Discover the charms of these two nations
Free standard class return tickets to London from your local station, on selected 2019 European holidays by rail when you book between 15th February 2019 and the 17th April 2019.
Embark on a magnificent extravaganza uncovering the path of the ancient Moors, from the shores of seductive Spain to the magic of Morocco in north Africa. Discover the charms of these two nations, and the majesty of their cultures and histories.
We meet at London St Pancras International, and from here we board the Eurostar service to Paris. On arrival, we change trains for Barcelona and here we check into our hotel for the next two nights. The following day, we enjoy a guided tour of Barcelona, seeing the fantastic Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudí's unfinished masterpiece, before enjoying a city tour which takes us past many of the main sights and along bustling Las Ramblas.
We leave Barcelona and Catalonia today as we travel south on the highspeed AVE network. Arriving shortly after midday into Seville, your time in the afternoon is your own. The following day, we embark on a city tour. We see the spectacular Alcázar Palace, a beautiful landmark built by the city's Christian rulers in the 14th century. It is a classic example of intricate Mudéjar architecture, inspired by the Moorish occupiers of the past. It is still used as a palace today by the Spanish royal family and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. We also see the magnificent Gothic cathedral here, as well as the Renaissance-style Giralda bell tower. The cathedral was originally a mosque, build by the Moorish rulers and the famous Giralda was in fact a minaret, repurposed after the city came under Christian rule.
Bidding farewell to Spain and Seville today, we head to the seafront town of Tarifa. We arrive in the late morning, and board a ferry here to take us across the Strait of Gibraltar. The short crossing offers us the rather unique prospect of being caught between the landmasses of two enormous continents. On the other side of the Strait, we land in Moroccan Tangiers and head to a beachside restaurant for lunch. After eating, we board the brand new high-speed TGV train service to Casablanca. This is Morocco's first ever high-speed train, and it whisks us away in comfort and style to the iconic city of Casablanca.
This morning, we are taken on a city tour of Casablanca. This famous city is known primarily as the setting for the film of the same name, but also serves as a mesmerising introduction to the magic of North Africa. Casablanca is quite different to the other places we visit, revealing the modern face of Morocco, a glittering mass of pale towers which stretch out across the 'White City'. Our tour here takes us through some of the highlights including the resplendent Hassan II Mosque and the striking Place Mohamed V.
After the tour, we leave Casablanca and continue alongside the ocean by coach to the bustling metropolis of Rabat. On a guided tour, we discover the open beauty of this remarkable city, patterned by shimmering white boulevards and seafront walks and shaded by palm trees. The Medina offers a glimpse of the past full of atmospheric sights, tastes and smells, seeping between the reverent religious buildings. Later, we travel by rail to Fez.
Fez is a fantastic city and a true example of Moroccan charm and splendour, with its thriving Medina and ancient city walls. As the light filters down, through the skyline of mosques and ancient madrassas, the covered streets yield a thriving sight of bustling market stalls and mint tea cafés. A dazzling array of wares are on display, including intricate jewellery, to silk djellabas and clay tagines. One of the oldest cities in Morocco, founded in around 809AD, Fez is a historic treasure trove, offering a superb opportunity to dive deep into past of this storied nation. We take a guided tour that includes the Great Gateway of the Royal Palace, the fascinating Kasbah des Chrardas fortifications and the wonderful smells and colours of the spice market. This evening, dinner is served at Le Palais Medina restaurant alongside a performance from local dancers.
The following day sees us pay a visit to the nearby city of Meknes, one of Morocco's four Imperial cities. The high city walls hide an intricate tapestry of striking architecture which takes its cues both from Islamic traditions and European fashions, and our tour reveals many fine examples of both such as the Palace of Moulay Ismael and the Bab El Mansour gateway. After lunch, we visit the ruins of Volubilis. Originally a Berber city which was taken over by Roman invaders, Volubilis swiftly grew under their rule to become one of Morocco's proto-capitals before being abandoned for new city of Fez. These days the spectacle of ancient Roman arches, ionic columns and swirling mosaics stand as an almost haunting spectacle against the dusty plains.
We leave Fez today, travelling through the ancient Atlas mountains by train to the famous capital of Marrakech. No visit to Morocco is complete without a visit to this beautiful, fascinating and entirely compelling metropolis which teems with life, from the sonorous call to prayer in the morning to the fiery sunrise over the minarets by sunset. Known as the Ochre City, stepping out into the labyrinthine streets of Marrakech reveals a city drenched in colour, whether its the pale peach of the townhouses or the reds, golds, blues and greens of the spice stalls. The enchanting sounds of city life constantly hover above the rooftops, seeping down into the enormous market squares. These squares are particularly evocative by night, as they light up against the darkness, casting a glow on the performers, merchants and citizens who earn their livings here.
On Day 10, the intricate beauty of Marrakech is revealed to us on a city tour. We see the commanding presence of the Koutoubia Minaret gazing down over verdant gardens, the 19th century Bahia Palace and the magnificent Djemaa el-Fnaa market place, which so effectively captures the relentless spirit of Marrakech. On the way, experience a flood of the senses, from the hubbub of the souks to the smells of streets food. You can explore more of these characterful markets on your day at leisure on Day 11.
We embark on one of the highlights of our tour today as we head on an excursion into the awe-inspiring Atlas Mountains. This is the longest and highest mountain range in Africa, an astonishing collection of peaks which run across Morocco and Algeria. Perhaps one of the most interesting things about the Atlas range are the people who call this corner of the world home. This is a Berber region, still occupied by those tribes who have lived here for thousands of years. Old stone and mud houses still populate the valleys, and high above, the caps of the Atlas mountains are dusted with snow. Our excursion takes us to the marvellous Gorge of Oued Ourika, along the Atlas' rivers and into a traditional Berber home for some mint tea. We return to our hotel later for a farewell meal.
You are at leisure this morning before our flight to London this afternoon.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Please note: This tour may be suitable for reduced mobility passengers, please call for further information.
Discover the charms of these two nations