Boliqueime, a typical and authentic central Algarvean location away from the hustle and bustle on a mere 95m above sea level, breathes real Portugese living and might have some funky surprises for you.
The first one worth parking the car for (Lidl has extended space) is Gosto Interiores & Arts. This unique vendor of style inspiration is located in three adjacent warehouses, instantly recongnisable by the huge blue tiled mural on the outside wall. Out of the box is key here, from huge Indian antique wooden gates to sweet little olive bowls, handwoven baskets or colourful cushions. And everything in between. These treasure hunting showrooms are decorated from floor to ceiling with eclectic gems to spice up your interior or to find that perfect, original gift. All curated by owners Carlijn and Marten, who founded Gosto some 15 years ago. Vintage, new, locally crafted or imported from overseas, beware of stress of choice.
When driving up the winding road towards the picturesque centre, park your car at the first spot available and continue by foot. Head straight for the white church, Church of São Sebastião de Boliqueime. Do peek in and look up to notice the beautiful hand-painted greenish wooden ceilings.
Take a seat on the terrace on the square adjacent to the church for a bica and observe the relaxed atmosphere around you. The large pharmacy at the corner can’t be overlooked, with its beautiful eye tile tableau.
This square is also the location for the well known antique market every first Sunday of the month.
Every Portuguese village has a to-go-to place for chicken from the grill, Frango churrasco. In Boliqueime head over to Palácio do Piri Piri. It’s not a palacio style wise, but a cosy place with an outside terrace, and not only serves delicious chicken (it goes without saying to opt for the spicy one) but also authentic and freshly made local dishes like porco preto or costeleta de borrego.
Just outside Boliqueime at São Fastino, you can’t and should not miss Donkeys Bar & Restaurant. A family bar and restaurant, once a grocery store opened by grandma some 60 years ago , it is run by dedicated grandsons Emanuel and Joel. From their famous cocktails to sourdough bread, homemade is the word here. They combine the flavours of Portugal and Spain into an unique menu, with a leading role for their special hamburgers. Imagine sea view in the background on an amazing sunset evening. And yes, there is a donkey.
Another eaterie worth visiting in the Boliqueime area is vinoteca restaurant O Retiro. Take a seat at the wooden bar and enjoy one of the many great wines they stock with some tapas. Then to eat, and local grilled delicacies combined with a selection of Portugese wines from their vinotheque. Fiendly and knowledgable staff love to give advice about the optimal combination of dish and drink.
If you’re into 400 thread counts or more, stay at the newest small luxury hotel in Boliqueime: Eleven Boutique House & Garden. Opened some six months ago, this stunning restored village house in the centre of Boliqueime is the dream come true for owners Michael and Nikki Helling. Michael is a renowned hotelier with global luxury hospitality experience and Nikki worked in the high end real estate market in London. In other words, they know their way around luxury travel and how to (interior) design the perfect place. The hotel has seven rooms, all individually styled in natural tones with unique art pieces by Meinke Flesseman decorating the walls. A special mention for the coffee table book courtyard, where one can enjoy the tranquil Portugese living under scented lemon and olive trees. Also open to guests not staying in thehotel, the Courtyard is accessible for a light lunch, drinks and tapas or an al fresco dinner. The whole calming and peaceful complex can also be rented for private stays and/or celebrations. For 2023 there are several healthy wellness retreats planned in collaboration with Barefoot Retreats.
If you are looking for a rural holiday home to stay with a larger group of family or friends without missing the comfort of an contemporary styled house, within a five-minute drive of Boliqueime in a picturesque countryside setting amidst fruit and olive trees and the three Houses of Portugal properties – Casa Nêspera and Casa Cidro, each accommodating four guests, and Casa Oliveira that sleeps six.. All renovated ruins, named after trees and decorated with an eye for detail. The houses are south facing and have their own swimming pool. Located next to each other but still they offer lots of privacy separately.
Walk into the alley opposite the church and take a left after the typical Portugese white walled cemetery, into Estrada da Hortá where you will find the gallery and atelier of international artist Jessica Dunn. Born in London but relocated about 30 years ago to the Algarve, Jessica’s work is is very much influenced by her surroundings. The light and nature of Algarve is an endless source of inspiration, either in her figurative or abstract work. Visitors are welcome, by appointment only.
Either for a single yoga lesson or a five-day retreat, what better location for turning inwards than a renovated quinta dedicated to body and mind wellbeing. Nestled in the tranquil and scenic hills outside Boliqueime, Quinta Estrala Montes – farm of the starry mountains – is now a luxurious open-plan villa where rise and shine yoga on the rooftop overlooking the hills is an unforgettable experience.
Who needs Diptyque if we can have a scent of luxury at home from our locally produced Algarve candle company? Their candle shop is tucked away behind a parallel road of the N125, just outside Boliqueime. Mother and daughter Pam and Lauren run the show and are known for their high quality, natural, no artificial colouring, and non-chemical products. And original scents and all made by hand. Apart from scented candles they sell wax burners, diffusers, room spray and hand soap. Candy store for scents!
One last thing about Boliqueime; the traditional place to be where locals and non-Portugese meet for a coffee, beer or (busy!) lunch is Cantina p’ra Ribeira. Where everybody knows your name. Cheers!