Golf Escapes’ Ella Ruben samples the best of the Portuguese capital, on and off the golf course
Lisbon is a must-visit for golfers with access to some of Europe’s finest courses while the city offers a mix of vibrant culture and rich history. The surrounding towns and villages offer a similar mix of cultural and golfing highlights – meaning short breaks to longer holidays are well catered for.
Lisbon City is just a short flight away with most of the UK’s major airports travelling here regularly. Away from the golf courses you’ll find a bustling city atmosphere – rich with culture in the daytime while the nightlife here is superb. In the daytime, walk down to the historic Lisbon Quays and the Torre de Belém, which has stood at the mouth of the Tagus River since the 16th Century. The city’s iconic trams are also a must, rattling up the steep cobbled roads through the city. At night, head to the Bairro Alto and sample the city’s nightlife hot spots.
For golf, close to the city you’ll find Lisbon Sports Club and Belas while many of the region’s finest courses are concentrated in the Estoril, Sintra, Cascais triangles on the coast to the north-west of Lisbon while there are many other brilliant courses situated to the south on the Costa Azul. Alternatively, you can travel an hour north to the fantastic Praia d’el Rey resort and Royal Obidos.
Your first stop should be the fantastic Lisbon Sports Club, just 20 minutes outside of the city. The 18-hole parkland course here was designed by Hawtree and Sons and is a brilliant layout to unwind and relax straight from the plane with the relatively short course measuring just 5,278 metres off the back tees. The course is set out in a forest valley with a brook running through 12 of the 18 holes.
Any trip to the region should also include a visit to the impressive West Cliffs Golf Links, which opened in June 2017 and is owned and managed by the Praia del Rey Golf Resort.
West Cliffs has everything – a truly stunning design with rolling fairways taking in spectacular views of the Atlantic as you carve through the sand dunes. The course can stretch to 7,003 yards, though its generous fairways are welcoming to all players. The greens here are designed to challenge players who aren’t accurate with their approaches.
Just 30 minutes’ drive south of the city is the four-star Montado Hotel and Golf Resort, which boasts an impressive 18-hole layout of its own with seven more golf courses within 30 minutes of the hotel. The tranquil location is surrounded by the region’s finest vineyards with the historic city of Setubal just 15 minutes away. As well as its stunning golf course, the hotel offers a spa with a large indoor pool as well as an extensive treatment list. The hotel’s restaurant offers a menu filled with regional and international dishes, while the Pitch and Putt bar is great place to relax after a day on the golf course.
For those venturing out from the hotel, the Ribagolfe Golf Club has two excellent 18-hole courses. Both are laid out in a cork oak forest and offer a test for all levels of golfer.
The longer and tighter of the two courses, Ribagolfe I is a challenging 7,370-yard layout from the back tees but is playable for all levels from the forward tees. The fairways here are narrow with plenty of trouble awaiting wayward tee shots while the back nine features a number of lakes which come into play and test your course management skills.
Ribagolfe II opened for play in 2004 and is routed through the same cork oaks while presenting a fair challenge to golfers of all abilities. The course is shorter and the fairways are more open here, which can make the round a little easier despite the fact there is more water in play.
For more of a resort feel, head to the golf course at Montado. This Florida-style course is relatively flat with water and bunkering creating a stunning landscape for golf. Several dog-legs create a challenging layout while the 18th hole is of particular note – the green here is situated on an island, which can sometimes be tricky to reach.
Golf Escapes’ team of experts can put together packages taking in the city and the region’s finest golf courses. For more information go to www.golf-escapes.com or tel 01342 811 777 and speak to a member of the team.