‘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…
Each country has its beautiful cities, but in Spain they blend historic appeal, modern vivacity and a distinctly exotic quality like few others. Which can mean that when choosing which city in Spain to visit you’re often forced to cut favourites out of shortlists, such is the depth of the country’s appeal.
Thank goodness, then, for Andalucia. Spain’s southernmost region is packed with some of the country’s most fascinating cities – and here are just a few of our favourites.
Once an earthy Mediterranean port city, Malaga now has it all: culture, history, architecture, shopping, dining, nightlife and sandy Mediterranean beaches. Indeed, this is a place where you can shop, dine, visit museums and lay on the beach all in the same day.
Geographically the city is dominated by the Gibralfaro hill on which stands the Alcazaba, a fortified Moorish palace from the 11th century. A little further up, on the crest of the hill, a 14th-century castle overlooks the city and its bay amidst spectacular panoramic views.
The foot of the Gibralfaro, where a Roman amphitheatre meets the city centre, forms the point at which past and present come together. Cross the street and you enter the old town, a wonderful maze of squares, streets and pedestrian shopping areas lined with elegant buildings. Crowning this area are the cathedral, built in Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles, and the Picasso Museum, home to the works of Malaga’s most famous son.
A little further along is the Carmen Thyssen Museum, along with the Centre Pompidou at the stylish Muelle Uno portside shopping and entertainment area, just two of many fascinating spots in what is fast becoming one of Europe’s cultural gems. Situated between the centre and the port is a stylish boulevard flanked on both sides by a tree-lined promenade. Here stately buildings alternate with the greenery of botanical gardens, an area that gradually gives way to beaches and the ‘La Malagueta’ suburb.
Another jewel in the Andalucian crown is Granada. Settled within a broad, fertile floodplain known as the Vega, this ancient city is above all known for its association with Moorish Spain, of which the legendary Alhambra palace-fortress remains the most tangible legacy. Surrounded by fragrant gardens, the latter encompasses an entire hilltop complex.
Though most views in Granada are characterised by this hilltop sentinel framed by the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada rising up behind it, the Alhambra itself looks out over the Albaicín – a charming maze of streets, squares and houses that still retains much of its medieval feel. Here you find stylish Arab-style baths and spas, Moroccan-inspired tetería tearooms and also houses whose private gardens, courtyards and rooftop terraces recall the days when this was the last Moorish capital of Andalucia.
From the rich ambience of the Albaicín, the city of Granada spreads out into an elegant baroque historic centre full of grand churches, imposing public buildings and beautiful monuments. In many ways a typically lively and impressive southern Spanish city, Granada is also the official birthplace of the tapa. So, expect many an opportunity to enjoy this very social way of dining across the many tapas bars and small restaurants that dot one of Spain’s most visited historic centres.
Straddling a curve on the Guadalquivir River, Cordoba is the embodiment of Andalucia’s glorious past. The city owes its prominent role in Spanish history primarily to its strategic location at the entrance to Andalucia. Famous leaders as diverse as Julius Caesar, Abd al-Rahman III and Ferdinand and Isabella fought to control the city at one time or another, so it’s not surprising that Cordoba has been destroyed and rebuilt more times than any other in Andalucia.
Though founded in pre-Roman times, Cordoba is above all famous for its magnificent Grand Mosque, the monumental structure that has become the symbol of the city. Surrounded by the tightly packed houses of the medieval Judería, or Jewish quarter, the mosque is one of the many architectural wonders within this corner of southern Spain, to which can be added later baroque edifices such as the Reyes Alcazares palace and the 14th-century Torre de Calahorra, which stands guard over the ancient river.
Sevilla, as it’s known locally, is the bustling capital of Andalucia, a sprawling old city full of life and sights. The city, and in particular the old quarter on the east bank of the Guadalquivir river, contains some of the finest buildings and monuments anywhere in Spain. They are the legacy of the centuries during which the riches of Central and South America flowed into Spain through the city, which at the time was not only the country’s main port but also one of the richest cities in Europe.
When you visit Seville you’re in the very heart of Andalucía, for it’s here that quintessentially Andalucian traditions such as bullfighting, flamenco music and vivacious street life come together. Bordered by the Guadalquivir river and guarded by the mighty 13th-century Torre de Oro, one of Seville’s most famous monuments and now a maritime museum, El Arenal used to be the bustling port area of the town, a district of munitions stores, artillery headquarters and shipyards. Today the quarter is dominated by the dazzling white bullring, the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza, where bullfights, or corridas, have been held for the past two centuries.
Just beyond here lies one of the largest historic centres in Europe, an area that encompasses not only elegant shopping promenades but also the more tightly woven streets of an older area. Here you find the Moorish-style baths and teahouses, the stunning cathedral and its famous Giralda tower, the Reales Alcazares palatial complex and a host of quaint tapas bars and restaurants that form the heart of a lively Andalucian social scene.
Though newer, a part of Seville not to be missed is the Parque María Luisa, an architectural wonderland designed for the Ibero American World Trade Exposition of 1929. Today its magnificently creative buildings house embassies, museums, military headquarters and cultural and educational institutions. The grand five-star Hotel Alfonso XIII and crescent-shaped Plaza de España are the most striking features, but in summer the terraces of the old exposition pavilions come alive with street performers and live dance music that goes on until the early morning.
At Cadiz we’ve reached the Andalucian shore again – albeit on the Atlantic this time. Situated on a peninsula that juts out into the sea, and attached to the mainland by a narrow strip of land, Cadiz is surrounded by water on three sides. The port is in many ways different from other cities in southern Spain, its pastel-coloured houses flanking a yellow tiled cathedral that actually seems more at home in Cuba than in Spain.
The city’s position, dominating the entrance to the Mediterranean, has made it a place of great strategic importance since classical times. In fact, Cadiz is the oldest living city in Europe and a veritable archaeological treasure house. Its museums contain findings ranging from 2,500 year-old Phoenician sarcophagi to Roman statues and Moorish artefacts.
Favoured by its location, the city was long the port of call for ships returning with riches from the Spanish colonies in the Americas. Developing apace with the maritime commerce of Cadiz were the watchtowers that were built onto the flat roofs of merchants’ houses. Such was the competition among them that they employed teams of watchmen to look out for incoming ships. Numbers peaked at a little over 160 towers, 126 of which remain today. The most famous tower, the Torre de Tavira, became the official watchtower of the city in 1778, and today offers visitors a spectacular view of the entire city and its surroundings from its rooftop and its camera obscura.
From here, Cadiz is a sea of flat roofs strongly reminiscent of a North African city that seems to float in the deep blue water like a giant ship. It adds yet another dimension to the myriad sights and experiences offered up by Andalucian cities rich in history, culture, mystery and above all, life.
Array (  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 75263 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2019-10-25 10:27:58 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-10-25 10:27:58 [post_content] => ‘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…
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
Tapas Tour of Marbella
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
Off-road Buggy Tours
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
Marbella Helicopter 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
Spirit of Jerez Tour
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
A Day at an Olive Farm
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
Malaga Cooking 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
Morocco Day Tour
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. Contact: Tomaandcoe.com
Uber-Luxe Moroccan Overnight Trip
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
Tour of Gibraltar’s Tunnels
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
Moorish Malaga City Tour
11. Historic RondaRonda 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. Happy discovering! [post_title] => 11 Marbella Tours & Experiences You’ll Never Forget [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 11-marbella-tours [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-11-04 09:34:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-11-04 09:34:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://theluxuryvillacollection.com/?p=75263 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 64306 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2019-07-23 20:56:14 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-07-23 20:56:14 [post_content] => From the misty green inlets of the north-west to the dusty south, via the rolling plains of the centre, Spain is nothing if not incredibly varied in terrain and temperature. Which is precisely what makes the range of Spanish wines produced so diverse, lively and interesting. Here’s our 101 guide to some of the top Spanish wine regions to help you explore this fabulous country through one of its very finest assets: its grapes.
Spanish Red Wines
RiojaRioja is without a doubt, Spain’s best known red. Stretching away across three valleys – the Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Oriental – to the south of the Cantabrian Mountains, it’s a relatively small area that nevertheless packs quite a punch when it comes to global wine production. Some numbers, then: it’s Spain’s oldest wine (with written records dating back to the 9th century); there are more than 600 wineries and nearly 15,000 grape growers spread across 65,000 hectares of vineyards. Made from a variety of grapes it comes in three age classifications: Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva. All are full-bodied and generally best served with food. One thing to look out for is whether the Rioja was aged in American oak, French oak or a mixture of both barrels, with each having their distinct tastes. A Rioja winery you must visit: Bodegas López de Heredia - in the town of Haro, it's one of the older wineries in La Rioja. By appointment only. More information: Lopezdeheredia.com.
Ribera del DueroThe ‘other’ great Spanish wine beginning with R. Only the best Tempranillo grapes are used to make polished Ribera del Duero wines, and there are many in Spain (and outside) who prefer the, frequently, softer more delicate taste, than that of their cousins from Rioja. Wines from Ribera del Duero are usually 100% Tempranillo and are mostly aged in French oak; they have the same age classification as Rioja (Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva). A Ribera del Duero winery you must visit: Matarromera - in the town of Valbuena del Duero, a trip to this winery can also include a visit to their museum, the EMINA Wine Museum. More information: Matarromera.es.
PrioratPriorat is probably Spanish wine’s greatest secret. With a wine growing history dating back to the 12th century, this southern Catalonian region these days produces some of the finest and fullest bodied reds in Spain… of which most people outside of Spain have never even heard. The terrain here is tough (even by Spanish wine region standards), so the vines are forced to search for water in the soil, making yield low - and prices high. The most common grape varieties used are: Garnacha, Cariñena with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. A Priorat winery you must visit: Alvaro Palacios - the name that practically singlehandedly spearheaded Priorat's ascent to the summit of Spanish wines back in the 1980s is still one of the leading wineries in the region. More information: Aseuniv.com.
Spanish White Wines
Rias BaixasOn the border of Portugal in the north-west of Spain, the Rias Baixas region of Galicia is cool, green and crisp – not unlike its white wine. The crowning glory of this wine-growing region is Albariño, which is clean, with occasional floral notes, and is absolutely ideal paired with the sublime local seafood. A Rias Baixas winery you must visit: Far from the largest, it's the setting of this family business - in the grand, fortified country house of Finca La Moreira - that makes it one the more atmospheric wineries in Spain. More information: Marquesdevizhoja.com.
CavaFrom the northeast of Spain above Barcelona, Cava is Spain’s most famous sparkling wine. Labelled with brut (dry) or semi-seco (semi sweet), Cavas can be white or rosé, and are usually made from Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo grapes. A Cava winery you must visit: Dating back to the Middle Ages, this Empordà winery certainly doesn't lack for provenance - and it's got the grand castellated headquarters to prove it. More information: Perelada.com.
SherrySherry is made from grapes grown within Cadiz's ‘Sherry Triangle’ between Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlucar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa Maria in Andalucia. It comes in sweet and dry varieties. Dry Sherries like Fino or Manzanilla are crisp and acidic, and make for the perfect accompaniment to fish and seafood; Oloroso is caramel-like and nutty and goes well with meat, while medium-dry Amontillado is perfectly paired with chicken or game birds. A Sherry bodega you must visit: Bodegas Tradición is not the oldest bodega in the Sherry Triangle by a long chalk (that honour goes to Domecq), but it is one of the most insistent on traditional techniques. More information: Bodegastradicion.es.
RiojaWhite Rioja is made with Viura; sometimes on its own, other times blending with Chardonnay or Garnacha Blanca amongst others. Most white Riojas are young but are still full-bodied to taste.
Malaga WineMalaga has a long and distinguished wine-making history, with wines having been made in the region since the Phoenicians were in southern Spain, before the Romans picked up the baton. British wine merchants were sending Malaga wines back to sweet-toothed Victorians in the 19th-century. These days, made from Moscatel or Pedro Ximenez grapes, vinos de Malaga are fortified and naturally sweet. Coming in both red and white, they’re at their best served with a ripe local goats’ cheese. A Malaga winery you must visit: Bodega F. Schatz - it's entirely in keeping with the international past of the Spanish wine industry that one of the best wineries in Malaga should have been founded by a German. More information: F-schatz.com.
RuedaThe most commonly drunk white wine in Spain can be just a little disappointing to a new world white wine drinker. The Rueda region is in Castilla y Leon and its wines are usually made with Verdejo grapes. It produces very aromatic wines, often with tropical fruit and fresh grass hints, that’s fresh with just a hint of bitterness.
Things to Look Out For with Spanish WineThere are several wine classifications in Spain, each holding specific criteria. The ones to look out for are Denominacion de Origen (DO), Denominacion de Origen Calificada (DOCa, DOC or DOQ) and DO Pago (only for single winery estates). On the bottle you’ll see the words Joven, Crianza (aged at least 2 years and 12 months in oak barrels), Reserva (aged at least three years with at least 12 months in oak barrels), or Gran Reserva (aged for a minimum of two years in oak barrels, and more than three years bottled before they’re sold). Like the sound of these wine regions in Spain and want to experience some of the very best wines they produce? Stay with The Luxury Villa Collection and you can order the finest Spanish wines direct to your villa, or arrange a tasting or tour through our concierge. [post_title] => A Brief Introduction to Spanish Wines [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => spanish-wine-regions-guide [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-07-24 05:40:03 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-07-24 05:40:03 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://theluxuryvillacollection.com/?p=64306 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) 1