Visit the spectacular mountain-top village of Zahara de la Sierra and enjoy an olive oil tasting at a local family-run mill.. Granada is a city like no other. Explore the outstanding Alhambra Palace, wander through the mythic Moorish quarter and feast on the city’s world-renowned cuisine – all with the benefit of local knowledge.. Visit the grand Mosque of Hassan II in Casablanca, one of the most impressive temples in Morocco, before exploring the sights of the country’s first imperial city of Meknes.. Stay in a traditional Berber homestay to understand the culture and tradition of an indigenous population who have stood the test of time.
Marvel at the sights, sounds and smells of Andalucia and Morocco on this 20-day cultural adventure. Feast on a variety of region-specific tapas, explore historic hilltop cities and bask in the laidback and friendly atmosphere, passing through Seville, Ronda and Granada. Admire the impressive Roman ruins of Volubilis, go behind the scenes of a film makers heaven in Ait Benhaddou, discover the dramatic red dunes of the Sahara Desert and stroll through the blue streets of Chefchaouen. Journey into Andalucia and Morocco’s heart through its food, religion, language and culture to better understand these exciting countries and passionate locals.
Hola! Bienvenido a Sevilla. Welcome to Seville. There are no activities planned during the day, so you may arrive at any time before the important welcome meeting at 7 pm. If you do have time beforehand, take the opportunity to visit Barrio Santa Cruz – with its multicultural history, it is a great place to start. This neighbourhood was designed in medieval times to provide a shaded space from the Andalucian heat. After your welcome meeting, take an orientation walk around the close neighbourhood and then why not head out for a dinner with your group (at your own cost), where you’ll have a chance to sample some local tapas.
Have an easy morning before heading on an orientation walk with your leader. Explore the maze of narrow cobblestoned streets and sun-speckled squares in Barrio Santa Cruz and El Centro. In your free time it is recommended to visit a Catedral de Sevilla – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the third largest cathedral in the world, housing Christopher Columbus’ elevated tomb. Another great site to visit is the lovely botanical gardens in Maria Luisa Park and the incomparable Plaza de Espana. Visits to Seville's magnificent Alcazar Palace – one of the country’s most impressive and historic monuments and Giralda Tower are both highly recommended. Tonight, you can join the Sevillanos (Seville locals) and soak up the ambience of the city as it comes alive after dark. The locals usually dine late, so embrace the local schedule. Perhaps round off your evening with an optional flamenco show; your guide will offer you some history of this unique dance style.
After breakfast, travel by private minibus to Ronda. This little town, perched on a mountaintop, is one of Spain's oldest villages, dating back to the 9th century BC. There is plenty to see and do in your free time today. Join your leader for an orientation walk, then perhaps go for a walk into the picturesque gorge or along the Puente Nuevo, walk along a country path surrounding the town, visit a local museum, do some shopping, or simply relax, have a coffee and enjoy the small-town atmosphere. Your leader will provide you with a map and will point out their favourite hotspots before you set off on your own adventure. In the evening, you might like to enjoy some tapas and a glass of crisp Spanish beer in one of Ronda's lively local eateries.
Zahara de la Sierra / Grazalema / Ronda
Today you will transfer by private minibus into the hills surrounding Grazalema National Park. Your first stop is Molino El Vinculo, a traditional, family-run ‘cold’ olive oil mill. Enjoy a tour of the factory and a tasting. Andalucia is the world's largest producer of olive oil, and the locals enjoy it at all times of the day. It is also the basis of Andalucia's most famous contribution to world gastronomy – gazpacho. Then it's on to explore the splendid village of Zahara de la Sierra. The awesome mountain-top location of this whitewashed village makes it visible for many kilometres. It's also known as the 'Moorish Eagle's Nest'. Your leader will take you up to the 15th-century watchtower from where you can marvel at the spectacular views over the Zahara-Gastor Resevoir and the surrounding countryside. From here it's a short drive (approximately 30 minutes) over the stunning Puerto de las Palomas (Dove Pass), high up in the sierras, to the village of Grazalema, another beautiful whitewashed hamlet. Take your time to explore the winding alleys, then return back to Ronda for the evening.
Today is as clear as the blue Spanish skies in summer. You can choose your itinerary for today – your group leader will have a whole list of recommendations in Ronda and the surrounding area. Enjoy some easy scenic walks, taste the local wine, and enjoy the traditional food of the area. You are in the heart of Spain, after all, so take time to appreciate all its offerings!
After breakfast, continue to Granada by private minibus (approximately 3-4 hours). Along the way you will take in views of Andalucia’s rich and diverse landscapes. In Spring, you may still see snow on the peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the distance as you approach Granada. Arrive in the city and walk through the historic Christian cathedral district to witness the Moorish influence first-hand. In the afternoon, there is the option to visit Granada Cathedral and the Royal Chapel (which contains the tombs of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand from the early 16th century). Alternatively, you can wander through the Alcaiceria (old silk market area). In the afternoon you will be taking part in an exclusive local produce tasting taking place in a small, family run delicatessen. Try local Iberian ham, different types of cheeses, jam, olive oil and other gourmet products from around Spain, including some wine. In the evening, you may want to go out on a tapas tour of the city, through some of Granada’s lively squares beneath the Alhambra Palace. Granada does this style of food like no other city in Spain. Alternatively, head to one of the small flamenco taverns around the city and see how the art form here differs from Seville's version.
Today, visit Alhambra Palace, either in the morning or in the afternoon (depending on the time slot we managed to secure). Discover this 11th-century marvel and its dominating red fortress towers, palace decor, architectural styles and magnificent gardens. It's all set against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains. With fountains, impeccably maintained hedges and pools, centuries-old defensive walls, turrets, and views overlooking Granada, this renowned palace will not disappoint. After lunch, your leader will take you deeper into Granada’s Moorish Albaicin quarter and to the area of traditional tea houses. The view from this area across to the Alhambra Palace is not to be missed. Tonight, perhaps meet up again with the group for dinner, looking back on your Andalucian experiences.
Granada / Casablanca
Today you will transfer to Malaga in the late afternoon and take an included flight to Casablanca. A late lunch in Granada is recommended as you will be travelling during dinnertime. You will not be escorted by your Spanish tour leader on the transfer and the flight, so please note flight and boarding guidelines at the time of booking. 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.
Casablanca / Rabat / Meknes
After breakfast today, Casablanca beckons. Take a 45-minute guided tour of the Hassan II Mosque and understand why this is considered the ‘diamond’ of the city. Completed in 1993, this architectural masterpiece has a retractable roof, heated glass floors which look over the Atlantic Ocean and is one of the most impressive religious monuments in the world. Hassan II Mosque can accommodate 25,000 worshippers and is one of the only religious sites open to non-Muslims. Next, it's about a 1.5-hour drive to the capital of Rabat. Rabat's history is long and colourful, having been host to Roman settlements, pirates and more recently the Moroccan parliament. It contains numerous fine Arab monuments, some dating from the 10th to 15th century Almohad and Merenid dynasties, and others that are far older. After a short orientation walk you will have some free time to discover the city. Start your visit with a walk through the Medina and Souks, then explore the lovely walled quarter known as the Kasbah des Oudaias and enjoy an included local drink. Afterwards, continue the walk to visit Mohamed the 5th Mausoleum the vast minaret of the Hassan Mosque. In the late afternoon, travel to Meknes (approximately 2 hours), the former capital of Morocco, where you’ll spend the night.
Meknes / Volubilis / Chefchaouen
Today enjoy a morning tour of Meknes and discover the charming streets of the old medina. From the northern gate of Bab Berdaine, walk to the shrine of Moulay Ismail (closed for renovation) – who turned Meknes from a provincial town to an imperial city in the 17th century – then explore the elaborately decorated public buildings hidden in these winding streets, including the granary of Mouly Ismail and the old souk. Next, drive to the nearby archaeological site of Volubilis, the remains of which make an undeniably impressive sight as they come into view on the edge of a long, high plateau. Enjoy a tour of the ancient hilltop ruins with a local guide, and discover the town’s fantastic mosaics along the Decumanus Maximus, many of which remain intact. Afterwards, make the 3-hour drive to Chefchaouen, or the ‘blue city’, which is arguably one of the prettiest places in Morocco. Set against a wide valley and nestled between two peaks in the stunning Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen may take you by surprise. Its medina has been lovingly cared for with striking blue and whitewashed houses, red-tiled roofs and artistic doorways. Much of Chefchaouen was recreated by Andalusian refugees escaping the Reconquista, so you might feel like you're in the hills of Spain while exploring its streets. Ease into the relaxed pace of life in this rural retreat. Take an orientation walk with your leader through the ancient medina and shop for handicrafts, or simply sit at a cafe and enjoy the pleasure of time passing by. If you're feeling peckish, the goats' cheese on offer is a popular treat enjoyed by many visitors.
Enjoy free morning to further discover Chefchaouen. Take another stroll around the streets and search for your favourite shade of blue. Then perhaps enjoy lunch before boarding our private minibus on a long journey to Fes (approximately 4 hours) for the night. The living museum of Fes has disputable origins, some believe its origins come from ancient Greece, other claim it comes from the Balkans. Nevertheless, the city is a best example of medieval Arab world, and you are soon to find out more of its past and modern times. After checking in your hotel in late afternoon, perhaps enjoy a memorable dinner of one of the city’s signature dishes, the salty and sweet pastille.
Today you will discover the city of Fes, the spiritual and cultural heart of Morocco – vibrant, noisy, fascinating and overwhelming – a visual and pungent feast for the senses. 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 libraries are legendary, its mosques of great renown. Walk through the twisting streets and alleyways, passing donkeys piled high with goods, and explore the specialty sections that divide the souk. Filled with historic khans, medressen and dye pits, stalls loaded with fruits, herbs and soups, and where the squawk of chickens, smell of spice and sound of hammering of copper fills the air, it’s not hard to imagine yourself back in the Middle Ages. Spend the day exploring the old city, visiting Medersa el Attarine, the tanneries and the splendid Fondouk Nejjarine, a beautifully restored 18th century inn. Return to your hotel in the late afternoon and perhaps spend the evening relaxing in this calming oasis, away from the buzz of the medina.