Tips for a Golf Trip to the Lisbon area.
We’re rapidly approaching the winter season which is often the time when golfers start planning their next trip to warmer climes - hopefully to Portugal! So I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to share my list of favourite courses in the Lisbon area:
Royal Óbidos: This was Seve Ballesteros’ last design project before he passed away in 2011, and what a swan song it is. Rated as one of the top 100 courses in Continental Europe, Royal Óbidos is a challenging layout (particularly from the back tees) with a fair bit of water to negotiate - so you’ll need to bring plenty of ammunition. However, the lagoon and sea views will compensate for any double bogeys. The ultra-modern clubhouse, which overlooks the course and the ocean, is a great venue for lunch or a post round beverage.
Praia del Rey: This is a must play if you want to experience world class championship golf in a stunning setting. Since opening in 1997, Praia del Rey has been consistently ranked amongst the very best courses in Continental Europe and the panoramic vistas of the Atlantic Ocean are just the icing on the cake.
West Cliffs: Located next to its sister course, Praia del Rey, this is the most recent addition to Portugal’s long list of high quality courses and it’s already being touted as one of the very best in Europe. Routed through natural sandy terrain, West Cliffs provides a links style test in a wonderful setting. Trust me, if you’re staying in the Lisbon area it’s a must play course. Check out my PTee review for more information.
To the South
Quinta do Peru: This delightful tree lined course has fast, undulating greens and is normally in great condition. Golf at Peru is always relaxing and the clubhouse offers lovely views over the course - try the steak sandwich, it’s delicious.
Aroeira II: The second 18 at Aroeira and, in my opinion, one of the very best courses in the Lisbon area. Most of the fairways are surrounded by trees and from any tee box it’s a challenging layout. The wooden clubhouse, which serves both courses, is always warm and inviting.
RibaGolfe 1: Routed through an old cork tree farm, RibaGolfe 1 has hosted the first stage of the European Tour Qualifying School since 2009. It’s a great test of golf in a tranquil and natural environment.
Troia: One of the best and most demanding golf courses in Continental Europe. Troia is a Robert Trent Jones masterpiece and yet, due to its rather remote location, it’s often very quiet - especially on weekdays. If you’ve the time to take a trip to Troia please go there, you won’t be disappointed.
Sintra, Estoril & Cascais
Belas Clube de Campo: Belas hosted the Senior Open de Portugal in 2011. It’s a difficult, physical test of golf so buggies are generally recommended. There are a number of great holes to savour - the 2nd, 3rd and 4th are my particular favourites. You’ll need to hit your tee shots long and straight if you want to make plenty of pars and birdies.
Penha Longa: The Atlantic Championship course, which has hosted the Open de Portugal on three occasions, is another great design from the Trent Jones stable. Set amongst the foothills of the Sintra National Park there isn’t a weak hole on the course, and the last four provide a memorable finish.
Pestana Beloura Golf: This is an ideal course for beginners, improvers and anybody who just wants to have a fun time playing golf. The Pestana Sintra Hotel lies conveniently adjacent to the 18th hole and the clubhouse.
Estoril Championship: One of the oldest courses in Portugal, Estoril has hosted the Open de Portugal on numerous occasions. It’s a classic layout with stunning views to the ocean. Its nine hole sister course, the Blue, is an ideal layout for beginners and improvers.
Oitavos Dunes: This is another Championship course which has hosted the Open de Portugal. Oitavos is about as close to a links course as you will find in central Portugal and, because it’s perched just above the shoreline, the ocean views are fantastic.
Quinta da Marinha: Another thoroughly enjoyable Trent Jones design with plenty of mature trees, undulating greens and memorable par 3’s. There are two hotels on site and the course gets rather busy during the peak golf tourism periods (Spring & Autumn) - so be prepared for a slow round if you tee off mid-morning.
If you’re a non-golfer don’t worry, there are still plenty of things to do to keep you occupied. Here are a few suggestions:
- Historic Sintra: This thoroughly charming town has numerous historic castles and palaces, many of which are World Heritage sites, with some dating back to the time of the Moors. You can also go hiking, cycling or horse riding in the Sintra Mountains National Park - one of the largest conservation areas in Portugal.
- Gourmet Food & Wine Tours: Enjoy the many flavours of Portuguese cuisine on a gourmet food and wine tour of Lisbon. Visit traditional eateries and savour some of the local delicacies as your guide gives you tips on how to appreciate Portuguese wine, pastries and food. Or, for real wine lovers, take a guided private tour around the Sintra area and taste some of the finest wines in the country.
- Shopping in Lisbon: The Capital is a great place for shopping – Avenida da Liberdade and Rua Castilho are well known for their fashion houses. Take a stroll around Chiado which boasts some of the best cafes in the city or visit El Corte Ingles, Lisbon’s premier department store.
- Historic Lisbon: The city has many historic landmarks such as the Jerónimos Monastery, Belem Tower and the Monument to the Discoveries. There are also numerous organised walks, bicycle routes and open-top bus tours.
- River Cruises and Seaside Walks: A river cruise along the Tagus is a great way to see Lisbon. Alternatively, if you want to get some exercise and sea air, there are a number of coastal walks around the Estoril and Cascais areas.