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Ronda, Spain, the gem of Andalusia. In our considered opinion, anyway. We’d been looking forward to visiting Ronda ever since we saw a photo of the “Puente Nuevo” (New Bridge), an epic 100-metre-tall classic bridge spanning the dramatic expanse of El Tajo gorge with the Guadalevín River far below. And once we finally made it there, it didn’t disappoint.
El Tajo and Puente Nuevo were even more spectacular in person than in photos, with so many different and unique viewpoints besides those most popular ones, and an immensity that only comes across properly when you’re standing right next to them (or gawking up from the bottom).
Despite Ronda’s status as the largest of the amazing “pueblos blancos” (white towns) of Andalusia with over 30,000 residents, the very walkable Moorish Old Town (La Ciudad) area still retains an old charm, especially early in the morning or late at night when the day trip crowds disperse. And the sheer cliffs of El Tajo leading down to the Rio Guadalevin are continuously fascinating from every angle.
Ronda is one of the oldest cities in Spain, is centrally located for exploring the other pueblos blancos and close to plenty of exceptional natural scenery in the Serrania de Ronda mountains and Parque Natural Sierra de Grazalema. It makes an ideal base for your visit to Andalusia plus it is even within reasonable driving distance of the Costa del Sol beaches, in case you want to plan your trip with a mix of natural scenery, history and oceanside fun.
The New Town of Ronda (El Mercadillo) is more functional and marginally less picturesque than the Old Town but is still easy on the eyes and retains a relaxed charm. Plus, even though it is technically newer, a lot of the buildings and plazas still date back as far as the 15th century.
Ronda is sometimes known as the “Eagle’s Nest”, a partial reference to its location perched high above the surrounding plains and partially a nod to the inhabitants’ historical reputation for being fierce and formidable foes.
Finally, as if there wasn’t already enough to recommend this fantastic place, it also boasts a fascinating bull fighting history. Some even claim that the origins of the entire sport can be traced back to a local bullfighter, Pedro Romero. Ronda’s Plaza del Toro is the oldest bullring in Spain, and don’t forget about Ernest Hemingway, who famously spent time there back in the early 20th century, kicking off a lifelong obsession with bullfighting which served as the inspiration for several of his novels.
Why is Ronda famous?
It all starts with Puente Nuevo and El Tajo gorge, the two combining for the iconic image that attracts visitors from all over the world. Then there is its bullfighting history, with the oldest bullring in Spain and Pedro Romero, the first (and arguably greatest bullfighter).
Finally, it is also famous as the favourite town of Ernest Hemingway, featuring in several of his books. In our opinion, it should be famous for being just so photogenic.
How many days do you need in Ronda?
Ronda can easily be visited as a day trip from one of the main Andalusian cities such as Seville or Malaga, either on an organized tour or on your own car, bus or train.
However, if you can manage it, Ronda is well worth a longer stay. It is a very different place early in the morning and late at night when all the day trippers have gone. And as you’ve already seen, there are more than enough attractions to keep you busy for days. And that’s before we even start talking about all the villages and hikes in nearby locations.
We spent a week and that gave us enough time to hit all the best things to see, as well as do a couple hikes outside of town and visit some of the other white villages. It was enough but we could easily have spent a second week without getting bored.
Where to Stay in Ronda Spain
With a convenient, central location and an impressive array of hotel and restaurant options, Ronda is the ideal place to stay while you explore central Andalusia and the famous white villages.
Accommodation in the pueblos blancos is also very affordable by typical European standards and there are many excellent value hotels and apartments for rent. We have even put together a thorough list of The Best Ronda Hotels but to get you started here are a few of our favourites in different price ranges to help you decide where to stay.
Parador de Ronda
Parador de Ronda is a 4-star luxury hotel located right on Plaza de España with amazing views over the gorge and Puente Nuevo bridge. It is in the former town hall and the location really can’t be beat – in the centre of it all right on the edge of the gorge.
Rooms have balconies, most with amazing views, and there is a pool, an exceptional restaurant and pretty much everything else you’d expect. Remember to check out the terrace on the top floor. There is paid parking nearby.
Hotel Catalonia Ronda
The Hotel Catalonia Ronda is all about the views. The location means the small infinity pool, hot tub and rooftop terrace all have views over the oldest bullring in Spain (visiting the bullring is one of the best things to do in Ronda), as well as the square, the surrounding countryside and distant mountains. You will definitely want to include time for a sunset drink on the terrace to truly appreciate the views.
They have rooms are modern and feature a/c and heating, a minibar, coffee machine and kettle and many have the same views as the rooftop (though slightly lower). It is conveniently located only 2 blocks from the new bridge and old town and there is pay parking nearby.
The Baraka Pension is one of few choices located in the midst of the Old Town. It is within easy walking distance to all the main sightseeing options.
The Baraka’s traditional Andalusian building features a Moorish design and has a rooftop terrace with views of the surrounding old town and countryside. Both rooms open onto the courtyard so you don’t get any noise from the town.
Camping El Sur is the best option, located just a couple kilometres south of the centre of town. It features a restaurant, swimming pool and the usual outstanding views.
25 Outstanding Things to Do in Ronda Spain
Ronda is so beautiful that your main goal should just be to walk as much of the city as possible, taking in all the fabulous viewpoints and historical attractions. Still, it doesn’t hurt to have a list to make sure you don’t miss any of the main things to see or any of the Ronda tourist attractions.
1. Wander the Old Town
Located on the south side of the gorge, La Ciudad (Old Town) is a narrow maze of old alleys and iconic whitewashed Moorish buildings. There are also several photogenic old mansions along the edge of the gorge on the west side of the Puento Nuevo.
Meanwhile, on the east side of Puente Nuevo you can descend the steep streets to reach some great old churches as well as Puente Viejo (Old Bridge) and Puente Romano/Arabe (Roman/Arabic Bridge). Of all the exceptional places to wander, La Ciudad is definitely the most atmospheric.
2. Marvel at the Puente Nuevo (New Bridge)
Puente Nuevo (New Bridge) is the most impressive of the three bridges that span El Tajo to join the Old Town to the New Town. The funny thing is the name – still called the “New Bridge” even though the current version was actually completed way back in 1793, making it over two centuries old (and around a century older than any historical attraction still standing in Canada, for example).
Designed by Martín de Aldehuela, it is 100-metres-high, features three tall arches and took 40 years to build using bricks hauled up from the river one at a time.
There was an older version of the bridge (hence the name, I suppose) that was completed early in the 18th century but only lasted a few years before collapsing in 1741, killing around 50 people.
Just below the main level there is a small chamber that served as both a prison and, when the need arose, a torture chamber during the Spanish Civil War. And before you get too worked up, rest assured that both sides of the war had their turn occupying Ronda and both used it rather nefariously. So at least it was fair. These days it serves as a small museum (€2.50).
The bridge itself was also used as a launching point for political prisoners to be flung to their death so, yeah, there are some sordid patches to the history of Puente Nuevo.
Today, however, it is all about the views. As the focal point of the city, both geographically and for tourism, there are dozens of great places to gaze upon the New Bridge.
Whether you are enjoying the vibrant colours reflecting off it at sunset, witnessing the day’s first rays of sun peaking through the arches or simply gazing up from the Guadalevin River, you’ll never cease to be amazed by this architectural marvel.
3. Pick Your Favourite Ronda Viewpoint
On that topic, and since Ronda just happens to be one of the most scenic cities we’ve ever visited, we have already written and entire post detailing The 24 Best Viewpoints in Ronda. But for a sneak peak at the main highlights, here are a few of our personal favourites:
Mirador Puente Nuevo
A little way down the south face of the gorge, this is the classic Puente Nuevo photo spot.
Mirador de Ronda (La Sevillana)
Along Paseo de Hemingway there is a “balcon coño” – a tiny overhang sticking out into the gorge with typically great views. The name comes from what you might suddenly exclaim when you stand on it and look down – “cono” is a rather impolite slang term for a vagina.
Mirador de Aldehuela / Mirador de Parador de Ronda
Located right at either end of the New Bridge, these popular spots offer the best up-close views you’ll find.
Mirador de Cuenca
A unique angle looking back up from the Jardines de Cuenca. The bridge looks amazing from here early in the morning with the first rays of the sun shining on it.
Mirador La Hoya del Tajo
Probably my personal favourite Puente Nuevo viewpoint, reaching this mirador west along the valley involves a fair climb down (and back up, eventually) but the gorge and bridge both look extraordinary lit up late in the day with the sun at your back.
Casa Duende del Tajo
There are a few hotels located right along the north side of gorge to the east of the New Bridge where you can enjoy fabulous views of it right from your room. Casa Duende del Tajo is the most affordable of the bunch.
Finding your favourite viewpoint is one of the best free things to do in Ronda.
4. Tour the Plaza de Toros de Ronda
Unsurprisingly home to the famous Ronda bullring, this pleasant, relaxed plaza belies its status as the main source of more than two centuries of such a violent sport. As the source of the famous bullfighting style called Rondeño, their bullring was designed by Martin de Aldehuela, the same person who designed the Puente Nuevo, and completed in 1784 which most people believe makes it the oldest bullring in Spain.
The Seville bullring technically started construction years earlier but took nearly a century and a half to be completed so, does that really count? Not if you’re from Ronda, I can assure you.
The Ronda bullring is the only one in Spain completely built of stone, with elegant sandstone columns, arches and unusual covered galleries. And, even though its 5,000-person capacity doesn’t come close to the 24,000 of the Plaza de Toros de las Ventas in Madrid, the Ronda bullring itself is the largest in the world with a diameter of 66 metres.
You can learn all about the history of bullfighting in Ronda and Spain at the Museo Taurino and enjoy the stables of the Real Maestranza de Caballeria de Ronda (the oldest Spanish order of horsemanship dating to 1485). Entrance to the ring costs €8 (+€1.50 if you want an audio guide) and it is open from 10 am to either 6pm or 8 pm depending on the time of year.
Fittingly, there is a statue of Ernest Hemingway overlooking the plaza. Which brings us to…
5. Discover the Ernest Hemingway Stuff
One of the most famous American authors of all time, Ernest Hemingway is best known for classics such as The Old Man and the Sea and For Whom the Bell Tolls. Upon first visiting as a Spanish Civil War correspondent in 1937, Hemingway developed an immediate infatuation with both Ronda and bullfighting.
He made no secret of his allegiance to the anti-fascist Republicans (made up of a variety of communists, anarchists and Soviets) in their rebellion against Franco’s Nationalist Army (which enjoyed the support of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy).
The war, bullfighting and the city of Ronda featured in several of his books including The Sun Also Rises, A Dangerous Summer and Death in the Afternoon. There is also a scene in For Whom the Bell Tolls describing fascist sympathizers being thrown from a cliff to their death that is supposedly based on actual events that took place in the Plaza de España in 1936.
The path along the gorge from the Plaza de Toros to the Plaza de España is officially called Paseo Blas Infante but is also referred to as Paseo de Hemingway because he spent so much time strolling there. Of course, so did we, yet I have yet to hear anyone calling it Johnston Lane but, hey, whatever.
6. Read Up on the Orson Welles Stuff
Another American celebrity with connections to Ronda is the famous actor/director Orson Welles, best known for Citizen Kane (which many critics consider the best movie of all-time, although I have to wonder if those people have really given Fight Club a chance).
Welles first visited in 1937 when he was hired to narrate “Tierra de España”, a movie co-written by Hemingway. Details are vague but legend has it filming ended with Hemingway and Welles drunkenly brawling, then sobering up, then going on to become bosom drinking buddies. As men do.
Orson Welles had already developed his own fascination with both bullfighting and the rebel cause while spending time in Seville. And it was in Andalusia that he met his future wife, Margarita Carmen Cansino, who would later become famous as Rita Hayworth.
As obsessed with bullfighting as Hemingway, Welles spent a lot of time in Ronda over the following decades and when he died in 1987 his ashes were spread just outside the city at a farm called El Recreo de San Cayetano.
He also has a statue in a place of honour on the Plaza de Toros.
7. Stroll the Alameda del Tajo
Okay, enough Hollywood drama, let’s get back to the historical and scenic stuff. The lovely, shaded Alameda del Tajo is just a bit farther along the gorge from the bullring.
This pleasant park is a popular local hangout and it enjoys some of the best sunsets in the city from where it joins up with Paseo de Los Angeles.
8. Try Some Tapas
There are many good choices but our favorite was Le Lechuga. We visited twice, the first time lucking out on getting a table immediately as it was just before closing.
The second time we got to see just how popular this place is with locals as the line up started 15 minutes after opening. Worth the wait for the varied and cheap tapas and small €1 beers.
9. Find the Other Bridges
Yes, Puente Nuevo is incredible and fully deserving of most of your time and attention. But if Ronda didn’t happen to have one of the coolest bridges in Europe, its other bridges would definitely get a lot more attention.
A bit farther east and down at the bottom of El Tajo you’ll find Puente Viejo (Old Bridge), a fascinating pedestrian bridge that was built in 1616. It is also called Puente San Miguel by those who felt it needed a more spiritual handle.
Looming above it is Puente Romano (Roman Bridge), also called Puente Arabe (Arabic Bridge). You can probably guess why. Yes, it was built by the Romans but then rebuilt by the Arabs and, in true Ronda fashion, nobody can ever agree on a single name.
10. See the Views from the Church of Santa María la Mayor
Originally a mosque and later converted to a church, this amazing building features an intriguing mix of styles and has been classified as a National Monument of Spain. There is an arch covered in Arabic inscriptions and an unusual central choir stall that divides the entire church in two (upper class patrons sit up front, the rest of us jostle for space in the back).
It is also famous, and rather obvious, due to its impressive bell tower. We highly recommend climbing the tower to enjoy the outstanding views over the city.
11. Peek in the Iglesia del Espíritu Santo
Another impressive church, this 16th century Gothic icon looks particularly photogenic while approaching down the sloping street from La Ciudad.
It is also typically extravagant inside as well.
12. Hang out on the Plaza del Socorro
The political centre of the city, this beautiful square is home to the Church and Artist’s Society, as well as several good bars.
And while you’re enjoying that drink and a tapas or two, you can also enjoy the view of the Nuestra Senora del Socorro Church.
13. Choose the Best Spot in Ronda for a Drink
We spent most of our time simply wandering, finding the best viewpoints and, best of all, taking time to relax and have a drink. The city is full of atmospheric bars where you can slow down and watch the world go by, at least for a little while.
After doing our fair share of sampling, we put together a list of the Best Bars in Ronda for a Drink. Some we chose for the view, some for the amazing tapas and some for just watching the world go by. I’d suggest using the list as a starting point but don’t hesitate to go off-grid if you happen to pass a place that looks inviting (spoiler alert: you will).
14. Check out the Palacio de Marques de Salvatierra
Another small museum, this one dedicated to the Renaissance period. During the Christian reconquest the collection was gifted to Don Vasco Martin. Then, on a more contemporary note, Madonna filmed the music video for her song “Take a Bow” here. A little something for everyone.
15. Wander the Jardines de Cuenca
In addition to having one of the best Puente Nuevo viewpoints (maybe the best morning viewpoint), these serene gardens are worth a visit just to enjoy the beauty and peacefulness of their immaculate designs.
16. Enjoy the Gardens at the Casa del Rey Moro
Despite the name, which translates to “Home of the Moorish King”, it never actually was. Not even close, really, since it was only built in the 18th century, several hundred years after the Moors had been so rudely expelled.
However, the fortified mine leading 200 steps down to the river is leftover from the Nasrid dynasty. Known as La Mina Secreta (Secret Mine), this dark stone staircase was carved into the rock in the 14th century to haul water up while under siege. Actually, Christian slaves were used to do the actual hauling when, according to the audio guide, “things didn’t go well for your people”. Which felt unnecessarily personal.
The entrance fee is €8 and there are several rooms along the way to explore, including the water wheel and the Room of Secrets where you can play weird acoustic tricks from across the room (which is only about 3 metres across, but still).
Up top you’ll find the beautiful Forestier Gardens, named for the French landscape artist that built them in the early 20th century. Apparently, Michelle Obama visited the Casa del Rey Moro in 2019 and was particularly impressed with the views (and also enjoyed langoustine lasagna and goat cheese salad at Escudero, or so the story goes).
17. Check out Ronda’s Mondragón Palace
This beautiful 14th century Renaissance masterpiece is Moorish in design but was later inhabited by King Ferdinand and Isabella during visits to Ronda as their main residence.
Today it houses the Ronda Municipal Museum, which features detailed info on the village and classic examples of Roman and Arab tombs. Plus, there are the amazing palace gardens which have spectacular views of the old town.
18. Find the Puerta de Almocabar and the Arab Walls
The main entrance to the city under Moorish rule, the Puerta de Almocabar is the largest in town and stand protected by two imposing towers. It is named for the cemetery (al-maqabir) that used to be there and the nearby Murallas del Carmen are an intriguing portion of the city walls.
The walls (or murallas) of Ronda were built by the Moors in the 13th century, updated by the Christians in the 16th century and still under restoration in places today. Some of the best spots are the Puerta de la Cijara, on the east side of town, and the Puerta de los Molinos and surrounding Albacara walls were built to protect the windmills on the west side. Puerta del Viento is a nice gate that welcomes hikers arriving on the GR-7 long distance hiking trail.
19. Visit the Bandit Museum (Museo del Bandolerismo)
For a little change of pace, you may want to check out the Bandit Museum, filled with thorough profiles of notorious bandits. It is a little bit odd how much these murderous criminals are romanticized, though, which is probably due to their connection with anti-fascist rebels during the Spanish Civil War.
Nonetheless, despite their apparent admiration for the lawless lifestyle of the banditos, they still firmly believe in enforcing today’s rules, specifically the opening times (11am-7:30pm) and entrance fee (€4).
20. Explore Ronda’s Arab Baths
Located right next to the Puente Arabe/Romano, these 13th century Arab Baths of Ronda (Baños Arabe) are partially intact and among the best preserved of their kind in Spain.
Not so intact that you can use them or anything, but still worth a look (€3).
21. Check Out the Eclectic Collection at Museo Lara
This compelling little museum features the personal collection of Juan Antonio Lara Jurado. It is an odd mix, with everything from weapons to clocks to opera glasses to gramophones.
22. Head to the Plaza de España
The main square in town (and almost every town in Andalusia) is the Plaza de España, just north of Puente Nuevo.
Today it is a pretty, bustling square with excellent views, an outstanding parador (Parador de Ronda) and some fantastic restaurants.
23. Go Mountain Biking in the Countryside
There are several beautiful, relatively flat trails around the city that are perfect for biking (as well as several that aren’t flat at all). You can rent a bike, join a tour or just get trail info from Cycle Ronda.
24. Get an Adrenaline Rush on the Ronda Via Ferrata
These “iron routes” are fixed cable climbing areas along the sides of El Tajo gorge. Perfect for adrenalin-seekers, avid climbers or just people like us who are apparently fine with taking ill-advised risks for a cool photo.
In fairness, there are several different routes and the one we climbed unaided (and unprotected) only took about 15 minutes and was surely the easiest of them, although it still gave us pause in a few spots.
To be safe, though, and to be shown the very best spots, you should probably join a Via Ferrata climbing tour. Several tour agencies offer guided climbs starting at around €30, including the highly recommended Al Andalus Activa.
It is also possible to include the Via Ferrata in a longer, more adventurous canyoneering tour that will involve additional hiking, more views and most definitely getting wet.
25. Get Tipsy on a Ronda Wine Tour
Once you’ve had your wild El Tajo adventure, treat yourself to a day of wine tasting and drunken gushing about Ronda’s beauty. Wine has been big business in the area going all the way back to the days of the Romans. The Serrania de Ronda produces several types of wine but is especially renowned for its flavourful red wine.
These days, Ronda has recently been added to the official Andalusian Wine Route, including around 20 small bodegas, most of which offer tours and wine tasting. Two of the most popular are the Descalzos Viejos located in an old convent and Chinchilla Bodegas.
The 2 best known and most visited are the Chinchilla Bodegas and the Descalzos Viejos Bodegas, located in a convent. You can just choose one stop or join one of the many available wine tours. We didn’t take one ourselves but heard good things about the friendly guides and delicious tapas provided by Ronda Wine Tours.
Hiking Day Trips from Ronda
Parque Natural Sierra de Grazalema
The entire Sierra de Grazalema Nature Reserve has been classified as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1977 and was named the first natural park in Andalusia in 1984. The main Parque Natural Sierra de Grazalema Visitor Centre is located in El Bosque and there is a smaller information point in Zahara de la Sierra, as well.
The park has an excellent network of well-marked and maintained trails offering a the whole range of options from short and easy walks to strenuous all-day undertakings. El Torreon, El Pinsapar, La Garganta Verde and Llanos de Rabel require “permisos” from the El Bosque office, although it is sometimes possible to acquire them by email up to a month in advance.
Parque Natural Sierra de las Nieves
“Nieves” means “snow” and these photogenic peaks are usually covered in the white stuff every winter from January to March. Up close, you’ll find a compelling collection of forests, caves and wildlife. The park is best accessed from Yunquera, El Burgo and Tolox, each of which have a park office with useful info.
The most popular hike in the Parque Natural Sierra de las Nieves is to the top of Torrecilla (14 km / 5-6 hrs / 730m elevation gain). The peak is over 1,918 metres above sea level and the trailhead is just 12 km east of Ronda.
This set of wild, mostly unrestored Roman remains boasts historical importance, interesting ruins and terrific views. Also known as “Old Ronda”, it is just 20 km northwest of the city and is good stop on your way to visit some of the terrific white villages in the area.
Where to Eat: The Best Ronda Restaurants
With a warm, sunny climate and just the right amount of altitude, the area around Ronda is perfect for growing fruits and vegetables. Then, for completely different reasons, it is also known for having terrific tapas (mainly because they take their eating and drinking very seriously, those kind of reasons).
There are good restaurants practically everywhere but here are a few ideas for places to start.
There are several good choices lining Calle Nueva or Plaza del Socorro.
Taberna Quinto Tramo is one of the most popular tapas places in town, family-run with a very creative menu. The patatas bravas really stood out.
Le Lechuga is a fun, popular place for tapas and cheap beer on a busy street corner.
Michelin-starred Bardal is gorgeous and delicious, the place to go for fine dining.
Al-zahra is good if you are looking for Moroccan food.
Abades Ronda is right across from the Plaza de Toros and has stunning views of the gorge to go with friendly service and excellent food.
Pizzeria Da Vinci has the best pizza in town (imho), with good prices, welcoming staff and cold beer.
Ronda Spain Map: Things to Do in Ronda
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How to Get to Ronda Spain
Ronda is the main centre of the region. It is easily accessible from Malaga, Seville, Cadiz and Granada, all of which have airports. When booking flights we usually find that SkyScanner is the fastest and most accurate site.
Most people visit by car, either their own or a rental. With so many great towns and villages in the area we highly recommend renting a car for at least a few days to cover more ground and set your own schedule. We find Discover Cars usually have the best deals in the area.
Nearby Main Centres by Car:
Malaga: 100 km / 1.5 hrs
Gibraltar: 115 km / 1.75 hrs
Seville: 135 km / 1.75 hrs
Cádiz: 145 km / 1.75 hrs
Granada: 180 km / 2 hrs
Córdoba: 165 km / 2.25 hrs
Nearby pueblos blancos:
Setenil de las Bodegas: 20km / 20 min
Algodonales: 35 km / 30 min
Zahara de la Sierra: 35 km / 45 min
Grazalema: 35 km / 45 min
Olvera: 35 km / 45 min
Villaluenga del Rosario: 40 km / 45 min
Villamartín: 65 km / 1 hr
Arcos de la Frontera: 85 km / 1 hr
Casares: 60 km / 1.25 hrs
Jerez de la Frontera: 115 km / 1.5 hrs
Medina-Sidonia: 145 km / 1.75 hrs
Vejer de la Frontera: 185 km / 2 hrs
Parking in Ronda, Spain
The streets in the old town are narrow and parking is limited but there are usually some spots to be had. There are also several underground car parks which can work well. We recommend asking your accommodation for ideas.
And, luckily, Ronda is a very walkable city so the only time you’ll need to drive is when you are heading out of town on day trips.
There are several bus companies that run from Ronda to every conceivable destination in Andalusia including Avanza buses that run back and forth to Cadiz. In general, though, it is best to check the latest timetables at the bus station at Plaza Concepción García Redondo.
The train from Algeciras to Granada stops in Ronda. It runs less frequently and takes a bit longer than the bus but can be wonderfully relaxing and scenic. There are 5 per day to Algeciras (1.5 hrs) passing through Gaucin and Jimena de la Frontera that are worth the €30 for the scenery for the scenery alone. It is also possible to reach Malaga and Seville by train with a change or two along the way.
Both bus and train stations are about a 10-minute walk from the centre of town.
We tried a little of everything, arriving by train, renting a car while we were there and leaving by bus.
Festivals and Events in Ronda
As in all of Spain, Semana Santa (Holy Week) takes place over Easter and is the biggest festival of the year. There are seemingly endless processions, although the best take place on Thursday and Easter Friday.
However, also the same as any Spanish city worth its salt, Ronda finds numerous other reasons to party throughout the year.
Every May the Real Fería de Maio is held, which involves much of the town dressing up in 19th century period costumes. Also known as Ronda Romantica, there are horse parades, historical re-enactments, cooking competitions and flamenco dancing.
The 5-day Ronda International Guitar Festival takes place every June at the Ronda Guitar House.
In late summer, the Ronda International Folk Festival features folk dancing teams from over 50 countries.
Then in September, the Fería Goyesca, or Fería de Pedro Romero which, rather unsurprisingly, honours Sergio Romero, the very first bullfighter and prodigal Ronda son. This chaotic festival features parades, costumes, concerts, theatre performances and, of course, a traditional bullfight (La Corrida Goyesca).
History of Ronda Andalusia Spain
Cave paintings have been found in the area dating back over 12,000 years to the Neolithic Age, although the first evidence of “civilization” shows up around the 6th century BC when it was settled by the Celts and called “Arunda”.
The origins of the current city date back to its time as a Roman fortress in 200 BC. From there, however, things got pretty rough, with the city being conquered many times by many different rulers, including the Suebi, Visigoths, Moors and, eventually, the Christians under the Marquis de Cádiz.
When to Go: Ronda Weather
While the Costa del Sol gets very hot in summer, which is good if you want to spend time on the coast enjoying the beaches, it stays a bit cooler up in Ronda, which is perfect for hiking or sightseeing. At least it almost never rains. July and August still get quite warm (25-30C) but nothing like the 35+ temperatures many parts of Spain bake under. Of course, this is still the busiest time of year, as well.
Winters are relatively mild with daily high and low averages ranging from about 5C to 14C but there is a bit more rain at this time, starting in November and continuing right into April. However, it can still be quite pleasant and almost all the other tourists are gone.
The best times to visit Ronda are in spring and fall, with May and October both boasting perfect 20-25C daytime highs and much less rain than the winter months.
Other Pueblos Blancos (White Villages) Near Ronda
Centrally located, Ronda is the best base for exploring other pueblos blancos in Andalusia. Visiting these amazing white villages is endlessly fascinating and there are enough options in the area to keep you busy for weeks:
Setenil de las Bodegas is famously built under a massive rock, making it extremely unique among all these hilltop fortress and soaring views.
Algodonales boasts an impressive location next to the Sierra de Lijar mountains and is famous for a) having the largest hang-gliding school in Andalusia and b) making great guitars. I kid you not.
Zahara de la Sierra features an impressive Moorish castle on top of a huge, rocky hill located next to a beautiful blue lake.
Grazalema is known for its many amazing hiking areas.
Olvera has some of the best viewpoints in the area from its impressive castle.
Tiny Villaluenga del Rosario has an awesome little bull ring and fantastic cheese.
Villamartín is another relatively large white town that is spread out across both sides of a tall hill. It has the obligatory whitewashed buildings and some architectural highlights including Topete Mansion and Matrera Castle.
Arcos de la Frontera is all about the arches, many obvious and others hidden in the least likely spots.
Pretty Casares is close to the Costa del Sol and is considered the gateway to the white villages. It also features a photogenic castle atop a rocky outcropping, a griffon vulture colony and a fun via ferrata.
Jerez de la Frontera is the sherry and flamenco capital of Andalusia. So if those are things you are into, Jerez is a must-see. If not, well, it’s still a very beautiful place (and much larger than most other towns on this list).
Medina-Sidonia is the oldest pueblo blanco and features an understated elegance perched atop a hill not far from Cádiz.
Of all the amazing white villages we visited, Vejer de la Frontera was our favourite. Great vibe, beautiful place and the nicest main square in Andalusia.
For an overview of our white villages road trip, check out 12 Spectacular Pueblos Blancos in Andalusia
Andalusian Cities Near Ronda
As great as the white villages are, don’t forget to set aside time for a few of the most beautiful cities in Spain, many of which are just a short drive from Ronda.
Malaga has a lot of international flights and is a common entrance point to Andalusia. Mainly known as a transport hub and beach/party town, we found Malaga to be a pleasant surprise.
It has some nice old streets, good pedestrian areas and the Alcazaba, a phenomenal ancient medieval Moorish fortress that is comparable to the big attractions in Seville, Granada and Córdoba.
A somewhat bizarre bit of Britain dropped right on the edge of Spain, Gibraltar has some pretty compelling sites (i.e. Rock of Gibraltar) and historic WWII attractions. The border crossing is straightforward and Gibraltar is easily visited on a day trip, although the sites are pretty spread out so if you want to see everything it wouldn’t hurt to stay a couple of nights.
Classic Seville is one of the gems of Spain, with a beautifully walkable old town, many amazing churches and, of course, the world-famous Real Alcazar.
Hopeless romantics will also love the street and balcony that inspired Romeo and Juliet.
Check out our guide to the Best Things to Do in Seville
Although it lacks the one big, incredible site of the other major Andalusian cities, Cádiz was among our favourite cities in Andalusia for its beaches, atmosphere and old town ambience.
With balmy weather (even by Andalusian standards) and perfect for wandering, Cádiz is the kind of place where the days slide by and you’ll always wish you could stay a bit longer.
Have a look at the 15 Best Things to Do in Cádiz
Comparing Granada and Seville is like comparing apples and oranges (both excellent but could probably use a wash first). Granada’s central area isn’t quite as perfect as the one in Seville, or compact as Córdoba, but it has some fascinatingly gritty neighbourhoods and a long list of awesome viewpoints.
And, of course, the Alhambra, which just might be the coolest historic site I’ve ever visited.
Click here for The 17 Best Things to Do in Granada
Much smaller and more manageable than Madrid, Barcelona or Seville, cute Córdoba has the world-famous mosque-cathedral, La Mezquita, which is definitely worth the visit alone.
There is also a fascinating Jewish quarter, vibrant old town and impressive bridge (that also featured in Game of Thrones). It is less than 2 hours from Seville by car, roughly 2.5 hours by bus and just 40 minutes by high-speed train.
Trip Planning Resources
Here is a list of the most important resources we use when planning our travels, all in one convenient spot. Full disclosure, when you use any of these links to reserve or sign up for something, we receive a small commission which is greatly appreciated. However, your price does not change and we have only included products and websites that we can honestly recommend.
- We book the majority of our hotels on Booking.com. With frequent stay discounts, thousands of reviews and free cancellation, it is very rare for us to have a bad hotel experience these days.
- Wise is by far the best international multicurrency bank account we’ve found. We can now send and receive money in half a dozen different currencies, convert to dozens more with no exchange premium and pay or withdraw local currencies. Highly recommended.
- When travelling we always get SIM cards with data for our phones. Local SIM cards are sometimes a bit cheaper but if you have a relatively new smartphone (iPhone XR or newer, Samsung S20 or newer) you can just buy an eSIM online, get a QR code by email and you’re good to go. After extensive research I have decided that KeepGo eSIMs have the best coverage and prices for most of our trips.
- If you’re interested in local guided tours, including everything from city tours to cooking lessons to adventure activities, check out the huge range of options at Get Your Guide.
- World Nomads offers some of the best global travel insurance coverage. It is especially good for frequent travellers and digital nomads but also has competitive plans for short trips.
Ronda Spain Summary
Truly the jewel of Andalusia, Ronda manages to walk the line between charming, gorgeous pueblo blanco and friendly, welcoming highland city. El Tajo gorge and Puente Nuevo bridge are truly incomparable and the Old Town is a fascinating place to wander, eat and drink.
Throw in dozens of compelling towns, parks and hikes within easy day trip distance, though, and it becomes clear why Ronda is such an exceptional place to visit. Whether you can afford to spend a week or more or only have time for a day trip, make sure you don’t miss this incredible white town.
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