The Algarve is widely regarded as one the most popular destinations for golf tourism in Europe.
There is an excellent year-round climate and an abundance of championship golf courses. Plus, you can add in the beautiful sandy beaches, a friendly vibrant local culture and a flight time of less than 3 hours from the UK. It is easy to see why sun-seeking golfers keep coming back to the Algarve every year.
It is incredible to think that until 1966, with the opening of the Penina Golf Resort, there was barely a golf ball struck within this region on the southern coast of Portugal. However, now there are over 40 golf courses to choose from all within driving distance of the Faro Airport.
With golf resorts such as Monte Rei and Quinta do Lago it is hardly surprising that the Algarve remains such a firm favourite. You will find golf resorts for every standard and budget. Whether you want to only play the best championship courses or you are more interested in the local cuisine and nightlife, there is somewhere for you.
In this article, we will take a look at what we consider to be the best golf resorts in the Algarve.
Largely regarded as the course that started it all for golf in the Algarve. The Penina is a championship course built in 1966 by three-time winner of The Open, Sir Henry Cotton. The course certainly has its place within Portugal’s golfing history, highlighted by the fact it has hosted the Portuguese Open a remarkable ten times. A challenging layout with a Par 73, it boasts lots of risk and reward holes with plenty of doglegs and water hazards. If you are playing Penina for the first time, make sure you carry enough golf balls!
Located in the western Algarve city of Portimao, Penina also has a grand five-star hotel. There you will find five restaurants and two bars offering a variety of cuisines and cocktails to sample. Outside of the golf course you will find an array of on-site activities to keep you busy, with floodlit tennis courts and a private beach club. Penina also lays claim to the largest private swimming pool anywhere in the Algarve.
In addition to the main championship golf course there are also two 9 hole courses, the Resort and Academy. Combined with excellent practice facilities, there are plenty of golfing options to keep you busy at Penina.
The championship course itself may not quite have kept up with some of its more modern rivals nearby such as Palmares, but the overall experience of this resort ensures that it retains the status of being one of the best in the Algarve.
Monte Rei (North) is widely considered the best golf course in the Algarve and it consistently ranks among the very best in Portugal and Europe. For keen golfers, it is absolutely a must-play when staying in the region. The was the first course in Portugal to be designed by Jack Nicklaus, Monte Rei weaves through the mountainous terrain of eastern Algarve.
You are going to want a buggy when you play this course, but the setting allows for spectacular views of the Serra do Caldeirão Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. The course itself features elevated tees, several large water hazards and breathtaking bunkering. You would be hard pressed to name any weak holes here. Possibly the signature hole would be the 13th. A downhill par-4 with bunkers in play from the tee, followed by a short approach to a green surrounded by a lake.
The accommodation at Monte Rei comes in the form of luxury villas and apartments. They are all located within the estate and are only a few minutes walk from the clubhouse, swimming pool and on-site facilities.
Located away from the busier locations within the Algarve, you can take in the scenery and relax in this peaceful location. Beyond the golf course, Monte Rei is also renowned for its exceptional dining and service experience within the clubhouse. The whole resort experience is nothing short of a five-star from start to finish at Monte Rei.
Quinta Do Lago is one of the largest and well-known golf resorts in Europe, if not the world. It has been recognised as both ‘Europe’s Best Golf Destination’ and the ‘Best International Resort’ by World Golf Awards and Golf Digest respectively between 2015-17. Such recognition highlights Quinta Do Lago’s place as one of the premier golf resorts in the Algarve.
The best-known course at Quinta Do Lago is the South, which has hosted several Portuguese Opens. However, you can also choose to play at the North or Laranjal courses, which are both impressive in their own right. All three of the Quinta Do Lago courses are typically kept in good condition and share similar features. You will find tall umbrella pines lining the fairways, plenty of water hazards that come into play and some excellent bunkering.
On top of three excellent golf courses, you can also practice at the Paul McGinley Academy or head to Southern Europe’s only TaylorMade Performance Centre. You can combine your golf with a stay at either The Conrad Hotel, one of many luxurious villas within the grounds or the nearby boutique Magnolia Hotel.
Regardless of where you choose to stay you will find all the luxury facilities you would expect, including an infinity pool, spas, tennis courts and restaurants. At Quinta Do Lago you also have the benefit of a peaceful and private location nestled within the Ria Formosa nature reserve.
Vale Do Lobo is the oldest golf resort in the Algarve, having been founded in 1962. It is situated in one of the most popular areas of Portugal for British tourists, right in the centre of the Algarve near the popular town of Vilamoura. Vale Do Lobo has everything you need from a golf resort to go with its prime location. There are two excellent golf courses, luxury accommodation, swimming pools, a spa, tennis courts and plenty of restaurant choices.
The Royal course is generally considered the better of the two courses. This is largely thanks to the spectacular 16th hole, which is probably the most photographed hole in all of Portugal. Perched on the cliff top, with the Atlantic Ocean to your side, this par-3 requires you to hit across the cliffs and sandy beaches below.
The Ocean is still a decent course itself though and should not be dismissed. It features some nice beachside holes and lots of tall pine and eucalyptus trees.
Overall, these courses might not stack up with the very best in the Algarve for the keenest golfers. However, the 16th hole on the Royal course is worth your green fee alone and the experience of the resort as a whole is exceptional.
Amendoeira Golf Resort is host to two well-renowned 18 holes courses, Faldo and O’Connor Jnr. In addition, it also has the only floodlit par-3 course in the Algarve. The Faldo course is typically ranked in highest esteem and is a challenging championship course built on undulating terrain. The natural land of scrub bunkers, water hazards and olive trees will collect wayward shots, meaning accurate and strategic golf is required throughout.
The O’Connor Jnr course is built on flatter land within a valley. There are still plenty of memorable holes that weave around the river and lakes on the course and it is a great choice for groups of varying ability. Whichever course you choose, all three are usually kept in great condition most of the year.
Accommodation at the Amendoeira Resort is provided through modern four-star self-catering apartments and villas.
Within the resort you will find swimming pools, a gym, five-a-side football pitches and tennis courts.
The Amendoeira Clubhouse is located in the centre of the resort and a definite focal point. Here you will find a lovely restaurant and bar to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, where you can enjoy the view overlooking all the golf courses.
Interested in visiting Portugal? Get in touch today and find out how we can help you organie your next golf break.