Tailormade tour The white villages of Andalusia tour Spain

6 nights/7 days

Vejer de la Fontera • Jerez • Ronda

Enjoy a six-night fly-drive tour of Andalusia’s ‘pueblos blancos’, or white villages, in Vejer de la Frontera, a former Phoenician fortress. Acquaint yourself with the picturesque winding streets before moving on to Jerez, the home of sherry. Spend the following day sampling three of the key aspects of Andalusia’s culture: horse-riding, Flamenco, and sherry. Your final stop on this tour is Ronda, a striking white-washed town perched on the edge of the formidable El Tajo gorge.
Holiday price guide

Available year-round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from about £1,320 per person.

Luxury fly-drive touring holiday exploring the white villages and sherry vineyards of Andalusia, staying in three different places

Highlights

Pueblos blancos • Vejer de la Fontera • Ermita San Ambrosio • Cape Trafalgar • Cadiz • Jerez • Spanish riding school • Sherry bodegas • Ronda

Day by day

Collect your hire car from Malaga airport upon arrival and drive along the coastal road, passing the beach resorts of Marbella and Estepona and then north of Gibraltar you turn inland, crossing through the natural park of the Alcornocales. You reach Vejer de la Frontera, the first of the pueblos blancos on this tour. This town will introduce you to the charm of the villages of Andalusia, ready for the later stops on this luxury tour. Spend two nights at the boutique Hotel V…, a converted 17th century residence, and stay in a room which mingles contemporary technology with furnishings that hark back to a more traditional Spain.

During the day, wander along the cobbled streets of Vejer de la Frontera, passing the white-washed houses, cafes, and quaint shops selling local goods, and take in the spectacular views across both the countryside and the sea in the distance. Trace the remains of the old-world castle wall, which merges with the walls of the cafes and houses. Visit the unusual Iglesia del Divino Salvador, which combines the traditional white-washed walls with the addition of flints and stones. Inside, the decorative arches contrast the dark brown and gold altar, which acts as the austere church’s dramatic focal point. The town’s main square, the Plaza de España, has, as its central feature, a colourful tiled fountain that seems to epitomise Spanish eclectic design. Outside Vejer de la Frontera, you may wish to visit the Ermita San Ambrosio, near the Barbate Marshes. The picturesque chapel is ruined and overgrown, but the arches of the nave still stand, letting the sunlight fall into the ancient chamber. For a few hours on a typically beautiful Andalusian beach, we would recommend the El Palmar beach near Vejer de la Frontera, which offers 12km of unspoilt white sand, blue sea, and grassy banks. Longer possible excursions include Gibraltar (you may wish to stop off here on the trip from Malaga to Vejer de la Frontera) to see the Barbary apes. In the evenings, retire to the Hotel V… to experience the exceptional level of service, and enjoy the rooftop terraces and pools, the chic design, and the romantic hidden courtyards.

Leave Vejer de la Frontera in the morning of your third day and head north past the Bay of Cadiz to Jerez. Perhaps stop off in Cadiz, reputedly the oldest town in Europe, to see the white-fronted Cadiz Cathedral which blends neoclassical, rococo, and baroque architectural elements. If time permits, visit one of the golden beaches, one of the castles, or the Roman theatre. Upon arrival in Jerez, check into the intimate Villa Jerez, a haven of luxury in the centre of this lively little town.

Spend the day exploring the narrow streets of Jerez some of which have trees growing up the walls, with a cultivated canopy of leaves stretching overhead and shading passers-by from the sun. The effect is romantic, shady, and somewhat idyllic. The central monument in the town is the Cathedral, built over a period of nearly 100 years, starting in the 17th century. As a result, its five naves, focal dome and decorative balconies have taken on a variety of styles. The Alcazar fortress in Jerez is formidable in size, with rigid walls and a geometric shape. Around it, however, pools and ponds have been built, and palm trees and flowers have grown. Jerez is of course the home of sherry and there are numerous sherry bodegas open for tasting sessions. It is also the home of the Royal School of Equestrian Art. The beautiful natural landscape of Andalusia can be enjoyed either in the reservoir of Los Hurones, or at the Embalse de Guadalcacín, both of which are excellent for observing the local wildlife. In the evenings, either dine in Jerez or at the Las Yucas Restaurant at your hotel, sampling regional and national specialities and the local wines.

You leave Jerez for a scenic drive across the southern Andalusian landscape. Take the road through Zahara de la Sierra, stopping to explore the village and to admire the panoramic views over the reservoir from the castle. Your final stop on this tour in another of the pueblos blancos, Ronda, on the edge of the El Tajo gorge, which splits the old town of Ronda from the new. You stay in the Parador of Ronda, whose building is the former Town Hall of Ronda, and bedrooms and terraces have magnificent views out across the gorge, the Andalusian countryside, and the Puente Nuevo, a bridge of incredible stature.

Spend your full day in Ronda appreciating the spectacular situation and views either on foot, by bicycle, or by car. Attractions within the town include the Plaza del Toros, on which the bullfighting museum is located, which tells the story of one of Andalusia’s most famous and controversial traditions. An art museum is housed within a converted 16th century cloistered convent; a Bandit Museum is the only museum in Spain dedicated to bandits and highwaymen; and, the Interpretation Centre for the New Bridge allows visitors to walk under the bridge and look out, through glass windows, at the gorge below and the hanging houses that cling to the sides of the rock, just as prisoners once shackled to the underside of the bridge once did. Visit the water gardens of the Palacio Mondragón, which houses another museum, or the atmospheric Arabic Baths. Perhaps kick back and enjoy a drink on the tree-lined Plaza Duquesa de Parcent before following the rocky trail of the Guadalevin River which leads out of the town. Perhaps hike across the Sierra de la Nieves Mountains if you enjoy a more active holiday or walk around the shores of the beautiful Zahara-El Gastor Reservoir, the turquoise water of which is surrounded by surreal green rolling hills. An hour away, between Ronda and Malaga, is the Camino del Rey, famous for its metre-wide pathway that scores the sides of the cliffs above the gorges of the Guadalhorce Reservoirs and El Chorro. While this terrifying walk may not be for everyone, the experience is undeniably thrilling and, like the bridge in Ronda, lets visitors get that little bit closer to Andalusia’s amazing landscape.

After spending one final morning in Ronda watching the sun rise from behind the rugged mountains, drive back to Malaga airport and your flight home.

Holiday price guide Prices from £1,320 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room.

Holiday Code SNFD13

Luxury fly-drive touring holiday exploring the white villages and sherry vineyards of Andalusia, staying in three different places

Holiday price guide Prices from £1,320 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room.

Holiday Code SNFD13

Our prices include ● Scheduled flights with British Airways, from London to Malaga return, in economy. Flights from other UK airports can be arranged.
● Hire of a Group C car for seven days
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Standard double room at Hotel V... , Vejer de la Frontera
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Standard double room at Villa Jerez, Jerez de la Frontera
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Standard double room at the Parador de Ronda, Ronda
● Concierge service and Expressions Holidays regional helpful hints

Our prices do not include ● Early check-in or late check-out at any hotels (although we can arrange this on request at additional cost)
● Any other services not mentioned above, such as transfers and meals except breakfast at hotels
● Personal holiday insurance. This is essential and cover should be in place from when you book the holiday.
● Local tourist tax, usually between Euros 1 and 3 per person per night, and payable locally to the hotel

Additional information Driving times for this touring holiday
Malaga to Vejer de la Frontera 2 hours 20 minutes
Vejer de la Frontera to Jerez 55 minutes
Jerez to Ronda 1 hour 35 minutes
Ronda to Malaga 1 hour 30 minutes

Luxury fly-drive touring holiday exploring the white villages and sherry vineyards of Andalusia, staying in three different places

Highlights of Andalusia

With 800km of coastline, there are plenty of beaches to choose from - facing the Atlantic are the long, sandy beaches of the Costa de la Luz, extending south from the Portuguese border to Tarifa; covering the area between Malaga and Gibraltar is the famous Costa del Sol, known for its numerous beach resorts which range from the cheap and cheerful to exclusive luxury; to the south of Granada is the Costa Tropical, a stretch of coast with sandy coves and a pleasant microclimate; and to the east is the more rugged Costa de Almeria. A number of luxury resorts and hotels are located along each of these coastlines. Surrounding Granada is the Sierra Nevada, a mountain range where the Spanish mainland's highest peak can be found and home to white-washed mountain villages. In the far east of Andalusia is the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park, the largest protected area in Spain where you can find hiking trails, mountain villages and many wild animals. Further south is The Cabo de Gata Natural Park, a land and sea reserve near Almeria which is home to unspoilt scenery and an abundance of wildlife. In the west of the region is the Doñana National Park, an extensive area in the delta of the Guadalquivir River which includes marshland and sand dunes and is a breeding ground of the endangered Iberian Lynx. Thanks to the region's great variety in landscapes, culture and cuisine, a luxury holiday to Andalusia is sure to be a delightful experience.

Cultural highlights of Andalusia

Many of the Andalusia's cultural highlights can be found in the three Moorish cities of Cordoba, Granada and Seville, all of which are home to a number of excellent luxury hotels. Cordoba, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and former centre of Muslim control during Andalusia's colonisation by the Islamic Empire. At the city's heart is the astounding Mezquita de Cordoba, a mediaeval mosque turned Catholic cathedral with endless Moorish arches, columns and glinting tiles of vibrant hues. Other highlights include the fascinating Jewish quarter and Roman ruins galore. Nearer the coast is Granada, where Islamic rule endured the longest and the magical Alhambra remains as a monument to this legacy. A 9th century palace fortress, it guards over the city from an elevated crag amongst vast, aromatic gardens. To the west, on the peaceful plains of River Guadalquivir, Seville quietly awaits discovery along with its three World Heritage Sites: the Alcazar palace, the gothic Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies. Other towns and cities of interest in Andalusia include Jerez de la Frontera, where you can visit the sherry bodegas which make the city famous and watch the dressage displays which are held at The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art; Cadiz, the oldest city in Europe which is surrounded almost entirely by water; Ronda, a spectacular city which is split in half by a narrow gorge; Malaga, birthplace of Picasso and home to a Museum which displays a collection of his work; the small town of Baeza, where you can find stunning examples of Renaissance architecture; and Almeria, a coastal city which is dominated by the Alcazaba, the largest Moorish fortress in Spain. During your stay in Andalusia make sure to witness the seductive art of flamenco. Alluring, passionate and cathartic, it's easy to understand how this gypsy tradition has become one of the most familiar emblems of Spanish culture.

Festivals in Andalusia

There are a huge number of local festivals held in villages, towns and cities throughout Andalusia, many of which have a religious significance. 5 January: Three Kings parades, February: Shrove Tuesday Carnivals, February: Seville Tapas Fair, February to March: Jerez Flamenco Festival, March/April: Holy week celebrations, April to October: Seville Bullfighting season, April/May: Seville Spring Fair, April/May: Úbeda Classical Music Festival, Mid May: Jerez Horse Fair, June to July: Granada Music & Dance Festival, June - July: Cordoba Guitar Festival, August: Malaga Summer Fair, September: Ronda bullfighting festival, November: Granada Jazz Festival.

Gastronomy in Andalusia

Cuisine in Andalusia is diverse, varying throughout the region and combining Arabic flavours with more common Mediterranean ingredients such as seafood, olive oil and an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. As the birthplace of tapas, Andalusia is an excellent place to try the snacks which are often served free with drinks in Granada. Other Andalusian specialities include Serrano ham from the Sierra Nevada and sherry from Jerez de la Frontera, as well as dishes such as ‘Ajo blanco’ (a white gazpacho), ‘Espetos de sardina’ (roasted sardines), ‘Huevos a la flamenca’ (baked eggs with vegetables) and ‘Fritura de pescado’ (mixed fried fish).

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