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Travel though landscapes of whitewashed villages, high mountains, endless olive groves, beautiful palaces and the warm Mediterranean sea. From the best known highlights to barely visited corners, this self-drive trip combines the very best of southern Spain’s landscapes, people, food and culture, enhanced throughout by the engaging company of your local hosts.
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On arrival in Seville drop off your things at your charming hotel in the heart of the old quarter. Relax and enjoy this warm and lively city, perhaps with a stroll around the Barrio Santa Cruz. Throughout your stay you have our detailed Holiday Guide with lots of personal recommendations for the city's best sights, tapas bars and flamenco shows, according to our considerable combined experiences.
Walking is the way to get around the centre of the city, the picturesque Barrio Santa Cruz, the cathedral and the Alcázar are all within minutes of each other. Your guide comes to meet you this morning to take you through the winding streets, and introduces you to the hidden side of the city, as well as the more obvious highlights. We can also arrange dedicated tapas tours and cooking classes should you be particularly interested in the local cuisine.
Pick up your rental car this morning and drive out of Seville up into the little-visited Aracena Hills. Spend the next couple of nights on the edge of a very pretty ‘Pueblo Blanco’ (white village) in this peaceful, rural corner of Andalucía. Your small hotel is surrounded by chestnut forests and is a place which invites you to relax and enjoy the views.
Walk a circular route through a semi-abandoned hamlet and some of the prettiest landscapes of the sierra towards Linares. The village is home to a fantastic small restaurant which showcases the food of the region brilliantly. You have a memorable tasting lunch included. Head back up the hill to your hotel, or linger in Linares and relax in the Moroccan-style hammam spa.
Travel south towards the pretty white coastal village of Vejer. Stop en route to visit the bird-rich wetlands of the Doñana National Park - this is a hotspot for biodiversity with sightings of 360 different species of birds and mammals such as boar, deer and the Iberian lnyx all possible.
Explore the coast of Cádiz, perhaps joining a two hour boat ride into the Straits of Gibralatar to spot whales and dolphins from Tarifa. The spectacular Roman ruins of Baelo Claudia are nearby. Stop at Barbate to eat the famous red tuna of this area and walk along the coast through the natural park overlooking Cape Trafalgar.
Head east across Andalucía today as you travel from the coast up into the little visited heart of the Sierra Subbetica. Stop along the way to visit the striking town of Ronda. Settle into your new base, a rustic farmhouse nestled amid a sea of olive trees. Your hosts are a wonderfully welcoming expat couple, one of whom is a dab hand in the kitchen. The other one knows his way around the bar.
Enjoy a walk in the area around your hotel - there are many, many routes to choose from and Tim and Claire will be more than happy to point you in the right direction. Perhaps head up through olive groves to a ruined Moorish watchtower or follow ancient shepherd paths through a river canyon and sweeping valleys on a circular walk from a nearby white village. You can also rent mountain bikes to cycle along the so-called Olive Train route.
Spend today visiting the splendid and ancient city of Córdoba and its magnificent Mezquita, which is less than an hour away from your hotel. Equally, you might like to visit the ruins of the hilltop Moorish complex at Alcalá la Real or simply relax by the pool with a book and enjoy the silence.
Pack up to go to Granada today, perhaps starting your day with a visit to an olive oil producer in the nearby village. This afternoon you have a private guided walking tour of the Albaicín neighbourhood of Granada. The former Moorish Quarter of the city is now a UNESCO Heritage Site, and retains a wonderfully atmospheric feel.
Explore the gorgeous patios, gardens and fountains of the Alhambra Palace, one of the most iconic Moorish buildings in Spain. At certain times of year the Alhambra is open at night when it is far quieter though far harder to appreciate the beauty of the stucco work.
Drive down to the coast at Cabo de Gata, extinct volcanoes by the sea which form the only desert environment in mainland Europe. Stay in a village near the cape, close to some of Spain's most beautiful beaches.
Explore the coast today with a walk to suit you, making sure to stop off in one of the fishing villages for a fresh lunch of today’s catch. There are many fantastic walks from 4km strolls to 18km hikes. You might like to walk down to one of the most emblematic of the beaches in the Cabo, Playa Playazo.
Hike to the top of an extinct volcano for wonderful views along the coast, or relax on one of the lovely beaches such as Los Genoveses. From here you can walk around the headland to the lighthouse at the cape.
Time to say adios to Andalucía today as you hand in the keys to the car and head home. What you've read here is something of an overview of the trip. If you want to dive in a little deeper, we have a more detailed PDF itinerary that we can send you. Click the link below to request this.
If you're comfortable behind the wheel of a car then it almost certainly will be; this trip is designed to blend independent exploration with curated guided experiences. For walkers there are many options for spectacular day walks, through river canyons, olive groves and holm oak forests. For Moorish history you have the medieval monuments of Granada, Córdoba and Seville on your doorstep, as well as lesser-known hilltop fortresses, watchtowers and mosques. You can dial down the pace by the pool, overlooking the sea or in the peace of a white village. And this being Andalucía, the food is fresh from land and sea and the sherry is highly addictive. Hopefully that ticks a few of your boxes.
Want a trip dedicated to walking? Take a look at our Andalucía Inn to Inn.
We've taken great care to balance independence and guided experiences, as well as time in the cities, in the countryside and on the coast. As a two-week journey through Andalucía, we think it's pretty special. Of course, not everyone has two weeks; some have more, some less. Perhaps you've already been to Granada and are keen to spend time in Jerez instead. You might want an extra night here, one less there.
There are some places not mentioned, Grazalema and Malaga for example, that we have also spent considerable time in, so ask us about these if they interest you. Maybe there's something a little more left of field - your specific interest in jamón or horses - that we can weave into your travels. Or perhaps you want something extra special for an anniversary or birthday?
This is a tailor made holiday, and can leave on a date to suit you, from September to June. The holiday can be run with almost any number of days and can run in either direction.
The price is per person based on two sharing and includes:
First-class accommodation with breakfast
Some dinners and a special 5-course tasting menu
Compact vehicle hire
Guided excursions as described
Andalucía Holiday Guide with personal recommendations
Spain driving guide
Detailed walking notes where appropriate
Pura’s expertise, local contacts, support and advice throughout
International flights are quoted separately; best froutings are into Seville (SVQ) and out of Almeria (LEI).
Active days are balanced by very comfortable nights throughout this trip as you stay in a variety of our favourite small hotels, lodges and inns. Comfort, character, service and location are the critical elements when we choose these places. In Seville and Granada you stay in characterful small 4* hotels. In Vejer, stay in a lovely 3* hotel in the middle of this wonderful village. In the Sierra Subbetica, your hosts are an expat British couple who we have known for years - working for our competitors back in the day! They now run a beautifully tasteful and comfortable bolt hole amid the olive groves. Your Cabo de Gata hotel is a fairly simple 4* hotel but in a great location overlooking the sea. In a beautiful area such as this, there is little more you could want.
Because we work directly with local partners, you are connected with local communities throughout. Where possible you stay in small family-run hotels in places that rely on tourism in the face of falling produce prices. We encourage you to eat at local restaurants throughout your trip and to integrate yourself into the local way of life, contributing both to the economy and the preservation of traditional lifestyles.
We choose hotels based in part on their eco credentials. For example, in the Sierra Subbetica, the B&B you stay in generates 100% of its heating and hot water through solar panels and a biomass boiler fed by waste from its own olive trees. All food is sourced within a 15-mile radius and staff are employed from nearby villages.
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