Normally, when visiting a new place, I read everything for inspiration. Afterwards I look for images with that particular place to get an idea. When booking our trip to Andalusia, in South of Spain, I was certain that there are pretty places and buildings to discover, but I was definitely surprised. Actually the first white villages we saw during this trip were Setenil de las Bodegas and Ronda. You can visit both of them as a day trip from Malaga, and I’ll tell you how in a minute. Read more about these white villages in my guide to Ronda, Spain.
White villages of Andalusia: a guide to Ronda, Spain
My previous post about Frigiliana started interest among some of my readers coming from Instagram. They asked me to write more about our visit in Andalusia, Spain, as they want to go there soon and are looking for inspiration. This is the first time I receive messages like these. And it’s super humbling to know that people are interested about what I have to say and my experience in different trips.
This is why I am super excited to tell you about another white village in South of Spain. Here’s a guide to Ronda, Spain.
How to get to Ronda, Spain
As I mentioned above, you can visit Ronda as a day trip from Malaga. There are three options for going to Ronda from Malaga:
- by car; if you want to go by car, you can either choose the south route that lounges the sea for a while, or the north route which passes through villages. In either case you need to count 1h30 to 2 hours drive.
- by train; there is a train around 10 am that brings you to Ronda in 2 hours for 12€, and two return trains at 13:36 and 16:50 that take more than 2 hours.
- by bus; the bus is the most convenient choice if you don’t want to rent a car and avoid the hustle of finding parking lots in peak season.
There are many buses from Los Amarillos bus company going there several times per day.
We paid 20€ per person for a round trip from Malaga to Ronda in the same day.
|Malaga- Ronda||Ronda – Malaga|
Get the information needed at the Tourist Office of Ronda
If you’re a reader for a while, you know that our first stop is always the Tourist Office. Here we got two maps: one for Ronda and one for Setenil de las Bodegas. We also asked for information about our options for going to Setenil. But I’ll tell you about Setenil in just a moment, and detail everything in a later post.
We actually split our day trip into three parts:
- visiting the old town of Ronda, checking out the monuments and white houses, and crossing the bridges.
- going in a mini-trip to Setenil de las Bodegas (3h30 in total, two ways bus transfer included), and wandering the streets of this incredible white village with houses built into the mountain’s rock.
- doing a mini hike around the fields of Ronda, to get the best view over Puente Nuevo.
There is enough time to visit everything in one day. Be sure to take the first bus from Malaga, as this ensures there will be less tourists in the morning and you can visit and take pictures without being bothered. We took our bus back to Malaga at 18:00, and we had the time to visit everything.
Now let’s talk about each one of these.
1. Visiting the old town of Ronda, Spain
If you don’t already know, Ronda is built on top of El Tajo canyon, over the Guadalevín River, and is most known for its impressive bridge that connects the two sides of the gorge El Tajo. The bridge is called Puente Nuevo, was built in 1759 and has an altitude of 120 meters.
Ronda is listed a UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracted many painters and writers throughout history.
So what are the things to do in Ronda, Spain ?
Don’t visit the Bull Arena!!!
Near the Tourist Office there is Plaza de Toros, where the Bull Arena is located. BUT, under any circumstance I don’t support this cruel tradition of killing bulls for fun. I didn’t take any pictures of this place and wouldn’t pay to get inside, not even for the architecture. Unless this “tradition” gets banned! There are still bull fights in there, of which I don’t approve.
As Ronda is the place where the traditional bull fighting was created (for people’s fun!!!), the 20th Century Fox animation studio features this place in the movie “Ferdinand” released in December 2017. I totally recommend this heart-whelming animation movie which presents the life and aspirations of a young bull called Ferdinand.
Starting our visit of old Ronda
Puente Nuevo, as already mentioned, is one of the greatest bridges built in 18th century. When you arrive in Ronda, you will have to cross this bridge. The view from up here is stunning. But for the better views of the bridge, check out the mini hike section.
Right after this bridge you will find Convento de Santo Domingo and Palacio de Congressos. From this platform you can observe the impressive Gorge of El Tajo.
Walking around the old town part of Ronda, Spain
Continuing on this route, you arrive at Casa del Rey Moro, a Moorish building with beautiful gardens that was never inhabited by the Moorish kings. From here you get directly to Palacio de los Marqueses de Salvatierra, for admiring its beautiful facade.
Continue towards Puente Viejo, and pass through the Puerta de Felipe V, the old gate of the town.
Puente Viejo (Old Bridge) and Puente San Miguel are two smaller bridges from where you can admire the back of Puente Nuevo (New Bridge), as well as the houses in the old town.
On the other side of the bridge there are the Fountain of Ocho Caños and Our Father’s Church.
Another notable monument in this area are Puerta y Murallas de la Xijara, the gate and walls of Xijara, which were the battlements of the old town of Ronda, Spain.
Walking around the narrow cobblestone streets, admiring the views when finding them and taking lots of pictures of the beautiful white houses is what everyone should do.
2. Going in a mini-trip to the white village of Setenil de las Bodegas
Setenil de las Bodegas is a beautiful Andalusian white village that’s built on top of a mini mountain. It was definitely one of the most impressive views I found in South of Spain.
You already know that I love Frigiliana, and it’s my crush white village of Spain, but Setenil de las Bodegas was my love-at-first-sight kind of white village.
As Setenil deserves an entire blog post from my part, I will tell you only that two hours are enough to visit Setenil. Wandering its white streets, going up and down the hill, checking in to all belvedere points is what you want to do in Setenil de las Bodegas.
You need to count a total of 3h30 for a mini-trip to Setenil, which is more than enough.
3. Doing a mini-hike around the fields of Ronda
At 15h we are back in Ronda and head towards the start of the hike. We cross again the New Bridge, but this time there are people everywhere. Seriously, where did they come from?!
The weather is merciless and the sun really hot. For this mini-hike you want to prepare a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, lots of water and a pair of good shoes.
First stop: belvedere point
As we start to descend the slope, we immediately find ourselves in a sea of people taking pictures in every single inch of this path. We make our path and continue to the point that offers the best view over the bridge. This is like 5 minutes into the hike, so it’s pretty convenient if you’re not actually interested in the hike itself.
We waited patiently our turn for taking pictures in front of the massive stone bridge that dominates the valley.
Steep slope going down
After this quick break we continue our route, followed by a very steep slope. The descent here was quite difficult even for me, so be prepared.
Looking back towards the bridge, we felt really small. There were few horses chilling on the grass, with a beautiful view behind them. I took some pictures.
Traversing the valley
At this point there is almost nobody on this hike route. We hear a drone somewhere above us and we pass near the taxi with Chinese tourists controlling the drones. I bet it’s easier to reach this place by car via the route, but less rewarding.
Soon we start meeting groups hiking in the other way, towards the bridge.
Reaching the Power Plant
At one point we arrive at this Power Plant and we don’t see any markings for our hike. But it seems as the only path, unless we’ve managed to lose ourselves. What’s happening? We go back a little, where we thought there was a bifurcation. There wasn’t…
We hesitate for a moment, meet a group and ask the guide for information in Spanish. She responds in a mono-syllabic English something unintelligible, even though she was Spanish (as I heard her talking to her friend in Spanish).
We still hesitate in place, while waiting for our Maps.me to load. There’s not GPS signal to pinpoint us on the map. There’s another older couple arriving. We ask them how to reach Ronda from here, but they want us to turn back. They’re French so we can communicate with them better, however they are not very good at giving indications.
We go back to the Power Plant.
Where is our route?
We decide to enter the Power Plant. The noise here is deafening.
We continue behind the house that seem to be the quarters or offices of people working here. Except there’s no one in here. As we get closer to the plant and its huge coils, the noise gets worse. We continue along the fence. And we arrive in what looks like a forest. But there’s a path!
Climbing back towards Ronda, Spain
From here the road starts going up. Suddenly we get very thirsty and hot. We don’t have enough water left, therefore we start rationing it.
While going up, the view starts changing, so while taking lots of mini breaks we admire the view. There are trees with blossoms from time to time.There are also lots of olive trees on our path.
Note to self: don’t try raw olives ever again, especially when you don’t have enough water!
There is also a small river source, a small line of water coming from the wall of the gorge.
Finishing our climb
Towards the last part of the climb I was suffering from thirst. I was also suffering from my fitness-of-a-potato condition. Anyway, I was happy to finish this mini-hike.
We take some pictures, regain our breath and immediately get moving.
Catching a bus!
As we were a little behind schedule, we start walking really fast towards the bus station. Normally we planned to arrive at 17:45 at the bus leaving at 18:00. We already had tickets. But at 17:45 we were only at the end of the hike.
We walked as fast as we could and 5 minutes before departure we arrive. Phew! A lot of people were waiting to get in the bus.