This week’s blog is a guide to ten of the best courses in the Lisbon region. Lisbon boasts everything that you could possibly need or want for your next golf escape from fascinating culture, rich history, brilliant food and drink to luxurious resorts and brilliant golf courses. Oh, and you can enjoy almost year-round lovely golfing weather here! We have compiled a list of our favourite ten courses in the region, so take a look and see if any of them pique your interest for a golf escape…
Aroeira Golf Resort stretches out over 900-acres and boasts two brilliant golf courses: Aroeira I and Aroeira II. The resort is situated just 20 minutes south of Lisbon and boasts a beautiful location on the Setubal Peninsula within a stunning preservation area.
Aroeira I was designed by Frank Pennink and opened for play in 1972. The course was an immediate hit and went on to host the 1996 and 1997 Portuguese Opens. The course measures just over 6,100 metres from the back tees. Its lush Bermuda fairways wind through a dense pine forest filled with pine trees. Each hole along the course presents you with a different challenge, the only common theme that the holes have in common is that there is a complete absence of any fairway bunkers. However, despite the lack of bunkers, there are many trees that were strategically left in play to catch any errant shots.
The landscape of the area is perfect for a golf course, it is gently undulating, and you can enjoy the beautiful scenery of wild flowers, wildlife and the preservation area. The front nine are very enjoyable holes with some notable favourites like the downhill par 3 8th which features out of bounds to the right of the hole. The back nine are even better, the signature hole of the course is considered to be the 14th which is a very short par 3 where you play slightly downhill to reach the green which sits behind a very long bunker on the corner of a small lake. This is a beautiful short hole but a difficult one! After your round, enjoy a few drinks in the clubhouse which is lovely and homely.
Aroeira II was only opened in April 2000, the course was designed by Donald Steel and is highly regarded as being an excellent golf course. The course measures just over 6,400 metres and was built to European Tour recommendation standards. Much like Aroeira I, Aroeira II is crafted through heavily wooded, gently undulating terrain. Unlike, Aroeira I, Aroeira II boasts six large lakes which are situated along your route and are waiting for any errant shots.
The holes on this course are very long and cleverly designed to use the natural contours of the land, many of the bunkers have a Scottish pot bunker style and are very lethal! The greens are large and slick but to get to them, you must avoid the trees, the sand and the water which is not an easy challenge. It is no surprise that both Aroeira I and II made our list of recommendations; these are impressive, challenging and beautiful courses so don’t miss out on a round on either one of them.
Arguably one of the best golf complexes situated on the Iberian Peninsula is the Ribagolfe complex of 36 holes and it isn’t hard to see why. Both Ribagolfe I and II offer golfers of all abilities an exciting and unforgettable round of golf. The only con of this complex is that it is 30 minutes from Lisbon, 45 minutes from Sesimbra and an hour from Cascais/Estoril. However, it is well worth the drive for any serious golfer.
Ribagolfe I only opened for play in 2004 but the course has already matured, each of its holes is memorably beautiful. The course’s main features included cork tree-lined fairways, water hazards and undulating, well-bunkered greens. The course measures an impressive 7,370 yards from the tips and was designed by Peter Townsend with tournament play in mind. However, due to the range of tee boxes, this course can be enjoyed by those with higher handicaps from the forwards tees.
Ribagolfe I plays much longer and tighter than Ribagolfe II which means that accuracy is key if you hope to finish with a good scorecard. The back nine are the most challenging on this course, there are the very long par 5 12th hole and the short par 4 14th. There is also the shortest hole on the course, the all-carry par 3 15th where you must avoid the water which sits to the front left of a raised green which is also flanked on either side by sand. Whether you are a top golfer or an average one, a round at Ribagolfe I will not disappoint.
Ribagolfe II also opened for play in 2004 and was also designed by the European Golf Design Company but in collaboration with former Walker and Ryder Cup player Michael King. The course was designed as a members’ course and like its brother course, is routed through cork oak and boasts a fair challenge in lovely surroundings. The course is shorter than its sibling and its fairways are much more open and lead to large, reasonably contoured greens.
Water hazards only come into play on a couple of holes along this course including the short par 4 6th where the creek cuts across right in front of the green. There is also the long par 5 13th where the sane stream cuts through the fairway into a small lake sitting on the right side of the hole. Overall, this course is considered to be slightly easier than Ribagolfe I, but it can still pose a firm but fair challenge to golfers of all abilities. It is no surprise that we highly recommend a visit to the Ribagolfe complex when you are on your next golf break to Lisbon.
Situated between the town of Belas and Vale de Lobo, just a short drive from Lisbon city centre is Belas. This course opened for play in 1997 and stretches to a strong 6,280 metres from the tips. A round of golf here is an enjoyable challenge for golfers of all abilities making it a perfect choice for a holiday course.
The course has been carved through valleys and over the rolling slopes of Carreguiera, you can enjoy rugged hillsides, beautifully moulded fairways, large bunkers and areas of treacherous water throughout your round here. There are many impressive holes along the course, but particularly impressive ones include the short par 5 15th which features a stream that cuts the fairway right where those of you who are big hitters would place your tee shot. The green, once you reach it, is back-to-front and slopes which makes your putting difficult. There is also the finishing 18th which is a very strong and watery par 4 where you must carry your approach shot across a U-shaped lake in order to reach the final, narrow green. This is an impressive and scenic golf course situated in an ideal location for anyone holidaying in Lisbon.
Lisbon Sports Club is another one of our recommendations. The course was founded in 1922 and was designed by Hawtree and Sons, it is a charming, 18-hole parkland course situated in one of the most picturesque regions just outside of the greater Lisbon area – just 20 minutes from the city. This is a perfect course to play just as you get off the plane due to its location and it works as a great warm-up course at just over 5,200 metres from the back tees.
The course is nestled in a valley and features tree-lined fairways, the main characteristics of the course are raised tees and elevated greens. Right from the first tee, you can enjoy eye-catching holes, the first hole is a par 3 which is played downhill to a heavily-guarded with sand green. Then, you embark on the toughest hole on the course, the 403-metre par 4 2nd. This a brilliant golf course which has some tricky challenges, lovely scenery and boasts a brilliant location, make sure it is one for your must-play list.
Golf do Estoril has had the honour of hosting the Portuguese Open 20 times, it is one of Portugal’s oldest courses but has stood the test of time and is still one of the most enjoyable golfing experiences in the country. The course was designed by Mackenzie Ross and features a fairly straightforward layout where you will be rewarded for your accuracy rather than your power shots, this is due to the fact that the course is fairly short at just over 5,200 metres.
The course is set out amongst eucalyptus, pine and mimosa trees and boasts a few water hazards. The main challenge of the course comes from the very narrow fairways and undulating landscape. There are quite a few impressive holes for you to enjoy on this course, but we will mention a few of the standout holes here. The short downhill 3rd and right doglegged 9th are both brilliant par 4s. You also have the left doglegged 14th which is a brilliant hole and the 16th which has been ranked as one of the best par 3s in the whole of Portugal! Golf do Estoril is a fantastic test of golf which is full of history. On your next golf escape to Lisbon, make sure to book yourself a round on this prestigious course.
Penha Longa resort is situated to the west of the city of Lisbon and is set in the southern foothills of the Sintra Cascais Nature Park. You can enjoy beautiful landscapes of valleys, hills and rocky outcrops as well as extensive vegetation. There are two excellent courses situated within the resort, but we recommend the championship course – the Atlantic.
The Atlantic was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jnr and opened for play in 1992, it went on to hose the Portuguese Open in 1994. As you make your way around the course, you will find yourself travelling up and down the hills around the south side of the clubhouse, from these peaks you can enjoy the most amazing views of the coastal towns of Estoril and Cascais as well as the Atlantic. Even if the wind isn’t blowing, this course is a stern test of golf to those of all abilities but, when the wind is up, the course becomes a real test.
There are many standout holes along the course including the par 5 6th where the green is beautifully framed by a lake and boasts the backdrop of a medieval arched wall and castle tower. There is also the par 3 15th where you must carry your shot over water, but this shot is often made difficult by the winds! Undoubtedly, the hardest hole on the course is the 16th where you must carry a long drive over a valley before taking your uphill approach shot to the narrow green. This fantastic course is a challenging and beautiful one – not to be missed out on whilst you are taking your next golf escape to Lisbon.
Oitavos Dunes course is often ranked within the top five courses in the whole of Portugal and it isn’t hard to see why. The course is located within the Sintra-Cascais National Park and opened for play in September 2001. From the course, you can enjoy stunning views of the Atlantic and the Sintra Mountains. This course was designed by Arthur Hills who only designed two European golf courses as the rest of his accomplishments are set within the USA.
Measuring just over 6,300 metres from the competition tees, the course is not overly long, but it boasts a stunning mix of both woodland and links-style holes that have been beautifully laid in order to make use of the existing landscape. Each and every hole flows well and features strategically positioned hazards and firm, fast greens. The beginning holes are quality but not difficult holes, although they are all tree-lined and feature careful bunkering as well as tricky greens! The following holes boast more of a links feel to them with a sandy ground, dunes and much fewer trees to watch out for. The final two holes require you to venture back into the trees and pose a stern finishing challenge.
There are so many brilliant holes situated along the course but the 14th is probably the signature hole. The 14th is a brilliant par 3 which can play a lot longer than its 153 metres suggests, you play your tee shot across a storm ravine which then runs all the way down the right-hand side of the hole. This is a superb course which can be paired beautifully with a stay at the Oitavos Hotel.
Last, but certainly not least, we have Quinta do Peru which is situated to the south of Lisbon between Sesimbra and Setubal. The is one of the most exclusive courses in the region but it is possible to book tee times here if you get in early enough. The course is set within a pine forest which extends to more than 300 acres, you can enjoy the Arrabida Mountains as a backdrop to the course. There is no doubting that this is a very special course, it is routed across a high undulating plateau from which you can enjoy stunning views across the treetops.
Both sets of nine holes begin with very challenging par 5s and finish with extremely difficult holes. The 9th and the 18th are long par 4s. If you decide to take on this course from the back tees, you certainly are in for a challenge due to the huge American-style bunkers and many water hazards, don’t expect to play to handicap during your first attempt on this course. This course boasts an excellent reputation, but make sure to see for yourself what the fuss is about and book your next golf escape today…
We hope that you have enjoyed this week’s blog and that one or more of these courses has piqued your interest for your next golf break to Lisbon. Give us a call today to get your own tailor-made golf escape.