Recently, I have been inspired by the Money Diaries on Refinery 29 to do my own version of money diaries for my recent travel expenses. Not only would it be a fun exercise to do, but also helpful to budget for my future travel expense. In May, I booked a 9 day trip to Portugal to celebrate my birthday. It has been on my 2018 travel bucketlist but I haven’t been able to make the trip till this year! It’s only a short 3 hour flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Lisbon. May is a good month to go where it’s still low-season but the temperatures are starting to get warmer. I planned for us to visit Lisbon and road trip down the Algarve coast on the south of the country with a rental car! It would be Stephan (my bf) and my first time to Portugal so I did extensive research on the best places to visit, stay, what to eat and do (More of that coming up in another Portugal travel guide soon)!
I had a couple of hotel partnerships lined up while planning for the trip. Since accommodations usually take up the most from travel expenses, I’m always grateful to be able to partner with amazing hotels around the world. Usually this consists of complimentary stays in exchange for digital marketing and content that you see on my @instagram.
In order to get the trip organized, we booked certain things in advance for the best times and prices:
Return flight ticket: €207
Car Rental: €113
2 nights Airbnb in Lagos: €129
We wake up early and head to the airport to catch our morning flight in Frankfurt. Stephan’s dad was kind enough to drive us to the airport, so it was a very swift arrival and check-in. Our flight schedule is on time and we hop on the plane ready for the next 9 days of adventure!
Thankfully, we arrive on time at the Lisbon airport and pick up our rental car (that we already booked and prepaid online). The car rental center is packed so we wait in line. While waiting, we munch on the sandwiches we prepared the night before to save us time and money.
We arrive at the Four Seasons Ritz and park our car at next to the parking garage. €3.5 We check-in at hotel reception and the staff kindly help us park the car in their parking facility. We settle in the hotel room to refresh, shower and unpack.
We arrive at Prado and it’s a beautiful upscale restaurant full of green blooms hanging from the ceiling. We order 7 small dishes to share between us, a kombucha drink and dessert for each of us! My favourite dish was the beef tartare and the summer kombucha drink which was nice and refreshing. The atmosphere and the food was wonderful but I wished the portions were bigger. €80 After lunch, we explore the city and take photos at a few locations I scouted out on @Instagram (eg. Bica and Praça do Comércio). It starts getting pretty hot so we grab 2 big bottles of water from the supermarket €3.9 We end up at a concept store called Embaixada and Stephan decides to buy a bottle of Portuguese Gin as a wedding present to his friends who are gin collectors and just got married! €30
We figured that Uber is the same price or cheaper than getting a metro so we decide to Uber back to our hotel €2.68 After we get to the hotel, we still have some time to spare before dinner that the Four Seasons Ritz organized for us to celebrate my birthday. While Stephan takes a nap, I decide to check out the Zara that is 15 mins walk from the hotel. I love the selection of the Portuguese Zara and decide to purchase a nice floral blouse €15
Back at the hotel, I quickly get ready and we head down to the restaurant to enjoy a romantic dinner. The food and drinks were delicious, the staff was very friendly and attentive. It was definitely a night to remember and the hotel even surprised me with a birthday cake!
Day 1 expense: €142
We try to catch up on the lost sleep from yesterday and I’m still pinching myself that we’re in Portugal! We head down to the same restaurant as last night where they prepare their daily breakfast buffet (included in our stay). After a hearty breakfast, we take a few photos around the hotel for digital content. The Ritz is also famous for their gym space, so we decide to workout at the gym before a big day ahead! The hotel gym was like no other, it has a panoramic view of Lisbon and a running track that extends around the rooftop.
The Four Seasons Ritz has organized a vintage sidecar tour for us on the day and we meet with our driver and tour guide. I will be writing on more of this amazing experience in a separate blogpost, but I think that everyone should try a sidecar tour at least once! We get introduced to some heritage sites and one of them includes the oldest bookstore in the world. I jump on the opportunity to buy a small book as a souvenir and get the official stamp of authenticity. €9.66
The tour comes to an end and we get dropped off in Belem for sunset and get some photos at the Belem Tower. Afterwards, we thought it would be amusing to rent an electrical scooter to play around since we’ve been seeing so many people around the city riding on them, and it was super fun! €4 Our tour guide suggested a dinner place that locals visit in the area so we get an Uber ride there €8.35 The restaurant runs as a Brazilian Churrascaria and it definitely filled our bellies. €35 We Uber back to our Hotel and it doesn’t take us long to fall asleep from all the food and activities we’ve been eating and doing today. €7.85
Day 2 expense: €64.85
Rise and shine! It’s an early start for a full day ahead of us! We have a big breakfast at the hotel buffet and pack our things ready to check out of the Four Seasons. Since this was a partnership, all I have to do is sign at checkout and we are on our way!
We collect our car from the hotel and start driving towards Algarve. It’s a 3 hour journey to get to our next hotel and it’s mostly on the highway with a lot of toll systems along the way (that we eventually have to pay for).
After a few attempts of finding the entrance, we finally meet the housekeeper and check-in to our next stay at Casa Modesta. We get a little tour of the property and it’s a quaint little guesthouse with only 6 -7 rooms, lots of outdoor lounging areas, a garden and a pool. We take it slow and relax by the pool side before it gets too windy and shady. The pool water is freezing so I just end up sunbathing in the sun while Stephan naps in the shade.
The staff at Casa Modesta recommended a few restaurants in the nearby town called Olhão. We head out to the for dinner and decide which one we want to try on the way. In the end, we decide on one and led to our table at a restaurant called “Cha cha cha”. The seafood was delicious and the staff was very cheerful and attentive. We leave the restaurant back to our hotel in a very cheery mood! €50
Day 3 Expense: €50
After a small snooze on the alarm, we start the morning slow and make our way down the common area to have a sumptuous breakfast (included in our stay) to start the day. We scout around the hotel farm house and take some photos around the property, you can check some of them out on my @instagram! We decide to take a chill day and hang by the pool. Stephan decides to take a nap since he isn’t feeling well.
I get back to our room to see Stephan very sick in bed. Casa Modesta and the team has been very helpful in making sure we had everything we needed. I check to see if he should go to a clinic for a checkup or be admitted to hospital. But decided against neither since I think it’s best that he rests in bed. While he does that, I order an Uber to grab essentials at the closest shopping mall called Algarve Outlet. €5
Its a 15 minute ride from Casa Modesta and my driver didn’t speak much english but was very friendly. I grab some plain food and medicine for Stephan in the supermarket and order takeaway pizza for myself at a pizzeria in the mall. €22.56 After collecting my pizza, I order another Uber back to Casa Modesta and it comes right away. €5 After I get back to the hotel, I give Stephan his medicine and make sure his condition is stable till I eat my pizza on the outdoor terrace.
I catch up on some email, keeping my family updated (since we are scattered all around the world) and edit some photos from the shoots we’ve been doing at the hotels. Call it a night and fall asleep.
Day 4 Expense: €32.56
I check up on Stephan when I wake up. He still isn’t feeling well since he’s been up a couple of times throughout the night and wasn’t able to get much rest. I enter the breakfast room and order some tea for it to be delivered to Stephan. He’s finally about to eat something plain and have a hot drink, which is good for his stomach. €8
Casa Modesta was understanding enough to give us a late checkout since Stephan had to sleep in a bit more to recover. He isn’t well enough to drive to our next hotel (which is 15 minutes away) so we order an Uber and leave our rental car with Casa Modesta until the day after. €22 We arrive at our next hotel for the night at The Farmhouse Vila Monte, and the place is incredible and humongous! We are early for check in so we drop our bags at reception and decide to hang and relax by the pool. Stephan take another nap to recover and I take myself on tour around the huge property to explore and on the lookout for potential photo spots.
A staff escorts us to our room at check-in and Stephan heads straight for the bed to continue his recovery. I decide to cover myself with sunscreen and head to the pool to swim and read my new book I bought in Lisbon. After 3 hours, Stephan joins me at the pool side for yet another nap and we head back to the room to get ready for some dinner.
Stephan is feeling a lot better at this point and we head to the Vila Monte restaurant for some food. We are the first ones there and pick an outdoor seating on the lawn. The sun doesn’t set until another 2 hours so we enjoy dinner in bright daylight! (the one thing I love about European summer) I order a delicious prawn risotto and a mocktail, while Stephan orders a hot vegetable soup and some gluten free bread. €65 It’s a beautiful evening and we enjoy each other’s company while the restaurant cat comes to play with us.
Since we’re stuffed from the delightful meal, we take a stroll around the lovely Vila Monte to walk off the food baby and enjoy the spectacular sunset. Stephan starts feeling sleepy, so we head back to room and I continue editing photos from the previous night and catch up on posting to my Instagram stories.
Day 5 Expense: €95
I’m relieved that Stephan is his back usual self today, since he was able to recover well overnight. Vila Monte has one of the comfiest beds I’ve ever come across from the many hotel beds I have tried so far. I just want to transport this bed with me everywhere I go!
After a 5 minute walk through what seems like the entire farm house property, we take our seats at the breakfast restaurant. I make myself a breakfast bowl from the buffet table and some pancakes at the counter. The selections at Vila Monte are sufficient but not as wide in variety as I imagined for a hotel property their size. Maybe I’m just spoilt from all the hotel breakfasts I get to try…
The time has come to pack our things and make our way to the reception for check-out. I’m sad we only get to stay here for one night because this place exceeded my expectations… Since this is also a hotel partnership, we only need to settle the bill for last night’s dinner. I ask if we can extend our time at the amazing farm house for the day, so we leave our bags at reception and set up camp at the poolside.
Thankfully Stephan is well enough to be out and about. So he helps me capture some photos around the property in the locations I scouted the day before, and successful get some really nice content around Vila Monte! It’s not hard to if you see how beautifully arranged everything is here! Once we’re done, we spend the next 3 hours taking in the sun and chilling by the pool.
It’s time to grab a late lunch at the hotel restaurant, and we are delighted to be served by the same waiter as last night! I order a huge octopus dish that is finger lickin good…. Stephan orders another vegetable soup and plain bread just to be on the safe side. To finish off, I order a chai tea latte and the kitchen says they don’t have it on the menu but they found a recipe for it. I love that they went the extra mile for their guests and it definitely left a positive impression on me! €45
Finally leave Vila Monte and Uber back to Casa Modesta to pick up our rental car €8.89 After we pick up the car, we head to our Airbnb in Lagos and it take us around 1 hour to get there. One thing that surprised us both was how little traffic there was on the highway. (which I found out later from a friend that the toll system are so expensive for the local people that it’s nearly impossible for them to drive within the country)
We meet our lovely Airbnb host and she leads us to a very cute and spacious studio apartment. We unpack and decide what we want to do for the evening. We make a game plan and drive to the supermarket to buy some groceries for dinner and breakfast. €22
Just in time for sunset when we arrive to Ponta da Piedade, but it’s super windy and chilly. We end up snapping a quick photo and head to the other side of the coast. I spot a bush snake on the way there and freak out a little, but it quickly disappears to the other direction and I pray we don’t have another encounter with it!
We finally get back from a very chilly evening but im looking forward to some hot dinner. However much I love five-star hotel meals, I also enjoy homemade dinner in the comfort of home (or in this case what resembles a bit more of home). Afterwards, I take a shower, catch up on some emails, Whatsapp messages, Instagram stories and then head to bed.
Day 6 Expense: €53.98
We are both super tired today, so we snooze the alarm for another hour… when we finally wake up, we sleepily get ready for the day while making breakfast. We make ourselves some fresh watermelon juice and I nibble on a piece of toast and a stroopwafel.
After a late breakfast, we head out to town first to re-fuel the car for our ride back to Lisbon the next day. €48 We then make our way to Algar Seco Grotto where there’s a tiny rock pool I want to check out. When we get to the grotto, we have the whole place to ourselves and the view from the rocks are breathtaking! I go in for a dip but surprised how freezing cold the water is… But it doesn’t stop me from taking a little swim and enjoy the peacefulness of the grotto with the sun shining on us.
Right next to the grotto is a restaurant bar that overlooks the coast. We make our way there for lunch and Stephan orders a chicken rice while I get a plate of calamari. €27 It’s a beautiful day, so we stay for a little longer to enjoy the view.
There are a few famous beach around the Algarve I planned for us to visit. Our first stop is Praia do Pinhao. This is one of my favorites since there isn’t a direct entrance from the main road and it you have to walk slightly longer to get to, so the beach is more quiet. We find a spot to chill, do a little reading and get some nice photo content. After a while, the sun is starting to get low and we agree to make a quick stop at another popular beach called Praia do Camilo. This beach is more accessible and reachable by some wooden steps, but it also explains why it’s more crowded than the last one we came from. We stay on the steps to people watch for a bit.
Our stomachs are starting to growl, so we head to the supermarket to get some roast chicken and salad for dinner. €22 We also stop at the pharmacy to grab some medicine and antihistamine since I notice I’m starting to get hay fever from the pollen around. €25
We finally get back to our Airbnb, have dinner and I do more photo editing since we’ve been shooting so much during the week. I want to post on my @Instagram close to real time but it takes me so long to narrow down the choices! I always end up editing way into the night and finally go to bed past midnight.
Day 7 Expense: €122
After we get up, we have some breakfast and pack to head back to Lisbon for the remaining 2 nights in Portugal. I can’t believe our trip is coming to an end soon! Before we get on the road, we discover the option to “Avoid tolls” on google maps for the way back to Lisbon. The ride takes a little longer than if we chose the route on the highway. But this way, we save some money and the route is also more scenic.
There is a beach on our way back called Praia de Odeceixe which was recommended by my Portuguese friend. It’s beautiful and the coast reminds me a lot of Cape Town! We walk down the beach and capture a few photos on the way while finishing our watermelon we got from the supermarket.
After a long ride, we finally arrive at our last hotel stay in the Corinthia. We check-in and get escorted to our junior suite room. This hotel really knows how to spoil us since there is afternoon tea all set up and waiting for us in the room! We also get access to the executive lounge, so we go there for a glass of champagne and enjoy the view and loosen up from our long car ride.
We head back down to our room and shoot some photos with the afternoon tea set up before indulging in the sumptuous meal! Stephan orders some room service of risotto and French fries. €23.5 We enjoy a very peaceful evening snuggled in our hotel bathrobes and watch a TV show before heading to bed.
Day 8 Expense: €23.5
We wake up for breakfast but realize too late that the breakfast buffet finishes in 10 minutes. So we grab all that we can before the hotel staff start packing away the food spread and transition to lunch time. I make myself a breakfast bowl with scrambled eggs and toast on the side.
After getting ready, we Uber to our first stop in Lisbon- Palácio dos Marqueses da Fronteira. €3.72 But when we get off, we realise that the place is closed for a private event. I wish I had checked earlier on their official website to see if it was open… Better luck next time i guess! After a failed attempt, we Uber to our second stop in Chiado. €9.46 I found a pottery shop via @instagram earlier that I want to visit called A Vida Portugesa. This place is full of beautiful homeware and I’m in love… After an hour in the store, I finally purchase a few pottery items for my flat in Dusseldorf. €34 After shopping, we take a stroll around and stumble upon my this quaint little spot full of Jacaranda trees! Its officially my favourite spot in Lisbon and we’re so fortunate we get to see the trees in full bloom this time around!
We make our way back to the Corinthia since the hotel has organised a spa session for us. €12.46 When we get to our room, we find another surprise afternoon tea waiting for us! I love the presentation of the plating and it’s all too pretty to eat! I take a little afternoon bite before we head to the spa for our massage appointment. I decide to go with a body scrub and their Swedish massage, and let me tell you, it is glorious…
After our relaxing massage and spa time, we get ready for dinner that the hotel has organized in the restaurant downstairs called “Cerva”. We start with some seasonal cocktails and I order 2 appetisers for myself. For the main course, I order an algae ravioli and Stephan get a rack of lamb. The dishes are all equally delicious and we end the boozy night with some dessert.
Day 9 Expense: €59.64
We wake up super early to catch our flight back to Germany. It’s a short drive from our hotel and it’s way before peak hour so we are ahead of schedule. We drop off the rental car and pay for the remaining toll fees €34.55 When we get to the airport, we drop our bags and still at a café for breakfast since we have enough time before our flight departs. €8
The flight back to Germany goes back very quickly since I napped throughout the entire journey. And we now come to the end of our 9 day trip in Portugal!
Day 10 Expense: €42.55
Travel Expense Breakdown
Food & Drinks: €389.95
Trip total €1122 | Trip expense per person: €561
Overall, I think this was a reasonable price for our 9 day trip in Portugal. The daily expense ends up being €62 per person, which is quite a deal if you ask me! As you can see, most of the expenses came from transportation and the toll fee from the highway was higher than I expected. Uber rides were relatively affordable which is why we didn’t mind ordering this service throughout the trip. We also dined in some higher-end restaurants, and for the quality we were getting, it was very affordable. Overall, I’m very pleased we I would love to visit more of Portugal since it is also one of the cheaper countries to visit within Europe.
Did you enjoy reading my money diaries? Let me know in the comments below if you have been to Portugal and done forget to follow along on @instagram!