A Guide to Golfing in the Algarve

Portugal's southern Algarve Coast has some of the world's most beautiful beaches and best food, but it is also one of Europe’s premier golfing destinations for those seeking a unique and memorable golf holiday.

The first golf course in the Algarve, designed by Sir Henry Cotton, opened in 1966 at the Penina Hotel & Golf Resort. The region has since become renowned for its golf resorts, especially in the Vilamoura area, with golf tourism picking up in the 1970s and growing in the decades that followed. There are undeniable advantages to golfing in the Algarve, including the ideal year-round climate and the plethora of other activities right around the corner such as surfing and sea cave exploring.

The Algarve region is now home to over 40 golf courses and golf resorts, making golf accessible no matter where you are staying and offering something to suit every taste, budget, and ability level. You can golf right along the beach, or head to one of the courses farther inland if you prefer.

In this post, we've compiled the best golf courses for you to enjoy on your next trip to the Algarve, whether you're a beginner interested in trying your hand at golf or a pro planning to spend your vacation teeing it up.

Best Places for Golfing in the Algarve

There are great golf courses all along the Algarve coast, so there is no shortage of options when deciding where to spend a day playing the historically Scottish sport. It is recommended that you bring your own golf clubs, although it is also possible to rent equipment. Many resorts also offer golf packages, so be sure to research your options when planning your holiday. Read on for an overview of the best golf courses in the sunny Algarve, organized by region.

Portimao Area

Portimao is perhaps best known for its beach resort town, Praia da Rocha, but is also home to the very first golf course that opened in the Algarve, and is a great spot for playing golf in the region.

Sir Henry Championship Course

This was the first golf course built in the Algarve and is one of the most challenging. It has been the selected venue for both the Open de Portugal and the Portuguese golf championship at various times throughout the years. It is relatively flat, but the holes are long and there are many water hazards and bunkers along the course. The par 3 13th hole has actually been named one of the top 500 holes in the world. With a left-hand fairway, a water hazard, and out of bounds on both sides, it is sure to present a challenge to any golfer!

Alto Golf Course

Located near Portimao, Alvor, and Praia da Rocha, Alto Golf Course is the last course designed by Sir Henry Cotton. It is a challenging course including many bunkers, dogleg fairways, and one of the longest par 5 holes in Europe. With occasional sea views, this course is the perfect golf destination.

Vale da Pinta

Found near Lagoa, Vale da Pinta was designed by American architect Ronald Fream. Covered in olive trees and offering views of the Monchique mountains, this par 71 course will test your accuracy with tight fairways and cleverly placed bunkers. With friendly staff and a relaxed vibe, it will feel just like your home golf club!

Boavista Golf Resort

Located near Lagos to the west of Portimao, Boavista Golf Resort opened in 2002 and is widely held up as one of the Western Algarve’s top courses. With a championship course, top-notch practice facilities and incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean, Boavista Golf Resort is a golfer’s dream come true. The resort has charming villas for rent, onsite spa facilities, and a lovely outdoor swimming pool - you’ll never want to leave!

Vilamoura Area

Vilamoura is one of the best golf holiday destinations in the Algarve, boasting a high concentration of golf courses to enjoy including the Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo golf resorts, some of which have hosted events in the PGA European Tour. It is also easily accessible, located only 5 minutes from Faro Airport. If your vacation plans involve playing golf, head to Vilamoura!

Ocean Golf Course

Located at Vale do Lobo, Ocean Golf Course is one of the oldest Algarve golf courses. Originally designed by Henry Cotton as two 9-hole courses, it was joined into one in 1995 after Cotton’s death. Many of this course’s undulating fairways run alongside the nature reserve while the par 3 15th hole is located entirely along the beach, offering one of the best ocean views in the region.

Laguna Golf Course

This golf destination can be found in Vilamoura. Full of lakes and bunkers, this course can be a real challenge. But don’t let that stop you from taking it on, it is also one of the most unique golf courses in the region. The neighboring Millennium Golf Course is another beautiful course and a great option for more casual golfers as it does not include as many challenges but still has a hazard waiting on the 6th hole just waiting for you to miss your mark!

Laranjal Golf Course

Laranjal Golf Course is part of the Quinta do Lago resort and one of the newer golf courses in the area. Despite its relative newness, this is a popular place to play golf. This course was once an orange grove and presents a number of challenges, with accuracy being key to success. A stunningly manicured course with 5 lakes, orange trees, and umbrella pins, this par 72 course is as beautiful as it is fun. 

Pinhal Golf Course

Pinhal Golf course was designed in 1976 by Frank Pennink and refined 20 years later by  Robert Trent Jones Sr. This course is lined by pines which can present as a challenge from time to time, appearing in the fairways on a handful of approaches but for the most part, golfing at Pinhal will be a joy for players of all experiences and capabilities.

Pestana Vila Sol Premium Golf & Spa Resort

Playing golf at Vila Sol is a true experience. One of the more natural golf courses in the area, it was designed to respect and maintain local topography, plant, and wildlife. This course played host to PGA European Tour events in the 90s and presents a multitude of challenges to players. Comprised of 3, 9-hole loops, all golfers will find the right fit for their game. And, of course, the breathtaking clubhouse will soothe any ego injuries incurred during the round.

Albuferia Area

Albufeira is one of the largest cities in the Algarve and is one of the best holiday destinations in Europe if golf is on the itinerary!

Pine Cliffs Golf Course

Pine Cliffs is so named because it is located on the golden cliffs of Albuferia. This 9-hole course is suited to golfers of all skill levels and provides stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. Pine Cliffs is designed to take advantage of its location with fairways running parallel to the ocean and surrounded by old pine trees. Be aware of the 6th hole, known as “the Devil’s Parlour,” as it requires a perfectly placed tee shot over 197-meter ravine!

Balaia Golf Village

Balaia Golf Village is a great place to both play and stay. The resort is incredible with a wide range of amenities and the 9-hole par 3 course is sure to please. If you’re a beginner, you can enroll in one of the best golf academies in Portugal before heading out to play a round.

Salgados Golf Course

This par 72 course is made for nature lovers. The course runs alongside Salgados Beach and the Salgados Lagoon Nature Reserve providing incredible sea views and access to a variety of bird species. While this course is primarily flat, it requires thought and strategy more than physical prowess. Due to the shifting winds in the area, Salgados Golf Course never plays the same way twice!

The Algarve's world-class golf facilities are not to be missed by anyone looking to enjoy a memorable golf holiday. Its resorts offer a challenge for experienced golfers and also provide lessons and opportunities for beginners to get in on the game as well. No matter your budget or your golfing goals, consider the Algarve your perfect golfing destination!