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…
Sotogrande has friends in high places. From musicians and A-list movie stars to former UK prime ministers – and even a royal polo fan or two – it’s been the luxury resort of choice for some of the world’s more discrete rich and famous types for many years now.
It’s an unusual place, too. It’s not a ‘town’ in the strictest sense of the word, but is actually a privately owned, and rather exclusive residential complex. As a result, it keeps itself to itself a bit, and can be just a little hard to get to know.
From golf to gastronomy via polo and playas, in our Sotogrande guide we’ve tried to lift the lid on some of its best bits – so you can really get the most out of your next visit.
Location & Getting There
First things first: where is Sotogrande? It’s about an hour’s drive from Malaga airport – if you take the Autopista rather than crawling along the old N340, that is. Gibraltar International Airport is even nearer at about 25 minutes by car. Driving from Sotogrande to Marbella only takes about 35 minutes.
Golf is always going to be one of the main draws for many visitors to Sotogrande. Which is hardly surprising given that there are no fewer than five golf courses to choose from in the immediate vicinity, and a couple of those are amongst the very best in Spain.
La Cañada and La Almenara are both excellent and suitable for high to mid-handicappers, while La Reserva, the Real Club de Golf and world-famous championship course, Valderrama, are really best left for only the most accomplished golfers.
(For more golf inspiration, see our pick of the best Costa del Sol golf courses.)
As the name suggests Playa de Sotogrande is the main beach, stretching away directly from the estate itself. For ease, comfort and a range of facilities, this is the place to head. It’s also home to the ultra-stylish and adults-only Trocadero Beach Club, which if you book in advance makes for a great base camp for the day.
On the other side of the port, Torreguardiaro is another good bet for a nearby strip of sand to stretch out on for the afternoon. Here, too, there’s a good beach club – Chambao – to try.
Ever so slightly further afield, Playa Guadalquiton is a wilder choice, and one of the quieter, less developed and more attractive stretches of sand you’ll find between Malaga and Gibraltar.
For something a little different – and a whole lot luxe-ier – the La Reserva resort (Lareservaclubsotogrande.com) is home to Spain’s first, and to date only, private beach. A manmade sandy lagoon in the hills above Sotogrande, it’s a spectacular spot (see the video below to get a flavour) that’s packed with facilities including paddleboards and kayaks if you fancy getting a bit of exercise.
With warm, shallow waters and shady chill out areas, La Reserva’s inland beach is ideal for families (although there’s also an adults-only pool) and it comes with a full complement of restaurant, bar and even a rather nifty beach boutique.
Sotogrande is at the far westernmost end of the Costa del Sol, and unlike most of the rest of the region, is in Cadiz rather than Malaga province. As a result, the beaches of the Costa de la Luz – which are some of the most beautiful in the whole of Spain – are just over the other side of the Rock.
Restaurants & Bars
In the heart of the port, Belgian-owned Mytilus (Plaza de Los Naranjos, 8) is one of the best restaurants in Sotogrande. In amongst a heavy meat offering (we can heartily recommend the Chateaubriand) delicious Belgian dishes like moules frites make an appearance.
Next door to the polo ground, La Cancha II (Haciendas de San Enrique, s/n, 11312 San Enrique de Guadiaro) is another of the area’s best places to eat, specialising in the finest Argentine beef in a gorgeous setting next to lush, green polo fields.
For something more relaxed, Inboca Gastrobar, PuraTapa (both of which are on the Avenida del Mar) and its sister bar down in the Marina, Bokana, are a few of the best places to head for tapas.
A little outside the resort, just up the road towards San Roque, La Finca (Ctra. Nacional 340, Km 127) offers some excellent Thai fusion cuisine in a pleasant courtyard setting.
In the summer, Sotogrande after dark is all about the beach clubs. The coolest hang-out of the moment is definitely the Trocadero Beach Club (pictured – Grupotrocadero.com). With loungers, large Moroccan lanterns, rugs, cushions and parasols set against a backdrop of seafront palms swaying in the breeze, it may well be the most Instagrammable spot in Sotogrande.
There are a few other options worth dropping into if you want to make the most of the cool sea air in the evenings. El Octogono (Paseo del Río, 0, 11310 Torreguadiaro) doubles up as a great place to play padel or tennis; Bunker Beach Club (Paseo del Parque, S/N) at the easternmost end of Guadalquiton is a lovely spot and often has live music on in the evenings; finally, up the other end of the resort on Torreguadiaro beach, Chambao (Playa Torreguadiaro, s/n) is another attractive place for drinks and sea views.
A couple of relaxed bars in the port worth checking out are The Hairy Lemon and Ké bar. A couple of real Sotogrande nightlife institutions – which are practically next door to one another in the heart of the port, handily enough – they’ve been the meeting place of choice for a quick bite, a drink and a spot of people watching for the sizeable expat community for years now.
From Monaco to Puerto Banus, where there are yachts there’s luxury shopping. And Sotogrande’s no different, with plenty of choice for a bit of light retail therapy.
The pedestrianised Blue Sotogrande shopping quarter is the place to start. Here, Itsomi (Local 14, Ribera del Marlin) does a lovely line in beachwear, jewellery and accessories, Patricia Darch (Local 32-33, Ribera del Marlin) is an interior design showroom and De Gruyter (Ribera del Marlin 35) is an ultra-chic furniture store.
El Mercado de Levante is a fab Sunday market of artisan stalls and interesting pop-up shops, which in the summer months also opens up on Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
There are also a couple of nearby shopping centres to choose from in Mar y Sol and SotoMarket.
Other Things to Do
Golf, shopping and dining aside, Sotogrande itself is not exactly overflowing with things to do in the sightseeing sense of the word. Which is kind of understandable – it’s a luxury resort where people are supposed to come to kick back and relax, after all.
The surrounding area itself, though, is absolutely packed with sights and attractions. If you don’t fancy another day’s sunbathing, there are countless great day trip options right on the doorstep, from Gibraltar, Marbella old town or Ronda (see the day trip provided by tour company Tomaandcoe.com) or one of the beautiful nearby white villages like Casares (pictured above), Jimena de la Frontera or Gaucin.
A fishing trip is also a brilliant day out. You’re right at the mouth of the Mediterranean, where it meets the Atlantic, and the variety of fish you can catch ranges from swordfish and tuna to mackerel and even conger eel. Dean’s Charter Fishing (Deansfishingholidaysinspain.com) runs a tight ship and conforms to the required ‘catch and release’ regulations.
If that seems a little bit too much like hard work, you can charter a yacht for the day with Yachting Sotogrande (Yachtingsotogrande.com).
The absolute best way to see the Sotogrande resort is by a Mini Moke beach buggy. There’s a great company called The Jolly Mile (Thejollymile.com) where you can hire a cooler-than-cool Mini Moke and drive around visiting all the hot spots.
When to Go
As with the rest of the Costa del Sol, while it may be at its liveliest during the summer months Sotogrande’s very much a year-round destination. The weather is superb, with an average of +300 days of sunshine per year and winter temperatures that rarely drop much below the high teens or early twenties celsius.
A couple of dates do stand out, though. First: the polo. Sotogrande’s ‘other’ sport after golf is a big deal. The polo season runs from June to early September and takes place at the exclusive Santa Maria Polo Club adding a real dash of international glamour to the high summer months. (You can find out more with our Sotogrande polo guide.)
Another great time to be in Sotogrande is when the Sunset Valley Weekend festival (Sunsetvalleyweekend.com) is on. Taking place from 10-12 August in the Santa Maria Polo Club, the line-up tends to be 80s Spanish old favourites and 60-70s retro classics.
Where to Stay
There are undoubtedly some decent Sotogrande hotels to stay at. But we’re the Luxury Villa Collection, and we’re going to stick our neck out here and say that they’re not a patch on our handpicked selection of villas.
Villa Artea is a sleek, modern design villa that’s all clean lines, white-on-white minimalism and chic open-plan living spaces. Villa Karima (pictured above) is something else. A 16-bedroom pleasure palace of staggering proportions and a dizzying list of facilities, it’s more like its own self-contained luxury resort than anything resembling a standard ‘villa’.
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.