Narrowing down the destination for our 2016 vacation was a bit of a challenge. The final contenders were Kauai, Australia, Norway, and Portugal. Fresh of the high of our 2015 European trip to Switzerland and Croatia, the Norway and Portugal had a lot of momentum in their favor. The google images of Norway and Portugal put the final nails in Kauai’s and Australia’s respective coffins (sorry Kauai and Australia, we still love you and look forward to visiting you later.

We were still torn between the two European countries. Between Norway’s breathtaking fjords and the rugged coastline of Portugal’s southern coast, it didn’t make for an easy decision. It ultimately came down to which country had the most accessible hotel rewards programs; Portugal won hands down.

Algarve Coast

Portugal is a delightful European destination. It’s often overlooked by the hordes of tourists that flock to Paris, Rome, and London. For a couple that hates crowds as much as we do, that’s a beautiful thing. As we dove deeper into our pre-trip research we became more and more excited as we learned of the mystical Quinta de Regaliera in the enchanting town of Sintra near Lisbon, the picturesque Grutas de Benagil, and the relaxing beaches of the Algarve coast.

We were able to fly in to Lisbon using our American Airlines points and used a combination of SPG points and Hilton HHonors points for all our hotel stays. We have compiled a travel journey comprised of the locations below, so please feel free to click through and read about our triumphant adventures in one of the most over-looked countries in the world.

Cards We Used

  • Citi Aadvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard
  • American Express Starwood Preferred Guest
  • American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass
  • American Express Hilton Honors Card

We flew into Lisbon on American Airlines, spent 1 night at the Sheraton Cascais, and 3 nights at the Hilton Conrad in the Algarve. We used 95,000 American Aadvantage points to purchase two one-way tickets to Lisbon, a value of $6,320. One night at the Sheraton Cascais costs $223; we covered it with 10,000 SPG points. The Hilton Conrad, a much fancier hotel than we would ever pay cash for, comes in at a whopping $455 per night. For a three-night stay it would have cost us $1,365, but we covered it with 210,000 HHonors points. The total value of our stay that we got for free through the use of credit card sign up offers was $7,908.

2 Replies to “Portugal”

  1. Wow! That place looks amazing. This is going on my bucket list. Really hoping to go there sometime soon. Will definitely plan on using one of those cards as well. Do you happen to have any restaurant recommendations? And are there any sort of cool activities you would recommend to do there?

    1. When we were in Cascais, we had dinner at Jardim Dos Frangos and the Piri Piri Chicken was excellent. When we were in the Algarve we ate at Julia’s, Alambique, and Parrilla restaurants for dinner, all of which were excellent. For lunch it’s kinda hit and miss. Make sure you try a pastel de nata. It’s a pastry unique to Portugal, and they’re delicious.

      As far as activities, we hiked through the town of Sintra and toured castles. We saw the Boca Do Inferno in Cascais. In the Algarve we did a tour where we saw dolphins and sea caves. Other than that, just relax and enjoy the sandy beaches.

      If you want to read more about them in more detail, this page has a link to each of the places we visited. Feel free to peruse.

      Be sure to come back and let us know how your trip goes, and thanks for the comment.

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