by: Rod Ritchie
The Algarve, in Southern Portugal, with its year-round sunshine, miles of golden sand beaches, and picturesque villages, has become one of Europe’s most popular golfing destinations. But while there are many courses suiting all abilities, the Algarve is also perfect for non golfers, especially the eastern region around Tavira, with its stunning nature walks. At the other end of the scale, resorts such as Vilamoura and Vale do Lobo are mega destinations with all the golfing and sporting options you could want. Then, in Western Algarve, around the bustling holiday destination of Albufeira, you can holiday 24/7, combining championship golf with a hectic nightlife.
Western Algarve golf breaks
Besides bustling Albufeira, there is the charming old town of Lagos, set on one of the largest bays in the Algarve. Its 17th-century fort stands at the harbour entrance and a new marina with rows of excellent restaurants and bars draws the crowds. Alvor, an old port at the mouth of the Rio Alvor, has many traditional restaurants by the quay and a maze of cobbled streets lined with whitewashed houses, shops and a few bars.
Golf holidaymakers should check out the renowned Pinta, one of the best courses in the Algarve, designed to retain natural valleys and undulations. Neighbouring Gramacho is also excellent and both courses are free of green fees for those lucky enough to be staying at the Pestana Hotels.
Central Algarve offers golf and more
Quinta do Lago is a premier golfing destination. Two of its four excellent 18-hole courses are listed among the Europe’s top 25 golf courses, and half of the 2000-acre resort comprises a residential and recreational estate, surrounded by pine forests. This beautiful area is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Ria Formosa nature reserve. Nearby is a large shopping centre with a health club, nightclubs and restaurants, and scenic countryside runs along miles of secluded beaches.
Just 20 minutes’ drive from Faro International Airport, Vilamoura is one of Europe’s largest sport and leisure complexes. There are five golf courses, championship tennis courts, an acclaimed riding school, and fishing and shooting facilities. The resort’s large marina has many fine restaurants, cafes and shops.
Vale do Lobo, Portugal’s biggest luxury golf and beach resort, also 20 minutes from the airport at Faro, is one of Europe’s finest. Its two golf courses, the Royal and Ocean, provide stunning views of the coast, and its 5 km-long sandy beach, with dramatic red sandstone cliffs, provides non-golfers with seriously good beach and swimming options. The resort also offers tennis courts, a gymnasium and health and beauty centre, as well as restaurants and shops.
Eastern Algarve; golf tours without the crowds
For a less frenetic golfing experience and a chance to enjoy nature, head east from Faro towards the Spanish border. There are many hotels not far from the airport, close to some well-designed courses. Tavira, at the mouth of the River Gilao, is a fishing port dating from Moorish times. Nearby you’ll find Reserva do Sapal, one of Portugal’s most important nature reserves. And just across the border, on the Costa de la Luz, are many more great golf courses.
About The AuthorRod Ritchie, a travel writer and editor, writes for many publishers including AA Publishing and Fodors. Bill Goff Golf Tours at http://www.billgoff.com and Longshot Golf Holidays at http://www.longshotgolf.co.uk offer great value golf breaks to all of the top resorts in the Algarve.