Although only ten kilometres from the coast, Loulé is a world away from the tourist resorts and a great place to see Portuguese life in a genuine town setting. The tourist office is built into the remains of the old Moorish castle, and a small but well-presented museum can be found here too. Only some ramparts remain of the castle, but the adjacent old quarter is a maze of cobbled streets where a number of craft workshops still produce traditional items: brass and copperware, saddlery, lacework, pottery, basketry and furniture.
Loulé has probably the most dynamic events agenda in the Algarve, with its Brazilian-style Carnival in February, its annual International Jazz Festival and, recent years, an innovative Mediterranean Summer Festival when the old town’s narrow lanes are pedestrianised and transformed to host a dazzling array of international musicians, street entertainers, market & food stalls.
Above all Loulé is best-known for its regular Saturday morning market, focused around the colourful Arabesque food market building in the town centre, although nowadays the additional gypsy market has expanded to a larger site just a ten minute stroll away on the north-west outskirts. A hive of activity, the market draws locals and tourists alike in search of a bargain.
The countryside around Loulé offers gentle green hills with hamlets and villages, and for thirty years has become an area much-favoured by expats to buy and build country villas, many of which are also used for holiday-let. With the coast’s beaches, golf courses and Faro airport just twenty minutes away, the inland area around Loulé is ideal for those seeking tranquility yet close to all amenities.