8 days

Trails of Andalucia

Trails of Andalucia

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

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

The Flamenco taverns of Granada

Seville's cultural diversity

Trip rating
  • Walk over green hills and through white villages by day and relax in the evenings as you feast on delicious local dishes, a glass or two of vino tinto and feel the emotion of flamenco and free-wheeling Andalucían life.

    Itinerary

    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
    Dinner

    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
    Breakfast

    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)

    Hotel Puerto de la Villa 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)

    Hotel Puerto de la Villa or similar
    Breakfast

    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 Cathedral, 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
    Breakfast

    Day 7 - Granada - Alhambra Palace

    A highlight of our trip this morning or afternoon (depending on our pre-booked palace entrance time) is a 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 stumbles upon some of flamenco's most powerful contributors. (Full day urban walking, with breaks)

    Hotel Duaro or similar
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 8 - Granada

    Our trip ends after breakfast this morning. Those wishing to stay on in Granada can extend their stay by arranging additional nights' accommodation at the time of booking. Iberia Airlines have daily flights to both Barcelona and Madrid from Granada airport, located 17 kilometres west of the city. There are also convenient rail options to Seville, Madrid and Barcelona available or longer (but cheaper) bus journeys to the north. One such coach company is Alsa (www.alsa.es).

    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • Walking tour of Seville including Alcazar Palace; Zahara de la Sierra; the pueblos blancos (white villages) and Cueva del Gato (Cat´s Cave); and walking tour of Ronda’s old quarter and gorge.
    • 2 days in Granada including Alhambra Palace, the Christian Cathedral district, the Moorish Albaizan Quarter and traditional Moroccan souks.
    • Walk into the ancient forests of Grazalema National Park.
    • Visit to Molino Viniculo - a traditional family-run ‘cold’ olive oil press, for a demonstration and tasting.
    • Free time to explore Seville, Grazalema and Granada.

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Arrival and departure transfers
    • Departure taxes
    • Visas
    • Insurance
    • Other meals
    • Drinks
    • Optional additional tours or activities during free time
    • Tips
    • Items of a personal nature
  • Map Itinerary

  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    Trails of Andalucia

    Tony - Australia, 13 May, 2012
    5
    Overall Rating

    The tour was everything and more than we expected. It was well organised, transport was excellent, accommodation good to very good, but it was our guide Gayle Mackie which really made the tour so good. She was professional, organised, informative and knowledgeable, and was such fun to be around. She went out of her way to cover even the finest detail and her local knowledge was incredible

    Trails of Andalucia

    Terese - Australia, 13 May, 2012
    5
    Overall Rating
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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PEAA
Start City: Seville
End City: Granada

What to know

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

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