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Iberian Inspiration | 2017 | 12 days: Experience the historic charm of Cordoba, Granada, Baeza and Estremoz from old-town boutique hotels Watch black Iberian pigs roam in the Sierra de Aracena and taste famous Jamón ibérico Discover the secrets of the Alentejo region as you travel from Seville to Lisbon
Trip Highlights
Start Destination
Madrid, Spain
End Destination
Lisbon, Portugal
What's included
  • Return flights from the UK
  • Private overseas transfers to and from the airport
  • 11 nights’ accommodation in boutique hotels
  • Experienced Back-Roads tour leader
  • Local guides in Toledo, Cordoba, Granada and Seville
  • Luxury mini-coach transportation
  • European breakfast daily (B)
  • Four evening meals (D)
  • Tapas lunch with wine tasting (L)
  • Olive oil and Ibérico ham tasting
  • Flamenco show
  • Entrance fee included to: Santa Maria la Blanca, San Juan de los Reyes, Mezquita, Jaen Cathedral, Alhambra, Seville Cathedral and Alcazar, Gruta de la Maravillas.
Day 1

Depart London on your flight to Madrid, upon arrival enjoy a private transfer to your pre-tour accommodation where the rest of your day is at leisure.

Day 2
Madrid - Toledo

After meeting in Madrid, we begin our journey to Toledo, the ‘Imperial City’. Impressive cathedrals, the magnificent Synagogue of Santa Maria la Blanca and the Monastery San Juan de los Reyes are the jewels of this historic city, Spain’s former capital. And a local guide brings its centuries of history alive. Afterwards, we sit down to a welcome dinner in a traditional Spanish restaurant. (D)

Overnight: Hotel Carlos V (or similar)

Day 3
Toledo - Valdepenas - Cordoba

Our road continues south across the vast plains of La Mancha, where Cervantes’s Don Quixote jousted with windmills. We pause in Valdepenas to visit a local bodega for wine and tapas, before continuing on to Cordoba. A thousand years ago,this city in southern Andalucía was the most important Islamic cultural centre in Western Europe, echoed today in its distinctive architectural style. And our home for the next two nights is right in the historic centre. (B, L)

Overnight: Hotel Casas de la Juderia (or similar)

Day 4

This morning we go back to the days of Islamic Iberia with a walking tour of Cordoba’s old town. A highlight is the monumental Mezquita – a UNESCO-protected mosque with countless wonders to discover. This afternoon you’re free to explore at your own pace. Seek out hidden squares and local cafés, or pamper yourself at a traditional hammam. (B)

Overnight: Hotel Casas de la Juderia (or similar)

Day 5
Cordoba - Ubeda - Baeza

Today we pay court to two great women of Andalucía. The towns of Ubeda and Baeza, called ‘queen’ and ‘lady’ respectively by poet Antonio Machado, are replete with spectacular Renaissance palaces. After time spent in Ubeda, we pause to taste Spanish olive oil at its source in a peaceful olive grove, before settling in to our hotel in Baeza. Dinner tonight is a group affair. (B, D)

Overnight: Hotel Puerta de la Luna (or similar)

Day 6
Baeza - Jaen - Granada

Our first stop today is Jaen Cathedral, with its towers set against a backdrop of rolling hills. After free time, we continue on to Granada. The last stronghold of the Moorish empire in Spain, this captivating city finally fell to the Catholic kings in the 15th century. With two nights here, we have plenty of time to unravel its secrets. (B)

Overnight: Villa Oniria (or similar)

Day 7

Intricately carved archways, lavish interiors featuring colourful tiles and lush gardens. The Alhambra, a breathtaking Moorish palace perched on a hilltop outside Granada, must be seen to be believed. This tribute to the beauty of North African architecture is one of Andalucía’s finest gems, and we take the whole morning to explore it. Afternoon finds us back in the city centre, where you’re free to go your own way – just be sure to take in the stunning cathedral. (B)

Overnight: Villa Oniria (or similar)

Day 8
Granada - Ronda - Seville

From Granada our path turns east, passing through rural countryside to Ronda. With a dramatic setting on the edge of a deep canyon, this historic town boasts pinch-yourself views. But Seville soon beckons, where we see in the night with dinner and a thrilling flamenco show. This magnetic dance, with its bright costumes and evocative guitar music, is a quintessential symbol of southern Spain. (B, D)

Overnight: Hotel Casas de la Juderia (or similar)

Day 9

Today is devoted to Seville. First, a local guide introduces us to many of the city’s most fascinating sites, from the Jewish Quarter to the impressive cathedral. We also see the intriguing Alcazar de Sevilla – the oldest royal palace in Europe still in use. The rest of today is free. You could search out Roman ruins, Moorish mosaics and classical squares. Or take yourself on a tapas tour, hopping from bar to charming bar, sampling Andalucían specialities in each. (B)

Overnight: Hotel Casas de la Juderia (or similar)

Day 10
Seville - Sierra De Aracena - Aracena

The city rooftops disappear as we head into the great outdoors. Our first stop is Ibéricos, a farm in the Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche National Park where black Iberian pigs roam. After working up an appetite, we try the famous Jamón Ibérico. We continue to Aracena, where we plunge underground to the magical stalactite-dripping caves of Gruta de la Maravillas. (B)

Overnight: Hotel Convento Aracena (or similar)

Day 11
Aracena - Monsaraz - Estremoz

We set our sights for Portugal today, first travelling to Sao Pedro de Corval, one of the country’s biggest pottery centres. Browse for handmade, beautifully painted ceramics, before we continue to Monsaraz, a centuries-old hilltop town crowned with a medieval fortress. Next comes Villa Vicosa, whose grand Ducal Palace was built by the powerful Dukes of Braganza in the 16th century. Finally, our road winds into Estremoz, where we spend our last night in regal style at the castle. (B, D)

Overnight: Pousada de Estremoz (or similar)

Day 12
Estremoz - Evora - Lisbon

Our last day dawns – but there’s plenty to see before our tour ends. We pause in UNESCO listed Evora to see its beautiful mix of medieval churches and stately Roman temples. Then it’s time to continue to Lisbon, Portugal’s charismatic capital, where we bid each other farewell until next time. (B)

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