How to Greet Someone in Europe: To Kiss, Hug or Shake Hands?


Image by That Guy Who’s Going Places

The greeting culture in Europe is very confusing. When we travel to  meet our Spotters, this  often leads to (funny) confusion. Should we kiss, hug or shake hands with him/her?

To get an idea of the different greeting customs in our cities, and to avoid issues in the future, we did a bit of research amongst our Spotters. We asked our Spotters in 33 cities two questions:
1. How do you greet somebody you’re meeting for the first time, but who’s a friend of a friend?
2. How do you say goodbye to your good friends after a night out?

Actually, after receiving the answers I’m even more confused then I was before. You almost need an instruction manual to find out what to do!  In general, you can say that the more South you go, more hugs and kisses than handshakes are exchanged.  Other than that, I don’t see the logic…

Below are the answers locals from 8 Northern, Southern and Central European cities gave us.


Image by Mickey van der Stap

Amsterdam:
Female to Male – Friend of friend: Handshake
Female to Female – Friend of friend: Handshake
Female to Male – Good friend: 3 kisses or one
Female to Female – Good friend: Big kiss and hug
Male to Male – Friend of friend: Handshake
Male to Female – Friend of friend: Handshake
Male to Male – Good friend: Handhake or hug
Male to Female – Good friend: 3 kisses

Barcelona:
Female to Male – Friend of friend: 2 kisses
Female to Female – Friend of friend: 2 kisses
Female to Male – Good friend: 2 kisses
Female to Female – Good friend: 2 kisses
Male to Male – Friend of friend: handshake
Male to Female – Friend of friend: 2 kisses
ale to Male – Good friend: handhake
Male to Female – Good friend: hugs

Brussels:
Female to Male – Friend of friend: One kiss
Female to Female – Friend of friend: One kiss
Female to Male – Good friend: One kiss
Female to Female – Good friend: One kiss
Male to Male – Friend of friend: One kiss
Male to Female – Friend of friend: One kiss
Male to Male – Good friend: One kiss
Male to Female – Good friend: One kiss

Copenhagen:
Female to Male – Friend of friend: Handshake
Female to Female – Friend of friend: Handshake
Female to Male – Good friend: Hug
Female to Female – Good friend: Hug
Male to Male – Friend of friend: Handshake
Male to Female – Friend of friend: Handshake
Male to Male – Good friend: Handshake
Male to Female – Good friend: Hug

Hamburg:
Female to Male – Friend of friend: Handshake
Female to Female – Friend of friend: Handshake
Female to Male – Good friend: Hug
Female to Female – Good friend: Hug

Milan:
Male to Male – Friend of friend: Handshake
Male to Female – Friend of friend: 2 kisses
Male to Male – Good friend: Hug
Male to Female – Good friend: 2 kisses

Oslo:
Female to Male – Friend of friend: Handshake
Female to Female – Friend of friend: Handshake
Female to Male – Good friend: Hug
Female to Female – Good friend: Hug

Prague:
Female to Male – Friend of friend: Handshake
Female to Female – Friend of friend: Handshake
Female to Male – Good friend: Hug
Female to Female – Good friend: Hug

Can you see any logic in this, or have you found an easy way to remember how to greet people in Europe countries? Please let us know in the comments!

PS: While drifting off from my research I also really enjoyed this Wikipedia article about greeting gestures like the Roman Salute, Eskimo kissing, hat-raising and the Wai.

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Last Changed Date: 2016-05-19 11:45:13 +0200 (Thu, 19 May 2016)