Best of Spain & Morocco Tour 2016-2017

A 17 day trip to Morocco & Spain

You don’t have to settle for just the historic cultures of Spain when Morocco is just beyond the Straight of Gibraltar. On this custom tailored tour you will discover the ancient connection between Spanish and Moroccan cities. Follow the footsteps of history through grand palaces and spellbinding medinas, sweeping landscapes and alluring flavors. Spain’s coastline stretches from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. Morocco’s countryside rises and falls with the rugged mountainsides. The scenery is majestic, the food unique, and the culture truly unparalleled. 

General Information

Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Madrid, Seville, Alhambra, Malaga, Tarifa, Tangier, Chefchaouen, Fez, Volubilis, Meknes, Rif Mountains, Casablanca, Marrakech

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Adventurous Madrid

Your Spain vacation begins in the capital of Spain, a vibrant modern city that pulses with its unique and endless spirit. The contemporary boulevards surround the classic, medieval cobblestone streets and blends the present with the past. Your private transfer meets you at the airport and escorts you to the lavish accommodation waiting for your arrival. Madrid is an amalgamation of heritage and history, able to shape itself around your preferred interests. From art at the Museo del Prado to the revolutionary cuisine evolved from tradition in the market of San Miguel; elegant cafes line the regal colonnade of the Plaza Mayor and the Royal palace is brimming with exceptional grandeur. The culture of Madrid sweeps you up and welcomes you to Spain. 

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation

Day 2: Marvelous Streets and Royalty

The morning light washes over Madrid and the colors of the city come to life. After breakfast you will meet your private guide and journey through the finer details that create the city’s splendor. The Royal Palace is the largest palace in Europe and covers and area of over 1,450,000 square feet. The palace in its current form was built in the 18th century. Pass through the gates of the grounds and come to the Plaza de la Armeria. The square is expansive and flanked by a stone-framed colonnade.

Enter the palace and find an edifice that holds over 2,800 rooms. Lavishness reflects off of every inch of space, from the polished marble floors to the gilded chandeliers. The sunlight pierces the circular window and allows the natural colors of the sky to shine into the foyer. The Throne Room contains crimson velvet wall coverings. The ceiling is draped in baroque artistry painted by the Venetian artist Tipolo. Each room maintains an air of extravagance in tune with the opulent culture of storybook royalty.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 3: The Times of Seville

The city of Madrid begins to bustle with midmorning life. Wave goodbye to the city and make your way to Seville, the capital of Andalucia. The city’s medieval roots continue to charm and delight. The sounds of flamenco dance around the streets night and day. The tap and rhythm of the music accompanies heartfelt vocals. Old tavernas overflow with people sipping wine, eating tapas, and enjoying the late afternoon. The old cathedral was built in the 16th century and is one of the largest basilicas in the world. The Giralda bell tower is 343 feet tall and casts a shadow over the narrow winding streets that lead to the medieval Jewish quarter and once resembled a Muslim minaret.

The Moorish decor continues to decorate the side of the tower with lattice shapes. The interior of the cathedral feels like you have stepped into a movie set. The ceiling is lofted with a mysterious gothic edge. Stained glass windows provide light to the gallery and color to the walls. The cathedral houses 80 separate chapels and also contains the tomb of Christopher Columbus. Once inside the Door of the Princes you will find four sepulcher-bearers standing atop a platform. Their dress is gilded and their faces are stoic. The ornate room is fit for royalty. The tiles are plush and the large mural next to the tomb watches over the brightly lit room.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, accommodation

Day 4: Inside Royalty

The scent of cafe con leche, coffee with milk, brings a sweet and rich scent to the air. After breakfast you make your way to the Alcazar to explore the Moorish palace in all its grandeur. The upper levels of the palace are used by the royal family, which makes the Alcazar the oldest European royal palace still in use. The grounds are a constructed paradise that dates back to the 10th century. Its modern manifestation was completed in the 14th century. Enter through the complex through the Lion Gate. A tile bearing the likeness of its namesake is inlaid above the archway and holds a cross in its claw.

In the Palace of Don Pedro you find the spectacular inscriptions that connect the faiths of Spain before and after the restoration of Catholicism. Enter the Courtyard of the Maidens. The lower patio holds a rectangular reflecting pool and sunken garden at the center of the plaza. Each gallery is filled with intricate geometric designs, from ogival arches on the colonnades to colorful floral arrangements. From the Galeria de Grutescos you can see the gardens. Tall, thin palms tower over manicured hedges. Various gazebos offer shade and seating inside the lush arrangement.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 5: Beside the Gorge

Ronda is a city atop a cliff that looks out over the immeasurable gorge. The city’s walls are painted white and reflect the sunlight. The color keeps the houses cool in the summer heat. The gorge of El Tajo separates the old city and the contemporary new bridge connects them. The bridge was constructed in the 18th century and is supported by long and powerful arches reaching into the 390-foot crevice. You can stand at a railing and look out over the gorge for a pristine panorama of the Andalucian landscape.

The small hills are covered in green and gold. A cooling breeze swings upward and blows through your hair. The town is filled with quiet activity around the Plaza del Socorro. The streets are narrow and edged by white buildings, many with red brick doorframes. The cobblestone streets wind up and down the muddled hills. The Bodega el Socorro offers sweet ands spicy stuffed red peppers with a flavor that adds to the charm and delight of the quiet city.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, accommodation

Day 6: Smooth Reminders

Granada is a labyrinthine city with an exceptional palace-fortress at its core. The meandering streets shield the homes, restaurants, and shops from the wealth of sunlight. The spirit of the city is in its edge, from the continued elegance of the Alhambra to the unique attitude of the locals. Tapas are decadent and abundant. The locals dance the flamenco with an intimate style and hide their best dances in the cellars of tiny cafes. The Islamic past of the country remains a modern part of the city with a large population connected to Granada’s roots.

The Alcaiceria is the city’s old Arab market. Next to Plaza Bip Rambla you will find the restored version of the silk exchange that burned down in the 19th century. The classic style of grandino farolas, stained glass lamps, are exceptionally popular, sold in the marketplace and decorating the entire city, from tearooms to bars. In the courtyard you find the intoxicating aroma of Moroccan herbs and spices, from anise to vanilla. The smooth and soft silk garments dangle from shop stalls and wave to you like an old friend.  

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, accommodation

Day 7: The Spectacular Outcrop 

Elm and Cypress trees surround the hillside like a foundation. In the morning light the red walls of the Alhambra resemble a sandstone outcrop peeking through the trees. The palace-fortress complex was constructed in the 11th century atop 9th century ruins. The palace can be seen from all directions of the city, a beacon that lets you know where you are, dependent upon the view. Three main sections combine to create the entire complex. Enter the open space and find a series of halls, galleries, and courtyards, each one filled with graceful embellishments that produce an esthetically pleasing artistic decor.

The Court of Lions is a courtyard encompassed by a latticed colonnade supported by 124 marble columns. Colored tiles pave the square and the walls are decorated with white and blue tiles. The fountain at the center of the square has 12 white marble lions. The lions were once situated like the numbers on a clock, each individually spouting water on the hour, every hour. The beauty of the palace, the courtyard, and the fountain is in the ingenuity of the construction and design, along with the detailed preservation of the past.    

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 8: Here Along the Sea

The morning in Malaga is filled with surprise and excitement. The city has a particular atmosphere different from the medieval cities you saw before it. The Mediterranean Sea reflects the sunlight in a tranquil turquoise glow. The Moorish architecture rises above the canopy. The city’s heart and beauty can be found in its historic center. The Gothic cathedral is majestic. It took over 200 years to construct the edifice between the 16th and 18th centuries. The tallest spire stands over 276 feet high.

The baroque facade is adorned with three arches and marble columns that separate the doorways. The interior is luminous with golden coloration. Strong magnificent pillars support the vaulted ceiling. Stroll through the church or along the streets of the old quarter and find spires and red tiled roofs filling the skyline. The 11th century Gibralfaro castle watches over the city on the hillside and offers a panorama of the old and new world sitting against the backdrop of the sea.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, accommodation

Day 9: Sands and Sun of Gold

Tarifa is the southernmost point of Europe and sits on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The city is filled with a relaxed atmosphere and is filled a fusion of Spanish and Moroccan culture. The walled old town is snaked by narrow whitewashed streets. Boats linger offshore in search of whales. Parasails fill the sky like clouds. The water sparkles sapphire and the beaches range from golden to white powder. The water brushes gently at the shore. Sit on the sand at Bolonia Bay, separated from Tarifa by San Bartolo Mountain.

The white sand is edged by soft grass. The water is warm and inviting. The Levante wind creates a cooler day beneath the hot sun. In the afternoon you can stroll through the streets of the old town to see the continuing Islamic influence. The stone turrets are forceful and flanked by more modern buildings.  The aroma of sweetened mint tea emanates from cafes. The Mudejar Puerta de Jerez is the ancient gateway into the city. The small market is packed with people searching for spices and garments. There is a spirited connection in the streets that make the city feel like home.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, accommodation

Day 10: Tangible Tangiers

Tarifa’s relaxed demeanor is constant, whether morning or night. The colors of the sky are bright blue in the early light. After breakfast you have a private transfer to the ferry where soon you will venture along the Straight of Gibraltar en route to Morocco. The water is reflective sapphire. You notice fishing boats journeying out to sea. The fabled monolithic limestone Rock of Gibraltar towers over the waterway and guards the inlet between Europe and North Africa. Arrive in Tangiers at the city’s bustling port. Welcome to Morocco, a country steeped in legend, and Tangiers, a city riddled with romantic myth.

The city is divided into the old walled city called the Medina and the modern city known as the Ville Nouvelle. Visit Cafe Hafa located atop the cliff that overlooks the Bay of Tangier. The cafe opened in the 1920s and has welcomed the likes of Paul Bowles and William S. Burroughs, and even The Beatles. The sounds of the drifting sea rise up the cliff. You are shaded by the classic decor. The scent of mint tea mixes with the salty seaside air. A waiter comes by with a metal carrier and offers you cup. Overlooking the water with a sweet and warm cup of tea, you may have just found paradise. 

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, accommodation

Day 11: The Variety of Life

The echoing sounds of stalls opening for the day fills the old medina. The city’s roots began as a Carthaginian colony in the 5th century BC and the winding streets of the city have remained a vibrant piece of cultural imagery for millennium. The Grand Socco is a romantic sloping entrance to the market place. The plaza is ringed with palms and the central fountain sprinkles water in front of the Bab Fass Gate.

The cobblestone circle marks the do-not-cross line for cars and the modern world streets transform into the narrow labyrinth of the past. It is easy and enjoyable to spend time getting lost along the shops and narrow walkways of the old marketplace. The vibrant aroma and colorful pyramids of spices emanate from certain shops. It feels like you have stepped onto a movie set, and as though you have been taken away from the modern world to experience the classic images of a romanticized history.

But this is the vibrant life of the ancient city and the old market of a different world. In the afternoon you will have a private transfer to the city of Chefchaouen, nestled beneath the rugged peaks of the Rif. The city is filled with authentic spirit. Red-tiled roofs decorate bright blue buildings. Narrow lanes open up into the Plaza Uta el-Hammam and the unmistakable walls of the Kasbah. The alleyways and the old market carry over the spirited heritage of the past, a brighter version of Tangier. 

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 12: Beyond the Rif

The Rif is a gorgeous mountain region on the outskirts of Chefchaouen. The marvelous peaks roll along the horizon and create the remarkable skyline. In the summer you can see sunflowers gracing the fields. In the winter the mountaintops are capped with snow. Fez is a wonderful city connected to its heritage, steeped in old dynasties and 1,200 years of history. Kairaouine Mosque is the second largest mosque in Morocco and dates back to the 10th century. Two minarets rise over the streets. The courtyard holds a pair of pavilions and was modeled after the Court of the Lions at the Alhambra. A cedar wood screen blocks the interior prayer hall from non-Muslims but the exterior beauty holds grace alongside the historic streets. The city’s pace is constant and endless. Join in the energetic tide and let the city sweep you away.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, accommodation

Day 13: Surrounded by the City

Fez’s Old City is a bustling network of winding lanes, jovial shops, and overflowing restaurants. Crowds meander through the ancient alleys, a mixture of a daily shopping routine and new adventure. Mules pull carts filled with new merchandise, from spice sacks to silver-plated candlesticks. The ancient skyline of rising buildings and minarets accompanies satellite dishes. A lavish blue and gold mosaic encompasses the key-shaped entrance. Just outside the King’s palace you will come to a solid metal door.

Step inside and find a collection of whitewashed structures that glint in the sunlight. This is the Jewish cemetery of Fez. The golden age of the community dates back to the 9th century; however, those that inhabit the grounds span ancient and contemporary history. The whitewashed structures resemble salt mines in their coloration and gentle raised position from the ground. A small museum is situated nearby and holds a collection of artifacts from the storied community. The interior is filled with colorful mosaics and elegant metalwork, photos of families and intricate calligraphy.  

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 14: The Quieter Companion

Meknes is soft spoken and smaller than Fez. The energetic bustle is absent on the streets of the city, replaced with a relaxed ambience and the charm of a lingering past Moroccan sultanate. Rich and lush flora carpets the Middle Atlas, which offers the city an abundance of olives, grapes, dates, and citrus fruits. In nearby Volubilis you can see the Roman Ruins of the 3rd century BC. The fields are vast and verdant, reaching to the foothills.

A tripartite archway, known as the Tingis Gate, lines the end of the Decumanus Maximus, an avenue that runs east to west. An original Roman wall made of mud bricks stretches 250 feet near the tumulus. The Capitoline Temple is paved with a stone plaza. Concentric stairs lead up to the remaining pillars that hold up the sky. The mountains create a natural background to the ruins. In the House of the Athlete you see a mosaic of an acrobat riding a donkey as he holds a cup in his outstretched hand. The artistry in the history and nature is limitless.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 15: Play it Again

Casablanca is a lingering legend in the hearts and minds of romantics everywhere. After breakfast you wave goodbye to Meknes and make your way to Marrakech stopping in the metropolis of Casablanca along the way. The city holds a special place in history, harkening back to Cafe American and Humphrey Bogart longing for love. Today the city is Morocco’s capital of economic and contemporary culture. Casablanca connects readily to its history, which informs its modern affluence from fashion to architecture, restaurants to art. The Hassan II Mosque is set against the Atlantic Ocean and decorates the shore.

The minaret watches out over the water like a lighthouse. The call to prayer sounds harmonious as it combines with the gentle water washing against the outskirts of the city.  On the small island of Marabout de Sidi Abderrahmane is the tomb of the Sufi saint. During low tide you can even walk to the tiny rocky outcrop. Locals sit on the small ramparts and look out over the water or back to the city in search of a revelation or just soaking in the tremendous view. In the afternoon you will continue onward to the celebrated city of Marrakech.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, accommodation

Day 16: A City that’s Everywhere

Marrakech takes away all sense of direction and lets you revel in its streets unhindered. The spirit of the city calls out from the medina, the mosques, and the cafes. The city’s rich history dates back to Berber tribes and the sultanates of the 11th century. The main square of Djemaa El-Fna emanates jovial cries as people wrap around the street theater. The expansive plaza fills with performers. Snake charmers provide the soundtrack to the morning sunlight. Musicians add their rhythm to the day and in the evening the square fills with a variety of people grilling fresh meats and vegetables.

The Saadian Tombs is made of Italian Carrara marble and embellished with honeycomb plasterwork gilded with pure gold. The courtyard is carved with poetic blessings that decorate the sultan’s mother’s tomb. New artisans and shops have begun to line the medina. Carpets and purses hold contemporary flair but maintain their classic charm. The cobblestone alleyways guide locals and visitors through the old market place. The sounds of the medina have become familiar and inviting. They urge you to explore deeper. The beauty of Morocco is prevalent and more of its grandeur is at your fingertips.

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, tour, accommodation

Day 17: Edge of the Medina

The soothing aroma of herbal green tea comes to the breakfast table. The small glass cup warms your hands. The herbaceous scent blends with the sweetness of honey or sugar. You taste the beghrir, a Moroccan pancake, and let the luscious flavors of the semolina pancake linger on your tongue. The Djemaa El-Fna rises and you can hear flautists charming snakes under the drifting sun. After breakfast your private transfer will take you to the airport. You have experienced the deep well of history and the exceptional connection of cultures. You board your flight home embracing a new everlasting connection to the beauty of Spain and Morocco.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer

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