If you find yourself in the fortunate situation of being able to spend a week or more in Ronda, you're in for a treat. Set amidst spectacular scenery in Malaga Province, this picturesque town is…
Central Spain is filled with castles straight out of Don Quixote, never-ending fields of sunflowers blowing in the breeze, steep snowy peaks, and hot desert landscapes. It goes without saying that Madrid is a must-see city, but some of the small towns around the capital are where you’ll find Spain’s true hidden treasures.
Wander around this medieval city and feel like Cinderella and Hercules all at once. Segovia’s ancient Roman aqueduct stands dramatically in the centre of the city, whilst the fairytale castle is just as breathtaking.
The half-a-mile-long, nearly 29-metre-high aqueduct will make you wonder how the arches’ 250,000 granite blocks have stayed together since the 1st century. The Alcázar, its clean lines rising out of a rocky crag, could be plucked straight from a Disney film. Walk through the city’s cobbled Plaza Mayor for charming shops, traditional restaurants and, of course, the Segovia Cathedral.
Segovia is famous for cochinillo asado, roasted suckling pig, and ponche segoviano, a sweet treat from the region. Try family-run José María Restaurante, just outside Plaza Mayor, for an authentic meal in an impressive setting, or Mesón Don Jimeno for some local fare.
Mesón Don Jimeno, Calle Daoiz, 15 40003 Segovia. Tel: 921 46 63 50
José María Restaurante, Calle Cronista Lecea 11, 40001 Segovia. Tel: 921 461 111. Restaurantejosemaria.com
The famous hanging houses are the main draw of this UNESCO World Heritage Site city. But behind the fortress walls lies an entire city that’s full of well-preserved, medieval buildings waiting to be explored.
The casas colgadas, clinging to cliffs since the 15th century, have been turned into restaurants and a modern art museum. The Museo de Arte Abstracto Español has an unexpected art collection well worth a visit. Cross the Saint Paul bridge over the gorge of the River Huécar and take in the best views of the hanging houses. When you’re back in the city, Gothic-style Cuenca Cathedral is a must-see.
At lunchtime, peek inside a hanging house and taste one of the city’s specialities, roasted lamb, at Mesón Casas Colgadas. Then wander around the Plaza Mayor and sample some Cuenca treats from bakeries like Marisol. Don’t miss alajú, a traditional pastry made with almonds and honey.
Mesón Casas Colgadas, Calle Canonigos 3, 16001 Cuenca, Spain. Tel: 696 21 29 83
Marisol, Calle Diego Jiménez, 4 – bajo, 16004 Cuenca, Spain. Tel: 969 226 559
Toledo is a magnificent melting pot of culture and history. In medieval times, Arab, Jewish and Christian cultures coexisted and came together to make up this stunning city overlooking the River Tajo.
Visit one of the most impressive examples of Gothic architecture and history at the Catedral de Toledo. Get lost in the city’s beautiful winding streets and stumble into the El Transito Synagogue and Sephardic Museum in the Jewish Quarter. Then head across the street to the El Greco Museum to celebrate Spain’s Golden Age artist.
When you’ve worked up an appetite, try Restaurante Adolfo for a little finesse in a 12th-century Jewish house.
Restaurante Adolfo, Calle Hombre de Palo, 7, 45001 Toledo. Tel: 925 227 321. Adolforestaurante.com
Salamanca is famous for being home to the oldest university in Spain, the 13th-century University of Salamanca. The mixture of architectural styles, along with the city’s special Castilian glow, make the city magical.
Start in the centre of the Plaza Mayor to get a feel for the city’s grandeur. By night, its beaming Baroque architecture lights up and glows down on the people gathered in the square. Be sure to see the Old Cathedral and the New, and don’t miss the Casa de las Conchas and the Convento de San Esteban.
When it’s time to eat, try Victor Gutiérrez in the centre of the city where international cuisine is served in an intimate setting. And don’t forget to try some of Salamanca’s famous jamón ibérico de bellota, ham from pigs fed exclusively on acorns; it’s the best in Spain.
Víctor Gutiérrez, Calle Empedrada 4, 37007 Salamanca. Tel: 923 26 29 73. Restaurantevictorgutierrez.com
Walk through the impressive walls of Ávila and it’s as though you’ve taken a time machine to the 16th century. When the walls are illuminated at night, you’ll feel like you’re in a dream.
The Cathedral of Ávila, the Basilica of San Vicente, and the city’s Plaza Mayor are absolute must-sees. But make sure to take some time to explore the Convento de Santa Teresa and its small museum to understand the city’s religious heritage and connection to the saint.
As you meander through the old city, make sure to peek into pastry shop windows to find yemas de Santa Teresa, a traditional sweet made with egg yolk (you can’t go wrong at La Flor de Castilla). For the best views in town, try El Almacén — especially for dinner when the city’s wall is glowing in the distance. Or try Cinco in the city centre where you’ll find creative dishes as well as the traditional chuletones.
El Almacén, Carretera Salamanca 6, 05002 Avila. Tel: 920 25 44 55
Cinco, Plaza Mosén Rubi, 5, 05001 Ávila. Tel: 920 25 21 04
El Escorial is an elegant town in the mountains of the Madrid region. It’s filled with pretty plazas and charming shops, but the main attraction is the Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial.
This incredible complex is mostly known for being a monastery, but the massive building has also served as a basilica, royal palace, college, royal pantheon and tomb, library and museum. You can tour the incredible library, eerie tombs, monastery and gardens from Tuesday to Sunday, or just wander around the outside of the awe-inspiring building before heading to lunch.
Try Charoles for a traditional lunch at a classic El Escorial restaurant. Or Amet Studio for an innovative take on local dishes, open during autumn and winter. If you’re looking for regional cuisine any time of year, try Montia.
Charoles, Calle Floridablanca 24, 28200, San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Tel: 91 890 59 75. Charolesrestaurante.com
Montia, Calle Calvario 4 – San Lorenzo de El Escorial, 28200 Madrid. Tel: 911 33 69 88. Montia.es
Aranjuez is known as the destination of choice for the Spanish royals during their spring and summer holidays. King Felipe II commissioned the Royal Palace and its incredible gardens (over 300 hectares of impeccably planned and manicured green space) in the second half of the 16th century.
You can take a guided tour of the palace to see the royal boudoirs, or marvel at the incredible building, the main square, and the seemingly never-ending gardens from the outside. Find your way to Estanque de los Chinescos inside the Jardín del Príncipe.
Have a picnic of local strawberries and asparagus (the region’s specialties) in the city’s beautiful green spaces or wide open plazas. Or have lunch in a converted villa at Casa José for an elegant meal with a focus on local cuisine.
Casa José, Calle Abastos 32, 28300, Aranjuez. Tel: 91 891 14 88. Casajose.es
Alcalá de Henares
This picturesque town is known for its historic university, being the birthplace of Miguel Cervantes, and serving up large portions of tapas alongside the beers (or other drinks) you order.
Wander through the UNESCO World Heritage Site city centre and see the beautiful Plaza de Cervantes. Then visit Teatro Corral de Comedias for some history and a show at an incredibly well-preserved 16th-century theatre. Check out the stunning facade of the Universidad de Alcalá, or even take a guided tour.
If you’re looking for traditional tapas, try Indalo Tapas for an authentic Alcalá experience, or Restaurante Goya for a classic Mediterranean meal. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, have a rosquilla de Alcalá with your after-lunch coffee.
Indalo Tapas, Calle Libreros, 9, 28801 Alcalá de Henares. Tel: 918 82 44 15. Indalotapas.com
Chinchón is a quiet town in the southeast of Madrid. People come to try local specialties like chinchón (anisette, the city’s namesake), regional wines at the end of March, and the garlic harvest in October. The beautiful, circular Plaza Mayor turns into a traditional bullring during the town’s many festivals.
Take a walk through the pretty streets of the old town and buy some of Chinchón’s famous garlic. And when there are no celebrations taking place, the Plaza Mayor is a great place to enjoy a cup of coffee and eat a fresh pastry.
Try La Dulcería de Chinchón for a freshly made, cream-filled donut. For lunch, La Recua del Pelicano is an unassuming place to have a quiet, traditional meal. Drink a shot of local chinchón to digest.
La Dulcería de Chinchón, Plaza Mayor, 1, 28370 Chinchón. Tel: 918 93 52 93
La Recua del Pelicano, Cuesta de Quiñones, 2, 28370 Chinchón. Tel: 918 32 01 29
Manzanares el Real
Found right at the bottom of the rocky, looming Sierra de Guadarrama, Manzanares el Real is the perfect place to start if you want to explore the mountains of the Madrid region. It’s a nice town to visit in its own right too, with the 15th-century New Castle of Manzanares el Real, and the Santillana Reservoir to stroll around.
However, most people come here to access La Pedriza, part of the Sierra de Guadarrama with its incredible finger-like boulders and cliffs to climb, and an enchanting river with beautiful natural pools, like the Charca Verde. Explore other awe-inducing natural rock formations, like Elephant Rock (El Elefante) and Chicken Bridge (El Puente de los Pollos). Visit La Pedriza’s visitors’ centre for more information about hiking trails.
For a simple Spanish meal on a peaceful terrace by the reservoir, try Mesón Los Morales. But your best bet in Manzanares is to pack a picnic, jump in the car and head to La Pedriza for lunch.
Mesón Los Morales, Av. de Madrid, 24, 28410, Manzanares El Real. Tel: 918 53 06 41
Array (  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 244982 [post_author] => 4 [post_date] => 2023-11-30 13:47:18 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-11-30 13:47:18 [post_content] => If you find yourself in the fortunate situation of being able to spend a week or more in Ronda, you're in for a treat. Set amidst spectacular scenery in Malaga Province, this picturesque town is known for its iconic eighteenth bridge, which arches over the plummeting El Tajo gorge beneath, and offers fabulous restaurants and wealth of historical sites. Discover why Ronda is Andalucia's third most-visited destination with our ultimate guide to Malaga's most scenic town, with a full list of the best things to do in Ronda. Ready? Grab your sunglasses and let’s go exploring.
The 3 top must-sees in Ronda
1. El Tajo de RondaNo trip to Ronda would be complete without witnessing the captivating beauty of El Tajo, the gorge that divides the city into two parts: the ancient Moorish Old Town and the modern new town. The canyon and its surrounding valleys are best viewed from the Puente Nuevo, or New Bridge, a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture that spans the Guadalevir river. El Tajo de Ronda is not only a natural wonder, but also a cultural and literary treasure, providing the inspiration for Earnest Hemingway’s novel ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’. Top tip: Stay at our beautiful pedigree townhouse Casa Amaia and enjoy your own private views of El Tajo gorge. 2. The Old City If you want to discover the true essence of Ronda, then the Old City is a must. Known as La Ciudad, this part of the town extends South of the famous Puente Nuevo Bridge. Featuring cobbled streets, charming squares and examples of Moorish architecture, this area is perfect for a morning of aimless wandering taking in the sites. Top tip: To get the best out of your visit to the Old City, visit early in the morning or later in the evening when the streets are quieter away from day-trippers, and the temperature is a little cooler.
3. Plaza de Toros (& royal cavalry of Ronda)Completed in 1785, Ronda’s bullring was declared a National Heritate Site in 1993. Known locally as the Real Maestranza de Caballería, its the oldest and one of the most attractive in Spain. This unique bullring offers a fascinating glimpse into Spain's (often controversial) heritage of bullfighting and equestrian arts. Nowadays, the Plaza de Toros is mostly a museum and cultural centre, and it continues to house the Royal Riding School teaching professional dressage. It is used only for its original purpose during the spectacular September Goyesca bullfights and annual festival, in which the townsfolk dress in the manner of Goya's portraits of 18th century life in Spain. Where is Plaza de Toros? C. Virgen de la Paz, 15, 29400 Ronda. When to visit? 10:00 – 18:00 November to February, 10:00 – 19:00 March to October. Partially closed early September for the Goyesca festival Website: Royal Cavalry and Bullring of Ronda
- Castillo del Laurel: Explore the historic Castillo del Laurel, a captivating fortress with a fascinating past.
- Puerta de Almocabar: Step through Puerta de Almocabar, a medieval gateway to Ronda's enchanting Old Town.
- Murallas del Carmen: Discover the ancient city walls, Murallas del Carmen, that once protected Ronda.
- Fuente de los Ocho Caños: Charming eight-spout 18th century fountain.
- Plaza España: Revel in the lively ambiance of Plaza España, a bustling square at the heart of Ronda.
- Plaza del Socorro: Enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of Plaza del Socorro, a central square surrounded by cafes and shops.
- Plaza Duquesa de Parcent: Experience the elegance of Plaza Duquesa de Parcent, a picturesque square renowned for its tranquil atmosphere.
- Talleres de Granados Somera: Explore the artisan workshops at Talleres de Granados Somera.
- Ernest Hemingway Sculpture/Orson Welles Sculpture/Hemingway/Welles Tour: Tap into Ronda's literary history with sculptures and tours dedicated to Hemingway and Orson Welles.
- LA Organic: Savour exquisite organic products at LA Organic, a boutique offering a taste of Andalusian luxury.
The 4 best viewpoints in Ronda
Mirador Puente Nuevo de Ronda New BridgeFor a truly unforgettable experience, take a short walk down a steep but well paved path from Plaza de Maria to a viewpoint approximately halfway down the gorge, where you will be treated to incredible views of the New Bridge. Consider visiting with a local guide who’ll not only provide some fascinating insights but also have transport waiting at the bottom to whisk you back to the town, sparing you the tiring hike back. Where is Puento Nuevo? C. Tenorio, 20, 29400 Ronda, Málaga
Alameda del TajoLocated next to the bullring, this 19th century park culminates in a sheer drop (don’t worry, there are railings!). From here you can enjoy expansive westward views of the neighbouring Grazalema Natural Park, the highest peaks of which are often snow-capped in winter. For an extra special visual treat, visit in Autumn when the park comes alive with a rich tapestry of colours. Where is Alameda del Tajo? P.º Blas Infante, 1, 29400 Ronda, Málaga
PUENTE VIEJOOne of the two original - and much lower - crossings that Puente Nuevo was designed to replace, Ronda’s “Old Bridge” dates from the early seventeenth century and offers views of the canyon and the rolling farmland south of town. Where is Puente Viejo? C. Real, 2, 29400 Ronda, Málaga
JARDINES DE CUENCANamed after Cuenca, a hilltop town halfway between Madrid and Valencia with which Ronda is twinned, these gardens consist of a series of terraces pinned to the edge of the gorge. Follow them all the way down - lingering in the colourful rose garden on the way - and you’ll end up on Puente Viejo. Where are Jardines de Cuenca? C. Escolleras, 1, 29400 Ronda, Málaga
some other incredible views in Ronda
- Paseo de los Ingleses
- Mirador de Aldehuela
- Calle La Bola
- Mirador de Ronda
must-visit Ronda Museums
1. Palacio de MondragónA firm favourite with The Luxury Villa Collection team, the Palacio de Mondragón is is one of Ronda’s finest remaining instances of Arabic architecture and dates back to the 14th century. Key features include tranquil inner courtyards, intricate tile mosaics and cliffside gardens. There’s also a museum housing Roman and Moorish relics. Where is Palacio de Mondragón? Plaza Mondragón, s/n, 29400 Ronda Opening times: Monday to Friday 10:00 - 13:45 and 15:00 – 18:00, Saturday and Sunday 10:00 -15:00. Website: Palacio de Mondragón
2. Arab Baths Archaeological SiteTucked away in the old Jewish quarter, Ronda’s Arab baths date back to the 13th and 15th centuries and are considered the best preserved in Spain. The Arab Baths served both a practical and spiritual purpose for the Moors, and although buried by floods over time, the three rooms with star-shaped skylights have been meticulously restored to their original splendour. Where are the Arab Baths? C/ Molino de Alarcón, Ronda, 29400 Opening times: Tuesday to Friday 09:30 – 19:00, Saturday 10:00 – 14:00 and 15:00 – 18:00, Sunday 10:00 – 15:00, Monday 10:00 – 14:00 and 15:00 – 18:00. Website: Ronda’s Arab baths
3. La Casa del Rey MoroAnother favourite of ours is the enchanting Casa del Rey Moro, an incredible 18th century palace with Moorish-style gardens. Its pièce de résistance is the 14th century 'water mine' ingeniously carved into the solid rock. Descend 300 winding steps through intriguing caverns and emerge by the babbling river at the foot of the gorge. Make sure you take water, though, as there’s only one way back up! Where is La Casa del Rey Moro? C. Cta. de Santo Domingo, 9, 29400 Ronda Opening times: 10:00 – 21:30 May to September, 10:00 – 20:00 October to April. Website: Casa del Rey Moro
4. Reservatauro RondaOwned and run by local bullfighter Rafael Tejada, this vast bull- and horse-breeding ranch is situated a ten-minute drive outside the town. Guided 4X4 tours take visitors through the countryside, enabling glimpses of the magnificent fighting bull in its natural habitat. You can even round off a visit with lunch and a wine tasting. Where is Reservatauro Ronda? Carr. Ronda Campillos, km 34, 29400, Málaga Opening times: Open every day 10.00 – 18.00 Website: Reservatauro Ronda
Other Ronda museums to explore
- Centro de interpretacion del puento nuevo
- Palacio de Salvatierra
- Casa del Gigante
- Museo de Carruaje de Ronda
- Museo Lara
- Casa Museo Don Bosco
3 best places to eat in RondaWhichever restaurant you choose in Ronda, we can say with confidence that you’re unlikely to be disappointed! However, we've picked out 3 of the best restaurants in Ronda:
1. BardalIn this incredible Michelin-starred restaurant, Chef Benito Gómez crafts creative dishes inspired by local traditions. Two tasting menus, with 16 or 19 courses, offer wine pairings and a tempting trolley of Andalusian cheeses before a sumptuous dessert. Where is Bardal? C. José Aparicio, 1, 29400 Ronda Website: Restaurantebardal.com
2. TragataBoasting an eclectic decor with mismatched seating and quirky lighting, Tragata’s menu seamlessly blends Asian, Moroccan and Spanish flavours, offering imaginative twists on traditional dishes. With its lively ambience and modern vibe, this is a real favourite of ours. Where is Tragata? Calle Nueva, 4, 29400 Ronda; Telephone: +34 952 87 72 09; Website: Tragata.com
3. Restaurante AzaharLocated in Hotel Catalonia Reina Victoria, this top fine-dining spot with stunning views across the mountains and gorge offers exquisite, high quality dishes presented in a fresh and innovative style Where is Restaurant Azahar? Calle Jerez 25, Ronda 29400 Website: ebocarestaurants.com/en/restaurants/azahar/ For more top tips on where to eat in Ronda, take a look at our Guide to Ronda’s best restaurants and tapas bars.
Churches in RondaRonda’s churches stand as magnificent symbols of the town’s diverse history and spiritual legacy. Here is a selection of some of the finest:
- Iglesia de Santa Maria la Mayor: a majestic mosque turned catholic church showcasing stunning Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance architecture.
- Nuestra Señora del Socorro: a charming 20th century parish church located on one of Ronda’s beautiful plazas. The current structure was built in the 1950s to replace the original 18th century church, which was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War.
- Iglesia de Padre Jesús: 17th century catholic church renowned for its baroque style architectural beauty. Notable features include a Gothic arched entrance, Renaissance-style bell tower and an ornate image of Jesus which is paraded through the town every year on Holy Thursday.
- Minaret of San Sebastian: a historical monument with Moorish origins, offering a glimpse into Ronda's diverse heritage.. Once attached to one of Moorish Ronda’s several mosques, this small tower was later converted into a bell tower for the San Sebastian church, which was destroyed in the 1600s
best places to visit near RONDAIt’s not just the town of Ronda itself which is worthy of a visit. The surrounding countryside is jam-packed with areas of outstanding natural beauty and sites of historic interest. See below for our pick of the best:
Parque Nacional Sierra de las NievesOnly a 15-minute outside Ronda, this natural park is home to Andalusia’s most elaborate system of underground caves, along with 2,000-metre-high mountains and sulphurous water baths. Fauna includes 120 species of bird and the largest spider on Continental Europe
Parque Natural Sierra de GrazalemaOn the other side of Ronda from Las Nieves is another natural park, home to a scattering of white villages – or Pubelos Blancos – dotted amongst the oak forests and mountains. Atlantic storms make this the rainiest spot on the Iberian Peninsula.
Cueva del GatoFound near the village of Benaoján in the Grazalema Natural Park, this is the southern entrance to a network of underground chambers, lakes and caves. Its clear, cool waters make for a perfect summer swimming spot. Where is Cueva del Gato? MA-7401 Km 3 Carretera de, 29370 Benaoján, Málaga
Cueva de la PiletaSituated just south of the Cueva del Gato, this cave was discovered in 1905 by a local resident. Visit the interior to see Neolithic remains and Palaeolithic wall art representing animals such as horses, fish, goats, bulls and bison. Where is Cueva de la Pileta? Cueva de la Pileta Parking, 29370 Benaoján, Málaga
The Ruins of AcinipoSituated a half-hour drive north of Ronda, the ruins of the Roman town of Acinipo feature one of the best-preserved amiptheatres in Andalusia: you can still a section of tiered seating, the orchestra pit and actors’ changing rooms. Where are the Ruins of Acipino? MA-8406, s/n, 29400 Ronda, Málaga
13 unforgettable experiences in rondaWe know many of our guests love to dig deeper into the culture, history and nature of our Spanish destinations. That’s why we've curated some exclusive, unforgettable activities designed to make your stay in Ronda truly memorable. Here are 13 of the most amazing experiences we can organise for your private group:
- Access to the main events of the Ronda Romántica (May) and the Corrida Goyesca (August-September) de Ronda, or a private guide to show you around.
- Private tours following the footsteps of Hemingway and Orson Welles in Ronda and around the pueblos blancos (whitewashed villages of the Serrania de Ronda).
- Closed tour of the Real Maestranza (bullring) and private access to other places of interest around Ronda.
- Romantic private dining at a selection of local beauty spots.
- Advance reservations at the Michelin-starred Bardal and Tragata or have a local Michelin-grade chef cook up a feast for you and your guests in the comfort and privacy of your luxury villa.
- Spectacular horse riding trails through the woodland of the Serranía de Ronda.
- Bookings at Ascari race course for the ultimate VIP Ascari experience - perfect for motorsport enthusiasts.
- Meditation in the Cueva de Pileta – open-eyed meditation sessions that take place in complete darkness.
- Visits to the makers of international award-winning goats cheese, ‘Queso Payoyo’ produced in Ronda
- Private wine tastings in some of the area’s finest boutique wineries followed by a gourmet lunch with the winemakers themselves
- Tasting of Jamon de Castañas – fine cured ham made from very rare breed, chestnut-fed pigs.
- Workshops with local artisans including seagrass weaving or ceramics.
- Outdoor sports around Montejaque, Benaoján and Grazalema, such as hiking, cycling, mountain climbing, river walking and wild swimming.