Loulé is known as a quaint market town embedded into the heart of the central Algarve. Beautiful and traditional facades line the streets and main avenue, many of which have been restored to their former glory. Visitors are drawn to Loulé for it’s authentic Portuguese atmosphere, but there is so much more to Loulé than the Arabian-inspired covered market, its characterful historic center and rich culture. Here are a few of our QP favourite spots that we want to share with you:
The Art Scene
A lot of artistically minded individuals tend to find their way to the Algarve and Loulé is a perfect example of why. Artcatto, a prime contemporary art gallery features some of the best national and international artists, as well as In The Pink, a gallery for photo art, which showcases contemporary photography of the best internationally renowned photographers. Both are located on the main avenue in beautifully restored buildings. There are also numerous workshops available related to the themes of creativity, heritage, and arts and crafts. These include pottery, weaving, painting, handicrafts, and so much more. Take a look at LouléCriativo to see the options, and get inspired!
The streets of Loulé are bustling on Saturday mornings as locals and tourists come together to visit the popular markets. Organic local produce, freshly caught fish, handicrafts, honey from Loulé’s province, traditional Portuguese cheeses and so much more is well displayed at this old and traditional market. ‘The Mercado Municipal’ has been around since 1908 and still radiates its charm and cosy atmosphere. The indoor food market is open Monday - Saturday (7am-3pm.) Also on Saturday mornings and just a 10-15 minute walk away is the Loulé gypsy market, which also sells lots of interesting little things and has always been extremely popular. Kick off your weekend by spending your next Saturday morning at the markets. Enjoy a coffee and a pastel de nata while perusing the stalls and stocking up on fresh, delicious (and great value for money) produce for the week!
Loulé has a grand and impressive history dating back hundreds of years. Over time various settlements made this notorious town their home, including the Moors, Visigoths, Romans, and Christians. It is evident that the Romans played a monumental role in the development of Loulé’s infrastructure and remains can be found in the form of bridges, fish-preserving mechanisms, and, of course, the famous castle. The castle has been adapted and expanded a number of times and has transformed from a simple fortress to a towered stone structure designed for defending. The castle is open every day except Sundays and Mondays, and has a museum inside. It is also worth visiting the Islamic baths, which date back to the 12th century, and are the first to have been archaeologically documented in Portugal. From tiled tucked-away chapels to fresh water fountains, this little town is absolutely immersed in history.
Loulé holds many boutique shops, with Alison’s favourites being Martina which sells trendy clothes, tasteful jewellery and accessories, quirky hand-made crockery and even chic pieces of furniture. Rua. 5 de Outubro is a cobbled pedestrian street that is lined with traditional shops. Leather items, linen clothes, cork products, handmade ceramics and jewellery, and so much more. Centro de Artesanato is packed with porcelain tiles and other handmade gems which make for the perfect souvenirs. Medieval alleyways weave through the town and often have workshops of traditional family trades spilling out onto the street selling pottery, upholstery, tile paintings and hand-worked copper.
For the food critics among us, the array of delicious restaurants in Loulé is of top quality.
For local dishes, Bruna loves Churrasqueira Angolana (the best grilled chicken in the Algarve! But do book as this tiny place is always busy) and Alfonzo III,11 da Villa, Oliwander’s, and Cafezique. L’atelier Gourmet is a French bakery situated near the market, and serves exquisite pastries, tartlets, and cakes. Miguel suggests you go early or call to order your favourite goodies prior to visiting, especially on Saturday mornings.
Next door to our Loulé office is Café Calcinha, which opened its doors for the first time in 1929. It is worth popping in and admiring the classic old-fashioned architecture while enjoying typical Portuguese pastries and food.
Loulé has plenty of Local Amenities.
Kerstin's favourite market stall is situated right outside the QP Loulé office during the bustling market day. Farmer Peter's stall is a treasure trove of home grown produce, showcasing the vibrant colours and flavours of the Algarve region. His fruit and veg are grown with love and he has now been certified with selling organic foods (a hard accomplishment to come by). We love supporting local farmers and producers!
Monica and her children have fallen in love with 8100 Gelato the brainchild of accomplished restaurateurs Mark and Michelle Relph. With a keen focus on inclusivity, they proudly offer a range of gluten-free, vegan, dairy and sugar-free options, ensuring that everyone can indulge in their delightful creations. The best ice cream in town!
Stefan and his teenage twins love exploring the Mina de Sal-Gema de Loulé, a hidden destination located beneath the city of Loulé. Nestled in the depths of the Campina de Cima rock salt mine, this site unveils a mesmerizing labyrinth of galleries, showcasing a fascinating array of machinery. As they descend into Portugal's deepest tourist site, reaching an impressive 230 meters below the surface, they embark on a remarkable adventure that blends the activities of rock salt mining with the enchantment of mining tourism.
Hospital de Loulé stands as a beacon of healthcare excellence in the region, with its state-of-the-art facilities and a wide array of clinical professionals. The hospital's doors remain open 24 hours a day. Many of our clients who used to fly back to the UK to have procedures done are now opting to have them done here instead!
Stephanie, our coffee enthusiast, starts her mornings with a visit to Bean 17 Coffee, the ultimate coffee haven in the Loulé market with freshly roasted Speciality Coffee. She swears it’s the best coffee in the country. Bean 17 Coffee and More is not just a place for a caffeine fix; it's a breakfast paradise. Stephanies go-to choice is the special egg and avocado toast. IIona takes pride in her craft, ensuring that each cup of coffee is brewed to perfection.
And of course, our office! Located right on the main avenue and in the heart of Loulé, this is worth a visit in its own right as it is a beautifully refurbished building that used to house an old pharmacy. Feel free to stop by for a chat and a coffee if you want more information on any of our listed tips; we are always there to welcome you.
We hope to have provided you with some insight and inspiration. Go and explore, and we hope that you will learn to love Loulé as much as we do!
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