host.

The data showed that men were more likely to finish the entirety of their meals, with 82 per cent voting that they always finish their food, compared to 75 per cent of women. 

DO YOU MAINTAIN EYE CONTACT WHEN IN A CONVERSATION WITH SOMEONE?

Locals in 24 countries believe you should always maintain eye contact when in conversation, the survey found Locals in 24 countries believe you should always maintain eye contact when in conversation, the survey found

Locals in 24 countries believe you should always maintain eye contact when in conversation, the survey found 

‘When speaking with locals at your vacation destination, your body language can make or break their impression of you and eye contact is a great place to start,’ Preply reveals.

The survey found that good eye contact is perceived as a sign of ‘attentiveness and respect’ in Europe, with locals in 24 countries revealing that they believe you should always maintain eye contact when in conversation.

If you are paying a visit to Estonia or Germany, you should know that locals in these countries are more lenient with the rule – residents said they would only maintain eye contact if the other person did also.

WHAT ARE EUROPEANS’ TAKES ON BEING ‘FASHIONABLY LATE’?

The survey found that residents of 23 countries ¿ including Belgium, Ireland, and Turkey - agreed that it¿s best to be punctual and arrive on time The survey found that residents of 23 countries ¿ including Belgium, Ireland, and Turkey - agreed that it¿s best to be punctual and arrive on time

The survey found that residents of 23 countries – including Belgium, Ireland, and Turkey – agreed that it’s best to be punctual and arrive on time 

‘If you have a social event planned for your trip, keep in mind that the time you arrive can leave a lasting impression on both the guests and hosts,’ says Preply.

The survey found that residents of 23 countries – including Belgium, Ireland and Turkey – agreed that it’s best to be punctual and arrive on time.

Four countries – Czechia, Germany, Poland and even the fashion capital, France – proudly declined the idea of being fashionably late and instead voted in favour of arriving early.

In fact, none of the countries voted that they would arrive late, showing that being early or on time is the best option when travelling in Europe.

The survey’s full findings can be found at preply.com.

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