While the Algarve is widely considered to be an unbeatable destination for golf holidays, Portugal has far more to offer the seasoned golf enthusiast than its sun-drenched southern clubs. Venture a little further north and you will find several little-known courses set in lush natural surroundings. If you’re looking for something a bit different for your next trip, Porto and its surrounding countryside offer everything you could need, with unbeatable gastronomy and culture thrown in for good measure.
Tee off in Porto
Ironically, the mark of a great golf holiday can often be the activities you get up to off the course – not least because they keep your less golf-inclined travel companions occupied. As places to start your trip go, Porto’s old town is hard to beat: a UNESCO World Heritage Site where quaint streets meet stunning riverside vistas, interrupted only by the architectural marvel that is the Dom Luis I Bridge. Porto truly has it all, from chic boutiques and design cafes to bustling nightlife along Rua Candido dos Reis – not to mention some of the best sardines you will ever taste.
Work on Your Swing in Espinho
When you’ve had your culture fix, head 17km south to Oporto Golf Club, Espinho. As the second oldest club in mainland Europe (after Pau, France), the club boasts an illustrious history. Established in 1890, it was originally the playground of British wine exporters, and to this day it features on the itinerary for many expats’ golf holidays. Portugal’s golfing past is commemorated in the rustic clubhouse, which sports an elegant veranda perfect for spectators. The course itself is a relatively short 18-hole affair, featuring subtle undulations. Although not one of Portugal’s more difficult courses, it features some challenging holes: notably number 11, a par-5 hole of 497 metres.
More Top Porto Picks
For a more challenging course, try Estela Club, situated near the lively resort of Povoa do Varzim on a sandy coastal plain between two river estuaries. The course itself, known for being one of the most difficult in Europe, won’t be your only obstacle: the trickier feat is keeping your eyes on the green among all those breathtaking Atlantic views.
Further inland, the Golfe de Amarante course boasts lush green surroundings and top class facilities, making this an easy choice for relaxed golf holidays. Portugal’s sixth highest mountain, the Serra do Marao, provides a scenic backdrop for an afternoon’s putting.
Around 100km from Porto lies Minho. At the mouth of the river of the same name, it should be of particular interest to anyone looking to combine a love of fine gastronomy with their golf holidays. Portugal has some of the most mouth-watering seafood in Europe, and Minho is among the best places to eat in the country, so you can’t go wrong if you’re on the hunt for foodie delights. Try the bacalhau a Gil Eanes, and wash it down with vinho verde wine, a local speciality.
Courses in the region feature views of rolling vineyards and dramatic beaches. The best in the area is the Axis course in Ponte de Lima: six kilometres surrounded by oak and chestnut trees, with impressive vistas of Vale do Lima at holes 1, 2, 8 and 9.