Gorgeous Vejer de la Frontera came as a real surprise. Not because it was nice – all the pueblos blancos are – but because of how much all three of us immediately loved it. Considering it was the second-last white village at the tail end of a whole week of white villages, well, we were getting a bit jaded. Tough to please, shall we say.
But, for whatever reason, we were all quickly impressed (at least once we got past the steep uphill walk from the parking lot) and excited that we chose it for one of our overnight stays. I’d say the fancy main square had a lot to do with that – palm trees, huge fountain, a castle tower, a really weird amount of frog sculptures.
Laynni and Chris both strongly agreed that having a kebab place right on the main square speaks volumes. In a good way, apparently. And, even though we were subjected to yet another reluctantly friendly Spanish waitress who brought us our first beer then quickly lost interest in our wants and desires, we all agreed that Vejer de la Frontera was “the nicest pueblo blanco we’ve seen”.
As far as I can tell, the main reason it doesn’t enjoy the same reputation or tourist fame as some of the others is that it lacks that postcard-worthy arrival image. No towering castle perched atop a surprising cliff or shimmering blue lake waiting below. Just a really beautiful, really clean, really interesting town.
Not that we are the first to notice this. After all, Vejer de la Frontera was declared a National Historic-Artistic Site way all the way back in 1976. Then in 1978 it won the first annual National Embellishment Award, which sounds like a sarcastic soccer trophy but is apparently meant as a compliment in Spain.
And although it may lack the dramatic approach of Zahara de la Sierra or Casares, it is still located atop a hill (they all are, really, except for Setenil de las Bodegas, which is a whole different story), still offers panoramic views from the top, still has a cool river down below (Rio Barbate), and still features classic Moorish architecture and history.
We just happen to like it better than the rest, for some reason.
Map of Things to Do in Vejer de la Frontera
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14 Great Things to Do in Vejer de la Frontera
Besides just ogle the place, I mean. Here is our list of the 14 best things to see in Vejer de la Frontera.
Follow the Fortified Walls
Vejer de la Frontera’s historic quarter is enclosed by ancient walls to varying degrees. In some places the walls and even several towers (Mayorazgo Tower, San Juan Tower, Correda Tower) are still mostly intact. In other places the wall kind of fades away or disappears into someone’s home or just becomes part of a back fence or a storage area.
Also, unlike many of the other pueblos blancos, the four medieval gates of Vejer de la Frontera are still standing and in use today. One of the best-preserved sections of wall is between the 12th century Puerta Cerrada (also called the Barbary Gate) and the Puerta de la Segur, where you’ll find the Judería (former Jewish Quarter).
But you’ll also want to check out the Puerta de la Villa near Plaza de España and the 10th century Puerta de Sancho IV near the Iglesia de la Merced.
Of course, in following the wall you’ll also get to enjoy the maze of narrow alleys, hidden plazas and delightful whitewashed houses that seemingly haven’t changed in centuries.
Marvel at the Churches of Vejer de la Frontera
The lovely 14th century Divino Parish church (Iglesia Divino Salvador) built on the ruins of an old mosque looms over Vejer de la Frontera and is a fascinating combination of architectural styles.
Displaying Baroque, Renaissance, late-Gothic and Gothic-Mudejar influences, it features an impressive 17th century altarpiece, three large naves and serves as the main religious building in town, hosting all the important spiritual moments in the lives of local “vejeriegos”.
Located between the castle and Divino Salvador Parish Church, the 16th century Convento de Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion was originally built as a tomb for the Juan de Amaya family. A few decades later, the nuns of the Concepcionista moved in the adjacent convent, where they remained until it was shut down in 1835.
Eventually donated to the town of Vejer de la Frontera and restored, today the convent serves as host to a variety of cultural festivities.
Take a Photo at Arco de las Monjas
One of the most popular Vejer de la Frontera photo spots is the Arco de las Monjas (Arch of Nuns).
Attached to the convent, it was one of the many arches that were built to support the chapel following the major earthquake of 1773. Located in the old Jewish quarter, it is also sometimes referred to as the Arco de la Judería.
Check out the Castle of Vejer de la Frontera
Located at the very top of the town, as they do it in these parts, you’ll find the Vejer de la Frontera castle, a classic fortress boasting unbelievable views from the ramparts. Built in the 10th century by Abd al-Rahman I atop the ruins of a previous castle, it has evolved considerably over the years.
Eventually housing the Duke of Medina-Sidonia after the Christian conquest, there is still a compelling mix of styles to enjoy. One of the best photos spots is near the Moorish arch, which leads into a pleasant courtyard and, eventually, a residential area that has kind of just taken over the area.
Hang out in the Plaza de España
Gotta say, we were shamelessly seduced by the Vejer de la Frontera main square.
Officially called the Plaza de España – the standard name for main squares around the country – but known to locals as Plaza de los Pescaítos (Little Fish), it is instantly unique with its towering palm trees, marvelous fountain and, of course, all those graceful frogs I was talking about. We have simple tastes, apparently.
Nonetheless, it is also surrounded by nice restaurants, churches, old gates and City Hall in case, for some reason, you aren’t a complete sucker for ceramic frogs spewing recycled water.
Apparently, bullfights were also held here back in the day, although thankfully not while I was in the middle of enjoying my cerveza grande.
Get Lost to Find Your Favourite Corner
As with so many of the pueblos blancos, most of the fun is in the aimless wandering. Getting hopelessly lost – although never for long, it isn’t a big place – is the best way to stumble across some odd building, scenic lookout, colourful display or sympathetic dog tenaciously gnawing on his junk.
Count the Flowerpots
If Laynni wasn’t already convinced that Vejer de la Frontera was her favourite pueblo blanco, suddenly discovering an entire street adorned with multi-coloured flowerpots definitely clinched it.
Rather rigidly organized (one colour of pot per wall), the contrast with the bright white walls is quite photogenic. The best spot is at the corner of Calle Sagasta and Calle de Almizcate.
Head to the Beach at El Palmar
Unlike most of the white villages, which tend to be well inland, the nice beach town of El Palmar is practically a suburb of Vejer de la Frontera (just 15 kilometres and a 15-minute drive away).
This is the perfect place to go for sunbathing, watersports or fishing, having somehow still avoided the attention of the Cádiz crowds despite its fine sand, clear water and superb watchtowers of Torrenueva visible right from the beach.
See the Views from the Vejer de la Frontera Miradores
There are many great Vejer de la Frontera viewpoints scattered all over town, some officially recognized and others seemingly not worth mention (yet often even more impressive).
One of the best views is from a quiet balcony just outside the walls, although La Cobijada is about more than just pretty photos.
It also features an important statue of a woman dressed in a “cobijada”, a black 17th century robe that covers every bit of skin except the left eye. Interestingly, it was a Christian getup, not Muslim like you might naturally assume.
La cobijada was common attire for women in much of Spain up through the 18th century but they were eventually banned in the 1930’s and Vejer de la Frontera is one of the only places left that even refer to them. Today you might see la cobijada worn for a traditional festival but they are no longer used in everyday life.
Keep an eye out, La Cobijada shows up around the town in carving and paintings.
Mirador del Antiguo Proyector
Despite the lack of controversially misogynistic statues, Mirador del Antiguo Proyector is a very worthy viewpoint in its own right. There are actually excellent views from everywhere along the wide path along Vereda de Cantarranas beneath Corredera Tower.
Get Historical at the Vejer Museum
This small museum covers the history of Vejer de la Frontera from prehistoric days all the way up to the 20th century. Keep in mind that all the descriptions and information plaques are in Spanish.
The real highlight, though, is the building itself. Located in the former home of Marques de Tamaron, it has a classic elegance, not to mention a huge palm tree growing up through the ceiling right in the middle.
See a Traditional House at Casa del Mayorazgo
Have you been itching to see how communal housing worked in the medieval days of Vejer de la Frontera? Well, have we got just the thing for you. The traditional Casa del Mayorazgo hosts 5 families around a central courtyard attached to the old city walls.
In the past, they even shared kitchens and toilets, although those are separate these days. You are welcome to enter, enjoy the colourful plants of the inner patio and climb the tower for exceptional views over the Plaza de España (and beyond). Just remember, these are real homes, so be respectful and although it is technically free to visit, they do accept donations so be sure to leave one on your way out.
Twitchers will happily take the short trip out of the city to Sierra de Retin where a colony of around 2,000 griffons reside. These griffons nearly went extinct in the 1970’s so this is a huge environmental success story (few and far between these days). There are also close to 100 north bald ibis, another endangered species.
Check out the Windmills
These 19th century windmills were built on the Buenavista ridge to catch wind from both east and west. They were used in conjunction with water mills to power the flower mills of Vejer de la Frontera.
There are only a few left, the ones in the San Miguel district have been restored and Molino de San Jose can even be visited.
Get Romantic at the “Kissing Spot”
While wandering one of the nicest areas of town you may suddenly stumble upon the Besame en Este Rincon. The name translates to “Kiss me in this corner” so, if you were looking for an excuse, well, I suppose this is your chance.
Not sure what makes it such a particularly erotic corner but, you know, it’s nice enough. Clean. Quiet. You could do worse.
Where to Stay: The Best Vejer de la Frontera Hotels
Accommodation in the pueblos blancos is very affordable by European standards. There are many excellent value hotels and apartments for rent in Vejer de la Frontera.
Plaza 18 is truly a charming and authentic boutique hotel, arguably the best hotel in Vejer de la Frontera. The design has been thoroughly thought out down to the smallest detail, the central location is perfect for exploring the town and the friendly staff will help you plan out your day. Try for one of the rooms with a private terrace.
Tugasa Hotel Convento San Francisco
For a touch of history, check out the Tugasa Hotel Convento San Francisco located in a former 17th century Franciscan monastery.
A great midrange choice with an excellent restaurant and bar.
We stayed at Casa Andrea in the cave room – it was literally built in a cave. The bathroom was the highlight with the shower water coming straight out of the cave wall.
There were several dehumidifiers so it wasn’t as damp as many cave rooms (we’ve stayed in a surprising number) and the small kitchen which was perfect for making a quick breakfast.
Where to Eat: The Best Vejer de la Frontera Restaurantes
Vejer de la Frontera restaurants have a great reputation with people regularly coming from Cádiz to enjoy the excellent Andalusian and African fare.
El Jardin del Califa
This fantastic Moroccan place sells kebabs (eat-in or takeaway) and an interestingly varied North African menu, along with the usual Spanish favourites.
Excellent choice for a quick meal in a perfect location on the main square.
Another good choice on the Plaza de España, they have terrific Andalusian meals, cold beer and a terrace that is ideal for people watching.
Restaurante Las Delicias
Fabulous restaurant set in an old 19th century theatre specializing in tapas, seafood and pasta. Great views from the outside tables.
Another excellent Moroccan restaurant set in a picturesque little side street. Friendly service, good value meals and a surprisingly good breakfast.
History of Vejer de la Frontera Spain
Due to its strategic location on a highly defensible hill, yet very close to the sea, Vejer de la Frontera, Spain has been in high demand throughout history. Originally known as Beka or Bekkeh, it later became Vejer de la Miel (honey) because of all the nearby beehives.
It served as an outpost or stronghold for many empires from the Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans to the Visigoths and Arabs. Eventually, the Christian forces of Ferdinand III in the 13th century took Vejer for the Kingdom of Castile and “de la Frontera” (on the frontier) was added to the name to recognize its status as the front line against the Moors.
Vejer de la Frontera Festivals and Events
Ever since 1976, the Toro Embolao takes place every Easter Sunday. The gist of it is that the entire town joins in on a massive Saturday night street party, then at noon the next day two bulls are randomly released into the town. And frivolity ensues. Or so the plan goes. We weren’t there for it, and I can’t say I’m overly upset about that.
Two weeks after Easter, the Vejer de la Frontera Spring Fair runs from Thursday to Sunday featuring sports, dancing, horseback riding and even bullfights.
The first weekend of June is the Noche de las Velas (Night of Candles), when much of the old town is decorated with – wait for it – candles! Who saw that coming? Anyway, it actually looks very cool in photos and usually a concert also takes place in the main square.
Taking the fire theme one step further, Saint John’s Eve is celebrated every June 23rd with a series of bonfires lit around town. Local organizations make dolls, which are then burned in the bonfire on Avenida San Miguel. And before you ask, no, I don’t know why. The rest of the festival takes place in the Plaza de España.
How to Get to Vejer de la Frontera
Vejer de la Frontera is easily accessible by car from several main centres in Andalusia, including the international airport in Jerez de la Frontera (1 hr). It is also on the Avanza bus line, with regular services to and from Cádiz (1 hr).
Most people visit Vejer de la Frontera 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:
Cádiz to Vejer de la Frontera: 55 km / 45 min
Gibraltar to Vejer de la Frontera: 90 km / 1.5 hrs
Seville to Vejer de la Frontera: 160 km / 1.75 hrs
Malaga to Vejer de la Frontera: 200 km / 2.5 hrs
Córdoba to Vejer de la Frontera: 300 km / 3 hrs
Granada to Vejer de la Frontera: 320 km / 3.5 hrs
Nearby pueblos blancos:
Medina-Sidonia to Vejer de la Frontera: 30 km / 30 min
Jerez de la Frontera to Vejer de la Frontera: 70 km / 1 hr
Arcos de la Frontera to Vejer de la Frontera: 100 km / 1 hr
Villamartín to Vejer de la Frontera: 120 km / 1.25 hrs
Casares to Vejer de la Frontera: 115 km / 1.5 hrs
Algodonales to Vejer de la Frontera: 150 km / 1.75 hrs
Zahara de la Sierra to Vejer de la Frontera: 150 km / 1.75 hrs
Villaluenga del Rosario: 155 km / 1.75 hrs
Olvera to Vejer de la Frontera: 165 km / 1.75 hrs
Grazalema to Vejer de la Frontera: 150 km / 2 hrs
Setenil de las Bodegas to Vejer de la Frontera: 170 / 2 hrs
Ronda to Vejer de la Frontera: 180 km / 2 hrs
Parking in Vejer de la Frontera
There is a large (partially shaded) parking area down a set of steep steps below the Torre Corredera. You might find some parking farther up into the town but I wouldn’t count on it.
There is also another large lot on the south side of town down below the Puerta Cerrada.
Weather in Vejer de la Frontera
Vejer de la Frontera weather is particularly consistent, as they receive over 300 days of sun per year. Of course, like the rest of Andalusia, it gets very hot in summer (30C+), which is good for beaches and water sports but may be a bit warm for hiking or sightseeing.
Winters are relatively mild with daily high and low averages ranging from about 6C to 15C but there is more rain in November and December, slowly tapering off to very little by May. Either way, Vejer doesn’t get nearly as much precipitation as many of the villages further inland.
The best times to visit Vejer de la Frontera are in spring and fall, with May and October both boasting perfect 20-25C daytime highs and almost no rain.
Other Pueblos Blancos (White Villages)
Exploring the pueblos blancos of Andalusia can be fascinating and there are enough options in the area to keep you busy for weeks:
Medina-Sidonia is the oldest pueblo blanco and features an understated elegance perched atop a hill not far from Cádiz.
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).
Arcos de la Frontera is all about the arches, many obvious and others hidden in the least likely spots.
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.
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.
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.
Tiny Villaluenga del Rosario has an awesome little bull ring and fantastic cheese.
Olvera has some of the best viewpoints in the area from its impressive castle.
Grazalema is known for its many amazing hiking areas.
Setenil de las Bodegas is famously built under a massive rock, making it extremely unique among all these hilltop fortress and soaring views.
Ronda is both the largest town in the region and the crown jewel of the pueblos blancos with its stunning El Tajo gorge and fabulous Puente Nuevo (New Bridge).
For an overview of our white villages road trip, check out 12 Spectacular Pueblos Blancos in Andalusia
Cities Near Vejer de la Frontera
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
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
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.
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.
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.
For more ideas, see The 17 Best Things to Do in Granada
Vejer de la Frontera Summary
Having seen and heard much more about some of the other white villages – the dramatic approach to Zahara de la Sierra, the fabulous hiking of Grazalema, just to name a couple – we never expected under-the-radar Vejer de la Frontera to end up being our favourite of them all.
But with its classic old town, awe-inspiring walls and gates, picturesque/whimsical main square and relaxed vibe it quickly won us over. Or maybe we’re just suckers for frog fountains. Either way, you should probably go there.
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