Southern Spain is known for its warm weather and ancient Moorish history where you can spend days drinking sangria, nights dancing the flamenco and afternoons recharging with a little siesta. Once known as one of Spain's poorest areas, the Costa del Sol and other parts of Andalusia are now among the country's greatest cultural draws. Tour providers haven't missed a beat, increasing the number of the trips while decreasing the prices.
Trafalgar Tours (tel. 800/854-0103; www.trafalgar.com) offers a "Spanish Discovery" tour starting in Madrid and making stops in Toledo, Granada, Seville, the Costa del Sol and Cordoba. The eight-night trip starts at $1,250 for the land-only portion and $1,999 if you add round-trip airfare. Both options include 11 meals (all breakfasts and two Spanish dinner feasts); nightly accommodations; city tours and sightseeing at important museum and cultural locations; relaxation days on the beach along the Costa del Sol; and the service of a professional English-speaking guide, local city guides, Madrid airport transfers, and all hotel service charges, taxes and baggage handling. Air security fees and departure taxes are not included. This trip visits the Rock of Gibraltar, works of El Greco, and locations made famous by the fictional Don Quixote, as well as taking incredibly scenic drives in a luxury motor coach over Southern Spanish lands. The first departures are in early April. Trafalgar offers a host of other tours to Spain, some adding on sidetrips to Morocco and/or Portugal.
Spanish Heritage Tours (tel. 800/456-5050; www.shtours.com) is an experienced tour provider that focuses on specialized tours to Spain and Portugal. A "Savoring Southern Spain Tour" covers the region in nine days with package prices starting at $1,199. The tour includes round-trip airfare out of New York, hotel accommodations for seven nights, daily buffet breakfast, two lunches and one tapas dinner, tour of an olive mill, and round-trip hotel-airport transfers. This is an escorted tour. For land/air independent tours that focus on the Costa del Sol beach trips, Spanish Heritage Tours has several trips for which to choose. An eight-day six-night air/land trip to Marbella, one of the jewels of the Southern Spanish coast, starts at only $899 per person. In addition to round trip airfare out of New York and hotel accommodations at the Melia Dinamar Hotel, the trip includes airport transfers and a "light" sightseeing tours. Call a Spanish Heritage representative for departure dates for your selected tour.
If you enjoy train travel, Petrabax (tel. 800/634-1188; www.petrabax.com) put together a rail tour called "Al Andalus Expresa," a six-day/five-night trip where your train becomes a "moving hotel" making stops in Seville, Cordoba, Grenada and Jerez de la Frontera. On the expensive side, this land-only, all-meals-inclusive trip costs $3,399 for a double occupancy stay. In all, the trip includes all accommodations in a luxury berth on the train; breakfast, lunch and dinners on the train; all bar car drinks including soft drinks, coffees and beer; and onboard stewardesses and entertainment. This trip departs on March 26, April 9 and 23, 2006 and several June, September and October dates.
A less expensive land-only tour visiting Madrid, Granada, Cordoba, Seville, and the Costa del Sol starts at $849 per person with departure dates of January 26, February 11 and 25 and March 11, 18, and 25, 2006. The 10-day/eight-night trip includes airport transfers in Spain, first class hotel accommodations, daily buffet breakfast, transportation in an air-conditioned deluxe motor coach, a trained tour guide, sightseeing tours, a nighttime tour of Madrid, and baggage handling at all hotels.
For further research on tour providers focusing on Spain, try the official Site for the Spain Tour Operators Association (www.stoa-spain.com) for a full listing of members who provide trips and tours to Spain. For more detailed information on the history of Andalusia as well as all tourist, commerce and society and culture information, go to www.andalucia.com. Don't mind the busy homepage; once you get into the core of the site, the information is accessible and comprehensive.
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