PORTUGAL- ALGARVE REGION
Updated: May 6, 2021
Using credit card points to book an awesome vacation!
Me- always wants to travel.
Husband- Wants to travel but also wants to save money.
Solution? Work the credit card point system.
So there we were in England, in February (which is quite cold and miserable) and we decided to take advantage of our credit card points and get somewhere warm with a four day weekend.
Flights, Air TAP- Chase Credit Card points: for low point flights try to find a location that is experiencing their low tourist season.
Hotel, Holiday Inn- IHG Hotel points
Rental car- wasn't a great conversion to use points so we paid for one.
Food- out of pocket
When you take flights AND hotel out of the budget- it becomes a SUPER cheap vacation!
*See our post here where we break down our favorite credit card rewards and how to use them!*
This region is arguably the most beautiful in Portugal. Completely stunning. I've never seen anything like it. Instead of going day by day, I will lead you through some of the areas we went to. Everything is very close together and drivable within an hour or two. You can mix and match to create your own itinerary.
Armacao de Pera
We flew into Faro, but didn't spend a ton of time directly in the city. Our hotel was very close to Faro in Armacao de Pera and I NEEEEEEEED to give this hotel a shout out. This Holiday Inn was RIGHT ON THE BEACH. Our hotel room had a beach view, the pool overlooked the beach and it felt like a fancy resort- but for Holiday Inn prices. We booked with points, but this is an affordable option regardless.
Ponta de Piedade
Located at the very tip of Portugal, this is not a place to be missed. Don't be scared by the gigantic staircase that leads you down to the ocean, it doesn't take too long- even with a kid in tow! It took us about five minutes to get down, took some dramatic drone footage (see YouTube video), and then it took well... more than five minutes to come back up. Lots of breaks for little legs!
Our favorite discovery in this area was Praia do Camilo- which is one beach but feels like two! You can access it via steep wooden stairs along the cliff side, and the two beaches are connected via a tunnel in the rock. Very beautiful, very secluded, and very peaceful. We had the beach nearly to ourselves.
Accessibility- This is a beautiful spot but is unfortunately full of hundreds of steps. If someone in your group is in a wheelchair, I would not recommend this location.
Praia da Marinha
This is probably the most popular beach in the Algarve region, and for good reason. It's beautiful. Are you sensing a theme here? Every place we went was so dang beautiful! We came one morning and hiked along the top, and we came BACK on another afternoon to play in the water and swim.
We were here in February, so the water was a little cold to be fully submerged- but we did have fun playing and running away from the waves!
We spent a couple hours in Lagos... walked around city centre and had lunch. The streets were very narrow and quaint and gave us an "Italian vibe". However, walking around cities isn't the most exciting thing for our little one... so we didn't stay too long.
Cape St. Vincent
We thought this would be a lovely place for sunset... and so did everyone else! Thankfully we weren't there during HIGH tourist season so although it was busy, it was by no means crowded. We were able to find parking and enjoy ourselves. The cafe and restaurant were closed (too early in the season), but the toilets were open. We were blown away by the size of the waves crashing on the cliffs and the dramatic coastline.
The little one had fun collecting rocks, and the big ones (aka parents) had fun sitting and watching the sun set over the ocean. So beautiful.
Travel Tip- It was very windy here! The little one wasn't too happy with that. It also got pretty chilly as the sun began to set. I suggest you pack an extra layer.
Praia do Vau
We didn't spend any time down on this beach, but we hiked all over the cliffs. Incredibly beautiful. It was a pretty easy hike for our five year old. It had some inclines but nothing unmanageable. There are hiking trails all over and you can pretty much wander around the cliff tops and turn around whenever you're feeling tired.
Parking- We found parking at Praia do Alemao and found a hiking trail up the cliffs. This is also parking for the beach and will get busy as the day progresses.
Totally a bucket list item for us and it DID. NOT. DISAPPOINT. This was hands down the highlight of our trip. Benagil Cave is an amazing cave carved into the limestone from the ocean with two entrances and a hole on top that allows the light to shine through. It's a dream.
We booked a kayaking tour through AirBnB and they took great care of us. Getting into and out of the ocean was pretty tricky with large waves, but they helped us in and out and always gave us very clear directions before doing anything with the kayak. I would definitely recommend kayaking into the cave, as the boat tours do not allow you to come onshore into the cave; they merely drive in and drive back out. You CAN swim to the cave from Praia de Benagil but it can be dangerous at high tide if you are not a confident swimmer. AS we had a five year old with us, we did not think it was a good option for us.