Spain

Winter in Spain: Culture & History Along the Southern Coast

Program No. 22116RJ
Immerse yourself in the cultural bounty of southern Spain, where you’ll discover Moorish architecture, explore the Rock of Gibraltar and learn the vibrant story of this ancient land.

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At a Glance

Surrounded by sea and mountains, the southern tip of Spain is an ideal getaway for anyone suffering from the “winter blues.” While the incredible landscapes may be the first thing that draws your eye, this region is also an ideal jumping-off point for exploring Spain’s rich heritage, from ancient Roman and Moorish influences to traditional Andalusian cuisine. With the North African coast in view on a clear day, the seaside communities and verdant vineyards offer a unique connection across cultures and time. Follow in the footsteps of ancient invaders, inspired poets and adventure-seekers both past and present — all along the beautiful Mediterranean coast.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Walking up to one to two miles per day. Cobblestones, uneven paving, some rough trails, steps without handrails.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

What You'll Learn

  • Discover breathtaking Sierra de Ronda with visits to Spain’s oldest bullring and ancient Moorish houses.
  • Learn about the legacy of 800 years of Moorish rule during a visit to Cordoba's great mosque .
  • Explore the Rock of Gibraltar and enjoy a bird's eye view of the British-style streets of Gibraltar.

General Notes

Give us a call to combine this learning adventure with select dates of "Winter in Spain: Andalusian Highlights" (#22107) for even more learning in Southern Spain! We’ll even transfer you for free by bus or car between locations.
Featured Expert
All trip experts
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Fernando Derqui
Fernando was born and raised in Madrid. At the age of 17, he moved to England where he completed a bachelor’s degree in biological science and an MSA in marine biology. Returning to Madrid, he started leading educational groups abroad to the USA. Finally, he became a professional group leader and has worked full time for the past 26 years, covering most European countries and North Africa. Fernando has a special affinity for Andalucía, Islamic art and architecture as well as Arabic culture and language.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Fernando Derqui
Fernando Derqui View biography
Fernando was born and raised in Madrid. At the age of 17, he moved to England where he completed a bachelor’s degree in biological science and an MSA in marine biology. Returning to Madrid, he started leading educational groups abroad to the USA. Finally, he became a professional group leader and has worked full time for the past 26 years, covering most European countries and North Africa. Fernando has a special affinity for Andalucía, Islamic art and architecture as well as Arabic culture and language.
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Year
2025
  • 2025
Date
Jan 25 - Feb 01
  • Jan 25 - Feb 01
  • Feb 01 - Feb 08
  • Feb 08 - Feb 15
  • Feb 15 - Feb 22
  • Mar 01 - Mar 08
  • Mar 08 - Mar 15
  • Mar 15 - Mar 22
Please Note: The program differs on certain dates.
Jan 25 - Feb 1, 2025 Itinerary Differences: Enroll in this date preceded by the corresponding Jan. 19, 2025 departure of "Winter in Spain: Andalusian Highlights" (#22107) and receive a free bus transfer from one program to the next!
Please Note: The program differs on certain dates.
Select trip year and date
2025
  • 2025
Jan 25 - Feb 01
  • Jan 25 - Feb 01
  • Feb 01 - Feb 08
  • Feb 08 - Feb 15
  • Feb 15 - Feb 22
  • Mar 01 - Mar 08
  • Mar 08 - Mar 15
  • Mar 15 - Mar 22
Jan 25 - Feb 1, 2025 Itinerary Differences: Enroll in this date preceded by the corresponding Jan. 19, 2025 departure of "Winter in Spain: Andalusian Highlights" (#22107) and receive a free bus transfer from one program to the next!
While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of our published materials, programs are typically advertised more than a year prior to their start date. As a result, some program activities, schedules, accommodations, personnel, and other logistics occasionally change due to local conditions or circumstances. Should a major change occur, we will make every effort to alert you. For less significant changes, we will update you during orientation. Thank you for your understanding.
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8 days
7 nights
16 meals
6 B 4 L 6 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight

Activity note: Though southern Spain is known for its pleasant winter weather, evenings and inland areas can be chilly. Temperatures generally range from 40 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit; be sure to pack layers so you are prepared for any weather during our program, as well as rain gear in case of showers.

DAY
2
Arrive Málaga, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Estepona
D
H10 Estepona Palace

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 2:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Orientation: 6:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Periods in the schedule designated as "Free time" and "At leisure" offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel, we'll get to know each other over a plated welcome dinner including complimentary wine and mineral water.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Spain Today, Estepona's Old Town, Payoyo Cheese
Estepona
B,L,D
H10 Estepona Palace

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving to and from downtown Estepona, no more than 5 miles (8 km) in total. Walking up to 1.5 miles (2.4 km); cobblestones and uneven ground in Estepona, rugged terrain at the cheese maker. Extent and duration of free time activities according to personal choice.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll choose from the buffet featuring a selection of bread and pastries, cereal, yogurt, fruit, and cold cuts; beverage choices of coffee, tea, juice, water.

Morning: We'll gather in a hotel meeting room for an introduction to Spain's mighty past from our Group Leader. We'll then head out by motorcoach to downtown Estepona. Led by a local expert, we will visit the charming pedestrian old town with its Andalusian whitewashed buildings, discover the municipal market and clock tower, and learn about the ancient Phoenician and Moorish invaders.

Lunch: In the Old Town of Estepona, we will enjoy a selection of simple tapas; mineral water and wine included.

Afternoon: This afternoon we will head by motor coach to a local cheese producer, where we will learn about the speciality Payoyo cheese, produced from goat's milk from the Cadiz region of Spain.

Dinner: We will return to the hotel for a buffet dinner

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Cordoba & The Moorish Influence
Estepona
B,L,D
H10 Estepona Palace

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 150 miles (244 km) *one way* to Cordoba. Walking 1.5 miles on city streets with some cobblestones. Temperatures inland can be cooler; warmer clothing may be necessary. Extent and duration of free time activities according to personal choice.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will drive inland by motorcoach to Cordoba, former capital of the Muslim Caliphate of Al Andalus. Our expert-led visit of the old town will include the cathedral, popularly known as the "Mezquita," which stands over a Christian church built in the Visigothic period (5th century). After the Moorish conquest of Spain, it was used as a mosque. In 1236, following Cordoba's fall to Ferdinand and after over 500 years of use as a mosque, the site was reconsecrated as Christian and in 1523, a cathedral was erected. The Mezquita of Cordoba is one of the most emblematic monuments in Europe, and a unique example of the interplay of Christian and Muslim cultures in Spain.

Lunch: At a restaurant in Cordoba.

Afternoon: Free time. We'll then return to the hotel by motorcoach.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Introduction to Spanish Cookery, Fish Workshop
Estepona
B,L,D
H10 Estepona Palace

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Extent and duration of free time activities according to personal choice.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Spain is one of the largest consumers of fish in the world. We will meet our local expert at Estepona's fishing port for an on-site presentation of local fishing traditions and an introduction to the fresh local produce that is key to the local economy, and an important component of the renowned Mediterranean diet. Later on, we will transfer by motorcoach to a local venue, where we will join a participative seafood paella making workshop.

Lunch: We'll enjoy the results of our cooking course with a complimentary glass of wine. We'll then return to the hotel.

Afternoon: Free time. Group Leader will provide suggestions.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At a local cultural center, we'll enjoy a performance of classic Spanish guitar by a local musician (performance subject to availability and may be substituted).

DAY
6
Ronda, Spanish Bulls, Spain Today
Estepona
B,L,D
H10 Estepona Palace

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 50 miles (80.5 km), approximately 1.5 hours one way. Walking up to 2 miles on very uneven terrain, with many cobblestones, inclines and steps without railings. Unpaved trails at the bull ranch. Temperatures inland can be much cooler; warm clothing may be necessary.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will drive north through the beautiful scenery of the Sierra de Ronda. Ronda is an ancient Spanish town, famous for its breathtaking views of the El Tajo gorge that plunges down hundreds of meters and dramatically divides the town into two. Uniting both these sections is a spectacular 18th-century arched bridge. In Ronda, our local expert will show us the oldest bullring in Spain and the ancient Moorish houses. Later on, we will head to a bull ranch on the outskirts of Ronda.

Lunch: We will enjoy some light tapas at the bull ranch

Afternoon: After lunch, we will join staff for a visit on foot and by motor coach through the Andalusian reserve. Here, we will have the chance to see the Toro Bravo or Toro de Lidia (Spanish Fighting Bull) and thoroughbred Andalusian horses. We will learn about the breed and discuss the arguments and controversy surrounding this Spanish tradition. Later in the afternoon, we will return to the hotel by motorcoach. . After a short rest, we'll join our Group Leader for an examination of Spain today. We will hear about the radical evolution of Spain and Andalusia since Franco's death, the advent of democracy in 1975, as well as the current challenges and opportunities faced by the Spanish population.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Gibraltar, Farewell
Estepona
B,D
H10 Estepona Palace

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach and minibus in Gibraltar; driving about 30 miles (47.9 km), approximately 45 minutes to Rock of Gibraltar. Walking about 1.5 miles during the included activities. Extent and duration of free time activities according to personal choice.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We'll depart by motorcoach on a field trip to the Rock of Gibraltar, a small peninsula on the Spanish coast under British jurisdiction, and a major area of dispute over the centuries. During the drive along the Costa del Sol, your Group Leader will explain the reasons and arguments behind the sovereignty of this 7.5-mile stretch of land. Once across the border, we will join our local expert and board a minibus to the Punta de Europa (European Point) from where you can enjoy a bird's-eye view of the British-style streets of Gibraltar and, in clear weather, the Moroccan coastline. Later, we will visit the underground World War II tunnels from where Operation Torch – the Allied invasion of North Africa – was planned, see the famous Barbary "apes" (macaca sylvanus) who roam freely around the peninsula, and the pillars of Hercules – the legendary promontories that flank the entrance to the Straits of Gibraltar.

Lunch: Enjoy local cuisine on your own.

Afternoon: Free time. We'll then return to the hotel and hold a program wrap-up meeting prior to dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Say farewell to new Road Scholar friends and prepare for departure in the morning.

DAY
8
Program Concludes, In Transit from Program
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by Noon. Airport transfers beginning at approximately 4:00 a.m. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet, flight times permitting. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on another rewarding program in the future. Don't forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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