Immerse yourself in the Andalusian way of life, spending three full weeks in seaside Marbella and discovering the region’s fascinating blend of Spanish and Moorish culture on excursions to World Heritage sites and charming villages off the beaten path.

Starting at: $6,290 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 The white hill town of Antequera
 A plaza in charming Ronda
 The evocative garden area of the Generalife at the Alhambra, Granada
 The Mezquita of Cordoba, a cathedral and former mosque
 The immense Gothic cathedral of Seville
 Charming town of Frigiliana
 White village along the Costa del Sol
 The Costa del Sol
 The outcropping of Gibraltar
 Village of Mijas, along the Costa del Sol
 City of Ronda, overlooking the Tajo Gorge
 The Alhambra of Granada
 The Plaza de Espana, Seville
 Traditional flamenco dancer
 Evening in Marbella's Plaza de la Inglesia square
 Street in Marbella's Old Town
 Typical charming street in Estepona
 One of Marbella's prized beaches
 Church in Marbella's Old Town
 Enjoying food and wine during your stay
 Hiking the Caminito del Rey
 The port of Marbella at dusk

Living in Spain: A Three-Week Stay in Andalusia

23 days from $6,290

Immerse yourself in the Andalusian way of life, spending three full weeks in seaside Marbella and discovering the region’s fascinating blend of Spanish and Moorish culture on excursions to World Heritage sites and charming villages off the beaten path.

or Call 855-330-1542


Activity Level 2: Moderate

Expectations: Three-week immersion stay in Marbella, Spain. This  stay features accommodations in a centrally located hotel / apartment, within walking distance to shops, restaurants, and program activities. Program includes six half-day or full-day included excursions outside the city as well as walking tours in Marbella. In addition, there will be an optional two-night Weekend Escape offering to Carmona/Seville. On most of these excursions you will encounter cobblestone streets, hills, stairs without handrails, some buildings without elevators, archaeological sites with uneven steps and some ungroomed paths and hills. Because many of our excursions visit historic sites, villages and towns there will be longer walks and steps to get to these sites and city centers where motorcoaches are prohibited.

For those who choose the Active Discovery Enrichment Track (optional) this track will include hiking tours and activities in and beyond the city of Marbella. Hikes will be from 1 to 4 miles and some areas will feature rough and ungroomed trails, higher altitudes, steep inclines, and uneven terrain. We highly recommend guests prepare for the track prior to the trip by exercising and conditioning themselves for these hikes. We also recommend guests with health concerns contact their physician prior to signing up for this track to be sure this Active Discovery option is the right fit for them. 

Our three-week immersion program is geared for the independent traveler who will also enjoy pursuing their own interests, making meal plans independently (either solo or with other travelers) and finding their way to activities independently. (Your Smithsonian Journeys  Resident Director is always available to assist with plans.) 

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit and comfortable with longer days of touring (both walking tours and coach time).


Day 1 & Day 2 – Depart the U.S. and arrive in Malaga, Spain – transfer to Marbella

Depart the U.S. on your transatlantic flight to Malaga, Spain. Upon arrival at Malaga airport, transfer to Marbella and the Aparthotel Monarque Sultan. Upon arrival at the hotel your luggage will be delivered to your guest room. Your Smithsonian Journeys Resident Director will be available this afternoon and throughout the program for suggestions regarding personal sightseeing arrangements, restaurants reservations, shopping suggestions of any other assistance you may require. This evening, gather for a welcome reception followed by dinner at the hotel. (R,D)

Day 3 – Marbella

This morning gather for a presentation on  the History of Al Andalus: Islam on the Iberian Peninsula 711-1492. Then enjoy a walking tour through Marbella, a lovely seaside town with a labyrinth of cobbled streets. Discover beautiful plazas and well-preserved churches and public buildings.  See the colorful Plaza de Naranjos in the city center. Then stop for lunch at a local restaurant. Your afternoon is at leisure.

This evening gather for a stroll along Marbella’s seaside promenade and view the town’s main beaches, El Fuerte and La Fontanilla. Enjoy dinner independently this evening. (B,L) 

Day 4 – Excursion to Malaga’s Province and the White Villages

Depart Marbella and travel inland to discover the traditional villages of Gaucin, Casares, and Estepona, villages that have maintained traces of their Moorish era of Al-Andalus. These small white villages with whitewashed houses, some with remains of castles and fortresses, are set in spectacular mountain settings. While on the excursion a luncheon of local delicacies will be served. Return to Marbella in the afternoon with the remainder of the day at leisure. (B,L) 

Day 5 – Marbella

For those who have subscribed to Track 1.1 Language Option, this morning depart on the walk to your Spanish school, for an orientation of the facilities, placement test and your first Spanish class.

The balance of the day is free of planned activities. Tonight gather for dinner in town with fellow Smithsonian Journeys travelers. (D)

Day 6 – Excursion to Ronda

Today depart for Ronda, one of Spain’s oldest and most breathtaking towns. Ronda’s twisting streets reveal architecture influenced by centuries of Moorish domination such as birdcage balconies and more. Step into the Iglesia de Santa María la Mayor, a church commissioned by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1485. The church was built on the site of a mosque and wasn’t completed until the 17th century, so the architecture combines Gothic, Renaissance, and baroque elements as well as vestiges of its Moorish beginnings. Also visit the Plaza de Toros, one of Spain’s finest bullfighting rings, and Casa don Bosco, a modernist palace with a stunning courtyard and a collection of fine regional ceramics.

Continue to a local vineyard to enjoy a luncheon and wine tasting. Return to Marbella in the late afternoon for the remainder of the day and evening at leisure. (L)

Day 7 – Marbella

For those who have sunscribed to the Track 2.1 Active Discovery, depart on a hiking excursion enjoying the Costa del Sol with views from above. View Marbella, Estepona and even Gibraltar and África. Visit viewpoints like Mirador del Corzo and Mirador del Macho Montés in the foothills of Sierra Blanca and Juanar. Return to the hotel in time for a late lunch.

Length: 3.1 miles.
Highest Altitude: 3, 864 feet
Duration: 3-4 hours.

For those who opted for the Track 3.1 Culinary Traditions Option, gather late in the day for your first lesson on Andalucian cooking with an expert chef from the region.

Day 8 – Excursion to Gibraltar

Cross the border from Spain to Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory. This slice of Britain in Spain holds a fascinating history being first settled by the Moors and later ruled by Spain. Travel to the top of the Rock for breath-taking views. From a height of 1,400 feet (weather permitting), you will be able to see the African coastline, where the waters of the Atlantic meet the Mediterranean.

Day 9 – Marbella

The Track 1.2 Language instruction meets this morning with a first full day of language immersion.

In the afternoon all guests  gather for a local expert presentation on Exploring Flamenco’s Arab Roots.

This evening Smithsonian Journeys travelers will attend a flamenco dance demonstration and dinner at a local restaurant.  (D)  

Day 10 – Excursion to Málaga and Museo Picasso Málaga

Track 1.3 Language class will meet this morning.

This afternoon depart Marbella for an excursion to Málaga.  Málaga is currently undergoing a Renaissance, with an investment in culture and the arts.  Take a guided tour of the Museo Picasso Málaga, dedicated to the artist in the city he was born.  Containing works from a span of Picasso’s various periods, the museum presents them in chronological order. The balance of the day is free of planned activities. Dinner is on an independent basis.

Day 11 – Excursion to Granada

Depart Marbella for the scenic drive to Granada. There you will visit the Alhambra, the city’s renowned Moorish fortress and palace complex. The Alhambra, which was built in the 13th and 14th centuries, overlooks the city. Admire the fountains, pools, courtyards and arch-line walkways. The interiors feature exquisite carvings and tiles. After the Alhambra, enjoy lunch on the grounds at the Parador de Granada. In the afternoon, depart back to Marbella. (L)

Day 12 – Marbella

Track 1.4 Language instruction will meet this morning.

In the afternoon gather for a presentation on Kingdoms of Iberia with a local expert.

This evening, join fellow travelers for dinner at a local restaurant and share stories about your Spanish adventure so far.  (D)

Day 13 – Marbella or Optional Weekend Escape to Seville & Carmona

Enjoy an optional two-night weekend escape (additional cost) staying in Carmona, one of the most scenic areas of Andalusia and a charming and vibrant market town. Explore Osuna, known for its rich history and archeological sites dating from Roman and Arab times. Spend a full day in Seville, the cultural heart of southern Spain with its beautiful Alcazar palace and magnificent cathedral, both World Heritage sites. Stop at Ecija with its 11 towers, nine steeples, many churches, and palaces and then continue on to Cordoba, an important Roman city and a major Islamic center in the Middle Ages, its central town is now a World Heritage site. While there tour La Mezquita, an immense mosque dating from 784 A.D. and featuring a columned prayer hall and stunning Byzantine mosaics.

Guests who select this Weekend Escape option will spend two nights at the Hotel Alcazar de la Reina in Carmona. 

Day 1: Weekend Escape – Depart Marbella for Osuna which boasts many fine baroque palaces, mansions and churches from the 16th to the 18th centuries.  Continue on to Carmona for an included lunch and a walking tour.  Afterwards check-in to the hotel where the remainder of day is at leisure. (L)

For those remaining in Marbella, the day is free for independent pursuits.

Day 14 – Marbella or Optional Weekend Escape to Seville & Carmona

Day 2: Weekend Escape: Drive to Seville to spend the day touring this most magnificent city. Tour the Plaza de Espana, Cathedral de Sevilla, and the Royal Alcazar. Return to Carmona for an evening at leisure. (B)  Hotel Alcazar de la Reina

For those remaining in Marbella, the day in free for independent pursuits.

Day 15 – Marbella or Optional Weekend Escape to Seville & Carmona (concludes)

Day 3: Weekend Escape: This morning check-out of the Hotel Alcazar de la Reina in Carmona and drive to Ecija where you’ll learn more about the town’s impressive Roman heritage and view noble manor houses and spectacular churches. Then continue on to Cordoba for an included tour of La Mezquita, the spectacular mosque-cathedral of Cordoba. Weekend Escape participants will then return to Marbella and the hotel in the late afternoon. (B)

For those remaining in Marbella, the day is free for independent pursuits.

Day 16 – Marbella

Track 1.5 Language instruction will meet this morning.

Gather for a presentation on Contemporary Spain with a local expert.

The remainder of the day is free for independent pursuits.

Day 17 – Excursion to Antequera

 Track 1.6 Language instruction will meet this morning.

This afternoon travel inland to the outskirts of Antequera, where there are a series of 5,000-year old megalithic tombs, including Menga Dolmen and Viera Dolmen, which are both World Heritage sites. Visit these outstanding examples of megalithic architecture before continuing your journey in the old town of Antequera. Stop at the hilltop Alcazaba de Antequera, proudly sitting atop the city-line, to begin the walking tour.  Visit the El Carmen Church, just one example of the more than 30 churches and cathedrals found in Antequera.  Antequera is also full of charming shops, restaurants, and winding lanes that encompass the mix of cultures that have become one in Andalusia.

Return to Marbella late in the day for the remainder of the day at leisure for independent pursuits.

Day 18 – Marbella

Today is Track 2.1 for those who have opted for the Active Discovery excursions.

Take a guided hiking excursion into the Natural Area of Desfiladero de los Gaitanes, where you’ll enjoy an amazing hanging path known worldwide as Caminito del Rey (King´s pathwalk). A spectacular hiking route across a breathtaking gorge. The walkway was fully repaired after nearly 4 years of renovation. This excursion is not recommended for those with a fear of heights.

Length: 1.8 miles
Path width: 3 feet
Highest Altitude: 330 feet
Duration: 2 hours

The day is free for those not taking part in the Active Discovery option. 

Day 19 – Marbella

Track 1.7 Language instruction will meet this morning.

Join fellow Smithsonian Journeys travelers for dinner at a local restaurant tonight. (D)

Day 20 – Excursion to Nerja & Frigiliana

This morning depart Marbella for Nerja and Frigiliana. Nerja is famous for its underground caves which can easily be explored. The caves stretch for almost three miles as a series of underground caverns and contain the largest stalagmite in the world, a towering 104-foot high column with a 42 by 22-foot base. Frigiliana protects and preserves some of the best loved treasures of Moorish architecture. Alleyways, cultural and architectural heritage and cuisine will transport you to Nazrid times. Lunch today will offer you the opportunity to try some local delicacies (such as fennel stew and goat with almonds). Return to Marbella late in the day for the evening at leisure. (L)

Day 21 – Marbella

For those who opted for the Culinary Traditions option, Track 3.2 is todayGather for your second lesson on Andalucian cooking with an expert chef from the region

Day 22 – Marbella

Spend your final day independently in Marbella enjoying the seaside and Andalucian way of life.

Gather this evening with your fellow Smithsonian Journeys travelers to celebrate your Spanish adventure, and all you have experienced and accomplished, with an evening’s farewell reception and dinner.

Day 23 – Depart Marbella for Malaga and your return flight to the U.S.

Depart Marbella and transfer to Malaga Airport for your return flight to the U.S.  

Included Meals: In-flight services

Note: Itinerary sequence and/or scheduled events may change due to operational considerations. Both included excursions and optional enrichment tracks often involve an element of walking, standing and climbing steps. All enrichment tracks as well as the optional two night excursion to Carmona, Seville, and Córdoba are at an additional cost. 

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

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