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Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arriving at Malaga Airport today we may take a direct bus from the airport terminal or we may travel the short distance into the city by train to take a bus from the main bus station. Either way the 128 kilometre drive to Granada should take us around two hours, getting us into the famous Andalucian city in the early evening. 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 Gardens and the city's grand 16th century cathedral.
Our trip begins at the meeting point in Malaga Airport (AGP) at 15.45. If you would like an airport transfer today, the latest your flight can arrive is 15.15. We will travel together as a group by public bus (around two hour drive) to our hotel in Granada. There will be a short briefing on arrival by our trip Leader about the week ahead.
If the joining time means that you cannot book the arrival flight that you prefer, then please consider the option of making your own way to Granada by public transport. There are regular buses from both Malaga Airport and Malaga bus station, please ask us for additional joining information to plan this journey. If you are planning to travel to the hotel under your own steam, please inform us so we are not expecting and waiting for you at the airport.
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 a 10 minute 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.
Hostal La Ninfa (or similar)
One of the highlights of our journey is our visit this morning to Granada's iconic Alhambra Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that overlooks the city. Built in the 13th century by Mohammed Iibn Nasr, the founder of the Nasrid dynasty, the palace is considered one of the finest examples 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.
We also include an orientation tour of the city this afternoon, taking in some of the city's main points of interest including the Albaicin, Granada's historic and atmospheric old Moorish quarter. According to the availability of Alhambra tickets it may be necessary to move the visiting time around slightly and your Tour Leader will communicate this on tour. Likewise it may not always be possible to arrange the same time slots for all clients. Audioguides are available in the Alhambra for those interested, otherwise the visit is unguided.
Please note that in order for our local agent to book the Alhambra tickets we require full passport details for all passengers, these should be provided at the time of booking in order for the the tickets to be confirmed.
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.
Hostal Maestre (or similar)
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.
Posada del Castano (or similar)
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).
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). Our bags will be transported to join us in Galaroza and after lunch we take taxis to Seville.
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.
Hostal Sierpes (or similar)
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).
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 an 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.
Overall, spring, early summer and autumn are ideal times for a Spanish trip - though the weather varies enormously from region to region. The high central plains suffer from fierce extremes, stiflingly hot in summer, bitterly cold and swept by freezing winds in winter. The Atlantic coast, in contrast, has a tendency to damp and mist, and a relatively brief, humid summer. The Mediterranean south is warm virtually all year round. Spain's Islands the Canaries and Balaerics experience very mild winters and warm summers making them ideal year round destinations.
2 Pin Round
Castilian Spanish, Catalan, Galician, Basque
Granada: The Royal Chapel €5 per person entrance Cathedral free entrance The Baroque Monastery San Jeronimo €4 per person entrance Cordoba: On the morning of day four you might choose to visit: Real Alcazar €5 per person entrance after 8.15am Caliphal Baths €1.00 per person (if bought combined with Alcazar) entrance after 8.15am Torre de Calahorra entrance €4.50 per person \lang1024 Bell Tower of Mezquita €3 Aracena: On the afternoon of day five it's possible to visit the Gruta de las Maravillas (Cave of Wonders); entrance is €15 per person with an additional €10 for return transport. Seville: You have the whole of day seven free. The most popular attractions in the city are the Cathedral and the Real Alcazar. The queues at both these monuments can be long and so we would recommend booking online before you travel. You should allow at least one hour to visit the Cathedral and Giralda Tower and three hours to visit the Real Alcazar and gardens. Both monuments offer discounts for seniors on their websites and opening times are all clearly stated on here too. There are three tours offered on the Cathedral website: \lang1024 The basic Cathedral and Giralda visit costs €11 (€6 over 65s). For an additional €5 this comes with an audioguide plus a separate visit to nearby Church of El Salvador. Details of all other tours (Gothic rooftop, stained glass windows, with/without guide, etc. are shown clearly on the website.) The Real Alcazar website is https://realalcazarsevilla.cliqueo.es/en Standard entrance is €13.50 per person or with an audio-guide included for an additional €6. For another €5.50 on top of this you can also access the Royal Apartments. Other places of interest and activities include: Plaza de Espana, free entrance \lang1024 Las Setas, "The Mushrooms". Modern monumental architecture €15 pp Bike hire, €10 for three hours Flamenco show, between €15 and €35 per person Pilates House, €10 entrance per person \lang1024 + additional €5 to include upper floor \lang1024 Triana Ceramic Centre €2.10 \lang1024 Museum of Popular Arts and Customs, EU citizens free, others €1.50 Navigation Pavilion Schindler Tower, €6 per person entrance Saint George Castle, free entrance
Outside of the summer months of June to September, Andalucia is generally mild, though the region of the Sierras (highlands) is subject to rain and if you intend to walk we strongly recommend you bring waterproofs. In addition during this time a warm sweater or fleece, is also recommended. Warm nightwear is advised as hotels are not well heated. Lightweight cotton clothing is advised from June to September.
Walking boots or shoes are strongly recommended for the walks in the Sierras, ideally waterproof just in case, plus comfortable trainers for walking around towns. Sandals are useful in summer.
One main piece of baggage and daypack. Remember you are expected to carry your own luggage so don't overload yourself. We use public transport for the majority of this tour, so it is essential that you are able to carry your bag on and off of the trains and buses.
During the summer months we recommend you bring a water bottle, sunhat and sunscreen as temperatures can be very high. A torch is generally useful to travel with.
Public Bus, Taxi, Train
The accommodation listed above and as described in the day by day trip itinerary are the ones most frequently used for this trip, however on some departures alternative accommodation of a similar standard may be used and the facilities and décor may differ from the details shown here. On this trip you are able to choose to purchase a single room (please see the dates and prices for the applicable single supplement price). However, this option is only available for you to have a single room on days one to three and six to seven of this holiday. On days four and five we're not able to offer single rooms, as the guesthouse we use only has enough rooms to accommodate all the passengers on a full group on a twin share basis. For the majority of nights on this trip we use simple accommodation, so there won't be hairdryers or tea and coffee making facilities in the bedrooms and some won't have a television, although the views are so stunning and there's so much to see and do that you're unlikely to miss having one. The majority of bedrooms are en suite, but sometimes you may have shared bathroom facilities.
Can you drink the water?
It is generally possible to drink the local tap water, therefore to reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles we recommend you bring a refillable water bottle with you. Your leader will advise you on refill points each day.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Spain: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
This highlights trip is perfect for first time visitors to Andalucia that are looking to see as much as possible in just one week off work. It combines a taste of the culture and character of the main cities with time spent exploring the countryside on foot. This is an authentic trip where we use simple and rustic accommodation throughout including a village guesthouse owned by our tour leader. Most days we'll be up early and not back until late as we'll make the most of soaking up our surroundings and dining later in the evening like the locals do; once the temperatures have cooled and the restaurants and bars come to live. We also use local buses, trains and taxis to get around. The public transport used is normally very efficient and comfortable, but it's essential that you can carry your own bags on and off of it. The countryside walks we do on two days are graded as Easy to Moderate and take an average of three hours each day. Vegetarian food is quite widely available in most restaurants in Andalucia, however it may not always be apparent from the menu as most restaurants are happy to offer alternative dishes when asked, and this is something our tour leader can assist you with. If you do have any dietary requirements then we would always encourage you to inform us of this at the time of booking your trip. Menu choices are more limited during our stay in the village on days four and five, as there are only two restaurants that open especially for us and so the menu is agreed with them in advance and your tour leader will discuss the options with you couple of days before you arrive here to make sure what's being served is suitable for everyone.
Nothing compulsory but Tetanus is usually recommended as a precaution. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.