15 days

Highlights of Southern Spain & Morocco

Highlights of Southern Spain & Morocco

The most famous of the 'pueblos blancos' - 9th Century BC Ronda

UNESCO World Heritage-listed 11th Century 'Red Castle' of Alhambra

Fes - the spiritual and cultural heart of Morocco

Meknes' UNESCO World Heritage-listed old medina

Roman site of Volubilis

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Jamaâ El Fna

Trip rating
  • Separated by only 13 kilometres, Spain and Morocco prove to be a stellar combo for a two-week holiday! Moorish food, seductive Seville and simmering souks – this adventure showcases both the contrasts and the close ties between two extraordinary countries.


    Day 1 - Seville

    Your trip starts today with your arrival in historic Seville - home of the flamenco! Iberian Airlines operates daily non-stop services to Seville from London, Paris, Barcelona and Madrid. Another convenient method of reaching the capital of Andalucia is by fast train (AVE), which takes less than three hours from Madrid. Whilst at your discretion, we recommend arriving and departing by train where possible within Europe due to this method of transport's minimal carbon emissions. No activities are planned during the morning or afternoon, so you may arrive at any time. Take the opportunity to explore this most flamboyant of cities whose charms lie not only in its sights and sounds, but also with its culinary temptations. You may wish to book some pre-tour accommodation and arrive a day or two early to enjoy a visit to Seville's World Heritage sites - Seville Cathedral and Giralda Tower, sample Triana´s nightlife and dining options, or just discover the winding streets and the small plazas of Barrio Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz District). Please make your own way to the joining hotel (details are in your travel documents), which is located in the heart of Barrio Santa Cruz - famous for its shady narrow laneways. Barrio de Santa Cruz was originally home to an active Jewish and Muslim community. This shaded warren was designed in medieval times to provide refuge from the great Andalusian heat. In the evening we meet our tour leader and fellow travelling companions at a Welcome Meeting (this is at 7pm at the reception of our hotel), where we are given a briefing of what lies ahead on our tour. This is followed by a short orientation walk around the neighbourhood and an included dinner in a local restaurant, where we get to sample some of the local cuisine.

    Hotel Murillos or similar

    Day 2 - Seville

    After breakfast this morning, we embark on a walking tour that will reveal to us many of Seville's finest sights. With the knowledge of our local leader to guide us, we explore the labyrinthine maze of narrow cobblestoned streets and sun-speckled squares in Barrio Santa Cruz and El Centro. Situated on the banks of the Rio Guadalquivir, Seville has been inhabited since Roman times before being conquered in turn by the Visigoths, Moors and lastly the Christians, who led by Fernando III, known as 'El Santo' (The Saint), captured the city in 1248. This cultural diversity is richly portrayed in Seville's architectural legacies to this day. A highlight of the morning is a visit to Seville's magnificent Alcazar Palace - one of the country’s most impressive and historic monuments, as well as the lovely botanical gardens in Maria Luisa Park and the incomparable Plaza de Espana. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure to further explore. We highly recommend visiting Seville Cathedral and Giralda Tower (entrance fees not included). Seville Cathedral is one of the largest in Europe and is home to Christopher Columbus’ elevated tomb. Tonight we can join the 'Sevillanos' and 'Sevillanas' and soak up the ambiance of the city as it comes alive after dark. Enjoying vibrant tapas bars and live music and watching the locals as they spill out in the cool of evening streets will see you quickly joining in the spirit of 'alegre' (joy). Perhaps you may wish to go to a flamenco show to round off this evening? Ole! (3-4 hours urban walking)

    Hotel Murillos or similar

    Day 3 - Zahara de la Sierra - Grazalema

    Today we transfer to the beautiful Grazalema National Park and visit the splendid village of Zahara de la Sierra (1½ hours) on route. The spectacular location of this white-washed village, set as it is clinging to the edges of a dramatic mountain range, makes it visible for many kilometres and it has been called a 'Moorish Eagle's Nest'. With its medieval castle forming a stunning backdrop, we enjoy a guided visit through the village’s narrow alleyways, where we see a 16th century watch tower, an imposing town arch and the beautiful Baroque Church of Santa María de la Meza. We also take a short walk outside the village walls to the Molino Viniculo, a traditional family-run ‘cold’ olive oil press for a demonstration and tasting. Andalucia is the world's largest producer of olive oil and the locals enjoy it with their breakfast, lunches and dinners! It is also the basis of Andalucia's most famous contribution to world gastronomy - gazpacho. It is then a short 30 minute drive over the stunning Dove Pass route high up in the 'sierras' to the actual Grazalema village. (3 hours village walking)

    Casa de las Piedras guesthouse or similar
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 4 - Grazalema – National Park Walking Day (or free day)

    Today is a rest day, if you wish. Alternatively you have the option of taking a nature walk into the ancient forests and hilly landscapes of the Grazalema National Park. The walk is led by your tour leader and caters to both light walkers and those seeking a more adventurous day in this region that was frequented by Romans, Moors and Bandits in years gone past. This walk begins by exploring Grazalema's village streets and witnessing its carpet weaving tradition, before following a mountainous circuit over an ancient drover’s path where we can observe native flora and fauna that could possibly include eagles and vultures. From here guests can return to the hotel for a restful afternoon and wander around the village, while others may wish to carry on to explore the verdant natural areas with our tour leader. Please note that today’s walking distance and terrain is subject to group interest, prevailing weather and seasonal factors. (4-6 hours hill walking - subject to conditions)

    Casa de las Piedras guesthouse or similar

    Day 5 - Ronda

    After breakfast we depart Grazalema for the iconic village of Ronda (literally meaning 'surrounded by mountains'), where we enjoy a one-night stay. Prior to arriving at Ronda, we take a scenic detour where we witness the outstanding natural and cultural landscapes of the 'pueblos blancos' (white villages). A break at the refreshing Cueva del Gato (Cat´s Cave) allows us time to stroll around this park area and enjoy a café on the terrace. One of Spain's oldest towns dating back to the 9th century BC, Ronda impresses with its dramatic location perched on an inland plateau at 744 metres. Lauded by many down the centuries, this most famous of the 'pueblos blancos' has attracted travellers drawn by its craggy beauty. With links to the renowned writers such as Alexandre Dumas and Ernest Hemingway, it is an ideal place to gaze out from its elevated position across to the patchwork of fields and floodplains beneath. We have an included walking tour of the old quarter as well as an easy walk into the picturesque gorge surrounding the town. This afternoon we learn the art of eating tapas from our tour leader who will guide us in the nuances of the famous tapas menus replenished by the wines of Ronda. The late afternoon offers free time for exploration before we regroup for dinner in one of Ronda’s lively local ‘ventas’. (3-4 hours rural and town walking)

    Hotel Don Miguel or similar
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 6 - Granada

    After breakfast we travel on road by private minibus. Along the way we enjoy views of Andalucia’s rich countryside and tremendous geographic diversity. After a coffee break en route, our journey takes us to the former Moorish stronghold of Granada (3 hours driving total). This fine city imbues the Islamic tradition and hints at the ghosts of a very different past like no other in Andalucia. It was the last Muslim-controlled city and fell to the Christians in 1492. Put quite simply, Granada is enchanting! This afternoon we walk in the historic Christian cathedral district and also witness the Moorish influence first-hand. There is an opportunity to enjoy an optional self-guided tour of Granada Cathedra, which contains the royal tombs of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand. Alternatively you can simply wander through the Moroccan souk and observe the craftworks on sale that include ceramics and leather goods. In the evening we recommend a meal of tapas in one of Granada’s lively squares beneath the Alhambra Palace. Granada attracts a large student population from all over Spain, lending a youthful ambiance and vibrancy in the city is sure to be infectious. (2 hours urban walking)

    Hotel Duaro or similar

    Day 7 - Granada - Alhambra Palace

    A highlight of our trip this morning or afternoon (depending on our pre-booked palace entrance time) is a guided visit to the Alhambra Palace. Dating back to the 11th century and taking its name from the Arabic for 'red castle,' Alhambra will challenge your visual senses with so much to entice. The dominating red fortress towers, sumptuous palace decor, multitude of architectural styles and magnificent gardens of the 'Generalife' (literally meaning ‘architect's garden’) are all set against the brooding backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains and compete for your eyes’ attention. From the soothing pathways, fountains, impeccably maintained hedges and pools to the centuries-old defensive walls, turrets and views overlooking Granada, our visit to this peerless attraction will not disappoint. Once inside the palace you are free to wander around and make your own discoveries. Our tour leader also takes us today deeper into Granada’s Moorish Albaizan Quarter and traditional Moroccan souks, where tea houses and Arab craft stalls completely transpose you from traditional Spanish culture. Tonight, to celebrate our last night on tour, we return to the heart of Granada's Albaizan Quarter and to the lanes and patios that offer glimpses of the Alhambra's west flanks. An additional walk can take us past the non-touristy flamenco taverns, where aspiring (and sometimes legendary) performers gather, socialise, share ideas and try out new material. If there are any programs or concerts on, we may need to pay a small cover fee to enter. Otherwise we can enjoy a drink and tapas and our guide will offer us some history of this unique place in the world of Spanish culture and musical heritage. This is a true 'highlight experience' because this part of Granada's culture is well off the tourist trail and there is nowhere else where one stumble upon some of flamenco's most powerful contributors. (Full day urban walking, with breaks)

    Hotel Duaro or similar
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 8 - Granada - Casablanca

    Today is a free day to further enjoy all that Granada has to offer. Late this afternoon we transfer by minibus to Malaga Airport (two-hour drive) for our onward evening one-and-a-half-hour flight to Casablanca, in Morocco. We recommend you enjoy a late lunch in Granada as you will be transiting during dinner time. You will not be escorted by your Spanish tour leader on the transfer and the flight. Upon arrival at the airport, please provide your airline booking reference and present your passport at the check-in counter. Refer to your documentation for your departure time and airline booking reference. The check-in desk will open two hours ahead of the flight's scheduled departure and close promptly 40 minutes before the flight is scheduled to leave. Once you have checked in, please present yourself at the boarding gate ready for boarding no later than 30 minutes before the scheduled departure time of your flight. On arrival at Casablanca Airport late this evening, you will be met by our Moroccan representative and transferred to your hotel. You will meet your Moroccan tour leader for a briefing tomorrow morning.

    Hotel Les Saisons or similar

    Day 9 - Casablanca - Meknes

    In Casablanca we visit the impressive Mosque of Hassan II, opened in 1993 and second only in size to the Great Mosque in Mecca. It can accommodate 25,000 worshippers and is one of the only religious sites open to non-Muslims. Later we drive to Rabat, the elegant capital of Morocco and our first imperial city. It contains numerous fine Arab monuments, some dating to the Almohad and Merenid dynasties and others that are far older. The earliest known settlement is Sala, occupying an area now know as the Chellah, where we visit the remains of the citadel. We also see the vast minaret of the Hassan Mosque and explore the lovely walled quarter known as Kasbah des Oudaias. In the late afternoon we continue to Meknes.

    Hotel De Nice or similar

    Day 10 - Volubilis - Meknes - Fes

    Volubilis was once a provincial Roman capital - a distant outpost of the empire. As we approach it, we can see it prominently sited along the edge of a high plateau. Today it is the most impressive Roman site in Morocco and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997. We explore the many public buildings and at the House of Orpheus, we see several fine mosaic floors intact. We visit the lovely Bou Inania Medresse (religious school) and after spending time exploring the old souk, we drive to Fes for the night.

    Fes Inn or similar

    Day 11 - Fes

    Spiritual and cultural heart of Morocco, Fes is vibrant, noisy, fascinating and overwhelming - a visual and pungent assault on the senses. It is made up of three distinct cities, or quarters. We are based in the elegant 'Nouveau Ville', or New City, which has a distinctly French/European character. Today we head into the old city, known locally as Fes el Bali - arguably the world's most fascinating and confounding old city. Medieval Fes was one of the world's great centres of education and culture - both Islamic and Jewish. Its religious institutions and its libraries are legendary. Its mosques are also greatly renowned. It was to Fes that many of the Muslims (and Jews) expelled from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella came in 1492. As we walk through the streets and alleyways, passing historic khans, medresses and dye-pits, it is not hard to imagine ourselves back in the Middle Ages. We spend the day exploring the old city, visiting the Belghazi Museum, Medresse el Attarine, the tanneries and the splendid Funduk Nejjarine - a beautifully restored 18th century inn. We return to our hotel in the late afternoon.

    Fes Inn or similar

    Day 12 - Fes - Moulay Yacoub

    Fes el Jedid, meaning New City (but not to be confused with the Nouvelle Ville), is also well worth a visit. Unlike Fes el Bali, which grew organically over the years, Fes el Jedid was an entirely planned city, built by the Merenids in the 13th and 14th centuries. The imposing gateway of Bab Boujeloud leads us into broad streets, where public and private gardens add a splash of colour to the surroundings. Later, we drive to nearby spa village of Moulay Yacoub. Here you can enjoy a swim (separate areas for men and women) or descend to the old thermal baths for a traditional hot bath. We return to Fes in the late afternoon.

    Fes Inn or similar

    Day 13 - Fes - Marrakech

    We board the train to Marrakech, via Casablanca. It's pretty much an all day affair, so ensure you have a good book with you. There's a food trolley service on board, offering a regular supply of snacks and drinks. Please note that sometimes we will use a minibus instead of the train (depending on the group size). There are pros and cons with both methods of travel. On arrival in Marrakech you are transferred to your beautiful traditional-style ‘riad hotel’, just a few minutes’ walk from Jemaa el Fna - the great square. This evening, why not head over to the square, one of the largest public spaces in the world and unique to Marrakech? Every night it comes alive with snake charmers, musicians, story tellers, fire eaters and hundreds of small outdoor restaurants. No need to ask anyone where it is, just follow the throng towards the smell of barbecued meats!

    Riad La Maison Rouge or similar

    Day 14 - Marrakech

    After breakfast we meet our Marrakech guide and set off on a morning tour of the old medina. We visit the beautiful Bahia Palace, a splendid mansion built in 1866 for a former slave who had risen to a position of importance in the government of Moulay Hassan. We explore the tranquil inner courtyards, fragrant with orange blossom, and the many salons and chambers that make up this elegant home. We continue to the Marrakech Museum, itself a former palace which houses a fine collection of Moroccan art and sculpture, and then walk through the streets of the old medina as we make our way back to the Jemaa el Fna. The rest of the day is free to further explore or shop in the bazaar.

    Riad La Maison Rouge or similar

    Day 15 - Marrakech

    Your trip ends today after breakfast. If you have arranged a private airport transfer you will be advised of the pick-up time.

  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • The services of Peregrine’s expert English-speaking local tour leaders throughout the tour, and professional local guides at some sites.
    • Sightseeing, including entrance fees where applicable.
    • Arrival transfer.
    • All transport including flight from Malaga (Spain) to Casablanca (Morocco).
    • Gratuities for essential services in tour package.

    Not Included

    • International airfares (except Malaga-Casablanca flight) and airport departure taxes
    • Visas
    • Meals unless specified in the itinerary
    • Travel insurance
    • Laundry - may be available at locations where we stay two or more nights
    • Optional tours or activities during free time
    • Gratuities for tour leaders
  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PESM
Group size 4 - 16
Start City: Seville
End City: Marrakech
Style: Small Group

What to know

This trip can be enjoyed by just about anyone with a reasonable level of fitness.

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