Top 10 Best Golf Courses in Portugal
A firm favourite amongst our customers, Portugal continues to go from strength-to-strength as a golf holiday destination welcoming millions of tourists every year with most looking to enjoy the fantastic climate, beautiful beaches, culture, delicious food, and of course the superb selection of golf courses and resorts that have emerged over the last 40 years.
We are often asked by our customers, what are the best golf courses in Portugal? This can be quite a personal question and can take us from the delights of The Algarve, through to the fabulous Lisbon area or North to Porto. Such quality and choice create a healthy conversation and the subject of much debate.
However, with the aim encouraging further conversation and to help you discover the top 10 best courses in Portugal with Golf Escapes below is our comprehensive guide to the very best golf courses in Portugal, giving you our thoughts on the top 10 best golf courses in Portugal, and in a separate blog we have given a few other worthy mentions from suggestions made by the Golf Escapes team. It is in no particular order with all the favourites and some new courses you may not have tried yet, so read on to discover the best golfing in Portugal with Golf Escapes.
Top 10 Best Portugal golf courses 2023
Quinta do Lago
Quinta do Lago comprises three superb golf courses – South, North and Laranjal. Quinta do Lago continues to be one of the most requested courses on the Algarve and is a firm favourite with Golf Escapes clients, with the South course being the real jewel in the crown out of the three Quinta courses and is certainly a must-play for your next golf holiday in the Algarve.
The greens are quick and true; the South course plays the longest of the three courses and you will be hitting long irons into many of the greens. The 15th is the stand-out hole, a long Par 3, where you will need a good shot to carry over water.
When you play Quinta Do Lago North you will have the choice of choosing from four tees on each hole which means accommodating players of all levels.
One hole that stands out and you will always remember playing is the 372 metre par four 12th, the hole doglegs around a large lake making for a tense tee shot and tricky shot into the green.
When it comes to Laranjal you’ll not be disappointed either, and this course is set amongst picturesque orange groves, which gave the course its name. This beauty opened in 2009 and boasts the same high standards set by Quinta do Lago North with the narrow fairways and well-defended greens of this course requiring concentration and accuracy.
The signature hole is a straight shootout between either the 11th (par 3) or the 16th (par 5). The 11th measures in at 180 yards and has a huge lake to the right and a ‘beach bunker’ that runs alongside, making the tee shot fairly intimidating to all levels of golfer. The 16th is 544 yards and has a double dogleg, with water crossing the hole twice.
Even if you do choose to lay up, the third shot to the green is not an easy one but one that you’ll be talking about in the clubhouse afterwards.
West Cliffs Golf Links & Praia d’el Rey Golf Course
West Cliffs can arguably be described as the best golf course in Portugal and no expense has been spared to provide golfers with a golfing experience they will never forget.
Almost every hole boasts spectacular views of the Atlantic as the holes carve through the natural sand dunes. This true masterpiece with its rolling fairways and undulating greens provides a stern test to even the most accomplished golfers especially when the wind blows which invariably it will.
However, with various tee positions, it does mean that golfers of all abilities can experience this fabulous course but do keep your golf shots accurate to have a chance of scoring well.
Then there is the Praia d’el Rey Golf Course which is a classic links course with the back nine spread out along dunes and cliffs, whilst the front nine has a parkland feel with pine trees inland that will cause issues for any wayward shots.
Like its sister West Cliffs, this course is also a real treat to play also with a stunning setting and views that you’ll never forget especially holes 13, 14 and 15 which run along the Atlantic Ocean, providing fantastic views of the sea, dunes and back towards the pine forest.
When it comes to the signature hole then the 12th has to be the pick for us as your approach shot to the green is played with the Atlantic Ocean as the backdrop and once you arrive on the green the Belengas Islands become visible.
Palmares Golf Course
Thanks to the fantastic work of Robert Trent Jones II, Palmares has been totally transformed into a course of breathtaking natural beauty that is a delight to play.
One of the Algarve’s original courses there are now three loops of nine holes, Lagos, Alvor, and Praia, all with their own character.
The Alvor golf course starts through pine tree-lined undulating fairways, then onto a links-style holes with dunes come into play before finishing in parkland.
The Lagos maintains the same parkland and links character but also contains only two water hazards to the relief of some.
The Praia, which in English means beach, rolls down to the sandy shore, as its name suggests, making it predominantly a classic links course. The third nine opened in 2011 completing what is now an established set-up with all 27 holes having matured nicely making Palmares one of the area’s must-play courses.
Dom Pedro Old Course Golf Club
Opened in 1969 the Dom Pedro Old Course was designed by Frank Pennink. We doubt then that it could ever have been envisaged how big the Algarve golfing boom would be and how much this course would be part of that success.
Dom Pedro Old is one of the original courses in the Algarve and more than holds its own against any of the newer additions in the area.
This is the jewel in the crown of the Dom Pedro courses and indeed is one of the best courses in the Algarve and is always very popular with Golf Escapes clients.
The course is tree-lined with local pines and you are in for a treat as well as a pretty journey as you make your way around this course. As with most courses, putting well on these beautiful greens and keeping your ball in play is key to a satisfying round, and for sure this course is very easy on the eye.
And when you have finished your round, the clubhouse is a wonderful place to reflect on the 18 holes you have just played, with excellent food on offer and a large putting green in front of the terrace.
The real highlight and signature hole has to be the tough par-4 8th hole, requiring precision and a long drive followed up by an equally long and precise approach shot to a green. A challenge for most in the Algarve sunshine but three precise shots could well reward you with a satisfying par.
Monte Rei Golf Course
This now famous par 72 Championship Course measuring 6567m from the Tournament tees is a truly challenging design with water coming into play on eleven of the eighteen holes for that extra element to concern yourself with. This fantastic course features an enjoyable series of eight par-4s, five par-3s and five par-5s in a brave, challenging but fun and distinctive layout.
The course presentation has a reputation for being superb, even despite the challenges of wildfires and a severe lack of rain. Each hole blends effortlessly into this natural canvas thanks to the expert design of legendary Jack Nicklaus. Several lakes, indigenous plants and native grasses surround the fairways and greens, providing golfers with a very special experience.
The course itself is set up in the hills as the name suggests with a number of signature holes here and all the par 3’s at Monte Rei will need some considered thought before teeing off. A hole that many Golf Escapes clients love to mention is the 3rd which is a downhill par 4 which asks questions from the very start and demands an accurate shot to the green which is surrounded on 3 sides by water. Monte Rei Golf Course has become a must-play when visiting the Algarve for so many in recent years.
Oitavos Dunes Course
Having been one of the rare few to play this course with only a light Atlantic breeze is challenge enough. However, when the wind blows, which it invariably does, this course can take you to bits.
Oitavos Dunes is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 showcasing the extraordinary golf that this course offers. The first few holes navigate tight pine-tree and bunker-lined fairways that will get your attention and demand focus. However, after that the course opens up and has a true links feel with a couple of iconic views out to the Atlantic Sea and Cabo da Roca, the most western point in continental Europe, can be seen from a number of holes.
As a warning, not only will the breeze challenge you but this course has length, and some tight drives so is certainly not for the faint hearted.
The course at Oitavos Dunes Golf lies within the beautiful Sintra-Cascais Natural Park which is an area of outstanding natural beauty so a treat for the eyes and soul awaits.
Royal Obidos Golf Course
Royal Obidos Golf Course is just one hour from the North of Lisbon Airport. This beautiful golf course is challenging from the offset with a difficult right-handed dogleg, but don’t let that put you off as this course provides a spectacular array of holes as you work your way around this thrilling track.
A real unknown to many, this course does not disappoint with the feature hole being the 5th which is an exciting and challenging par 5, with a final approach into a large undulating green surrounded on three sides by water to really get the blood pumping.
The second nine holes lie in the central and southern section of this beautiful landscape where six of the holes meander between an intricate ecosystem of lakes interconnected by cascading streams which really is something of beauty to most golfers. This course is well worth adding to your itinerary and something you won’t regret.
Vale do Lobo (Royal Golf Course & Ocean Golf Course)
The Royal course winds its way through villas and trees in the heart of the Algarve with the opening 9 settled nicely in its surroundings.
Many golfers enjoy the great stretch of holes at 7, 8 and 9 with the 7th offering a shortish par 3 over the water to a sloping green. This is quickly followed by an uphill dog leg left par 4 measuring over 400 yards. Then you reach the gorgeous 9th hole which is another par 3 with an almost island green.
If you didn’t hit the bars too hard the previous night and hit the green here you can congratulate yourself on completing a pleasant front 9 holes. However, it is on the back 9 where this course really comes to life and excites golfers.
There is the beautiful and long par 5 11th which has water running up the left of the fairway to punish any wayward shots and to deter those looking to get home in two.
The Ocean Course was created by joining up the original ‘green’ and ‘orange’ Vale do Lobo courses and is situated right on the very edge of the coastline.
Images from here make up many of the iconic Algarve shots you will have seen over the years and quite rightly so as you take in some of the most stunning views in European golf.
The undulating fairways run alongside rows of pine trees, olive trees and eucalyptuses, to present a testing golf course that can examine your accuracy and demands that you shoot well.
Penha Longa Atlantic course is set in the 5-star Penha Longa Resort near Cascais, and is a must-play course when visiting Lisbon. The wonderfully modern clubhouse overlooks the 1st tee and 18th green, from here you start to picture your 18 holes and imagine how good this round is going to be.
With the views of the Sintra mountains never far away, the course flows through the cork trees and the lush green fairways and there are many holes that will stay long in your memory. The front nine favourites are the 3rd and 6th holes which are a par 4 and par 5 respectively and both come with risk and reward, but overall this is a fun course to play.
Lunch in this clubhouse is highly recommended, and will drive your game on as you look forward to the reward that awaits once you have completed your 19 holes.
Quinta de Cima & Quinta da Ria
Quinta de Cima was designed by famous American architect Rocky Roquemore, and the course is a wonderful test of golf in a beautiful countryside setting amongst almond and carob trees.
Challenges are offered with fairway bunkers which make you think off the tee and the greens are big but well-protected for that extra need for skill. A fair course to play without any gimmicks although don’t be fooled as a more scenic or lush course will be hard to find.
Being a newish course amongst the high standards of the Algarve has not been a concern at Quinta da Ria which has established itself as one of the best courses in the area and well worth your attention.
The front nine is not too challenging to get you started but is very nice at the same time with a mix of holes. However, the back nine is where things get tricky.
The fairways suddenly tighten with bunkers and water seemingly appearing everywhere. You are rewarded with views of the sea, but this can distract you at the same time so be aware.
Set in an area of outstanding natural beauty with no housing developments in sight which as we know is quite a rarity. This is a fantastic 36-hole complex.
And that’s it folks, we hope you enjoyed our thoughts on the Best golf in Portugal and Golf Escapes ultimate golf holiday in Portugal, here you can read some of the other golf courses in Portugal that we think are fantastic but didn’t make this list.
If our guide has you hungry to actually now play these courses you can view our best offers and packages by visiting our website. Or to start planning the ultimate golf holiday in Portugal and enjoy the best golf in Portugal with Golf Escapes give us a call on to discuss this with a member of our expert team on 01342 811 777.