Although golf appeared in the British isles centuries ago, it has already spread throughout the world and it is today a sport loved by many. However, golf in Portugal is relatively recent, having its origins in the 19th century, in Porto region.
In fact, the first Portuguese golf clubs were founded by British immigrants. The oldest one, Oporto Golf Club, was founded in 1890 by the English community in Porto that was in the wine industry – the famous Port wine was originally produced and exported by English families.
It was only in the 1920’s and 1930’s that other clubs appeared and contributed to the dissemination of golf in Portugal: in 1922 Lisbon Sports Club, in 1934 Miramar and Vidago clubs, in 1937 Madeira and in 1939 in the Azores.
By now, golf in Portugal has improved a lot and many courses were designed by the most skilled architects like Nick Faldo, Arthur Hills and Henry Cotton.
Portugal has won several awards concerning this golf tourism including the World’s and Europe’s Best Golf Destination for several years and Europe’s Best Golf Venue (Quinta do Lago).
Here are the best places to play golf in Portugal
Porto and North of Portugal
As I have mentioned before, the first golf club appeared in Porto region and is called Oporto Golf Club (originally Oporto Niblicks Club). This was the first club in the Iberian Peninsula and one of the first in continental Europe. In addition, it is also the place where golfers compete for the Skeffington Cup, the oldest in the world played without interruptions.
Another amazing golf destination in the north is the golf course of Vidago Palace (affiliate link). Contrary to many other golf destinations in Portugal, this location is characterised by the beauty of the countryside; this place is also considered to be a thermal retreat for the European elite.
Play golf and enjoy an amazing spa! What else can you ask?
Both Oporto Golf Club and Vidago Palace golf courses are part of Porto Golf Destination, a partnership of some of the best golf courses, resorts and hotels in this region of Portugal. In addition to these two destinations, you can also check Golfe de Amarante, Estela Golf Club and Axis Golfe Ponte de Lima.
Do not miss the opportunity to discover Porto, considered by many as the European Best Destination, and the North of Portugal. Here you’ll find amazing landscapes, incredible beaches, wonderful gastronomy and the most welcoming people, because there is more to see than golf courses!
This region is famous among golfers because of its mild climate and natural beauty, not only the coastal landscape but also the amazing countryside. In addition, people who want more than playing golf can come here to visit various museums, monuments and natural parks.
There are three main areas where golf is played in this region: Estoril and Sintra, Tagus Valley and South of Lisbon.
Estoril and Sintra are characterised by coastal and mountain landscapes, respectively, and are the locations for some of the best golf courses in Portugal.
Estoril Golf Course and its club were founded in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. Although this course is near the sea, it’s the eucalyptus and pine trees that make the landscape of this beautiful place – you can be assured that you’ll find peace and quiet here, ideal to play golf!
In Cascais, you’ll find the amazing Oitavos Dunes, the first golf course in Europe to be awarded the “Certified Gold Audubon Signature Sanctuary”. If you want, you can spend some nights in the wonderful The Oitavos (affiliate link) 5-star hotel.
In this area you can also try the amazing golf courses of Quinta da Marinha, Pestana Beloura and Belas Clube de Campo.
Information: if you want to visit Sintra and Cascais, don’t miss the opportunity and book this 8-hour guided tour (affiliate link) to enjoy a complete tour that will show you some of the must-see wonders of this region.
Start with the beautiful palace Palácio de Queluz, visit the historic centre of Sintra with a unique cultural landscape, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Then go up to the old castle Castelo dos Mouros and the idyllic palace Palácio Nacional da Pena. Finally, go to Cape Roca, the westernmost point in Europe and end this activity with a tour in Cascais.
Further away from Lisbon you can also discover some courses in the Tagus Valley. Here I must point out the two 18-hole golf courses of Riba Golf in an amazing rural area, and Santo Estêvão Golf overlooking the beautiful nearby lake.
South of Lisbon, in Setúbal Peninsula, you’ll be amazed with the spectacular landscapes of the Atlantic Ocean, Arrábida Natural Park and Sado Estuary.
In this area you can try out the outstanding courses of Aroeira, Montado Golf, Quinta do Peru and Golf Links in Tróia.
Ask golfers that have played in Portugal if they have already played in Algarve. Surely most of them will definitely tell you that they have. In fact, you can play in this region all year round because of its great Atlantic and Mediterranean climate; it also has more than 200 kilometres of coastline.
If you want to play golf in Algarve but don’t know how to get there, don’t worry! The airport of Faro has several routes available, mainly in Europe, including from and to countries such as England, Ireland, Scotland, Spain, France and Germany. If you’re from another continent you can search the available routes to the airports of Porto and Lisbon, and from there you can take the train, or other means of transportation, to Algarve.
Ever wondered where to go to have some 5-star luxury golf holidays? Know that Algarve is the place to go! Here you’ll find the best golf courses and hotels in Portugal.
This well-known destination has won several awards throughout the years – both the region and several golf courses. Among others, I must point out the following awards: World’s and Europe’s Best Golf destination and Destination with Best Golf Courses in Europe by IAGTO and magazines focused on this sport.
The first place to introduce golf in Algarve was Penina Hotel & Golf Resort (affiliate link), near Portimão. Golf in Portugal achieved another level with this award winning location – it is very special because it is the only one in the country to have three golf courses, with natural beauty surrounding the premises.
Although you can find many golf resorts and hotels throughout Algarve, it is in Almancil that you’ll find Quinta do Lago, Europe’s Best Golf Venue in 2016. This is one of the most luxurious tourist resorts in Europe and you can spend the best holidays here: buy one of the amazing properties available or simply book a room in the 5-star Hotel Quinta do Lago (affiliate link).
Located next to Ria Formosa Natural Park, this resort offers everything you need: restaurants, bars, open air cinema and concerts, water sports, tennis and, of course, golf! Enjoy the greens, the sea and other natural beauties is this wonderful location.
Consider going on guided tour to this beautiful park! Head to Olhão (just 10 km away from Faro) and go on an adventure through the waters of Ria Formosa (affiliate link), where you can discover the fauna and flora of this wonderful place. You will have time for everything and, in the summer, you can even go for a swim in the crystal clear waters of this region.
In addition to this wonderful 5-hour boat tour, know that you will be accompanied by a an experienced guide that will tell you more about islands like Culatra and Armona and about the landscape and environmental richness of this protected area.
One of the highlights of this activity (affiliate link) will undoubtedly be a lunch break that will include grilled fish as well as the tasting of clams that are caught in the region.
In addition to Penina Hotel & Golf Resort and Quinta do Lago, there are many other golf courses in Algarve that are worth your visit – this way you can return to this region again and again.
There are other regions where you can play golf in Portugal and enjoy some relaxing moments as well. In the centre of Portugal you can try the amazing 27-hole golf course Montebelo Golfe, near Viseu, or Curia Golf Club, in the thermal region of Curia. Both these courses offer you the best of the Portuguese countryside.
The archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira are two of the best places where golfers can enjoy nature and this sport.
In the Azores you’ll find three different courses: Batalha and Furnas in São Miguel island and another one in Terceira island. These courses will offer you some breathtaking views while playing – enjoy the Atlantic Ocean and the lagoons present in this archipelago and much more!
Madeira, also known as the “Pearl of the Atlantic”, is an archipelago loved by everyone. Many people come here at the end of the year to watch the most wonderful fireworks show in the world.
Apart from the “traditional” tourism, golf is also bringing more and more tourists every year to this region. If you’re a golfer, you can stay in PortoBay Serra Golf (affiliate link) and be amazed with the magnificent views of the mountains and of the Atlantic Ocean.
If you have time, you should also try the beautiful locations of Palheiro Golf and Porto Santo Golf.
Summing up, as you may have noticed golf in Portugal is attracting more and more tourists every year. The landscapes, the gastronomy, the people, the monuments, the locations of every golf hotel and resort, all contribute for this country to be the Europe’s and World’s Best Golf Destination year after year.
What are you waiting for? Play golf in Portugal!
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