Porto and The Douro Valley, Portugal

This is an incredibly fun, beautiful and family-friendly trip! Porto is a lively, colorful city with ornately tiled buildings, delicious food, cool bars and winding, cobbled streets… plus, it’s surrounded by vineyards, so there’s something for everyone. We took this trip with my parents in July 2018, when the kids were 1 and 3 years old.

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Porto is quite hilly, and you’ll get your workout walking between the lovely riverfront (Cais da Ribeira), the “Harry Potter Bookshop” Livraria Lello, Graham’s Port Lodge (reservations required) and the colorful side streets, tiled buildings, churches, and gardens. Bring a stroller, but be ready for the hills and cobblestones.

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Taberna Dos Mercadores is amazing – make a reservation well in advance! They do not have high chairs or changing tables, but they were happy for our kids to join. They specialize in seafood and truly live up to the hype. We also really enjoyed our meals at Tapabento and Jimao Tapas e Vinhos.

Porto would make a great weekend getaway, but you shouldn’t limit yourself to 2 days because you really need to make a side trip to the Douro Valley. Overnight is best, but even a day trip would be worth it! I love visiting wine regions, and the Douro Valley is uniquely spectacular. Unlike the rolling hills of most wineries, these vineyards are delicate terraces built into the mountains alongside the Douro River.

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It is an easy, cheap train ride from Porto to Pinhão, and I highly recommend staying at the Vintage House Hotel. It’s a short, easy walk from the Pinhão train station, and it is truly lovely. The breakfast is delicious, too. The real reasons you are in the Douro Valley are scenery and indulgence, so make reservations at all of the following and enjoy the itinerary!

Day 1: Take the morning train from Porto to Pinhão, approx 2.5 hours. Enjoy a boat ride along the Douro River! There’s no need to book ahead, and you can actually get your tickets at the hotel (no additional cost). It is so majestic with the vineyards rising from the shores, and you can choose the duration of your trip. Then you can walk across the street for your tour and tasting at Quinta do Bomfim – be sure to make your reservation – before taking a car to dinner at Tabua D’aco. The restaurant is very modest, but the views are beautiful and the chef came out to speak with us at length! The food spoke for itself, of course. Below: Auden on the boat, and the sunset from Tabua D’aco.

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Day 2: Get your drinking pants on, my friends: you have a dreamy day of gluttony ahead. And again, make reservations at all of these! You should arrange for a driver to be with you all day for this itinerary. Check out of the hotel and keep the bags in the car. Take the car to Quinta do Popa, an absolutely stunning vineyard at the top of a winding mountain road, with the best seating area you can imagine. The kids had a blast running around and we enjoyed our tasting while basking in the views.

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Lunch is a short drive away at DOC, a high-end riverside restaurant from Michelin-starred celebrity chef Rui Paula. It is child-friendly – high chairs and changing tables are available – and it is a beautiful experience. Before heading back to Porto, take in a tour and tasting at Quinta da Pacheca. It is different from Bomfim and Popa, and you’ve come all this way…! This is very close to the Regua train station, so you can take your return train back to Porto directly afterward.

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We thought it was worth visiting Graham’s Port Lodge in Porto as well as Quinta do Bomfim in the Douro Valley, even though they are both in the Symington Family Estates. They have very unique cellars and the tours focus on separate histories. Below is the view from Graham’s Port Lodge, overlooking the Douro Valley and city of Porto.

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I would love to go back sometime! In a couple of months, we are going to Lisbon and the Algarve, which I am so excited for. I have heard that Lisbon and Porto are completely different, but one thing is for sure: I am going to load up on Pasteis de Nata! If you head to Porto or the Douro Valley, leave your recs in the comments!

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