TRAVEL GUIDE: PORTO + DOURO VALLEY, PORTUGAL + NOKEN REVIEW

fresh off our overnight flight and ready to explore!

We are back in the States after such a fun family trip to Europe! Matt was given four weeks for paternity leave and took two in the beginning and saved two for when Logan was a bit older to enjoy a trip together as a family of three. We were all so excited to get away and spend some time together and start to show Logan the world and our love for travel. I will be doing a separate post on traveling with a baby, so be on the lookout for that! Also, I have our trip saved in my Instagram Highlights under “Portugal”.

FYI: If you didn’t follow along while I was away, long story short my camera, both lenses and all equipment was stolen out of my bag while traveling. While I had uploaded photos to my phone here and there, the majority are sadly gone. So just hang in there with me on this post and the images I have to use!

When it comes to travel and trip planning, Matt typically spear heads all the fine details, but to be honest, our new role of parents along side of our careers leaves us with a lot less free time. So this time around we decided to partner with Noken, an amazing travel service, for planning the first part of our trip and our Portugal itinerary. It took so much stress off of figuring out the nitty gritty details and left us with more time to pack, organize and use our free time at home to spend with Logan.

How Noken Works + Cost:

Right now, Noken has 7 destinations (but more to come) as they put as much care into the details as if planning the trip yourself. They take their time and do as much research as possible on hotels, activities, restaurants, etc. This takes hours upon hours (as I have witnessed with Matt doing this) and they don’t want to rush anything while curating your experience. How they work is you simply go to their site, choose where you want to travel, your travel dates, what type of experience you are looking for (ex: romantic, hidden gems, all the sites, etc.) and then they will create a custom itinerary just for you! For us, this was our first time traveling with Logan so they were able to organize a crib at each hotel, hotel location that was walkable to a ton of different things, etc. This made our life SO MUCH EASIER.

Matt and my favorite part of working with Noken has to be their app guide. This was so helpful while maneuvering throughout the city! It laid out all your stops for the day and then organized them in numerical order based on what you should see first to make the best use out of your time. You can see a screenshot of what this looks like below. The best part is, the fee for Noken is just a flat fee of $5 per day for their service!

Now that you know a little bit about how we went about planning this trip, lets get into the details of what we did while we were there! I will cover the highlights of each day, but if you have any specific questions let me know in the comments. A couple years ago Matt and I visited Lisbon, Portugal, but had been dying to get back and explore Porto and Douro, which is what we covered during this trip! In total, we were in Portugal for 5 days and 4 nights.

Also, plane/travel skincare is something I received a bunch of questions on, so thought I would link up a few of my favorites that are TSA size approved. I like to fly make-up free, so amping up my skincare before, during and after is key! You can also get 20% off Elemis‘s site with code: KK20

Porto, Portugal:

DAY ONE –

We landed in Portugal mid morning and headed straight to our hotel, Torel Avantgarde, to hopefully check into our room (we were able to get in early!), shower and unpack before heading out for the day. A lot of our first day was a complete wash out, but luckily Noken had recommended lunch at a spot (Barao Fladgate) that was pretty much connected to our Port Wine Tour (Taylor Fladgate), so we didn’t have to spend much time outside getting soaked. If it were just Matt and I it wouldn’t have mattered as much, but with schleping Logan, the stroller, diaper bag, etc. that was such a nice bonus. Also, FYI, we found Uber to be the easiest way to get around when not walking.

The port wine industry is centered around Vila Nova de Gaia, located just across the river from Porto. After our Port tasting and learning all about the industry, we headed down by the water to walk around and soak in the views. There are tons of cafes (or wine caves) if you want to sit and grab a drink or bite to eat. We eventually made our way back over across the bridge to the Porto side where we were staying and it started to rain so we popped into a cozy little spot called Sagardi Porto. Such a FUN place – we loved how they passed hot h’ordervers (like at a party), and grab however . And when you pay you just say how many you took. So delicious and fun!

DAY TWO –

Each day we started by finding a yummy coffee shop because lets be serious, #jetlag. The only beauty of the jetlag and having a baby is that we were up early and could pack our day with as much as we wanted. We found the cutest coffee shop called Combi and enjoyed a latte and my absolute favorite Portuguese custard tart that I have been waiting 3 years to enjoy once again! We then spent a lot of the day exploring the sites that Noken had set up for us within the app.

We don’t like to miss a meal and were excited to try Noken’s recommendation of a lunch spot that overlooked the water, Bacalhau. Try and snag a table outside and enjoy a glass of wine and some local cuisine. After lunch we meandered the streets a bit and made our way back to the hotel so Logan could take a little nap and we all could recharge.

The hotel that Noken found for us was gorgeous, so after Logan’s nap we made our way down to the restaurant terrace and enjoyed a glass of wine and the breathtaking view of the city. We then wanted to check out Livraria Lello, the famous bookstore that apparently inspired Harry Potter (JK Rowling lived in Porto for 10 years)! To be honest, the inside was beautiful, but it has become such a tourist trap you truly couldn’t fully enjoy it and I quickly became overwhelmed. You need to buy tickets even just to enter (at a spot next door) and Matt and I took turns looking inside because it was too crowded to attempt with the stroller.

Right before the bookstore we stumbled upon this cute outdoor bar/lawn area called Base and settled there for a bit letting Logan play and for all of us just hang out. There was music, twinkle lights and bean bag chairs throughout the lawn. Dinner this night was at Mundo, we didn’t realize you pretty much need reservations anywhere you go, but got lucky with a high top table and chairs near the bar, which ended up working better anyways with our stroller.

Douro Valley, Portugal

DAY THREE

Up early, packed up and headed to the Douro Valley! Noken recommended taking the train to enjoy the views along the way and I am glad that we did. It is about a 2 hour train ride from Porto (on a local train), but as you get closer to Douro you look out onto rolling hills and wine country. While Logan slept most of the way, Matt and I enjoyed the views.

Noken had selected a hotel (Original Douro Hotel) that was located more in the city of Regua, which is one of the main hubs in Douro. What was nice was that it was a 3 minute walk from the train station so we didn’t have to worry about piling into a cab. It was also located by some amazing restaurants which was great for evenings and Logan (e tried to avoid getting in a cab for dinner because easier with stroller).

Our first meal was lunch and we headed to Catas E Pratos, another restaurant recommended by Noken located right next to the train station and a few minute walk from our hotel. This meal was AMAZING. From the wine to the actual food and decor inside I was in heaven. You MUST order the octopus on the menu, it might be the best I have ever had. After lunch we were off to do some wine tasting with a private tour that Noken had arranged with ToursByLocals – our driver and main man was Bruno Cardoso (THE BEST). He picked us up at our hotel making things simple and easy and was SO nice and even brought Logan all these treats and snacks (he thought he was a bit older)!

What I loved about this part of the trip (compared to a Napa wine tasting experience) is that we visited vineyards that were family run and more off the beaten path. The landscape, views and overall experience throughout the day was truly incredible. We also drove along N-222 which is considered one of the most beautiful roads in the world and I completely agree (they leave fun facts like this on the app guide)!

DAY FOUR –

Noken had arranged a boat tour for us (Magnifico Douro Boat Tour) so we got up, had a bite to eat at our hotel (they provided such a great breakfast each day) and made our way to the tour in Pinhao, a city about 20 minutes from where we were saying. Try getting there a little on the early side and walk around The Vintage House property. It is so pretty and overlooks the Douro river. As for the tour, I highly recommend only doing the hour long tour (that’s what we did), it was beautiful to see the landscape by water, but truly don’t need more than 60 minutes. Also, I was a bit surprised no one was on the boat giving any history or information, it was just a visual experience.

We hopped into a cab for a quick 3 minute drive to lunch at Quinta De La Rosa (make sure to have a reservation). We enjoyed lunch inside and then finished our wine tasting out on their patio (you can’t eat out there). It was also located on the Douro river, so we took our time relaxing and enjoying the moment. Such good wine and views!!

After lunch we decided to head to Six Senses to soak in the view and enjoy an evening cocktail outdoors. I can’t quite find the words to describe how exquisite, peaceful, relaxing and overall incredible this hotel/resort is. Both Matt and I said it may just be the most gorgeous place we have been. They also have a dog on the property which was much needed as I was missing my fur-girl back home.

For our last dinner we tried Tasca Da Quinta, which a few of you suggested. Such a charming and cozy place that truly feels as if you are eating dinner in your grandma’s kitchen. The menu is hand written in a notebook and they serve traditional Portuguese dishes.

The next morning we had an early flight to Madrid! We hired a car to drive us to the Porto airport where we were flying out of. To be honest it was so much easier with all of our stuff and Logan. I think it cost us about $120.

Hope this guide was helpful and if you have any questions of course let me know!