The Andalucia Grand TourCulture, history, art and monuments
2019 Tour dates:
June 11 - 19
The Andalucia Grand Tour is the ultimate way to experience this magnificent region, shaped by many civilisations throughout history - the Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths, Muslims and, finally, the Christians of Catholic Spain.
We will immerse ourselves in the cultural heritage of Andalucia through visits to many of the historic towns and cities which have become icons of southern Spain.
- 8 nights and 9 days, accompanied by your own private guide
- Meet and begin your tour in the iconic city of Granada
- Learn about the short yet eventful life of Federico Garcia Lorca, Granada's most famous poet who left behind a great literary legacy.
- Enjoy an expert guided tour of Granada's magnificent Alhambra and the gardens of the Generalife, one of the biggest highlights to any visit to Andalucia.
- Visit the Capilla Real, the mausoleum of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, located in the heart of the old town of Granada.
- Enjoy lunch in the beautiful Andalucian countryside surrounded by olive groves en route to Ronda.
- Take an evening stroll and dinner in Ronda followed by a walking tour the next day with a local expert guide plus free time to explore at your own pace.
- Enjoy a journey on Mr Henderson's Railway from Ronda through the beautiful sierra as we visit the Pueblos Blancos – the White Villages. Stay in the newly revived village of Vejer de la Frontera, now a mecca for foodies with an array or top class restaurants.
- Visit Jerez de la Frontera en route to Seville, enjoying a Sherry tasting and learning about the Spanish equestrian art that has been perfected here.
- Experience an authentic flamenco show during our first evening in Seville.
- Explore Seville's monuments including the immense Cathedral with its Giralda tower, and the Alcazar, the oldest Royal residence in Europe still in use by Spain's Monarchs.
- Spend your final evening in the UNESCO World Heritage City of Córdoba with its majestic Mezquita
About the tour
Key: B = breakfast included
D = Dinner included
L = Lunch included
This is a 8 nights/9 days tour
DAY 1 (D)
We begin our Grand Tour in the majestic city of Granada. After a late afternoon welcome drink and introduction to the tour, an informal presentation on the life and works of the city’s most famous son, writer Federico García Lorca, will give you a taste of Andalucian culture. Then we walk together to the location of our “Welcome Dinner”.
[Historical note: Federico García Lorca, the most widely translated Spanish author of all time, was born in 1898 near Granada, and his family moved into the city when he was 11. Lorca, who was gay, came to be seen as a champion of Andalucian subculture through his plays and poetry. At the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, the writer went into hiding in Granada as he was viewed as a sympathiser of the Republican government, despite not being politically active. He was closely associated with the liberal left because of his sexuality, his plays were considered “inflammatory,” and his sister was married to Granada’s Socialist mayor. Lorca was dragged out of hiding that summer and murdered three days later at the age of 38. As the writer had himself predicted in one his poems, his body was never found, although the search continues.]
DAY 2 (B)
“There is no greater pain in life, then to be blind in Granada.”
This morning you will visit the Alhambra Palace and Generalife Gardens. You will see the series of palaces with their exquisitely ornate decorations, the courtyards, and most famously the Patio de los Leones. Visiting the Alhambra will be a highlight of your trip, and if you haven´t already read it, you could read Washington Irving’s “Tales from the Alhambra”.
After our visit to the Alhambra, we will walk back into town for a group lunch, then it’s a short stroll to the burial chapel of the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand, in the stunning Capilla Real. The remainder of the afternoon and evening will be free time for you.
DAY 3 (B, L)
After a leisurely breakfast and relaxing morning, we will head eastwards from Granada through a fertile area of olive groves. Our stop for lunch will be a fantastic restaurant in a hilltop town.
Having enjoyed a delicious lunch, we will continue onto Ronda where we will check into our hotel for two nights. This Victorian building has been thoughtfully refurbished as a modern and stylish hotel, whilst maintaining its historic roots. A Toma favourite!
In the evening we will walk together to see the town of Ronda illuminated at nighttime. The history will be saved until tomorrow, as we look forward to a walking tour with a local guide.
So, this evening will serve as an introduction by your tour guide to this fascinating town, which has become an iconic image of Andalucia, thanks to its amazing position and landscape. They will give you various options for an independent dinner.
DAY 4 (B)
The town of Ronda enjoys an incomparable setting, perched high above the Tajo Gorge. On both sides are houses clinging precariously to sheer cliffs above the 300-foot abyss. Ronda also has beautiful and historic art and architecture, with one of the oldest bullrings in the country as well as Roman and Moorish ruins.
Ronda has enthralled the likes of Victor Hugo, Rainer Maria Rilke, Ernest Hemingway, and Orson Welles.
We will wander through the town, taking in interesting sights including the Plaza de Toros, one of the oldest, most beautiful bullrings in Spain. Built in 1785, it was here that local bullfighter Pedro Romero established modern bullfighting techniques and style.
This afternoon you’re free to explore more of Ronda on your own, perhaps indulging any shopping urges, taking a hike in the gorge, or just relaxing in the grounds of our beautiful gorge-side hotel. We will re-convene for a group dinner in the early evening.
Day 5 (B, L)
Today we board Mr Henderson’s Railway and retrace some of the historic rail route between Gibraltar and Ronda, passing through some beautiful scenery along the way in the stunning Sierra de Grazalema.
This track was first laid back in the 1880s to enhance trade links with Madrid, but because of the extraordinary beauty of the scenery, the route was soon frequented by travellers. The British financier behind the rail development, in fact, had our hotel in Ronda built as part of the overall project. Before that, the journey from Gibraltar on the coast to Ronda was a difficult and dangerous one, along an unpaved road dogged by bandits. The journey became much easier with the completion of the railway.
We head into a rugged interior zone where you find the Pueblos Blancos — sublime white villages that are scattered like patches of snow atop spectacular steep mountain slopes. The route takes in some of the greatest scenic landscapes of Spain. The Spanish fir, which only grows in four locations above 3,300 ft, thrives here, and some of the limestone slopes rise as high as 5,000 ft. Castle ruins and old church bell towers also form part of the landscape. Short of crossing the Mediterranean, this area offers the closest idea of a Moroccan landscape.
We will enjoy a hearty lunch at one of TOMA´s favourite restaurants which enjoys views of Gibraltar. Our destination by day’s end is the charming whitewashed hilltown of Vejer de la Frontera. Your TOMA Tour Director will take you on a exploration of this glorious hill top town and show you all sorts of places for your dinner options. Nowadays, many consider it to be the finest of the Pueblos Blancos in the area. Although it’s been discovered now, Vejer is being developed with excellent taste, as classy shops, good restaurants, and art galleries gradually fill up its lovely Moorish townhouses. Perched high on a hill, Vejer was a key Moorish agricultural centre and retains a strongly Arabic atmosphere – the four gates of the original settlement still survive.
Day 6 (B, L and show)
We head north today to Jerez de la Frontera, whose economy is largely based on the production and export of sherry and brandy. The Moors, who ruled the city until 1264, called it “Xerez”. Around this time “de la Frontera” was added to the name, as it was on the frontier between Moorish and Christian territory, and the scene of constant skirmishes.
Aside from sherry, Jerez is also known for its magnificent purebred horses. The Royal Riding School is based here, and the town hosted the World Equestrian Games in 2002. We’ll visit the stables of the Royal Riding School, the training and breeding center of thoroughbred Andalucian horses whose lineage can be traced back to the 15th century. We also stop at a superb sherry bodega in the city, which also houses a private art collection, and this will be followed by lunch.
Continuing on to Seville, we’ll check in to our excellently situated hotel in the city centre and reconvene later for a flamenco show.
With a population of more than 700,000, Seville is easily Andalucia’s largest city and the fourth-biggest in Spain. It’s also one of the most romanticised places in the country: exotic, steamy, scented with orange and jasmine, jacarandas, flamenco, gypsies, tapas, great architecture, vivacious festivals, twisting cobbled streets… In short, Seville is where travellers go to indulge their fantasies about Spain.
Day 7 (B)
We visit Seville’s cathedral — its sheer size will take your breath away. It’s not just the height of the Giralda, the cathedral’s iconic minaret-turned-belltower that’s striking, but the vastness of the building. Begun in 1434, the cathedral was to be “a church which those who see it finished will think we were mad for attempting.” Today it’s considered by some to be the largest church in the world — apparently bigger in volume than St. Peter’s in Rome.
The 12th-century bronze doors have inscriptions from the Koran. Indeed, it was on this site that Christians worshipped in a mosque after the city’s reconquest from the Moors. At its highest point the central nave rises to almost 140 feet, supported by 12-foot-thick columns. The centerpiece of the cathedral is the retablo (altarpiece) in the Capilla Mayor, an extraordinary work begun in 1482 and completed a century later. The largest in the world at almost 120 feet, it features more than 1,000 sculptures in wood and gold. At one corner of the cathedral is the entrance to the Giralda, the tower which has become the symbol of Seville and a landmark visible from almost anywhere in the city.
We’ll also visit the Alcázar, built by Pedro I (“the Cruel”) in the 14th century. This magnificent mudéjar fortress-palace south of the cathedral is the oldest royal residence in Europe still in use: on visits to Seville, King Felipe and Queen Letizia stay here. From the Dolls’ Court to the Maidens’ Court through the domed Ambassadors’ Room, the Alcázar contains the best examples of 14th-century Mudejar architecture outside the Alhambra. Ferdinand and Isabella, the Catholic Kings who at one time lived in the Alcázar and influenced its architectural evolution, welcomed Columbus here on his return from America.
The afternoon is free in Seville to follow your own interests. Wander the maze of streets that is the Barrio de Santa Cruz, the city’s most evocative quarter, check out the Palacio de Las Dùenas, home of the Casa de Alba – the late Duchess was one of the most famous women in Spain. This is one of Seville’s prettiest mansions, with a wonderful garden and many personal momentoes. Engage in some serious people-watching at a café. Or maybe you’ll need indulge in some serious retail therapy in Seville´s chic shopping district.
Day 8 (B, D)
For our final day in Andalucia, we will travel the short distance to the UNESCO protected heritage city of Córdoba, check into our hotel and then there will be freetime for a light lunch. In the afternoon, you will enjoy an in-depth tour of Cordoba with our local guide. The highlight of your tour will be visiting the Mezquita, the Great Mosque of Cordoba which has a cathedral inside it, one of the most unusual and beautiful buildings in the world. You will also see one of the two remaining synagogue in the whole of Andalucia.
We’ll enjoy our final dinner in an excellent restaurant and recount the many wonderful sights and activities of the past week in Andalucia.
Day 9 (B)
After breakfast, depart from Cordoba according to your own travel plans.
Arrival: For flights to and from Granada you can check the latest information on www.liligo.com or www.skyscanner.net.
Both cities are also accessible from Malaga, and a train from Madrid to Granada takes about 4½ hours. The train from Cordoba to Madrid takes about 1½ hours.
Prices from ...... per person
Please enquire for pricing. The price of the tour is per person based on sharing a double room, and varies according to the number of guests on the tour. This price is based on 8 people.
(A note on tier pricing. As TOMA & COE is a boutique agency working with small groups, prices may vary slightly. On most TOMA & COE tours, the price of the trip depends on the final number of people who sign up because of minimum fixed costs that need to be covered. With this tiered pricing structure, we are often able to offer slightly lower pricing if a higher number of guests go on the trip.
Costs are based on double occupancy of a room. If you are travelling alone and wish to share a room, we will match you with a roommate if one is available. Should there be no one to pair you with, the single supplement fee will apply.)
Tour Cost Includes:
- Accommodations with buffet breakfasts
- Lunches and dinners as indicated each day in the detailed itinerary with water, soft drinks and beer.
- Local Spanish-speaking tour manager accompanying the group with room/board
- Entrance fees at sights mentioned in the itinerary including the flamenco show, Equestrian School and Sherry bodega
- Guided walks and lectures with your tour guides as mentioned
Tour Cost Does Not Include:
- Transport to Granada at the start, and from Cordoba at the end, of your tour.
- Tip for tour manager.
- Any extra hotel nights.
- Entrance fees to sights not specified in the day-to-day itinerary.
- Personal expenses such as laundry, phone calls, room service, minibar charges, wine with meals and after-dinner drinks etc