Known as ‘The Gentlemen’s Game’ with an esteemed Scottish heritage, golf is as much a passion as it is a skillset, and few places in the world provide a championship experience with a royal touch of luxury like the best golf courses in Portugal do.

Portugal deservedly received the 2023 World’s Best Golf Destination award at the prestigious World Golf Awards in Abu Dhabi. It offers golfers breathtaking landscapes, year-round sunshine, and world-class resorts fused with unparalleled championship play.  

Portugal’s stellar reputation as a prestigious and skilled golfing destination long predates its latest international recognition. 

Since the mid-20th century, Portugal has been a mecca for golf and a favored destination for US and British players. The UK’s Golfshake Community likewise recognized Portugal as having the best courses to play in 2022.

From the Algarve’s dramatic coastal cliffs to the Douro Valley’s lush vineyards, Portugal’s golfing experience is as much about the senses as the prestige.

From the country’s internationally acclaimed tournaments to its exclusive, legendary-designed courses and country clubs, Portugal is a destination for many things, but golf is definitely at the top of the list.

Golf In Portugal: An Overview

Unlike some European destinations (particularly those in Northern Europe), Portugal’s climate permits golf year-round. 

The southern Algarve region gets over 300 days of Mediterranean sunshine annually, making it a haven for golfers when other popular destinations are cold and wet. 

Even the country’s more northern reaches remain mild during the winter months and open to play for most of the year.

Portugal’s diverse landscape is leveraged to develop a unique, skilled, and spectacular degree of play. 

However, the natural appeal of Portugal’s golfing destinations is but a single element of the country’s reputation.  

The best golf courses in Portugal have been crafted by game’s most-renowned designers, including Jack Nicklaus, the man behind the Monte Rei Golf & Country Club, and Arnold Palmer, responsible for the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course.  

Sir Henry Cotton kickstarted Portugal’s journey by transforming the Algarve into a golfer’s paradise during the 1960’s. He is responsible for the Penina Championship Course and several others nearby. 

Robert Trent Jones II has also inscribed his footprint in the Portuguese landscape. His principal work is the Troia Golf Course south of Lisbon, famed for its coastal views and beachside scenery. 

The game and its legends have forged Portugal into the golfing destination it is today. 

Prestigious golf tournaments in Portugal

The Portugal Masters

The Portugal Masters is a marquee event at the Arnold Palmer-designed Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course in Vilamoura in the Algarve. 

The destination is a highlight of the European Tour Schedule and is known for its relaxing ocean views and unique water features. 

Championship winners benefit from a generous prize purse and valuable ranking points for the tour. 

The Madeira Islands Open

The Madeira Islands Open is another Portuguese tournament that draws crowds to its shores. Golfers play eighteen-hole runs against the backdrop of the islands’ breathtaking volcanic landscape and coastlines. 

The destination is an opportunity for rising stars to test their mettle and prove their skill. 

Successful players showcase their mastery on the Challenge Tour to play in additional prestigious events. 

The Senior Open Championship

The Champions Tour is also held in Portugal – bringing together legendary past players in a battle for honor and glory on Portugal’s top courses. 

Regular entrants include Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer, and Tom Watson. 

Best golf courses in Portugal – The top 10

Monte Rei Golf & Country Club, Algarve

Best For: Golfers seeking a top-tier Jack Nicklaus design in a breathtaking natural setting

Designed by golf legend Jack Nicklaus, Monte Rei Golf & Country Club is a golfer’s paradise and consistently rated Portugal’s number-one golf resort. 

It combines natural landscapes with numerous fairway designs to keep golfers on their toes. 

The North Course has been open since 2007, while construction on the new Nicklaus-designed South Course will begin soon.

Holes are meticulously maintained with manicured greens and lush fairways. 

Monte Rei’s surroundings are spectacular. Fairways twist and wind through picturesque valleys a short distance from the coast, providing stunning views of the rolling hills. 

Staff are attentive and professional and always willing to meet guests’ needs during their stay. 

Quinta do Lago, Algarve

Best For: Those looking for award-winning excellence

Quinta do Lago, also in the Algarve, is another dream golfing destination – containing three courses for players of all skill levels.

The Quinta do Lago North Course saw a comprehensive redesign in 2014 by renowned architect Beau Welling. Sometimes called the “Pink Course,” golfers love it for its playability and natural beauty. Despite the various water features, it remains surprisingly forgiving for mid-cap players. 

The Quinta do Lago South Course, also called the “Championship Course,” is far more challenging. 

The destination has hosted the Portuguese Open eight times in its history and features water hazards, undulating greens, and deep bunkers designed by architect Ronald Creme. 

The South Course has been recognized for its excellence, winning Europe’s Best Golf Course in 2023.

Vale do Lobo, Algarve

Best For: Players who enjoy dramatic ocean views and challenging cliff-top holes

Vale do Lobo is another golf resort in the Algarve and offers two championship courses: the Royal Course and the Ocean Course. 

The Royal Course veers through rolling hills, challenging golfers on all levels. Water traps and unforgiving bunkers make the par 72 almost unattainable. Harry Colt designed the course in the 1960s, but the resort continues to update it, including the famous cliff-top 16th hole. 

The Ocean Course sits along a cliffside setting, adding drama to every swing. Players can bask in reasonable weather year-round and make exhilarating tee shots, particularly toward the 9th hole green just feet from the Atlantic Ocean. 

Oitavos Dunes, Cascais

Best For: Enthusiasts of raw natural beauty and environmental preservation in golf design

Moving north of the Algarve, the Oitavos Dunes near Cascais is often ranked as the best golf course in Portugal. 

Arthur Hills designed the masterpiece to celebrate the raw and unyielding beauty of the surrounding countryside. 

Oitavos Dunes’ fairways maintain their natural undulations, moving with the ebbs and flows of the land. Nearby are indigenous flora – plants and grasses that don’t exist [naturally] anywhere else. 

Behind them is the Atlantic Ocean, with several holes hugging the coastline and offering spectacular sea views. 

Penha Longa, Lisbon

Best For: Those interested in a unique historic setting surrounded by ancient ruins

Penha Longa is a championship course inside the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. The resort is famous for marrying high-quality golfing facilities with historical charm. 

Part of the course includes the grounds of a 14th-century monastery. Golfers tee off from ancient surroundings packed with history, adding a cultural dimension to the experience. 

Nearby, the magic of the Sintra Mountains offers breathtaking panoramic views, wild vegetation, and the salty breeze of the Atlantic lingering in the air. 

San Lorenzo Golf Course, Algarve

Best For: Golfers who appreciate extensive water features or a more American play

The San Lorenzo Course has a reputation for being more American in style than other courses in the Algarve. 

Its well-manicured fairways and attractive views of various lakes have made it a staple at the top of the list of the best golf courses in Portugal. 

The Ria Formosa Lagoon is more than an attractive backdrop for the course. It is an essential landscape feature for its design. The water traps help to increase the challenge and necessitate a precise shot to conquer the hole. 

Praia D’El Rey, Lisbon Coast

Best For: Players looking for a diverse golfing experience from coastal dunes to forested challenges

The Praia D’El Rey golf resort is located on Lisbon’s Atlantic coastline. Undulating coastal dunes and challenging elevation changes encourage strategic play. 

To reign supreme, players must battle through several natural environments, including forested areas. 

Some holes hug the coastline, providing panoramic views out to sea. The crashing waves are often audible from putting greens, with lingering seaspray as waves crash into rocks nearby. 

Other holes require players to navigate forested areas, forcing them to adjust their loft accordingly. The trees provide formidable obstacles for players trying to find their way back to the fairway. 

Victoria Golf Course, Vilamoura

Best For: Competitive golfers who thrive on professionally designed courses that host international tournaments

The Victoria Golf Course in Vilamoura is a beautiful location designed to test the mettle of the world’s top golfers. 

Home of the Portugal Masters, the location follows Arnold Palmer’s philosophy of creating unique courses that demand precision shot-making. 

Players compete over more than 6,651 meters of fairways, making it among the longest 18-hole courses in the country. 

The Victoria Golf Course’s primary appeal is its variety. The course is demanding, requiring players to experiment with their strategies and develop new approaches to beat it. 

Troia Golf, Setubal

Best For: Aficionados of secluded, natural settings with a touch of rugged Scottish links-style play

Troia Golf is another golfing paradise on the Troia peninsula, south of Lisbon. It is famed for its challenging holes and beautiful natural setting. 

The Robert Trent Jones-designed fairways integrate sandy dunes, natural vegetation, and water features, demanding a high skill level. 

As you play this course, you will discover a touch of Scotland shining through. The rolling landscape and minimal trees feel like playing in Britain’s northern reaches but without the cold and dreary weather. 

Palmares Golf, Algarve

Best For: Golfers who enjoy a mix of links and parkland challenges with stunning sea vistas

Palmares Golf Course rounds out our list of the best golf courses in Portugal. The 27-hole Robert Trent Jones course focuses on skill and offers breathtaking sea-view panoramas. 

Each nine-hole run has a distinct character and atmosphere. 

Some have a distinct parkland feel, with lush fairways and mature trees interspersed occasionally. Others are links built on firmer playing surfaces than parkland and heathland courses. 

Most holes also hold views of the Bay of Lagos, allowing golfers to enjoy a vast turquoise-blue expanse while driving, chipping, and putting. Players feel engaged from the moment they arrive at the course.

Astons – Connecting our clients to “The World’s Best”

Among other categories of ‘The World’s Best‘ that Portugal is host to, championship-level golfing experiences are just the tip of the iceberg. 

Portugal doesn’t simply understand the luxury lifestyle; it elevates it.

Portugal’s unwavering standard of excellence can be equally experienced in its wine, art, superyacht marinas, and food – just to name a few.

Likewise, the Portugal Golden Visa is the gold standard for Plan B strategies, EU investment-based residency, ETIAS & EES exemption status, and a rapid route to an EU passport. 

Is Portugal your perfect solution?

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