Only two to three hours away by air from most of Europe’s major airports is the sunny Algarve in Southern Portugal. Known for its spectacular coastline and rugged mountain scenery the Algarve is one of Europe’s premier golfing destinations. There are no less than 24 golf courses spread out along this most southern province of Portugal, several of which are classified as championship golf courses hosting many international golfing events.
Most of the golf courses can be found to the west of Faro, including the famous San Lorenzo course – rated as the second-best course in Europe. Set in the splendid surroundings of the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve, the San Lorenzo course has become a ‘must play’ course for all those who come to visit the Algarve for its golf. There are some challenging holes and tricky water features to negotiate around the course, and when coupled with the amazing scenery, it makes for an epic round of golf.
Further along the Algarve coastline is the Royal Course at Val de Lobo. Incorporating fairways and greens set in an undulating landscape of pine trees, the Royal Course serves up a fine golfing experience for all who come here. The course includes the famous par 3 9th hole, which takes players over a beautiful lake and onto a semi-island green – it’s a challenge for even the most experienced of golfers! But, if you fancy a sea view then you might be more at home at Val de Lobo’s other course – the Ocean Course.
The Ocean Course is set along undulating cliffs that descend down to golden sandy beaches. Narrow fairways are a feature of this course, as are the ochre coloured rocks that line the cliff sides and snake along the course edge. Adding to the challenge golf players must compensate for sea breezes that regularly caress the course. All in all, it makes for a memorable round of golf.
Eight of the Algarve’s twenty-four courses are situated in the Southwest. Within 20-minutes of Faro is the Vale do Milho – an ideal practice course on which beginners can learn the game and holidaymakers can sharpen their golfing skills. A little further to the west is Quinta do Gramacho – Europe’s first ‘double-nine’ designed course, with only 9 fairways but 18 holes. If you want a unique golfing experience, then Quinta do Gramacho is the perfect course on which to play.
For those on a tour of the golf courses in the Algarve, the Alto Golf course is sure worth a visit. Situated close to the coastline it offers fine views of the sea and the nearby mountains. The course was designed by Sir Henry Cotton – three-times British Open Champion – and takes in fairways and greens along some beautiful undulating terrain surrounded by vineyards.
Finally, no golfing visit to the Algarve is complete without playing a round of golf at Penina. Located close to the fishing village of Alvor, Penina was the first grass course in the Algarve. It is rated as one of Europe’s finest and plays host to a range of international tournaments each year.
Faro is the main international airport in the Algarve. Most of the golf courses are located to the west of the Algarve, Parque de Floresta golf course – the Algarve’s most westerly course – being just under an hour’s drive from the airport. Car hire is available from Faro airport.