If you are looking for inspiring ideas for where to play golf, why not consider the Algarve. The region has a huge range of golf courses and a perfect climate for playing golf in the sun. Here we focus more on the ever-popular Vilamoura area
I recently decided to visit the Algarve for a golf trip with some friends, a dual-purpose trip: to play golf in the sun, but more importantly to take a look at the courses, hotels and restaurants in the early summer season of June. We had a fantastic time, and I wanted to pass on our golfing itinerary to customers:
Why did we choose a Vilamoura golf break?
It’s only a 30-minute transfer from Faro and is located between Vale do Lobo and Albufeira regions so has plenty of choice for golfers.
We wanted somewhere to visit at night, so the buzzy marina in Vilamoura was perfect for the group.
We have a range of hotels and apartments for groups of all requirements and budgets.
Vilamoura Golf Trip:
London Luton to Faro – 2 hours 30 mins. Transfer to Vilamoura Hilton As Cascatas Golf Resort by minibus. 4 people cases + clubs. I should point out here that we can also recommend club hire companies that will deliver clubs to your hotel, which saves a lot of hassle and carriage fees.
We arranged with the hotel to hold our luggage while we crossed the road to play Pinhal. This is one of the real benefits to staying at the As Cascatas as it is sandwiched in-between two of Vilamoura best golf courses: Pinhal and the Old Course.
Our First Round: Pinhal – A Review
Pinhal Golf Course
Now Dom Pedro owned, this umbrella pine-lined course is the perfect course to kick-off a golf trip to Vilamoura. A lovely entrance to the course with clubhouse veranda overlooking the driving range and course. Caddy master greeted us and arranged for our bags to be loaded onto the carts and ready for the first tee.
The course is quite tight, although the nature of the pines means that with wayward shots, you are given a chance to play forward towards the hole. That said there are a lot of villas and OB on this course so careful strategy is required.
One thing we noticed was the peace and tranquillity across the layout, feeling 100 miles away from the hustle of the marina. At points, there are some beautiful vistas as you are located quite high above the sea and Vilamoura.
Overall this is a good test for all levels of golfer, well presented and maintained. The staff are, and the clubhouse bar is an excellent place to relax after a long round. The Course is well worth considering for any Vilamoura Golf Trip.
After golf, we crossed the road into the As Cascatas. It’s worth explaining that the front of the hotel is the 5-star Hilton hotel which is offered on the 360 website. You can’t miss the 7 Senses spa opposite the entrance – often commented as the best spa in the Algarve. To get to the apartment, you can walk through the main hotel to the rear of the property to the As Cascatas Golf Resort.
Why Did We Stay at As Cascatas Vilamoura Apartments
- Fantastic value for money
- The 2 bedroom apartments are spacious and well-equipped with 2 bathrooms, a living room and a kitchen. Perfect if you want to self-cater.
- Free shuttle service to the marina and beach.
- Hotel beach club at Falesia beach
- Guests can use all the facilities of the on-site 5-star hotel. Including the 6 pools.
- Free parking on-site
We took two apartments and had a bedroom each. Although groups on a tighter budget can share bedrooms to halve the cost. We found the living room and kitchen particularly useful.
Early evening we caught the free Hilton shuttle to the marina (runs every hour both ways) and dined on the marina front restaurant Akvavit. I’d really recommend this one for fresh fish and hospitality…not the cheapest but the food doesn’t disappoint.
Vilamoura Golf Trip:
An early rise as we had a car being delivered to the hotel at 9am. We decided to share a small run-around as not all the group played golf every day. A perfect drop off service from a local company, MasterKings, which we would recommend. The hotel has free underground parking, which is an excellent benefit – especially in the midday heat.
Some of us took a quick trip to the stunning supermarket at Almancil “Apolonia” which can only be described as the Algarve’s Waitrose. We would highly recommend a visit. There are supermarkets in walking distance of the hotel (plus in the marina); however, Apolonia is worth a trip.
In the afternoon we played the jewel in the Vilamoura crown, The Old Course.
Our Second Round: The Old Course Vilamoura – A Review
The Old Course Vilamoura
Another course from the Dom Pedro Group. From the moment you enter the property, you can tell why so many travelling golfers have this as their no. 1 course to play when in Vilamoura. There is a calm elegance about the place, with a feeling of those stunning grande heathland UK courses in the home counties.
You are greeted by the caddy team as bags are taken and loaded. We decided to take a beer before teeing off and were called over when our tee time was due.
The course was in very good condition and we loved some of the picturesque views. Again the course is lined with umbrella pines, tight fairways but not too punishing. The first tee says it all, an information board shows the types of wildlife you’ll encounter, which we did. A downhill par 4 with views of the surrounding hills…a course to enjoy and not worry too much about the score!
This one is a bit more expensive, however, in my opinion, it’s worth the extra money as it will certainly be memorable. No Vilamoura Golf Trip is complete without a round on the Old Course.
That night we opted for a local meal and one we would certainly recommend. The marina is great in Vilamoura, but I think sometimes the outskirts are underrated, as they are very pretty and calm in comparison. So within a 2 minute walk from the hotel are two very nice restaurants worthy of mention.
Cafe Del Arte
This is a real gem. Located at the back of the hotel in a quiet location surrounded by family villas. The restaurant is predominantly based outside under a vine canopy or on open air tables on the lawn. The staff were very welcoming and attentive…not to mention very generous with the glasses of wine! You can visit here for tapas or a la carte dining. We went for seafood and was not disappointed, it was all very fresh and perfectly cooked.
Overall a relaxing, scenic and friendly atmosphere. One to recommend.
I must also mention the restaurant next door, Willies. Whilst we did not visit this restaurant I am told the food and service are superb. Do note that it is a different ambience to most restaurants around Vilamoura , as it is Michelin star fine dining so will probably suit couples rather than groups of golfers.
Vilamoura Golf Trip:
We ventured out of Vilmaoura across to the Quinta do Lago region to play a course regarded by some as the best on the Algarve. San Lorenzo is based in the Ria Formosa nature reserve and the high class resort of Quinta do Lago. Before explaining the course I’ll touch a little on the surrounding area…
A difficult area to group together, just west of Faro, San Lorenzo, Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago really is the Golden Triangle of the Algarve. Exclusive villas line the fairways and as soon as you enter the estate you can tell why it’s so desirable. Here you can play the following courses:
- San Lorenzo
- Pinheiros Altos
- Quinta do Lago – 3 courses: North, South and Laranjal
- Vale do Lobo – 2 Courses: Royal and Ocean
Our Third Round: San Lorenzo – A Review
4.5 / 5
The course is located bordering the Ria Formosa which provides an attractive setting with views across the river and surrounding marshes. This course is set in nature reserve and should therefore be viewed as such, ie do not expect the manicured fairways of nearby courses, this is a true test against nature. It’s easy to see why San Lorenzo is often ranked among the top courses in Europe as this is a testing and scenic course of world-class standards.
My favourite stretch are holes 5 through to 8. The par 3 5th is the shortest on the course with a backdrop of the ocean and sand dunes behind. The onto a tricky downhill drive on the dogleg 6th where the river awaits any stray drives. It gets no easier on the approach shot as the hole tracks the Formosa to the right. The finishing hole of the three is very similar, however the water is even closer to the green! You once again encounter the Ria Formosa on the finishing holes 17 and 18.
Overall, one should enjoy the course, views and surrounding villas. After a round enjoy a beer or two in the sun at the traditional clubhouse overlooking the course.
Restaurants to try in the Quinta do Lago area:
Casa Do Lago
We dined here after playing San Lorenzo. A lovely setting open air on the lake with live jazz music playing. I can highly recommend this restaurant as the fish is cooked and served to perfection. We ordered a whole Sea Bream for the table which was filleted and de-boned at the table. They have a wide ranging wine list too.
Next door to Casa do Lago so it has similar views. Not quite as formal and the food is more general European in style. A relaxed beach atmosphere and one for celebrity spotting.
A seafood restaurant on stilts with stunning views over the ocean. Local cuisine and flavours with a huge variety of seafood to try. Not the cheapest but worth every Euro!
The Cheeky Pup
An Irish based bar which serves fantastic food, good craic, live music and is based in the exclusive Quinta Shopping area.
Overall we really enjoyed the trip and only scratched the surface of what is on offer in the region. I’ll be posting a further guide to the region of Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago.
I would certainly recommend a trip to Vilamoura as there is so much to offer golfers and non-golfers. It really does cater for everyone. The marina is perfect for apres-golf if nightlife iss what you are looking for.
Of course, if you have any questions or need inspiration for your Algarve golf trip, do not hesitate to contact us below.