From Granada to Seville: Touring Southern Spain
Andalucía is bursting with historical landmarks and natural beauty, making it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Spain. Often considered the cultural heart of southern Spain, Andalucía has a rich and diverse history, with influences from the ancient Greeks, Romans, Visigoths, and Moors. Known for its charming cities, distinctive architecture, flamenco dancing, and olive oil production, there is so much to experience. From regal palaces to national parks, exploring southern Spain is best done in the company of an expert local guide. To fully enjoy the friendly local people and delicious traditional cuisine of this region, we recommend slowing down and embarking on foot and at eye level. With your guide by your side, see how Classic Journeys gives exclusive access and creates memorable moments in this picture-perfect part of the world.
The Alcázar of Seville
Seville has much more to offer, with a rich religious history, stunning cathedrals, and unique dining experiences. One of the highlights of this charming city is the Royal Alcázar of Seville, a magnificent palace that was originally constructed as a fortress by the Moors in the 10th century. Over the centuries, the palace has been expanded and renovated by various rulers resulting in a unique blend of Islamic, Gothic, and Renaissance architecture. Enjoy getting up close to see the intricate Islamic plasterwork and uniquely patterned tiles. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist attraction where we weave our way around the private and public rooms. Step outside into the stunning Patio de las Doncellas, or the Courtyard of the Maidens, with gardens that are filled with exotic plants and fountains.
On our walking tour downtown, get the opportunity to ascend to the bell tower of the Seville Cathedral for panoramic views. You can check out the Torre del Oro, a military watchtower that offers stunning views of the city and the river. And for a unique dining experience, head to the Metropol Parasol, a massive wooden structure that houses a market, restaurants, and a rooftop terrace. This is a great place to relax and enjoy some delicious food as you soak in the sights and sounds around you.
The Alhambra in Granada
When you venture to Granada, you’ll feel as if you’ve gone back in time. Having retained much of its medieval charm, including the magnificent 13th-century Alhambra Palace, you’ll explore this incredible city with our local guide Rosa. Get insight into this famed site and learn all about its unique architecture and carvings that are inspired by Islamic geometric designs. Head to the Generalife, the ancient summer palace of the Nasrid kings, located on the hillside above the palace. Get your camera ready, as these gardens are filled with fountains, ponds, and lush greenery, and offer stunning views of the city of Granada. Stroll along the river to Plaza Nueva and visit the alcaizeria, a former silk market, before trekking up the hill to the Albaicín, the old Muslim quarter of Granada. Making sure not to get lost in the maze of cobblestone streets and winding alleyways, your guide will lead you through the best of this city.
Taste Cordoba’s Olive Oils Before A Trip To The City
Olives have been an integral part of Spanish cuisine and culture for centuries. From snacking on them at a bar to being one of the largest producers of olive oil in the world, olives are an essential part of the country’s economy and gastronomy, as Spain manufactures almost half of the world’s olive oil. Córdoba is a city well-known for its olive oil, with many of the surrounding farms producing some of the best in the world. On tour, we’ll visit the olive groves and historic mill to learn about the olive oil process, from harvesting olives to sampling the fine culinary results. Tasting Cordoba’s olive oils is a great way to experience the region’s rich agricultural heritage, as well as a potential souvenir to take home, allowing you to relive your trip with every delicious drizzle.
Back in the cobblestoned streets of Córdoba, you’ll meet our local guide for a tour of the Mezquita. Built between the 8th and 10th centuries, this is one of the earliest and most beautiful examples of Spanish Muslim architecture. After exploring on foot and at eye level all day, it’s time to relax over dinner and take in another unforgettable experience: a lively flamenco performance. Flamenco dancing has its roots in the artistic and cultural fusion that occurred in southern Spain during the 15th and 16th centuries. Although the dance form has evolved over time from a combination of various cultural influences, it is always performed with passion. You’ll marvel at the professional performance that includes rhythmic clapping, emotional singing, and ardent guitar playing.
Experience the Countryside in El Torcal National Park
El Torcal de Antequere is a fascinating nature reserve located just outside of the city of Malaga. The natural park is known for its stunning karst landscape, which features unique rock formations that have been shaped by centuries of erosion. Explore the many trails that wind through the rugged landscape and take in the stunning views of the spires and fins in the valley. On our Southern Spain tour, your local guide will help you spot wildlife from the best vantage points, as this park is home to eagles, vultures, peregrine falcons, Spanish Ibex, and wild goats. Seasonally, you’ll even visit the largest colony of flamingos at their home of Laguna de Fuente de Piedra.
Not to be missed in El Torcal is the Mirador de las Ventanillas, a viewpoint that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Learn about the unique geology of the limestone around you as you enjoy the fresh air and sunshine during an active afternoon of strolling. You will have certainly worked up an appetite for fresh local cuisine for dinner… buen provecho!
Ronda & The Tajo Gorge
Ronda is a beautiful town nestled in the mountains of Southern Spain known for its stunning views of the surrounding countryside, as well as its rich history and culture. One of the highlights of Ronda is the Tajo Gorge, a deep canyon that runs through the center of the town. Get the opportunity to walk along the edge of the gorge with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The cliffs are a remarkable sight, as well as the historical landmark of the Puente Nuevo, the impressive bridge that spans it. Enjoy walking across “the new bridge”, which was finished in 1793, to see the perched city from a new angle. On an easy path surrounded by almond trees, you’ll head down to the foot of the city to meet our local guide, Carmen. She’ll lead up you back up the cobbled streets to re-enter the city as medieval visitors would have, sharing insightful stories along the way. Later, enjoy wine tasting at a nearby winery, as local friends invite us to their estate for a tasting in the wine cellar which is housed in a former 16th-century convent. Sip on the locally produced Syrah and Grenache as you reflect on your time in this beautiful part of the world.