Andalucia is blessed with a wealth of culture, history, mountain scenery and sunshine. On this trip we visit the highlight cities of Granada, Seville and Cordoba along with a couple of nights off the beaten track in a typical Andalucian village. We include visits to the stunning Alhambra Palace and Cordoba Mezquita, two jewels of Moorish architecture from the golden era of Al-Andalus. You have the chance to stretch your legs on two walks through rolling, verdant landscape (graded easy to moderate).
Cordoba - Discover the Moorish architecture from the golden era of Al-Andalus at the Mezquita
Sierra de Arcena - Walk through the verdant rolling landscape to see the white villages
Seville - Explore this characterful city and the stunning UNESCO-Listed Alcazar Palace
Arrive in Granada. Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Granada is a historical gem that is blessed with a stunning fusion of Spanish and Muslim art and architecture including the Alhambra Palace, the Generalife and the city's grand 16th century cathedral.
For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 7.30pm and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Granada at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Federico Garcia Lorca Granada Airport (GRX), which is about 30 minutes' drive.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to visit the Royal Chapel, go inside the cathedral or visit the San Jeronimo Monastery.
For the next two nights, we will be staying at Hostal La Ninfa in the quieter and historic El Realejo neighbourhood. Our hotel is in a characteristic Granada house, which has free Wi-Fi available. Bedrooms are en suite, cosy and simply decorated. They have a safe, television and hairdryer. It's around 10 minutes' walk from the Alhambra and from the city centre. Just beside the hotel is the Plaza Campo del Principe where you can find a number of good restaurants and bars to perhaps sample tapas and wine in this evening.
On this highlights trip we have packed in as many of the sights as we can, but there is very little free time in Granada, so if you wish to discover more on your own then we would recommend extending your stay for a night or two.
Day 2: Explore Granada on foot and have the chance to visit the spectacular Alhambra
This morning your welcome meeting will take place at 8am and following this our Leader will take us on an orientation walk of the city taking in the main points of interest including the Albaicin; Granada's historic and atmospheric old Moorish quarter.
This afternoon has been left free for you to explore Granada at your own pace. One of the highlights is undoubtedly the magnificent palace of the Alhambra and it is certainly possible to spend all day enjoying your time here. In 1239 Muhammad al-Ahmar, founder of the Nasrid dynasty and Sultan of Granada, began work on this, the finest example of Moorish architecture outside the Arab world. The fabulous decoration in stucco, both inside and outside the buildings, reveals the purest expression of a sophisticated civilisation just before its decline.
You might also choose to spend time in the Generalife, which is one of the most beautiful landscaped gardens in the world, surrounding the summer residence of the Caliphs.
Please note that the visit to the Alhambra Palace is optional because it can no longer be guaranteed that group tickets can be secured to visit the palace. It is much simpler for you to book your own individual entrance tickets online for the Alhambra Palace. Bookings for this open at 90 days prior and you will need to book your ticket in advance on the website rather than waiting to when you are on tour. You can book your entrance ticket for 2pm onwards today. Further details can be found in the Optional Activities section of the Trip Notes.
Day 3: Bus to Cordoba; visit to Mezquita and orientation tour of Cordoba
After a couple of hours free in the city this morning we take a taxi to the bus station to catch the midday bus on to the city of Cordoba, the once great capital of the Islamic caliphate of al-Andalus. Like Granada, Cordoba hides a wealth of treasures amongst its rambling back streets and this afternoon we have chance to visit its great mosque, the Mezquita-Cathedral. Another of Spain's UNESCO World Heritage Sites, this extraordinary building represents a unique blend of faiths, housing two oratories and a stunning hypostyle hall that contains 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble and granite.
Tonight we will be staying at the Hostal Maestre, which is a small hotel in the historical centre of Cordoba. It's very close to the Plaza del Potro and the Fine Art Museum and only around 5 minutes' walk to the Mezquita. There is free Wi-Fi and most rooms are set around typical Andalucian garden patios. Bedrooms are en suite with air-conditioning and a television.
Day 4: Travel to Castano del Robledo in the Sierra Aracena National Park
We have up until about 1.30pm today free to explore Cordoba before travelling by train and bus deep into the countryside of rural Andalucia to the small village of Castano de Robledo, close to the Portuguese border. Our destination lies in the heart of the Sierra Aracena National Park, surrounded by a landscape of cork trees and forests of oak and sweet chestnut. Castano is a captivating collection of narrow cobbled streets and whitewashed houses that exhibit the typical 'serrano' architecture of the area.
We will stay in the Posada del Castano guesthouse for the next two nights is within this tiny village. It's owned by our tour leader and is filled with rustic character and rural charm; making it the perfect base for exploring neighbouring countryside on foot. You can relax after a day walking, in its courtyard and garden, on the terrace or in the comfortable upstairs lounge filled with books. All the bedrooms are different and have their own character. Most are en suite but some have shared bathrooms and they don't have televisions.
On our 9 May 2020 departure during our time in Cordoba, the Festival of the Patios in Cordoba is taking place. This is a competition run by the Town Council whereby participants open up their flower-filled interior courtyards to the public for a period of a couple of weeks, so this is something you are able to see during your free time this morning.
Day 5: Circular walk through rural Andalucia to the white village of Alajar
After breakfast this morning we walk to the picturesque 'pueblo blanco' (white village) of Alajar, famed for the imposing 17th century shrine of Arias Montano that occupies a rocky promontory high above the village. We return to Castano on foot (total walking distance 12 kilometres). This afternoon you may wish to visit the town of Aracena, home to the famous 'Gruta de las Maravillas' (Cave of Wonders), set amidst one of the most spectacular cave systems in the country. If time allows there may be chance to pay a visit to the caves (optional).
Day 6: Walk to Galaroza in the Valley of the Ribera de Jabugo; discover Seville
Lying to the northwest of Seville, the Sierra de Aracena is a remote western outlier of the extensive Sierra Morena and the quiet, easy paced, way of life here remains definitively Andalucian. The wooded hillsides support a smattering of tiny whitewashed villages, with rural economies still reliant on the production of quality cured hams, chestnuts and cork. We have a chance to enjoy more of this rural idyll today, with a walk to the nearby village of Galaroza, in the beautifully scenic Valley of the Ribera de Jabugo (walking distance is approximately 6.5 kilometres). Later in the afternoon we catch the bus to Seville. Our bags will be transported separately to the bus stop in Galaroza.
On arrival in Seville our tour leader will take us on a walk to help us get our bearings, so we know how to get to all the main places that you may like to explore more of tomorrow during your free time. We'll see the Jewish Quarter, Plaza Santa Cruz, Park of the Discoveries and much more.
For the next two nights we will be staying at Hostal Sierpes; a small hotel which is a converted old 17th century mansion in the Santa Cruz district of historical Seville. It's only around 150 meters from the cathedral and the Real Alcazar. The hotel has a restaurant serving traditional tapas and Andalucian cuisine. The bedrooms are set around a pretty courtyard filled with wood carvings and traditional ceramics. Rooms are en suite with air-conditioning and they don't have televisions.
Day 7: Free day with the chance to visit the Real Alcazar
The Andalucian capital can trace its ancestry back over two thousand years. It is now home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is one of the three largest Old Towns in Europe (Venice and Genoa being the other two).
Today is free for you to perhaps choose to visit the Real Alcazar and the city's immense Gothic Cathedral. The queues for these to attractions can be long, so we'd recommend booking these online before you travel. Please see the optional excursion information on the Trip Notes for further information about this.
Alternatively you might want to just take a walk through the city, taking in its beautiful Mudejar architecture (a mixture of Christian and Moorish styles).
Day 8: Trip ends in Seville
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Seville.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Seville at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Seville Airport (SVQ), which is about 30 minutes' drive.
On this highlights trip we have packed in as many of the sights as we can, but there is only one free day in Seville and there are many museums that you may like to visit, so if you wish to discover more on your own, then we would recommend extending your stay by a night or two.
Meals – Breakfast Only
What's Not Included
Tipping and Gratuities
Country Entry Visas
Want to read it later?
Download this tour’s PDF brochure and start tour planning offline
This was my first EXPLORE trip and it was most enjoyable - the itinerary, the group leader, the rest of the group - I will definitely look at Explore for
This was my first EXPLORE trip and it was most enjoyable - the itinerary, the group leader, the rest of the group - I will definitely look at Explore for future travel options.