Get a ticket to ride the Al Andalus Express - Europe - Travel - The Independent

Get a ticket to ride the Al Andalus Express

12 best Andalusian holidays


1 Costa getaway: Spanish Affair (tel: 020 7385 8127) still has coastal properties available for this summer on Andalusia's Costa del Sol. The Villa Ojen is quiet, but close enough to Marbella for the nightlife. A fly-drive package, based on up to six people sharing twin rooms, costs around £506 per person for two weeks in early July, including return flights to Malaga, car hire, and self-catering accommodation.

1 Costa getaway: Spanish Affair (tel: 020 7385 8127) still has coastal properties available for this summer on Andalusia's Costa del Sol. The Villa Ojen is quiet, but close enough to Marbella for the nightlife. A fly-drive package, based on up to six people sharing twin rooms, costs around £506 per person for two weeks in early July, including return flights to Malaga, car hire, and self-catering accommodation.

2 Spanish speaking: Considering Spain's popularity with the British, linguistically we rarely seem to progress much beyond " dos cervezas, por favor". Spanish Study Holidays (tel: 01509 211612) offers Spanish language courses for all ages at three of its schools in Andalusia - in Seville, Granada and Malaga. As well as daily classes in small groups, the courses include film shows, tapas evenings, and excursions. A two-week course based in Seville costs from £462 per person if two share accommodation with a host family. The price includes half-board accommodation, 20 Spanish sessions per week and activities. Flights and transfers cost extra.

3 Sherry tour: Sherry is a serious business in Jerez - Andalusia's premier sherry-producing region. Winetrails (tel: 01306 712111) offers a six-day break to Jerez, featuring tastings at the bodegas of Sandemans and Gonzalez Byass. The self-guided break costs from £465, based on two sharing, including largely half-board accommodation and private estate visits with tastings. Flights and transfers cost extra.

4 Al Andalus Express: Mundi Color (tel: 020 7828 6021) organises week-long trips on Spain's answer to the Orient Express. The Al Andalus Express is a luxury vintage train complete with mahogany panelling and brocade furnishings, dating from the 1920s. It winds its weekly course from Seville through to Granada and Jerez de la Frontera. Passengers sleep on board, but alight for daytime excursions. The price of around £1,239 per person in standard class is based on two sharing a cabin and includes flights, transfers and train travel, full-board accommodation and excursions. The train leaves Santa Justa station in Seville every Sunday.

5 Ronda break: Ronda is home to Spain's oldest bullring, famous in the 18th-century as the home of champion bullfighter, Pedro Rovero, and for its beautiful bridge spanning the Tajo gorge. Magic Cities (tel: 020 85638959) offers short breaks to Ronda, staying at the four-star Reina Victoria hotel. A three-night break from 1 July costs around £338 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights to Seville, car hire and b&b accommodation.

6 Sierra self-cater : It's not too late to find a cottage in the stunning Andalusian countryside, as Spain at Heart (tel: 01373 836070) has a range of accommodation still to let. A two-week holiday starting 11 August at El Tornero, a self-catering cottage with pool in the Sierra de Aracena, north-west of Seville, costs £1,650 in total. It sleeps up to six. Flights and car-hire are not included, but can be organised by Spain at Heart.

7 Spanish twitching: Griffon vultures and short-toed eagles feature among the birds of prey that can be seen on Limosa Holidays' (tel: 01263 578143) eight-day birding trip to the Strait of Gibraltar. This part of Andalusia is a key point in the migration of many of Europe's raptors, and the trip will be guided by Dick Forsman, an authority on the subject. The tour departs 9 September and costs £1,095 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights to Malaga, transfers, full-board accommodation, and the services of a guide.

8 Pueblos blancos : InnTravel (tel: 01653 629000) offers multi-centred fly-drive packages that allow you to explore the whitewashed villages and countryside of Andalusia at your leisure without having to find somewhere to stay in the evening. A six-night package, taking in the village of Cazalla de la Sierra, Arcos de la Frontera and Ronda, costs £575 per person based on two sharing, including return flights, car hire, and half-board accommodation.

9 White horses: Pure-bred white Andalusian horses, especially those from the Real Escuela Andaluza Del Arte Equestre in Jerez, are highly esteemed. Ride World Wide (tel: 01837 82544) offers short courses for riders to hone their horsemanship on these beautiful specimens. Staying at the Hacienda Dos Olivos near Seville, four-day courses cost around £310 per person based on two sharing, including b&b accommodation, and daily lessons from an instructor from the school. Flights and transfers cost extra.

10 Alhambra: The Moors ruled the region of Andalusia for some 700 years, leaving an architectural legacy of grandiose cities and magical gardens, not least in Granada. The Moorish palace of Alhambra and the Generalife gardens are the highlights of a four-night break to Granada offered by Prospect Music & Art Tours (tel: 020 7486 5705). If this short tour will cost £495 per person, including return flights, transfers, three-star b&b hotel, and two half-day excursions. The next tour leaves on 7 September.

11 On safari: The Walking Safari Company (tel: 01572 821330) offers walking holidays to explore Andalusia's wilder countryside, including a 55-mile trek from Arcos de la Frontera to La Almuna. As well as staying in an 18th-century cortijo (country house), and a Victorian hunting lodge, walkers will trek through deer-rich forests, and visit a sherry bodega at Sanlucar de Barrameda. The "Arcos Safari" costs £1,295 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights, transfers, full-board accommodation and wine, luggage support, and guides. Autumn tours leave throughout October.

12 Moor highlights: Exodus Travels (tel: 020 8675 5550) offers an Andalusian tour for the traveller who wants a little of everything. Its 14-day tour will visit Seville's Plaza de España, Cordoba's Mezquita church, and still leave time for a walk in Cazorla National Park. The price of £622 per person is based on two sharing, and includes return flights, transfers, b&b accommodation and guides. There are regular departures, and availability exists on the next tour, due to leave on 3 September.

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