With never-ending sandy beaches and the Ria Formosa nature reserve on the doorstep, not to mention the charming old town of Faro just a short drive away, there is so much more on offer in this region of the Algarve than just playing golf, as I recently discovered when I stayed at the luxurious Quinta do Lago Country Club.
That said, Quinta do Lago does offer some of the most beautiful championship golf courses in the world. Whether you’re a world-class pro or an absolute beginner, the golf courses here are second to none, and you really would be missing out if you didn’t take a swing or two on a putting green or driving range at least once. And, having recently tried golf for the first time I was eager to learn more.
Quinta do Lago Table of Contents
- Things to do in Quinta do Lago
- Day trips from Quinta do Lago
- Where to eat in Quinta do Lago
- Where to stay | Quinta do Lago Country Club
Our apartment at Quinta do Lago Country Club
Refurbished apartments at Quinta do Lago Country Club
Dining at Quinta do Lago Country Club
The location of the Quinta do Lago Country Club
- The best time of year to visit Quinta do Lago
Golf at Quinta do Lago
Quinta do Lago is a modern purpose-built resort created with golfers in mind. It is considered one of the most beautiful golfing destinations in the world, with three championship courses (the North, South and Laranjal courses) as well as the Paul McGinley Golf Academy and Southern Europe’s only TaylorMade Performance Centre. Here, you can use their advanced technology to have the best set of golf clubs designed for you, individually matched to you and your technique.
Having recently tried my hand at golf for the first time at the Foxhills Country Club and Resort in Suffolk near London, I was eager to improve my meagre skills. With just one lesson at the Paul McGinley Golf Academy, under the superb guidance of Nuno, I saw considerable improvement, but above all I thoroughly enjoyed it. From beginners to advanced golfers of any age they offer an excellent range of private and group learning opportunities.
If you are travelling with mini golfers, just across the road from the main Quinta do Lago driving range, you can play on miniature versions of the world-famous golf holes such as Augusta, Belfry and Sawgrass. Great fun for all the family!
While the driving range, putting green and mini-golf are open to all with no strict dress code (other than no jeans allowed), the championship courses do require a handicap certificate, and you must wear a t-shirt with a collar and golf shoes. You’ll also need to book up to a year in advance depending on what time of year you wish to go.
Golf-related activities at Quinta do Lago
- Championship golf courses
- Driving range
- Putting green
The Campus sports complex
If you think golf is the only thing to do in Quinta do Lago you’d be very much mistaken. The Campus is a state-of-the-art multi-sports complex with a fantastic range of facilities, classes and coaching available right in the heart of Quinta do Lago. Their stunning aquatic centre includes rehabilitation facilities. There’s a superb triathlon course. And they have an impressive team of coaches including the renowned tennis coach, Judy Murray, former Ireland Rugby Captain, Brian O’Driscoll and ex-professional footballers, such as Rio Ferdinand and Teddy Sheringham.
Sports at The Campus include
Ria Formosa Natural Park
Quinta do Lago lies on the edge of Ria Formosa Natural Park which covers an area of some 18,000 hectares. The park is protected from the sea by a series of islands and peninsulas with many stunning sandy beaches. Deemed a ‘wetland of international importance’, the park is a fabulous site for birdwatching.
The symbol of the park is the rare Purple Swamphen or Purple Moorhen, a beautiful large bird with massive red feet, red beak and iridescent purple, green and blue feathers. Once on the verge of extinction, it has made a remarkable recovery in recent years but is still considered vulnerable.
Things to do in Ria Formosa Natural Park
- Stand-up paddling
- Play mini-golf (on their mini-deck in the middle of the lake)
- Boat trips guided by a marine biologist
With a hire car, we were free to explore this stunning region of Portugal, from the beautiful architecture of Faro’s old town to the famous Algarve beaches and cliffs. The few days we had weren’t nearly enough, although this wasn’t my first visit. Here are my favourite day trips from Quinta do Lago.
Faro and Ria Formosa Natural Park
- Spend the morning exploring the old town and its beautiful architecture.
- Have cataplana for lunch at À do Pinto.
- Take a boat ride around Ria Formosa Natural Park returning to Faro around sunset.
- Enjoy a Porto Tonico at O Castelo as the sun goes down.
Lagos and Farol da Ponta da Piedade
- Visit the stunning cliffs at Farol da Ponta da Piedade early in the morning before the crowds arrive.
- Take a boat ride from the bottom of the cliffs to get an even better view.
- Head to Lagos and have lunch at Casa do Prego.
- Explore Lagos’ cobbled streets and stunning waterfront.
- Drive back towards Quinto do Lago stopping by Marinha Beach at sunset.
You might also enjoy Things to do in the Algarve.
Whether you’re looking for a healthy breakfast, a quick snack before a round of golf or a feast by the beach while watching the sunset, there’s a vast choice of dining experiences in Quinta do Lago. Here are a few of my favourites.
Healthy juices, innovative salads and guilt-free homemade cakes!
Location: Quinta do Lago Real Estate Centre, roundabout 2 (ignore Google maps, as it’s marked in the wrong place)
Enquiries: +351 289 390 708
Hours: Open daily from 8 am to 5 pm (kitchen closes at 4 pm)
Fabulous breakfasts and bistro-style lunches, overlooking the resort’s driving range.
Location: Quinta do Lago Driving Range, roundabout 4
Enquiries: +351 289 356 087
Hours: Open daily 7 am to 5 pm (kitchen closes at 4 pm)
KOKO Winter Menu
A stylish Italian restaurant and bar.
Location: Vilar do Golf, Quinta do Lago 8135-093
Enquiries: +351 289 352 270
Hours: Open daily 6 pm to midnight, as well as 9 am to 3 pm on Sundays
More great dining options at Quinta do Lago
Click through this gallery to see a further range of great restaurants in Quinta do Lago. You’ll find more information about each restaurant here.
A collection of luxury apartments in a spectacular position overlooking the Ria Formosa Natural Park, this stylish resort is a fabulous alternative to a Quinta do Lago hotel. Whether you’re visiting for a short break or an extended stay or even looking for a long-term holiday investment, the Country Club will soon become your home from home, offering you the flexibility of self-catering with a wealth of restaurants and things to do close at hand.
Situated on a gentle slope, the resort’s front entrance is on the ground floor while the rear of the hotel, by the car park, is a floor down. However, a ramp and lift make it entirely accessible to those wheeling suitcases, pushchairs or using wheelchairs.
There are 36 apartments in all, with either one, two or three bedrooms, each with a spacious terrace offering either a lake or garden view and some, like ours, with both. They all have heating for the colder months and air-conditioning for the summer.
On-site you’ll also find a large indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi, gym and sauna with a second, open-air pool across the lawns.
Guests are a mix of mainly English Quinta do Lago Country Club members with fractional ownership (timeshare) and conventional holidaymakers from across Europe. All the staff are superb, with many having worked here for a long time. The jovial Jose on reception, for example, has been here since 1989 and says his soul is in the resort. Many of its members have of course become dear friends. For some, he’s seen their children grow up and return with their children.
Our apartment’s entrance was on the same level as reception but with an internal flight of stairs. The two bedrooms at the rear opened onto a spacious terrace looking out over a lake to the Ria Formosa Natural Park — a spectacular spot from where to watch the sunrise. The master bedroom had an ensuite bathroom, while the second bedroom’s bathroom was just next to it. A small hall leads to the kitchen and open-plan living area, with full-length windows and patio doors opening onto a second spacious terrace leading to the gardens. The apartment is spacious with every facility you could hope for, although the décor does look a little dated.
A makeover is underway at the resort. The public areas are newly renovated and look beautiful — bright, spacious and stylish — creating just the right first impression. So far, four of the apartments have had a makeover with more to follow, and they are stunning. Clean lines, modern, elegant and, of course, with all the facilities you might hope to find.
See what people are saying about Quinta do Lago Country Club on TripAdvisor.
A continental breakfast is included with a choice of cooked breakfasts available at an additional cost, in a light and pleasant breakfast room. In the summer, you can also order light meals and drinks at the outdoor pool bar throughout the day and into the evening.
Two excellent restaurants, Bovino Steakhouse and Casa Velho, are just across the road from the Country Club, while a broader range of restaurants can be found just a short drive away.
The Country Club is just a 25-minute drive from Faro airport and within easy reach of the many award-winning golf courses, lovely beaches and the restaurants of Quinta do Lago and neighbouring resorts. What impressed me the most, however, was its fantastic position by the Ria Formosa Natural Park. Just a few steps from the hotel you can enter the reserve, walk by the lake and along pathways shaded by umbrella pines, maritime pines and carob trees, before crossing the bridge over the salt marshes where locals dig for clams. At the far end lie the endless dunes of Quinta do Lago Beach.
For more information and to book visit, QuintaDoLagoCC.com.
We visited in February which is ideal for golf and sightseeing. Nowhere is particularly crowded. While the weather is a little chilly first thing and in the evenings, it was warm enough not to need a jacket in the middle of the day and, of course, prices for flights and hotels are lower. And unlike December and January, there usually isn’t too much rain. It is also much easier to book a golf lesson or game. In the high season, the courses get booked up some six months to a year in advance.
Spring is a beautiful time of year to visit but as the days lengthen, the popularity of the Algarve increases.
If you are looking for a beach holiday, June would be your best bet, although for sightseeing it will be crowded and a little hot. Golf would be pleasant early or late in the day, but you’d still need to book well in advance. Unlike September and October, there’s usually little rain in June.
July and August are dry and sizzlingly hot, but I’d say forget it, unless you are tied to the school holidays and simply want to bake in the sun all day, not moving from your sun lounger until the sun goes down.
Out-of-season travelling is underrated, especially when it comes to tourism hot spots. We Brits flock to the Algarve in the summer, but for exploring, sightseeing, walking and golf, February or March would be hard to beat. And the Quinta do Lago Country Club makes an excellent base to make the most of a holiday in the Algarve.
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Photography ©TravelWithKat unless otherwise stated.
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