Bicycling and Walking Vacations Since 1971 Call a VBT Tour Consultant: (800) 245-3868

Spain: Under the Andalusian Sky

Here in the sunny south of Spain, we’ll embrace the nation’s diverse heritage through visits to Christian cathedrals that once stood as Moorish mosques and by enjoying the region’s varying cuisine.

  • 10 Days
  • Activity Level: Easy / Moderate
  • Daily Mileage: 18 - 45 mi
  • Daily Biking: 2 - 5 hr
  • Small Groups: 20
  • Biking
  • Easy / Moderate
  • Plane

Why You'll Love This Tour

Overview

Spain: Under the Andalusian Sky​

From its pueblo blancos to its rugged cordilleras, southern Spain reveals itself best at eye level–the vantage point of every VBT vacation. We'll ride into the heart of Andalusia through its vine-covered hills and past its Moorish bastions. We'll spend leisurely lunches with local hosts, delight our palates with wine and olive oil tastings, and learn the secrets to preparing a regional specialty. In Cordoba and Granada, we'll visit exquisite cathedrals, mosques, and synagogues–evidence of the area's deep-rooted multicultural identity. Each night our accommodations will reflect our surroundings, and every day will bring us closer to authentic Andalusia.

Cultural Highlights

  • Explore the Mezquita of Cordoba and enjoy its magnificent gardens and stunning architecture on a guided tour
  • Ride to Zuheros, one of the most beautiful white villages, or pueblos blancos, in Spain
  • Eat and drink like a local, enjoying Andalusian specialties like Sangria and Jamón Ibérico, or cured ham
  • Dine with locals and learn about life in southern Spain at two home-hosted meals
  • Cruise along the sleepy Spanish Vega on the Via Verde biking trail, past farming villages and olive groves
  • Learn to prepare an Andalusian culinary specialty with a local chef
  • Taste the sweet Pedro Ximénez varietal at a wine bodega, and sample fresh olive oil at a local hacienda

What to Expect

This tour offers a combination of easy terrain mixed with moderate hills and is ideal for beginning and experienced cyclists. Our VBT van support shuttle is always available for those who need assistance.

Average Daily Mileage: 18 - 45 miles
Average Cycling Time: 2 - 5 hours

Climate Information

Average Daily Temperature (°F) – Seville
Jan 61°  Feb 63°  Mar 69°  Apr 71°  May 79°  Jun 87°  Jul 95°  Aug 95°  Sep 90°  Oct 78°  Nov 69°  Dec 62°

Average Rainfall (in.) – Seville
Jan 2.5  Feb 2.1  Mar 1.4  Apr 2.2  May 1.5  Jun .5  Jul 0  Aug 0  Sep .8  Oct 2.2  Nov 3.2  Dec 3.6

What’s Included:

Bicycle Tour Only – without Air

  • 6 nights in 3-, 4- and 5- star hotels
  • 13 meals – 6 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 4 dinners

Air Package Plus

  • Roundtrip international airfare
  • 8 nights in 3-, 4- and 5-star hotels
  • 15 meals – 8 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 4 dinners
  • Transfers
  • AND the option to add our Low-Cost Trip Extensions: Pre-trip: Seville – 2 nights for only $295 • Post-trip: Barcelona – 3 nights for only $695

Both Vacations Include

  • Free use of our custom VBT bicycle and helmet
  • Service of two bilingual VBT Trip Leaders
  • FULL VAN SUPPORT
  • Daily route directions and maps
  • Sightseeing and cultural activities
  • 5% Frequent Traveler Credit to use on your next VBT vacation
  • Special Good Buy Discount
Dates & Prices
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Air Package Plus Single Supplement: $345 | Land Only Single Supplement: $245

Please note: Web Special savings cannot be combined with any other offer. Standard Terms & Conditions apply when purchasing this trip. 2015 Prices include all airline surcharges and Government taxes and fees. Ask our Tour Consultants for details. Every effort has been made to produce this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors. Prices are based on preferences selected above, including meals and sightseeing as specified in What's Included. All prices are subject to change. Departure dates and prices shown may be updated several times daily, and apply to new bookings only.

Itinerary & Map
Or, Expand All Days
DAY 1: Depart from home / Fly overnight to Seville

Depart from home and travel to Spain. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary.

DAY 2: Arrive in Seville / Transfer to Palma del Rio

Upon arrival at the Seville Airport (San Pablo Airport), meet your driver outside the customs area in your arrival terminal. The driver will be holding a VBT sign. Then transfer by private car or van (approximately 60 minutes) to your Palma del Rio hotel.

The rest of the day is free to settle in, explore the city and begin your Spain vacation. Choose a local restaurant for dinner on your own.

Please note: If you arrive early, your hotel room may not be available until 2:00 pm. If you are early, you may store your luggage at the reception desk.

Please note: Due to Iberia Airline's limited flight service to Seville on Saturdays, some guests may fly from Madrid to the town of Jerez and then transfer by vehicle to our Palma del Rio hotel. This will avoid long layovers in Madrid's airport and allow you more time in Palma del Rio. Travel from Madrid on all other days of the week will be directly into Palma del Rio. Please refer to your air itinerary to determine which location will be your final destination.

For guests flying into Jerez: Upon arrival at the Jerez Airport, meet your driver outside the customs area in your arrival terminal. The driver will be holding a VBT sign. Then transfer by private car or van (approximately 2 hours) to your Palma del Rio hotel.

Our hotel in Palma del Rio is Monasterio de San Francisco. As the name suggests, it was a Franciscan convent built in 1492 by the VII Señor de Palma's orders. About 20 years ago, it was turned into a charming hotel that preserves the simplicity and tranquility of a monastery. The European discovery of America is part of the building's history, since the Franciscan monks based here founded American missions, took their language and customs to the New World, introduced the famous orange groves in California and opened the Mission de Palma del Rio in San Diego. Columbus spent time here before setting out for his journey, as the monastery was a strategic and powerful centro de conocimiento, or center of learning and culture, during his time. The cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego all owe their names to the monasteries and holy places in this area. Today guests can still drink the orange juice when in season from the garden's 65 orange trees, some of which are five centuries old.

VBT provides you with City Information that includes information and recommendations on what to see and do in Palma del Rio during your stay.

Hotel: Monasterio de San Francisco

DAY 3: Meet Trip Leaders / Warm-up ride / Welcome reception

VBT No-Air Package guests: Meet your VBT Trip Leaders and the rest of the group at our Palma del Rio Hotel (Monasterio de San Francisco, Avenida Pio XII 35, phone +34 957 710183) at 10:00 am. If your arrival at the hotel is scheduled later than 10:00 am, or if you are delayed, please contact the Monasterio de San Francisco hotel, and the staff will pass your message on to your VBT Trip Leaders.

VBT Air Package guests & Pre-trip Extension guests: Meet your VBT Trip Leaders at the Palma del Rio hotel at 10:00 am.

This morning, your Trip Leaders will host a safety and bike-fitting session, followed by a warm-up ride in the surroundings of Palma del Rio. We will be riding on the fertile lowland of the Guadalquivir River. Please be dressed in your biking garments when meeting the leaders as our warm-up ride will be immediately following the safety and bike-fitting session.

Upon conclusion of the warm-up ride, you will have time for lunch on your own at the hotel or one of Palma del Rio’s restaurants. Spend the remainder of the afternoon relaxing by the quiet swimming pool, take a peaceful stroll through the vegetable gardens, or further explore the town’s sites. Ambitious riders may opt for an afternoon ride, as well.

Tonight, we gather for a welcome reception, including tapas and sangria, two of Andalusia's regional specialties. We'll learn about the history of the hotel before dinner is served.

Hotel: Monasterio de San Francisco
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 9 or 18 miles (13.3 or 26.6 km)

DAY 4: Cycle to Cordoba/Home-hosted picnic lunch with local family

En route to Cordoba today, we learn the differences among the typical farms scattered along our route: fincas, huertas, cortijos and haciendas. We stop along the way for a picnic lunch at a cortijo to meet a local family, the owners of a very large estate of 1,300 acres (530 hectares).

Later in the afternoon, we arrive at our beautiful and centrally located 4-star Cordoba hotel. In the 11th century, this was the largest and most cosmopolitan city in Europe. A developed system for running water and street lights existed, along with vast libraries where Arabic, Latin and Greek manuscripts were translated. Jews, Muslims and Christians all coexisted in this cultural crossroads. Exceptional monuments like the Mezquita of Cordoba are a good representation of the blend of these different cultures. Famous sons of Cordoba include the philosophers Seneca (Roman), Averroes (Arabian) and Maimonides (Jewish). Cordoba has been inscribed in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1984.

Our hotel is a few steps from the Mezquita in the Judería—the charming Jewish district and the very heart of Cordoba. It consists of ancient, private homes from the 17th and 18th centuries, with lovely patios and fountains. The property was carefully restored in 2009.

Spend the rest of the evening at your leisure enjoying all the amenities of your hotel. Dinner is on your own this evening.

Hotel: Casas de la Judería
Meals: B, L
Daily Options: 19, 31 or 42 miles (35, 50 or 68 km)

DAY 5: Explore Cordoba / Discover Mezquita Catherdral

After breakfast, we meet our local guide, Imma. With her, we discover what makes Cordoba such an enlightening city. We start by visiting a nearby synagogue, and then continue to the Mezquita.

Originally built as a temple, lighthouse and warehouse, the Mezquita (literally, “mosque”), was once the second-largest mosque in the world and was later consecrated as a Christian church, after Cordoba was captured by the Spanish in the 12th century. Today, it is considered one of the world’s greatest examples of Moorish architecture. Around the Mezquita, we will see the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos and the Archiepiscopal Palais, the Roman Bridge with its 16 arches spanning the Guadalquivir River and the Jewish synagogue built in 1315 in La Judería. Cordoba is also an excellent place to shop for pottery, silver work, abanicos (fans), cotton and leather goods, embroidered mantillas (shawls) and wooden crafts. Those interested in bullfighting may also visit the Bullfighting Museum.

Take time on your own this afternoon to further explore the many sites and shops of Cordoba. You might want to enjoy an ancient local tradition: an Arab bath in one of the nearby hammams. Immerse yourself in its luxurious waters, followed by a relaxing massage with essential oils.

Tonight, choose a restaurant for dinner on your own in Cordoba. You might visit a flamenco house in front of the Mezquita or in many of  the  restaurants in La Judería (the Jewish district), where you can also taste local specialties such as ragout of lamb, Caldereta de Cordero  or sausages like Morcilla, Cana de Lomo and Salchicon de Pozo Blanco. Salmorejo and Flamenquines are the most famous Cordovan dishes. Arab influences can be found in the sweet Alfajores and Pestiños with almonds and honey.

Hotel: Casas de la Judería - Cordoba
Meals: B
Daily Options: Non-Biking Day

DAY 6: Ruta del Vino / La Via Verde / Wine & olive oil tastings

After breakfast, we leave Cordoba and shuttle to the Cordillera Subbética and the Ruta del Vino, or Wine Road. This hilly region is covered with olive trees and vineyards, and produces many excellent white wines and olive oils, which are exported all over the world. We begin biking from Aguilar de la Frontera to Moriles, passing typical lagares and bodegas (where wine is produced and aged) that sell local wines, olive oils and other local products. One of the most renowned wines produced in this area is the Pedro Ximénez sweet wine, particularly recommended to complement local postres, or desserts. At lunch time, we stop at a beautiful bodega in the area and taste locally produced wines with our meal.

After lunch, we ride towards the Subbética mountain range where we will have the option of riding on the Via Verde, a bike path built on a former railway line. We may follow this trail to our hotel for the next two nights. Avid cyclists looking for some hills can opt for a more challenging route.

We arrive at our hotel in the afternoon. The Hacienda which dates back to the end of the 19th century was found in ruins, restored and turned into a hotel and the old machinery of the olive oil mill still serves as part of the décor. Enjoy time to relax by the pool before we meet to learn the story behind the property. The property also includes a library and a warm taverna bar. Later we will learn how to make La Paella – one of Spain’s most famous dishes. Dinner will be served in the dining room of the hotel – once the pressing room of the oil mill where the ancient oil deposits can still be seen today.

Hotel: Hacienda Minerva
Meals: B, L, D
Daily Options: 14 or 25 miles (23 or 40 km)

DAY 7: Explore Zuheros / Organic picnic Lunch / Cooking demonstration

Today we follow the bike path to Luque, passing peaceful farms, olive groves and lovely views of the surrounding hillsides. As we pedal along our gently rolling path, keep your eyes open for local wildlife, such as goats, rabbits and a variety of other birds such as two of the many protected species of this area - the peregrine falcon, symbol of the Natural Park of La Sierra Subbética and the griffon vulture.

Near Luque, we stop at a cortijo for a picnic lunch made from local ingredients freshly picked in the garden of our host, Balbino. This cortijo, simply known as "El Cortijillo", is famous for their prize winning organic olive oil, which is obtained from the organic olives cultivated by farmers in this region.

After lunch, we retrace our way to Hacienda Minerva on a scenic route, passing through the quaint white village of Zuheros. Built onto a rocky promontory, Zuheros is considered one of the most beautiful white villages of Spain. It is also known for its cheese, olive oil production and castle with spectacular views. Here you can enjoy the scenery, views of the castle and wander through its picturesque little streets.

From Zuheros you can opt for the easy bike path via Verde to the hotel, or continue on a more challenging, scenic route.

Back at our hotel, enjoy some time to relax before we meet to learn about the olive oil industry and why it is the main business in the area. We will have a better understanding of how olive oil is produced and what it takes to make an extra virgin olive oil.

Hotel: Hacienda Minerva
Meals: B, L, D
Daily Options: 17, 31 or 33 miles (27, 50 or 53 km)

DAY 8: Transfer to Granada

After breakfast, we will start our journey toward the enchanting city of Granada and, historically, the land of ever-changing borders between Christians and the Andalusi Kingdom. We start our morning ride in a small town called Benalúa de las Villas where we embark on a gradual descent through a valley with the impressive Sierra Nevada mountain range as our background. Passing through towns that were heavily fortified in the Middle Ages prior to the final conquest of Granada in 1492, we will pass the town of Colomera, enjoying views of its castle and towering church. As we continue on the Ruta de las Fortalezas, we will also find traces of Roman influence, including a bridge dating back two thousand years. We will pass through little mountain villages where we will be able enjoy lunch in one the cafes at our leisure. Leaving the mountain valley behind us we will enter Granada´s main valley, la Vega and finish our ride under the shade of cotton wood trees.

This evening, join your Trip Leaders for festive farewell dinner in a local restaurant, and sample some of the wonderful culinary delights of this region of Spain.

Hotel: AC Palacio de Santa Paula
Meals: B. D
Daily Options: 16 or 28 miles (25 or 45 km)

DAY 9: Alhambra Palace / VBT No-Air Package ends

After breakfast, we will meet our local guide and walk to the Alhambra Palace for an included visit of the Palace and Generalife Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

VBT No-Air Package guests: Due to hotel check-out times, you will need to settle your hotel bill and check out prior to our included visit of the Alhambra Palace. After the completion of the Alhambra tour, you will return to the hotel, where you can collect your luggage and continue to your next destination. Your flight from Granada should not be scheduled to depart earlier than 3:00 pm.

VBT Air Package and Post-Trip Extension guests: After your visit to the Alhambra Palace, the rest of the day is yours to explore. VBT provides you with City Information that includes information and recommendations on what to see and do in Granada during your stay.

Hotel: AC Palacio de Santa Paula
Meals: B

DAY 10: Depart for U.S.

After breakfast* this morning, you will transfer to the airport for your departing flight **. Please ensure that you are ready in the hotel reception area at the designated time.

*Please note: For guests with early-morning departures, breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the front desk to verify the times that breakfast is served.

**VBT recommends that you check your transfer time in your “Transfer Reminder.” VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. Transfer times are approximately 30 minutes to the Granada airport or 90 minutes to the Malaga airport. If you extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to the airport will be at your own expense.

Meals: B

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Accommodations

AC Palacio de Santa Paula

AC Palacio de Santa Paula is a luxury hotel that is part of Marriott’s “Autograph Collection” and is ideally located in the historic center of Granada near the Albaicín and Sacro Monte areas, the Cathedral and the Royal Chapel, the historical Gardens of the Triumph, the Archeological museum and the Alhambra. The beautiful hotel, one of the best 5-star hotels in Granada, is a restored masterpiece that was also declared an artistic and historic monument. It replaced the Santa Paula Convent and the Casa Morisca, which existed in the 16th and 17th centuries respectively. This luxury hotel’s restaurant, “El Claustro,” where the Santa Paula convent refectory used to be, offers guests haute cuisine that fuses elements of traditional Andalusian gastronomy with modern culinary concepts. WiFi is available for free in the lobby and in the guest rooms for an additional cost.
Free WiFi Included

Hacienda Minerva

Located in the natural center of Andalusia, this enchanting property is close to the Sierra Subbetica Park and the famous Green Way bike path, surrounded by centuries-old olive trees and facing the white village of Zuheros. This historical farm, typical of this area, dates to the 19th century and has been carefully restored. Its unique architecture is embedded in the landscape, and it features all the modern comforts. The Hacienda has amazing public spaces, such as a library (with 10,000 books!), a wine cellar and a swimming pool. Complimentary WiFi is available in the reception area.
Free WiFi Included

Las Casas de la Judería - Cordoba

Hotel Las Casas de la Judería is located a few steps from the Mezquita and the very heart of Cordoba. It consists of ancient private homes from the 17th and 18th centuries, with charming patios, gardens and spring fountains. The property is beautifully restored, a perfect blend of history and comfort. It opened in 2009.
Free WiFi Included
Photos

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