Excursions are a fundamental part of the Arcos Learning Abroad experience and are included as part of your program. We seek different locations in the program region or country that are of natural beauty or cultural or historical significance. These are day trips or overnight outings, which typically occur on weekends. Excursions support us in accomplishing our goal of connecting students to the experience and creating moments of learning and understanding while abroad. This can only occur by going out into the field and encountering these new places firsthand. The most memorable moments in our lives are from impactful experiences that are unique to our daily existence. Below is a list of our available excursions:
Alhambra Palace Tour
The Alhambra is one of the most impressive monuments in the world. It was the ancient palace of the Sultans beginning in the 9th century, and remained in their power until 1492. The marvelously decorated walls of the palaces are like something out of a dream. Stuccoed inscriptions in Arabic repeat throughout the palaces, continuously drawing you into the unique history of the fortress. The use of water throughout the Alhambra bestows upon you a sense of calm while exploring the ornate passages and stunning gardens. It is nothing short of stepping into another world. Equally as inspiring as the restored palaces of the Alhambra are the breathtaking views of the Sierra Nevada and of Granada below. No trip to Spain is complete without experiencing this colossal palace.
Sierra Nevada Mountain Villages
The Alpujarras, located high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, was the Moor’s last stronghold in Spain. This area was first colonized in the 1200s by Berber refugees from Seville. The Berbers, originally from North Africa, introduced the unique architecture that is still used in the high villages of the Alpujarras today. The region is an earthly paradise above the rest of Andalusia. The snows of the Sierras keep the valleys and villages of the Alpujarras well-watered year round. Even in the summer, the countryside is green and full of flowers. Visiting these villages is like stepping into another world. Small whitewashed farmhouses cling to the terraced edges of forest-lined gorges while rivers rush by below. Besides exploring these unique villages, there are many opportunities for hiking in the area. While trekking from Capileira, one of the most picturesque of the Alpujarras villages, one is constantly rewarded with views of the tallest peaks of the Spanish Peninsula.
Mediterranean Beach Trip (Nerja, Costa del Sol)
Nerja is one of the most striking beaches on the Andalusian coast. Commonly known as the Costa del Sol (Sun Coast), this is a popular beach escape for people from all over Europe. The drive from Granada to the Mediterranean is impressive. You will pass through deep canyons and then along a spectacular coastal highway. The deep blue Mediterranean Sea stretches out below the winding roadway. Nerja is a small coastal town with plenty of beaches to pass the day. Many of the Costa del Sol beaches are intimate, tucked amongst cliffs and rocks jutting from the sea. Along the beaches are restaurants set out in the sand where you can enjoy fresh fish and traditional paella while basking in the tranquility of the Mediterranean Sea.
Mediterranean Beach Trip (Malaga, Costa del Sol) (summer)
Malaga is a vibrant, ancient city located in the heart of Spain’s Costa del Sol, or Sun Coast. This coastal city, first founded by the Phoenicians, and later settled by Romans, Visigoths, Moors, and Christians, is steeped in history yet still carries a modern charm. It is a city of wide, shaded boulevards and a quaint, historic center. Pablo Picasso was born and raised in Malaga and you will visit his namesake museum, which houses over 150 of his works. Malaga flourished during the rule of the Moors during the 11th century and it was then that they constructed the city’s most impressive monuments. High on a hill overlooking Malaga and with the deep, blue Mediterranean as an endless backdrop, are the formidable palace-fortresses of the Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro. Explore their many passageways and ancient watchtowers. Numerous beaches are found along the city shores for a relaxing afternoon in the Mediterranean’s cool waters.
Sevilla & Cordoba (semester programs & customs groups)
Seville (Sevilla in Spanish) is one of the most historic cities in Europe. Over 2,000 years old, it has been influenced by countless cultures all of which is seen today in its enchanting architecture. The many historic buildings and neighborhoods hold the imprint of the vibrant Muslim, Jewish, and Christian cultures that called this city home. We will visit the most impressive sites such as the famous minaret of La Giralda, a beautiful example of the city’s strong Moorish past. The Cathedral of Sevilla houses the tomb of Christopher Columbus and is the largest Catholic Cathedral building in the world. Sevilla is the artistic and cultural capital of southern Spain. Walking around Sevilla, you will experience a lively and fun-loving city. If you travel to Spain, you cannot miss Sevilla!
Los Cahorros Hanging Bridges (optional)
On this excursion we will start the route at the town of Monachil. You will spend the day hiking through the gorges and mountain trails of the park. The scenery is stunning! There is a beautiful river with narrow slot canyons and three very long hanging bridges. It is likely that you will see rock climbers in some of the steep canyon walls. When hiking here in the summer take advantage of some of the numerous swimming holes!
Faculty-Led Custom Program Additional Excursion Options
Barcelona is a city rich in culture and history. Originally founded by the Romans it is now the vibrant capital city of Catalonia and the second largest city in Spain. Barcelona is a port city resting right on the Mediterranean and has great beaches that can be enjoyed for most of the year. You will explore the streets of the city and experience all of the major sites. This includes winding through the ancient streets of the “Old City” (the historical core), strolling Las Ramblas boulevard, seeing the works of Antoni Gaudi and getting to visit the soccer stadium where FC Barcelona plays.
Madrid, the capital of Spain, is a city full of life and culture. It is a city of plazas, world-class museums, and excellent cafés. Madrid defines the essence of Spain. Here you will see the impressive Plaza Mayor with its lovely outdoor cafés and historic buildings. Nearby is the very heart of the country and of Madrid, the lively Puerta del Sol. There is always something going on here, and it is abundant with the classic cafés and restaurants that characterize Madrid. Another highlight is the impressive Prado Museum, one of Europe’s top art museums. Here you will find works by Goya, El Greco, and Velázquez, as well as pieces by many other notable artists such as the Flemish masters.
Segovia is one of the most famous historical sites in Spain. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 and is located only 30 minutes from Madrid. Its most famous attraction is the Roman aqueduct, built around 1 A.D. It has 166 arches and 120 columns on two levels. It was actually still in use until relatively recently! On this excursion you will also see the incredible Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso. For centuries this was the summer residence of the kings of Spain. The grounds are spectacular and the palace is an incredible example of Baroque architecture. If time allows, we also visit the famous cathedral located in Segovia’s historic center. The cathedral is one of the best examples of the Renaissance Gothic style and houses the first booked printed in Spain (1472).