|from $13,295* per person||14 Days||Year-round
Exertion level: 3
|Operator: Artisans of Leisure
12 people max
This private tour offers a taste of the best of southern Spain and Morocco, both known for great weather, beautiful landscapes, wonderful food, impressive UNESCO World Heritage sites, rich cultural traditions and wonderful luxury hotels decorated in the most evocative local style. This tour is also an ideal introduction for more extensive travel to other destinations throughout Spain and Morocco.
Begin in Granada, one of the richest and most populous cities in Europe during Moorish rule and still one of Spain's most breathtaking cities. During private touring, explore the extraordinary Alhambra—one of the highlights of Spain—a stunning Moorish castle, palace and garden complex on a hillside overlooking the town. Visit the Generalife, the country retreat of Moorish royalty just behind the Alhambra. Wander the labyrinthine streets of the Albaicin—the old Arab Quarter—and discover a world full of winding, hilly streets and alleys; Moorish ramparts, fountains and carmenes (traditional villas); and restaurants, shops and teterias (Arabic tearooms).
Next, transfer to Seville, stopping en route to tour Cordoba. A capital under the Romans and the Moors, Cordoba has a fascinating history. During private touring, visit the sites clustered in the UNESCO-listed ancient city center such as the enormous Mezquita, a vast, ancient mosque with a forest of horseshoe-shaped pillars, stunning stucco decoration and a Gothic cathedral built right in the middle; the Puente Romano, the bridge the Romans built across the Guadalquivir River; and the Callejon de las Flores, a street where planters overflowing with red geraniums punctuate the whitewashed walls of local houses. Arrive in Seville, the capital of Andalusia and a city flavored as much by the sounds of flamenco and the smell of orange blossoms as by its 500-year domination by the Moors. With your private guide, explore sights such as the charming neighborhood of Santa Cruz; the world's largest Gothic cathedral with its landmark bell tower, the Giralda; the Torre del Oro, a 13th-century Moorish watchtower; and the gardens and mosaic tile-covered rooms of the Reales Alcazares, a spectacular Moorish palace. During a private tapas tour, sample regional favorites such as gazpacho, as well as a range of meat, cheese and seafood tapas, and the ubiquitous tortilla española (potato omelet).
Continue to Marbella, the jewel of the sun-drenched Costa del Sol. Stay at the luxurious Marbella Club Hotel, once the private residence of a prince and now one of Europe's premier beach resorts. During leisure time, wander through the lush, sub-tropical grounds to the beach, or enjoy your resort's wide range of facilities, including a beach club, swimming pool, thalasso spa, private golf course, riding stables and gourmet restaurant headed by a Michelin-starred chef. En route, visit Ronda, the most dramatic of Andalusia's famed whitewashed villages and a favorite of Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles. Also stop at a modern olive oil mill in the Andalusian mountains and taste a selection of oils from what is considered to be the best producer in the area.
Continue to Morocco via high-speed ferry. Arrive in Tangiers, a melting pot of Islamic and French architecture, Spanish cafes, labyrinthine streets and colorful bougainvillea. Enjoy introductory city touring en route to Fez, the intellectual and religious heart of the nation. Stay at the Sofitel Palais Jamai, a former Moorish palace overlooking the medieval medina (old town). Tour Fez el-Bali ("Fez the Old") and its medieval medina (old town), a UNESCO world heritage site crammed with narrow, winding streets, tiny squares and artisan workshops. Visit centuries-old mosques and universities, see the multi-colored vats of the open-air tanneries, and shop for traditional wares made from copper, ceramics and leather. Also visit Fez el-Djedid ("Fez the New"), built in the 13th century. Visit the Royal Palace and the mellah (Jewish Quarter), the largest in Morocco.
Finally, transfer to Marrakesh, an ancient city of orange groves and weathered pink buildings at the base of the Atlas Mountains. During private touring, visit fascinating local souks (markets) selling carpets, ceramics, metalware, textiles and other traditional products. Visit the Djemaa el-Fna, a carnivalesque public square where water sellers, snake charmers, magicians and storytellers compete for an audience. See the most interesting palaces, gardens and museums, such as the Jardin Majorelle, stunning gardens created by French painter Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s; the Palais de la Bahia; the Dar Si Said Museum of Moroccan Arts; the Palmerie; and the Jardin Menara, a beautiful garden with reflecting pools surrounded by groves of olive trees. Also, browse the city's stylish new shops and galleries, and dine in gourmet restaurants that are putting Marrakesh on the culinary map.
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