From snow-capped mountains to arid deserts, Spain is a diverse, fascinating nation, a true melting pot of culture, influenced by North Africa and Latin Europe. Today one of the most dynamic countries in Europe, Spain’s history has mingled Christians, Muslims and Jews, creating a unique cultural and architectural heritage. Long a destination for European package travellers drawn to the sandy beaches of the costas, visitors are increasingly drawn to the culturally rich cities of Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Bilbao, Valencia and Granada.
The country’s scenic landscapes, from the Pyrenees across to Galicia in the north and down to Andalucia in the south, provide tranquil retreats away from the crowds It is the only European country to have a border with an African country (morokolo) and its African territory accounts for nearly 5% of its population, mostly in the Canary Islands but also in Ceuta and Melilla.With an area of 505,990 km2 (195,360 sq mi), Spain is the largest country in Southern Europe, the second largest country in Western Europe and the European Union, and the fourth largest country in the europe By population, Spain is the sixth largest in Europe and the Fifth in the European Union. Spain's capital and largest city is madrid other major urban ares include barcelona, valincia seville and malaga.
Meals: None Upon arrival at the Seville airport meet your representative and transfer by private vehicle to your hotel where you will be assisted with check-in. Overnight: Gran Hotel Melia Colon / Hotel Alfonso XIII.
Meals:Breakfast Enjoy a full-day sightseeing tour (8 hours) of Seville with your English-speaking guide and private vehicle. Visit the 15th Century Cathedral, one of the most breathtaking in all of Christendom, and see La Giralda, Seville's most famous monument. The Moorish tower was erected as a minaret in the 12th century. Visit the Alcazar, a magnificent 14th century Mudejar palace that is one of the oldest royal residences in Europe still in use. Enjoy a walk through the Barrio de Santa Cruz, a maze of narrow streets, whitewashed houses, small squares and flower filled patios. Visit the Museum of Fine Arts, a former convent of the Merced, which today contains important religious works from the Middle Ages and famed above all for the magnificent paintings by Zurbarán, Ribera and Murillo. Continue to the Casa de Pilatos, home of one of Seville's great aristocratic families. The palace was modelled on Pilate's house in Jerusalem and blends Spanish Mudejar and Renaissance architecture. This evening transfer by private vehicle to Tablao El Arenal for an authentic Flamenco show. The Tablao El Arenal is situated in a building dating from the 17th Century and its architecture and decoration are typically Andalusian. Enjoy a complimentary beverage during the show. After the show, transfer back to your hotel by private vehicle. Overnight: Gran Hotel Melia Colon / Hotel Alfonso XIII.
Meals: Breakfast Meet your Seville Guardian Angel and driver for your private transfer to the Seville rail station to board your train (Club Class carriage) to Madrid. Upon arrival at the Madrid rail station, where you will be met by your Madrid Guardian Angel and transferred by private vehicle to your hotel. This afternoon meet your guide for a 4 hour overview walking tour of Madrid. Wander through the historic centre, the arcaded 17th century Plaza Mayor and the Puerta del Sol before visiting the Palacio Real, whose rooms are filled with art treasures and antiques. Wander back to your hotel with your guide. Overnight: Intercontinental Madrid / Hotel Ritz Madrid.
Meals: Breakfast Enjoy a full day tour (up to 8 hours) with your local English-speaking guide. This morning visit the Prado Museum, which for many visitors is one of Madrid's main attractions. Here you can view works by Spain's three great masters: Goya, Velazquez and El Greco. After touring the Prado, continue to Toledo, a fortified city dating from Roman times, when it was the capital of Visigothic Spain. Sightseeing will include the Cathedral, a blend of 13th, 14th and 15th century architecture, and the Church of Santo Tomé, housing El Greco's most famous painting 'Burial of Count Orgaz'. Overnight: Intercontinental Madrid / Hotel Ritz Madrid.
Meals: Breakfast You are met at your hotel by your Madrid Guardian Angel and transferred by private vehicle to the Madrid rail station to board your AVE train (Club Class carriage) to Barcelona. Upon arrival at the Barcelona rail station you will be met by your Barcelona Guardian Angel. Transfer by private vehicle to your hotel. Overnight: El Palalce Barcelona / Mandarin Oriental Barcelona.
Meals: Breakfast Today enjoy a full day sightseeing tour (8 hours) in Barcelona with your English-speaking guide and private vehicle. Discover the masterpieces of Catalonia's most famous architect, Gaudí: the Casa Mila with its wave-like facade and the impressive but unfinished Sagrada Familia Basilica. You will also visit the Parc Guell, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Gaudi's most colourful creations. This afternoon transfer to the true heart of the old city - the medieval Gothic Quarter. Visit the magnificent 13th-century Cathedral, notable for its fine Gothic chapels, medieval choir stalls and shady cloister. Also visit the Picasso Museum, where some of the painter's earliest works are housed in the remarkable setting of a part-Gothic and part-Roman Palace. Overnight: El Palace Barcelona / Mandarin Oriental Barcelona.
Meals: Breakfast Transfer to Barcelona airport this morning for your flight to Casablanca. Upon arrival into Casablanca, meet your local representative and transfer to your hotel. The name Casablanca evokes ideas of good living, romance and adventure in a tropical setting, an image that the 1943 Humphrey Bogart film conveyed to cinema-goers in the drab years of WWII. Originally settled by Berbers in the 7th century, Casablanca’s fairly recent growth has made it the bustling, French-influenced business center of Morocco it is today. Overnight: Hyatt / Le Dodge.
Meals: Breakfast This morning’s sightseeing begins with an excursion around the port city of Casablanca, Morocco’s largest metropolis and its industrial hub. During your tour visit the Hassan II Grand Mosque. The mosque is amongst the largest in the world and can house as many as 25,000 worshipers. The mosque’s minaret is the tallest religious structure in the world. Built on reclaimed land, almost half of the surface of the mosque lies over the Atlantic water. This was inspired by the verse of the Qur'an that states "the throne of God was built on the water". Part of the floor of this facility is glass so worshippers can kneel directly over the sea. Above, lasers shine at night from the top of the minaret toward Mecca. After lunch depart Casablanca heading to Fes. Arrive in the afternoon and check in to your hotel. Overnight: Riad Fes.
Meals: Breakfast Take a step back in time to the Middle Ages today visiting one of the most imperial, timeless and untouched cities in the world - Fez El Bali (Old Fez) – the cultural heart of Morocco. Explore some of the 9000 narrow lanes, alleys and souks that make-up the labyrinth of the city’s old quarter, originally founded in the 8th Century AD by Moulay Idriss I. Your day of sightseeing also includes visits to the Nejjarine Square, with its beautiful fountain with elaborate tile-work mosaics and the nearby Fondouq (Caravanserai), now converted to a museum of carpentry artifacts. The Imperial capital was a renowned center of medieval learning and at its heart still remains the Karaouine, one of the oldest, still functioning, universities in the world. In the neighboring building is the Attarine Medersa (Koranic college), a jewel of Hispano-Moorish architecture, built in the 14th Century. Also visit Fez El Jedid (New Fez), built by the Merinid Dynasty in the 13th Century. See the Royal Palace, mosques, medersas, souks and the city wall. Most notably, Fez El Jedid is home to the Mellah, the old Jewish quarter, which provides an interesting insight into Jewish architecture. The wrought iron decorated windows and splendid carved wood balconies of the old mansions are particularly outstanding. The medieval Medina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Overnight: Riad Fes.
Meals: Breakfast After breakfast, depart overland to Meknes (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), one of the Imperial Cities of Morocco. Your drive will take approximately 3 hours. In Meknes, the impressive monuments recall the splendor of a city, first built in the 17th Century by the powerful sultan Moulay Ismail, to rival the court of his contemporary Louis XIV of France. During your visit to Meknes, see the monumental Bab Mansour gateway - considered one of the finest of the great gates of Morocco, the Granaries and the Royal Stables, which were built to accommodate some 12,000 horses. Also see Moulay Ismail’s Mausoleum, one of the few shrines in Morocco that can be visited by non-Muslims. From here it is on to Volubilis (also a UNESCO World Heritage Site), home to the largest and most well preserved Roman ruins in Morocco. With its Triumphal Arches, Basilicas and Capitols, the Volubilis skyline is peppered with examples of Roman architecture. However, the greatest treasures of Volubilis are the superb mosaic floors, which have been excellently preserved and left in situ. Three outstanding examples include: Orpheus charming animals with his lyre, nine dolphins signifying good luck, and a portrait of Amphitrite in a chariot drawn by a seahorse. At the conclusion of your sightseeing, transfer to your hotel. Overnight: Villa Mandarine.
This morning embark on a city tour which highlight’s Rabat’s cultural influences and the superbly preserved relics of its Moorish past. Rabat’s most famous site is the 12th Century Hassan Tower (an excellent example of the gorgeous Mauresque style), the incomplete minaret of the great mosque built by Yacoub al-Mansour. Located alongside the minaret is the mausoleum dedicated to Mohamed V, the founder of modern Morocco and grandfather of the current king. Continue your tour with a visit to the Oudaya Kasbah, which is built on a bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Its gate is one of the most beautiful surviving in the Moorish world. Beyond the city walls are the remains of the ancient city of Sala, also known as Chella. Later on, your journey overland to Marrakech the “Pearl of the South” will take approximately 4 hours and cover some 300km Overnight: Jardin de la Medina / Villa des Orangers.
Meals: Breakfast This morning, set out to discover the secrets of Marrakech, the most famous city in Morocco. Most of the city’s architectural attractions are inside the Medina, the old walled section of the town. Built in the 12th Century, the Koutoubia minaret is the most perfect Islamic religious structure in North Africa. This famous landmark dominates the local skyline and can easily be spotted from all of Marrakech. Hidden away behind high walls are the Saadian Tombs. The Mausoleum displays a very high level of decoration, using traditional stucco and delicate Granada-style carving, which is typical of classical Moroccan buildings. The Bahia Palace is a masterpiece of domestic architecture which provides a good insight into how the privileged lived in the Imperial city in the 19th Century. The use of marble, stucco and mosaics predominates in the apartments, opening on to courtyards filled with fountains and plant life. Dar Si Said, one of the most beautiful palaces, is now home to the museum of Moroccan Arts and Crafts. Inside are stunning collections of traditional woven carpets and Berber silver jewellery. This afternoon, visit the labyrinthine souks of the old town. This maze of colorful alleys and small squares are home to a bewildering array of stalls and ateliers devoted to specific crafts. As evening approaches, head to Djemaa El Fna, the city’s main square. No one can really be certain how it came into being, but over the years the squarehas become the beating heart of Marrakech, where fire-eaters, mime artists,snake-charmers and street musicians perform at every turn. Overnight: Jardin de la Medina / Villa des Orangers.
Meals: Breakfast Bid farewell to Morocco today as you depart for the airport where your international departure flight awaits to home.