Holidays in the Golden Triangle of the Algarve - the world famous golf & holiday resorts Quinta do Lago, Vale do Lobo & Vilamoura on the coast of the district of Loulé
- District: Faro > Municipality: Loulé > Parish:
- Population: 26.791
- Distances: Faro Airport 18 km, Lisbon Airport 263 km
- Tourist Info: Posto de Turismo de Loulé
Loulé is the economic and cultural centre of the "Golden Triangle" of the Algarve with the world famous golf and holiday destinations Quinta do Lago, Vale do Lobo and Vilamoura. The city is popular for its markets and events, attracting visitors from near and far. The hilly and water rich Barrocal landscape in the hinterland of Loulé invites to extended walks and bike tours. The Algarve Stadium is the venus for international sports events.
Loulé location and access
Loulé is located in the Barrocal region between the coast of the Atlantic and the hills of the Serra
Loulé is a city (cidade) in the district of Faro (Algarve) and the most important economic center of the southernmost region of continental Portugal. The city of Loulé, flanked by hills, is situated a few km away from the Atlantic in the Barrocal, a fertile landscape between the coast and the mountains. The national road EN125 and the A22 motorway are only a few kilometers south of Loulé. The nearest train station of the Linha do Algarve is situated in Quatro Estradas a few km outside the city. Access by bus is more convenient: EVA Transportes operates a bus terminal in the city centre and links Loulé to many other places in the Algarve, to Lisbon and to Seville in Spain. A multilane highway connects Loulé to the international airport of Faro.
Loulé sports and leisure
World class golf courses, endless sandy beaches, walking & biking in the hinterland
For golfers, the outskirts of Almancil and Quarteira represent paradise: Quinta do Lago, Vale do Lobo and Vilamoura have 13 excellent golf courses between them. Several have already hosted international tournaments such as the Portugal Open and the Portugal Masters.
On the coast of the municipality of Loulé, between Faro and Vilamoura, there are endless sandy beaches, set against the backdrop of the dune landscape of the Ria Formosa, and further west are magnificent and vividly coloured rugged sandstone cliffs.The famous marina in Vilamoura is the largest in entire Portugal. The Algarve Stadium, built for the UEFA Championship 2004, is venue for international sports events.
Loulé is the ideal starting point to discover the lesser know inland areas of the Algarve. The villages of Alte, Querença Salir and Tôr as well as the surrounding scenic landscape between the mountains and fertile Barrocal are well worth a visit at anytime of the year.
Shopping in Loulé
Visiting the market hall on Saturday is a must
There has been a market in Loulé since the middle ages. The Municipal Market, an icon of the city, was built late last century in an architectural style incorporating classic elements of Moorish design. On Saturdays, local farmers and those from the Alentejo come and sell their produce here and create a vibrant atmosphere for shoppers and tourists. If you want to learn more about this country you should take a wander round the crowded side streets surrounding the market.
There is a completely different market scene that also takes place every Saturday near the exit from Loulé in the direction of Boliqueime: Located at the base of the church Nossa Senhora da Piedade in front of the ruins of the convent of Sto. Antonio street vendors from all over the Algarve gather to sell many goods but especially textiles and leather products. Here, "haggling” is standard practice!
Despite the structural changes in the retail sector and the emergence of more and more supermarkets on the outskirts of towns, the center of Loulé retains a lively environment of small old fashioned shops that make shopping an event. An industrial zone at the western exit of Loulé has been established and is occupied by a large number of professional company offices: workshops, craftsmen, and service providers.
Events in Loulé
The most famous carnival in Portugal, the White Night, Festival MED and many more events
Every year during Carnival time, the Avenida José Costa Mealha in the city centre hosts the carnival parade Corso Carnavalesco. The parade is based on the Brazil Carnival and is reputed to be the most spectacular parade in the country. Thousands of people come to see the vibrant colours and imaginative floats.
The White Night brings a special ambience to the city during the summer. A great night of partying in the streets of the city center, which has been decorated in white and all visitors to the event are asked to dress in white. Bands, jugglers and street theater groups, also wearing white, enhance the overall ambience.
Another highlight on the local calendar, in late June, is the Festival MED. An international musical event with its own unique character which takes place in the historic center of Loulé in a festive spirit: During the days of the festival the streets between the market, castle and church are bedecked in white awnings and you can see and enjoy listening to musicians from all over the world.
Surroundings of Loulé
The Golden Triangle of the Algarve and the landscape of the Barrocal
Quinta do Lago, Vale do Lobo and Vilamoura are internationally renowned holiday destinations within the so-called "Golden Triangle" of the Algarve. In addition to 13 of the most beautiful golf courses in the region, this privileged area also has some of the most desirable and expensive real estate in the country. Lovers of good food will find many gourmet restaurants and a large selection of food from all over the world. In Almancil, Apolonia supermarket which has been established for more than 25 years, is recognized as “the” place to buy both local and international specialties hard to find elsewhere.
The Algarve Stadium, built for the European Football Championship in 2004, is close to the A22 motorway between Faro and Loulé. The arena can hold more than 30,000 people. Every year the final takes place of the Algarve Cup, one of the world's most prestigious women's football tournaments outside the European and World Championships.
The surrounding hills from Boliqueime in the west to Santa Bárbara de Nexe in the east have become a popular residential area for ex pats and a place to buy a second home. There are magnificent panoramic views down to the Atlantic. The A22 motorway, which leads to Lisbon and Spain, and also Faro International Airport are both within easy reach.
History of Loulé
The history of Loulé: from Roman times until today
The first traces of human occupation in the Loulé area date back to the Stone Age. In excavations on a low plain in Vilamoura the ruins of a Roman settlement of considerable size, the Cerro da Vila were found. Other remains found in the Almancil area suggest that during that time, 'garum', a flavoring and preservative based on fish, widely used in ancient Rome was being produced.
The region experienced its golden period with the conquest by the Moors in the middle of the 7th century. The remnants of the massive castle and the historic center of Loulé bear witness to that era. After years of work, in 2013 archaeologists completed the excavations of Islamic Baths in the historic center of the city that are noteworthy for being unique in Portugal.
After the reconquest of Loulé by the Knights of Santiago, King D. Afonso III granted a charter to the village in 1266 and then elevated Loulé to a town. As did the whole country, Loulé also flourished as a result of the Discoveries, with the riches being imported from the four corners of the world of the Portuguese Empire. The devastating earthquake of 1755 brought this development to a halt.
Since the discovery of the Algarve as a tourist region in the second half of the last century Loulé has benefitted from a revival of economic growth thanks to the holiday resorts of Almancil, Quarteira and Vilamoura.
Municipality of Loulé
Loulé is the largest municipality in the Algarve with nine parishes and more than 70,000 inhabitants. It extends down to the coastal towns of Almancil and Quarteira and up into the mountains.