One of the most authentic experiences you can have as a traveler is to visit a local market—and the Algarve is no exception. Ten kilometers (approximately six miles) from the Conrad Algarve, you’ll find the old market town of Loulé, its Moorish origins still visible in the bell tower of the 13th-century church of São Clemente. Find your way to the heart of town and to the pink-domed Loulé Municipal Market (fun fact: it dates back to 1908). If you time your visit to be there on a Saturday, you’ll find local farmers surrounding the market with their colorful produce from the countryside. Even on weekdays the market’s ironwork interiors bustle with artisans selling their wares. From lace, cork, sheepskin, and wicker to the freshest of fish, local cheeses, and pastries filled with sweet potato—there’s plenty to see and try. There’s even the latest handcrafted beers from the microbreweries that have begun to pop up in the region. We think Sovina (sovina.pt) is definitely one to try. Want more intel? Why not visit the market with our Executive Chef, Osvalde Silva, and learn from him how to select the best ingredients to create an Algarvean feast? Choose the clams, prawns, sea bass, tomatoes, and peppers for a traditional cataplana (also the name for the domed copper dish in which this aromatic seafood preparation is served). Finish your time in Loulé with a shot of excellent coffee (bica) at the Amendoal Café and don’t even try to resist the regional specialties including fig cookies, carob cakes, marzipan sweets, or honey-dripping pastry rolls—after all, you’re on vacation!
Has the market visit whet your appetite? Head back to the Conrad Algarve with Chef for a hands-on master class in how to prepare the ingredients you’ve just seen at the market. From simple-but-delicious local clams with white wine, to sea bass baked in a salt crust, to Portugal’s beloved cataplana, you’ll learn how to re-create your favorite Portuguese culinary memories back at home.
LOULÉ MUNICIPAL MARKET: Praça da República, Loulé; +351-289-400-600; 7 am-3 pm Monday to Saturday; closed Sunday
CAFÉ AMENDOAL: 22 Largo Gago Coutinho, Loulé; +351-289-462-503; 6am-7pm daily
MARKET TOUR AND MASTER CLASS WITH EXECUTIVE CHEF: €180 for one, €130 per person for two or more; 9am-1pm Tuesday to Friday