We’re yet to meet a souvenir we didn’t take at least a vague interest in buying. The Algarve has come close now and then — the bad side of tourism is well and truly alive here — but the southern region holds more than enough excellent authentic souvenirs to get our wallet feeling ever lighter. Looking for a memento from that darling time in the Algarve? Choose wisely.
Fire water, baby! Okay, we tend to pull unusual faces whenever we drink the stuff, but you can’t beat an insanely strong regional booze. Medronho ticks the box in the Algarve, a fruit brandy from the tree after which it is named, and a drink that will either take or put hairs on your chest, depending on the state of play to begin with. We’re looking at around 48% of alcohol here, so be careful.
All Cork Anything
Portugal is the world’s biggest exporter of cork products, so do go out and impress your friends with that piece of knowledge. The impermeable material has plenty of uses, most notably keeping wine bottles closed, and you’ll have no trouble finding something cork-based to take home with you.
Both Portugal and Spain are famed for their intricate tile designs, and you’ll find colourful versions all over the place. Churches, palaces, stations and even ordinary homes display the colourful ceramics, although we don’t suggest stealing a tile or two from anywhere like this. Best to nip into a shop and find your own special design instead.
It isn’t a genre you’ll find in a bookshop, but you get the idea. Portugal was the country that opened up exploration to the world, and this part of the planet is famed for providing a launching pad for some of history’s most intrepid explorers. This place inspires poetry and then some, with many of Portugal’s most famous writers waxing lyrical about Lagos, Tavira, Silves and the rest. Look out for some Pessoa, Saramago or even something older (hey Gil Vicente!) when in the area.
No, we’re not going all Jamie Oliver on you. Olive oil is an integral part of everyday life in the Algarve, and no dish is complete without a dollop of the good stuff. The Algarve is one of the great olive oil regions of the world, and some seriously good stuff is available at knock down prices from the markets and stalls. Do be careful though — it will make your home cooking a thousand times better.