“If you haven’t seen Granada, you haven’t seen anything.”
-Popular Andalucían saying
Arrive at Barajas airport and meet your driver as you leave customs. We’ll drop you off at your hotel and give you the day to get acclimated.
Meet your driver in the hotel lobby for the short drive to Toledo. The ancient capital is well-preserved and full of cultural wonder. As you approach, notice how the entire city crowds onto a high, rocky perch protected by the Tajo River. Your guide will meet you near the Bisagra Gates, the entrance to the Arabic city, before leading you through the Old Town and Arabic Quarters. Visit Zocodover Square where the main market was once set up. Enter El Salvador Mosque and the nearby Cristo de la Luz Mosque. Along your way, the guide will tell you the store of Toledo’s 3 religions and people groups that lived in harmony during a time when the rest of the country was at war. End the tour at an artisanal swordmaker, Toledo’s famous trade that was set in motion by the Umeyyad Dynasty. You’ll have some time on your own in the city center before returning to Madrid.
Meet your driver in the hotel lobby for the transfer to Atocha train station. Leave Madrid behind for Al Andalus on the high-speed AVE train. In a little over 2 hours, step out of Santa Justa station into sunnier weather and the land of flamenco. Your driver will take you to your hotel to get checked in before lunch. Meet your guide later in the hotel lobby. Begin at the city walls, passing the Tower of Gold – part of the Moorish city’s defensive fortifications. See the Alcazar fortress, built by Nasrid Artisans, the Patio of the Orange Trees and the Giralda prayer tower at the Cathedral, all that was left of Abu Yacub’s mosque. Finish the tour at the Tower of Gold on the Guadalquivir River for a slow cruise on an electric boat.
Meet your driver in the hotel lobby for the driver south of Sevilla through the mountains. Discover a small corner of Spain where traditional village life goes on as it has for thousands of years. Begin at Zahara de la Sierra, birthplace of Arab noblemen, conquistadors and bandits. Your guide will tell you some of the local legends before visiting an olive mill for a tour and tasting. Next stop on your guided tour is the tiny village of Grazalema, a town within a natural park. Finish the day with an afternoon tour of Ronda, once capital of an Arabic Taifa- Visit the fully renovated Arabic Baths connected to the Guadalevón River that flows through the Gorge. Later cross the New Bridge spanning a plunging gorge that separates Ronda’s New and Arabic Quarters. Once across the bridge, your guide will continue the tour down cobblestone streets past the St. Nicolas Minaret and into the House of the Moorish King. Return to Sevilla in the late afternoon.
Meet your driver in the hotel lobby for the short drive to Córdoba. Your guide will meet you just outside the mosque to begin your tour of what was once the most culturally advanced city in Europe. Enter the mosque, converted into a cathedral after the Reconquest in 1236 and listen to the stories of the sultans and commoners who built it together. Wander the Arabic Quarters, less famous than their Jewish counterparts but equally beautiful, strolling among the whitewashed houses and red gardenias. Take some time on your own for lunch. Continue the visit a short distance outside Córdoba to the ancient Caliphal city built by the Caliph for his favorite wife Zahara. Your guide will lead you through the ruins of the palaces, making them come back to life with stories of the royalty and noblemen who inhabited these streets over 1000 years ago. Finish the visit at the Interpretation center, viewing artifacts and a model of Madinat Al-Zahra as it might once have been. Check in at your hotel and walk over to the Córdoba hammam to unwind with the Al Andalus bath ritual.
Meet your driver in the hotel lobby for the drive east to Granada – the last Arabic kingdom in Spain until 1492. Leave your suitcases at the hotel and meet your guide at the entrance to the Alhambra. We’ll go back 900 years to visit the 11th wonder of the world. Gardens of Paradise, Alcazar Fortress and the renowned Nasrid Palaces are just some parts of the entire Alhambra Forbidden city that you’ll visit on tour. After leaving the palaces, enter Parador San Francisco in the gardens. Lunch today is a tasting menu of typical medieval Al Andalus foods.
Meet your driver for the ride to the Costa del Sol. Check in at your hotel in Málaga Old Town. Before lunch, your guide will pick you up in the lobby for a Tapas Tour. Join the locals on their pre-dinner tapas route up Larios Street into the open air market. See the local cheeses, produce, bread and wines on display. Notice how differently Spanish present their fish and meats! Your guide will explain a few basic ingredients for Spanish staples like paella or migas. Continue into the oldest tavern in town to sample fresh seafood. Head into the Old Town for fusion tapas, classic “raciones” and more local gourmet food. As you taste your way through Málaga, you’ll pass the Roman Theater, Alcazaba Fortress, Picasso’s Birthplace and the Cathedral.
Meet your driver for the ride to Málaga’s international airport.
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