Algarve Golf Trips are at an all-time high. Why? The perfect blend of climate, scenery, and dream courses not to mention that Portugal is a relatively budget-friendly country to travel to. Anyway, let us explore things further.
Nestled along the southern coast of Portugal, the Algarve region has emerged as one of Europe’s premier golf destinations. With its year-round warm climate, breathtaking ocean vistas, and over 40 high-quality courses, it’s easy to see the allure for golfers. Top architects like Henry Cotton, Arnold Palmer, and Jack Nicklaus have designed championship tracks here that attract pros and amateurs from across the globe.
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll share insider knowledge from my 10+ years living as an avid golfer in the Algarve. You’ll find reviews of the top courses, tips for choosing the right track for your game, and guidance for planning an unforgettable golf trip in this golfer’s paradise. Whether you’re a scratch golfer or a 20+ handicapper, the Algarve offers amazing courses for all skill levels. Its rich culture, cuisine, and coastal charms also enhance the whole golf experience. So get ready to tee up on some of Europe’s finest fairways!
Why Golf in the Algarve?
What makes the Algarve such a golfer’s haven? For starters, it enjoys over 300 days of sunshine each year with moderate year-round temperatures averaging a pleasant 18°C (64°F). This ideal climate allows for comfortable golfing 12 months a year when many other European destinations are buried in snow or rain. The terrain is also tailor-made for stimulating golf across over 1500 square miles. Undulating hills cascade down to the sea, dotted with olive and almond groves along the way. Rocky outcrops and meandering creeks also come into play, along with coastal dune areas.
As Jose Mourinho, the famous Portuguese football manager described the Algarve: “It has the perfect recipe for great golf – climate, landscapes, courses, people. Nowhere else has this magical mix.”
Beyond the scenery and weather, the Algarve simply has some of the best golf courses in Europe. There are over 40 options ranging from top-tier championship venues to hidden gem tracks with ocean vistas. Big names like Henry Cotton, Arnold Palmer, and Jack Nicklaus have all lent their design talents to the region. Pete Dye, designer of the famed Stadium Course at PGA West, once remarked: “The Algarve has the best courses I’ve ever seen.” You can trust when legends like Dye give their seal of approval, the Algarve delivers.
From the renowned San Lorenzo course with dramatic seaside cliff holes to Vale do Lobo’s Challenge Course winding through pine forests, there is no shortage of variety. For instance, Quinta do Lago South was originally designed by legendary Gene Sarazen to incorporate the natural wetland ecosystem. With eight tees per hole and five sets of pins, no round is ever the same. The newly expanded tee boxes and additional par-5 hole at the prestigious Monte Rei Jack Nicklaus course add extra flavor for returning golfers.
Choosing the Right Algarve Golf Course
With so many excellent golf courses dotting the Algarve coast and interior, choosing the right options for your trip isn’t always easy. By taking just a few extra factors into consideration you can successfully plan the most enjoyable golf trip possible. Here are some factors to consider when selecting which courses to play:
Skill Level and Handicap
Generally, coastal courses like San Lorenzo and Vale do Lobo tend to be more challenging for higher handicappers. Inland options like Silves Golf or Alamos often cater better to beginners. Know your ability level and look for courses with suitable difficulty and design.
Course Layout and Terrain
Certain designs like Praia d’El Rey have wide fairways ideal for straight drives, while Quinta do Lago demands more strategic positioning. Opt for layouts aligned with your game strengths.
Location and Accessibility
Do you want to base yourself in Faro and stay near town courses like the Old Course? Or would you prefer to stay at oceanfront accommodations and play seaside gems like Quinta do Lago or Castro Marim?
Green fees in the Algarve range from 50-300 Euros, with high season and famous courses commanding premium pricing. But deals can be found in shoulder season or on newer courses like Onyria Palmares.
I’d suggest mixing up easy and challenging courses and sampling both coastal and inland. Playing with some locals can also provide advice on ideal course pairings. A club pro at Vale do Lobo once told me his favorite Algarve course duo is San Lorenzo along the coast and the tranquil Alamos further inland. Variety is key!
Top Algarve Golf Courses
The Algarve boasts over 40 golf courses each with its own unique factors. However, through talking to our own customers and taking my own experience into account these premier venues stand out as must-play tracks for an amazing golf trip:
Monte Rei Golf & Country Club
Rated the #1 course in Portugal, Monte Rei delights golfers with stunning mountain and ocean vistas. The Jack Nicklaus signature layout covers 90 hectares and features undulating fairways and water hazards that demand precision. Pristine conditioning and superb dining facilities have made Monte Rei a standout since opening in 2007. Greens fees can start at €170 in low season.* (This number can vary so make sure to book well in advance to ensure the best price possible!) 
Quinta do Lago
This exclusive 2,000-acre resort features three immaculate 18-hole courses – the South Course, famed for its par-3 8th over ocean inlet; the North Course winding through pine forests; and Laranjal crafted by Jorge Santana da Silva. Quinta do Lago has hosted the Portuguese Open numerous times and offers luxurious golfing amenities just 20 minutes from Faro airport.
Victoria Golf Course
As the only Arnold Palmer-designed course in Portugal, the Victoria Course lives up to its pedigree. Water comes into play on half the holes across 90 hectares, with strategically placed bunkers adding to the challenge. Wide fairways cater well to resort golfers and those a little more wayward off the tee but don’t be fooled into thinking this makes the course much easier. Located at the famed Vilamoura golfing estate and close to the airport.
Vale do Lobo
Two top-notch 18-hole courses await at Vale do Lobo, including the Royal Course dramatically routed along ocean cliffs made famous by the 16th hole. The Ocean Course gently sweeps down to the beach in contrasting style. With likable layouts and superb conditions, Vale do Lobo offers compelling golf and hospitality.
Considered one of Portugal’s most beautiful courses, San Lorenzo unfurls along the Atlantic and features treacherous cliffside holes on the back 9. The course is walking only, adding to the peaceful vibe (Golf score depending… Obviously). American designers created this spectacular course in 1988 boasting a unique figure of 8 layout with an impressive clubhouse located at the centre. It’s truly a spectacle not to be missed.
Golfing Experience in the Algarve
Beyond the courses themselves, the overall golfing experiences provided across Algarve clubs and resorts enhance each round. Most courses offer comprehensive practice facilities, lessons, clubhouse locker rooms, restaurants, and bars. Forecaddies are readily available for course guidance, and many provide GPS-equipped carts. Tee time booking and packaging with accommodations is seamless.
Pro shops carry the latest equipment and golf attire to look the part out on the links. Instruction from PGA pros like the renowned coaches at Vale do Lobo Golf Academy can help sharpen your swing. After the round, clubhouse facilities like saunas, massage services, and outdoor pools let golfers unwind in style.
Lodging choices offer flexibility across budget levels. Leading resorts like Penina, Monte Rei, and Pestana offer luxury villas and hotel rooms adjacent to premier courses. Or vacation rentals dot the coastal towns within short drives of most layouts. Upscale restaurants, pubs, and nightclubs catering to golf visitors make for lively evenings after a day on the course.
Beyond world-class golf, pros and amateurs can enjoy the area’s natural and cultural attractions during downtime. Charter a fishing trip from one of the coastal towns to battle a bluefin tuna. Take a surfing lesson on sandy Carrapateira beaches. Visit the Moorish town of Silves and its imposing red castle. Or simply relax poolside and soak in the glorious Algarve sunshine in between rounds.
Planning Your Algarve Golf Trip
Great golfing getaways don’t happen spontaneously (Unfortunately) – therefore careful planning is advised! I’ve included some tips below for arranging the ideal Algarve golf trip:
Map Out Course Itinerary
Determine your ideal course mix across trip duration. Balance out easier and harder tracks, accounting for travel times between. Ideally, play 2 rounds at a given area or club.
Book Tee Times Early
Prime time slots at the most popular Algarve courses get reserved months in advance. Reserve yours early, taking group size and desired tee-off times into account.
A rental car allows golfers maximum flexibility to reach courses across the region. Alternatives like taxis, shared vans, and club transportation also exist.
Bring adequate golf attire, shoes, clubs (Or save yourself the hassle and Hire Clubs Here), and gear for expected conditions. Check course policies too – some require jackets for clubhouse dining.
Look into Packages
Bundled golf packages that include accommodations and greens fees offer savings and convenience. Or assemble a custom package with your desired courses. Consider hiring golf clubs as a group which will not only save money but also reduce stress and hassle while travelling. We offer great group deals here!
Incorporate Non-Golf Activities
Schedule some non-golf days to discover the Algarve’s many attractions. A change of pace enhances the whole trip experience.
Planning 60-90 days out allows time to secure ideal tee times at top choices like Quinta do Lago, Monte Rei, and Espiche which fill up quickly. An expert golf travel planner can help craft the perfect itinerary, especially for larger groups.
Golf Etiquette and Conduct
An essential part of great golf experiences is appropriate etiquette and conduct on and off the course. As much as we all want fun to play a central role while playing these fantastic courses, we would also like the opportunity to come back! These tips below should help you ensure your conduct is up to scratch (Pun intended):
Collared shirts and soft spikes are required for most courses – leave the jeans in the suitcase. Dress pants or tailored shorts are ideal. Some clubhouses even require jackets for dining.
Pace of Play
Keep pace with the group ahead and avoid excessive practice swings(we both know they will only frustrate you more when you send one off to the right), especially on busy days. Let faster groups play through when and if possible. Members play these courses all the time and may be more focused on the scorecard while you’re taking in the scenery.
Take care not to damage greens or fairways. Make sure to replace divots where possible or fill them with sand as is provided by most golf courses. Follow cart rules and rake bunkers smoothly after use.
Some courses limit the number of guest rounds allowed for members or require member presence with guests. Inquire when reserving tee times.
This one is common sense, but you know what they say about common sense…Talking loudly on phones is a faux pas. If you must take a call, do so away from others. Better yet, turn it off to enjoy the natural tranquility.
Following clubhouse etiquette guidelines and on-course pace-of-play policies enhances all golfers’ experience. Embrace the spirit of the game!
Algarve Golf Tips and Tricks
In my time golfing at various courses around the Algarve over the years I’ve gathered some top tips for making the most of your golf during your visit. These are just some personal tips from me to you:
Walk When Possible
The laidback charm of Algarve courses is often best experienced walking, rather than zipping about in a cart. Opt to carry your bag or get a caddie.
Account for Wind
Coastal winds can impact club selection and shot angles, especially on exposed holes. Local caddies have valuable insight here but if you’re out on your own generally club up when into the wind and club down with wind behind. You can thank me later.
Use Half Shots
Links-style pitches and bump-and-run shots are effective in negotiating Algarve greens and approaches. Avoid overly aggressive full shots. The fairways are often cut very tight making blading it over the back a real possibility. Trust me, I know.
Choose Correct Tees
Pick tee boxes aligned to your handicap and gender for the best scoring experience. No shame in playing closer-up boxes.
Leave the beers for the inevitable 19th hole. The year-round sunshine means dehydration comes quickly. Drink water frequently even if you don’t feel thirsty.
Play During Shoulder Season
Peak season prices and crowds are highest from June to August. Visit in April-May or September-October for lower rates.
Instruction from Algarve Pros before your trip can tune your game to the local conditions and fast greens you’ll encounter. If you have time to squeeze in even one lesson, the insights you’ll gain can change the course of your trip!
Preparation and proper course management will help you play your best golf in the Algarve’s unique seaside environment. Focus on strategic positioning and consistency over raw power for ideal scoring.
Sustainability and Conservation
As a region reliant on golf tourism, the Algarve aims to protect its spectacular yet delicate natural environment through sustainable practices. Courses like Quinta do Lago have installed solar panels to generate clean energy and limit the use of pesticides. Water-saving efforts like planting native species and efficiently irrigating areas in play reduce consumption. ‘Pitch for Birds’ programs raise funds from recyclable balls to aid avian conservation programs.
Responsible golfers should adhere to all course environmental policies, stay on cart paths when possible, and be mindful of wildlife. We all must care for the land enabling such exhilarating golf here in the Algarve. By driving sustainability both on and off the course, we ensure these world-class golf experiences endure for generations to come.
With over 300 sunny days, dramatic seaside terrain, culturally rich towns, and over 40 high-caliber courses, the Algarve stands as one of Europe’s premier golfing destinations. Water hazards, undulating greens, ocean vistas, and luxury amenities await to test every golfer’s game. Through careful planning and course selection, golfers of all skill levels can craft an unforgettable Algarve golf trip.
Shoulder seasons in the spring and fall provide smaller crowds and lower costs. But whenever you decide to visit, stellar golf and hospitality await. Let this guide set you on the path to planning a phenomenal Portugal golf getaway. Your friends will be jealous once they see your trip photos and you rave about the Algarve’s courses. Don’t just take my word for it – come experience these fabulous courses for yourself! I’m confident you’ll agree the Algarve delivers a golfing holiday unlike any other. And don’t forget if you need to Hire Clubs, your friends at Ace Golf have you covered!