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Discover the Moorish architecture of Granada and Cordoba, the picturesque Andalucian villages and explore the Imperial Cities of Morocco, including Rabat, Fes and Marrakech. Travel from the whitewashed Spanish villages to the characteristic minarets and medinas of Morocco.
Explore Tour Leader
12 nights comfortable hotel
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Malaga, a port city on southern Spain's Costa del Sol. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Malaga at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport (AGP), which is around 25 minutes' drive. For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 7pm for welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. Should you miss the meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to stroll the cobbled streets of the old quarter, stopping to sample tapas washed down with a local sweet wine. The Picasso museum is a good place to spend the afternoon, the collection represents his entire life's work and is housed in the 16th-century Buenavista Palace.
Hotel Zenit (or similar)
Today we transfer to Cordoba by train. Standing on the banks of the Guadalquivir river, Cordoba was one of the most sophisticated Moorish cities and is for many, the most beautiful city in Spain. The Arabs established themselves in Cordoba as early as 719 AD, and before that the Romans had left their own mark here. Cordoba has a wealth of treasures locked away in its back streets with secluded patios tucked behind delicate iron grills. The medieval synagogues in Cordoba and Toledo are the only two which remain in Spain today and Cordoba synagogue dates back to the 14th century. This afternoon we visit the renowned Mosque (Mezquita), an extraordinary and unique building where history has superimposed two faiths and erected two oratories on the one site (local guide optional). The early massive structure dates back to the 8th century, its roof supported by a forest of 850 coloured columns. Its jewel is the gleaming and superbly decorated Mihrab, which has survived in its original state. In the evening we suggest you take in some traditional flamenco music and dancing (optional).
Hotel Maestre (or similar)
Today we transfer to Granada by train and spend the afternoon exploring the city on foot, discovering the main points of interest including the Albaicin, the old Moorish quarter where many Islamic traditions are retained, giving the city its characteristic look of white walls and narrow streets. From the highest point are spectacular views across to the Alhambra and Generalife with the Sierra Nevada as a backdrop. When dusk falls, we suggest a stroll around the old Moorish Quarter to see its illuminated patios.
Hotel Los Angeles (or similar)
This morning has been left free for your own exploration of Granada or you have the option to visit the magnificent Alhambra Palace. In 1239 Muhammad al-Ahmar, founder of the Nasrid dynasty and Sultan of Granada, began work on this, the finest example of Moorish architecture outside the Arab world. The fabulous decoration in stucco, both inside and outside the buildings, reveals the purest expression of a sophisticated civilisation just before its decline. You might also choose to spend time in the Generalife, one of the most beautiful landscaped gardens in the world, surrounding the summer residence of the Caliphs.
Later this afternoon we travel by private bus to Ronda and have an orientation walk on arrival of the old Moorish part, Arabic Baths and Rey Moro house.
Please note that the visit to the Alhambra Palace is optional because it can no longer be guaranteed that group tickets can be secured to visit the palace. It is much simpler for you to book your own individual entrance tickets online for the Alhambra Palace. Bookings for this open at 90 days prior and you will need to book your ticket in advance on the website rather than waiting to when you are on tour. You can book your entrance ticket on day three from 3.30pm onwards or for this morning, but no later than 1.30pm. Further details can be found in the Optional Activities section of the Trip Notes.
Hotel Polo (or similar)
We spend the day exploring the beautiful rolling landscapes west of Ronda by bus. Arriving at the fortified Moorish hill village of Zahara is like stepping back in time. Its whitewashed terraces are dominated by an impressive Moorish tower and a Baroque church lies at the heart of the village. We also plan to visit Grazalema for lunch, nestled beneath the limestone peak of San Cristobal. We return to Ronda and spend an afternoon in one of southern Spain's most attractive towns. Ronda is one of the original pueblos blancos (white towns). There will be time to wander the streets and marvel at the El Tajo gorge and visit the oldest bullring in Spain.
We travel the attractive Andalucia Express route south from Ronda towards the coast through rolling countryside via the painted villages of San Roque, Castellar de la Frontera and Gaucin. On arrival at Algeciras, we transfer to the ferry port where we will say goodbye to our Spanish local leader and catch an early afternoon ferry across the Straits of Gibraltar to Tangier in Morocco.
On arrival in Tangier, we will be met by our local leader and taken to our hotel to check in. After a short break to drop our belongings off to our rooms and get some lunch, we'll head out with our leader to immerse ourselves in the vibrancy and heady atmosphere of a Moroccan medina. We'll be guided through the network of narrow streets that make up the medina on foot for a couple of hours before transferring back to our hotel. The evening will be free to relax or explore independently. The contrast between the calm streets and squares of Ronda and the more energetic atmosphere of Tangier is quite incredible.
Tanjan Flandria (or similar)
After breakfast we will make our way to the train station to meet the train to Fes, the cultural capital of Morocco. Fes' colourful history is full of wars, murders, intrigue and cloak-and-dagger politics, so after checking in and some time to get lunch nearby to the hotel, we'll set off into the city to start exploring.
Around mid-afternoon we will begin an orientation tour by bus, visiting the Royal Palace, the viewpoint by the Merenid Tombs and an operational pottery factory by bus. Entrance inside the Royal Palace is not allowed, however, the seven grand golden gates make the visit worthwhile. Beautifully intricate and framed by traditional Zellige tiles, the gates give a hint to how ornate the inside of the palace must be and are a great place to take a photo that captures the essence of Fes. The Merenid Tombs are perched on a hill above Fes and although there is little known history about the tombs themselves it's believed they date back to the 14th century. While the ruins are a point of interest, the elevated viewpoint is the highlight, offering sweeping views to the city below, and with help of our leader we should be able to make out the different parts of the city.
Fes also has quite an active nightlife, centred around Avenues Hassan ll and Mohammed V. We enjoy two nights here to take in all the city has to offer.
Hotel Zahrat al Jabal (or similar)
After breakfast at the hotel we will take a guided walk through the Medina. We will explore the souks' craft areas, spice stalls, brass and copperware areas and look in on the very smelly but iconic tanneries. Beautiful buildings include the Sanctuary of Moulay Idriss 2nd, the Kairaouine Mosque and the Al Andalus Mosque (viewed from the outside only). We'll be walking for approximately 3 hours before lunch, and our guide will give some recommendations of where to eat both inside and outside of the medina.
This afternoon, we will re-join our bus and travel to the ancient Roman site of Volubilis. Perfectly located on a hilltop above fertile valleys, this site was once the capital of the Roman province Mauritania Tingitana and home to 20,000 residents. Despite being pillaged for materials, overthrown by newly-arriving Muslims and later crumbling with the effects of the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake, the site still features excellent examples of original mosaics and the Triumphal arch still stands.
We'll travel back to Fes in the late afternoon. This evening will be free to relax.
This morning we catch the morning train to the modern capital of Rabat, where we'll arrive in time for lunch. Although it was only established as the capital in 1912 by the French, Rabat's history stretches back to a settlement in the 8th century BC. On arrival we'll have some time for lunch before we spend a couple of hours on a guided tour with a mix of short bus transfers and walking.
We'll visit Rabat's iconic Hassan Tower which has been in the same state of construction since 1199 when Sultan Yaqoub al Mansour died. Despite the fact it's not yet finished it's still worth the visit; building commenced with the intention that it would be the tallest minaret in the world and inside there are ramps that were put in place so the muezzin (servant of the mosque) would be able to ride a horse up to call everyone for prayers. The tower is located at one end of a large esplanade that is filled with 200 marble columns and was built to be large enough for the Sultan's entire army to attend prayer, while the Mohammed V Mausoleum dominates the other end of this plaza.
Later, we will wander through the charming Kasbah des Oudaias; once a fortified town, the Kasbah now has a distinct Andalucian influence that can easily be seen as we make our way through the narrow, cobbled streets lined with white and blue houses.
This afternoon will be free to relax or explore further. There is an optional visit to the historical Chellah dating back to the 8th century BC. Once a prosperous Roman town and transformed by the Merinids into a cemetery, the Chellah is a fascinating and atmospheric place to visit.
Hotel Le Musee (or similar)
This morning we will take a train to Casablanca to visit the famous King Hassan II Mosque (optional entry), possibly the biggest religious monument for Muslims after Mecca. Finished in 1993, this magnificent building is covered in decorative Zellige tiles and has intricate cedar wood carvings - proof that the ancient crafts are still very much alive. After visiting the mosque we will have some free time to get lunch, before returning to the train station for our next leg to Marrakech, the heart of Morocco. The train ride will take most of the afternoon, on arrival we'll check into our hotel and the evening will be free.
Hotel Meriem (or similar)
This morning we experience the heady delights of Marrakech on a guided tour of this iconic city. Renowned for its beautiful architecture, we pass the rose-coloured Koutoubia 'booksellers' Mosque and enter the Saadian tombs, a magnificent complex, showcasing intricate Moroccan design at its finest. Our next stop is the Bahia Palace, a fusion of Moroccan and Islamic styles that is an excellently preserved open-air museum, and is naturally cool, making it a pleasure to wander around!
Munching on fresh pastries from a traditional bakery, we'll continue into the Medina on foot. Being guided through the labyrinth of colourful spice-scented souks serves up a feast for the senses. Rugs, leather goods, silverware and crockery of all shapes and sizes are on offer, have a true Marrakech experience by getting stuck in, haggling with one of the local traders to come away with an authentic souvenir. We'll visit a spice shop and see the variety of mouth-watering food on offer, sampling ripe dates with almonds from the stall sellers. Navigating our way out of the souks we find ourselves in the midst of the frantic Djemma el-Fna Square. Watch the street performers up close or head to a rooftop cafe to sip freshly squeezed orange juice and marvel at the spectacle unfolding below. During a free afternoon it is worth visiting are the Saadian Tomb, the Dar Si Said Palace (now Museum of Moroccan Art), the Menara Gardens or the Majorelle Gardens including the Museum of Islamic Art a short taxi ride away.
Today is free to explore the city further at your own pace. Alternatively, for a complete change of scenery, you may choose to go on an optional visit to a nearby High Atlas village today. The High Atlas is North Africa's greatest mountain range. Populated by Berber tribesmen, it has always been an area culturally removed from the rest of Morocco, a barrier between the northern plains and the pre-Sahara.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Marrakech.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Marrakech at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Marrakesh Menara Airport (RAK).
Depending on the schedule of your flights, you may have some additional time to wander in the souks of Marrakech or buy your last souvenirs before departure.
The climate is both Mediterranean and Atlantic. The dry, hot season is from May to October when summer temperatures can reach 38°C and above (if sight seeing is included we will do our best to avoid the heat of the day during this period). Temperatures may drop significantly at times during the night as the day's heat rapidly diminishes. From December to January snow can be expected on mountain passes and it can be wet. In winter, day temperatures will probably be around 18-25°C, dropping to perhaps 0-5°C.
2 Pin Round
Arabic, Berber, French.
Overall, spring, early summer and autumn are ideal times for a Spanish trip - though the weather varies enormously from region to region. The high central plains suffer from fierce extremes, stiflingly hot in summer, bitterly cold and swept by freezing winds in winter. The Atlantic coast, in contrast, has a tendency to damp and mist, and a relatively brief, humid summer. The Mediterranean south is warm virtually all year round. Spain's Islands the Canaries and Balaerics experience very mild winters and warm summers making them ideal year round destinations.
Castilian Spanish, Catalan, Galician, Basque
Granada - Alhambra Palace: Only limited tickets are made available for sale on arrival each day, however this will likely involve long queues. We recommend purchasing a ticket in advance via the website. Tickets go on sale 90 days prior to the visit. At the time of booking your ticket to the Alhambra, a time will be allocated for entry to Nasrid Palace and you are able to indicate a preferred time. In addition, entry to Nasrid Palace is strictly monitored and you will not be able to enter outside the allocated time. We therefore recommend booking tickets for entry on day three from 3.30pm onwards or on day four for no later than 1.30pm. Due to the train/public bus schedule from Granada to Ronda, you will need to be back at the hotel no later than 4pm on day four. For further details please visit \ul www.alhambra.org/eng \ulnone . There are a number of ticket types available through the office website - \ul \ulnone . 'Alhambra General' tickets start from €14 per person and will allow unguided access to the Alcazaba, Nasrid Palace and Generalife. Many visitors spend a few hours here, so please allow plenty of time to explore and book your entrance time accordingly. If you would prefer a guided visit, these are operated in English on a daily basis at specific times but may not coincide with our scheduled itinerary. Further details and times can be found here and tickets start at €69 per person - \ul \ulnone Tours of the Alhambra Palace run from 8am to 5pm and normally last for around three hours. Casablanca - Hassan II Mosque entrance €12 per person. Rabat - Chellah €1 per person. Marrakech - Full day excursion (from Marrakech) to a village in the Atlas Mountains, with Berber lunch
Summer: Clothing should be lightweight. However, a sweater or fleece is also advisable for the evenings, as temperatures can drop sharply. Lightweight, wind/water proof clothing is advisable. Winter: Warm days but much thicker clothing is essential for potentially cold days and nights (Nov-Apr). A waterproof and windproof jacket is strongly recommended during the winter period. Please note that the High Atlas mountains can be cold and windy all year round.
Trainers or lightweight walking shoes with a good tread are ideal for exploring cities on foot, plus sandals for relaxing. If you intend on visiting the Atlas Mountains, we recommend walking boots with good ankle support.
One main piece of baggage and daypack. Remember you are expected to carry your own luggage so don't overload yourself. We advise you pack light as porters can't always be guaranteed at train station or hotels and you will need to lift your luggage up to storage racks on the train. Luggage with wheels or a rucksack is most suitable for train travel.
Throughout this trip we use a range of comfortable accommodation, well located for for exploration of these diverse cities.
Bus, Taxi, Train
Throughout this trip we use a range of comfortable accommodation, well located for exploration of these diverse cities.
Can you drink the water?
The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.
Can you drink the water?
It is generally possible to drink the local tap water, therefore to reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles we recommend you bring a refillable water bottle with you. Your leader will advise you on refill points each day.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Spain: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office. Morocco: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against tetanus, typhoid, infectious hepatitis and polio. Consult your travel clinic for latest advice on different prophylaxis available against malaria. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.
Nothing compulsory but Tetanus is usually recommended as a precaution. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.
In 2023, Ramadan runs from 22nd March to 20th April. Read more about travelling during Ramadan.
The following 2023 departures will coincide with Ramadan.
9th April 2023