Portugal is a popular destination for golfers at any time of the year. The Algarve alone has 37 golf courses and is blessed with over 300 days of sunshine annually. We sat down with Mark Hirst at Getaway Golfer to find out which golf courses should be on our must-visit list this year.
When it comes to golf and the Algarve, most people’s first thought is Vilamoura. It’s an excellent base and has no less than six golf courses in and around the town. Dom Pedro rules the roost here, operating five of the six courses and there is a constant debate over which is best, Victoria or the Old Course.
Both have their merits and the green fees are the same, so if you’ve got the budget, why not play both and decide for yourself? If you had to pick one though, I’d opt for Victoria. Dom Pedro promote it as their flagship course and it’s hosted the Portugal Masters every year since 2007.
If you’re planning multiple rounds during your stay, be sure to check out Dom Pedro’s promotions page, as they offer decent discounts when you book three rounds or more.
If I had to chose one place to stay in Vilamoura, it would be the Anantara Vilamoura Resort. It’s luxurious without being over the top and the facilities are excellent.
If you’re on a tight budget, then the Dom Jose beach hotel is excellent value for money. Rooms start at just £50 per night in the low season and the location is superb. It’s right on the beach front and close to plenty of bars and restaurants. I particularly like the rooftop pool and bar, it’s the perfect place to relax with drink after gruelling day on the course.
There are so many more options in Vilamoura, way too many to go through in one article. So if you want to find out more, we’ve produced a handy guide to golf in Vilamoura that talks through the various course and accommodation options so you can narrow things down.
Quinta do Lago
A short drive to the east of Vilamoura lies Quinta do Lago, also known as the golden triangle. Home to the rich and famous, you’ll find some of the most beautifully manicured golf courses in all of Portugal. There are five golf courses in total, each with their own style and characteristics. If you have deep pockets, it’s very easy to spend a couple of weeks here and not get bored.
Laranjal is the newest of the three main courses at Quinta do Lago and manges to steal the hearts of many who play it. Green fees aren’t cheap at €166 in the peak season, but if you want to play one special round during your trip, Laranjal gets my vote.
Besides Laranjal there’s also the North (excllent for higher handicappers) and South Course (often cited as the best golf course in Quinta do Lago) with San Lorenzo and Pinheiros Altos making up the numbers.
For accommodation, with an unlimited budget, my pick would be The Conrad Algarve. It’s home to the michelin star restaurant, Gusto by headed up by chef Heinz Bec. The food is sensational and well worth at least one visit during your stay.
The Four Seasons Country Club is another worthy of mention, not least because guests get access to preferential tee times and green fee discounts at The North, South and Laranjal courses. It’s also slightly lighter on the pocket than The Conrad, but isn’t lacking on the luxury front.
For tighter budgets, The Magnolia Hotel ticks a lot of boxes. Rooms start at £100 per night and is the cheapest you’ll find in Quinta do Lago. The quirky American Motel styling might not be to everyones taste, but it’s clean and comfortable and does a cracking breakfast.
Travel an hour west of Faro airport and you’ll find Lagos. Whilst Lagos doesn’t have the glamour of Quinta do Lago, there are actually a couple of my most highly recommended golf courses nearby.
Espiche Golf Course is simply sublime. How or why they are still offering rounds of golf here for only €51 is beyond me. Tee off after 15:30 and that drops to €37 which is criminal for how well kept this course is. It’s so good I’d go as far to say it’s only just behind Monte Rei in terms of its standard.
Palmares is another excellent course. There’s 27 holes at the resort broken down into three loops of nine. Each one has its own unique characteristics, but if you’re only playing once, opt for Alvor and Lagos loops as these are the best. Green fees start from €87 in the low season, which is slightly high, but acceptable. The clubhouse and restaurant are excellent here, so stop and have some food before,/after/during your round.
If a resort is more your thing, then Boavista offers a championship golf course set within a family friendly self-catering resort. The course is very decent and there’s plenty to keep the whole family occupied here and you won’t need to leave the complex for the duration of your stay.
Other accommodation options include The Palmares Beach House Hotel a boutique, adults only hotel that’s quiet and very comfortable.
The Tivoli Lagos Hotel is your best budget option, with rooms from £57 per night in the low season. It boasts six restaurants, and a very good swimming pool.
The Algarve has plenty of wonderful golf courses for the discerning golfer. Vilamoura and Quinta do Lago are the most convenient options for anyone flying in from Faro and have some of the best courses in the region. However if you’re prepared to travel a little further afield there are some real gems to be found offering very reasonable green fees.
Mark Hirst is the founder of Getaway Golfer. They say you should always follow your dreams, so he combined his passion for golf and travel to help golfers create the golf trip of their dreams.