Loulé bursts into life particularly on Saturday mornings when it holds its huge open air market (parking is horrendous here on Saturday mornings, so get there early or hook into a coach excursion to the market).
Loulé’s indoor market is open every day offering a choice of food and craft stalls. There are plenty of great specialist shops here too, particularly for shoes, but also for crafts, leather goods and lace. There is a history of handicrafts in Loule and a steep alley called Calcada dos Sapateiros meaning Shoemakers’ Alley within the town.
Within the remaining walls is a museum with an explanation of what was in the past the grandeur of the castle. The various earthquakes that it has suffered through its history have damaged the 13th Century Church of São Clemente. However, its Gothic arches and side chapels that are from the 16th Century have survived. The town Loulé consisting of some 20,000 residents is mainly concerned in producing souvenir products made out of copperware, leather, cane and wood. The weekly Fair attracts tourists from all along the Algarve. Due to the needs of the tourist industry this town has blossomed in size. An important event is the annual Carnival in February that is considered to be one of the best in Portugal. In the town there is a recently opened Museum that is devoted to the local industry of dried fruits and it is interesting to see how these items are prepared for the public. To the west of the town is a hilltop Church that is built on the site of a 16th Century chapel. This is the destination of an annual religious procession that requires some physical effort on the part of the bearers of the church’s religious shrines.
Near to Loulé is Almancil a small town that acts as a supplier of services to the prosperous holiday areas just south on the coast. Further inland is the small village of Alte, a village that is known for its unspoilt rural architecture and its enthusiasm for folk music. Another inland village is Paderne that has a romantic ruined 13th Century castle sitting alone on the crest of a deserted hilltop. The coastal town of Quarteira that was once a fishing village is now converted into a multi-apartment tourist location. Not too far away is the village of Querença with its stalactite caves; the village of Salir with ruins of a castle and nearby two 800 meters long walls from the Neolithic period. São Brás de Alportel and Santa Bárbara de Nexe, are both small country towns with their essential Portuguese flavor reflecting the rural social style of life. In São Bras de Alportel is an interesting museum that houses a permanent collection of rural artefacts and costumes truly reflecting the past manner of living in the Algarve.
Loulé, the racy, cosmopolitan lifestyle of the world’s leading tourist centres. A long ribbon of fine, golden sand tucked between the blue of the sea and the bold ochre of the cliffs.
Wide open spaces where it is possible to rediscover the meaning of solitude and listen to the silence of nature. With all this and more, Loulé municipality is a place of sunshine and colour, fun and excitement.
Loulé is well known for its carnival in February (it takes place over 3 days, the 3rd day being Shrove Tuesday) which is a very colourful affair with music and dancing and general partying, reminiscent of Brasilian carnivals, when people come from all over the Algarve to watch the processions and join in with the party as everyone takes to the streets.