All of your high street favourites can be found in one of the numerous shopping centres located along the Algarve. Wherever you are, you are never far from a shopping centre with some of the largest being Aqua in Portimão, Algarve Shopping in Guia, Forum Algarve in Faro and Mar Shopping near to Loulé. The shopping centres are all of a high quality and include usually an anchor supermarket, a food court and in some cases, also a multiplex cinema. There are predominantly international and national chain stores here, so anyone from elsewhere in Europe should feel very much at home!
Town and city centres
While the trend for out of town shopping may have been increasing, there are still plenty of lovely places to shop in the Algarve in villages, towns and city centres. If you have ever been to the region then you will know that each place has a very distinct feel and this is reflected in the shops that are found there. In Lagos you will find more artisans and crafts people selling their original pieces, while in Vilamoura, a saunter around the marina will unveil high end shops to meet the demands of the usual clientele. Find the town you like the most and the shops are sure to be literally right up your street.
A fairly new phenomenon in the Algarve (although far from new in the rest of Portugal) has been the arrival of andiscount outlet village. So far there is only one in the region and this is located next to Mar Shopping near to Loulé, right off from the A22. The Designer Outlet Algarve has been made to look like quaint streets with smaller stores dotted along the way and in each of the stores you will find some of the biggest names around with massive discounts of up to 70 percent. Whether you are looking for designer trainers, sunglasses, handbags or even cook wear – you will find it all here.
You can find a municipal market in all towns and cities and these are some of the best places, not only to buy your food and other wears, but to also soak up the traditions and culture of the Algarve. Usually open only in the mornings, the markets sell the freshest of fish, meats, vegetables bread and more, depending on the size of each market. Often the buildings themselves are impressive in themselves, with perhaps the most beautiful being the market found in the historic centre of Loulé, which is almost impossible to miss!
While the municipal markets are open daily, there are also weekly markets that take place across the Algarve and these are generally a less formal affair. Again, you can buy fresh produce but there is also all sorts of other things you can buy – particularly for the house and garden. Be prepared to haggle the prices down for the best deals and take your own bags with you to carry all of the gems you manage to pick up. If you are struggling with the prices in Portuguese then a good idea is to type them into your phone to show your offers!
Throughout the year every area of the Algarve holds their own special events and fairs and during this time you are able to pick up speciality products. Some of the best include the Monchique sausage festival where there are more types of sausage than you can shake a stick at as well as plenty of the local “firewater” medronho. In Aljezur there is the sweet potato festival, while Portimão has a sardine festival and Lagoa has a regional sweets festival. Look out for these local events for some brilliant and unique products that you will be unlikely to find anywhere else.
Portugal is known for its pottery and incredible ceramic tiles and while you can pick these up in traditional shops in most places in the Algarve the best place to find pottery happens to be generally on the side of the main EN125 road that runs from east to west along the Algarve. One of the hotspots for this is in the Lagoa area in Porches, here there are several huge pottery shops that are ideal for finding your perfect pieces – and remember that most will be able to offer international shipping options too.
Getting to the Algarve to enjoy the amazing shopping opportunities here is easy, with flight times from most major northern European cities coming in at around only three hours. There are regular flights throughout the week to Faro airport in the Algarve, including from Munich with Lufthansa, from Frankfurt with either Lufthansa or Ryanair and from Dusseldorf with Eurowings or Ryanair.
As soon as you land in Faro then your Algarve adventure can truly begin, with the airport only a short drive to most of the major destinations in the region.