Golf is incredibly popular in the Algarve. British, German, Dutch and French tourists flock to the region throughout the year to escape the weather at home and play some of Europe’s best courses. There are 40 golf courses in the Algarve and the quality can vary dramatically. Furthermore, some courses found in tourist hotspots get overbearingly busy during the peak season. If you’re looking for something quieter, let me guide you through 5 of the most tranquil and secluded golf courses in the Algarve.
Located 10 kilometres northeast of Lagos and near the beach town of Burgau, Espiche is a haven for tranquillity. The course was originally conceived in the 90’s but was beset with financial problems. As the saying goes, good things come to those who wait with Espiche finally opening its doors in 2012.
Set in the middle of an ecological reserve, Espiche is free from large overbearing hotel developments, meaning you’re free to take in the breathtaking surroundings. There are spectacular views of the Monchique mountains to the North, while you can delight in the natural planting of olive, fig and almond trees throughout the fairways and rough.
Espiche is a challenging course, the rough can be punishing, so wayward tee shots are normally rewarded with a penalty shot, but don’t let that put you off. Some of the holes at Espiche are simply majestic and will leave you wanting to play them multiple times.
The clubhouse is special too. Architect Nadine Berger has won several awards for her design and it's the perfect place to unwind after a very special round of golf.
Morgado and Alamos
You get two golf courses for the price of one when you visit the Morgado Golf and Country Club. Take exit 5 off the A22 near Portimao and travel a few kilometres north and you’ll arrive at this secluded gem. Opened in 2003 and designed by Russell Talley of European Golf Design, both Morgado and Alamos are maturing into well-established courses providing plenty of challenge for the mid-range golfer.
It’s not just mid-range golfers that ply their trade here. Morgado hosted the Portuguese Open from 2017-2019, so this gives you some idea of the pedigree. There’s a variety of tee positions for golfers to play from depending on ability. Play from the Championship tees at Morgado and the course measures an impressive 7035 yards and is suitable for low handicappers. For us mere mortals, choose to play from the yellows and the course becomes far easier and very playable for golfers of all abilities.
I’d recommend taking a buggy to play either course. The terrain can be quite undulating at times and there is quite a walk between tee boxes on a few of the holes.
A couple of my favourite holes include the 14th at Morgado, where a 300-yard drive will see you reach the green. It’s a tempting hole to attack, but leave it short and you’ll leave yourself a lot to do to make par.
The other hole that delights me every time is the second at Alamos. This par-5 has water running down the right-hand side (which I’ve landed in many times before) and a bunker to catch any shot that gets even close to the water. Stay away from the lake and you have a beautiful approach shot into the green and every chance of making birdie.
Located South of the historic town of Silves, you’ll discover Silves Golf Course. Set away from the more populated towns of Vilamoura and Albufeira, Silves offers a secluded golf retreat that’s unrivalled in the area. Designed by Fausto Nascimento and opened in 2007, Silves is one of five golf courses operated by the Nau Group.
Silves is a compact course, with an abundance of hazards that will punish any wayward shots, accuracy is important to score well here. It’s not the longest either, measuring 5748 yards, so there’s little advantage to be gained for the big hitters of the game.
What you will find at Silves is plenty of natural fauna. There’s an abundance of olive and citrus trees lining the surrounding area, making for a truly relaxing experience away from the crowds.
One of my favourite holes at Silves is the 13th. A short 528-yard par-5 dog-leg right. Water covers the right-hand side of the fairway, so keep your tee shot left and you’re rewarded with a beautiful approach shot to the green.
Amendoeira Faldo and O’Connor Junior Courses
Tucked away in the region of Alcantarilha, equidistant from Albufeira and Carvoeiro lies the Amendoeira Golf Resort. One of the Algarve’s leading luxury golf resorts, Amendoeira actually boasts three golf courses, one of which is the only floodlit course in Portugal for those that fancy a bit of night golf.
The star of the show however is the Faldo Course, voted the best in Portugal at the 2016 World Golf Awards. It also takes the crown for being one of the toughest courses in the Algarve too. There are five tee positions to play from and for those brave enough to play from the Championship tees, be prepared for an altogether brutal round of golf. Thankfully there are easier tee boxes for those, like myself, who aren’t quite at the level of the great Sir Nick Faldo and these make the course far more enjoyable for those with mid-high handicaps.
The O’Connor Junior Course is the second Championship Golf Course at Amemndoeira. Whilst it’s often overshadowed by its bigger brother, it shouldn’t be overlooked. For a start, it’s altogether more forgiving and far less severe if you’re having an off day.
My favourite hole here is the third, a tough par 3 that plays alongside a lake down the right-hand side. As you make your way down to the green, see if you can catch a glimpse of the ruin situated on an adjacent lake, it’s one of the most picturesque scenes of any Algarve golf course.
No guide can fail to mention Monte Rei, the jewel in the Algarve’s golf course crown. Situated near Tavira, Monte Rei frequently scoops awards for the best golf course in Portugal. This Arnold Palmer Signature Course is set in 1000 acres of beautiful countryside.
Each hole is set in its own valley, adding to the secluded feel. To add to the impression you’re playing millionaires golf, the tee times are staggered every 12 minutes meaning a lot of the time it feels like you have the whole place to yourself.
Speaking of millionaire's golf, Monte Rei isn’t cheap. A round of golf here will set you back anywhere from €170 - €220 per person which is pretty expensive, even for the Algarve. That said, this is a bucket list course that every avid golfer should try and experience at least once in their life.
The great Arnold Palmer noted that the 13th is his signature hole and who am I to argue? You tee off playing down what can only be described as a canyon down to a stunning green that has a large lake as a backdrop. It’s one that you’ll want to play again and again.
Golf in the Algarve doesn’t need to be hectic and busy. If you’re willing to take a short drive, there are plenty of golf courses that offer a far more serene experience. Pick one of the five suggestions in this guide and you’ll be golfing on some of the most tranquil courses the Algarve has to offer.
Mark Hirst is the founder of Getaway Golfer. His passion is to help golfers experience the best golf courses and hotels from around the world for those once in a lifetime experiences.