Spain: Have it Your Way January 18th, 2023 • by Bryan Haggerty Spain is home to emerald hills, charming red-roofed hamlets, and pristine white villages, not to mention an abundance of wine, olives, cheeses, and culinary delicacies unique to each region. While the interior of the country has much to offer in its own right, we have found the most inspiring scenery and cultural treasures in the northern and southern regions. Walk the highlights of the famed Camino de Santiago across northern Spain, or pair southern Spain with northern Morocco to discover two distinct cultures with a fascinating shared history. Read on to decide which trip is right for you! Food Foodies, take note: you can’t go wrong with either trip. (In fact, you should probably just join both!) On the Camino, you begin in Basque country, renowned for pintxos, cider houses, and more than 40 Michelin-starred restaurants—we recommend spending at least two pre-tour days here. As you cross through five distinct regions, your guide will suggest where to try the best salt cod, beef, pork, and seafood along the way. Lunches are hearty and typical of home cooking; most offer a combination of salad, fish, soups, cured meats, cheeses, bread, and olive oil. By contrast, the cuisine in the south is a delicious juxtaposition of two very different gastronomic traditions. Bread, stews, cheeses, and vegetable dishes are typical of both Spain and nearby Morocco, but feature different flavors and spice profiles. The standouts are world-renowned sherry, olives, and Iberian ham in southern Spain, and intoxicating spices of pastilla, tagines, and mint tea in Morocco. Hiking Both trips are active, however the Camino de Santiago (rated a “3”) is a 500-mile long pilgrimage, and therefore has more of a hiking focus. Our 12-day itinerary features carefully-selected hikes along classic sections of this historic route. Expect to also walk during city tours and while visiting sites. The scenery and meditative aspect of the journey are the primary motivating factors for those who join this tour. Hikes average 3-6 hours per day on a combination of paved and unpaved paths, with some steep ascents and descents. Depending on group size and fitness level, your guide will present at least two options on various days, one shorter and one longer. To boost your endurance on the trail, you might want to read here about the newest supplements to increase testosterone levels. In Spain and Morocco (rated a “2+”), you’ll find a more balanced itinerary of hikes in natural areas and walks through historic towns and villages, such as Andalucia, the famed “Blue City” of Chefchauoen, the Roman outpost of Volubilis, and the medina of Fes. Hikes offer moderate elevation changes, about 250-1,800 feet, and average 3-7 hours on a variety of terrain. History Our tours reflect both the current cultures and create experiences that transport you back in time, allowing the historical sights to come alive. The Camino de Santiago is one of the great pilgrimage routes of medieval Christendom. Pilgrims began to make their way to Santiago in the 9th century, and as their numbers grew, so did the infrastructure and facilities to make the route easier and more secure. More than a thousand years later, the trail still carries thousands of travelers a year from all over the world to Santiago de Compostela. We follow in the footsteps of millions who have gone before us, visiting monuments, monasteries, cities, and cathedrals that have borne witness to the passage of multitudes. Meanwhile, southern Spain is a historic and cultural melting pot, evidenced in its megalithic ruins, fortified Moorish hill towns, converted medieval mosques, and the fusion of architectural styles seen at sites such as the Alhambra (made famous by Washington Irving, author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow). Spain and Morocco have maintained distinct identities despite a shared (and somewhat fraught) history that has left them forever intertwined. Morocco offers an intoxicating mix of ancient and modern, from vestiges of colonial rule to mysterious, medieval Fes that beckons you to get lost in its winding cobblestone alleyways. Islamic, Christian, Berber, French, Arab, and Roman histories collide on this tour, and you learn what lies beneath the mystique that pervades modern culture in these regions. Accommodations As always on a Boundless Journeys adventure, you can expect to stay at boutique inns and hotels that have been carefully selected by our dedicated staff. We always consider location, local flavor, and service level when choosing each night’s accommodations. On our Camino tour, as is the nature of a pilgrimage, you stay in a different hotel nearly every night, which also allows you to experience a full range of offerings including a former 18th-century palace, a restored medieval hospital, and a few monasteries (former and current). For guests who want style, history, unique architecture, and a high level of hospitality, this trip offers a selection so robust it is difficult to choose a favorite. Not to be out-done, our southern Spain and Morocco tour certainly has its own highlights. For those who prefer to settle in a bit more, most stays are for two nights. In Spain, you enjoy a classic countryside lodge, a recently-opened guesthouse, and a luxurious Parador Hotel—all of which have been vetted by our staff and stamped with a seal of approval. Morocco offers unique accommodations in former riads featuring beautiful Islamic architecture and tilework, as well as luxury properties with an onsite spa or hammam. If you’ve enjoyed reading and are inspired to join us or have questions about the adventures featured in this post, please give us a call at 1-800-941-8010 or send us an email at [email protected].