Explore the southern Spanish region of Andalusia and visit the best Moorish, Renaissance and Tropical gardens hidden in this culturally rich and historic corner of Spain.
As you explore Southern Spain and discover its hidden treasures, allow yourself to be captivated by its finest flourishing gardens, and be inspired by the countless fragrant orange trees that line the cobblestoned streets of Andalusia’s ancient cities. The Moorish influence is still very much apparent in the region’s ancient cities and architecture, which you’ll see when we visit Córdoba’s Mezquita mosque-cathedral, the Alcázar of Seville and the Alhambra in Granada.
From the gorge-split town of Ronda on the edge of El Tajo Gorge, to the winding medieval lanes of Seville where Flamenco clubs are still very much alive, this really is an exceptional pocket of Spain with a lot to offer. Enjoy privileged spots of this land, with owners of private houses opening their gardens just for you, so that you can try their food and enjoy the local wines. We have no doubt that the explosion of colours in the Andalusian courtyards, the deep smell of orange blossoms on the streets and the sound of the fountains will make you leave feeling refreshed.
This is a pooled tour and individuals are encouraged to join, however, the minimum for the tour to operate is four.
Visit private houses, meet the owners and try their food and local wines.
Stay in charming converted historic buildings for a real feel of the Andalusian architecture.
Discover UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the Alhambra Palace in Granada, the Mosque of Córdoba and the Gothic Cathedral in Sevilla.
Your Local Host:
I was born and raised in Montilla, a small town in the province of Córdoba. I gained a translation degree from the University of Granada and worked for 14 years in international sales. During those years working for two different companies, I had the reoccurring dream of opening my own small boutique travel agency. I wanted to make travellers fall in love with Spain, offering bespoke experiences that will remain forever in their souls.
We’ll begin our day with a Meet & Greet. After meeting your tour leader and group, we will take you to La Concepcion Botanical Gardens, located just 6 km outside Malaga city centre. These gardens are a tropical paradise with over 800 species, and initially created in 1855 by the Marquis of Casa Loring and his wife. The Gardens were subsequently expanded by their second owners, the Echevarria-Echevarrieta family, who acquired the estate in 1911. They were officially declared gardens of historical and artistic importance in 1943 and have now achieved the “BIC” status (Building of Cultural Interest). In 1990, they were taken over by Malaga city council and were opened to the public on 21st June 1994.
After your 1 hour guided tour of the gardens with a botanic expert, you’ll have some lunch at the coffee shop of the Botanical Gardens. We will then drive you to the picturesque town of Ronda on a beautiful scenic road connecting the Mediterranean coast and the Serrania Mountains.
Check-in at your dramatically located hotel in Ronda, which overlooks the Tajo gorge and cliffs. Once you’ve settled into your room, it’s time to relax and enjoy the welcome dinner and beautiful views.
Meals included: lunch & dinner
Hotel in Ronda
Explore Ronda & transfer to Seville
The mountaintop city of Ronda sits in the heart of the Serrania de Ronda. Set dramatically above a deep gorge and surrounded by lush river valleys, this place is absolutely breathtaking. The gorge, El Tajo, separates the city’s 15th century new town from its Moorish old town. Puente Nuevo, a stone bridge spanning the gorge, has a lookout offering stunning views and the new town’s Plaza de Toros, a legendary 18th century bullring, one of the city’s most famous landmarks.
After breakfast, we’ll visit the most renowned gardens in Ronda, starting with the gardens of Casa del Rey Moro, a XVIII century mansion built on Moorish foundations. The gardens were constructed in 1912 by Forestier and offer excellent views of the Tajo gorge and the surrounding mountains. We will then visit the Palacio de Mondragón, a XIV century palace, which was the residence to the Moorish kings and features three Mudejar courtyards, each preserving original stucco work and mosaics. We then walk along the Alameda del Tajo, a public garden from the XIX century representing a selection of mature trees typical in ornamental gardening in the Málaga province, to finally end up at the most famous viewpoint down into the gorge. Lunch will be offered in a beautiful traditional restaurant in the old town, where you can sample the local wines from Ronda.
After lunch, you will be transferred to Seville, the capital of Southern Spain (approx. 1.45 hr drive). Check-in at your charming hotel in the Jewish quarter.
Meals included: breakfast & lunch
Hotel in Seville
Guided tour of Seville
Some cities blow you away, others slowly win you over. Seville disarms and seduces you. The historic centre is dominated by a colossal Gothic cathedral and the intoxicating mix of resplendent Mudéjar palaces, baroque churches and winding medieval lanes. Flamenco clubs keep the intimacy and intensity of this centuries-old tradition alive, whilst the aristocratic mansions recall the city’s past as a Moorish capital.
After breakfast, meet your local guide (an art historian) in the lobby of the hotel to embark on your 3.5 hr guided walking tour of the historical centre (one of the largest in Europe), including the Casa Pilatos (XV century Andalus palace and courtyards with a harmonious mixture of Mudéjar, Gothic and Renaissance styles), the Barrio de Santa Cruz (the old Jewish quarter with a labyrinth of tiny alleys and white houses with traditional Moorish courtyards), the Reales Alcazares gardens (an active Royal residence boasting impressive gardens and fountains from the XIV century) and finally the great Cathedral (the third largest Gothic cathedral in the world).
The tour will finish at the Giralda tower (Cathedral’s bell tower), where you can walk up to the very top (104m high over ramps, no steps) at your own pace. Later, your tour guide will meet you by the exit gate of the Cathedral for your 2 hr tapas tour, the Seville way! The afternoon is then free for you to explore the city at your own pace, and your guide will provide plenty of suggestions for things to do.
In the evening, your tour guide will meet you at the lobby of your hotel to take you to one of the most emblematic “Tablaos” in Seville. With more than 40 years of experience, this “Tablao” offers the purest Flamenco you can find in Andalusia. It’s probably the best place in Seville to experience the excitement and duende of Flamenco. Enjoy true Andalusian cuisine before your Flamenco show, which features up to 15 of the most professional flamenco artists in the whole of Spain.
Meals included: breakfast, lunch & dinner
Hotel in Seville
Seville, Carmona, Portocarrero and Córdoba
After breakfast, meet your local art historian guide in the lobby of the hotel for a private guided visit to Ma Luisa Park and the spectacular Plaza de España. After your tour, it’s a private transfer to the picturesque town of Carmona (approx. 30 mins drive).
Carmona, known as the “shining star of Andalusia” is a hidden gem sited on a low hill overlooking a fertile plain. A major Roman town, it was also an important Taifa state in Moorish times. Following the Reconquista, Pedro the Cruel built a palace within its walls, which he used as a provincial royal residence (now hosting the well known Parador of Carmona).You will enjoy a delicious lunch at the Parador Hotel. The restaurant here offers the most spectacular views over the Guadalquivir valley and crops.
After lunch, your driver and tour guide will then take you to Portocarrero Palace (approx. 45 mins), located in Palma del Rio, which is between the historic cities of Cordoba and Seville. You’ll enjoy a private guided tour of approx 1.5hr of the Palace, courtyards, and gardens. The rich history of the palace goes back 2000 years to Roman times, making it a real gem to be discovered. This 16th-century castle is surrounded by Almohad walls from the 12th-century, when the building was used as an Alcazar/fortress. Owned by just two families over the past 700 years with its current owners (Ybarra family) having lived here for 6 generations. The Palace, declared a site of cultural interest, features Hispano-Arabic gardens complete with the original Arab irrigation system, a large citrus collection and possibly the oldest centenary orange orchard. In 2005, the Palace was chosen by Ridley Scott as a filming location for the “Kingdom of Heaven”. The emblematic and historic building, which houses the Royal Stables, was founded in 1570 by King Felipe II, a great horse lover with the dream of making a pure Spanish thoroughbred.
This lovely visit will be completed with a tasting of delicious fresh orange juice from the orchards, accompanied by tea and pastries. Cristina Ybarra, the current owner, has her main art studio inside the palace and she is always pleased to show and share her artwork with those discerning travellers who are interested in painting. It’s then on to your hotel in Córdoba (approx. 1hr).
Córdoba was an important Roman city and a major Islamic centre in the Middle Ages. It’s best known for La Mezquita, an immense mosque dating from 784 A.D., featuring a columned prayer hall and older Byzantine mosaics. After it became a Catholic church in 1236, a Renaissance-style nave was added in the 17th century. Tonight you’ll enjoy a marvellous equestrian exhibition in which pure bred Spanish horses are the main protagonists. The stage; an emblematic and magical historical building, once the birthplace of the Andalusian Horse and now an unparalleled setting for this enchanting 1-hour equestrian show. The Royal Stables are located next to the Royal Alcázar and just a 5 mins walk from your hotel. After the show, you can go and have dinner independently at one of the local restaurants in the nearby authentic “San Basilio” district.
Meals included: breakfast & lunch
Hotel in Cordoba
After breakfast, your local guide will pick you up at your hotel and will take you for a walking tour (approx. 3 hrs) to explore the gardens and courtyards of Córdoba. You will first visit the Palacio de Viana in the Santa Marina neighbourhood, a 17th- century manor with 13 interconnected delightful patios and gardens. Then it’s time to explore the old town and its Jewish quarter with an introduction to the historic importance of the Mezquita (Mosque/Cathedral), which you’ll be visiting later tonight. The guided tour will end at the Royal Alcazar, where you’ll enjoy the beauty of its gardens.
Lunch will be served at a lovely patio house. You might then want to return to your hotel and use the couple of hours of free time in the afternoon to have a little rest as the evening is full of exciting activities.
In the evening we’ll explore the San Basilio quarter and admire the architecture and unique decoration of some of the most representative courtyards (“Patios”), declared Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2012.
Have you ever wondered what a carnation, a pansy, a Snapdragon or a rose petal taste like? You’re about to find out with a flower tasting session. All the flowers you’ll taste are edible and will be paired with two excellent local “sherry”-style wines (Palo Cortado and sweet Pedro Ximenez). This unique and rare experience is an absolute must-try for any flower lover visiting Córdoba in Springtime!
Our evening will finish with a visit to the Mezquita (El Alma de Cordoba). We already had an introduction with the guide earlier this morning, but tonight you’ll go inside the building as part of a self-guided group. The Mezquita night visit ‘El Alma de Cordoba’, meaning ‘the soul of Cordoba’, allows a minimum number of visitors each evening to experience its beautifully lit interior. The visit is around 21:30 pm (tbc on the day) and lasts approx. 1 hr. The Alcázar de Los Reyes Cristianos was built under Castilian rule in the 13th & 14th centuries on the remains of a Moorish predecessor and has had many uses since then. Nowadays the building is a Historical Monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Alcázar’s terraced gardens are full of fish ponds, fountains, orange trees, and flowers and are a delight to stroll around. The Roman tradition of the impluvium, combined with the Moorish culture in Córdoba, gave rise to the Andalusian courtyard or “patio”; a protected interior area that served as the focal point of people’s family and social lives. Filling the central patio with plants and water features was a way of keeping homes cool. With time, patio decoration took on a life all its own and today once a year in May, these patios compete and their doors are opened to everyone. A stunning Renaissance palace set around 12 beautiful patios, the Viana Palace is a particular delight to visit in spring. Occupied by the aristocratic Marqueses de Viana until 1980, the large building is packed with art and antiques. The Mezquita-Cathedral de Cordoba is as complex as the extraordinarily rich history it illustrates, and an absolute must-see when in Córdoba.
Meals included: breakfast & lunch
Hotel in Cordoba
Montilla, Moriles & Granada
Today you’ll smell and taste the Andalusian countryside. After breakfast, we will make our way to our next destination but before heading to Granada, we stop at interesting places in the heart of the Andalusian countryside surrounded by hundred years old olive groves. Did you know that Spain is the largest producer of olive oil in the world and that 80% of Spanish production is made in Andalusia? The history of olive oil takes us back to the Phoenician and Greek civilizations settled in the Iberian Peninsula over 3,000 years ago. The importance of olive oil to Spanish culture cannot be overstated; locals actually refer to it as “liquid gold”. Spain is also home to an abundance of grape varieties; making it the third-largest wine producers in the world.
Our first stop is a family-run olive oil mill in Montilla, where you’ll discover the full process of olive oil making. You’ll enjoy a tour of the family groves and learn about the different characteristics, culinary uses and health benefits of olive oil, followed by a tasting of two of their delicious varieties along with freshly baked bread made by the very same family!
Then, it’s on to the lovely wine estate of Santa Magdalena, a local family-run boutique winery located right in the heart of the Sierra de Moriles, a stunning rural landscape with endless vineyards and rolling hills. Upon arrival, you will be welcomed by a truly passionate viticulturist who will lead you through their family vineyards, private garden and wine cellar while telling you about the history of this recently restored ancestral property as well as the unique grape variety that grows exclusively in this region, the popular and worldwide known “Pedro Ximenez”. You will also learn about the entire process and ageing system of these singular dry and sweet wines, a process that is probably the oldest in Spain. The visit will end with a delicious tasting of some of these varieties paired with homemade lunch (included), showcasing some of the region’s best products.
The landscape of the Designation of Origin wine zone known as Montilla-Moriles is dry and the soil is a blinding white Albariza (white marl composed of clay, calcium and marine fossils). Its excellent moisture retention is very significant as this area is hotter than almost anywhere else in Spain. The wineries of the Montilla-Moriles Wine Route where the undisputed star is the Pedro Ximénez grape variety and in which the biological ageing (for the Fino wine) and the oxidative aging (for the Amontillados, Olorosos, and Pedro Ximénez) take part following the system of criaderas and soleras.
After lunch you will be transferred to Granada (approx. 2hr drive). After checking into your hotel in Granada’s city centre, you’ll have some free time to freshen up and relax before meeting up with the group and your tour guide again to go on a short orientation walk of approx. 1.5hr.
We’ll then walk along the Darro river promenade and through the maze of tiny, narrow cobbled streets of the picturesque Albaycin Moorish district. During the walk you will be stopping at some of the most spectacular viewpoints to admire the stunning Alhambra Palace. A great way to complete this evening tour would be tasting some of the local tapas at some of the most emblematic taverns in town. We invite you to join us for a fun evening to try the best food and wine (this is an optional meal and not included).
Meals included: breakfast & lunch
Hotel in Granada
Explore Granada and the wonders of Alhambra
Welcome to Granada, first settled by native tribes in the prehistoric period and was known as Ilbyr. When the Romans colonized southern Spain, they built their own city here and called it Illibris. The Arabs, invading the peninsula in the 8th century, gave it its current name of Granada. It was the last Muslim city to fall to the Christians in 1492, at the hands of Queen Isabel of Castile and her husband Ferdinand of Aragon.
After breakfast, our tour leader will take you to the Alhambra, where you’ll be introduced to your local art historian guide, who will show you the incomparable Alhambra Palace and the Generalife gardens on a 3 hr private tour. You will admire the greatest treasure of Moorish Spain. The Alhambra is Granada’s (and Europe’s) love letter to Moorish culture, a place where fountains trickle, leaves rustle, and ancient spirits seem to mysteriously linger. Part palace, part fort, part World Heritage site, part lesson in medieval architecture, the Alhambra has long enchanted a never-ending line of expectant visitors. The Generalife was intended to reflect how paradise is described in the Koran; “shaded, leafy garden refreshed by running water where the fortunate ones may take their rest under tall canopies”. After the guided tour of the Alhambra, you will enjoy a nice lunch at a lovely restaurant nearby with beautiful views.
In the afternoon we visit Carmen de los Mártires, a tranquil garden filled with palms, cypresses and tinkling fountains. A wonderful oasis where we’ll spend approx. 2 hrs. It’s a wonderful oasis offering magnificent panoramic views over the city, the valley and the Sierra Nevada. This largest garden in the city of Granada stretches out over seven hectares along the southern slopes of Mauror Hill on a piece of land belonging to the Alhambra and that the Moors referred to as Campo de Ahabul. It was known by Christians as Corral de Los Cautivos (Corral of Captives), and in 1494, the German traveler and humanist Hieronymous Munza witnessed an area ‘filled with pits and dungeons’ where infidels were punished by the Moors. Boabdil set out from this spot to deliver the keys of Granada to Isabella I of Castile, who ordered the construction of a hermitage – the city’s first church – at the top of the hill, in honor of those Christian martyrs that included the Bishop of Jaén and a number of Franciscan monks. Although the hermitage no longer exists today, its history led to the name of Carmen de Los Mártires, an enormous garden featuring an array of styles that evokes 19th century Romanticism through its lakes, sculptures and hedge mazes. It is no surprise that this is one of the most popular spots in the city for wedding celebrations.
Meals included: breakfast & lunch
Explore more of Granada, then it's back to Malaga
After breakfast and check-out, you can leave your luggage at reception until it’s time to transfer to Malaga. You’re not finished just yet, as you’ll be taken on a short walk within the city centre to admire the magnificent Cathedral and Royal Chapel. To say goodbye to Granada and Andalusia, we will take you off the beaten path to be delighted with incredible views and the beautiful gardens of one of the most emblematic Moorish “Carmens” in the city. The Andalusian patios are called “Carmens” in Granada and they are little paradises hidden from the outside streets inside the Arabian style houses. Here we will stay for a nice relaxed lunch and simply admire the stunning views of the Alhambra palace in front.
After lunch, you’ll transfer to Malaga, either the airport, the train station or the city centre, depending on the rest of your travel plans.
We hope you enjoyed this small group tour with us!
This tour starts and ends in Malaga, located in the region of Andalusia, Southern Spain. In Andalusia the Mediterranean brushes with North Africa, with the region being the last part of Spain to be reclaimed from the Moors. Their influence remains apparent to this day, along with Andalusia’s Jewish legacy, with the narrow streets of the old Jewish quarters sitting side by side Moorish relics. Flamenco still thrives and the region’s tapas culture is very much alive, and it is here where 80% of the country’s Olive Oil is produced, with the countryside scattered with family-run olive groves.
Please note that prices for the holidays do not include flights. We recommend using www.skyscanner.net to check flights.
Malaga (AGP) and you will be greeted at the airport.
Malaga Maria Zambrano station. You can be greeted at the station.