Espíritu Travel’s Jewels of the South tour will give you the opportunity understand the roots of southern Spain and its history bathed in the combined cultural makeup of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Sample tapas as you meander along Sevilla’s river, taking in the lively atmosphere of the town and feel the magic of Granada, famous for the Alhambra Palace, known as the “Pearl Set in Emeralds” for its contrast against the beautiful pine forests that surround it. With stops in Córdoba and Ronda as well as whitewashed Andalucían villages, this tour will show you all the highlights and all the hidden gems of the South, as well as the bustling cities of Barcelona and Madrid.
Day 1 (Arrival Day)Madrid
Welcome to Madrid, the vibrant Spanish capital, with its tree lined boulevards, fountains and impressive buildings. In the afternoon, you will meet with a local foodie as you explore the gorgeous Literary Quarter, taste Madrid specialties at family-run shops, and visit the vibrant neighborhood market. This is perfect for getting a true glimpse at daily life, as you discover the lesser known corners of Madrid, and meet proud food artisans with incredible stories to share.
Today you will get to know Madrid with a Madrileño, somebody who was born and raised in the capital, who will share insider knowledge and family traditions as you walk through the historic center and take in the sights and flavors.
This 3 hour walk is an in-depth experience to understand how the city works as you explore its cultural highlights. You will trace the history of Madrid and its development from its medieval roots to the modern times, when it became the thriving capital of Spain, and you will be filled in with the latest news, shows and exhibitions.
This orientation walk will also provide you with the essential historical background you need to understand what is happening in 21st century Madrid.
After you have experienced a little bit of Madrid, time for a lunch a one of the many fantastic restaurants in Madrid.
The rest of the day is on your own to enjoy one of the many art museums or just explore the city on your own.
Today you can explore Madrid on your own or opt for a day trip. All these day trips are a short train from the captial.
Toledo is truly one of Spain’s most magnificent cities. Dramatically sited atop a gorge overlooking the Río Tajo, it was known as the ‘city of three cultures’ in the Middle Ages, a place where – legend has it – Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities peacefully coexisted.
Unesco World Heritage-listed Segovia has always had a whiff of legend about it, not least in the myths that the city was founded by Hercules or by the son of Noah. It may also have something to do with the fact that nowhere else in Spain is such a stunning monument to Roman grandeur (the soaring aqueduct) surviving in the heart of a vibrant modern city. No visit to Segovia is complete without tasting its local cuisine.
San Lorenzo de El Escorial
The imposing palace and monastery complex of San Lorenzo de El Escorial is an impressive place, rising up from the foothills of the mountains that shelter Madrid from the north and west. This can be done in conjunction with Segovia for a full day excursion
Ávila’s old city, surrounded by imposing city walls comprising eight monumental gates, 88 watchtowers and more than 2500 turrets, is one of the best-preserved medieval bastions in Spain. It’s a deeply religious city that for centuries has drawn pilgrims to the cult of Santa Teresa de Ávila, with its many churches, convents and high-walled palaces. As such, Ávila is the essence of Castilla and the epitome of old Spain.
Day 4Madrid – Sevilla
Fast train to Seville. After lunch, you will meet with a local guide to show you the highlights of Seville, a lively, likable city. You’ll view the Cathedral, home to the tomb of Christopher Columbus, then visit the Giralda tower, the Alcazar Palace and its majestic gardens and the hidden Santa Cruz quarter, discovering local haunts along the way.
This evening, you can enjoy Flamenco at Casa de la Memoria.
Day 5Day trip to Córdoba
Forty-minute train ride to Córdoba.
You can visit the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, one of the most visited monuments in Spain, conserving the style from an Islamic Mosque together with the Cathedral. Its construction belongs to the 8th century and it became the second biggest Mosque in the world. You will discover inside a forest full of columns and double arches, the Maqsura, the Mihrab and the impressive chorus located close to Mayor Chapel.
After a visit to the Mosque/Cathedral, you will have a free afternoon to enjoy the rest of Córdoba.
You can opt for an afternoon visit to Medina Azahara located on the outskirts of town which was commissioned by the first Caliph of Córdoba, Abd al-Rahman III in the 10th century that had an extension of 120 hectares. Medina Azahara was a medieval town and the de facto capital of al-Andalus, you will walk around the ancient palace and learn about how it once served as the heart of administration and government. You can stop by the new museum that lies on the edge of the site for a quick look at the impressive and fitting architecture. This is one of Spain’s most impressive archaeological sites.
After returning to Seville, you have the rest of the evening on your own.
Day 6Sevilla – Ronda – Málaga
Today travel to Málaga- En route, stop in Ronda. Built astride a huge gash in the mountains carved out by the Río Guadalevín, Ronda is a brawny town with a dramatic history littered with outlaws, bandits, guerrilla warriors and rebels. Modern bullfighting was practically invented here in the late 18th century, and the town’s fame was spread further by its close association with American Europhiles Ernest Hemingway (a lover of bullfighting) and Orson Welles (whose ashes are buried in the town).
South of the gorge, Ronda’s old town largely dates from Islamic times, when it was an important cultural center filled with mosques and palaces. Further north, the grid-shaped ‘new’ town is perched atop steep cliffs, with parks and promenades looking regally over the surrounding mountains.
After your visit to Ronda and lunch (not included), continue to Málaga.
This morning you will discover first the archeological site (the Roman theater ordered to be built by the emperor Julius Cesar August, the Alcazaba with 2 Arab palaces inside and Gibralfaro castle). You will then stroll along Alcazabilla Street while listening to stories, legends and important facts about the town from your local guide until reaching the birthplace of Pablo Ruiz Picasso. You will be able to discover his playground, the church where he was baptized. Enjoy also the sights of the Cathedral and learn about its construction and its main artistic heritage. You will finish the visit passing by Constitution Square and Larios Street, at the same time that your local guide explains you everything about this commercial Street and the importance of Marquis of Larios in the Malaga contemporary history. Duration: 2.30 hours.
At the end of the visit, the rest of the day is on your own to discover.
You might want to visit Picasso’s Museum or Parque de Málaga or one of the nearby beaches.
In the evening, you can opt for sunset cruise (in season).
Don’t miss the opportunity to try Espetos (grilled sardines), a completely local dish that is best tried at a chiringuito (beachfront bar).
Day 8Málaga – Granada
Private transfer to Granada.
You will head out to see the Alhambra, a mystical fortress and palace that many called the eighth wonder of the world. With countless rooms and the charming Generalife gardens filled with lush, colorful flowers and serene fountains, this fortress perched on a mountaintop makes for an unforgettable visit. Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring. Entrance fee not included to Alhambra and Generalize.
In the late afternoon, you will visit Granada by bike. You will visit Plaza Nueva, the Albaicín (the historic center), Realejo, the Cathedral area, as well as lots of little hidden away places along the way! You will end the experience at a tapas bar to enjoy the fantastic food or a refreshment (drinks and tapas not included).
Day 9Granada – Madrid
Private transfer to Madrid. Upon arrival, the rest of the evening is on your own to enjoy.
Day 10 (Departure Day)Madrid
Private transfer to the airport
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