Brought to you by Pilot Productions - producers of addictive travel, history and food shows that explore unforgettable destinations around the planet.

Presenter : Ian Cross


Travelling golfer Ian Cross heads to Portugal, one of Europe’s top holiday golfing destinations.

img_1984Golf was introduced to Portugal by the British more than a 100 years ago, and Ian visits the second oldest golf club in the country, the Lisbon Sporting Club, which was established by British expats who came to Portugal to help build the country’s rail system, which also included Lisbon’s tram network.

The course is a classic English parkland course and the club still values its British connections, although most members today are Portuguese. Unusually in Portugal, they still own the course.

Ian explores further the special connection linking Britain and Portugal. The two countries signed the Treaty of Windsor in 1387 and have never been to war. Ian visits the Lines of Torre Vedras, where in the Peninsular Wars at the beginning of the 19th century, the Duke of Wellington built an ingenious set of defensive fortifications which saved Lisbon from invasion and repelled Napoleon’s forces from Portugal. This led to their eventual defeat.

Ian also visits Penha Longa. It’s a grand and picturesque parkland course surrounded by a 14th monastery and an even older Roman aqueduct. It is designed by Robert Trent Jones and is now part of a Ritz Carlton Resort.

An hour north of Lisbon Ian travels to one of the country’s newest courses, Westcliff’s. It’s one of Portugal’s few links courses and it was designed by Cynthia Dye, the niece of famous American golf course architect, Pete Dye. Cynthia explains how she has worked to protect the complex ecology and native plant species on the spectacular stretch of Atlantic coastline where Westcliff’s is situated.

img_1987Most of Portugal’s 80 golf courses were built in a 20 year period between 1990 and 2010 and many of them are in the southern Algarve region where Ian heads next. His first destination in the south is Portugal’s top golf course, Mont Rei. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, it exhibits the designer’s classic bunkers in a beautiful and tranquil rural setting.

Many of Portugal’s golf courses are partnered with real estate developments and Ian visits Val de Labo, one of the first of these to be developed in the Algarve which really put holiday golf in Portugal on the map.

The Algarve also attracts tourists year round for its sun and beaches. It was occupied by the Moors from North Africa for hundreds of years and Ian visits a spectacular Moorish castle at Silves on his way to his final golfing destination near Lagos.

This is the Espiche Golf Club, a 20 year project of its owner, rock musician Peter Thornton, who has laid out the course according to strict environmental standards . Peter explains how the grasses, trees and drainage systems on the course give it its cutting edge “eco” features. The club house at Espiche has won international awards for its environmental sustainability and design.

Places Mentioned - Portugal

Share the series

Destination Guides


View Destination Guide



View Destination Guide



View Destination Guide



Episode Insider: Adventure Golf Portugal

Have you seen our episode Adventure Golf Portugal? Read on for more information on the best golf courses and places to stay during our journey.

Read Article

Portuguese Castles of the Moors

The Moors from North Africa were great castle builders and the fortifications they erected after their invasion of the Iberian peninsula are among the best...

Read Article

Discover The Beaches Of The Algarve

Easily Portugal's most popular tourist destination with over 25 million visitors annually, the Algarve stretches from the Spanish border to the pounding...

Read Article