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From city to country in Andalucia Spain

Read on to discover a guide to exploring Andalucia Spain with a fellow Explorer who experienced our Highlights of Andalucia trip.
Written by Aimee White who interviewed Amy
Date Published: 14 May 2024
 
Our Highlights of Andalucia small group tour visits Granada, Cordoba and Seville in the southern Spanish region of Andalucia. We were lucky enough to catch up with Amy and ask about her Explore trip. Find out what happened when she explored world-renowned landmarks, visited traditional Andalucian villages and embraced tapas culture. A guide to exploring .
 

What was your tour leader like?

I didn't know very much about Andalucia before this trip. I was worried that I wasn't going to fully appreciate where we were, but our tour leader, Craig, told us everything we needed to know (and more). He's lived in Andalucia for over 30 years and knows the region inside out. He took the time to explain the history and importance behind so many things; I could have walked past a statue and not thought anything of it, but Craig would stop to tell us about its significance. For anyone considering this tour, I'd say don't worry if you don't know a lot before you go - because you'll leave feeling like a local by the end.

Our group met at Malaga Airport, and from here we took a bus - which was more like a public coach - to Granada. The journey took around two hours, giving us enough time to get to know each other and talk about how excited we were for the week ahead. 

What's one of your highlights from the tour?

One of my tour highlights came right at the start, in Granada. After dinner one evening, we drank this herbal liqueur - something Craig actually described as "green sludge" - before climbing the steep steps to the top of the Alhambra Palace. At night, this Moorish palace complex is all lit up, and it looks so beautiful. There were so many couples enjoying the romance of it all. We admired the incredible views over the city while listening to Craig tell us more about Alhambra Palace and what we could see inside.

Did you learn anything new on this trip?

We had the opportunity to watch a couple of flamenco shows - one in Cordoba and one in Seville - where we were essentially front row for the entire performances. I learned that flamenco dancing is steeped in rich history, making it very important to Andalucian culture. 

Did you get on with your fellow trip-goers?

"Our group gelled really well, and we spent most of our time together." We ordered our own dishes to begin with, but tapas culture is huge in Andalucia, so we got used to sharing small plates of ensaladilla, croquetas, boquerones and more. We were picking food from each other's plates by the end of the trip!

After Granada, we took our next bus up to Cordoba, which took around two hours. Our orientation tours were fascinating, but I also appreciated having free time to explore for ourselves. This gave us the chance to visit any landmarks or sites we particularly wanted to visit. 

What extras did you have to pay for?

Anything we wanted to see or do outside of the trip (in our spare time), along with our meals, weren't included in the trip price, but it allowed us to see Andalucia on our own terms. Craig was great at making our money go a bit further, too. For example, at the flamenco shows, we either had to order one drink or a set-price meal. 

Another tour highlight? Go on then...

We also ventured into rural Andalucia, including the village that Craig lives in. This was between Cordoba and Seville: we took a train to Seville, a taxi to the village and then another back to Seville. I felt so lucky seeing areas that you wouldn't visit on a typical holiday. We took beautiful countryside walks and passed remnants of the area's past and present, like a derelict bullfighting ring and factories for cured ham.

"I wouldn't have known where to visit had it not been for this small group tour." One morning, we chatted with the locals who owned arts and crafts shops. Not only did we have a chance to support their work, but we also gained an insight into the local community of these smaller towns and villages. 

From Cordoba, we took the train to Seville, where our orientation tour covered the likes of the Jewish Quarter and Plaza Santa Cruz. Then there was Plaza de Espana - just wow. While I've seen plenty of photographs of this striking semi-circular plaza before, seeing it in person, in all its brilliance, actually took my breath away. Patterned tiles called azulejos adorn some of the structures, and there's a large fountain, canal and cute bridges - there's so much going on.

Would this tour suit solo travellers?

I would 100% recommend this tour to solo travellers. It was pretty much an even split of couples and solo travellers. On this specific trip we had single rooms at each accommodation, which was good because we were so tired by the end of each day.

I spent two days travelling solo, away from the group. I visited Cadiz, a port city on the southwestern coast, just over an hour's drive from Seville. I enjoyed this solo time, but it reminded me why a small group tour is so important. There wasn't anyone to share those experiences with, or to get excited about what you're doing the next day.

To sum up...
A week of flamenco dancing, rural walks, chatting with locals, striking architecture and plenty of tapas... I couldn't have asked for a better holiday to Seville. I'm now confident that no matter where I go next, anywhere with Explore is going to be outstanding.

Amy's 5 top tips for visiting Andalucia

1. Say "yes" more
If your tour leader makes any recommendations, say "yes" as much as you can. You'll truly get beneath the surface and learn so much more about the destination. 

2. Tell us everything
Sometimes our tour leaders like to suggest places to eat or experiences to try, from local bars to cultural activities. To make sure they can keep the group's best interests at heart, ensure that Explore know of any dietary requirements, allergies or similar before you depart. 

3. Shoes
For this trip, it's recommended to wear a pair of sturdy walking shoes. It's also worth packing a second (and possibly third) pair of shoes, too, so that your feet don't ache from hitting the same pressure points day after day. 

4. Pack a layer or two
Andalucia is situated in southern Spain, which generally sees high temperatures all year-round. The evenings can feel cooler than the daytime, so pack a light layer, just in case.

5. Bring cashMany restaurants in Andalucia can't split the bill across multiple credit cards. If you can, take some cash (euros) with you to make things easier and smoother for everyone involved.
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