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 port of Marbella at dusk
 Street in Marbella's Old Town
 Church in Marbella's Old Town
 Evening in Marbella's Plaza de la Inglesia square
 One of Marbella's prized beaches
 Traditional flamenco dancer
 Typical charming street in Estepona
 Cordoba
 The Mezquita of Cordoba, a cathedral and former mosque
 The white hill town of Antequera
 A plaza in charming Ronda
 City of Ronda, overlooking the Tajo Gorge
 The Plaza de Espana, Seville
 The immense Gothic cathedral of Seville
 The Alhambra of Granada
 The evocative garden area of the Generalife at the Alhambra, Granada
 Charming town of Frigiliana
 Village of Mijas, along the Costa del Sol
 White village along the Costa del Sol
 The Costa del Sol
 The outcropping of Gibraltar
 Enjoying food and wine during your stay
 Hiking the Caminito del Rey

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

SPECIAL OFFER

Save $250 per person when you book by February 10, 2023!

Special Air Rates & Services: As part of our special air program, FlexAir, available with this tour, you can choose from a wide variety of flight options. Visit the Tour Details tab and click on "Special Air Rates/Services" drop down. 

Overview

Whitewashed villages laced with bougainvillea, the seductive rhythms of flamenco, historic cities filled with delicate Moorish architecture, scalloped beaches and rugged mountains: Andalusia is a place to savor. Settle into your apartment in the inviting town of Marbella, perched on the Mediterranean Sea, and spend three weeks immersed in sun-kissed southern Spain. Burnish your Spanish skills, learn a few steps of flamenco, or cook authentic paella with a local chef. Trace the history and enduring influence of the Moors, and then see that influence firsthand on guided excursions to beautiful mountain villages and world-class cities like Granada and Malaga. Watch the sunset from the beach, or while sipping sangria on a town square, and revel in the unhurried pace of life on Spain’s Costa del Sol.

Highlights Include

Excursions, Day Trips, Presentations: Discover seaside Marbella on a walking tour and venture to nearby caves of Nerja and the Moorish village of Frigiliana. Learn about Andalusia’s unique cultural heritage from local experts, and enjoy an evening of flamenco and a wine tasting. Delve deeper into the region’s history and character on day trips to Granada, Málaga, Ronda, the White Villages, and more; and opt for a weekend escapade to Seville and Cordobá.

Itinerary

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. This evening, dine with fellow travelers at a local seaside restaurant. (B,L,D)

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 Castellar de la Frontera, 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. In early evening, join new friends in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner for refreshments and conversation. (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.

Track 3.1 Food and Traditions Option participants depart on an interactive tapas tour in Marbella’s Old Town. During the excursion, learn about the history and culture of the town and explore its interesting nooks and crannies. The balance of the day is free of planned activities.

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 subscribed to the Food and Traditions Track 3.2, discover the municipal markets of Marbella and sample regional food specialties and drinks as you go. Meet market vendors and learn about the traditions of the marketplace. If you’re not participating in the optional track, the day is free so that you can follow your own path and explore on your own. This evening dinner is at leisure.

Day 8 – Excursion to Gibraltar

Depart Marbella and motor to the border between Spain and Gibraltar, a strategic 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 North 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.

In early evening, get together for a drink and conversation in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner. Afterward, join fellow travelers for dinner at a restaurant in Marbella. (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. After time independently, Smithsonian Journeys travelers will attend a flamenco performance at a local tavern in Malaga then return to Marbella for dinner at a local restaurant. (D)

Day 11 – Excursion to Granada

Depart Marbella this morning for the scenic drive to famed city of Granada. There you will visit the renowned Alhambra, the city’s remarkable Moorish fortress and palace complex. The Alhambra, which was built in the 13th and 14th centuries, dominates the city. Admire fountains, pools, courtyards and shaded porticos. The interiors feature exquisite carvings and tiles. After the visit, enjoy lunch on the grounds of the Parador de Granada. Following lunch, return to a leisure afternoon in Marbella. Later, join fellow travelers for a drink and conversation in the Travelers Corner. (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.

For those subscribed to the Food and Traditions Track 3.3, learn about the art of making sherry and enjoy different types of Spanish sherry paired with the local cuisine. Hear about local traditions and cultural anecdotes of Marbella and embrace the history of a wine that has been molding its identity for more than 3,000 years. (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.

Food and Traditions Track 3.4 participants will enjoy a lesson on Andalucian cooking in one of the most charming villas in Marbella. Learn how to make a classic paella with the owners of the villa and enjoy a tasting of their exquisite olive oil from their century- old family-run farm. Enjoy your paella and delicious Spanish wine in a beautiful setting this evening.

The day is free to follow your own path if not enrolled in an optional track.

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. Join fellow travelers this evening for dinner at a local restaurant. (D)

Day 18 – Marbella

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

Take a guided walk into the Natural Area of Desfiladero de los Gaitanes, where you’ll enjoy an amazing aerial pathway known worldwide as Caminito del Rey (King´s pathway) that takes hikers over a breathtaking gorge. The walkway was fully renovated after nearly 4 years of renovation. The excursion is not recommended for those with a fear of heights.

The day is free for those not taking part in the optional track.

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

After breakfast, depart the hotel for the towns of Nerja and Frigiliana. Nerja is famous for its subterranean caves that can be easily explored. The caves stretch for almost three miles as a series of underground caverns and contain the largest stalagmite in the world. Frigiliana protects and preserves some of the best examples of Moorish architecture. The town’s cultural and architectural heritage and will transport you to Moorish times. Lunch today will offer you the opportunity to try some local delicacies. Return to Marbella late in the day. Gather in early evening for a drink and lively conversation in the Travelers Corner. This evening, dine at your leisure. (L)

Day 21 – Marbella

For those who subscribed to the Active Discovery Track 2.2, there is a 3-4 hour soft hike, enjoying the Costa del Sol views from above, seeing Marbella, Estepona and even Gibraltar and África. Visit some viewpoints, like Mirador del Corzo and Mirador del Macho Montés in the foothills of Sierra Blanca and Juanar. Lunch is included at a nearby restaurant that used to be an old hunting lodge.

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. (R,D)

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

Depart Marbella and transfer to Malaga Costa del Sol International Airport for your return flight to the U.S.

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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