I am a HUGE fan of Europe, but it’s been a minute since I’ve spent proper time here. That’s why when Noken asked if they could plan a trip to Portugal for me last month, I happily obliged! They specialize in creating itineraries for travelers visiting certain destinations for the first time, and the app guide makes planning more seamless and efficient. Whether you want to sip Port wine in Porto, visit the Blue Lagoon in Iceland or stuff your face with ramen in Japan, Noken has you covered.
How It Works:
The app provides a holistic introduction to a country, basically showing you the true essence of a place for the first time.
- Go to Noken.com and choose a travel blueprint.
- Select trip duration and season of travel.
- Select hotel, activities and restaurants based on recommendations of Noken specialists
- Download the app and add in your unique Trip Code
- Watch your itinerary download and get on that plane!
Why I like it:
Noken takes the guess work out of traveling. I can walk around with more confidence knowing I have a plethora of information at my fingertips. Inside the app is a packing guide alongside other pertinent info like transportation options, etiquette and helpful phrases in Portuguese! Obrigado, Noken 🙂
I love this city by the sea and its cobblestone streets, custard tarts (hellooo pasteles de nata) and colorful houses in the hills.
Pousada de Lisboa is part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection so I knew it was going to be a solid option. It’s set in the Praça do Comércio historic square (and stunning arch) which sits along the waterfront. Highly recommend for a base when in Lisbon!
Eat & Drink
With so many good recs from Noken, it was hard to narrow down where to eat! I’m the most indecisive person on the planet so I wanted to hit all the restaurants. Ah, so much to do and so little time! My favorites:
Feitoria – way up there on dining faves around the world! Portuguese gastronomy at its finest.
Bairro do Avillez – General rule of thumb for eating abroad: go where the people are. This place was packed but we got a drink at the bar and then were seated for one of the most satisfying steak sandwiches and frites of my existence.
Pastels de Belém – This is the most reviewed eatery in the world and has been churning out the ever popular custard tarts since 1837. Don’t be scared of the long line – it moves quickly!
A Ginjinha historic bar – it’s been pouring cherry liquor since 1840 and is one of the cheapest and most popular places in town.
Rio Maravilha – Rooftop bar in LX Factory with funky furnishing and really great beer.
Timeout Market – offers up just about ANYTHING your heart desires in the shape of a beautifully massive food hall.
PARK – rooftop bar on top of a parking garage. Great place to catch the sunset with drink in hand!
Gelato – For the love of God, please stop in a Gelato shop at least once on your journey. Or 5 times like we did.
Sintra Day Trip – purchase a round trip train ticket (~5 euro) from Rossio train station to Portugal’s fairytale town of palaces and castles. One-way is about 40 minutes. Once there, walk a few meters to Go2Cintra to rent the COOLEST electric car. It’s the best, and most fun, way to see hilly Sintra (one of my favorite tips from Noken)! The really nice people at the electric car place will enter your itinerary into Google Maps and then it’s that easy. You’ll see Castelo dos Mouros (8 euro), my favorite/Portugal’s most whimsical castle Palacio da Pena (14 euro), and Quinta da Regaleira. This entire day felt like a scene straight of if Lord of the Rings TWIST MY ARM.
Torre de Belém – beautiful tower on the banks of the Tagus River designed in 1519 to guard Lisbon from martitime attack. Something felt so utterly familiar here….The tower boasts views of the Ponte 25 de Abril, Golden Gate’s doppelgänger 🙂
Padrao dos Descobrimentos monument -honoring the Portuguese Age of Exploration. This ship shaped tribute is only a few minutes walk from the tower.
Mosteiro dos Jeronimos Church and compound – Taxes from the spice trade helped fund this decorative monastery. Note that entrance into the church is free but the cloisters/compound is not.
Elevador de Santa Justa – free standing stunning elevator that had been shuttling residents and tourists alike since 1902. Note that the ride will cost you about 5 euro. Worth the joy ride.
LX Factory – hip part of town with cute shops, gorgeous bookstores, art, bars and cafes. Be aware that aimlessly wandering the streets will ultimately lead to patio hangs with live music and beer tastings. You’ll come-to 3 hours later and forget you had dinner plans… 🙂
Tram 28 – take this streetcar from Martin Moniz into the hills of Graça and down to Alfama, an in comic way to traverse the hilly streets of Lisbon. Lose yourself in the tangle of narrow cobblestone streets and maze of tiled houses (azulejos), a popular exterior structure in Portugal. The ride will cost you about 1.45 euro.
Castelo de Sao Jorge Castle – this medieval castle perched on the city’s highest hill has been used as a defense since Roman Times. Now it’s a staple of every postcard of Lisbon. Seeing the grounds will cost about 8.50 euro.
Favorite sunset setting: Graça Church with a view of Castelo de Sao Jorge
On a warm, sunny day…I’m not sure there’s anything better than sipping port wine on the banks of the Douro river in Porto. Seriously. It’s straight out of a storybook and I wanna be the main character.
Take a 3 hour comfy train from Oriente Station in Lisbon to Sao Bento Station in Porto.
I still think about Pestana Vintage Hotel even long after check-out. Situated on the waterfront, our hotel room boasted a marble tub, beautiful furnishings rich in color and texture, and 3 doors leading to a balcony with a view you can barely tear your eyes from…
Do yourself a favor and book a room here. Then asked to be upgraded.
Eat & Drink
Since this is Porto known for Porto wine, we’ll start with the drinking bit rather than the eating bit. It’s only appropriate.
For hundreds of years, most of the world’s supply of Port has crossed the Gaia waterfront. Wine cellars, or caves, line the waterfront and you can find copious amounts of barrels filling the wooden boats along the banks.
Gaia Historic Wine Lodges:
Taylor’s – beautiful courtyard and tasty experience. 12 euros for tour and tasting.
Graham’s – I don’t play favorites, but Graham’s miiiight be a favorite 🙂 I’m not sure what was better – the view or the Port.
Croft – Get a good vintage or rosé Port here. You won’t regret it!
A Sandeira – popular spot with insanely good unique sandwiches to soak up all that Port.
MUU Steakhouse – unique menu options with goooood meat and maybe even better service!
Da Terra – Self Serve bagan restaurant that made my taste buds and tummy sing. After eating and drinking my way through the country for a few days, this meal was heavenly and healthy.
Waterfront Wanders – This was my favorite thing to do in Porto…walking the waterfront on both sides of the river over and over again! You never know what you’re going to get – a market, an impromptu dance party, drunks signing at the top of their lungs from bars, a man playing instruments I can’t name and another blowing bubbles for a bit of pocket change… what a time to be alive.
Dom Luis I Bridge – Take the lower level and upper level to Gaia and back again.
Gondola – For 6 euros you can get a bird’s eye view of all of Gaia. Or just bring your drone 🙂
Sunset at Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar – If you’re wondering where to catch the prettiest sunset in all of Porto, look no further. If you choose to do a guided tour or go inside, it will cost you about 4 euro.
Phew. And that’s just a quick guide for about a 6 day trip through both cities! I can’t wait to go back to visit the south. Azores, you’re up next!
Use code “Lesley” at checkout and get a $200 discount with Noken!