Gems of Southern Spain
Explore southern Spain's castles, palaces and Moorish architecture and get swept up by its traditional music and dance
Personalised journeys from start to finish
Save an acre of rainforest each time you travel
Every detail taken care of
- Privately guided tours tailored specifically to you
- Luxury accommodation throughout
- Private transfers
- Full support from your Travel Concierge before, during and after your trip
- Private tour of the Alhambra and Generalife Gardens
- Tapas tour
- Winery tour and tasting
- Flamenco show
At a glance
Andalusia is a land of fragrant orange blossom and majestic Moorish architecture and home to a population for whom a love of music and dance is in their DNA. This nine-night exploration takes you to southern Spain‘s most handsome cities, all with thriving cultural and foodie scenes and more than their fair share of castles, palaces and beautiful gardens.
After a short stopover in Madrid you’ll take a high-speed train to Granada, a grand city that sits at the base of the mighty Sierra Nevada mountains. Its biggest draw is the Alhambra Palace and Generalife Gardens, a magnificent complex that was once the country residence of the Nasrid king. That’s not all the city has to offer, however, and you’ll enjoy a privately guided tour through the medieval Albaicin neighbourhood and the Sacromonte district, famous for its gypsy caves.
En route to Cordoba, explore Andalusia’s pretty towns perched on the edge of vast plains and littered with castles and fortresses. Wind your way through narrow streets lined with whitewashed houses, splashes of colour coming from the traditional shutters and flowering window boxes.
Cordoba is a city bursting with impressive architecture from the Mesquita mosque to the Alcazar with its beautiful gardens filled with fragrant lemon and orange trees. You’ll also head out of the city to explore the ruins of a former royal castle and enjoy a wine tasting at the prestigious Alvear bodega. After visiting the pretty town of Carmona, you’ll head to your final stop, the enchanting city of Seville.
Discover the nooks and crannies of the old town, feel the passion with a flamenco show and dine like a local with a tour of the city’s tapas bars, each with their own mouthwatering specialities.
Example Trip Itinerary
Meet and greet at Madrid airport
Private transfer to your hotel in Madrid
Accommodation in Madrid
- 467 rooms and suites
- Three restaurants
- Fitness centre
- Rooftop terrace
With Picasso and Dali among the names in its guestbook, you can be sure that a stay at The Westin Palace will be a highlight of any trip to Madrid. Built for Alfonso XIII’s wedding, the opulent hotel is beautifully styled with marble floors, original artwork and impressive design features. One of the most fascinating rooms is the Museum Bar with its collection of artefacts including photos of the inauguration, a list of employees, an old telephone, and Picasso’s signature. The rooms are full of old-world charm with mahogany furniture and rich fabrics and suites features furniture and textiles from the early 20th century. One of the hotel’s most stunning features is the huge stained glass dome, under which guests can dine at the restaurant. There is also a sushi bar which blends oriental and vintage Spanish styles, and a restaurant specialising in Chinese cuisine lavishly decorated with large paintings, a statue of Buddha and walls covered in gold damask. You might think green space is hard to come by in a city, but the charming rooftop terrace proves otherwise. As well as serving as a place for guests to enjoy a drink and take in the views, it also served as a kitchen garden and provides the chef with a bountiful supply of herbs and fruits. The hotel is ideally situated in the centre of the city in what is known as the ‘triangle of art’ due to its proximity to the city’s most prestigious museums.
- 150 rooms and suites
- Two restaurants
Built on the site of a former palace, Villa Magna has plenty of history but that doesn’t mean it’s living in the past. Sleek design coupled with all the modern amenities you could want, make this a luxurious base from which to explore the city. The 150 rooms and suites are a mix of classic and contemporary and provide a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. A Nespresso coffee machine ensure you’re ready to take on Madrid. The hotel is located on Paseo Castellana, one of the longest and widest avenues, and you can access the Corte Ingles shopping mall from the ground floor. There are two restaurants, one serving traditional Spanish dishes with a twist, and the other specialising in Cantonese cuisine. No trip to Spain would be complete without sampling some tapas, and you can relax on the terrace and savour a selection of delicious morsels. Blankets and heaters ensure you can enjoy the atmosphere all year round.
- 125 rooms
- Sunday brunch
Nestled in the heart of Madrid on Calle Barquillo, the Only You Boutique Hotel is a stylish and modern boutique hotel. Just moments from Paseo de Recoletos and the Chueca neighbourhood, you’re ideally situated to explore all this great city has to offer. A former 19th century palace, the hotel has been redesigned using a clean blue and white palette. That’s not to say it has forgotten its roots with traditional azulejo tiles dotted around and maps of old Madrid adorning the walls. High ceilings, huge potted trees in the lounge and rooms flooded with light make Only You a wonderful space in which to relax. The hotel has 125 rooms, individually designed with some featuring terraces that look out over the rooftops of Madrid. Guests are encouraged to make use of the public spaces and with a sophisticated bar and restaurant, often filled with locals, it’s easy to see why. The cocktail bar is located in the old library and the drinks list certainly makes for good reading. Food lovers won’t be left disappointed with a menu that adds a modern twist to Classic Spanish dishes.
- 85 rooms and suites
Madrid is not short of beautiful architecture and the Palacio de Tepa, housed in a former 19th century palace, is the perfect way to experience a little of the city’s history. The hotel is located in the heart of Madrid, in the Barrio de la Tatras district. Just a short walk from the hustle and bustle of Puerto del Sol, the royal palace, cathedral, the city’s museums and galleries and it’s also well positioned for Madrid’s city centre nightlife. Charming spacious rooms come with high ceilings and large windows creating a bright and airy space, with some featuring balconies that overlook the Plaza del Angel. Enjoy a true taste of the Mediterranean in the bright and airy restaurant, where the menu is a celebration of Spain’s rich culinary heritage.
- 78 rooms and suites
One of Madrid’s newest boutique hotels, set among noble residences and grand embassies, the Hotel Urso has quickly become one of the hottest and trendiest places to lay your head. Housed in an early 20th-century palace, its neoclassical style gives off an air of sophistication, while its well-appointed interiors are comfortable and stylish. Its six categories of guest rooms and suites, range in size, bed type and views, yet all feature contemporary Scandi-chic-style décor and calming tones. Wake up to breakfast each morning in the light-filled conservatory, decorated in Oriental-inspired 18th century wallpaper and bamboo plants. When you’re ready to head out and explore, you’ll find sites such as the Madrid History Museum, the National Museum of Romanticism and the vast Retiro Park, located close by. Wind down after your day in the plush wood-panelled spa, offering a variety of massages and specialised skincare treatments. And when you’re fully relaxed, head to the sleek Urso Bar for cocktails and gourmet Spanish tapas, made from ingredients sourced at the local Mercado de Barceló. The hotel restaurant, ½ Ración, which means ‘half portion’ offers cuisine based on the traditional Madridian food.
The Spanish capital is bursting with life and passion and through its well planned streets course Madrilenos, the city's inhabitants who really know how to live.
Madrid is a powerhouse of culture, and no trip here could miss a tour of the Golden Triangle of Art, encompassing the Prado Museum, the Reina Sofía Museum and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. Music is also an important feature and the city marches to the beat of flamenco, jazz and live music of all kinds. And don't forget that Madrid serves some of the most delicious tapas that there is.
High speed train to Granada
Private transfer to your hotel in Granada
Accommodation in Granada
- 75 rooms and suites
- Sauna and Turkish bath
Granada is a city with more than its fair share of beautiful buildings and stunning architecture. The luxurious AC Palacio de Santa Paula occupies the former Santa Paula Convent which has been lovingly restored to offer guests a relaxing retreat bursting with character. The hotel is centred around a beautiful courtyard with elegant stone arches and palm trees, the delicate tinkling of the fountain in the background. It also houses the tombs of the nuns from the convent. Admire it from the wraparound balcony on the first floor, complete with 16th century frescos, or sink into one of the chairs and enjoy it illuminated at night. Fusing old and new, the hotel has managed to retain its charm and authenticity while allowing guests to enjoy all the comforts of a modern hotel. There are 75 rooms and suites, some with exposed brick walls and views over the courtyard. The restaurant occupies the former convent library and the menu makes for good reading, fusing traditional Andalusian flavours with more modern culinary concepts. The courtyard is the perfect setting for a glass of wine and nibbles. You’re ideally situated on the Gran Via de Colon, one of the main avenues in Granada’s old quarter. The cathedral and archeological museum are on your doorstep and the majestic Alhambra is within walking distance.
- 42 rooms
Granada is a city steeped in history, but this hasn’t stopped it embracing modern Spanish culture with aplomb. The blend of old and new is what makes a stay at the Hospes Palacio de los Patos so special. The hotel is split across two buildings, one a renovated 19th century palace and the other a striking modern construction. The interior is bright and airy, and rooms in the older part of the hotel contain beautiful features such as plasterwork ceilings, Doric columns and friezes. After a day of exploring, you’ll relish the opportunity to relax and unwind in the spa which features Turkish baths, a sauna and thermal pool. Sightseeing can build up quite the appetite so enjoy some traditional Spanish tapas or dishes inspired by the city’s Moorish past in the hotel’s restaurant. No trip to Granada would be complete without visiting the majestic Alhambra, a series of palaces and gardens built under the Nazari Dynasty in the 14th century. Be sure to also stop by the Granada Cathedral and the Alcazaba, a wonderfully preserved Moorish fortress.
- 45 rooms and suites
The Alhambra is one of the most iconic landmarks not just in Granada, but across Europe. The Parador de Granada is located within its grounds and is the perfect place to appreciate it in all its glory. A former Franciscan convent, the Parador was built on the site of a Nasrin palace. The remains of the Turkish bathes are still visible today and other relics are housed in the hotel museum. Part of the building was the former chapel where the kings of Spain were buried before moving to the Royal Chapel. Enjoy a stroll in the garden, from which you can look out at the city’s medieval walls and towards the Sacramonte and Albaicín neighbourhoods. The hotel blends classic and contemporary design with wooden floors, latticed shutters and pieces of antique furniture alongside more modern features in the 45 rooms and suites. The restaurant serves traditional Spanish cuisine and the terrace is the perfect place to while away balmy summer evenings. The Alhambra is understandably one of Spain’s most popular attractions, but your prime location means you can enjoy its majestic palaces and beautiful gardens once the crowds have disappeared.
Seville's brooding Andalusian sister sits at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the Iberian Peninsula's highest massif. Renowned as the last stronghold of the Moors who were driven out of Western Europe in the 15th century, it's here that you'll best discover Andalusia's splendid Arabic architectural heritage including the beautiful Alhambra Palace.
Wander around the narrow streets of the Albaicin medieval neighbourhood for fine examples of Moorish and Morisco construction. Declared a world heritage site in 1984, the district faces the Alhambra and is home to several attractions including the remains of an Arab bath complex, Granada's archeological museum and the church of San Salvador. In 1492 AD, the Catholic King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile took over the kingdom. Upon their deaths, the monarchs were buried at the Capilla Real, Royal Chapel of Granada, which to this day displays their possessions. You'll also visit the Sacramento neighbourhood, famous for its gypsy caves.
The lavish Alhambra is Granada's most visited site. Once a palace and fortress for the city's Muslim rulers, the Alhambra means ‘red fort' and is named after the red clay used in its construction in the mid-13th century. The Generalife was the country residence of the Nasrid king and the recreational courtyard and its beautiful gardens sit on the slopes of the Cerro del Sol, offering spectacular views.
Today you'll head to Alcala La Real, home to the magnificent La Mota fortress. Dating from 727, the castle was built when the town was under Muslim rule and was badly damaged in the 19th century when battles were fought against the French. However, you can still see three rows of fortifications and from the castle you'll enjoy beautiful views across the rolling hills and scattered villages. You'll then continue to Priego de Cordoba, known as the 'city of water' thanks to its abundance of springs. Set in the mountains of La Sierras Subbeticas national park, it is one of Cordoba's most picturesque towns, filled with baroque buildings and churches. After lunch at a local restaurant you'll continue on to Zuheros where you'll walk through the maze of white streets with your guide, admiring the castle and taking in the spectacular views. It is also famous for its goats' cheese, so be sure to have a taste and stock up on your favourite.
Private transfer to your hotel in Cordoba
Cordoba - Andalusia
Accommodation in Cordoba - Andalusia
- 53 rooms
- Tapas bar
- Spa with original Roman baths
- Swimming pool
In the heart of Cordoba, the Hospes Palacio del Bailio is a grand 16th century estate built on the ruins of a Roman villa, the remains of which are visible through a vast glass floor in the central courtyard. Now meticulously restored and replete with a collection of modern art and striking furniture, it represents a 2000 years of the city’s history in one sumptuous offering. 53 rooms continue the theme of past and present fused together, with luxurious fabrics and stylish bathrooms alongside frescos, murals and views into citrus tree filled courtyards. Arbequina, the hotel’s restaurant, serves slightly experimental modern Andalusian food, while there is also tapas available at the underground bar. There is also a small outdoor swimming pool in the fragrant gardens and the Bodyna Spa uses restored Roman thermal baths, offering a range of indulgent therapies.
Ancient, worldly, and sophisticated, Cordoba sits on the banks of the Guadalquivir river. First favoured by the Romans, Cordoba then held court as the capital of Islamic Spain between 756 to 1031 AD. Famed as a multicultural centre for education, the city was renowned for its libraries, medical schools, universities, and a huge bubbling, cosmopolitan population of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish people. Wander down its labyrinthine network of small streets, alleys, squares, and whitewashed courtyards, and you'll be transported back in time. Delve further back still and step beyond the Old Town's Roman walls to cross the Guadalquivir at the Roman Bridge, said to have carried the fabled Via Augusta that ran from Rome to Cadiz. There's also a Roman temple, theatre, mausoleum, forum, amphitheatre, and even the remains of Emperor Maximian's palace to discover
Cordoba is perhaps Spain’s most handsome city, an historic centre of culture and lasting testament to a golden age of religious tolerance during its time as a caliphate. King Ferdinand III then claimed the city for Castile during the Spanish Reconquista, bequeathing it its gothic and renaissance finery. Visit today, and you'll find Cordoba's grand past beautifully reflected in the city's magnificent architecture. During your tour, explore the Moorish, Jewish and Christian quarters including the Alcazar with its beautiful gardens. You'll also discover Roman remains and the famous Mezquita Mosque-Cathedral.
In 936AD, Adb ar-Rahman III decided to move the seat of government away from Cordoba and set about building a new royal city 8km away. The city was to reflect the powerful kingdom he governed and was constructed using marble, gold and precious stones. Built on three terraces and surrounded by a city wall, the royal castle sat proudly on the middle level while the lower levels were reserved for living quarters and the mosque. The city was destroyed in the civil war between the Berbers and the Moors and was lost for over 1000 years. Luckily ,it was rediscovered in 1911 and excavation still continues.
Alvear is one of the most prestigious and internationally renowned bodegas in Andalusia, boasting extensive vineyards that are located in the most famous estates in the Sierra de Montilla y Moriles. This privileged land’s star grape variety is Pedro Ximénez, which is thought to have originated in the Rhine region, and is used by the bodega as the unique base wine for its sweet, fino, oloroso and amontillado wines. You'll tour the vineyards and winery and enjoy a tasting of its unique wines.
Located on a low hill overlooking a fertile plain, Carmona is a picturesque small town with a magnificent 15th-century tower built in imitation of Seville's Giralda. At the entrance to the town is the Puerto de Sevilla, a grand if ruinous fortified gateway which leads to the historic old part of the city. Narrow streets wind their way past Mudejar churches and Renaissance mansions. Up still further is the Plaza San Fernando dominated by splendid Moorish style buildings. Close by to the east is Santa Maria, a stately Gothic church built over the former main mosque. Like many of Carmona's churches, it is topped by an evocative Mudejar tower and part of the original minaret may still be spotted. Dominating the ridge of the town are the massive ruins of Pedro's palace, destroyed by an earthquake in 1504 and now a beautiful parador. The Roman necropolis is particular noteworthy; laying on a low hill amid cypress trees it contains more than 900 family tombs dating from the second century BC. Enclosed in subterranean chambers hewn from the rock, the tombs are often frescoed and contain a series of niches in which many of the funeral urns remain intact. Some of the larger tombs have vestibules with stone benches for funeral banquets and several retain carved family emblems. Opposite is a partly excavated ampitheatre. Before you leave, we suggest you enjoy an aperitif at the market square.
Private transfer to your hotel in Seville
Accommodation in Seville
- 151 guestrooms including 19 suites
- Two restaurants including a tapas bar by Michelin-starred chef
- Lobby bar with piano
- Fitness room
Steeped in history, the Hotel Alfonso XIII was constructed by order of the King as luxury lodging for the international VIPs attending the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition. This grand structure quickly became an emblem of the city centre and has been continuously used as a hotel until the present day, although Franco’s regime necessitated a name change to the Andalusian Palace while under his rule. To this day, you’ll find that it is the city centre’s only true, luxury property. Typically Andalusian in style, the hotel expresses the region’s mixed Moorish and Castilian founding influences with authentic and detailed features. Each of its 151 bedrooms including its 19 suites are unique in design, falling into three style categories: Andalusian, Moorish, and Castilian. Alongside its exalted, majestic architecture, Hotel Alfonso XIII is also notable for its large pool, which sits amidst lush gardens. This makes it a rare urban sanctuary and one of the only locations where being in Seville during the heat of high summer will be thoroughly enjoyable. By the pool you’ll find an al fresco restaurant that turns itself into a twinkling vision after dark and serves Spanish and international delicacies. You can also eat in the sumptuously-tiled gallery surrounding an arched interior courtyard where you can take your breakfast and coffee. If you fancy something truly epicurean, the atmospheric Ena tapas bar is manned by Michelin-starred chef Carles Abellán of Barcelona. Afterwards, discuss the highlights of your meal to the accompaniment of live piano music at Bar Americano. In terms of location, you’ll find that you really couldn’t be better placed to discover Seville. Hotel Alfonso XIII sits right on the edge of the old – pedestrianised – quarter, meaning that you can benefit from arriving to the hotel by car and walking five minutes to outstanding historic sites such as the Cathedral de Seville, the Alcazar, Puente de S. Telmo, and Plaza de Espana.
The jewel in the Moorish Caliphate of Cordoba and the capital of the most powerful Castilian Kingdom, Seville has been left with eye-popping architecture and majestic grace. While Seville reached its peak in the 17th century and then suffered terribly in the Spanish Civil War, today it has resurrected itself as the capital and largest city of Andalusia. You'll need to spend a few days here at least to experience the true essence of Spanish grandeur.
Enjoy a walking tour through Barrio de Santa Cruz, Seville's oldest quarter, learning about its history from the Roman times right up until the present day. You'll visit the cathedral which sits on the site of the Great Mosque of the 12th century; the only part of this that remains is the minaret, now known as the Giralda Tower. The Royal Alcazar was the site of the marriage between Carlos V and Isabel of Portugal and is centred around two courtyards. The Ambassador's Hall is beautifully decorated with plasterwork and tiles, while the top floor is accessed by a 16th century staircase featuring paintings by Roelas and Madrazo. The pretty gardens reflect the passing of historical periods and are a lush hideaway filled with pomegranate, orange and palm trees.
Flamenco is the traditional song and dance of the gypsies of Andalusia and was developed over hundreds of years before becoming popular in the 19th century as a form of café entertainment. There are three parts to every flamenco show: 'grande' or 'hondo' with intense, profound songs; 'intermedio'; and finally 'pequeño', lighthearted songs about love and nature. The cast changes every day here so there is always something new to experience. You'll get to appreciate the differences between male and female flamenco dancers and enjoy the exceptional music that accompanies them.
Spain has an incredibly rich culinary history and is famous for its tapas, bite-sized morsels of delicious food usually enjoyed with a glass or wine or beer. You'll visit some of the city's best tapas bars and enjoy dining the way Spaniards have for more than two centuries.
Private transfer to Seville airport
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Gems of Southern Spain
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