Top Five European Golf Courses…

Sometimes it is hard to decide which of the many golf courses in Europe you are going to put on your golfing bucket list and which you are going to centre your next golfing holiday around but here is our tailor-made list of the top five golf courses in Europe…

To start the list we have these three superb golf courses in Portugal…

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First up we have Monte Rei which could well be the best golf course that we sell in Portugal and it’s not just the golf course that is first class! All the buggies include GPS systems which help you navigate your way around the spectacular course. The club is renowned for its fabulous service, guests will be met by a member of staff who will even park the car and take the clubs to the first tee for them where they will be clean and waiting for you. This course is not to be missed and everything from its excellent service to the bunkers made of crushed marble and beautiful greenery explains why this is one of the finest courses in the Algarve.

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Then we have San Lorenzo which is a fabulously well thought out course in Portugal. It is constantly appearing in the list of “Europe’s top 100 courses” in magazines such as Today’s Golfer and Golf World and it isn’t hard to see why.  The course features sandy undulating greens with the fairways bordered by umbrella pines and the marsh sanctuary. The course offers some stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean before turning back inland after the 7th hole showing spectacular greenery and the lakes that make this course a little tricky. We recommend staying at Dona Filipa or the Formosa Park to ensure tee times on this great course!

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Next up we have the Royal Obidos course which only opened in 2012 but is already making a name for itself. With its undulating greens and its spectacular scenery of lakes and greenery it’s not hard to see why this is one of the Golf Escapes’ favourites! We recommend a buggy at Royal Obidos as you will certainly know about it the next day if you decide to walk the course and water features so prominently on this course that you are certain to lose a few balls so make sure you bring a few spare! This picturesque course also offers great views of the Atlantic Ocean and holes of varying difficulty. Set in the grounds of the amazing Evolutee Royal Obidos Hotel & Spa this really is a perfect golfing holiday destination.

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Portugal hosts some fabulous courses but these course which are situated in Spain are sure to turn any keen golfer’s head…

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There are two fantastic 18 hole courses at PGA and both are brilliant in their own ways. These could be argued as the two best courses in Northern Spain easily. The PGA Stadium is the tougher of the two courses and has held the Spanish Open on a number of occasions. Although not confirmed until December, this course has a shot at even being the host of the Ryder Cup 2022. Even though the Stadium course is fantastic, the PGA Tour course seems to be more popular to a lot of golfers as it is easier and less punishing! We recommend staying in Girona if these two courses are on your golfing holiday itinerary which is just 20 minutes away. Girona is a mini Barcelona with plenty of Michelin Star restaurants, stylish bars and great nightlife.

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Last, but not least, we have Valderrama. Anyone who knows anything about golf and fantastic golf courses will have heard of Valderrama after its hosting of a plethora of championships. Set amongst cork trees on terrains in brilliant condition, this is arguably one of the best courses in the whole of Europe and has been justifiably been rated as number one. This course has been awarded for environmental excellence and it’s not hard to see why with its naturalistic setting and vast amount of wildlife. Although the course features quick greens it is playable for players of most abilities making it a great round of golf. If price will allow, no golfer should miss out on ticking this fantastic course off of their golfing bucket list.

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And our wildcard…the spectacular Thracian Cliffs course situated in Bulgaria…Thracian-Cliffs

Thracian Cliffs is unlike any other golf course in Europe.  It’s spectacular and a very tough and challenging course, even the best players will have to have a good round to score even close to their handicap! The course was designed by Gary Player and all 18 holes run along the cliff line of the Black Sea and the green fees at Thracian Cliffs all include unlimited use of the driving range facilities and a buggies. Just 15 minutes from the town of Balchik which is a great, local Bulgarian town where you can grab a pre or post round meal! We believe that the reason people should play at Thracian Cliffs is because it’s a world-class golfing experience, unlike any other course and it is also superb value for money. This course is a must-play and will be an unforgettable round!

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Orizonte Lisbon golf…

In Portugal there are undoubtedly some fantastic golf courses and Orizonte golf can take you to a fair few of the best in the Lisbon region.

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Just under 15 minutes from the bustle and everyday life of the Lisbon streets sits Oeiras Golf Club with the rolling fairways it offers players an enjoyable as well as challenging game whilst enjoying some peace and quiet away from the city centre to enjoy a brilliant game of golf.

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Only 20 minutes from Lisbon is the estate of Aroeira which hosts two fantastic golf courses – Aroeira I and Aroeira II. Aroeira I is set with undulating fairways running through a pine forest making it a classic golfing location which requires accuracy in order to stay on the fairway. This course is a stunning green course and the challenging game makes it a fun course to play. Aroeira II has water in play on no fewer than 9 holes making it a challenging and scenic course. As the fairways are also lined by pine trees on this second course accuracy is very much needed both for the water hazards and the trees.

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With a backdrop of the Arrábida Natural Park and just 30 minutes’ drive from the centre of Lisbon is the Golf & Country Club at Quinta do Peru. Long established favourite with golfers to the Lisbon area originally built as an upmarket Lisbon member’s course but we are able to offer green fees here through Orizonte at very reasonable prices. The course is invariably in tip top condition and with a superb layout designed by Rocky Roquemore. Plenty of lakes and bunkers waiting for your errant shots and a warm welcome in the traditional clubhouse awaits you after a superb round.

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The Ribagolfe Resort is one of Europe’s hidden gems and we don’t like to use this term lightly, carved between cork trees in the middle of a forest 30 miles from Lisbon sits this 36-hole complex. The Ribagolfe courses (both I and II) are firm favourites among golf escapes staff and clients. It is rare to experience golf in a fabulous natural surrounding with incredibly low green fees and you will wonder why a 36 hole was built literally in the middle of nowhere but after you have played you will realise that it is a truly brilliant complex and you will be desperate to return.

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Just a bit further from Ribagolfe is Santo Estêvão which is the newest course in the Costa Azul region. This undulating greens and strategically-placed greens and bunkers will make sure than even the most competent golfer is tested on their round here.

 

Hotel Do Mar features a wide variety of stylish rooms from old traditional Portuguese rooms to the bigger modern rooms which all boast a fabulous sea view. This quirky hotel is actually two separate buildings joined together with the reception on the top floor. Just outside of the centre of town the hotel is surrounded by lots of fantastic bars and restaurants whilst in keeping with a quieter and more tranquil feel.

 

The Sana Sesimbra hotel is situated in centre of the town. Their sea view rooms are spectacular and feel as if you are right on the beach as this hotel sits just on the edge of the golden sands. All the rooms are modern and stylish. The hotel features a lovely restaurant and bar area. With this hotel a stones throw away from the beach and right in the centre of town there is plenty to do and see including a stunning castle on the beach. This hotel is ideal for those looking for fabulous food and drink in a calm and beautiful town with a fantastic beach.

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The Sesimbra Hotel & Spa is a very impressive building with all their rooms featuring a stunning sea view from high up above the sand. Situated above a beautiful cobbled pedestrianised area near some lovely restaurants, bars, cafes and shops with spacious and modern rooms in which to enjoy the views nothing could be more ideal. We recommend Bar Ingles or La Villa Italian restaurant nearby!

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Those looking to travel a bit further north should look no further than the Obidos region…

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Just over an hour away from Lisbon sits the stylish and modern Evolutee Royal Obidos Hotel & Spa. Featuring spacious and contemporary rooms with fabulous views of the fantastic golf course, the Atlantic Ocean and the Lagoa de Obidos this hotel is ideal for those looking for a quieter golfing break with some great golf around. With several bars and their very own steak and sushi restaurant you will never be short of somewhere to relax after a day on the golf course.

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Bom Sucesso is a short distance from the hotel with similar views of the Lagoa de Obidos and the Ocean as its backdrop. This course features fast and challenging greens and is recommended for all golfers looking for a challenge whilst in the Obidos region. With dense Mediterranean foliage, strategically placed bunkers and fabulous views there is no reason why this 18-hole Championship course should not be on your must-play list.

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Out and about in Lisbon

An insider’s guide to food in Lisbon…

 The region of Lisbon holds so much traditional Portuguese culture that it is essential that anyone travelling to the area makes an effort to experience what the region has to offer and many would say that there is no better way to do that than by food!

If you are looking to experience some traditional Portuguese food then look no further than Sinal Vermhelo. Anywhere in a town which is incredibly popular with the locals is definitely somewhere to try and this is no exception. It is highly recommended that you ring up to book in order to be able to experience some of the divine fish dishes that are served here. Another fabulous authentic Portuguese restaurant is called Crisfama. This restaurant is truly a hidden gem that is worth finding! Although these two are fabulous there are many other stunning Portuguese restaurants in Lisbon which are equally as fantastic.

If you’re looking for something meatier then Cantinho do Avillez which is a steakhouse is ideal. This attractive and modern eatery is popular among both locals for its good value lunches and tourists looking for tasty food in a great location (which this place certainly isn’t lacking being in the centre of Lisbon!). If a more hip and vibrant restaurant is more you’re style than the Mediterranean restaurant Insolito is perfect. It is in such a spectacular location on a rooftop overlooking the whole of Lisbon found in the middle of Bairro Alto; although it is a little hidden it is worth searching for.

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…and to festivals and fun…

 Lisbon’s calendar is full throughout the year with different events and festivals and so when you are in the area it is impossible to not get involved or at least hear and see the celebrations around the city.

The Carnival takes place during February and involves parades with floats mimicking the Rio de Janeiro carnival. The floats and costumes are incredible and there are also many stalls selling traditional, regional delicacies.

During April they host a Lisbon Fish & Flavours festival during which the speciality dish of Lisbon – fish – is celebrated by the locals and at Pátio de Galé there are demonstrations, tasting and cooking lessons available for everyone. Although it would be difficult to replicate the freshness of their fish recipes when we come back home it is worth going to watch some of the demonstrations and take part in the festival just to experience a fun Lisbon festival.

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Every Thursday and Sunday you can catch free Fado performances on trams all around Lisbon during the month of June as part of the Festa de Fado. Fadistas will also perform at Castelo de São Jorge giving everyone a chance to enjoy some music in an atmospheric setting. There is no better way to be introduced to and experience Fado than by going to Lisbon during this festival!

BaixAnima is also another fun festival in Lisbon. It is free to attend and you are entertained every weekend from July until September with different circus acts, many live music acts, mini-theatre performances and even mime! All these festivals are just a few of what Lisbon has to offer in terms of exciting nightlife and vibrant daytime activities!

An insider’s guide to food in Sesimbra…

 If you’re looking for traditional Portuguese food then it won’t be hard to find in Sesimbra as most of its bars and restaurants appeal to the locals so are inexpensive and have quality, fresh food. Restaurante Mare serves a delicious selection of fish and some fantastic house wine at an incredibly reasonable price. All this with a delightful owner makes this restaurant a must for those visiting Sesimbra.

Another classic Portuguese restaurant is Restaurante Canhao which also serves delicious and fresh fish which you can ask to be prepared to how you like to eat it – another inexpensive restaurant without any faults.

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Hidden in the backstreets of the historical centre of Sesimbra is Casa Mateus which is a small family run restaurant who want to cater for everyone. Another traditional Portuguese restaurant not to be missed when visiting this beautiful and sleepy little town.

…and to festivals and fun…

Sesimbra is a much quieter and undisturbed town than Lisbon which is only 40km away so rarely hosts the kind of festivals that Lisbon does. Most festivals that Sesimbra hosts are religious festivals.

However within 30km of Sesimbra is the Super bock Super Rock Festival which takes place during mid July with many famous music acts playing appealing to all audiences. Although Sesimbra doesn’t have much to offer in terms of festivals it has some good nightlife available for both tourists and locals. Either Bar O Mariante which is open most of the night, every night. Or it’s English next door neighbour – Bar Inglés – which is also open for most of the night, every night.

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Both Lisbon and Sesimbra have so much to offer both in terms of fun things to do and see during the day as well as food and drink and are two places you would be crazy not to visit at least once during your lifetime.

Introduction to Lisbon

Why Lisbon?

 Travelling by tram or on foot is by far the best way to travel around this city as even the trams can take you into the cobbled, multi-coloured streets with the tiny cafes and restaurants. Whether it’s history or culture or music that you’re looking for it would be a real challenge to be disappointed with a Lisbon escape.

Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and although a big city in Iberian terms it still manages to have a village kind of feel about it making it a popular choice and it’s not hard to see why. It is almost impossible to have enough time in one trip to visit everything that you would like to see whilst doing it at your leisure but there are certain things that really cannot be missed by anyone visiting this cosmopolitan city.

 

Visit the sights…

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A must-see is the walk up to Castle of São Jorge which is the highest point of the city with beautiful views of both the city of Lisbon as well as views of the river Tragus rich with history and stunning views this is not an opportunity to be missed. If the sight-seeing opportunities and the magnificent architecture aren’t enough to convince you then there are also art museums and designer label shops to capture your attention.

Everyone knows about the tourist guide “must do and see” lists for this amazing place but not many have discovered the hidden gems and how to really experience life as a local in Lisbon. A fantastic way to experience the food and drink which is hugely popular in Lisbon is with Eat Portugal. They take you on tours around the capital where you stop off for fabulous food and drink all day whilst experiencing hidden streets on foot. This is truly a great way to experience Lisbon as a local and find those hidden gems that can only be found with a true local.

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A local tradition that is almost unmissable whilst in Lisbon is their music. Whether you’re just strolling through the streets or having dinner at a restaurant you are bound to at some point hear some Fado which is thought to have originated in the 1820s in Portugal. Spending an evening at Casa de Fado is truly an incredible experience and essential for those wanting to experience some real Lisbon culture.

 

Golf and football it is…

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Not only does Lisbon host some fantastic historical monuments, divine restaurants, cute little cafes and some fun nightlife it also is home to some fabulous golf courses as well as some world-class football. What could be more perfect than a holiday that combines this fabulous city with that world class football and some fabulous golfing experiences? Orizonte Golf provide this opportunity with a 3 night stay at a beautifully modern hotel right in the centre of Lisbon, a ticket to see Sporting vs. Benfica as well as two green fees for two stunning courses!

Why not visit a beautiful town…

A little further afield from Lisbon is a smaller but equally as stunning town just 40km south of Lisbon called Sesimbra. It is situated on an incredible coastline with some stunning beaches and surrounded by Serra de Arrabida national park which is perfect for those looking for some activities during their holiday. Although Sesimbra has managed to maintain the feel and atmosphere of a quiet fishing village is carries the bustle of the fun nightlife equally as well.  Sesimbra is off of the usual tourist trail which makes is perfect for peace and quiet and time to see what life is like in a traditional Portuguese town. However, it is increasingly popular with Portuguese tourists but this only means that if you are to go to Sesimbra you should expect traditional and authentic Portuguese food as well as reasonably priced restaurants and bars – what could be more perfect?

If a golfing competition, staying in a fantastic hotel and some wine tasting appeals to you then Orizonte Golf offer a Golf Trophy event at the end of February. Guests will stay in the centre of town in the stunning SANA Sesimbra Hotel and play four rounds with other guests and participate in a wine tasting event and also a prize-giving lunch when the tournament is over. This hotels location is fabulous overlooking a perfect sandy beach and still within walking distance of the many great bars and restaurants that Sesimbra has to offer.

 

 

The Masters 2016

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You can bet that any keen golfer will already be looking forward to April when the 80th Masters tournament will be held at Augusta National Golf Club as it is every year. With Jordan Speith set to return to the course to try and win his second Green Jacket and prove himself as a competitor for the number one spot in the world this will surely be an exciting few days.

 

The Masters is the only major championship that is played on the same course every year and it’s not hard to see why…

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Born was one of the most exclusive golf clubs in the world when the golfing hero Bobby Jones designed this course imitating individual holes from his favourite courses and creating his ideal golf course by combining the aspects that he most liked about them.

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This beautifully picturesque course with its rolling terrains and vast array of shrubbery and foliage make it worthy of its exclusivity to host to one of the four major championships year after year.

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The course is considered to be so beautiful that it is not always so necessary to be engrossed with the golf as the scenery provides a different type of entertainment. With the fantastic scenery, unbeatable amenities and world-class service why would The Masters ever need another golf course?

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Nearby to Augusta Golf Club are some fabulous hotels so why not enjoy your time watching a championship event whilst staying in luxury?

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The Jameson Suites in Augusta hold fantastic suites with large living and sleeping areas as well as a pool and fitness centre, perfect for those needing somewhere to unwind after watching the excitement at Augusta National Golf Club. There are also plenty of local restaurants as well as three supermarkets just off the interstate making this hotel the perfect companion for your Masters getaway.

Close to the action is the Country Inn & Suites Augusta which hosts all the amenities you would want or need during your stay such as a fitness centre, indoor pall, refrigerator and high speed Wi-Fi. The area around the hotel is superb with the Nature Park, Riverwalk Augusta and various historical monuments as well as the Augusta National Golf club where all the drama will be unfolding during your stay.

 

Those looking for more to do than just watch the golfing at Augusta Golf Club should look no further than Americas Best Value Inn and Suites in Augusta. Within a mile of the Hotel there are ten food vendors both fast-food and nice restaurants as well as the Washington Crossing Shopping Centre, the Morris Museum of Art, the Augusta Museum of History and several cinemas and theatres. The hotel also features and outdoor pool, a fitness centre and flat screen TVs in all rooms which makes being bored here impossible.

 

In downtown Columbia is the Columbia Marriott Hotel where you can relax in a spacious suite with a grand size bed, flat screen TV, Wi-Fi and if you fancy something more upbeat after a long day watching the golf then you can take a dip in the heated indoor pool or workout in the fitness centre. In the area there are also plenty of bars and restaurants as well as the restaurant in the hotel.

 

 

Take a look at the line-up for The Masters tournament 2016…

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With Rory McIlroy and Jordan Speith still battling for the number one spot it is no surprise that they are the favourites to win the Green Jacket this year. After winning the 2015 Masters and then the 2015 U.S Open  can Speith make it a third major championship victory in the last year?

 

Although Tiger Woods didn’t play at his best during the 2015 Masters is it possible for him to rectify his game and come back fighting for the Masters 2016? And what about Jason Day – the winner of “015’s PGA Championship – can he win his first Green Jacket next April?

 

No matter who comes away with the Green Jacket next April it is sure to be an exciting championship with the best players in the world coming to the Augusta National Golf Club to provide a true golfing spectacular.