The passion, romance, mystique, beauty and history of Spain are nowhere more evident than in ancient Andalusia, the vast southern region whose name has become a byword for Spanish culture. Over eight fascinating days you will discover the cultural riches of Andalusia, from Phoenician times through the Roman, Muslim, Jewish and Christian periods. Visit spellbinding world heritage sights such as the Alcazar and cathedral in Seville, the Great Mosque of Cordoba and the Alhambra in Granada. Taste sherry in the city where it all began, wander whitewashed alleys redolent with the fragrances of fresh flowers and explore the unique ‘Britain under the sun’ of Gibraltar among the many activities you will enjoy during your Andalusian adventure.
Rebujito: Freshen up with one of these tasty drinks made from mixing sherry with soda, usually a lemon-flavoured one
Mirador de San Nicolás: The sight of the Sierra Nevada rising above the Alhambra is arguably the most romantic view in Spain
Flamenco: Visit a traditional tablao to experience the thrill of a show of this pulsating music and dance genre
Ronda: This picture-postcard city hugs the edges of a 120-metre gorge and is packed with historic churches and palaces, and Spain’s oldest bullring
Jerez de la Frontera: A beautiful baroque city, which gave its name to sherry and is considered the spiritual home of Spanish horsemanship
Cadiz: Enjoy a panoramic tour of Europe’s longest continuously inhabited city
White village route: Journey through the picturesque highlands of the Sierra de Grazalema and behold the rustic beauty of its whitewashed villages
Seville: Explore the elegant capital of Andalusia, visiting the world-famous Plaza de España, the former royal palace and cathedral as well as strolling through old Jewish quarter
Cordoba: Discover the magnificent Great Mosque, wander through the former Jewish district and visit the synagogue
Granada: Be dazzled by the jewel in Andalusia’s crown with a visit to the awe-inspiring Alhambra palace and Generalife gardens as well as a stroll through the ancient Albaicin district
Gibraltar: Escape from Spain for a day with a trip to the Rock to meet its macaque monkeys and to wander its British-style Main Street
Meet and greet service at Malaga-Costa del Sol Airport and transfer to your hotel in Torremolinos. You will be given your room key and the rest of the day is free at leisure. Torremolinos is one of the most famous beach resorts in Spain and is just under 20km away from central Malaga. It is renowned for its long sandy beach and homely seafood restaurants.
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before departing for Ronda, taking a scenic inland route, passing red earth hills dotted with olive plantations. On arrival, the well-preserved ruins of five defensive walls testify to Ronda’s turbulent past. Today, this history casts an enchanting spell over Ronda, which retains a beguiling timelessness in the maze of whitewashed cobbled alleys leading to the famous New Bridge over the 120-metre-deep El Tajo Gorge. Admire Mudejar towers, Renaissance palaces and baroque churches during the guided tour of the old town. Discover the imposing Gothic-Renaissance Church of Santa Maria la Mayor, which was built in the 1480s by the Castilian conquerors on the site of the Moorish great mosque, see what a traditional Andalusian house looks like inside with a visit to the eclectic-modernist Casa de Don Juan de Bosco and explore the bullring, the oldest in Spain, and its museum. After this fascinating stroll through Ronda, take to the road for a picturesque drive to Jerez de la Frontera, passing through some of the most beautiful countryside in Andalusia, which is dotted with rustic villages known as pueblos blancos. See Moorish citadels, romantic farmhouses nestling in verdant valleys, historic hilltop hamlets and towns perched precariously on precipitous ridges. Arrive in Jerez de la Frontera and check-in at the hotel with the rest of the day free at leisure.
Breakfast at the hotel is followed by a visit to one of the sherry bodegas that have played an integral part in the history of Jerez de la Frontera. The ‘frontier’ in the city’s name harks back to when it was in the hotly contested borderland between the Moorish caliphates and Christian kingdoms. Nowadays, Jerez is a tranquil place famed for its fortified wines, equestrian expertise, flamenco music and tapas. Enjoy a panoramic tour of the old town, which is packed with shaded plazas, slightly crumbling baroque churches and palaces dating from the heyday of sherry exports. There are more than two dozen wineries still producing manzanilla, oloroso, amontillado, pale cream and brandy among others, and you will visit a bodega to learn all about the types of grapes used, the selection, fortification and ageing processes. Make the short trip to Cadiz for a panoramic tour of Europe’s longest continuously inhabited city before continuing to Seville, the capital of Andalusia, which is famed for its authentic Spanish atmosphere and impressive architecture. Explore the city with a panoramic bus tour, enjoying a photo stop at the magical Maria Luisa Park to discover its two impressive squares, Plaza de España, with its beautiful tiles, elaborate redbrick towers, bridges and canals, and Plaza de America, which is flanked by a number of magnificent neo-Gothic and neo-Mudejar palaces. Check-in at hotel with the rest of the day free at leisure.
Discover Seville with a morning tour after breakfast at the hotel. The half-day guided tour includes visits to some of the capital’s top attractions such as the Royal Alcazar palace and the Cathedral – both UNESCO World Heritage Sites – as well as Santa Cruz, its most picturesque inner city neighbourhood. The Royal Alcazar traces its origins to the 10th century, when it became the palace of a Moorish caliph. Over the centuries, it has been expanded with a series of stunning halls, pavilions, patios and gardens in a variety of styles from Moorish and Mudejar to Gothic, Renaissance and baroque. Admire the elaborate arabesque carvings, the ornate tilework and the fine tapestries and paintings decorating the walls. Behold the brilliance of the inner domes of the Hall of Ambassadors and the Patio of Dolls, and wander the tranquil landscaped gardens. Continue to the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, whose glorious Giralda belfry is Seville’s most iconic symbol. The Cathedral began life as a mosque in the 12th century and has since grown to become the third-largest church in the world. Discover the 80 chapels and more than 700 works of religious art, see the amazing gilded altarpiece – which took 80 years to make – and stroll through the peaceful Patio of the Orange Trees. Next, explore secluded Santa Cruz, the former Jewish quarter and today the most traditional neighbourhood in the old town. It is a warren of whitewashed lanes, alleys, archways and patios, each with a historical tale to tell. Enjoy a tapas lunch in a typical restaurant with the afternoon free. In the evening, there is an optional visit to a pulsating flamenco show.
Bid farewell to Seville after breakfast at the hotel, departing for Cordoba to tour the old town before continuing to Granada, the last Moorish stronghold in Spain. Arrive in Cordoba and enjoy a guided tour of the old town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cordoba was the capital of the Moorish caliphate of Al-Andalus during the height of its powers and glory, and nowhere is the wealth more evident than in the magnificent Great Mosque, which is now the Catholic cathedral. Wander through the colonnaded prayer halls, which are decorated with hundreds of marble columns joined by two-tone arches. Admire the mihrab and the side chapels, with their eclectic mix of arabesque and baroque styles. Stroll through the Patio of the Orange Trees, an oasis of peace cooled by the shade of 100 trees, and admire the arabesque decorations of exterior doorways. Continue the tour by walking to the former Jewish Quarter to visit the 14th century synagogue. Continue to Granada for check-in at the hotel with the rest of the day free at leisure.
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before exploring the historic city of Granada and its greatest treasure, the Alhambra palace. For more than a thousand years, this ‘pearl set in emeralds’ has stood atop Sabika hill overlooking the city, gaining in importance during the Moorish Nasrid dynasty, which turned the original castle into the palace of today. The royal complex and gardens were built to be 'heaven on earth', with cool patios, fountains and intricate carvings. Marvel at the rooms such as the Court of the Myrtles and the Hall of the Ambassadors, which are decorated in elaborate honeycomb arabesque plasterwork. Admire, too, the Court of Lions, which medieval Islamic poets described as the physical realisation of paradise. Stroll over to the Generalife Palace and its lush gardens, where the Nasrid emirs retreated during the summer heat, and hear the soothing sound of the water running in channels. Cross the lush ravine of the River Darro to the historic Albaicin quarter, which has existed since Moorish times and still maintains its original chaotic layout. Narrow cobblestone alleys of tightly packed whitewashed houses snake their way upwards to the various vantage points offering breathtaking views of the Alhambra nestled under the Sierra Nevada. Take to the road for Torremolinos, checking in on arrival with the rest of the day free at leisure.
Breakfast is followed by a trip ‘abroad’ to Gibraltar, the tiny corner of the Iberian peninsula that is a unique ‘Britain under the sun’. As you approach the territory, the imposing Rock of Gibraltar rises from the plain to tower over the surrounding landscape and the Mediterranean. Packed into the tiny city in the shadows of the rock is a maze of winding streets boasting many British high street stores and myriad shops selling duty free goods. The post-boxes and phone booths are red and the police uniforms look British… but the temperature is resolutely Andalusian. Learn all about the rock’s inner secrets during a guided tour in a minibus, visit St Michael’s Cave and meet the iconic troop of wild Barbary macaque monkeys, which roams the upper reaches of the rock. Return to Torremolinos with the rest of the day free at leisure.
Transfer to the airport in Malaga for your departure flight. Breakfast included.