Moorish Crescent

Day 1 Almeria

Arrival in Almería. Afternoon tour with a local guide to visit the impressive fortress of the Alcazaba (closed Mondays), which was the biggest of the citadels built by the Moors in Spain. Its construction began in 955 at the height of Moorish power and was completed in the 11th C before falling to Christian hands in the epic war with Granada four centuries later. You will also see the simple church of San Juan, built on the site of the former mosque of the city. Lastly, visit the city’s 17th C unique cathedral fortress ; built for praying but also to defend the city against Berber pirate attacks. Free evening.

Day 2 Almeria - Granada

This morning your train journey through Andalucía begins, with the 09:00 departure from Almería to Granada. The route takes you across the desert terrain of Tabernas before entering the singular “badlands” terrain near the city of Guadix, a naturally eroded landscape that is starkly beautiful. Free time to stroll the elegant boulevards and riverside area near your hotel before this afternoon’s tour of the spectacular Alhambra Palace and its beautiful adjoining Generalife gardens. Afterwards, you will have our recommendations for restaurants in the downtown and the Albaicín quarter – where several places offer stunning views from their terraces of the floodlit Alhambra at night.

Day 3 Granada

Free day to explore the city at your leisure or perhaps set off on a walk in the woods above the Alhambra and loop back through the cave house district of the Sacromonte. You can take in the world with a beer and some tapas in say the Realejo neighbourhood, which mixes locals with university students, before meeting with your resident guide who this afternoon and evening will host you on an “insider’s” walking tour of the Albaicín, the historic Arab quarter of the city. This is then followed by an exclusive tasting dinner in a gourmet store stocking fine food products from Andalucía and all over Spain, with your host adding anecdotal details on the hams, cheeses, preserves, cold cuts and savoury dishes, all served with regional wines.

Day 4 Granada - Antequera

A mid-morning train to Antequera, your next destination on the “Moorish Crescent”. Conquered by the Christians in 1410, “Medina Anticaria” had in the almost seven centuries of Moorish control enjoyed great prosperity, being at the crossroads of important routes throughout al-Andalus, and its loss signaled the beginning of the end for Muslim Granada. Explore its well-restored castle from the 12th and 13th centuries, and then trace a self-guided walking route (notes provided) around some of its many convents, monasteries and churches. Some of the convents maintain the tradition of making traditional sweets and pastries, on sale to the public via a turntable (to preserve the cloistered nuns’ anonymity). Tonight you stay in the city’s Parador hotel, a modern contrast to all this antiquity.

Day 5 Antequera - Ronda

In your free time this morning you might like to visit the site of the Menga and Viera dolmens - megalithic structures which experts suggest date back as far as 3rd millennium BCE –some of the oldest man-made structures you will see in Europe. After lunch take the train to Ronda
and enjoy an afternoon tour in the company of an expert local guide who will tell you of its history that includes important Roman and Arab settlements as well as the fascinating links of its nobility with the Americas. You’ll visit its showpiece monument, one of the oldest bullrings in Spain, the spiritual home of bullfighting and even step inside the former city jail! Free evening with restaurant recommendations.

Day 6 Ronda - Tarifa

Explore Ronda further on your own this morning. A midday departure takes you on perhaps the most scenic part of the whole train ride, the section from Ronda to Castellar de la Frontera, where the line passes through steep-sided valleys lined with almond and olive groves. You will be met by our driver on arrival at Algeciras and driven the short distance to the port town of Tarifa, which sits on the southernmost tip of Spain looking across the Straits of Gibraltar to Africa. In the evening you have the choice of dining at the hotel or taking a local taxi into the old town of Tarifa.

Day 7 Tarifa

Farewell the town of Tarifa as your journey comes to an end...END OF ITINERARY!