If, during your visit to the Algarve, you feel like indulging in a spot of retail therapy, where should you go and what should you look for? What traditional souvenirs should you take home, and where can you find the best bargains?
We’ve compiled a list of the Algarve’s top spots and tips for shopping, whether you’re on a budget or feeling flush.
Portugal is renowned for its colourful markets, full of hustle and bustle and local character. Municipal markets are a great place to see and sample local produce. Stalls run by local farmers and producers are heaped high with fresh fruit and veg, silvery fish, baked goods and locally-farmed meats. These are great places to try the likes of regional specialties, such as cured meats and cheeses, and also to stock up on goodies for a picnic or a bbq.
One of the Algarve’s most unique municipal markets is the award-winning Loulé Municipal Market (Rua José Fernandes Guerreiro 34, open 7am-3pm Mon-Sat). With its Arabian domes and hot pink trim it looks more like an exotic palace than an Algarve market, and is one of the city’s main tourist attractions. Inside, vendors loudly tout their wares and food stalls sell artisanal and gourmet food products to eat in or take out.
Many municipal markets expand on Saturday mornings to fill the streets and areas surrounding them, with an array of other paraphernalia and goods, from herbs and spices to homemade jams and chutneys.
Typically each larger town and city will have a monthly market, whether a traditional ‘gypsy’ market, a flea market, an antique market, or a hybrid of all three! And while these markets are a great place to bag a bargain or maybe even find a treasure, haggling is increasingly a thing of the past.
Nowadays, nationally-produced textiles, leather products and linens sit alongside branded fashion items and high-tech gadgets. Here’s a list of the Algarve’s main monthly markets, which generally run from around 8am/9am till lunchtime or mid-afternoon.
- Vila Real de Santo António: 2nd Saturday of the month & every 3rd Sunday of the month (Praça Marquês de Pombal)
- Tavira: 3rd Saturday of the month (Old Fair Grounds)
- Faro: 2nd Sunday of the month (vicinity Municipal Theatre)
- Loulé: Every Saturday (EN270 road, in front of Santo António convent)
- Albufeira: 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month (Caliços)
- Alte: 3rd Thursday of the month (Largo José Cavaco Vieira)
- Lagoa: 2nd Sunday of the month (Fatacil Fair Grounds)
- Silves:3rd Monday of the month (riverside)
- Monchique:2nd Friday of the month (Largo do Mercado)
- Portimão:1st Monday & 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month (Fair & Exhibitions Grounds)
- Lagos: 1st Saturday of the month (Rua Mercado de Levante)
- Vila do Bispo:1st Thursday of the month (In front of market)
- Aljezur:3rd Monday of every month (Largo da Várzea)
You can also find out more about them in our article Top Markets in the Algarve.
If it’s international brands in clothing and lifestyle that float your boat then head to one of the Algarve’s elegant shopping malls. Most contain not just an array of boutique shops and large stores, but also food courts and cinemas.
The latest fashions from clothing heavyweights like Zara, H&M, Stradivarius and Mango sit alongside jewellery stores, bookstores, home stores and supermarkets, making a trip to a shopping mall a great option to spend a few hours when the weather is cooler (or when it’s hotter and you need a break from the sun!).
(Lanka Parque Comercial e Industrial do Algarve)
Large indoor mall in Guia (Albufeira) with clothing stores, supermarket, cinema and food court.
(Ikea Industrial Complex, Almancil, Loulé)
New outlet mall and retail centre with food court and cinema, in Loulé, next to Algarve’s first and only Ikea store.
(Quinta do Lago, Almancil)
Luxury shopping mall in Quinta do Lago with designer boutiques and upscale dining.
(EN125, main road into Faro)
Large, modern shopping centre in Faro with international stores, restaurants and an outdoor children’s play area.
(Rua de São Pedro, 72)
Large mall on outskirts of Portimão with national and international brands, a hypermarket, food court and underground parking.
Traditional High Streets
Indulge in a spot of window shopping with a stroll along a traditional high street. As well as much-needed support for local commerce, shopping locally offers up a heady array of local cuisine, national and regional products and brands, locally-made handicrafts and unusual goods that you wouldn’t find in large malls, like souvenir shops.
Some of the best main high streets can be found through in the centre of Faro, Portimão and Lagos, as well as Albufeira’s old town. While browsing the high street, keep an eye out for these typical Portuguese products:
- Cork goods
- Glass and crystal-ware
- Ceramics and pottery
- Azulejo tiles
- Handmade lace, crocheted and knitted items
- Leather shoes and bags
- Towels and bed linen
- Canned sardines
If you’ve left the souvenir shopping until the last minute and don’t have time to head to a market or shopping centre for gifts, you can still find a typically Portuguese souvenir if you pop into a decent supermarket. Keep a lookout for such as soaps and condiments, canned fish preserves and patés, and baked sweet goods.
Most supermarkets will stock nationally-produced soaps in the toiletries aisle. Slightly more expensive than the everyday hand-soaps, these artisanal bars of soap are made from unusual ingredients such as tar, donkey milk, and sulphur. The paper wrapping is colourful and interesting and they fit perfectly in the suitcase as well as making clothes smell fabulous.
Another good product to look for in supermarkets is Portuguese piri-piri sauce. Made in Portugal and a tasty addition to any meal, it is a great gift and comes in a number of varieties, from piri-piri chillies in whisky to extra-hot Portuguese piri-piri.
Salt is also an interesting gift; look for Algarve-produced flor-de-sal, which is sold in little tins or jars. Gourmet versions also come blended with Algarve herbs and spices.
And don’t forget tinned sardines, one of the most typical Algarve products, whose colourful retro tins hark back to an era when the Algarve was the beating heart of the country’s canning industry.