Loulé, Vilamoura and Quarteira
From the lively market town of Loulé to the fashionable Vilamoura
The municipality of Loulé stretches over an area of 763 km2 and includes both the lively market town of the same name as well as the vibrant Quarteira with the world famous and chic Marina of Vilamoura. Also Quinta do Lago, a secluded and luxurious gated community with villas for the super rich, beautiful beaches and luxurious resort hotels, belongs to the municipality of Loulé. This makes Loulé one of the richest municipalities in Portugal.
The city of Loulé is one of the most important cities in the Algarve. Located almost in the middle of the Algarve and just a 15 minutes drive from Faro airport, it is also a perfect starting point for those who want to discover the Algarve by hire car or by excursion.
The city is known for local crafts such as woven baskets, pottery and molded copper. Like the Algarve in general, Loulé can not hide his Moorish influences. This can be seen from the bell tower of the church Igreja Matiz São Clemente or simply by the castle of Loulé.
The castle of Loulé now houses the municipal museum, or Museu Municipal. The highlight of this museum is the beautiful reconstruction of a traditional, 19th-century kitchen with original crockery. This castle located above the town offers a beautiful view of the city of Loulé and its surroundings.
In the Rua da Barbaca, many local craftsmen still offer their merchandise. Especially the earthenware that you find here is very popular with the visitors of this city. Our souvenir tip to buy here: the Cataplana cooking pots!
The Chapel Nossa Senhora da Conceição is also worth a visit. Here you can admire especially the azulejos and the baroque altarpiece.
The municipal market of Loulé is also a very known site. The architecture of this historic market building has again been characterized by Moorish influences. You can visit this market daily except on Sundays in the morning. But only on Saturday morning, the official market day of Loulé, this market comes to its full bloom. Fresh products are then available in abundance. Fresh fish glistens in the bins, twigs of herbs hang between the jars of handmade jam and honey, cheeses, red peppers, marzipan and sugared cakes of figs and almonds lie among the smoked sausages.
Do note mistake (and compare) this market with the farmers market (Mercado de agricultores), actually more like a Gypsy market. This market also takes place every Saturday morning just outside the center. Be sure to visit the Convento de Santo Antonio cloister opposite when you visit this market.
Vilamoura is a fashionable seaside resort with an internationally renowned marina. Celebrities are attracted by the glamour and refined atmosphere that Vilamoura offers. You will find the Praia da Vilamoura, a 3km long sandy beach which has been a top location for fashion photographers for years. Besides its marina, Vilamoura is also known for its numerous first class golf courses, luxury hotels, opulent villas and a stylish casino. Fantastic excursion boats leave from the marina, of which you can often spot live wild dolphins in the Atlantic.
Vilamoura, which expanded from nothing to one of the most fashionable beach resorts in Portugal and even Europe, also has an ancient historic attraction. Cerro da Vila, an old Roman villa complex from the 2nd century, with baths, salt basins, tombs and black and white mosaics shows that even with the Romans luxury was not a strange concept. In the adjacent museum there is a collection of different objects from the Roman, Visigoths and Moorish times.
The lively Quarteira is located at three kilometers from Vilamoura. It has a nice center with bars, restaurants and shops and has a long and wide sandy beach. Quarteira is home to the vast majority of the Brazilian community in the Algarve, giving the city a colorful atmosphere throughout the year. The fish market of Quarteira is the best in the region and especially known for its shellfish such as gambas. It also forms the beginning of the long beach promenade with its numerous cafés, restaurants and hotels. Every Wednesday morning there is the gipsy market, just outside the city (opposite the Lidl supermarket).
The origins of Quarteira go back at least to the period of the Roman occupation of the Iberian Peninsula. Quarteira was quickly known for its beaches, fishing and pine forests.