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It’s a well-kept secret to Americans, but this is a favorite destination for European golfers

January 24, 2024

American golf travelers don’t need to be convinced to visit Scotland or Ireland. What might not be on your radar is a destination many European travelers frequent—and an international trip that might provide the most bang for your buck.


As one European golfer describes it, visiting Portugal from England is the equivalent of a getaway from the Northeast to Florida—a quick, easy flight with solid golf and great beaches. It’s not too bad from the U.S. as well, with eight American cities flying direct to Lisbon with a similar travel time as London.

Our friends at Premier Golf call it the best European golf trip you can take outside of Scotland or Ireland. One of the reasons is the price can typically be 40 to 60 percent cheaper than your typical Ireland/Scotland trip due to the low cost of living and lesser-known nature of Portugal golf. It pays to be under the radar. Premier Golf has curated a trip to the Lisbon area that we’d encourage you to check out.

Rather than fighting traffic in and out of Lisbon, staying in the Estoril and Cascais region is recommended. A 45-minute tram in and out of Lisbon brings you to Cascais, an old fishing village where many local Portuguese own a second home. You’ll find harbor, beaches, waterfront dining—and easy access to some great golf.

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Jacob Sjöman/Courtesy of Premier Golf

The first must-play venue is Oitavos Dunes (opening photo and above), ranked in the top 10 of our most recent list of the Best Courses in Every Country. Arthur Hills routed Oitavos Dunes through a nature preserve, meaning the only development close to the course is the affiliated hotel. The course is built on elevated dunes—with incredible ocean views present on nearly every hole.

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Penha Longa is a Robert Trent Jones Jr., course that’s also only 10 or 15 minutes from Cascais/Estoril. Some old Roman viaducts run through the inland, hilly course in another undeveloped area with tons of undulations and elevation changes.

Rounding out the Lisbon itinerary are a handful of courses closer to the scenic surf town of Peniche. The most notable is the second-ranked course on our Best in Portugal list, West Cliffs, which is designed by Cynthia Dye, the niece of the late legendary architect Pete Dye. Located along the west Atlantic Ocean, West Cliffs has some unparalleled views while also boasting often-present wind, especially in the afternoon. Praia D’El Ray, ranked eighth in Portugal, and Royal Óbidos, designed by Seve Ballesteros and the former host of the Portugal Masters, are also very stellar options closeby.

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Of course, this Lisbon itinerary doesn’t even include some of the most exciting golf in Portugal. First, the highest-ranked course in Portugal, the Jack Nicklaus-designed Monte Rei Golf & Country Club in the Algarve region, is worth adding to your trip if you can. Monte Rei debuted on our most recent ranking of the World’s 100 Greatest Courses at No. 27, ahead of some of its European brethren such as like Royal St. George’s, Lahinch or Kingsbarns.

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If you are transferring to the Algarves, Tróia G.C. and Dunas Golf Course (above) at Terras da Comporta are about an hour and a half from central Portugal. Dunas is a new David McLay Kidd course that opened last fall after years of the project starting and stopping. It’s one of the most exciting new European projects of the past few years. Finally, keep your eye out for a new course by Sergio Garcia being built in Comporta on the Comporta Torre development.

There’s a reason why a number of Americans are buying property in Portugal as an investment or a second home. The secret is officially getting out about the beauty of the area.