- Tour the UNESCO-listed Alhambra and see a flamenco show in Granada
- Visit the dramatic hilltop town of Ronda and enjoy a gourmet lunch at a local winery
- Embark on 4WD tours into the rugged mountains of Andalusia
- Laze on the sun-soaked beaches of Estepona
- Sample the best Spanish olive oil and Iberian ham near Seville
|Day 1||Arrive in Madrid, Train to Granada, Flamenco & Tapas Tour||Granada|
|Day 2||Granada Five Senses Tour, Visit the Alhambra & Gardens||Granada|
|Day 3||Drive to Estepona, Gourmet Lunch & Wine Tasting in Ronda||Estepona|
|Day 4||Andalusian 4WD Safari, Estepona Beach Day & Michelin Dining Experience||Estepona|
|Day 5||Drive to Seville, Guided City Tour||Seville|
|Day 6||Visit an Olive Oil Estate, Iberian Ham Tour & Gourmet Lunch||Seville|
|Day 7||Train to Madrid, Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Madrid, Train to Granada, Flamenco & Tapas Tour
Welcome to Spain! There's not a region within this handsome European country that doesn't abound with rich culture, history, and cuisine. Your luxury tour focuses on one of the most uniquely beautiful of these regions: Andalusia. Though you'll arrive in the capital of Madrid, you'll immediately board a first-class train coach for the 3.5-hour ride south to Granada, a historic city that was the last bastion of Al-Andalus (Muslim Spain) during the reign of the Moors (711-1086 CE).
There will be time later to explore Granada. First, you'll head to the mountains south of the city and your hotel, La Esperanza Granada. This 5-star, hacienda-style hotel is both green (relying on solar energy) and furnished with fine art and antiques. You'll find many Spanish experiences on offer here, like flamenco classes, private chef meals/cooking workshops, and sommelier-led wine tastings.
After settling in, head back into Granada for a private, half-day tour, beginning with a guided stroll through the historic center. Savor delectable tapas in classic taverns while exploring the Albaicín, once the Arab quarter and Granada's oldest neighborhood. Later, you'll visit a cave just outside the city to witness flamenco, a dance/musical style that's the ultimate cultural expression of Andalusia. Flamenco's origins date to the 16th century when performers would entertain passing travelers using mountain caves like these as stages. After the show, you'll return to your hotel.
Day 2: Granada Five Senses Tour, Visit the Alhambra & Gardens
After breakfast, you'll head out for an alternative tour of Granada. Over 2.5 hours, you'll discover this bastion of Spanish history using all of your senses. Led by an expert guide, you'll be transported to different eras in the city's historical timeline as you visit iconic locales like the 11th-century El Bañuelo hammam (Arab bath), the 16th-century Granada Cathedral, and the colorful Alcaicería—once a traditional Moorish bazaar now full of colorful Spanish treats, trinkets, and souvenirs.
Later, you'll visit Granada's most iconic landmark: the Alhambra. Built atop a hill overlooking the city, this 26-acre (12 ha) Muslim fortress dates to the ninth century. It was rebuilt in the 14th century by the Nasrid Dynasty and served as a Moorish palace until 1492, when, after the Christian reconquest, it became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella. During a three-hour guided tour, you'll walk its grand halls and stroll the Generalife Gardens, which are filled with colorful flowers and fountains and offer panoramic views of the city below.
Day 3: Drive to Estepona, Gourmet Lunch & Wine Tasting in Ronda
It's time to hit the road on your own. In the morning, pick up your rental car and drive southwest to the coast to Estepona, a charming resort town located on Spain's Costa del Sol. The country's most famous stretch of Mediterranean coast runs 98 miles (159 km) south from Málaga past Marbella toward Gibraltar and is renowned for its golden beaches.
The journey takes about two hours, but you'll break up the drive with a stop in Ronda. This ancient town dates to the sixth century when the Celts settled it. It's a storybook locale carved out of a mountain and situated over a deep gorge, making it one of the most dramatic towns in the country. Like many places in Spain, Ronda is famous for its wine culture. You'll discover this firsthand on a tasting tour of two local, small-production wineries. At one, you'll even sit down to a gourmet lunch prepared by the winemakers.
You can also stop at Setenil de las Bodegas, a town nestled in the cliffs of the Sierra de Grazalema Nature Reserve. Settled by the Moors in the 12th century, it's known for its distinctive cliffside architecture, with houses built into the rocks. After a walk around, continue to Estepona and check into Finca Cortesin. This 5-star hotel is located in the green hills overlooking the coast and boasts expansive, whitewashed Andalusian suites around palatial courtyards. To unwind, enjoy treatments at the Asian-inspired spa, or play a round of golf at the championship 18-hole course.
Day 4: Andalusian 4WD Safari, Estepona Beach Day & Michelin Dining Experience
Hop in a 4WD vehicle this morning and leave the coast behind on an adventure safari in the stunning Sierra de las Nieves Nature Reserve. Led by a private guide/driver, this half-day off-road adventure takes you along rarely used back roads through the park's 173 square miles (448 sq km). Highlights include rugged mountain landscapes, deep valleys, and diverse flora and fauna, like red deer and the Iberian ibex. Also, you'll pass some of Spain's famous Pueblos Blancos (White Villages) and stop at a river for a refreshing dip.
Upon returning to Estepona, you'll have some time to relax and enjoy its famous beaches. Perhaps head to one of the beach bars on the promenade along Playa la Rada, the main urban beach. Or search the 13-mile (21 km) coastline to find a more relaxed beach farther afield. One excellent option is Playa del Cristo, a sheltered cove with calm waters, making it ideal for families and snorkelers.
In the evening, get dressed up for dinner at Lobito del Mar. Located in Marbella, this chic seafood restaurant is the brainchild of renowned chef Dani García, an Andalusia native and winner of two Michelin stars. The sumptuous menu highlights fresh fish, seafood, and savory rice dishes, with a particular focus on red tuna. After the meal, you'll return to your hotel.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Drive to Seville, Guided City Tour
It's time to say goodbye to the coast. After breakfast, get back in the car for the three-hour drive north to Seville, the famed capital of Andalusia. Once here, you'll drop off your rental car and transfer to Hotel Alfonso XIII. The etymology of this 5-star hotel derives from Spain's King Alfonso XIII, who commissioned it in 1928 in an attempt to create the most opulent hotel in Europe. Besides elegant Moorish/Andalusian design, it features a grand foyer, sprawling courtyard garden, and spacious suites. Grab a drink at the hotel bar and enjoy it while lazing by the shimmering pool.
After checking in, you'll meet a local guide and embark on a three-hour private walking tour in and around Seville's historic center. First up is the Seville Cathedral, a 15th-century Roman-Catholic church home to the tomb of Christopher Columbus. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the largest Gothic church in the world, and an impressive testament to pious grandiosity. Also here is La Giralda, the cathedral's looming bell tower.
Continue to the fashionable Santa Cruz neighborhood, once the Jewish Quarter in the city. It's a colorful and well-preserved part of the historic center, with many cafés and tapas bars—the perfect excuse to take a break and enjoy some small plates and local wine. Capping the walk is a real highlight: a visit to the Alcázar. Seville's Royal Palace began life as a Moorish fort in the 10th century and is famous for its well-manicured gardens.
Day 6: Visit an Olive Oil Estate, Iberian Ham Tour & Gourmet Lunch
This morning, you'll meet your driver for the transfer just outside Seville to an authentic olive oil estate in the Andalusian countryside. Here, you'll witness the production process of one of Spain's most popular high-quality food exports. The estate has quite the history: It was here that Christopher Columbus' son Hernando began exporting olive oil to the New World. You'll tour the old manufacturing center and view the 16th-century olive oil presses, learn about modern production methods in use today, and see gorgeous rolling hills carpeted in olive trees.
Then, you'll have the option to embark on another special trip to discover the origins and production process of Iberian (or Ibérico) ham, regarded as the best ham in the world. This journey into Spain's culinary heritage takes place at a family-run farm in the mountainous Sierra of Aracenal. On a walking tour, you'll see how the famous black pigs are reared and roam free as they feast on wild acorns. Then, visit a production facility to see thousands of top-tier hams slowly curing. To cap the tour, you'll taste various cured hams paired with a glass of dry fino or manzanilla sherry wine.
Afterward, head to a restaurant in the town of Aracena for a seasonal gourmet lunch at a local restaurant. With your guide, all you need to do is sit down, and the friendly hosts will bring an array of plates piled with asparagus, artichokes, wild mushrooms, cheese, acorn-fed Iberian pork, and more, depending on the season. Once you've eaten, you can burn off some calories with a short hike up to the 13th-century hilltop castle overlooking the town. Later, you'll transfer back to Seville.