Find out where you can buy – and try out – the best crafts on holiday.
Crafts have taken off a big way in recent years. According to the Daily Mail, record numbers of young women have been signing up for Women’s Institute courses, and stitch ‘n’ bitch knitting groups have been popping up all over the UK. And of course, a holiday is a great excuse to pick up a few handmade bits and pieces, and even learn a few new skills. We’ve found the best arts and crafts hubs in some of our destinations – read on to find out more.
Algarve – Portugal
If you love your arts and crafts, it’s worth driving around the little towns and villages in Alcoutim in eastern Algarve. Balurcos is famous for basket-making – time it right and you’ll see the local expert sitting outside his workshop, weaving colourful shopping bags out of stream canes. And for rigorously authentic linen, visit Penteadeiros – they’ve been growing, harvesting, soaking and spinning it the same way for centuries.
Fancy making something yourself? Make tracks for Martinlongo Pottery in the village of the same name. As well as watching adept craftsmen spin eye-catching creations from balls of clay, you can have a go on the wheel yourself.
Marrakech – Morocco
If you want a potted history of Moroccan craft, a visit to the Bert Flint Museum on Place Ben Youssef is a must. This Dutch anthropologist amassed a huge collection that shows how the country’s craft has been influenced by the surrounding areas. Standout pieces include a Berber tent made entirely of camel hair.
Hand-knotted rugs are one of Marrakech’s biggest exports, and tourists flock here to buy them. If you want a bit more input, Berber carpet producer, Talamanzou, will let you design your own. They’re on Route de Safi, a few minutes’ drive outside the city, and specialise in simple, modern designs. Bring along a few fabric samples and they’ll make something to match the décor in your front room.
Barcelona – Spain
If you want to fill your bags with colourful creations, El Raval might just be your place. Tucked away in the Medieval quarter, it’s Barcelona’s main arts district and is full of old buildings and warehouses that have been converted into workshops. You’ll see artisans working in the windows, and selling their limited-edition wares.
At the Teranyina textile workshop, for example, you can watch rugs being woven from natural materials. And if you want to take to the loom yourself, Teresa Rosa, who runs the place, offers introductory and advanced courses in things like weaving, upholstery and felting.
Dubrovnik – Croatia
Crafty types will think they’re in heaven in Dubrovnik – it’s Croatia’s cultural centre. Stradun, the main street in the old town, squeezes in a dizzying number of shops. Top buys include embroidered white linen – some with twinkly gold and silver thread – and fine, hand-painted ceramics.
Head over to Banje Beach, meanwhile, and you’ll find something really unique. DESA, in the Lazareti complex, is a workshop and craft store specialising in traditional weaving, sewing and silk embroidery. It employs local women, and there are always a few around who are happy to give you stitching tips.
Santa Eulalia – Ibiza
Santa Eulalia is well-known for its arts scene, and it’s one of the best places on the island to buy crafts. The streets around the main square squeeze in loads of little gallery and workshops, where you can pick up things like hand-carved wood sculptures and oil paintings.
If you want to have a go yourself, check out the Ibiza Ethnographic Museum here. As well as having everything from toys and jewellery to oil presses and weapons gracing the displays, it also runs workshops where you can learn how to make things like bracelets and pots.