Sitting down to write a travel recap after a long trip is always super overwhelming for me because I just want to tell y’all EVERYTHING and GET IT ALL OUT – so just a warning as you read this, but I don’t want to skip anything! If you’ve been following along, then you might have seen that I just got back from an incredible trip to Portugal! You guys, Portugal was amazing but the best part about the trip was that I LITERALLY did nothing but show up. It was unlike any trip before because of that.
Usually, the weeks and sometimes even months leading up to a trip are full of research and planning and spending countless hours putting together the perfect itinerary. And although that can sometimes be fun and exciting, it’s mainly overwhelming right? And I don’t know about you, but it’s the planning that often holds me back from even going on a trip in the first place – especially overseas!
I mentioned it on my IG Stories, but I actually went to Portugal in partnership with a travel service called Noken. And even though I *worked* with them this time for this trip, I will 100000% be using them in the future and have been recommending their service to friends left and right. It was game-changing when it came to our travel experience and I don’t think I can ever go back to non-Noken life.
A few of you have even sent me messages saying you’re considering using them as well, and all I gotta say is DO IT. You won’t regret it. But here’s some more info on them + a recap of our amazing time in Portugal!
How Noken Works
Because they are so awesome, I want to start here before getting into the recap of the trip. Here’s how Noken works…
Step One: Choose your country and dates.
As of right now, they’ve got specific countries that they are offering including Australia, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and Portugal. They’re slowly adding more countries, but each country they add takes thousands of hours of research because they want to become experts before making it available as a Noken destination. I love their commitment and attention to detail – and it totally showed in my experience in Portugal!
Step Two: Customize and book your trip.
They will customize your trip to include as little or as much as you’d like to see of the country. AND they can keep your budget and preferences in mind while curating your customized experience (so cool!). They’re able to plan both luxury and backpacker-esque type trips! And the best art is that it costs the SAME that it would if you were to book everything on your own (no hidden fees). The only additional cost is a $5/day/traveler Noken fee. How AWESOME is that?!
Step Three: Explore your App Guide.
After booking your Noken trip, you receive an App Guide that has all of your trip information and your daily plan for exploring.
Honestly I think city guides are pretty hard to put together when you’re only able to spend a few days in a city – I think making a good one would take several weeks! So instead of trying to put together a travel guide for Portugal, I’ll just detail out all the things that we did and show you how helpful and amazing Noken was along the way. I truly loved this service so I’ll be showing you several screenshots of the app so you can understand just how amazing it is. You can’t just download it and use it like any other app in the App Store but it’s because each travel itinerary is CUSTOM and you get it AFTER you’ve booked with Noken. So I’ll walk you through mine and hopefully you can experience the service vicariously through me!
Portugal Recap: My Travel Experience with Noken
Let me just start by saying that Portugal was beautiful and I had the BEST time with my sister! I am so thankful for this experience and excited to tell you all about it! Honestly, we felt like we had such great quality time too because the planning was out of the way (and we didn’t have to argue about what to do next or who was finding the next restaurnat or something you know?!).
We spent a total of 5 full days in Portugal – 3 in Lisbon and then 2 in Porto. I wish we would have had time to visit the south and see all the beautiful beaches, but we’ll just have to come back!
Before getting into our daily itinerary, I’ve got to get something out in the open. There are ALL sorts of different travelers out there. Some people love the jam-packed itineraries and want to see ALL THE THINGS. And then there are others that like to see a little but mostly just want to relax and eat good food (while drinking yummy wine). Although I *wish* I fell more in the active camp; I can’t deny that I am indeed quite the lazy traveler. I set my sights high and *think* I’ll want to do so many things (it sounds nice in theory), but the reality is I’d rather…just not. HA.
I like to take things slow, have a glass of wine, chill at some random spot, walk aimlessly, and take a nap occasionally, too. When getting to a new city, I’m SUPER excited but I think I’m different in that I don’t feel rushed or stressed to SEE IT ALL. You know? I like to travel, but at my own pace.
So I really appreciate that no matter the type of traveler you are, Noken can cater to that. They can pack your schedule seeing all the sights, or they can share cool sights to see while keeping in mind that you don’t want a packed schedule 24/7. I loved having this aspect because then you don’t feel guilty either way – and you get YOUR type of trip (not just the travel guide that you read online and has nothing to do with your personalitly, if that makes sense.)
Trip Overview: Day by Day Recap
Let’s get started! I want to give you a walkthrough of the app and what it looked like from our end. Here is a screenshot of your overall Portugal itinerary. Like I mentioned above, we were gone 6 full days – three in Lisbon (including a Sintra day trip) and two in Porto (including a Douro Valley day trip) plus a travel day in between.
We were in Lisbon for a total of 3 days which I actually felt was the perfect amount of time – especially if you want to fit in a day trip to visit Sintra!
Day 1: Exploring West Lisbon
Noken split up exploring by different areas of the city which I really appreciated. We explored west Lisbon on the first day and then several other areas on the second day, following a day trip to Sintra on day three.
Above – Screenshots showing you an example of a daily itinerary with helpful information every step along the way. They even have restaurant recommendations and can book reservations for some nights as well! When you click on, for instance, “Belem discovery” (which is an area of Lisbon), they also have a guide with must-see monuments and spots along the way. This was incredibly helpful and we used these guides religiously throughout our trip.
When we first got there, we were exhausted since neither of us were able to get much sleep on flight over. So we actually spent the first few hours napping – which is exactly what they tell you NOT to do when traveling but whatever, we needed it! I’m sad we never got to see Timeout Market as I’ve heard amazing things but we seriously needed sleep!
Above: LeLe and I standing in front of Torre de Belem. I’m wearing Topshop dress (size 2), Steve Madden sandals, Bag (old – similar here), Krewe Sunglasses, Baublebar earrings. Lele is wearing Shein dress, Chloe sneakers (old), Krewe sunglasses and Christian Dior backpack.
We took an uber to the Belem area and spent a few hours walking around. It was beautiful!
Above: another view of the Belem tower
Above: Mosteiro dos Geronimo’s historical monastery.
We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around this area, checking Noken’s suggestions off the list and soaking it all in! In the photo above, we were exploring the beautiful park in front of the monastery, Jardim de Praça Imperio.
After soaking in Belem, we headed back to the hotel to freshen up and change for dinner. Noken made reservations for us at Gin Lovers – it was such a cool restaurant! So yummy and I loved the atmosphere – see the photos below!
Above: a peek inside the restaurant, Gin Lovers
We loved their dinner recommendation – it was so nice to have that already figured out and taken care of. We just had to hop in an Uber!
Above: screenshot of our Day 2 custom Itinerary from the Noken app
Day Two: Exploring Central Lisbon
So Noken actually recommended that we wake up early and catch the Tram 28 to another area of the town but we ended up having a slow morning instead. Noken had warned us (in the app) that we should get there early because the line would get long.
Welp…Noken was right. We got to the Tram 28 line around 10:30 and the line was already 1.5 hours long. Oops. While waiting in line, we were (slightly) harassed by these men trying to sell us a private Tuk Tuk Tour around the city. A “Tuk Tuk” is this funny slash cute looking little car that has open sides – sort of like a golf cart. They’re all over the place in Lisbon and they offer private tours.
We ignored them. And then ignored them some more. And then, after one of the guys made us laugh (because he was commenting on how we were ignoring him lol), we asked to hear a little more about it. It sounded interesting, honestly.
Anyway, we figured it was probably a rip off, but we didn’t want to wait in the long line and a private tour around the city actually sounded pretty nice. So we took one of them up on it and ended up having a blast! We did a two hour tour and had the driver drop us off in the area Noken suggested (Alfama District) where we spent some time walking around. It was a win-win!
Above: Sitting at one of the views in central Lisbon wearing French Connection romper (wearing size 0), Reformation denim jacket, and Topshop coral NET bag and Ray Ban Sunglasses with Lisi Lerch Earrings.
I wish I had gotten more photos because it was beautiful but I think I was just too in the moment! And plus, I don’t really have much of a photographer’s eye to be completely honest. These were just some of the photos I quickly snapped on my iPhone.
Alfama & Baixa Discovery
We spent the afternoon exploring the areas Noken had suggested, starting with Alfama and ending in Baixa. I LOVED how Noken organized our exploring with a walking map and we had a checklist to make sure we saw all the important stops! It was fun to follow along and read a little about each stop.
See screenshots from our Alfama discovery provided in our Noken app below:
Above: photo from the Miradouro de Senhora de Monte Viewpoint suggested as the first stop on our Alfama discovery. What a beautiful view of the city!
I didn’t get many photos while in Alfama because my phone died, but it was beautiful! During lunch, we actually headed back to the hotel to grab a quick lunch and then recharge our phones. Plus our hotel was in the next area Noken suggested we explore, Baixa, so it made sense to head back!
Above: Praca do Comercio Lisbon
Above: Praca do Comercio Lisbon
The above photos were taken at the Praca do Comercio historic square, which was only a few blocks from our hotel.
This was one of the most beautiful areas of the entire trip in my opinion. It’s where the Arco du Rua Augusta is located, which is a massive arch overlooking the Tagus river at Lisbon’s main plaza. It was built as a tribute to Lisbon’s recovery after 1755’s year of devastation (earthquake, fire, and tsunami).
After exploring, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. Our second night we had dinner at a lovely little spot called Porto that Noken had recommended. It was adorable and the food was soooo goooood!
Day 3: Sintra Day Trip
We spent the entire day exploring the town of Sintra, which houses some of the palaces and castles of the royal past of Sintra.
See our itinerary below:
We actually ended up just taking an Uber to the Castelo dos Mouros medieval castle rather than doing public transportation. Once we got there, we purchased tickets to see the castles – I think it was like 8 euros so not too bad.
Above: there were several beautiful hydrangeas at the base of the castelo dos Mouros. They were too pretty not to photograph! I’m wearing Abercrombie & Fitch dress (size Small – size up), Brixton striped bag, DSW sandals, Ray Ban sunglasses.
Above: exploring castelo dos Mouros medieval castle ruins
We spent a few hours exploring the palaces and castles in the area. I’ll be honest, this wasn’t really my favorite part but maybe that’s because I don’t know enough about the history to truly appreciate it. And because I’m not very into that sort of stuff? It was neat to see, but it was a lot more walking than I was *feeling* and about 25 degrees colder than I realized – since the castles are sort of in the mountains. Plus, it was SUPER windy that day!
Above: our view from lunch at Dona Maria in Sintra, Portugal
After spending some time exploring the ruins, we got hungry and took a “tuk tuk” (cute little car they’ve got all over the place in Portugal) down to the main area of the town and had lunch at the cutest little spot that overlooked one of the castles.
To be honest, we were too tired and cold (ha!) to go see the main castle, Palacio Nacional da Pena. But I was fine just seeing photos of it online lol – it’s really pretty!
Day 4 – Travel to Porto + Exploring Porto
On the fourth day ,we packed up our things and took an easy three hour train to our next destination, Porto!
Above: Noken booked us a room Pestana Porto Hotel, which was right on the river and a perfect location with beautiful views from our room!
After checking into our hotel and grabbing some lunch, we set out to explore the new city.
Above: screenshot from the Noken App outlining our Porto discovery guide.
Underneath this map was a detailed out list of each of the stops they suggested. When you clicked on any particular stop, there were more details about it like you can see in the image below of the Se do Porto Cathedral!
It was so helpful to already know what we needed to see and then have recommendations with where to start. Plus, I loved having the information for each stop along the way.
Above: exploring Porto right when we got there. I wore this little dress (wearing size XS) traveling with my waist bag and DSW sandals. These shoes were PERFECT for walking around – I think we walked like 8 miles that first day in Porto!
Above: Azulejo-covered exterior sidewall of Igreja do Carmo cathedral. I wore this to dinner because we didn’t have far to walk but I brought my flats with me just in case since I know heels in Portugal are silly (but I wanted the heights with this midi dress!)
Above: just a snap I took along the walk
Above: Sao Bento Railway station
Above: Livraria Lello historic bookstore
Day 5: Day Trip to Douro Valley
We woke up early on day 5 to take the 3-hour train to Douro Valley to explore the wine vineyards.
It was raining while we were there (almost the entire time – so sad!) so we didn’t go on a boat tour (like Noken recommended) but we did get a tour of one of the vineyards and were able to see some BEAUTIFUL views!
Above: screenshot from Noken app showing our customized Day 5 itinerary
We toured one of the vineyards close to town called Quinta das Carvalhia. They have bus tours 4 times a day but we ended up getting a private tour. It was beautiful and we actually got lucky with the rain for the 1 hour window while we were on our tour! We basically just rode with our guide up the mountain and then made a few stops on the way up to learn about the grapes and hear about how they make the wine. The views were spectacular!
Above: LeLe and I at one of the stops along our tour. I’m wearing Zara skirt (runs big – I couldn’t find it online), A&F bodysuit (size up – wearing size small), Topshop crossbody bag, DSW shoes, and Chimi Model No. 8 Sunglasses. Lele is wearing Lioness Blazer, Topshop jeans, Gap white tee, Chanel slides (from 3 seasons ago) and Dior eyeglasses.
Day 6: Travel back to Lisbon for flight
We spent the last day having a low key morning in Porto before heading back to Lisbon for one more night before heading back to the states. We stayed at the cutest little boutique hotel that Noken arranged for us called Brown’s Central in downtown Lisbon. We went out for one last dinner and did a little shopping and a bit more exploring of the downtown area before calling it a night and a trip!
Above: on the streets in downtown Lisbon on our last night wearing Reformation skirt (Size 0), Urban Outfitters puff sleeves top (size XS, size up on this top I wish I had gotten a small), Raye shoes (sold out).
Above: selfie we took at dinner on our last night, wearing these fun Coin earrings I got for summer!
So that about wraps it all up you guys! WHAT A LONG POST but I truly hope you find it helpful and I hope it’s obvious that I’m obsessed with Noken and their travel service.
Disclosure: This post was in partnership with Noken (like I’ve mentioned before and above) but all opinions and experiences are my own!
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