Having never visited mainland Spain, Portugal or Morocco before, the Busabout Iberian adventure trip looked perfect for exploring all three in one trip. In the space of 7 days, you get to visit 8 places across 3 countries.
The trip started and ended at U Hostels in Madrid, where I stayed the night before and after the tour. The hostel is really nice and modern, and has a bar and cinema/games room, so has plenty to keep you entertained. The first day of the trip is spent travelling to Seville with a stop in Cordoba on the way. Cordoba is a fairly small city and you get a few hours to explore the sights, including the Mezquita, which I’d definitely recommend taking a look at. The Mezquita is a Mosque-Cathedral and so has some interesting architecture, including the striped arches which you have probably seen on Instagram. In the centre of the building is a grand Christian cathedral which is surrounded by Moorish architecture – a fascinating sight!
After grabbing some lunch we jumped back on the coach to Seville where we checked in to the hostel and headed out on a 2-hour walking tour of Seville. Despite it begin 44° C, the tour gave a good overview of the city and came in handy the next morning when exploring. Following the walking tour the group headed to a local tapas bar which served reasonably good and cheap food including aubergine drizzled with honey, aioli potatoes and strong cheeses.
The morning of the second day is all free time to do whatever you want. I headed out for a walk around the local parks, and then into the city to explore the streets, as well as paying a short visit to the Archivo General de Indias. I personally found it quite interesting as I’d studied the history of the Spanish in the Americas, and the building itself was pretty too. I grabbed some churros with melted chocolate on the way back to the hostel – I would recommend giving these a try but perhaps look for them in a cafe rather than a takeaway joint as I did as they can be quite greasy! Before setting off for Lagos, the group paid a visit to Plaza de España, which was featured in Star Wars. The plaza was built for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929 and is very grand featuring mosaics, fountains and its own boating river.
Arriving in Lagos we found we were staying at somebody’s home rather than a hostel, which featured its own pool, which the group spent the rest of the afternoon at. As dusk fell we headed to a local restaurant, and although we were the first people in, it immediately filled up and people were forming a queue outside (apparently a regular occurrence). The group all then went to a roof terrace bar for cocktails with views across the city – a great place to spend an evening. Following this, we went to a shots bar/club and after a few more I headed back to the hostel so I could be reasonably fresh for the next morning!
The group met at 9am to walk down to the beach for a 3-hour sea-kayaking tour. This was pretty hard work after drinking the night before, but it was a really fun experience. We paddled into grottoes along the coast, saw various cliff formations and stopped at the beach for a swim and to chill part way through. Returning to shore I decided to wander through the markets on the seafront and grab some lunch before heading back to where we were staying for an afternoon sunbathing by the pool. It was super relaxing and definitely needed! That evening the group headed out for dinner at Nah Nah Bah, which has been voted as one of the top 50 burger joints worldwide. It served amazing! (and interestingly named) burgers and fries, even as a vegetarian.
On day four, we headed down to Tarifa for our ferry over to Tangier. Tarifa had a nice chilled-out vibe to it, like Lagos, and we had some free time to grab some lunch which I had at a tapas bar on one of the main streets. The ferry then took us over to Tangier, and upon arrival we jumped on a different coach for a driving tour. We stopped at various points at which you had the opportunity to sit on a camel. We eventually ended up close to the medina and markets. The local tour guide walked us around the city giving us various insights before ending up at a Berber pharmacy, where we had the opportunity to buy herbal medicines and spices. The next stop was dinner at a local restaurant, accompanied by traditional music, and eventually some group dancing. Dinner finished fairly late, so the group headed back to the hotel. The hotel rooms were nice, comfortable and spacious.
The next morning we had a buffet breakfast in the hotel gardens which was delicious. We then got back on the ferry back to Tarifa where we met up again with our original coach driver. Although I’m glad I visited Morocco, it’s not somewhere I plan to go back to anytime soon as it was hectic and people didn’t appear too happy.
On the afternoon of day five we arrived in Granada, which appeared to be a fairly modern city from first sight. However, after walking for around 1o minutes to the White Nest Hostel where we were staying, the architecture began to change and become more Medieval in appearance. That evening the group visited a local tapas bar which served good food and sangria, before walking up to a viewing point across the city which gave an amazing view of the Alhambra at night. We then walked to Sacromente to a house built into the caves for a flamenco show, which is worth a visit if in Spain!
The following day started with a visit to the Hammam Al Ándalus Arab baths – a series of baths ranging in temperatures. I also had a massage which was super relaxing. After the hammam I wandered around the nearby streets and grabbed some lunch before meeting back with the group for a 3-hour tour of the Alhambra. Although this seems like a long tour, I would definitely recommend it as the sights and views are amazing, and the guide was interesting too. That evening I went to dinner with a few people from the group at the Plaza Nueva where various street performers could be seen nearby which kept us entertained into the night.
Although day seven of the trip was the last day, there was still plenty to see. On the way back to Madrid, we stopped in Consuegra and visited the famous La Mancha windmills, which are all named after Don Quixote characters. From the hill where the windmills stood you could see for miles around which was a pretty amazing sight. After Consuegra we drove on to Toledo, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a Medieval city on top of a hill, famous for its marzipan and Cathedral. This wasn’t my favourite place on the trip (there were one too many tourist shops for my liking!) but I wouldn’t have missed it either way. After Toledo it was only around an hours drive back to Madrid. After chilling out at the hostel for a few hours the group decided to head to a highly recommended burrito joint just down the road from the hostel, and then for sangria in the hostel bar.
I would definitely recommend this trip for anyone who hasn’t visited Spain before. The cost is reasonable, the length of the trip is good, especially if you want to visit other parts of Spain afterwards, as I did with Barcelona, and there’s plenty to see and do on the way round, without it being too hectic. I’ve heard that Busabout have added Lisbon to the itinerary, which I would have loved to have visited on my trip, definitely one for the future!
Having previously travelled with Topdeck, Busabout is fairly similar in what you get for your money, and I would recommend either company for people travelling on their own who are happy to stay in hostels.