Loulé, 16 km north west of Faro along a good road, is a vibrant and typically market town set in almond-covered foothills. It is an ancient town, but only remnants of its once Roman, later Moorish castle walls remain. The castle walls are in the central area that is best known among visitors for its craftsmen, its old-world charm and its keenness to party.
As you stroll around the narrow, cobbled streets, you will come across dimly lit workshops. Peer in through the gloom and you will find artisans beating copper, stitching leather or selling wrought iron, cane furniture, basketwork or embroidered goods.
Visit Loulé at Carnival time, usually February, and you won't see much gloom. The merrymaking doesn't quite rival that in Rio de Janeiro, but people from all over the Algarve converge on the town for a couple of days of float and fancy-dress parades, general high-spirits and sometimes not so funny practical jokes involving fireworks or paint. If you intend to attend, wear old clothes. Nowadays, this Carnival makes a satire to the society, the political system and the most important events of the year.