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TOPLINE TRAVEL: Quinta do Lago


Outline If Disney created a theme park for golfers, it’d probably look a lot like Quinta do Lago Resort. 

Set in the Ria Formosa Natural Park of southern Algarve, Portugal, it includes a 74-room hotel and is so perfectly manicured it could have been created by CGI. 

Boasting the gold standard of golfing experiences, one of its three courses, Quinta South, has been awarded the title of the best course in Europe. 

So, if 18 holes in Iberian sunshine is your perfect mini-break, then tudo bem. But what if it isn’t?

Baseline Anyone for tennis? Brush up your backhand with a lesson at The Campus sports complex (thecampusqdl.com). 

Quinta do Lago resort is set in the idyllic Ria Formosa natural park of southern Algarve

Quinta do Lago resort is set in the idyllic Ria Formosa natural park of southern Algarve 

Or give padel a go: a cross between tennis and squash, it’s fast, fun and much easier to pick up, even for those of us cursed with the hand-eye coordination of a baby giraffe. A lesson for two will set you back about £60.

Lifeline If you just can’t leave your fitness regime at home, sign up for Campus membership (about £42 a day, £85 a week) and do yoga in the airy, barn-style studio, circuits on the terrace or train in the state-of-the-art gym. 

For the less committed there’s Dano’s, the on-site sports bar – unwind to the faint background noise of someone else sweating it out on the tennis courts.

Fine line Upgrade your mini break with a personalised itinerary. The Magnolia hotel offers a Surprise Holiday package. You fill out a questionnaire based on what you like to do on holiday – anything from water sports to wine-tasting – and the hotel curates a bespoke experience based on your answers. 

All the fun, none of the hassle of planning it yourself. Prices start at £435 for three nights (themagnoliahotelqdl.com).

Coastline For a region so heavily geared towards package holidays, this stretch of beach is surprisingly unspoilt. 

Restrictions on building on the dunes mean it isn’t overrun with ugly multi-storey hotels or vast strips of restaurants. From the handful of beach bars are sweeping views over miles of sand.

Walk the line Nature buffs should follow the boardwalk that runs through the Ria Formosa coastal lagoon. Tucked behind the sand dunes, it’s home to more than 200 species of birds. 

Meander at your own pace or book a guided walk through the Quinta do Lago Resort concierge.

Casa Velha (pictured) at Quinta do Lago resort serves delicious Portuguese sharing plates. There are also myriad options for light lunches and low-key dinners

 Casa Velha (pictured) at Quinta do Lago resort serves delicious Portuguese sharing plates. There are also myriad options for light lunches and low-key dinners 

Skyline The term ‘sundowners’ was invented for Gigi’s Bar (quintadolago.com/en/restaurants/gigis-bar). Order from the extensive cocktail list and gaze out over the Atlantic as the sky turns Aperol-orange and the sun drops into the sea.

Waistline No one’s going hungry around here. There are myriad options for light lunches and low-key dinners, but for delicious Portuguese sharing plates head to Casa Velha (quintadolago.com/en/restaurants/casa-velha). 

Into seriously fine dining? Japanese restaurant Umami offers a riot of unforgettable flavours (quintadolago.com/en/restaurants/umami).

Party line If 24-hour raving is your thing, drive half an hour up the coast to Albufeira and its renowned nightlife. 

But if you’re less ‘up all night’ and more ‘home by 9pm’, then a long Sunday lunch is a must at Maria’s (mariasbeachalgarve.com), a buzzy beach restaurant with live music. You can lose a whole afternoon over cataplana (traditional fish stew) and a bottle of house rosé.

Hotline If not tied to school holidays, avoid the blistering heat of July and August and opt for May/June or September/October when temperatures are still in the mid-20s.

Airline Easyjet flies year-round to Faro from nine UK airports, with prices from £20.99 one way. On landing it’s a 20-minute drive to Quinta do Lago Resort. 

If you don’t hire a car, use Uber – you’ll rarely wait more than a few minutes for a pick-up, whether at the airport or your hotel.



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