Small group tour in Portugal

““Explore historic cities, walk through lush countryside and spend time in a communitarian village on this diverse and fascinating small group tour of Portugal. ”


Porto | Douro Valley | Penela | Coimbra | Monastery of Batalha | Alcobaça | Lisbon

Description of Small group tour in Portugal

On this eight day small group tour in Portugal you’ll visit one of the friendliest and most beautiful countries in Europe. Once upon a time home to a powerful kingdom that spawned an equally powerful empire, the country is full of testaments to that former wealth, in the form of elegant palaces, museums, monasteries enchanting historic cities. You’ll explore many of these, starting in the colourful city of Porto and ending in lively and enchanting Lisbon.

You’ll also get to explore the country’s beguiling landscapes, including the hills and valleys of the Douro wine region. A real highlight of this trip is a stay in the remote, rural and communitarian village of Penela, where you’ll spend two nights with the locals and learning about their traditions, including the fascinating art of cheese-making.

You’ll travel with a small group of like minded travellers and will have expert guide to show you the way as you traverse the country. Accommodation is in small, locally run hotels and guesthouses.

Responsible Travel, Travel Team

Travel Team

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14 Sep 2019
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05 Oct 2019
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Holiday type

Small group holiday

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Small group tour in Portugal

Accommodation and Meals:
On this trip, we will spend nights in a variety of locally owned hotels, where they employ local staff and source for local produce whenever possible. This not only ensures that our money spent stays within the local community, but also provides local staff an opportunity to share and advise clients on the local traditions, culture, practices and share hidden gems of the country that only locals are familiar with. In the rural village of Penela, we will stay in Casa do Ze Sapateiro, a renovated schist house that has a Bikotel certification. This means that it is a lodge that offers specific amenities to address the needs of those who are considering cycling during their stay. They actively promote walking and biking tours as it is the best way to take in the beauty of Portugal and a more environmentally friendly alternative in the tourism industry.

When meals are not provided, our local guides encourage clients to eat out at local restaurants and cafes as a form of support and appreciation towards Portugal’s culture. The Douro and Alentjo regions are well known for their meat dishes such as roasted goat with rice and potatoes, porco preto (black pork cooked confit-style), posta mirandes (veal steak) and cozido à portuguesa (boiled meat, sausages and cabbages).

Local Craft and Culture:
We will explore the heart of Port wine, Douro Valley, which is classified as a World Heritage Landscape by UNESCO and also considered as the 7th sustainable tourism destination in the world by National Geographic. There, we visit a winery farm and learn about the production steps of one the best Douro wines. Clients also get to try some delicious traditional food in a famous “Quinta” while drinking a glass of wine where everything is homemade and locally produced.

During our time in Penela, we have the chance to interact with a group of locals whose goal is to revive this small communitarian village in the Schist Mountains. This interaction allows us to learn about their tradition and foster cultural exchange. Additionally, we also get to learn to make goat cheese and bread with the locals.

In all of these regions, we encourage clients to buy local crafts to help the region and the community. Of course, our local guides will be able to advise clients on what to buy and what to avoid as there are forbidden items such as leather products made from turtle, crocodile and snakes.

Our local partner is dedicated in providing financial contributions to local charitable organisations. They donate 1% of their revenue to grassroots, social and environmental groups that make a difference in their local communities. They have supported several projects in Portugal, Chile as well as India and are constantly accepting comments and thoughts from their guests and local partners to maintain an open dialog to improve social and environmental practices.

A Fair Deal:
We work closely with our local operator and ensure that all of our guides are local and that in exchange for their expertise that they are paid and treated fairly. The leaders will give a briefing on Responsible Tourism issues to help clients understand how they can help reduce their impact and maximise the benefits to the local community from our visit.

Water is a really important issue with trips such as this and whilst we must stay hydrated, it is also vital that we have a system for providing clean water without causing lots of waste with plastic bottles. Wherever possible we provide safe alternative sources of water to buying single use plastic bottles. This may be through large water containers, or encourage our passengers to filter, sterilise or purify water. We encourage all our passengers to come prepared with a reusable water bottle for this purpose.

Group Size:
This is a small group tour, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

UK Office:
It all starts at home where we work towards reducing our carbon footprint in our offices through energy conservation measures, recycling policies and the promotion of cycling and walking as a means for our staff to commute. Our head office has become a plastic-free zone with the use of plastic bottles being banned in our head office and we distributed reusable water bottles and tote bags to every staff member. We also support a large number of community and environmental projects in different parts of the world and try to give something back to the places we visit.

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