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How To Spend 5 Incredible Days In Southern Portugal

Soak up all the action on your Algarvian vacation with this itinerary

The Vacationeer
Stunning image, wood walkway down to beach from cliff, sunset, the Algarve, Portugal.

Southern Portugal's Algarve region is famous for its dramatic coastlines, idyllic caves and mouthwatering cuisine. It's also home to two Hilton Grand Vacations Club resorts, putting Owners and Members in the heart of everything, from beaches to shopping and entertainment. 

So if a European beach vacation is on your bucket list, here's a five-day Southern Portugal itinerary you won't want to miss. 

Aerial image, Portuguese architecture, blue skies, blue waters, Lisbon, Portugal.     

Day One: Arrive And Explore Lisbon

Morning: Plan to arrive at Lisbon Airport, a major European airport welcoming travelers from across Europe, the United States and Canada. Lisbon is one of the oldest Western European cities, known for food, vibrant architecture and friendly locals, and it makes an ideal starting point for your trip. 

Afternoon: Spend a little time getting a feel for Portugal, starting with its cuisine. Check out Time Out Market, a food hall that hosts some of the top restaurants in the city in its sprawling food hall. Alternatively, let your nose guide you to a cafe or family-run restaurant for a menu do dia (meal of the day). Remember to pace yourself for the last leg of your travel day: a two and a half hours drive to the Algarve. 

Evening: Settle into your Hilton Grand Vacations home away from home for the next few days. Then, see which amenities you want to try first. Soak in a hot tub to melt away the travel day, stroll the property or put your feet up in your spacious 1- or 2-Bedroom Suite with a glass of vinho do porto (port).

Day Two: Quintessential Algarve Beach Day (Based On Your Travel Style)

Beautiful aerial image, tourists walking along shoreline, Ria Formosa, the Algarve, Portugal.    

Morning: Take your coffee on your private balcony. Enjoy a slow morning before packing your beach gear and officially starting your day in Tavira at Artefact for brunch. This new and trendy spot features local fare, including European, contemporary, Portuguese and Mediterranean flavors. 

Afternoon: Once you've gotten your fill, grab your beach bag and discover what many travelers consider one of the best beaches in the Algarve: Ilha de Tavira (Tavira Island). This tropical island lined with sugar-white sand is part of Ria Formosa, a natural park that regularly tops must-see lists for its rustic beauty and birdwatching opportunities. 

Beachgoers wanting a different experience can head just south of Faro to Ilha da Barreta/Ilha Deserta (Deserted Island) but plan ahead because it's accessible only by ferry or private boat. The Deserted Island is just the place for unspoiled beaches and no crowds as the island has no full-time residents, and most tourists stick to more easily accessible beaches. 

Image, kayaks lining the shoreline inside Benagil Caves, the Algarve, Portugal.    

Finally, adventure-seeking travelers can take the 50-minute drive to the small town of Benagil to experience Algar de Benagil (Benagil Caves). While you can swim to the caves, there are better options. Instead, join a tour, or rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard

Late Afternoon to Early Evening: Pack a picnic and watch the sunset from the shoreline where you landed, or consider taking it in from a sunset cruise .

Day Three: Day Trip To Lagos For A Food Tour

Morning: Make a low-key breakfast in your fully equipped Suite kitchen or stop by a cafe to fuel up before embarking on a day trip about 57 miles south to Lagos for a self-guided food and walking tour.  

Afternoon: Download an audio tour like GPSmyCityRick Steves Audio Europe or VoiceMap Audio Tours. Then, set out to experience this seaside city steeped in history. There's something for the whole family, with its beautiful churches, a fortress, busy marina, zoo and stunning views. Eat as you go, stopping into local eateries for petiscos (Portugal's version of tapas) or traditional Portuguese snacks along the way.

Gorgeous aerial image, coastal city against sunset skies, the Algarve, Lagos, Portugal.    

Late Afternoon to Early Evening: Continue your foodie-themed day by sitting down for a proper meal at Avenida Restaurante, a Michelin-starred restaurant set against the backdrop of the Marina de Lagos.

Day Four: Day Trip To Loule For Souvenir Shopping

Morning: Visit a local padaria (bakery) for fresh coffee and artisan Portuguese bread or sweets from the oven. Hit the road for the 40-minute drive inland to Loule to experience a different side of the Algarve.  

Early Afternoon: Loule boasts a Moorish castle and a maze of medieval streets that will make you feel like you've stepped back in time. Craft workshops line narrow streets, and the city sights include a covered market in the center of town where visitors can pick up locally crafted goods. If you visit on Saturday mornings, the regular market expands to include a farmers’ market, too, brimming with locals and tourists alike. 

Winery scene, sunset rays glowing between vineyards, Portugal.    

Late Afternoon: Visit Quinta da Tôr for a relaxing end to your day. Sip local wine and snack on tapas while nestled between the mountains overlooking the vineyard. Travelers thirsty for more can tour the wine house and vineyards to understand the process and history, followed by a wine tasting served with

bread and olive oil. Bring your bathing suit if you want to take a dip in the on-site pool between tastings. 

Day Five: Final Farewell In Lisbon And Departure

Morning: Plan to arrive in Lisbon early so you can enjoy every last minute. Consider ending your time in Portugal with an unforgettable travel experience such as a Lisbon highlights tour or Portuguese cooking class or find a taberna (tavern), Tasca (cheap eatery) or another casual restaurant to savor the region's flavors and people watch. 

Late Afternoon: Depart from Lisbon Airport and reminisce on your vacation memories of the Algarve.

Read "Algarvian Eats: Southern Portugal's Top Food Finds" for more vacation inspiration. 

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The Vacationeer

The Vacationeer is a collective of Hilton Grand Vacations storytellers whose goal is to inspire travelers to go further. We're always on the lookout for new destinations to explore, useful travel tips, and unique ideas to help you plan the most memorable vacations possible.

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