From the windswept links of Scotland to the sunny fairways of Spain, Europe boasts some of the most storied and scenic golf destinations in the world. Golfing holidays are a bit niche, but for the travelling golf enthusiasts among us, planning a holiday around premier golfing hotspots promises a memorable experience.
Taking the time to view some of Europe’s world-class golf courses, staying in luxury accommodation, viewing stunning vistas, and relishing in some much-needed amenities can make a great holiday even more memorable.
If you can find an inclusive European getaway tailored specifically for you as a keen golf player, why wouldn’t you want to jump at that opportunity?
But where to begin?
To help golfers narrow down their next European golf-themed trip, here are five recommendations to consider. If you want inspiration to find your next golf spot around Europe and tick some other exciting adventures off your bucket list, then look no further. Put all your golfing practice and training to the test in some of these challenging and picturesque courses, dotted across some of Europe’s finest spots.
The unofficial home of golf, Scotland offers exquisite, picturesque golf courses in an unparalleled setting with its craggy coastlines, sweeping hills, and moody weather.
Must-play courses for any golfer include:
- The Old Course at St Andrews – This iconic course regularly hosts The Open and has a history that spans more than 600 years. With its double greens, pot bunkers, and strategic gameplay, it’s revered as the oldest golf course in the world, held in trust by the St Andrews Links Trust.
- Carnoustie Golf Links – An iconic golf destination dubbed “Golf’s Greatest Test”. Challenging championship courses like the Burnside Course or Buddon Course await, with Carnoustie infamous for its difficulty especially when the winds pick up.
- Royal Dornoch – Set against sandy beaches and the mountainous backdrop, Royal Dornoch delivers a world-class yet comfortable Highlands golf experience.
Beyond the courses, visiting golfers can explore the mediaeval St Andrews, sample fine Scotch whiskies, and revel in the stunning Scottish countryside, rolling hilltops and mountains.
From Dublin to the northwest coast, Ireland’s welcoming locals and striking emerald landscape dotted with artistic links courses beckon keen golfers. If you like a healthy blend of stunning golf greens with plenty of cultural traditions to soak up, Ireland is for you.
Consider the following Irish golf courses:
- Ballybunion Golf Club – This renowned links course, located in Ireland’s northwest coast of County Kerry, offers cliffside holes overlooking the Atlantic Ocean spray, with long stretches of sand dunes.
- Royal County Down – This is one of the most stunning links courses in the Murlough Nature Reserve. Located in Northern Ireland against the Mountains of Mourne, this perennially top-ranked course features an outstanding design and setting.
- Lahinch Golf Club – With its blind shots, rugged shapes and uneven lies, Lahinch presents a classic Irish links test framed by the Irish Sea and the traditional town of Lahinch.
Aside from world-class golf, visitors can tour historic castles, sip Guinness at cosy pubs, and take in Ireland’s natural beauty along the way. Keen explorers will have a field day here.
With prestigious clubs, stunning springtime weather, and enriching culture, France makes a top getaway spot for golf enthusiasts looking for a challenging green and relaxation hotspot.
Must play French golf courses include:
- Le Château at Terre Blanche – The immaculate, sun-soaked course located in the hilly recluses of Terre Blanche offers golfers a challenge but one that they will not soon forget.
- L’Albatros – Home of the French Open, the stunning 7,000-yard venue offers one of the most prestigious and beautiful courses in Europe that anyone will appreciate.
- Hardelot Les Pins – Set in the tranquil, sea-swept northwest of France, bordering Calais, the exquisite Hardelot Les Pins features a warming ambience and wonderful pine forest encapsulating its beauty.
Beyond the courses, visiting golfers can explore the lively French Riviera or take a city break to Paris or Nantes for some urban escapes.
In Spain, golfers can enjoy Championship golf along with warm weather, golden beaches, and amazing cuisine.
Top Spanish golf courses for tee times include:
- Valderrama Golf Club – Situated on Spain’s Costa del Sol, this prestigious course has hosted golf’s elite, with its cork tree-lined fairways adding to the challenge.
- PGA Catalunya – Designed by Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjørn, it’s ranked Spain’s #1 course thanks to its beautiful parkland layout and scenic views.
- Finca Cortesin – This posh resort features an exclusive course designed by Cabell Robinson that takes players through diverse terrain with a backdrop of mountains.
Beyond world-class golf, visitors can relax on Mediterranean beaches, savour pristine Spanish cuisine, and immerse themselves in Spain’s vibrant culture.
Boasting fewer crowds and lower prices than other European golf havens, Portugal offers fantastic value with its collection of acclaimed courses.
Top Portuguese golf courses include:
- Oitavos Dunes – Set against sand dunes and the Atlantic Ocean, this links-style course regularly tops Portugal’s rankings thanks to its spectacular seaside setting.
- Amendoeira Golf Resort – Located in the Algarve, golfers can play two uniquely challenging courses surrounded by natural landscapes.
- Penha Longa Resort – A luxury resort featuring a Championship course winding through rolling hills, dense woods, and rocky ridges.
Aside from world-class golf, visitors can relax on Portugal’s stunning beaches, sample Port wine and fresh seafood, and soak up the nation’s history and vibrant culture.
Planning Your Golf Holiday in Europe
When planning your ideal golf escape in Europe, consider travelling during the shoulder seasons. Spring and autumn offer milder (but still enjoyable) weather without the peak summer crowds. Make sure that you also book your stay and tee times well in advance, as renowned courses tend to fill up very quickly.
Bringing proper golfing attire will also serve you well, including waterproof coats and professional shoes to reap more of the benefits of partaking in the courses. Also remember that you can factor in times for sightseeing, relaxing and experiencing your chosen country’s culture for an immersive experience. Holiday packages can bundle all your desired experiences and budgets together for a simplified trip.
One of the most important things that you can have in your holiday repertoire is a rail pass. Depending on where you visit, these can enable convenient and cheaper travel across the cities and various courses you plan to visit.
Planning ahead helps ensure you make the most of your European golf holiday, letting you fully experience world-beating courses along with everything else these top European countries have to offer. Use reputable golf travel specialists and operators to handle logistics seamlessly so you can simply focus on teeing off in style.