Autumn in the Algarve brings cooler weather and the perfect opportunity to return to the golf course. As the blistering heat of summer starts to subside, it’s time to start planning that next golf trip. MARK HIRST from Getaway Golfer, a keen golf travel expert, gives us tips on where to play and stay.
Tavira isn’t the first place people think to visit for a golf trip in Portugal, but bear with me. Accommodation is usually cheaper than in the more densely populated tourist hotspots (more on these later), and there are some genuinely remarkable golf courses in the area.
Let’s start with Monte Rei, frequently voted as the best golf course in Portugal. Green fees aren’t cheap here, costing around €220 per round, but if you can afford it, play it. You can even buy a second home here if you love it and money is no object.
If you baulk at stumping up €220 per round of golf, a more affordable option would be Quinta da Ria on the outskirts of Tavira. The green fees are lighter on the pocket at €120 per round during peak season. The price drops to €85 in the low season, so if you are flexible with dates, it’s as reasonable as you’ll find in the Algarve. The course is challenging but not excessively so, and some of the views of the Atlantic Ocean are breathtaking.
One of the most significant selling points of all the courses in and around the Tavira area is the lack of large developments. Much of the land is protected here, so it feels far more tranquil, offering unspoilt countryside and coastline views.
Where to stay
There are plenty of accommodation options in Tavira. If all-inclusive is your thing, check out AP Cabanas and Nature. Prices range from €60-€240 per night, depending on the season. The rooms are great and the facilities excellent.
Castro Marim Golfe and Country Club is also worth considering. Stay here, and you’ll get discounted rates at their golf course, which boasts 27 holes overlooking the Spanish border. It’s a decent course and provides three loops of nine to play, so it’s possible to stay here and never have to leave. Rates start at €72 per night for a self-catering apartment, but villas with private pools are available too.
Like the sound of the area? Then read Mark’s guide to golf holidays in Tavira for more suggestions on where to play and stay.
Vilamoura is an obvious choice, and you’ll hear most people mention it in conversation for a golf trip to the Algarve. It’s certainly busier than Tavira but also very convenient. There’s a plethora of hotel and golf course options to choose from. The best bit is you barely need to travel more than 15 minutes to get to any of them.
As for the golf courses, there are six of them in Vilamoura, with Dom Pedro’s Old Course often cited as the best. A round here costs from €137 in the low season, increasing to €176 in the high season. But you can reduce this by booking a multiple rounds package with Dom Pedro directly.
Don’t discount The Victoria Course either. If it’s good enough to host the Portugal Masters (something it’s done every year since 2007), then it’s certainly good enough to add to any golf trip itinerary. Green fees are the same as The Old Course, so pays your money and takes your choice.
Dom Pedro Laguna is an excellent option if you’re looking for a slightly cheaper green fee. It’s also on the easier side, perfect for any golfer still learning their craft. Green fees start at €89 per round here, but tee off after 3.30pm and you can snag a deal for just €54 per round.
Where to stay
There are so many options in Vilamoura that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. I find it’s often best to stick with the ‘tried and tested’. None is more so than the Dom Pedro Vilamoura Hotel. This all-inclusive hotel offers a free daily shuttle service to and from all five Dom Pedro golf courses. There are decent facilities and it’s very convenient.
For those looking for a more tranquil option, away from the hustle and bustle, consider any number of the hotels in Vale do Lobo. You’ll have the added benefit of being right next to both The Royal and Ocean golf courses too, both well worth playing if you’re staying in the area.
If it’s luxury you’re after, consider Quinta do Lago. This luxury golf resort on the outskirts of Vilamoura boasts some of Portugal’s most exclusive hotels and residences. If you stay around here, don’t be surprised if you bump into a few famous faces. The likes of Alan Shearer and Michael Owen have luxury villas at the resort.
If you’re interested in Vilamoura, check out Mark’s guide to golf holidays in Vilamoura for more options.
While it may not have the same luxurious reputation as Quinta do Lago, Lagos offers plenty, especially for avid golfers. If you’re a golf enthusiast, you should take advantage of the incredible golf courses nearby.
One of the most remarkable golf courses in the area is Espiche Golf Course. It’s hard to believe that you can play a round of golf on this well-maintained course for just €51, and after 3.30pm the price drops to €37! It’s an absolute steal, and the quality of the course is second only to Monte Rei.
Another exceptional golf course is Palmares, which features 27 holes divided into three distinct nine-hole loops. If you’re only playing once, then the Alvor and Lagos loops are the ones to choose. Although the green fees are slightly higher at €87 during the low season, it’s well worth it. You’ll be delighted with the clubhouse and restaurant, so make sure you enjoy a meal before, after, or even during your round of golf.
If you’re looking for a resort experience, Boavista provides an excellent championship golf course within a family-friendly self-catering resort. The course is fantastic, and there’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained without ever leaving the complex.
Where to stay
The Palmares Beach House Hotel is a charming boutique hotel that caters exclusively to adults. It’s peaceful and comfortable, providing the perfect atmosphere to unwind and relax.
If you’re on a budget, the Tivoli Lagos Hotel is an excellent choice, with rooms starting at just €57 per night during the low season. With six restaurants and a large swimming pool, it’s a perfect option for anyone looking to maximise the value from their euros.
The Algarve has an impressive 38 golf courses, with plenty to suit a wide range of budgets. If you’re seeking somewhere a little more secluded, opt for Tavira. If convenience is your thing, go for Vilamoura. And for some undiscovered gems, check out Lagos. There are so many options you may need to return several times to benefit from all the Algarve offers.
Mark Hirst is the founder of Getaway Golfer, a site dedicated to helping people discover the best golf courses and hotels worldwide. His writing has been featured in National Club Golfer, Luxuria Lifestyle and many other publications.