The Sun Coast Educational Tour
The Sun Coast tour map

The Sun Coast

9 Days Madrid 3 • Seville 2 • Costa del Sol 2

Accommodations

Accommodations in centrally-located three-star or four-star hotels. Rooming on a triple basis. Double rooms: $280 per person.

Transportation

Round-trip transportation on scheduled airline. Deluxe touring motorcoach.

Meals

All breakfasts. All dinners.

Guides

Services of a specially-trained passports Tour Director throughout.

Inclusions

Entrances and activities as noted on itinerary.

Travel Protection

passports provides and pays for a Post Departure Travel Protection Plan that includes coverage for Trip Interruption, Trip Delay, Baggage Loss or Delay, Medical Expense and Evacuation and more.

Days 1-2: Arrival Madrid

Arrival transfer

Day 3: Madrid

Half-day city sightseeing: Local Guide, Visit to the Prado Museum, Prado headset

Excursion to Toledo: Visit to Toledo Cathedral, Visit to the Church of Santo Tomé (El Greco's painting), Visit to a historic synagogue

Day 4: Madrid

Excursion to El Escorial, Valley of the Fallen and Segovia: Local Guide, Visit to Segovia's Alcázar, Photo stop at the Roman Aqueduct

Optional Flamenco Show

Day 5: Madrid - Seville

Guided walking tour in Córdoba, Visit to the Mezquita

Day 6: Seville

Half-day city sightseeing: Local Guide, Visit to Seville Cathedral (with Christopher Columbus' tomb) and the Giralda Tower, Visit to the Royal Alcázar of Seville

Optional Guadalquivir River Cruise

Day 7: Seville - Costa del Sol

Visit to the Alhambra Palace, Visit to the Generalife Gardens

Day 8: Costa del Sol

Optional Excursion to Tangier: Hydrofoil Tarifa - Tangier, Guided walking tour in Tangier, Hydrofoil Tangier - Tarifa

Optional Excursion to Mijas

Day 9: Departure

Departure transfer

Days 1-2: Arrival

A dream comes true as your wide-bodied jet thunders off the airstrip, Europe-bound! Watch the sun rise up to meet your airplane, after a short night. Spain glides by beneath your airplane, in shades of sienna, as you head towards Madrid's Barajas Airport.

Get settled in your madrileño hotel and explore your surroundings.

Stroll in the Plaza Mayor, the heart of the Old City.

For lunch, why not duck into a sidewalk mesón for a sopa de pescado or some calamares?

Day 3: Madrid City Sightseeing, Excursion to Toledo

On a tour of the city, you will be introduced to the sights and the city grand squares: Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, Plaza de España with the Cervantes Monument, Gran Vía, Calle Alcalá, Plaza de Colón, and Plaza de Cibeles with its fountains.

A half-day local guide, well-educated and specially-trained on the history and culture of Madrid and its surroundings, will accompany your group.

Visit to the Prado Museum

View world-famous paintings by El Greco, Goya, and Velázquez, and much. much more, at the magnificent Museo del Prado.

Excursion to Toledo

Toledo is surrounded on three sides by the Río Tajo, which has cut a deep gorge out of the encircling mountains. Christianity, Judaism and Islam coexist on the tiny streets of this ancient city, which was once the capital of Spain. Indeed, the entire panorama of Spanish history is embodied in its churches, synagogues, Moorish mosques and fortifications.

Visit to Toledo Cathedral

Visit one of the most impressive Spanish cathedrals, completed in 1492, after nearly 300 years. Its treasury contains an impressive display of gold and silver vessels and alabaster sculpture.

Visit to the Church of Santo Tomé (El Greco's painting)

Visit the Church of St. Thomas to view El Greco's Burial of the Count of Orgaz, a fresco commissioned in honor of a Spanish nobleman who was known for his generosity and charitable deeds.

Visit to a historic synagogue

Enjoy a visit to one of the city's two remaining medieval synagogues.

Day 4: Excursion to El Escorial, Valley of the Fallen and Segovia, Optional Flamenco Show

Set out for the the wooded slopes of Mt. Abantos, watershed of the Guadarrama River, where Spanish royalty retreated from the summer heat and from the bustle of the capital city.

Visit to the Monastery of El Escorial and sightseeing stop at the Valley of the Fallen

Travel to the religious retreat of King Philip II, El Escorial, where he and other Spanish kings lie buried. On a guided tour, see the Royal Pantheon and Crypt of the Royal Children, the apartments of King Philip, and the basilica with Titian's fresco of St. Lawrence's martyrdom, as well as the lavish library which contains 40,000 rare manuscripts, including St. Teresa of Avila's diary.

Then, head to the Valley of the Fallen, nestled in the Guadarrama Mountains. Intended as a monument to Fascism, this site is now a memorial to soldiers from both sides who died during the 1936-39 Civil War. See the world's largest monumental cross and the entrance to the underground basilica (currently closed to visitors) that General Franco ordered carved inside a hill of solid granite by prisoners of war. Walk across the vast esplanade for a panoramic view of valleys and mountains.

A well-educated and specially-trained local guide will accompany your group.

Segovia

You will stop in the beautiful city of Segovia, where Isabella, Christopher Columbus' sponsor, was proclaimed Queen of Castile.

Visit the most-photographed of all the Spanish castles, El Alcázar de Segovia. With its perfectly-proportioned features , it has become a symbol of Spain's medieval heritage.

Photo stop at the Roman Aqueduct

Walk to the elegant aqueduct bridge built by the Romans c. AD 90 as part of a waterway that brought water to the city from mountains miles away.

Optional Flamenco Show

Enjoy an evening of traditional entertainment, flamenco! The poet Federico García Lorca called it "the most gigantic creation of the Spanish people." You will long remember the complex and insistent rhythms, the castanets, guitars, and clacking heels as the highlight of your trip to Spain.

Day 5: Cordoba, Seville

Today, travel south through La Mancha, home of Don Quixote, to Córdoba, which was once as famous as Baghdad in the Islamic world. At that time, Córdoba's cultural life was centered around its 70 libraries, with the Caliph's library alone holding 400,000 volumes! Throughout the ages, exceptional scholars have blossomed here, including Seneca, the Roman author/statesman, and the medieval philosophers Maimonides and Averroes.

A local guide will lead you on a tour of in the which the old quarter. which includes the Jewish quarter (Judería) with Maimónides' statue and Calle Judíos which lead to a sinagoga that dates back to 1315, the only Andalusian synagogue to have survived the 1492 expulsion of the Jews.

Visit to the Mezquita

You will enjoy a visit to the Great Mosque (Mezquita) and its Patio de los Naranjos. Admire its forest of "candy cane" arches and precious stones. Marvel at its ceiling of carved cedar, its 4,000 bronze and copper lamps, and its Mihrab shrine where the Koran was kept. See the Christian cathedral built right inside the mosque.

Continue along the Guadalquivir River, where fertile farms and vineyards enliven the scenery, on your way to Don Juan's Sevilla, the prettiest city of Andalusia.

Day 6: Seville City Sightseeing, Optional Guadalquivir River Cruise

Get acquainted with Sevilla on a tour of the city. You'll stop for photos at the Plaza de España and explore on foot the well-preserved Barrio de Santa Cruz, a picturesque maze of alleys and patios which once was the Jewish quarter. You will see the ancient minaret called the Giralda, the Parque María Luisa, the famous tobacco factory where Bizet's Carmen worked and the crenelated tower called the Torre del Oro, which was built in the 13th century to protect the port.

A half-day local guide, well-educated and specially-trained on the history and culture of Seville, will accompany your group.

Visit to Seville Cathedral (with Christopher Columbus' tomb) and the Giralda Tower

A visit is included to the great Gothic cathedral, where you will see the flamboyant monument to Columbus, and the tomb of Ferdinand III: its trilingual inscription in Arabic, Hebrew and Castilian symbolizes this 13th-century king's vision of his kingdom as the home of all three faiths.

Then, climb the Giralda, a former minaret that stands near the cathedral. Instead of stairs, this tower was designed with an interior ramp which makes the climb almost effortless. From the top, visitors have a great overview of the cathedral's roof and buttresses.

Visit to the Royal Alcázar of Seville

Enjoy a visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site over a thousand years old that's a stunning blend of Mudéjar and Christian architecture. Regarded as the most beautiful palace in Spain, El Real Alcázar de Sevilla was a residence of Spanish kings for nearly seven centuries after the Reconquista.

Free time in Seville

You may want to take a look at the Archivo General de Indias and its display of original documents autographed by Columbus, Magellan or Cortés.

Optional Guadalquivir River Cruise

Enjoy a scenic boat ride along the picturesque Guadalquivir River. Listen to the commentary while you enjoy the sights from a different perspective.

Day 7: Granada, Costa del Sol

Board your coach for a drive to the last stronghold of the Moors: Granada.

Visit Medina al-Ambra, the "Red City" better known now as the Alhambra, which was the palace of the Moorish rulers. Its beauty inspired Washington Irving's Tales of the Alhambra.

In its Nasrid Palaces, you will see extraordinary stucco ornamentation and intricate tilework, particularly in the Golden Room. The Alhambra also illustrates the mingling of cultures in Islamic Spain: notice the Christian shell motif used to decorate an alcove in the Courtyard of Myrtles and the Star of David found in a room off the Courtyard of Lions.

You will also tour the gardens created for the Sultan and exquisitely maintained ever since.

As you cross the Sierra Nevada Mountains, you'll understand why it took the Spanish so long to capture the city from the well-entrenched Moors.

A welcome puff of fresh sea breeze announces your arrival on the fabulous Costa del Sol. Enjoy the friendly, relaxed lifestyle of the Mediterranean in this region which averages 320 days of sunshine a year!

Day 8: Costa del Sol, Optional Excursion to Tangier, Optional Excursion to Mijas

Plan your free time or consider an optional excursion.

Optional Excursion to Tangier

Retrace the path of the Moors across the Strait of Gibraltar on an excursion to Tangier, Morocco! Inhabited by the Berbers since the Stone Age, Morocco has attracted in turn the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Portuguese, Spanish, and French, all of whom have left their marks upon the country's history and traditions. Morocco was among the very first nations to formally recognize the new United States; a Treaty of Friendship between the two countries, signed in 1836, has been unbroken ever since.

Travel south along the coast to Algeciras, at the southernmost tip of Spain.

Hydrofoil Tarifa - Tangier

Board a hydrofoil and cross the Strait of Gibraltar.

Disembark in Tangier, Morocco. This mythical port is set between ocean, mountains and desert, at the threshold of Europe, with a blend of ancient and modern, East and West, African and European.

Inhabited by the Berbers since the Stone Age, Morocco has attracted in turn the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Jews, Byzantines, Arabs, Portuguese, Spanish and French, all of whom have left their marks upon the country's history and traditions. Morocco was the first nation to formally recognize the new United States. A Treaty of Friendship between the two countries, signed by Jefferson and Madison in 1786, has been unbroken ever since.

Get set to discover a land of contrasts, with a rich and diverse past expressed in exotic sights, sounds and flavors.

A local guide will introduce Tangier, from which great civilizations have sprung into Europe. See the fabled Kasbah, the highest place in the old Medina, where the Sultan's palace is located. Practice the fine art of bargaining at the picturesque market of the Grand Socco (souk). Morocco is well-known for its fine leather goods, silver and gold jewelry, inlaid and carved wood, spices, copperware and carpets. Exotic, eclectic images will fill your visit to this corner of Africa: mosques and minarets, souks and Kasbahs, magic carpets, haggling salesmen, snake charmers, camels, sultans and belly dancers. The unimaginable difference that a few miles of open water can make!

Hydrofoil Tangier - Tarifa

Board a hydrofoil and retrace the path of the Moors across the Strait of Gibraltar.

We are required to obtain all travelers' passport numbers, country of origin, date of issue and date of expiration before any reservation to Morocco can be made on your behalf.

Optional Excursion to Mijas

Enjoy an excursion to Mijas, which is one of the White Villages (Pueblos Blancos) that symbolize Andalusia. Located near the top of a mountain a mere twenty minutes from the coast, Mijas is an attractive town with dozens of shops, nice restaurants, the world's smallest bullring, a tiny church in a cave, and breathtaking views of the sea.

Day 9: Departure

¡Adios España! Málaga's airport recedes and you're 500 miles closer to home for every hour in the air. You'll be back! For now, race the sun westward and arrive home later today, eager to share your discoveries with family and friends.

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