Travel challenge: A cultural summer holiday in Europe

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The Independent Travel

Every week we invite competing companies to give us their best deal for a specific holiday. Today: a cultural holiday in southern Europe in July or August. Prices are per person, based on two people travelling together .

Martin Randall Travel

£2,690: Opera in Macerata and Pesaro, Italy

This seven-night guided group tour includes flights from Gatwick to Bologna departing 6 August, transfers, accommodation with breakfast in historic centres, some meals, excursions and five opera tickets. "A charming combination of two traditional Italian opera festivals with the art and architecture of the picturesque and unspoilt Marche region," says Guy Hinton at Martin Randall Travel (020-8742 3355; ).

The Traveller

£1,950: "AD410 – the Year that Shook Rome", Italy

A nine-day group tour that includes flights from Gatwick to Bologna (back from Rome) departing 17 August, transfers, accommodation with breakfast, and expert guiding. "Sixteen-hundred years after the barbarians' seizure of Rome, this tour traces their route to the Eternal City via Ostia, Florence, Ravenna and the beautiful hill town of Fiesole," says Irenie Ekkeshis at The Traveller (020-7269 2770; ).

Cox & Kings

£1,215: Andalucia by train, Spain

The private journey includes flights from Gatwick with daily departures in July and August, transfers, six nights' accommodation with breakfast in Cordoba, Seville and Granada and train travel.

"Train travel is a perfect way to combine three of Andalucía's most elegant cities and allows time to really explore the region's Roman, Moorish and Catholic heritage. The Alhambra, a magnificent, 13th-century Moorish palace, is Spain's must-see sight but the mosque-cathedral, Mesquita, in Córdoba and the Royal Alcazar in Seville should not be overlooked either," says Michael Fleetwood of Cox & Kings (020-7873 5000; ).