Sure, you’ll want to relax and enjoy a vacation, especially when you’re hankering for a beach getaway in southern Portugal. But, it can be just as fulfilling to try new things and connect with Portuguese people, culture and tradition too.
That perfect balance place is Loulé.
This small town about 45 minutes from the Faro Airport in southern Portugal possesses something very special. The people of Loulé have a strong passion for preserving historic traditions, which is reflected in dance, food, crafts and their everyday careers. While many of these skills are mastered by the older generations, much care goes into passing down the various experiences to the little ones. Luckily, the town has taken on a new initiative to off these skills as workshops, events and demonstrations to people who visit.
Not to mention, all this hands-on excitement goes hand-in-hand with the beauty of the town and it’s surrounding villages. Explore gold-laden churches, roam through bustling marketplaces and dine al fresco under the warm sun. Only a few minutes away is the coastline of Algarve, so you can balance your trip between the rolling hills of Loule and the beach.
Old Fashioned Fun
People love a sense of satisfaction that they have completed something all on their own.Ditch your screen for a bit and jump into some hand-on experiences – you will love some crafts you can take home with as unique, local souvenirs. In Loule, there are fantastic classes for travelers on how to make toys and home goods out of bamboo reeds. Kids can try their hand at floating cork toys while the older folks can make bag clips and even flutes. Trained pros walk you through each step carefully.
Artistic Flair for Printmaking
Father out of town in the industrial park is a hidden gem that’s allowing guests to come take a peek for the first time. At Grafica Comerical, the talented artists have been printmaking for decades, using their giant warehouse to create paper goods and promotional materials in Portugal and beyond. The families are invited to try a printmaking workshop to see how it used to be done in the old days and how modern technology has changed the art form. They have lead letter block to help spell your name and stamp it out, as well as massive printers and ink-filled machines.
Dance all Day
What do kids love on vacation? Meeting other kids! Head to the main square in Loulé and feast your eyes on a spectacle called Corridinho. There are kids and adults who participate in a traditional Portugues dance. Not only do they have a flair for movement, they will then invite up spectators to try out the simple moves for themselves. In the near future there will be official classes available to tourists who want to learn more about the local dancing in-depth.
What better way to get into the heart of any destination that by eating, right? Portugal’s food in the south is absolutely wonderful. They have tasty cured meats and cheeses, olives and a dried, salt-cured fish called bacalao that accompanies every meal. Larger dishes are often stewed with fresh herbs, vegetables and meat like chicken and lamb. At the cultural center in town, families are invited to try some workshops to learn how to create some yummy dishes. If your kids are the type who love squishy stuff, they can learn how to fillet small fish for appetizers. Everyone though will love painting the almond paste sweets and molding them into fun shapes.
For more information, visit the Loulé Criativo site to find out times, dates and age ranges to each specific workshop and event. You could also choose to stay at the super cozy and remote guest home called Cerro da Janela Hostel – they also offer onsite workshops from basket weaving to making fig stars with almonds. There is a pool surrounded by pomegranate trees and fresh breakfast prepared every morning. We didn’t stay here but do plan to go back someday, as the property was so inviting and tranquil.