The Algarve, Portugal’s southernmost region, is renowned for its year round mild and sunny climate, beautiful beaches, quaint fishing villages, fantastic hotels and not least its world class golf courses.
Our golf adventure to began with a two day break at fabulous Hilton Golf Resort and Spa, Vilamoura. The resort is located close to the beach and within walking distance of Vilamoura’s great shops and restaurants. Our two bedroom luxury apartment was ideal for golfing groups and families. Rooms are spacious and comfortable all have balconies either overlooking the gardens or the prestigious Pinhal golf course.
Set in five acres of beautifully landscaped gardens are six pools, some with cascading waterfalls, a gym and Portugal’s largest luxury spa.
The 7 Seven Spa and wellness centre is popular with guests for the wide range of luxurious treatments. Facilities include an indoor thermal pool, whirlpools, jet pools, sauna, and a relaxing zen garden.
Dining at the Hilton was everything you would expect from a five star establishment. Whether you choose formal or casual dining you won’t be disappointed.
Feeling completely chilled after an amazing couple of days at The Hilton we were ready to hit the fairways of some of The Algarve’s best golf courses, and looking forward to experiencing the popular Dom Pedro Hotel, Vilamoura.
Once we settled in we strolled down to the beach which was just a five minute walk from the hotel. Sunshine, warm sea breezes and the sound of the wild Atlantic waves lashing over the sand, just what the doctor ordered.
The South Course is set among magnificent umbrella pines with views over the Ria Fermosa Natural Park. The course provides a challenging round for golfers of all abilities. There was quite a mix of handicaps in our group, everyone enjoyed the course and the experience.
The Ocean Course, Vale do Lobo is an incredibly beautiful golf course which is composed of the two original 9-hole golf courses. The gently undulating fairways which run alongside a nature reserve before leading down to the shores of the Ocean. Two challenging and spectacular Par 4s. are the 11th and the 14th. The Par 3 15th which runs alongside the beach is just stunning.
The Dom Pedro, Old Course often described as the Grande Dame of the Algarve is the second oldest course in the region. There are lots of interesting and challenging holes to test the amateur and more experienced player but overall is a really enjoyable golf experience for everyone. The fairways are quite narrow and are bordered by beautiful umbrella pine trees.
Leaving Vilamoura we headed toward the Spanish border to the exclusive Monte Rei Golf and Country Club. Monte Rei is located in the hills northeast of the historic town of Tavira and is the only Jack Nicklaus signature course in Portugal.
The course is everything you would expect from a Jack Nicklaus course. It is designed to be a challenging and enjoyable experience for every player. Green fees may be a bit higher than other Algarve courses but worth it!
The magnificent clubhouse sits high above the course offering breathtaking views of the Serra do Caldeirão Mountains to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the South.
Monte Rei’s state of the art luxury villas and apartments provide an enviable place to live and stay in a peaceful and private location. Also on the resort is an excellent golf academy, heated swimming pool, gym and tennis courts.
From East to West and to Morgado Golf Club which is located in the beautiful Algarve region of the Barrocal. Morgado is a fairly flat course set at the foot of the Monchique mountains. While the course is fair and testing for the amateur, it provides an enjoyable challenge for the more experienced player. The course is surrounded by natural flora and fauna, ranging from citrus and olive trees and fantastic wild life. You will definitely feel at one with nature when walking these fairways!
Onyria Palmares Golf Resort. Palmares is composed of three nine hole courses that can be played in any sequence. Alvor, Lagos and Praia courses were an absolute joy to play, each course has its own character and uniqueness, the resort has stunning views of the Ocean and Alvor estuary.
Close to Lagos is Espiche Golf Resort, the resort is situated within a wonderful nature reserve. Espiche’s magnificent clubhouse is perched high on a hill overlooking the course and the nature reserve. The tree lined fairways, lakes and streams provide an interesting and challenging round of golf.
Penina Hotel and Golf Resort is one of my favourite resorts on the Algarve. There are three courses, The Sir Henry Cotton Championship Course, which is the first 18 hole course to have been built in the Algarve. There is also The Resort Course and Academy Course. Other facilities include five on site tennis courts, a large outdoor pool and a well-equipped fitness centre.
Finding a good place to eat on the Algarve is never a problem as there are so many restaurants. Most days we dined in the club house restaurants. Penina, Espiche, Monte Rei and Morgado golf club restaurants were especially good.
For a special dining experience a visit to Peppers Steakhouse at the Tivoli Marina Vilamoura is a must. The meal began with sharing plates of cold meats and for the main, straight from the grill we were served Black Angus entrecôte, grass fed from Nebraska; succulent lamb from New Zealand and beef loin from Spain served with a choice of delicious sauces. Dessert was a delicious spiced creme brûlée served with a red fruit sorbet. YUM!
The Portuguese wines accompanying the meal were amazing. After dinner Chef Alex and Sommelier Eduardo were given a huge applause.
Going west again and to The five star PESTANA ALVOR PRAIA HOTEL. The iconic hotel is situated on a cliff top overlooking the Três Irmãos beach, which incidentally is one of the best known beaches of the Algarve. The hotel’s interior decor is inspired by the natural surroundings of the region. There are eight golf courses and five tennis courts all within driving distance of the hotel.
Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve Resort is an absolute stunning resort. This newly refurbished hotel over looks the Atlantic Ocean on the Vale Covo cliffside.
The beautifully furnished rooms all have balconies with amazing panoramic ocean views. Facilities at Tivoli include a Spa, pool, and a state of art fitness area. There are beautiful walks from the hotel along the cliffs toward Carvoeiro village. One evening we walked along the cliff path to one of the viewpoints where we waited with some locals and watched a spectacular sunset.
The Algarve is full of charming towns and villages that are often overlooked when on a golf holiday. On this occasion we had the opportunity to visit some of the Algarve’s best kept secrets starting with the12th century moorish village CACELA VELHA. The idyllic and historic village sits on a cliff overlooking the Ria Fermosa. Walking around the village was like taking a step back in time. The old telephone kiosk in the square, a relic of the sixties or seventies is now a book lending library. Behind the 16th century church are the most spectacular ocean views.
The historic town straddles the Gilão River, and reaches the sea through the inlets and lagoons of the Ria Formosa Natural Park.
Traditional Portuguese houses with its Moorish influences line the narrow cobbled winding streets. There are lots of restaurants along the river including an Irish bar. Of course there is!
Olhão is a traditional fishing town also in eastern Algarve. Although Olhão is a bit more commercial than most of the villages it’s a great place to visit, you can watch the boats come in with the daily catch and experience some of the best seafood restaurants in the Algarve!
Close to Lagos is Ponte Da Piedade, the name translates to Piety Point. This is one of the most dramatic and scenic places on the Algarve. The limestone coastline is formed of sea pillars, fragile rock arches and hidden grottos. There are coastal paths with steps leading down to the inlets, the boat tours are probably the best way to explore the headland or for the more adventurous there are kayak and paddle board tours.
Aer Lingus and Ryanair both fly into Faro Airport, but during the off-season Ryanair is the only airline flying from Dublin.
Clubs To Hire at faro Airport rent top of the range Callaway and Taylor Made clubs. Hiring is so much easier than bringing your own clubs and less expensive.
Check out the excellent Carlton Hotel, Dublin Airport for an over night stay or just parking. The parking is reasonable and service superb.