What are the best golf resorts in continental Europe?
Welcome to the Golf World Top 100 Best Golf Resorts in Continental Europe
Britain and Ireland has so much to offer when it comes to golf – the greatest collection of courses in the world in my opinion – but a foreign break is special. From the different weather, food and type of course to the chance you might be visiting a new country. Just the travel there is exciting.
After a lengthy period when we haven’t been able to enjoy those feelings, it’s time to start planning your next overseas golf adventure. I hope reading this inspires your next break or, at the very least, leads to as many happy daydreams as it did for me as I wrote the entries and compiled the list.
Clearly no-one will agree with every part of the best golf resorts ranking, but I am in no doubt that it is the most accurate representation of the finest golf resorts in Continental Europe that we have ever produced. If you’ll forgive the confidence, I am also sure no-one else has come close to producing a better list either.
I also think it is the most helpful ranking in terms of planning your next break, especially when used alongside the Top 100 Courses in Continental Europe ranking. In addition to the list itself, with marks indicating each venue’s strengths, we’ve also ranked the resorts in 12 individual categories. These include everything from accommodation and setting to the best ones for couples, families and groups – so no matter what you really want from your resort and whoever you are travelling with, we have tried to point you towards somewhere that will fulfil your expectations like never before.
Chris Bertram, Golf World Top 100 Editor
How we ranked the Golf World Top 100 Best Golf Resorts in Continental Europe
What is a golf resort? Sounds like a silly question, but it really isn’t. Because it’s not as straightforward as you might think.
It is important we clarify this because otherwise you will wonder why Resort X made it in yet Resort Y didn’t. And why what seem like some amazing resorts might not be nearly as high in the list as you might expect.
We define a resort like this: the course and accommodation have to be part of the same company or group, so they obviously offer a deal to stay and play with them.
The accommodation has to be on site or within a short transfer time – and on the occasions where not all the courses within one resort are spread out a little (there are two examples in the top 10), those resorts were marked down in the ‘setting’ category slightly.
We mark each resort in four categories (see right) and an average of their scores used to calculate their Top 100 positions. Almost more than in courses lists, showing our marks in resorts rankings is even more important, because it shows the emphasis in each of them. Of course our marks are subjective, but they do unquestionably demonstrate relative strengths and weaknesses of each resort – allowing you to decide if it’s for you or not.
People often ask whether advertising affect positions? No! Never. The editorial and sales teams have scars to prove the many battles…
On a serious note, advertising does not affect positions in any of our rankings. Some resorts which are advertising move down in this list, for example. We might, however, give a resort or course which is advertising a larger image for their entry, but never anything more than that.
Finally, a note about resorts we didn’t consider this year; Lykia Links in Turkey and Donnafugata in Italy. We really like both, but they are currently undergoing management changes and we couldn’t be sure how smooth that will be, so reluctantly left them out.
As with all our rankings, we reassess on a binennial basis, and expect our 2022 list to be even more competitive. As well as hoping to have Lykia and Donnafugata back in, we are looking forward to the opening of Okol in Bulgaria, which promises so much, while a huge refurbishment of Titanic will be complete and put it right back in the mix.
The categories every resort was marked in
Course/s (marked out of 40): We largely followed our Top 100 Courses ranking as a guide. We awarded extra marks for resorts with more than one course, which gives the option of never having to leave the resort in search of variety. Even so, those with second (and third) courses do, if anything, may not quite get the extra boost they warrant.
Accommodation (out of 20): Needs little explanation, but worth pointing out two things: range and quantity of accommodation was looked on favourably, rather than just 10 incredible rooms. Given there is a separate category for non-golf amenities, we focused solely on the accommodation rather than facilities.
Setting (out of 20): We have increased the marks here because we feel a beachside, cliff-edge or lakeside location – to name three – do make a difference to the enjoyment of a resort. Peaceful countryside gets 15s and 16s in this category, but those with the ‘wow’ factor gain traction with 17s, 18s and even 19s.
Non-golf amenities (out of 20): We do not want this to be ‘Courses with Rooms’. We have a Continental Courses ranking and a lot of those courses have dormie houses, and we do not want to simply replicate that list here. This list is for golf breaks and holidays, with resorts that will appeal to golfers primarily but also non-golfers too.
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Who ranked the best golf resorts in continental Europe?
Chris Bertram Our Top 100 editor has been to 91 of the 100 and many of the contenders outside it.
Kevin Brown Travel Editor at Today’s Golfer for more than 25 years with a wealth of experience.
Joerg Beringer The German is widely travelled as a guide to golfing groups.
Olle Dahlgren Hailing from Sweden, Olle was a key advisor on the Scandinavian resorts.
Peter Gammie Based in France and especially strong on France and Spain.
Börje and Gunnel Laurinsson This Swedish husband and wife are remarkably closing in on having visited all 100 resorts.
Dirk Schaefer A German with a voracious appetite for the lesser-travelled road.
We also consulted with notable figures in the industry including travel operators, resort management groups and travel writers to make sure no stone was left unturned, but their input played no part in the final positions because we want placings to be decided entirely objectively.
Can I join the Golf World Top 100 panel?
Yes! If you have knowledge of lots of resorts and courses, we’d love to hear from you. Whether you’re male, female, young, old, low handicap, high handicap, if you’re well-travelled then get in touch with us, here.
Course 30.3 Accommodation 17.6 Amenities 12.8 Setting 15.7 Total 76.4
Getting there Strasbourg airport 20 mins away.
The undoubted star of this eastern French resort is the Robert von Hagge course from 1990 that is in our Continental Next 100 and has a strong case to be in the coveted main list. It winds through ancient oaks, beeches, poplars and 13 water hazards. There are 16 elegant suites in the heart of the castle.
99. Zala Springs
Course 27.0 Accommodation 17.3 Amenities 16.1 Setting 16.0 Total 76.4
Getting there Budapest is two hours away.
Hungary’s first entry to either our Resorts or Courses Top 100 lists.
It is located in the picturesque Zala Valley close to Hungary’s most famous spa town Hévíz, with the world’s biggest active natural thermal lake, and 20 minutes from Lake Balaton.
The resort offers a distinctive modern clubhouse, a 32- room ‘design suites’ hotel and real estate villas and apartments. A boutique bathhouse for spa & wellness will open soon.
The 18-hole Robert Trent Jones Jr championship course offers four different tee boxes to choose from. Depending on your strategy and club selection you often have multiple options to reach the green but you are never without challenge. It is relatively flat course but punctuated by bunkers and water hazards.
But the test is not over when you reach the green; the slopes are often pronounced. The well-maintained, walkable course is very playable.
In short, Zala Springs should be on your list for a weekend trip with your partner for golf and relaxation. We don’t think you will regret it.
98. Kaya Eagles
Course 26.2 Accommodation 17.6 Amenities 16.5 Setting 16.2 Total 76.5
Getting there Antalya airport is 40 minutes away.
Belek’s final entry and it probably suffers from being compared to others in the ‘Turkish Riviera’. But in its own right it is superb. The course was laid out by the godfather of Belek golf, David Jones, in typical pine forest. The hotel is as luxurious and well-equipped as you’d expect.
Courses 28.2 Accommodation 17.9 Amenities 13.8 Setting 16.6 Total 76.5
Getting there Aalborg is 45 minutes away.
Plenty of golf here, with a Tour-calibre course – the Backtee, host of the European Tour – plus the 18-hole Garia. The courses are set down among lakes, streams and woodland. The spacious hotel has a large spa and wellness centre. With additional amenities it would be much higher.
96. Modry Las
Course 29.7 Accommodation 15.5 Amenities 14.3 Setting 17.0 Total 76.5
Getting there Fly to Szczecin, Berlin or Poznan.
This Polish resort will really suit a certain type of travelling golfer: those who appreciate a high-calibre modern course in fabulous condition and elegant but unfussy course chalets which offer a view of the manicured fairways and greens as soon as you pull back the curtains in the morning.
Don’t go there and expect vast non-golf amenities – it just doesn’t have them. Do start searching for flights to Szczecin if you want something different, and at a very, very competitive price. This Gary Player design has flair and imagination, and it’s in fabulous nick. We loved the chalets, nestled in the silence of the woodland that surrounds the course.
Course 25.9 Accommodation 16.0 Amenities 17.0 Setting 17.6 Total 76.5
Getting there Venice is 80 minutes, Trieste 40.
Take a holiday resort packed with family-friendly amenities and add in a course set on the edge of a lagoon and you have this uber-fun Italian venue. The course has an Everglades-style setting, so water is so often a threat. Choose to stay in log cabins or marina suites – and which sports to play.
La Gomera, Spain
Course 27.2 Accommodation 16.0 Amenities 14.3 Setting 19.2 Total 76.7
Getting there Ferry or fly to La Gomera.
Tecina is all about the setting. The course offers spellbinding views of the Atlantic Ocean and while it is very often quirky as a result of the steep fairways, we are betting you’ll be very much taken by the scenery. There is a nice on-site hotel, Le Jardin, that naturally also enjoys the ocean splendour.
Courses 27.7 Accommodation 16.7 Amenities 15.3 Setting 17.0 Total 76.7
Getting there Faro is 40 minutes away.
A new entry for an unassuming two-course resort in the Algarve. Morgado combines the eponymous course as well as Alamos
– literally across the road – as well as really nice apartments overlooking the fairways. Part of the Nau group and set in hills above Portimão, it is a place to get away from it all.
92. Poggio Dei Medici
Course 27.2 Accommodation 17.4 Amenities 16.3 Setting 16.0 Total 76.9
Getting there Bologna, Pisa both 50 mins away.
A 70-room UNA hotel within a restored farmhouse that has a fitness and wellness centre, outdoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi keeps this Tuscan resort comfortably inside the 100. Great for couples, the course has been sympathetically laid out in the picturesque, rolling Mugello valley.
Courses 31.9 Accommodation 15.7 Amenities 11.4 Setting 18.0 Total 77.0
Getting there Helsinki airport is 35 mins.
Think of an idyllic Scandinavian setting for a golf resort and this would be it; a tranquil lake, thousands of pines and a tumbling landscape punctuated by rocks. It makes for one of the most serene and picturesque venues in Continental Europe. There are 36 holes of a high calibre, plus opulent houses of varying sizes overlooking the lake. Few amenities, but total tranquillity.
90. Dolce Fregate
Course 28.0 Accommodation 17.5 Amenities 15.5 Setting 16.0 Total 77.0
Getting there Nice is 50 minutes away.
Mediterranean views are enjoyed from the Ron Fream-designed 18- and nine-hole courses (the latter for beginners really). Located in gorgeous Provence countryside close to Bandol and Cassis, the comfortable four-star accommodation is enhanced by the region’s fantastic food and wine.
89. Black Sea Rama
Cape Kaliakra, Bulgaria
Course 29.2 Accommodation 16.0 Amenities 14.3 Setting 17.5 Total 77.0
Getting there Fly to Varna, 30 minutes away.
The Gary Player-designed clifftop course is the undoubted star of BlackSeaRama – some view it as on at least a par with Cape Kaliakra neighbour Thracian Cliffs. A hotel is close to opening that will take it up many places in our next list; for now, one- and two- story apartments are the accommodation.
88. Chateau du Taulane
Course 27.8 Accommodation 17.5 Amenities 14.9 Setting 16.8 Total 77.0
Getting there Nice is 40 minutes away.
There is a Gary Player-designed course here, mixing holes among mature woodland with others on open land. There is also a grand (it was a castle, after all) four-star hotel with just 20 rooms, but lots of facilities – from an indoor pool, sauna, steam bath and Jacuzzi to... billiards.
Course 27.5 Accommodation 16.6 Amenities 15.9 Setting 17.0 Total 77.0
Getting there Faro is 20 minutes away.
A new entry for a relatively low-profile resort in the Algarve that deserves higher billing. We have long liked Salgados for its playable and scenic course, which makes you glad you are a golfer.
There’s nothing complicated about it, just a terrific location – next to Salgados Beach and Lagoon Nature Reserve – and simple holes on flat land that you relish tackling... with the chance of a nice score. Off the course, Salgados arguably excels at least as much.
It is part of the Nau Hotel group and the options are the Lagoas self-catering villas, five-star beach hotel Salgados Palace and Palm Village apartments and suites. These varied options come with plenty of amenities, not least being yards from the gorgeous white-sand beach. A superb option for a chilled-out golf and beach holiday.
Course 28.5 Accommodation 16.3 Amenities 15.8 Setting 16.4 Total 77.0
Getting there Fly to Toulon, Marseille or Nice.
Pete Dye and PB Dye have created a distinctive course in mature Provence woodland, characterised by holes among aromatic pine, oak, rosemary and lavender. In typical Dye style, one hole includes three large lakes and one green is 80 yards long. We like the 52-room Hôtel Mercure, too.
85. Barcelona Golf
Course 27.6 Accommodation 17.2 Amenities 17.1 Setting 15.1 Total 77.0
Getting there Barcelona is 20 minutes away.
Barcelona Golf sits in the shadow of the mountain of Montserrat and is encircled by vineyards. This modern 150-room hotel boasts a renowned restaurant, spa, gym
and outdoor pool surrounded by gardens. The Masia course, by Jose Maria Olazabal, is backed up by a shorter nine.
84. St Endreol
Course 27.1 Accommodation 17.2 Amenities 16.3 Setting 16.4 Total 77.0
Getting there Fly to Nice, Toulon or Marseille.
A superb option for couples (including those with a non-golfer) as the 50-room hotel offers great pampering options with treatments, aquatic cycle, saunas, Turkish bath, fitness room and whirlpool bath. The course is dominated by the Rock of Roquebrune, a mountain of red sandstone, and River Endre.
83. Son Antem
Courses 26.2 Accommodation 17.4 Amenities 18.2 Setting 15.2 Total 77.0
Getting there Palma airport is 30 minutes away.
The golf here is fine but unspectacular – it is perfectly good fun, but very much in the ‘resort’ category. But while you shouldn’t expect Turnberry or Sunningdale, do expect amazing amenities – from pools to tennis courts to a big spa – plus villas or a Marriott hotel to unwind in.
82. Bad Ragaz
Course 25.5 Accommodation 17.5 Amenities 17.5 Setting 16.5 Total 77.0
Getting there Zurich airport is an hour away.
This is one of Europe’s leading wellness hotels, with a world-leading spa plus wellness and medical facilities along with luxury accommodation, a casino and exquisite food. The parkland course by Donald Harradine might be overshadowed but is still a very pleasant experience.
81. Chateau Augerville
Course 27.1 Accommodation 17.5 Amenities 16.1 Setting 16.3 Total 77.0
Getting there Paris Charles de Gaulle is 80 minutes away.
A touch of class at this French resort. The course was laid out by Olivier Dongradi in 1995 among woodland, with the l’Essonne river meandering through it and dominating the finishing hole in front of the Château. There are 40 characterful rooms in the stately building.
Course 27.0 Accommodation 17.8 Amenities 16.6 Setting 15.6 Total 77.0
Getting there Fly to Girona, 30 minutes away.
There is a ‘Wine Spa’ here, so that will immediately appeal to some of you. It’s more than a chance to indulge yourself though, with a 6,600-yard parkland course that travels over undulating ground and winds between lakes and mature trees.
The small hotel is high-end but relaxing.
Course 27.5 Accommodation 17.8 Amenities 14.4 Setting 17.6 Total 77.3
Getting there Funchal airport is 30 minutes away.
The course offers expansive views over Madeira’s capital Funchal and the Atlantic from fairways set among the hills. Colourful native flora makes the quirky course a scenic delight. The wonderful, cosy hotel mixes super service and excellent food with unobtrusive luxurious touches.
78. Vale do Lobo
Courses 30.0 Accommodation 16.4 Amenities 12.9 Setting 18.0 Total 77.3
Getting there Faro airport is 40 minutes away.
On first glance its position may look oddly low. But Vale do Lobo – which is really a small town more than just a golf complex – ‘only’ has apartments as accommodation. Its two courses – the Ocean and Royal – are, however, two of the most scenic in the Algarve.
Courses 32.9 Accommodation 15.8 Amenities 12.2 Setting 16.6 Total 77.5
Getting there Bratislava is an hour away.
A brilliant option for groups wanting amazing value and plenty of high-class holes on-site but aren’t bothered by non-golf facilities. The Heritage course by Jonathan Davison is in our Top 100, the other by Nicklaus Design just outside it. There are neat villas to stay in.
76. Campo Real
Course 28.1 Accommodation 17.5 Amenities 15.9 Setting 16.1 Total 77.6
Getting there Lisbon airport is 30 minutes away.
Campo Real boasts a Donald Steel-designed course set among the hills and valleys of a former royal hunting reserve north of the capital. The 151-room stylish hotel has indoor and outdoor pools, an outdoor jacuzzi, a large spa, equestrian centre, kids club and tennis courts. Solid all-rounder.
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75. Desert Springs
Course 27.5 Accommodation 17.2 Amenities 15.5 Setting 17.5 Total 77.7
Getting there Murcia airport is 80 minutes away.
A town-like resort in the La Manga mould, Desert Springs boasts apartments and town houses as well as cottages and villas with their own pool. The resort’s name gives a clue as to the style of the Indiana course; expect lush green fairways, arid red soil, cacti and rock.
Courses 29.7 Accommodation 15.8 Amenities 14.9 Setting 17.3 Total 77.7
Getting there Under two hours from Sofia.
A notable new entry in the west of Bulgaria, far away from the east coast resorts of Cape Kaliakra. Pirin’s first advantage is its location, a pine and mountain utopia that is skiing heaven in winter. Then add in an Ian Woosnam course and a second 18, plus lots of accommodation options and amenities.
73. Robinson Nobilis
Course 27.6 Accommodation 17.4 Amenities 16.6 Setting 16.2 Total 77.8
Getting there Antalya airport is 40 mins away.
Belek just doesn’t do things badly – the bar is set extremely high. This might be one of the lower-profile of Belek’s resorts but it’s still top quality, with a course that is as good as some of the big names in the area and a well-equipped hotel offering tennis, archery, water sports and kids’ club.
72. Anfi Tauro
Gran Canaria, Spain
Course 30.7 Accommodation 15.9 Amenities 12.9 Setting 18.3 Total 77.8
Getting there Gran Canaria airport is 30 mins.
The setting – basically Arizona-by-the-Sea – helped this Gran Canaria course by designer Robert Von Hagge usurp many bigger names in our Spain Top 70. The apartments and villas overlooking the breathtaking but exacting course offer chic accommodation. Numerous other sports facilities on site, too.
Courses 31.7 Accommodation 16.6 Amenities 12.3 Setting 17.4 Total 78.0
Getting there Fly to Malmö and drive up the coast, or fly to Copenhagen and drive to Sweden.
There are 36 distinctive rooms at this resort north of Malmö, host of the 2003 Solheim Cup. There are two courses, the Masters and the Donald Steel, plus a nine-hole Par 3. Relatively limited accommodation and especially amenities, but bags of golf.
Courses 33.0 Accommodation 17.3 Amenities 11.4 Setting 16.8 Total 78.5
Getting there Aarhus is 20 minutes away.
The 27 holes by Robert Trent Jones Jnr – in our Top 100 Courses – gets Lübker this top-70 slot because it is a very ‘golfy’ option with ‘only’ luxury houses or apartments to stay in. They are, however, astonishingly well equipped. There’s a big wellness centre with spa, fitness and subtropical swimming pool.
69. Diamond Country Club
Courses 30.0 Accommodation 16.4 Amenities 14.5 Setting 17.7 Total 78.6
Getting there Vienna airport is an hour away.
A new entry for this Austrian resort, which is another to be managed by European Tour Destinations. It has two accommodation options on-site – rooms within the clubhouse as well as an apartment complex. The No.1 course is Tour calibre with water hazards galore. Also boasts two more short courses.
Course 28.9 Accommodation 17.8 Amenities 14.9 Setting 17.0 Total 78.6
Getting there Baku airport in 20 mins.
Yes, Azerbaijan. The country itself may surprise you – it is a fascinating mix of old (such as its medieval walled ‘Inner City’) and new (being enriched by oil money). So, Baku is one of the great cities for a golf break with a difference – and Dreamland will not disappoint.
It is a sparkling new resort close to the airport that comprises a terrific Cynthia Dye-designed parkland with impressive variety and some thrilling moments. There is also now a hotel on site too, making it the perfect base for a trip you’ll be reminiscing about forever.
67. Palazzo Arzaga
Courses 28.4 Accommodation 17.1 Amenities 17.2 Setting 15.9 Total 78.6
Getting there Milan Bergamo is 50 mins away.
This ranking highlights how strong Italy’s resort portfolio is and here’s another, with an 18-hole course by Jack Nicklaus and nine holes by Gary Player complemented by a fabulous hotel set within a 15th Century palace. There’s a renowned wellness centre including pool. Arzaga oozes character.
66. Thracian Cliffs
Cape Kaliakra, Bulgaria
Course 32.0 Accommodation 15.4 Amenities 12.0 Setting 19.2 Total 78.6
Getting there Varna airport is 40 mins away.
There are plans for a hotel for Thracian Cliffs and when that is built this will be at least 40 places higher. As it is, the aptly-named and sensational Gary Player course has ‘only’ high-end villa accommodation as well as decent non-golf amenities. The setting is, as the marks suggest, hard to top.
Courses 30.9 Accommodation 17.9 Amenities 12.9 Setting 16.9 Total 78.6
Getting there Milan Malpensa is 30 mins away.
There are 27 holes laid out among woodland punctuated by water hazards at this resort to the west of Milan. All were designed by Robert Trent Jones Jnr. Two loops – Yellow and Blue – have been in our Continental Top 100. The neat on-site accommodation gives it a very cosy feel. One for the purists.
64. Hotel du Golf Barriere
Course 29.9 Accommodation 17.0 Amenities 15.8 Setting 15.9 Total 78.6
Getting there Ferry to Le Havre/tunnel to Calais.
Three loops of nine designed by Tom Simpson with some input from Henry Cotton give Deauville a pedigree few in the list can match. Non-golf amenities in the fine hotel include a tennis court and padel court, as well as an outdoor heated pool plus fitness room, a sauna and a Turkish bath.
63. La Quinta
Courses 28.0 Accommodation 17.7 Amenities 17.5 Setting 15.5 Total 78.7
Getting there Malaga airport is 40 minutes away.
There are three loops of nine designed by former Ryder Cup player Manuel Pinero at this resort, set in the hills away from the Marbella coastline. At times quirky and often fun, they are backed up by a five-star hotel with three restaurants and also apartments and villas. Bags of amenities.
Course 28.9 Accommodation 17.5 Amenities 16.5 Setting 15.9 Total 78.8
Getting there Palma airport is 45 minutes away.
There is a Jose Maria Olazabal-renovated course here, one that has hosted several European Tour events in recent years. It’s perhaps overshadowed by a hotel set within a refurbished ancient castle steeped in an authentic Majorcan style. A heated pool, Jacuzzi and spa lead the amenities.
61. Vila Sol
Course 27.9 Accommodation 17.9 Amenities 16.2 Setting 16.8 Total 78.8
Getting there Faro airport is 40 minutes away.
The three Donald Steel-designed loops of nine among pine trees equate to one of the most pleasant rounds in the Algarve. To that you can add hotel and villa accommodation as well as good amenities. If Top 100-calibre golf isn’t essential, this is a very good option, particularly for families.
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Course 29.4 Accommodation 16.8 Amenities 15.9 Setting 17.0 Total 79.1
Getting there Helsinki airport is an hour away.
This European Golf Design course – with Tim Lobb the main man on it – cuts through classic Scandinavian scenes of rolling land decorated with towering pines and lakes. Off the course, the adjoining hotel maintains the standard, making for one of the list’s most tranquil breaks.
Cape Kaliakra, Bulgaria
Course 27.4 Accommodation 17.8 Amenities 16.6 Setting 17.3 Total 79.1
Getting there Varna airport is an hour away.
This is the Cape Kaliakra course with a hotel, so is the best base for a trip to this three-course area on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. The course, by Ian Woosnam, is perfectly enjoyable and the hotel has lots of leisure facilities, a state-of-the-art spa, various restaurants and bars.
58. Sporting Club Berlin
Courses 32.9 Accommodation 17.5 Amenities 12.5 Setting 16.2 Total 79.1
Getting there Berlin airport is 30 minutes away.
There are a staggering 63 holes here, designed by Arnold Palmer, Stan Eby and Nick Faldo among others – The Faldo regularly gets in our Continental Top 100. The hotel is a wellness resort set on a lake in an area bigger than Monaco and offers lots of other activities. In short, comprehensive.
57. Pine Cliffs
Course 23.9 Accommodation 18.2 Amenities 19.5 Setting 17.5 Total 79.1
Getting there Faro airport is 40 minutes away.
Can a resort with ‘just’ nine holes be good enough for the top 60? Easily. Some on the panel would have it 20 places higher. The nine clifftop holes are predictably scenic and playable. The accommodation (hotel and villas) is exquisite. The non-golf amenities are sensational. Family utopia.
56. San Roque
Courses 33.0 Accommodation 16.4 Amenities 14.3 Setting 15.4 Total 79.1
Getting there Malaga airport is 30 minutes away.
Mainly a golf offering, with two Top 70 Spain courses... or so you’d think. Right next to the courses are The Suites, which hosted both 1997 Ryder Cup sides and encompass 50 apartments around a pool with a gym, sauna and steam room, football pitch, equestrian centre and kids’ club.
55. Royal Bled
Course 32.4 Accommodation 15.9 Amenities 12.9 Setting 18.2 Total 79.4
Getting there Fly to either Ljubljana or Trieste.
If a gorgeous setting, a beautifully-manicured course, classy accommodation and magnificent dining are what you look for in a golf break, put Royal Bled to the top of your list of options for 2021. There aren’t lots of non-golf amenities here, though a new spa and pool has been opened, but frankly the golf and dining and just the ‘glad to be alive aspect’ is more than enough for us.
The course has been restored wonderfully by Swan Designs – it’s now a fixture in the first half of our Continental Top 100 – and the clubhouse similarly refurbished to a high spec. It would be much higher in this list, but for the limited number of rooms and relative lack of amenities.
The truly awesome Lake Bled is 10 minutes away, too, and so this is a majestic weekend break waiting to happen.
Course 27.9 Accommodation 18.0 Amenities 15.9 Setting 17.6 Total 79.4
Getting there Rome Fiumicino is an hour away.
The designer hotel is a real attraction here – for lovers of interior design and chic accommodation, it will go down very well. Add in a sumptuous spa plus heated indoor swimming pool, outdoor pools, a high-tech gym and tennis courts. And the course sits uber-naturally in the Tuscan landscape.
53. Lofoten Links
Lofoten Islands, Norway
Course 33.0 Accommodation 17.0 Amenities 9.6 Setting 19.9 Total 79.5
Getting there Fly to Oslo-Bodø-Svolvaer.
Probably the best setting for a golf course in Europe, if not the world, helps Lofoten to this lofty spot. Accommodation is limited but nice, in the form of traditional chalets. Amenities are restricted to horse riding, boating and walking. But, like us, if you make it here, you’ll never want to leave...
52. San Domenico
Course 27.5 Accommodation 18.4 Amenities 15.9 Setting 17.7 Total 79.5
Getting there Fly to Bari or Brindisi.
Puglia, in the heel of Italy’s boot, is now one of Europe’s most fashionable holiday destinations and this resort fits right in. The course is by European Golf Design and offers spectacular views of the Adriatic.
Then, off the course, Masseria San Domenico, Masseria Cimino and Borgo Egnazia offer accommodation in the top 10 of this list, all whitewashed buildings and authentic, traditional Italian luxury. Absolutely heavenly for couples.
Course 27.2 Accommodation 17.9 Amenities 16.9 Setting 17.5 Total 79.5
Getting there Tenerife South is 40 minutes away.
The most distinctive hotel in the whole list? Very possibly. This burnt-orange Moorish building houses fabulous accommodation that you will absolutely love. It is a terrific complement to a Spain Top 70 course in impeccable condition – with super slick, sloping greens – and wide Atlantic views.
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Course 30.0 Accommodation 17.8 Amenities 15.9 Setting 15.8 Total 79.5
Getting there Fly to Jerez or Seville, which are an hour away.
A luxury hotel added to a Tour-quality course at this Jerez-based complex. Doesn’t quite get the pulses racing as it used to, but a fine option nonetheless. Get a flight to Jerez and you have a very efficient winter break, given the weather here is superb most of the year. Barceló hotel is arguably the highlight.
Courses 26.3 Accommodation 18.0 Amenities 18.2 Setting 17.2 Total 79.7
Getting there Fly to Florence or Pisa.
Enters our top 50 for the first time and is one of the list’s most intriguing entries. It has a highly entertaining course (plus nine extra holes) routed over undulating land, while the rest of the resort is like a charming old Tuscan town; the two hotels sit discreetly in the middle. One of the best ‘couples’ options.
Northern area, Cyprus
Course 28.9 Accommodation 17.6 Amenities 15.9 Setting 17.3 Total 79.7
Getting there Fly to Paphos or preferably Ercan.
Situated in the northern part of Cyprus, Korineum will surprise you. The course is uber-dramatic because of the undulating topography and the views are breathtaking. The all-inclusive hotel will not leave you hungry and you’ll absolutely love the beach club that’s just a three-minute drive away.
47. La Finca
Courses 30.0 Accommodation 17.6 Amenities 16.5 Setting 15.9 Total 80.0
Getting there Alicante airport is 45 minutes away.
A key new entry. Three courses – with one in our Spain Top 70 – and a five-star hotel make it one of Europe’s finest resorts. The courses are a little spread out so it is marked down for that but La Finca's comprehensive offering may surprise Britons unfamiliar with this relatively low-profile complex.
46. Château des Vigiers
Courses 29.1 Accommodation 17.9 Amenities 16.3 Setting 16.8 Total 80.1
Getting there Bordeaux airport is 50 mins away.
In among all the gleaming modern resorts is this pedigree offering. CdV’s allure begins with its château-based hotel, which oozes class, and continues with its three distinctive loops of nine. Then add in world-class dining and a refurbished spa and pool and you have a fabulous bolthole.
45. La Bagnaia
Course 30.0 Accommodation 17.9 Amenities 16.3 Setting 16.0 Total 80.2
Getting there Pisa airport is 50 minutes away.
A new entry – and look where it has landed in the ranking. To crack the top 50 on debut illustrates how highly we rate this Tuscan resort, which is part of the IMG Prestige stable. The course by Robert Trent Jones Jnr is entertaining and immaculate. The hotel is a pleasing mix of character and luxury.
44. PGA National Sweden
Courses 32.9 Accommodation 16.8 Amenities 13.9 Setting 16.6 Total 80.2
Getting there Malmö airport is 30 minutes away.
The accommodation is on the first floor of the clubhouse. It is extremely nice but limited in scope, as are the amenities, hence this overall position. The Links course is superb and the Lakes a very good No.2. It’s really one for golfers, with not much else in the way of other facilities... so we loved it!
Courses 31.4 Accommodation 17.3 Amenities 15.3 Setting 16.4 Total 80.4
Getting there Milan Malpensa is 50 minutes away.
Charismatic designer Robert von Hagge is responsible for two evenly balanced courses here; they are impossible to split and could undoubtedly grace our Continental Top 100 list. To those 36 holes of parkland golf add a slick hotel and a good selection of non-golf amenities that make this an all-rounder.
Courses 31.9 Accommodation 17.6 Amenities 15.0 Setting 16.0 Total 80.5
Getting there Lisbon airport is 50 minutes away.
Aroeira is one of several entries this year to be transformed by the addition of a hotel. The hotel only opened in autumn last year, but we’ve already been so know how good it is. It is super-stylish and a great base from where to play Aroeira’s two courses, with No.1 a regular in our Top 100 list.
41. Las Colinas
Course 31.8 Accommodation 17.7 Amenities 15.5 Setting 15.5 Total 80.5
Getting there Alicante is 30 minutes away.
If you want to play a Top 100 course, laze by the pool, eat exceptionally well and stay in chic accommodation, Las Colinas is definitely for you.
As long as you don’t expect lots of non-golf facilities, you will love it. The Top 100-ranked course is playable for all and not ruined by housing, while the apartments are truly stunning.
Courses 32.4 Accommodation 18.0 Amenities 13.0 Setting 17.4 Total 80.8
Getting there Faro is 30 minutes away.
Since we started ranking Continental courses and resorts, none has evolved more than Palmares. First this long-time favourite got Robert Trent Jones to overhaul their three loops of nine, then they added a neat on-site hotel. That all adds up to a top-40 slot in our ranking.
39. Quinta da Ria
Courses 31.6 Accommodation 16.3 Amenities 14.9 Setting 18.0 Total 80.8
Getting there Faro is 25 minutes away.
There’s every chance many haven’t heard of this low-profile Algarve resort; it is often drowned out by bigger names. But there’s also every chance of a quietly excellent golf break in an unfussy yet super Robinson hotel, with two fine courses – the seaside Ria and the woodland Cima.
38. Aphrodite Hills
Course 28.4 Accommodation 17.4 Amenities 17.0 Setting 18.0 Total 80.8
Getting there Paphos is 20 minutes away.
Aphrodite was offering year-round golf breaks long before Belek arrived on the scene. This Cypriot resort boasts a course of spectacular views and spectacular holes, led by the famous downhill, short 7th. The golf is backed up very well by the all-round appeal of the hotel. A very good No.38!
Course 27.7 Accommodation 18.2 Amenities 18.5 Setting 16.4 Total 80.8
Getting there Faro is 45 minutes away.
You get the chance to play the original course in the Algarve here so, relatively speaking, a bit of history. The Henry Cotton design among mature woodland still has much to commend it. The excellent, large hotel is arguably even better with – as the marks suggest – plenty for the non-golfer.
36. Quinta da Marinha
Course 27.0 Accommodation 18.2 Amenities 17.7 Setting 18.0 Total 80.9
Getting there Lisbon is 45 minutes away.
One of Portugal’s biggest and best hotels is the star attraction here, making it one of this list’s premier destinations for families. The course is very pleasant, scenic resort golf with some dramatic holes around water and on clifftops. Non-golf facilities for all ages and tastes are hard to beat.
Courses 32.0 Accommodation 17.6 Amenities 16.5 Setting 14.9 Total 81.0
Getting there Girona is 40 minutes away.
A significant rise for Emporda, but likely to be only the first – because we admit we haven’t yet fully experienced the revamped resort.
It has only just reopened owing to Covid-19, during which time an extensive overhaul was undertaken on and off the course. Under new owners and new management, both courses as well as the hotel are benefiting from significant investment.
The hotel reopened after a six-month overhaul in what was the first part of a multi-million pound programme of improvements. The swish, refurbished accommodation boasts stylish bedrooms overlooking the courses as well as a new outdoor saltwater pool, gym, spa and numerous other activities ranging from cycling to water sports.
The hotel building has been given a makeover, but still sits nicely in its tranquil environment; this is not a garish building sticking out like a sore thumb among the rolling, wooded land of this leafy part of Catalonia.
The Forest and Links courses are similarly being improved; both were in our Spanish Top 70 last month and both are by architect Robert von Hagge. The renovations include the reconstruction of all bunkers using the Better Billy Bunker method, a comprehensive tree clearance programme, and new greenkeeping equipment to improve the conditioning.
The Forest is, as its name partly suggests, routed through umbrella pines, its land varying from the gentle ripples to more dramatic mounds. The Links is even better, set down on gorgeous undulating land with water in play at times.
Course 32.9 Accommodation 17.5 Amenities 12.8 Setting 17.9 Total 81.1
Getting there Fly to Sylt airport from Germany, or get to the island via ferry/Sylt Shuttle.
A genuine links laid out on the remote island of Sylt that is ranked inside our top 30, plus a minimalist hotel. The hotel lacks non-golf facilities, hence this slot, but for connoisseurs it is idyllic and worth the multi-stop journey to get there.
Courses 30.1 Accommodation 17.8 Amenities 16.8 Setting 16.4 Total 81.1
Getting there Palma airport is 20 minutes away.
Arabella is one of the most comprehensive resorts in this whole list – which is saying something. So, if you like checking in and not leaving your resort ‘til it’s time for your flight, consider this. Three 18-hole courses – all solid if not spectacular –and two excellent hotels make this a great option.
32. Vidago Palace
Course 29.4 Accommodation 18.5 Amenities 16.6 Setting 16.9 Total 81.4
Getting there Porto airport is 1hr 20 mins away.
The golf is key for us all, but we have to start by talking about this hotel. It is breathtaking. If you prefer character and pedigree over glitz and dazzle, this is for you. Strolling around the grounds of this mini Gleneagles is a treat. The course mixes historic woodland and modern parkland.
Courses 31.0 Accommodation 18.0 Amenities 17.2 Setting 15.8 Total 82.0
Getting there Antalya is 30 minutes away.
Two courses, the Pines and Dunes, that are a lot better than just ‘resort golf’. The Dunes is regarded as better, but there is little between them – so if you aren’t desperate for a Top 100-ranked course, this is a super option. Trust us, the courses are good. And it’s a hotel in Belek, so obviously awesome.
30. Royal Obidos
Course 31.0 Accommodation 17.7 Amenities 15.8 Setting 17.5 Total 82.0
Getting there Lisbon airport is an hour away.
There’s lots to like about Obidos’ Seve-designed course, a fixture in our Continental Top 100 since it opened in 2012. The stylish, modern hotel set into the hill overlooking the course does not disappoint either. Investment is being made in this resort close to Obidos on Lisbon’s Silver Coast to make it all even better.
Gran Canaria, Spain
Courses 32.0 Accommodation 15.7 Amenities 16.4 Setting 17.9 Total 82.0
Getting there Gran Canaria airport 25 mins away.
Salobre thoroughly deserves its position inside the top 30. For a start, there is a fabulous desert-style setting that is tranquil and distinctive. Then you add in two exciting courses, with the Old being very good and the New verging on our Continental Top 100. Plus an excellent hotel.
Courses 33.1 Accommodation 17.7 Amenities 14.5 Setting 16.8 Total 82.1
Getting there Faro airport is 55 mins away.
A significant rise for this Algarve resort in the hills above charming Armacao de Pera. It has a Top 100 course in the Faldo, which is complemented by the O’Connor – and they are so close in quality that some prefer the latter. The accommodation is in the form of apartments and luxury villas.
Courses 32.7 Accommodation 16.2 Amenities 17.4 Setting 15.8 Total 82.1
Getting there Fly into Gibraltar or Marbella.
Combining Top 100-ranked course La Reserva with the nearby hotel formerly known as Almenara is one of golf’s better collaborations. La Reserva is in its best ever condition (and has luxury villas and its own on-site facilities) while the hotel – which has its own golf too – is now high calibre.
Course 29.4 Accommodation 18.2 Amenities 16.5 Setting 18.0 Total 82.1
Getting there Geneva airport is 30 mins away.
A top-25 slot for this elegant French resort, headlined by a renovated ‘Next 100’ course, which is the host of a ladies’ Major, and complemented by superb practice facilities. There is a choice of hotels – all exquisite – and the location overlooking Lake Geneva is as good in reality as it sounds on paper.
25. Monte Rei
Course 33.4 Accommodation 17.9 Amenities 13.3 Setting 17.5 Total 82.1
Getting there Faro airport is 50 minutes away.
The quality of Monte Rei’s course has never been in doubt and even with limited accommodation and facilities it got in our Resorts ranking from day one. However, with 142 rooms available on-resort from 2021, and with the restaurant Michelin-starred, this high-end resort had to climb. The ultimate in quality, service and a feeling of being somewhere very special. A bucket-list destination.
24. Penha Longa
Courses 31.9 Accommodation 18.0 Amenities 16.0 Setting 16.3 Total 82.2
Getting there Lisbon airport is 30 mins away.
A Robert Trent Jones Jnr-designed course (with the help of Kyle Phillips) that does a brilliant job of tackling significant elevation changes – and that means there is almost constant drama and excitement. The on-site hotel is arguably even better, offering a chic look and terrific amenities. Brilliant for families, perhaps even better for couples.
Courses 31.5 Accommodation 17.8 Amenities 16.7 Setting 16.2 Total 82.2
Getting there Antalya is 30 mins away.
That Cornelia is only just inside the top 25 shows how ludicrously good the top end of the list is. It has Nick Faldo-designed loops of nine that are Top 100 calibre, as well as ‘standard’ Belek luxury in the accommodation and its amenities. It ticks all the boxes.
22. Villa Padierna
Courses 28.9 Accommodation 19.2 Amenities 17.3 Setting 16.8 Total 82.2
Getting there Malaga is an hour away.
The highest entry you’ve never heard of? It’s not especially well known to the British market, but, trust us, it deserves this slot – at least. It has three courses, with the Flamingos and Alferini backed up by the short Tramores, while åthe hotel has very few peers in this ranking – it’s that good.
21. Le Golf National
Courses 32.8 Accommodation 17.2 Amenities 15.9 Setting 16.3 Total 82.2
Getting there Paris CDG Airport is an hour away.
The main course you know all about, thanks to numerous French Opens and the victorious Ryder Cup of 2018. But did you know there is also a second course to the headline-grabbing Albatross? The Eagle isn’t quite so dramatic but is sufficiently solid, and along with the on-site hotel it gets Le Golf National to the fringe of the top 20.
20. Oitavos Dunes
Course 31.9 Accommodation 17.6 Amenities 14.7 Setting 18.0 Total 82.2
Getting there Lisbon airport is 35 mins away.
A Continental Top 100 (usually in the top 25) course with fabulous Atlantic views are the highlight of this entry. But the hotel is no letdown, being uber-minimalist in style and just a few steps from the 18th green. The setting, on the outskirts of the gorgeous coastal resort town of Cascais, is a boon.
19. Real Club El Prat
Courses 33.5 Accommodation 18.0 Amenities 14.3 Setting 16.4 Total 82.2
Getting there Barcelona airport is 35 mins away.
With five loops of nine and an excellent hotel on site, El Prat gets into the top 20 with plenty to spare. It enjoys a tranquil location in which to play the loops of stringent Greg Norman-designed holes. Perfect for those who want golf, golf and more golf, although the hotel is, of course, a very pleasant spot in which to unwind.
18. El Saler
Course 33.0 Accommodation 15.3 Amenities 16.0 Setting 17.9 Total 82.2
Getting there Valencia airport is 20 mins away.
The course is king here. El Saler by Javier Arana enjoys a potent mix of a seaside setting with cerebral holes further inland among woodland. It is a course good enough for our Continental top 10. The Parador hotel that overlooks the 9th (pictured) and 18th is really nice and this is a very fine one-course venue.
17. Montgomerie Maxx Royale
Course 29.8 Accommodation 18.3 Amenities 17.9 Setting 16.6 Total 82.6
Getting there Antalya airport is 30 mins away.
Typical Belek decadence off the course in a hotel that might even top the whole lot of them; Maxx Royale is glitz, sparkle and opulence writ large. The very solid Tour-calibre course by European Golf Design and Colin Montgomerie is expertly manicured and complements things very nicely.
16. Le Touquet
Le Touquet, France
Courses 34.3 Accommodation 17.9 Amenities 12.9 Setting 17.9 Total 83.0
Getting there An hour’s drive south of Calais.
The highest-ever position for this Opal Coast resort after serious investment, most recently to the hotel. Le Manoir was always characterful and charming, but now all the pedigree, elegance and effortless allure has been restored. Frank Pont’s restoration of Harry Colt’s seaside classic La Mer is terrific, and there is another 18-holer, too.
Course 33.1 Accommodation 17.1 Amenities 16.0 Setting 17.9 Total 84.1
Getting there Lisbon airport is 80 minutes away.
A one-course resort among all these multi-course complexes tells you how highly we rate Troia. The course is fabulous – witness its position in the top 10 of our Continental courses list. It’s a Robert Trent Jones masterpiece by the seaside with springy turf, sea views and atmospheric pines. The hotel has lots of amenities. Super setting.
14. La Manga Club
Courses 31.5 Accommodation 17.4 Amenities 19.4 Setting 16.0 Total 84.3
Getting there Murcia airport is 35 minutes away.
Three courses – with the West the pick – and accommodation that ranges from the large hotel to townhouses plus sports heaven, with football, tennis, horse riding, pools, a new gym and even cricket backing up 54 holes. The panel felt a little investment, especially to the hotel, would see it reclaim its position in the top 10.
13. La Cala
Courses 33.0 Accommodation 16.8 Amenities 18.1 Setting 16.4 Total 84.3
Getting there Marbella airport is 25 mins away.
This represents a huge leap up the list from its 2018 position. How can that happen? Two reasons: firstly, we made an error with where it was ranked two years ago, mainly on the back of it not being visited by sufficient numbers on the panel in recent times; but also, secondly, because La Cala has indubitably got significantly better since then – to the point where it is now comfortably one of Europe’s top 20.
That has manifested itself firstly in a thorough renovation of the courses. None are Continental Top 100 entrants, but Europa has the potential to nudge close to the fringes. Nevertheless, it’s true there isn’t a jewel in La Cala’s crown… but what it does have are 54 evenly-balanced holes.
The Asia might be the ‘third’ course, but it is in our Spanish Top 70, so it’s the real deal, rest assured. While Europa and America are impossible to split in terms of quality, crucially they are different in terms of character. The America offers thrilling elevated tee shots while the Europa a more strategic, nuanced examination.
So a key appeal of La Cala is in the strength in depth to its courses. You can hunker down here for five days and never yearn to leave for a change of scene.
La Cala has also improved off the course. The hotel is cosy and neat, with all the bedrooms arranged around the pool so you are never more than two minutes from your lounger or room. There are three restaurants, with recently opened La Bodega offering terrific tapas. There is an award-winning spa (and yes, they all say that, but this one really is good – and huge!), plus tennis courts and a gym.
For groups of golf-mad holidaymakers, it’s perfect. For couples, it offers something for both, if one is a non-golfer, and the relaxed atmosphere in the evening is heavenly.
12. Antalya GC
Courses 33.5 Accommodation 17.6 Amenities 17.5 Setting 15.8 Total 84.4
Getting there Antalya airport is 30 mins away.
You get two fine courses of differing appeal at Antalya. One is a European Tour venue – the Sultan – while the other is fun and very playable, the Pasha. They are both in immaculate condition and complemented by a choice of two excellent hotels – the Sirene and the uber-luxurious Kempinski are both on the doorstep.
11. Finca Cortesin
Course 31.8 Accommodation 19.5 Amenities 15.2 Setting 17.9 Total 84.4
Getting there Fly into Gibraltar or Malaga.
If you don’t mind only playing one course on your trip, this should be near the top of your list. That Finca ranks so highly despite having ‘only’ one course shows how highly we rate the all-round resort. The hotel is as good as anything here, the service peerless and the course is in impeccable condition.
RELATED: The Best Golf Courses in Scotland
Courses 36.4 Accommodation 16.5 Amenities 13.9 Setting 17.7 Total 84.5
Getting there Bordeaux airport is 25 mins away.
The connoisseur’s choice. Golf du Medoc has a course designed by Bill Coore and another by his associate, Rod Whitman; both are in our Continental Top 100. They are heathland-woodlands with hints of Walton Heath. Plus a neat hotel with superb food and wine. If non-golf options are not key, this is heaven.
Courses 34.3 Accommodation 18.3 Amenities 16.8 Setting 16.0 Total 85.4
Getting there Faro airport is 25 minutes away.
Five courses plus three four-star hotels: Dom Pedro is clearly comprehensive! It has so many rooms and amenities across the Vilamoura, Portobelo and Marina hotels, while the Old is the pick of the 90 holes. Loses marks for being relatively spread out but none of the hotel-course trips is onerous.
Courses 30.9 Accommodation 18.4 Amenities 19.3 Setting 16.9 Total 85.5
Getting there Antalya is 30 mins away.
With three hotels and three courses, Gloria is one of the biggest – and finest – golf resorts in Europe.
None of the courses is in the Continental Top 100, but both the New and the Old are always strong contenders for it and anyone who has played them would not raise an eyebrow if either of them were.
Both are in the ‘Next 100’, so you get the idea of how good they are. They are also incredibly evenly matched... it is a hard but happy task to decide which impresses more.
Then you have three awesome, amenity-packed hotels – Serenity, Verde and Golf – which all have slightly different emphases, so you can find the perfect one for you.
Their names give a strong hint as to what they all offer, but even if you go for Serenity or Verde, be assured the three courses are all still on hand for you. All are within a couple of minutes’ drive of the golf clubhouse.
The hotels are ‘typical Belek’...which is extremely high praise; terrific facilities, a wide choice of restaurants and high-class bedrooms. There’s now even an elite-level sports centre, used by Turkey’s football team.
The amenities include the best on-site water park in Belek – one of the reasons we think this is an amazing resort for families.
Courses 31.8 Accommodation 18.7 Amenities 18.2 Setting 19.2 Total 87.9
Getting there Palermo is 50 minutes away.
Seventh is very much an anomaly in our eyes, because Verdura would ordinarily be in the top three. However, its courses were ravaged by a freak storm last year and won’t be back to full capacity ‘til next year after a revision by Kyle Phillips.
We were tempted to rank it as the resort we know – two Phillips seaside courses of equal class and a chic Rocco Forte Hotel with bags of leisure facilities, plus a peerless beachside setting. But for a good deal of this ranking’s two-year shelf life, that won’t be the case. Trust us, though, it is still utterly amazing.
Courses 36.9 Accommodation 16.6 Amenities 16.0 Setting 18.7 Total 88.2
Getting there Lisbon is 60 mins away.
Add one of the best courses within this list to one of the most distinctive courses in the list, then combine them with a refurbished Marriott hotel and you have a resort of rare class. With the seaside classic of the same name and outstanding newcomer West Cliffs, this is the highest-class golf offering in the 100. Scores well for location, but brutally loses a little in that category as West Cliffs is a 10-minute drive away.
Courses 35.8 Accommodation 17.4 Amenities 17.7 Setting 17.3 Total 88.2
Getting there Faro airport is 20 minutes away.
Quinta do Lago has been transformed as a resort entry by the addition of the Magnolia Hotel. Prior to the acquisition of this cute, funky hotel in the heart of the ‘super resort’, QdL relied on villas for its accommodation because even though there are hotels within the town-like complex, they are not owned by the same company as the golf courses.
Now, the picture is different. And while Magnolia isn’t the biggest or most luxurious hotel in the top 10, we absolutely love it!
It has a vibrant atmosphere, neat bedrooms, a lively pool area and excellent bar and restaurant. The gym is world-class (international rugby teams train there) and there is also a good but relatively small spa.
Other facilities include myriad restaurants – this might be the entry in the list with the best dining options, given the six restaurants – plus terrific practice facilities in the Paul McGinley Academy.
There is also a brand-new sports campus where tennis, cycling, tennis, padel and swimming offer extended facilities that help move QdL into the top five for the first time.
And did we mention the three high-calibre courses? Two Continental Top 100 courses and a third 18-holer just five minutes away – Laranjal, a contender for the list. A member of European Tour Destinations, the courses have never been in better condition.
Courses 34.5 Accommodation 18.6 Amenities 18.7 Setting 16.6 Total 88.4
Getting there Antalya is 30 minutes away.
One of the best No.4s you can ever imagine. Carya would be a very fine No.1. It has two courses within our Continental European Top 100 Courses and a luxury hotel that is less than 10 years old and is packed full of amenities – everything from water slides to a bowling alley and so much in between!
The eponymous on-site course is Belek’s outstanding offering, a Turkish track with hints of the heathland classics in Surrey and Berkshire.
We rank it as the finest in Belek (no mean achievement) and one of the top 35 in the whole of Continental Europe.
Designed by Thomson, Perrett and Lobb, it sits among pines and heather and offers a delightful mix of holes.
The resort now also boasts The National in its portfolio, located a couple of minutes away. It is Belek’s original course and remains one of its best, entering our Continental Top 100 in 2017.
The hotel is five-star-plus luxury with decadence and comfort wherever you look, starting with a jaw-dropping lobby area and continuing into spacious, opulent bedrooms with every ‘mod con’ you can imagine.
There are various pools, one of which is heated to make this a truly year-round resort when you also consider Belek’s wonderful climate. Bar staff on rollerskates bring ice-cold beers to your sunbed on order… and, of course, there’s no need to
even so much as sign for them, because Carya is all-inclusive. Value makes no difference to our ranking, but the value for money offered by Carya is exceptional.
It’s a fabulous all-round resort that can entertain golfers of all types; couples, groups and families.
Courses 34.9 Accommodation 18.6 Amenities 17.9 Setting 17.0 Total 88.4
Getting there Girona airport is 20 minutes away.
Being ranked as the No.3 resort in the whole of Continental Europe is hardly a devastating criticism, but PGA Catalunya, and indeed anyone who has visited it, might quibble with the position. PGA Catalunya certainly would be a very fine and worthy No.1, as would in fact all of the resorts in the top 10. The standard at the top of our ranking is unquestionably exceptional.
The close nature of the marks tells the story, with almost nothing to choose between the very best complexes on the continent.
Whereas in pure courses terms, the best of Britain and Ireland is superior to the best of Continental Europe, when it comes to resorts it is a very balanced comparison.
While the difference between the top continental resorts is negligible there are subtle differences in terms of their emphasis.
PGA Catalunya, for example, is located inland so does not gain marks for a seaside setting as the likes of Costa Navarino, Praia D’El Rey and the Belek contingent do.
And while it has hotels (more of which below) and amenities to match pretty much anywhere, for us, PGA Catalunya’s emphasis is golf. It began as a golf resort rather than a resort with golf, and that is still its strength.
This European Tour Destinations member offers one of Europe’s leading courses and that is backed up by a very, very good sister course. They are allied to world-class golf facilities including some of the best practice facilities in Europe.
Additionally, there are now also brilliant accommodation options that are light years away from what it used to be able to offer.
So, whereas when we started our Resorts ranking PGA Catalunya was a venue that scored well on its golf offering but which lacked the accommodation and amenities as an all-round resort, the addition of two on-site hotels has changed all that.
Adding Hotel Camiral to the chic villa and apartment rental offering is a huge accommodation advance for the play-and-stay customer.
Camiral is verging on six stars, the interior design having few peers anywhere in Europe – golf resort or otherwise. It was styled by someone with an important-sounding and exotic name, but suffice to say it offers opulence and comfort on a rare level.
Even the golfer without a shred of interest in style and decor will notice how nicely it has been done. Of more interest might be the to-die-for entrecôte, the bewilderingly good wine list, the flawless service and the kid’s club (located right next to the pool area, so both parents and kids have the peace of mind).
Lavida is a less expensive option to stay in, but still modern, fresh and of a high calibre.
Otherwise, much of PGA Catalunya’s attractions have been in place for well over a decade. The Stadium and Tour courses combine to provide one of the continent’s finest 36-hole offerings, with the former one of the top 10 in mainland Europe – and close to being a Ryder Cup host – and the latter one of the best No.2 tracks you can find.
Elevation change is a strong feature on both tracks, and is experienced with the opening scene on the Stadium, a tee shot hit downhill to a narrow fairway that turns right to left. Daunting but thrilling, it is one of the better starts to a round in Europe.
The courses have always been strong here, now they are backed up by accommodation and amenities. Yes, the most stellar No.3.
Courses 32.6 Accommodation 19.2 Amenities 19.0 Setting 18.2 Total 89.0
Getting there Athens is a two-hour drive away, Kalamata is 30 minutes.
A significant rise for this Greek resort compared to its position in 2018 – and yet we can already say there is every chance it will rise further in 2022... and clearly there is only one place to go. How can we be so sure? Because by then they will have doubled the number of courses.
Costa Navarino is adding two courses by Ryder Cup legend Jose Maria Olazabal, and it will make it a four-course venue that feels like it will make it almost unbeatable in Continental European terms. It will be so good, it would even challenge Gleneagles for the title of Europe’s finest… and suggesting that seems almost sacrilegious because the Scottish resort is so good it breaks our marking system.
As it is now, Costa Navarino is plenty good enough to be our No.2.
It already has a course that has been ranked within our Continental Top 100 – the Dunes – and a superb complement, the aesthetically divine Bay.
The Dunes course was designed by Ross McMurray, of Celtic Manor TwentyTen fame, and mixes fine views with strategic holes. It was created in association with famously demanding German legend Bernhard Langer, so, yes, it is a test.
The Bay was set down by American Robert Trent Jones Jnr and is utterly sensational in terms of views. I think I counted one hole where Navarino Bay wasn’t in view. So, you are pretty much always playing alongside it, towards it or away from it.
This is quintessential resort golf at its most breathtaking.
Some will prefer it to the Dunes but safe to say across the two distinctive courses, they have all tastes accounted for. And that’s before you factor in the two new ones by Olazabal.
The accommodation is at least as good as the golf and arguably even more impressive. It is unquestionably of the very highest order, with the Westin and the Romanos resort hotels managing the feat of being uber-luxurious while also making you feel completely at ease.
Non-golf facilities range from water slides for the kids to an excellent spa and gym, to myriad restaurants that cater for every taste, from fine dining to kids’ favourites to Greek classics. Only Quinta do Lago can match Costa Navarino for dining options in this Top 100.
It’s far from the most accessible resort for us, with limited flights from Britain to the convenient Kalamata Airport, but a wonderful way round this is to fly to Athens (lots of direct and cheap flights), spend a night there and then drive down to an incredible resort with a terrific backstory.
Vassilis Constantakopoulos started his working life as a humble deckhand, but ended up owning a container shipping fleet and a property development company.
This proud Greek was captivated by the crescent-shaped Bay of Navarino in the southern Peloponnese and used his financial muscle to make his dream of creating a world-class resort there a reality.
It opened in 2010 and was notable for enhancing the Messinia landscape rather than destroying it – a legacy of Constantakopoulos, known as ‘The Captain’, being a local man.
So which travelling golfer does Costa Navarino suit most? It’s easier to answer who it doesn’t suit – no-one. Large groups won’t find it raucous at night, yet there is still a great atmosphere in the restaurants and bars. Families and couples will love it, and with the creation of 36 more holes, it might well be the finest resort in Europe.
Courses 34.3 Accommodation 18.7 Amenities 18.5 Setting 17.6 Total 89.1
Getting there Nice airport is 35 minutes away.
The fact Terre Blanche is our No.1 for the third consecutive occasion might suggest a dearth of challengers for the top spot among Continental European resorts but, as this ranking has amply demonstrated, nothing could be further from the truth.
No, the reason for this hat-trick of top spots is simply that this resort in south-east France is the ultimate all-rounder, with no weaknesses across any of our assessment categories.
It has two courses, one that is a fixture in the top 25 of our Continental Top 100, the other that sits prominently in the ‘Next 100’.
While these naturally headline the attractions here, they are just the start of them. The courses are enhanced on the golf side by peerless practice facilities that include a rooftop range and a high-tech biomechanics unit devised by the legendary Jean-Jacques Rivet. Trust us, these facilities – under year-round Provençal sunshine – are enough to make even those with minimal enthusiasm for practice spend at least some time working on their game.
That said, we don’t need much convincing that Terre Blanche’s other distractions are even more appealing.
They are centred around a gorgeous five-star hotel with a Michelin star restaurant, a huge spa, beautiful gardens and especially in neat accommodation in the style of a Provençal village, discreetly laid out on a hillside. Terre Blanche does effortless panache extremely well.
Everything is set up for unadulterated enjoyment here. With cars not permitted further than the hotel car park, you hail a buggy to get down to the golf clubhouse (it is actually a lovely walk downhill, but definitely jump on a cart on the way back).
The hotel naturally enjoys a wide range of amenities, as befits accommodation that is frequented by well-heeled holidaymakers, not just golfers. This is far from only a golf resort, even if its golf package is an impressive one.
Le Château is the leading course, a Dave Thomas design skillfully routed over undulating woodland. At very few points over the course of its 7,235 yards does the work of the construction team come to mind though. Credit to Thomas for assimilating the vast bunkers of white sand, the ravines, the huge greens, the thousands of mature trees and the water features (the man-made creations among the natural landscape) so skillfully. Its sister course, Le Riou, is impressive and enjoyably playable. Both are manicured beautifully.
Part of the European Tour Destinations portfolio, if you analyse the marks (and on pages 48-49 we painstakingly do exactly that) you notice it might not lead any categories, but by no standard does it struggle in any.
Only its setting is not ranked within the top 10 of our four assessment categories, yet we mark it 17.6 out of 20 – testament to the tranquility of a forested location that is naturally scented with native cistus, rosemary, myrtle and lavender.
Instead, Terre Blanche is the great all-rounder. Elegant, sophisticated, opulent and classy, its service standards are without peer. It is especially heavenly for families and couples. And while it is not as lively in the evening as perhaps large groups might like, no golfer visiting here will be pleased when it’s time to leave.
This French retreat starts a world-class countdown in the top 10, where every resort would be a worthy No.1. But for the third ranking in a row, Terre Blanche has finished atop them all.