Looking to get off the beaten track in Andalucia? We’ve scratched beneath the surface of this exciting, historic area of Spain, asked local experts and come up with a list of little-known things to…
‘Tour’. Just the mention of the word might conjure up visions of a guide with an umbrella droning on to a large group of disinterested tourists as they traipse round a series of overcrowded sights.
It’s time to leave those preconceptions behind, though. Because tours have changed.
In southern Spain, at least, tours these days tend to be unique experiences that take you deep under the skin of a place; inspiring, enlightening and helping you to make indelible holiday memories.
We’ve worked hard to find the most enthusiastic, knowledgeable and fun tour guides to give you an access-all-areas insight to Spain. Here are a few of our favourite Marbella tours…
Tapas Tour of Marbella
We can all go wandering around a town or city and trust in a mix of travel guides, social media and (gulp) TripAdvisor to help us find the best places to eat. But it can be hit and miss.
The beauty of a tapas tour is that you only get taken to the best, most authentic places, know exactly what to order in each bar and also have someone on hand to give you an insight into Spanish food, too.
More information: Tomaandcoe.com
Off-road Buggy Tours
Leave city life behind and get into a motor powered (500cc) buggy: four wheels, low to the ground, a roll cage and the countryside to explore – this is a whole lot of fun.
Your guide will take you on a tour where you get to splash through rivers, skid round dusty corners, zoom through valleys and up mountains.
More information: Buggyfunmarbella.com
Marbella Helicopter Tour
Something a whole lot less exhausting but just as exhilarating is seeing the countryside surrounding Marbella from the air – by helicopter, to be exact.
There are lots of tours to choose from. A couple of our favourites are: flying over Ronda (seeing the town and its magnificent bridge perched on the gorge from the air is something else!); taking the helicopter for a romantic countryside lunch; or a tour of Marbella’s ultra-exclusive Golden Mile.
More information: Heliairmarbella.com
Spirit of Jerez Tour
A day trip from Marbella to Jerez is a must for wine-lovers. The home of Sherry, you can forget everything you think you know about classic Spanish vinos and be swept away by the history and culture of one of Spain’s greatest wine towns.
Aside from a guided tour with tastings of the centuries-old Sherry wineries, you get to visit the Royal Equestrian School for which Jerez is also famous. Here you can visit the stables as well as seeing an exhibition of spectacular horsemanship.
Afterwards, there’s even time for a tapas lunch sampling platters of regional specialities. Washed down with a glass or two of Sherry, of course.
More information: Tomaandcoe.com
A Day at an Olive Farm
Spend the day in a beautiful farmhouse (just a short drive from Marbella) learning about organic olive farming. Disconnect and reconnect with nature among fields of olives.
You’ll learn what the different olives taste and look like, and what the difference is between EVVO and lower quality oil.
You’ll also see how traditional methods are still used to harvest this golden oil which is so important to the Mediterranean diet – past, present and future.
After the tour you stay at the farmhouse for an al fresco rustic lunch of local produce, giving new meaning to ‘farm to fork’. There’s even a visit to a 15th-century chapel with its very own mosque.
More information: Tomaandcoe.com
Malaga Cooking Tour
Here at LVC we’ve always thought that there’s no better way to get to know a culture than exploring it through its food. And it’s with this firmly in mind that we’ve chosen this Malaga cooking day tour.
Malaga city centre is only 50mins drive from the centre of Marbella so a easy day trip. Starting the day in a fresh food market in Malaga city you’ll be guided around the meat, vegetables, spices and fish to select what dishes are going to be made for lunch.
Once you’ve stocked up on supplies, you leave the big city behind and are driven out into the countryside north of Malaga to an 18th-century farmhouse.
Here you’re guided through various Spanish staple dishes, before settling down to eat them for yourself in a setting that couldn’t be more quintessentially Andalucian.
More information: Tomaandcoe.com
Morocco Day Tour
One of the great things about visiting this part of the world is that you can easily add another continent to your travel log and nip across to Africa for the day.
This day tour allows you to get under the skin of Morocco’s rich cultural heritage, meander around the Kasbah, the Medina and food markets and be shielded from tourist traps and haggling. Lunch is in keeping with a sensory tour of Tangier keeping your taste buds tickled.
More information: Tomaandcoe.com
Uber-Luxe Moroccan Overnight Trip
For something a little bit special, you don’t get much more VIP than this overnight tour of Tangier.
You’re driven over from Marbella to Tarifa from where you can hop across the Straits, take in the sights, do some shopping, and then settle down to dinner in a private house/mansion that belonged to a Sheikh.
Tour of Gibraltar’s Tunnels
Gibraltar is just over an hour by car from Marbella old town. The little slice of Britain in southern Spain is certainly a curious place… plus, well, it’s got monkeys. So it’s hardly surprising that it so often makes visitors’ to-do lists of things to do when visiting Marbella.
Gibraltar is very small – so why do you need a tour we hear you ask? Well, it’s simply because the interesting part of this British territory is its history.
The Rock is riddled with military tunnels with long and colourful pasts, and the best way to see and learn about them is to go with a guide who can bring it all to life for you.
More information: Gibraltar-sightseeing.com
Moorish Malaga City Tour
With its Pablo Picasso art heritage, shopping, diehard foodie credentials and lovely history-studded old centre, the city of Malaga offers a jam-packed day of sightseeing.
Rather than doing a whole city tour and trying to take it all on in a day, we’ve chosen a specific tour of just the Alcazaba.
Exploring this palace-fort with a guide gives you a unique insight into Moorish Malaga and a bit of general background into the captivating history of Al-Andalus – not to mention some beautiful views of the city.
This tour is only just over an hour long, so you’ve got plenty of time to see at least some of the rest of Malaga. Our top lunch tip is La Terraza de la Aduana: the views are wonderful; the service is excellent and the food’s delicious.
More information: Malagaadventures.com
11. Historic Ronda
Ronda is a inland town, just an hour from Marbella. It has a wealth of historic sights to see from bull rings to palaces. It’s setting is spectacular sitting on a gorge and the old town is charming.
The tour visits all the sights in Ronda with a guide explaining the relevance of each as well as a boutique winery in a ancient monastery.
More information: Tomaandcoe.com
Why Hire a Tour Guide Rather than Going Solo?
A guide takes the pain away from doing the research. They’ll take you to the best places, order the best food and drink and impart as much knowledge as you choose to absorb.
You’ll also get the opportunity to ask any burning questions you have about Marbella, or just Spain generally, with no stone left unturned.
A lot of tours can be private or in small groups so there’s no limitations as to where you can visit and what you can see because of group size. There’s no better way to experience the real Spain than through a local who really knows their stuff.
If this has spiked interest and you want to see the best places to stay in Marbella then our collection of luxury villas are here. And for more reading on things to do while on holiday to Southern Spain then there are lots of fun self-guided day trips to do from Marbella too.
Array (  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 139603 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2020-12-11 09:50:40 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-12-11 09:50:40 [post_content] => Looking to get off the beaten track in Andalucia? We’ve scratched beneath the surface of this exciting, historic area of Spain, asked local experts and come up with a list of little-known things to see and do for our guide to hidden Andalucia...
If the bird's eye view of the inside of the cathedral looks spectacular, then to cap it off you emerge outside with 360-degree rooftop views of Malaga. [email protected]
Visit Malaga Cathedral's Roof
The top tip of Lindsay Gregory, Director of The Luxury Villa Collection: “Stroll around Malaga historic centre, take a hammam at Mammam Al Andalus and finish with cocktails at a rooftop bar.” https://malaga.hammamalandalus.com/en/
RELAX IN A HAMMAM
A rather lovely town with a Moorish fortress complex and no fewer than 30 churches. Don’t miss having tapas in the impressive Plaza de los Escribanos.
Meander in Antequera
Just outside Antequera, these are some of the largest and most complete megalithic structures in Europe. Museosdeandalucia.es
Visit Three 5000-year-old Dolmens
The ruins of a 9th-century church carved out of rock are the highlights of a larger fortified town complex. Anything 9th century and still standing is incredible in our books.
Wonder at a 9TH Century Church – Bobastro
A house with a garden in the Albayzin (the oldest part of Granada city) is known as a Carmen. These Carmens look out towards the Alhambra Palace, often have wooden balconies, plant-filled patios, babbling water features and decorative tiles.
Nose Around the Carmens of Granada's Albayzin
This 17th-century abbey and college comes complete with holy caves/ancient catacombs. The view of Granada alone is worth the walk.
Visit the Abbey of Sacromonte, Granada
This village has stately houses gripping onto the edge of a gorge, cobbled streets and spa credentials. Our top tip is to escape the summer heat in Granada and visit Alhama – it has a unique microclimate where summer nights cool to a comfortable level.
Take a day trip to Alhama de Granada and its Natural Hot Springs
Once part of several fortifications, the castle that sits on this tiny island dates back to the 13th century.
Find Out the Mysteries of the Island of Sancti Petri, San Fernando, Cadiz
This pristine white village, sitting high on a rocky hilltop, really comes into its own at sunrise and dusk. Aside from the dramatic light, there are lovely boutique shops, great restaurants and, during the summer, look out for their candlelight festival.
Experience the Beautiful Light in Vejer de la Frontera
While it's got a great beach with some decent Atlantic surf, it’s the laidback-hip bar vibe in El Palmar that makes it stand out from other stretches of southern Spain's coast.
Surf and Sip in El Palmar
David, chef at De Tako's top tip is, “One of the best ways to experience a country is through its food and an even better way is to enjoy perfectly cooked food is in an incredible setting surrounded by friends". We entirely agree – hire a private chef at your villa for the ultimate in convenience.
HIRE A Private Chef
One of our top hidden foodie treats in Andalucia is delicious Retinto beef from Cadiz. Much is spoken about fried fish, olives and olive oil, jamón ibérico and Sherry but this meaty option is also a real gastro-standout.
Taste Riotinto Beef
Hire a boat and hit the sea - you’ll almost inevitably come across a pod of dolphins in the Mediterranean.
Take to the Sea – Dolphin Watch
This forgotten about 12th-century arched gateway and wall was the main entrance into Seville, and is certainly off the beaten path.
Puerta de Macarena/Walls of Seville
You'll never have experienced a bar like Garlochí, a homage to Easter in Spain. All year round there's incense burning and procession music playing – they call it the cathedral of bars. Don’t miss their signature cocktail: Grenadine, whisky and Cava.
Drink at a Bar Dedicated to Easter in Sevilla
There’s a succession of beautiful waterfalls running over some interesting limestone formations in Sierra Norte de Sevilla Nature Park.
Wild Swimming at Cascadas de Hueznar in Seville Province
Fiona Flores Watson, Telegraph Travel Writer and Seville resident recommends: “The summer outdoor concerts held in the Alcazar Palace… a magical setting for live jazz, flamenco or classical music by moonlight.” Alcazarsevilla.org
SEE LIVE MUSIC IN THE ALCAZAR PALACE
The castle of Castillo de Almodovar del Rio was built in 740. You can join theatrical tours, do some medieval combat training or spooky storytelling. Castillodealmodovar.com
Visit Highgarden, the Tyrell’s House in Game of Thrones
Manni Coe of Toma & Coe Tours' top tip is: “One of the most consistently excellent restaurants I know in Andalucia is located on a little-known street, in the little-known town of Lucena. It's called Tres Culturas and it's also a handy stop off en-route to Cordoba." Tresculturasrestaurante.com
TRAVEL TO EAT AT TRES CULTURAS
In the Sierra de Cazorla natural park this castle was built at the start of the 16th century. A beautiful monument in an even more beautiful part of the world.
Marvel at the Castle of Iruela, Jaen
The colours of autumn over the vast landscape of rural Huelva is the perfect way to disconnect. Local people flock here to experience the change of the season.
Reconnect with Nature and See Autumn in Aracena
This breath-taking beach near the charming village of San Jose feels like another world.
Genoveses beacH in Cabo de Gata, Almeria
A bit of a cheat but do a tour…
Our top 5 are: Most unusual is in Segura de la Sierra in Jaen province: this square bullring is the old courtyard of a castle and was built in the 18th century. Ronda bullring is the second oldest and the biggest. Seville bullring is the oldest; Antequera's is famed for appearing in Madonna’s Take a Bow video; Mijas has spectacular views and is simply charming. Archidona usually erects a bullring inside its eight-sided main square during the summer season. Like this and want to know more about visiting southern Spain? Check out our 50 things to do in Andalucia and our guide to the five best cities to visit in Andalucia [post_title] => Hidden Andalucia [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => hidden-andalucia [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-01-31 15:25:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-01-31 15:25:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://theluxuryvillacollection.com/?p=139603 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 133379 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2020-10-03 15:27:14 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-10-03 15:27:14 [post_content] =>
See Andalucia through its Bullrings
(As of Nov 2020)Since the global pandemic reached our countries in early 2020 there has been restrictions in one way or another on the way we live our lives. With the sheer amount of press on Covid-19 it’s difficult to see the wood from the trees. So we wanted to reach out to our guests and give you a clear idea of what it’s really like to be in southern Spain in 2020. As we become used to Covid-19 not going away we’re getting better at carrying on with our lives but with safety measures in place. Obviously, those who are at high risk may adopt a more stringent approach to their activities but for the rest of us we’re getting out and about responsibly. While we at The Luxury Villa Collection welcomed guests during 2020 we realise that clarity on what it's like in southern Spain is needed.
What restrictions are there in southern Spain?Shops, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, events, museums and art galleries all have capacity limits to ensure social distancing can be adhered to safely. Businesses all have hand sanitizer at the door so customers can clean their hands upon entering and leaving an establishment. As of 25th October there is a curfew between 22.00hrs and 07.00hrs. Further restrictions have been put in place to limit the movement of people outside their municipalities. Face coverings must be worn at all times if over 6 years old, other than:
- People playing sports do not have to wear a mask whilst engaged in the sporting activity.
- Masks do not need to be worn by customers who are eating, drinking, or smoking.
- In the sea or swimming pool.
- In a designated household sunbathing area on the beach.
Do I have to wear a face covering?The use of face coverings is mandatory for anyone over the age of 6 years old at all times unless during one of the points stated above. This includes in all forms of indoor and outdoor public spaces even if social distancing can be applied. For countries that haven’t adopted this measure, face coverings seem a huge inconvenience but what they have allowed people to do is enjoy their holiday as normal with face coverings and social distancing being the only restrictions.
Are restaurants open?Yes, restaurants and cafes are open with limitations place upon their capacity to ensure tables are spaced out enough so customers can remove their face coverings while drinking or eating. Serving staff and chefs must wear masks at all times.
Are Beaches open in Andalucia?Yes. Once on a beach in your own sunbathing area and in the sea you may remove face coverings. The sunbathing areas must be 2 metres apart and social distancing must be adhered to in the sea. Some beaches have allocated sunbathing areas others are flexible but there are personnel checking that people adhere to social distancing rules while enjoying the beach. No distancing is necessary within your family unit. The norms that local governments put in place over summer 2020 worked to great effect and people could enjoy the beaches of the Costa del Sol, Costa de la Luz and Costa Tropical.
Are tourist sights open?Yes. Restrictions on numbers being allowed into famous landmarks, tourist attractions and galleries has meant some sights have never been so quiet. Achieving the perfect photo of the Alhambra Palace or Real Alcazar de Sevilla without other sightseers is actually possible.
Does a face covering need to be worn while driving?When driving alone or with your household no face covering needs to be worn, but if there are passengers or a driver from a different household then everyone must wear a face covering.
What’s the general mood in southern Spain?Summer 2020 saw fewer parties for sure: the dancing all night in a club and watching the sunrise from a buzzing rooftop bar was and is not on the cards at the moment. However, long lunches beside the sea, visiting theme parks, historic sights, galleries and museums, beach days and outdoor activities are all there being enjoyed. It's really business as usual with the some sensible parameters in place. Some of our guests used our villas with entertainment rooms, cinemas, spas and abundance of space to organise private experiences from chefs to talks to spa treatments and live music. Bringing the wonderful Spanish culture into the safety of their private villa.
What is State of Alarm and What Does it Mean?The phrase state of alarm sounds very official and, well, alarming however, it is really just an administration step for the government and helps regional governments put in place restrictions. This phase allows the government (if necessary) to limit the movement of people at specific locations and times, temporary use private industries (such as private hospitals), limit the use of services and ensure the supply of necessary goods and services. In 2020 during Covid19, the state of alarm has meant limiting the movement of people between different provinces and curfews been implemented (from 23.00-06.00hrs). In no circumstances does state of alarm mean visitors aren't permitted to travel back to their home country.
Air travel – Is it safe?So far there has been little evidence of in-flight transmission of coronavirus, but there have been a couple of examples of transmission early on in the pandemic before more stringent controls were in place. Shaun Fitzgerald, Royal Academy of Engineering visiting professor at the University of Cambridge said, aircraft ventilation systems are unique, the “replacement rate” - the number of times a volume of air equivalent to the volume of the cabin is removed each hour - can be four minutes in a aircraft. Compare this to 20 or 30 minutes in an indoor environment on the ground and it’s very brisk. The air filters themselves on aeroplanes are sophisticated and much more effective than filters found in indoor venues on the ground. Most airlines say face coverings are mandatory, limit food and drink services and don’t allow queuing for the toilet. The airports themselves are being diligent ensuring social distancing is in place as well as temperature controls in some. As from October 2020 if traveling from Europe or the UK:
- You must complete a health control form - which includes a HCF - a negative PCR test within 72hrs of your arrival to Spain.