10 of the Best Golf Courses in Portugal
Published on 7th June 2017
Portugal is a world-renowned golfing destination and its reputation as a great venue for your golf holiday is richly deserved!
The entire country, from North to South and East to West boasts a plethora of amazing golf courses designed by many famous golfers including Seve Ballesteros, Jack Nicklaus, Paul McGinley, Robert Trent Jones and more, and with styles ranging from tree-lined parkland golf courses through to pure links tracks Portugal is possibly the world’s finest golfing destination!
The team at Golf de la Luz have played at well over 90% of all the courses in Portugal and therefore we have first-hand direct knowledge of all of our recommended 10 best golf courses in this wonderful country, so if you have any doubts about where to play just get in touch for our assistance and clarification of any queries you may have.
1. Monte Rei Golf and Country Club, Eastern Algarve, Portugal
Widely regarded as one of the leading golf courses in Europe, if not the world, Monte Rei is one of Jack Nicklaus’ finest designs from his extensive world-wide portfolio of leading golf courses. The land here in the Eastern Algarve provided the perfect natural canvas for the great man to work his design magic and the results are unsurpassed anywhere in Portugal. Cleverly following the contours of the rolling landscape just inland from historic Tavira, the golf course at Monte Rei provides a challenge for golfers of all standards, but with buggies included with all green fees the terrain is accessible to all players to enjoy.
Even if your round at Monte Rei is not your best, you are certain to enjoy the fantastic conditioning of the course and the beautiful natural environment and location.
Complementing the course itself are a range of high quality on-site accommodation options, along with first class dining options and leisure facilities.
2. Onyria Palmares Golf Club, Lagos, Portugal
Situated in the Western Algarve, close to the wonderful old town of Lagos, the golf course of Onyria Palmares has been part of the local landscape since 1975, but it is in more recent years that huge improvements to the golf course – overseen by Robert Trent Jones Jnr – have taken place to secure Palmares’ place in the top 10 Portuguese golf courses.
Now featuring 3 loops of 9-holes, many with spectacular sea views the course traverses various landscapes including wooded areas, parkland and links styles giving a real variation to each set of 9 holes. Always found in great condition, Palmares is a truly year-round golf course with well-drained land and high quality tees, greens and fairways rounded off by a hilltop clubhouse and the Onyria Palmares Beach House Hotel overlooking the Praia (beach) section of the golf course. With excellent practice facilities completing the offering, it is widely expected that Palmares will soon be a venue for high-class professional tournaments
3. Royal Obidos Golf Club, Obidos, Lisbon, Portugal
The golfing regions surrounding the capital city offer a fantastic choice of superb golf courses and golf resorts, with – in our opinion – the number 1 golf course being at the Royal Obidos Spa and Golf Resort, located close to the World Heritage Site of the town of Obidos about an hour to the north of Lisbon.
Designed by Seve Ballesteros, but unfortunately not completed until after his untimely demise, Royal Obidos is a challenge for golfers of all standards with 5 separate teeing areas on each hole available for handicap golfers to play the course in the most approachable or challenging way as per your preference on the day!
Spectacular coastal views are on offer from many of the holes, but don’t get too distracted by the excellent location as true focus will be required to post a good score on the slick greens.
4. Vilamoura Old Course, Algarve, Portugal
Most travelling golfers are likely to have the Old Course in Vilamoura on their “bucket list” of courses to play at some stage and the classic Frank Pennink layout is unlikely to disappoint! Reminiscent of UK parkland tracks such as Woburn or Wentworth, the Old Course winds its way through the towering pines in an atmosphere of peace and quiet with most of the holes being completely independent of the others, giving the perception of your group being alone on the course.
Having hosted many high level professional events since opening in 1969, the conditioning of the course and the excellent practice facilities and clubhouse make the Old Course in Vilamoura a “must-play” golf course in Portugal.
5. San Lorenzo Golf Club, Algarve, Portugal
In a very similar way to the Vilamoura Old Course, the golf course at San Lorenzo in the exclusive Vale do Lobo enclave really should be on your list of “must-play” courses!
With a virtually unspoilt waterfront location winding its way along the banks of the Ria Formosa Estuary and lakes, the San Lorenzo layout boasts perfect views from many of the holes. The high quality of location, design and course conditions mean that tee times at San Lorenzo are among the most sought-after in the Algarve and therefore guaranteed tee times are only available to members and residents of the 5 star Dona Filipa San Lorenzo and 4 star Formosa Park Hotels. However, green fees for residents of these hotels can be included at very low cost, or indeed free of charge at certain times of the year, so booking a stay with your golf included at San Lorenzo can actually be very good value!
6. Vilamoura Victoria Golf Course, Algarve, Portugal
Now firmly established on the European Tour roster of tournaments, the Portugal Masters takes place at the tough Vilamoura Victoria course each autumn and draws some of the tour’s top players and large galleries to this Arnold Palmer design.
Straight, long hitters who can also putt well will probably enjoy the challenge at Victoria, but if your length, direction or putting is not on top form then even better players will struggle to post a good score here.
Stray off the fairways into the first cut of rough and your ball may be impossible to find and if you do locate it getting it back into play could be tricky. If you successfully manage to navigate your ball onto the large and undulating greens then make sure it is in the right place and close to the pin as 3, 4 or even 5 putts are not unheard of on the slippery putting surfaces.
7. Penina Golf Club, Algarve, Portugal
The Sir Henry Cotton Championship Course at the Penina Hotel & Golf Resort was the very first 18 hole golf course in the Algarve when it was inaugurated in 1966. Featuring a slightly unusual par 73 layout, with 4 par-5 holes on the back 9, the golf course – even though it is located on a fairly flat piece of land – provides a stern test of golf for players of all standards.
Lined with mature trees throughout, the Penina Golf Club’s environment is once again reminiscent of many of the UK’s classic parkland courses, but with excellent year-round conditions players are unlikely to ever confuse golf in the Algarve for dreary northern European weather!
Complemented by a luxury 5 star hotel on-site, the Penina Hotel & Golf Resort is a clear contender to be considered one of the top 10 golf resorts in Portugal.
8. Oitavos Dunes Golf Club, Cascais, Lisbon, Portugal
To the west of Portugal’s capital of Lisbon is the town of Cascais, and even further to the west are the impressive dunes of the wild Atlantic coastline where Oitavos has been carved out of the towering sand hills. Privately owned by the Champalimaud family, the golf course at Oitavos Dunes is wonderfully well maintained at all times with fairways, greens and tees all being afforded close attention by a large team of professional green keeping staff every day of the year.
The on-site Oitavos Hotel is a true 5 star venue and a stay and play package here is a very popular way to enjoy the fantastic Oitavos experience!
9. Vale do Lobo Royal Golf Course, Algarve, Portugal
The Royal Course at Vale do Lobo Golf Club features one of golf’s most iconic (and photographed) holes, the par 3 16th running alongside the beach and the sea to the players left side. Distraction here could be a card-wrecker, so real focus is vital at this late stage of the round, but for many golfers it could be too late anyway as the preceding 15 holes could have already done the damage!
Throughout the round the Vale do Lobo Royal course offers a picturesque and high quality Algarve golfing experience, with well-manicured fairways and slick undulating greens on every single hole.
Coupled with the sister Vale do Lobo Ocean golf course and the many sporting, accommodation and leisure options available at the superb Vale do Lobo Resort, the Royal Course should once again be on your must-play list of golf courses in Portugal.
10. Troia Golf Club, Setubal, Lisbon, Portugal
Located on the Troia Peninsula to the South of Lisbon, the golf course here was designed by Robert Trent Jones Snr in 1980 and occupies true links-land amongst the sand dunes and pine trees alongside the Atlantic coast.
Direct access from Lisbon is quickest via the Setubal ferry service and is the classic way to reach Troia and once on the peninsula you are in a truly unspoilt protected natural area.
Troia Golf Club has hosted many top level amateur and professional tournaments over the years and this is reflected by its high rankings in recent Golf Digest European and Worldwide (except USA) course guides.
Of course all of the above is just the opinion of the Golf de la Luz Team, but currently we believe that these 10 courses represent the best Portugal has to offer!