Right in the middle of the Algarve, Loule is a town with history to boot. The most interesting streets, a grid of whitewashed cobbled lanes, lie between the remains of its Moorish castle (now a museum) and the thirteenth-century Gothic Igreja Matriz, with its palm-lined gardens in front. The castle dates back to the 13th century, but only parts of the original structure remain which includes three towers that can be visited for free. They formed part of the city walls and there is still an old city gate, the Portas do Céu.
Loulé is a charming market town, pretty quiet for six days of the week, its traditional shops selling handcrafted goods and pottery ware. Each Saturday however it is home to the Algarve’s biggest and most popular Gipsy Market. The town’s food market, set in a lovely old Moorish-style covered market, is also well worth a visit.
The surrounding countryside is covered with algarroba, almond, fig and olive trees. Loulé is situated landinward, the nearest beaches can be found between Quarteira and Faro at 13 km.
An important event is the annual Carnival held in February. Loulé Carnival is one of the most important celebrations of the kind in the country, as well as one of the main tourism highlights of the Algarve during low season.
Near to Loulé is Almancil a small town that acts also as a supplier of services to feed the needs of two nearby well-established holiday and residential developments: Quinta Do Lago (a tourism geared golf resort twenty minutes west of Faro Airport) and Vale Do Lobo. The area has many resorts and housing developments which appeal mainly to the English. In keeping with the needs of the area there is a large selection of restaurants offering many different forms of cuisine. Also, there are many real estate offices, interior decorators and furnishing shops.
Further inland is the small village of Alte. Away from the tourist-crowded coast, Alte is known as one of the most typical and unspoilt villages in the region of the Algarve. Namely, the whitewashed houses, traditional chimneys, and cobbled alleys of the Algarve are omnipresent. The Portuguese poet Cândido Guerreiro was born in Alte, in 1871.
Another inland village is Paderne that has a romantic 13th Century castle in ruins sitting alone on the crest of a deserted hilltop.
The coastal town of Quarteira is also a popular tourist destination, with 2 km of Blue Flag beach.
Not too far away from Loulé is the village of Querença, a place of natural and architectonic beauty. The village, located in a lovely mount, is characterized by its charming typical white houses with a coloured bar around windows and doors, with the traditional Algarve’s chimneys, showing off the big Moorish influence.
Located 16 km north of the town of Loule is Selir (or Selir do Porto) with ruins of a castle and a nearby two 800 meters long walls from the Neolithic period.
Along the coast there are dozens of golf courses, long associated with the famous Vilamoura, which is undoubtedly the county’s tourist area with hotels, marina, nightlife, and so on… the whole tourist offer of this county is condensed in Vilamoura.