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…
To step on San Sebastian’s hexagonal street tiles is to fall in love. This small city on the northern coast of Spain has something for everyone – a picturesque port and brownstone Belle Epoque buildings, three lovely beaches, and some of the best food in the world.
San Sebastian was placed on the tourism map over a century ago by the Spanish Royal Family. The Regent Queen Maria Cristina favoured it as a summer getaway, and, as a result, it blossomed with Belle Epoque architecture and wealthy visitors from the beginning of the 20th century.
Now, in the 21st century, the city calls itself home to a new kind of star: Michelin. San Sebastian is constantly at the top of the world’s list of the most Michelin stars per person. The town’s bars, however, vie for hungry diners’ attention: their countertops are lined with pintxos, more elaborate versions of Spanish tapas, which originated in San Sebastian.
1. Go for Pintxos in The Old Town
In San Sebastian, food comes first. The pintxo is to San Sebastian what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris, so be sure to come hungry to best experience this city’s main attraction.
Every other storefront in the Old Town of San Sebastián is a restaurant or pintxo bar, so enjoy hopping from bar to bar to try world-famous miniature bites. Each spot has a speciality: start off simple with a perfect white vinegar anchovy atop a slice of bread at Txepetxa (C/ de la Pescadería, 5). Move across the street for some molecular gastronomy-inspired bites at Zeruko (C/ de la Pescadería), where a favourite is a smoking piece of cod served with a parsley cream shooter. Then head to 31st August Street, which has an overwhelming culinary offering.
By this time, you’re probably ready for some meat, so take your pick between Txuleta (Plaza de la Trinidad, 2) and Gandarias (31 de Agosto Kalea, 23), both well-known for their steak pintxos.
Finish off your night of feasting at Atari Gastroteka (Calle Mayor, 18), which has an extensive dessert pintxo menu as well as picture-perfect examples of the town’s honorary digestif: a gin and tonic the size of a fishbowl.
Top Tip: Eat pintxos like the locals: one pintxo and one drink per bar, then move on. You should pay on your way out the door, not before.
2. Arzak Restaurant
In a city with 17 Michelin stars, one for every 10,000 inhabitants, tasting the constellation becomes a high-ranking item on the to-do list. Arzak Restaurant, which holds three of the 17, is the best spot to start a dive into the starred cuisine.
Juan Mari Arzak took the restaurant over from his family more than 40 years ago, and quickly morphed it from a run-of-the-mill, if respected, traditional dining spot into a white tablecloth establishment intent on refining and pushing Basque cuisine to its limits.
The tasting menu is ever changing, but features some perennial favourites such as the foie “cromlech”, a crunchy-creamy tribute to the ancient stone monuments found across the Basque Country. Most nights Juan Mari or his daughter Elena is out on the floor of the restaurant, greeting and chatting with diners.
Top Tip: Ask to see the R&D laboratory. If you’re lucky, that will get you a tour through the bodega, where the chef makes his own sloe liquor, or patxaran, and also a peek into the room where all the dishes are created by a team of investigative chefs.
Hours: 1:30–3pm and 8:45–10:30pm; Closed Sunday/Monday
Address: Alcalde J. Elosegi Hiribidea, 273. Phone: +34 943 27 84 65. Arzak.es
3. Monte Igeldo Theme Park
The perfect place to take in the city’s beautiful views is atop Mount Igeldo, located on the west side of San Sebastian, rising up from the water at a steep, nearly 90-degree angle. Perfect for the sweeping views of the entire city, yes. But, as they say, it’s about the journey, not the destination, and Igeldo is no different.
To reach the peak, the best option is a 107-year-old funicular, a picturesque cable car that drops you off at the viewing point. Continue walking and you’ll stumble upon another feature frozen in time: the amusement park.
Both adults and children find this park impossibly charming; the rides have passed into vintage territory and riding the tiny roller coaster feels like hurtling back into the 1930s.
Hours: Weekends, 11am–2pm and 3:30–8pm
Phone: +34 943 21 35 25. Monteigueldo.es
4. Wine Cellar at Rekondo
On your way down from the theme park, don’t miss a stop at one of Europe’s top wine cellars. A small stone house about halfway down the mountain is home to Rekondo, a restaurant serving traditional Basque dishes in an elegant setting.
Reserve a table on the terrace – if the weather permits – and be sure to leaf carefully through their 250-page wine menu. The beauty of dining at Rekondo is pairing each dish with a once-in-a-lifetime glass of wine, like a Rioja from 1964.
Top Tip: The sommelier Martín will be on hand to help you choose between rare vintages, and if you catch him on a slow day, you can ask to see the wine cellar, which The Wall Street Journal called one of the top five in Europe.
Hours: 1–3:30PM, 8:30–11:30PM, Closed Tuesday/Wednesday
Address: Paseo de Igeldo, 57. Phone: +34 943 21 29 07. Rekondo.com
5. Naval Museum
Untzi Museoa, San Sebastian’s naval museum, falls under that quirky category of tiny museum passion projects. Wandering through the port, it’s easy to stumble upon this building, which is stuffed to the brim with information on ships, Basque whalers, naval charts, art pieces and other valuables.
Temporary exhibitions are often charming, super-specific looks at the Basque naval past.
Top Tip: Entry is free on Thursdays.
Hours: 10am–2pm, 4–7pm; Closed Mondays
Address: Del Muelle Ibilbidea, 24. Phone: +34 943 43 00 51. Untzimuseoa.eus
6. La Perla
La Perla spa is a saviour on one of San Sebastian’s numerous rainy days. The spa and sports centre has an enviable location, in the centre of La Concha beach. The centre is outfitted with a state-of-the-art gym, with daily cardio and spin classes, as well as a massage area with an ample menu.
The best part about La Perla, however, is the spa circuit. Sign up on a rainy day and enjoy the various circuit rooms, hydro massage pools, and saunas, some of them with views of La Concha bay.
Address: Paseo de La Concha, s/n, Edificio La Perla 20007. Phone: +34 943 45 88 56. La-perla.net
7. Strolling the Shopping District
San Sebastian is a Belle Epoque city, and vestiges of its turn-of-the-century glamour remain. One of the best things to do in San Sebastian is stroll its pedestrian shopping district’s wide streets, window shopping until, inevitably, you are drawn into one of the posh boutiques.
The Avenida de la Libertad is lined with big-box stores, but just off of it you will find lovely boutiques like Maje, a women’s fashion shop, or Ayestaran, a shoe shop with lots of history. Be sure to leave no street unstrolled, as some of the city’s gems are hiding away on less attractive side streets, like Loreak Mendian, a boutique with high-end modern Basque fashion.
8. Mimo San Sebastian Cooking Class
The basement of the one of the city’s most emblematic buildings used to house a spa; the pool was paved over a few years ago to make way for a luxury cooking school, further testament to the city’s culinary prowess.
Mimo San Sebastian now offers unique culinary experiences every day, from a food tour ranked among the world’s top 10 to daily cooking experiences, classes that transition into wine-soaked lunches around its enormous wooden table.
The classes are perfect for both kitchen aficionados and those just looking for things to do when it rains – the chefs are full of anecdotes about the local cuisine and you’ll likely leave with a few new pintxo-eating companions.
Hours: Daily cooking classes, 10:30am.
Address: Calle Okendo 1, 20004. Phone: +34 943 42 11 43. Sansebastian.mimofood.com
9. Peine del Viento
Basque art leans toward the manual: handicrafts and sculptures, made from durable, rugged elements such as wood and steel. Eduardo Chillida is the local art darling, and one of his most famous works is on permanent display – where else? – on the edge of the city, where ocean meets rocky cliff.
Put into place in 1977, it features Chillida’s signature curved metal figures, dotting a terrace designed to capture the sea’s force as waves crash the shore. These impossibly heavy structures float in the air, literally “combing the wind”, as their name suggests.
During high tide, holes in the ground become blowholes that direct a powerful burst of sea spray into the air – nature’s force made tangible.
Hours: Open 24 hours
Address: Eduardo Chillida Pasealekua, s/n, 20008
10. Isla Santa Clara
In the middle of La Concha bay, Santa Clara Island sits like a peacock preening its feathers, ready for a close-up whether for Instagram or a postcard. The island is small but dramatic, with steep cliffs with a picture-perfect white lighthouse on top.
Santa Clara has never been inhabited, save as a quarantine centre briefly during times of the plague, but in summer it comes alive as a playground for beach-goers. You can reach the island any time of the year by swimming, and during summer a boat goes back and forth every half hour.
Pack a picnic and set up on one of the stone tables, and enjoy the view of San Sebastian from the outside in.
11. Buen Pastor
Buen Pastor is San Sebastian’s only true cathedral. In the very centre of town and surrounded by stores and bars, it makes for a nice sightseeing break in between shopping. The 1897 neo-Gothic structure has a 75-metre high spire, visible throughout the city, which is quite useful for orienting yourself.
The cathedral is still in regular use by locals, but visitors can pop in to admire the work of architect Manuel de Echave, constructed with sandstone from the nearby Mount Igeldo.
Hours: 8am – 12pm and 5pm – 8pm
Address: Plaza del Buen Pastor, s/n, 20005
Telephone: +34 943 464 516
There are a couple of things easily lost in translation to visitors to San Sebastian. One of them is the official language: Basque. An ancient tongue unrelated to modern Romance and Latin languages, it is still widely spoken in the Basque Country and in San Sebastian.
No one expects a visitor to be fluent; however, learning one word will get you a long way with locals. Try ‘kaixo’, pronounced KIGH-show. It means hello, and is a fine way to greet everyone from shopkeepers to bartenders.
WHEN TO VISIT
Choosing the right time to visit San Sebastian is far from an exact science. The locals’ favourite refrain in reference to weather is “there’s a reason it’s green”: in one word, rain. The best months to visit are May and September for those who are seeking sunshine. Summer months are also usually sunny, although there always seems to be one month that gets bogged down by summer tempests.
The end of September marks the San Sebastian International Film Festival, a fun, glitzy gathering of stars in one of Europe’s most important cinematic dates. For those unafraid of a bit of rain, the winter months hold some of the city’s most exciting festivals, such as San Sebastian Day (January 20), when locals dress up as cooks and soldiers, the famed dining societies are open to anyone, and the streets are filled with the sound of music and drums.
Like our picks of what to see and do in San Sebastian? For more northern Spain travel inspiration, check out our guide to Santander.
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.