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…
Spain is a country where history and gastronomy merge, and nowhere is this truer than in the southern region of Andalucia. Many threads of influence and tradition run through Andalucian cuisine – from the Phoenicians, who first arrived on these shores almost 3,000 years ago, and the Romans who introduced wheat, olives and vines to the area, to the Moors who imported their expertise of almond growing, saffron and rice.
In years gone by, food often defined where we were from, but now food-lovers’ travel choices are influenced because of a region’s gastronomy. We no longer just eat to live – many of us live to eat. So here we’ll share with you a local’s guide to many of the authentic foods of the Axarquia, a mountainous coastal region in the eastern corner of Malaga province. That way, you can really experience the local culture via its cuisine.
Malaga City Centre
We’ll start our journey in Malaga, a city whose history can be traced back more than 2,800 years, making it one of the oldest in the world. Malaga has undergone a cultural renaissance over the past few years, and rather than being just ‘the place where the airport is’, the city is now one of Spain’s unmissable destinations. You’ll discover ancient architecture, a well-established international art scene, important cultural and religious festivals, tapas bars and elegant fine-dining as well as the warm, clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea lapping at Malaga’s long, sandy beaches.
Why not give your senses a treat and head to the Atarazanas market? Here, the Moorish arched entrance and the huge, colourful stained-glass window tell the history of the origins of this bustling marketplace. As you wander around, take in the dazzling displays of freshly-caught fish with their scarlet gills and scales glistening under the spotlights. You can marvel at the kaleidoscope of colours of the artistically displayed fresh fruit and vegetables and savour the counters of aromatic cheeses, spices, artisan bread, marinated olives, dried fruits, nuts, chorizos and ham – all perfect for a gourmet picnic. Or you could try cazon adobo (marinated white fish in a light batter) at one of the tapas bars inside the market, where the fish is so fresh it almost melts in your mouth.
From Malaga, consider heading east along the sub-tropical coast of the Axarquia, past orchards of mango and avocado trees, where you’ll be spoilt for choice with an array of chiringuitos (beach bars) stretching for miles.
Sardines and Anchovies
It’s hard to resist the smell of espetos de sardinas (sardines) being cooked on skewers over a wood fire on the beach; so simple yet totally delicious. Alternatively, you could choose one of Malaga’s favourite dishes, boquerones (anchovies), either deep-fried in olive oil, or marinated in vinegar, salt, garlic and olive oil. Boquerones en vinagre are a favourite in many places serving tapas.
Kid and Black Pudding
Most of the white villages of the Axarquia have an association with a particular fruit or traditional product and host an annual gastronomic festival to celebrate. Periana, for instance, is known for juicy peaches, and Canillas de Aceituno is renowned for the best oven-roasted kid and black pudding for miles around.
Elsewhere in the region, Torrox hosts the Migas festival each December (you can read more about this on Eastofmalaga.net), when more than 40,000 people feast on the traditional Andalucian peasant dish (fried breadcrumbs liberally laced with garlic, small pieces of chorizo, ham or peppers).
Miel de Caña
The mountain village of Frigiliana, once voted the prettiest village in Andalucia, boasts the last remaining factory in Europe producing miel de caña (literal translation: sugar-cane honey, but in reality this is molasses). Production began at the Ingenio Nuestra Señora del Carmen (Mieldelatorre.com) almost three centuries ago, and the same traditional recipe without additives is still used today. Miel de caña is delicious when drizzled over berenjenas (deep-fried egg-plant) or cod fritters.
Torta de Algarrobo
A product that is 100% ‘made in Malaga’ is the crumbly Algarrobo cake, a perfect accompaniment with your morning coffee. The ingredients are all sourced within the province, and this gastronomic delight consisting of olive oil, almond flour, aniseed, sugar and cinnamon is put together with love at the Carmen Lupišñez factory, within the village of Algarrobo. You can buy a packet of these cakes at any of the local street markets and little grocery stores for just a couple of euros. Perfect to pop in your suitcase to take back home!
Almonds and Ajoblanco
If you’re lucky enough to be travelling to the Axarquia during January, you will see the delicate pink almond blossom on trees throughout the region. First introduced by the Moors many centuries ago, the almond is an important ingredient in local cuisine, from sauces, stews or simply roasted and salted. As you’re wandering around Malaga city you’ll be sure to see a small table at the side of the street where a vendor is selling roasted almonds in a paper cone. You might also like to try ajoblanco (Malaga’s answer to gazpacho) – a refreshingly cold, garlic and almond soup.
Wine in the Axarquia
As you travel around this region you will see the dry, steep terraced land that is perfect for cultivating vines and, in particular, the sweet moscatel grapes which enjoy the sun and the influence of the sea. No mechanical devices are used for picking – these grapes are all hand-picked to make the local sweet (high-proofed) aromatic wine. Served cold, these wines pair well with blue cheeses, many desserts, chocolate, and are the perfect choice for your sobremesa (the time after a meal when you sit around the table and enjoy a drink with friends).
The mountain village of Competa, which lies in the foothills of the impressive Sierra Almijara and Tejeda mountains, hosts the annual Noche del Vino (not only a night of wine, but a whole day of it!) Every year, thousands of people descend on the village to witness the ritual treading of the grapes and share in the fun and festivities to herald the start of the grape harvest.
Whilst you’re in the area, you might also like to take a tour of one of the excellent wineries nearby. Bodegas Bentomiz (Bodegasbentomiz.com) near Sayalonga supply their Ariyanas wines to many of the finest restaurants in the world, and you can enjoy a tasting or a delicious winemaker’s lunch at their contemporary headquarters.
When are the foodie related fiestas in the Axarquia?
- Dia de Morcilla (black pudding), Canillas de Aceituno; 22nd April 2023
- Dia de la Cereza (cherry), Alfarnate; 24th June 2023
- Fiesta del Gazpacho; Alfarnatejo; 5th August 2023
- Noche del Vino (sweet wine), Competa; 14th August 2023 (TBC)
- Fiesta del Ajoblanco (cold almond soup), Almachar; 2nd September 2023 (TBC)
Welcome to La Axarquia – the authentic side to Malaga.
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.