Three Days in Andalusia

What Not To Miss
Summer Adventures in and About Ronda

Why go to Andalusia?

Andalusia is one of Spain’s most captivating areas. There is no shortage of spectacular sites to see, but at a staggering  87,300 square kilometres, it’s a very large region and you’d maybe need a lifetime to see it all.

There are so many beautiful destinations, from big cities like Seville, Grenada and Cadiz, to the stunning little white washed towns, Pueblos Blancos, like Frigialiana and Algodonales.

Let’s not forget – there’s some incredible national parks, fantastic wildlife, and geological wonders like the Cave of Nerja too.

Ronda

We had started out our Spanish adventures a bit further east from Malaga, in the mountains of the Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama Natural Park. But the wildlife of the Grazalema National Park was calling us – obviously – so we ventured west to Ronda.

Ronda is an ancient small city located 105 km west of Malaga, and it sits in the heart of a region that is jam packed with beautiful sites and wildlife wonders. In this post, we’ll focus on Ronda and day trips you can take from there.

While it’s a small city, Ronda has plenty to offer. It’s known for its incredibly dramatic setting atop the El Tajo gorge, where the Puente Nuevo, a stunning stone bridge crosses the breathtakingly deep canyon. At a jaw dropping 150m drop into the ravine, it’s an extremely impressive sight.

We loved the the spectacular views from Alameda del Tajo and the Mirador de Ronda out over the surrounding countryside. We went specifically to see the lesser kestrel which roosts in the area – but don’t mind us bird geeks!

Ronda isn’t just for tour buses, birders and bridge lovers though – Michelle Obama recently spent some time in Ronda – you can check out her itinerary here if you want…

Other highlights of Ronda include the Plaza de Toros, thought to be the oldest bull ring in the world, and the water mines which provided Ronda’s citizens with fresh water back in day. Or, as we did, simply wander the cobbled streets and grand plazas, take an ice cream, and enjoy the ample opportunity for people watching.

In terms of where to stay, Ronda is pretty popular with the tourists and so has plenty of choice. There are so many hotels and apartments, but if you prefer to stay in a country Finca, we loved Finca La Rana Verde – the pool and outdoor areas were super relaxing, and it was not far to drive to see the star attractions throughout the area.

Ronda Top Tips

See the Puente Nuevo from Below!

Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park

 

From our Finca, we were extremely well placed to explore the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park. If you enjoy nature, beautiful drives, spectacular scenery and the odd tapas bar, this would be a great place for you.

Back in 1984 it became Andalusia’s first natural park, and is home to pristine mountains, deep gorges, and the Hundidero Gato system – one of the largest caves in the area.

The wildlife was our main star attraction – particularly the bird life. Around Montejaque, we saw so many griffon vultures, short toed eagles, and Bonelli’s eagle, cirl bunting, chough, rock thrushes, warblers, rollers – as well as mountain goats, Iberian ibex, and even a pine marten.

Griffon Vulture, Andalusia. 
Photo by Espen Helland

On one of the day’s, we hired a local bird guide from Ronda who took us to some incredible locations, not just for the wildlife, but also the spectacular scenery.

He had such intimate knowledge of the local area and wildlife, and great local eateries and taps places! 

It was well worth the investment especially as we saw so many amazing species in such a short space of time – great value for money.

We loved exploring the area around Montejaque – the scenery was simply breathtaking, and we’ll never forget the sight of scores of Griffon vultures circling the skies. The area is just magical.

Pueblos Blancos

Of course, if you like the white villages, don’t miss Grazelema, Zahara de la Sierra, Setenil de las Bodegas, and Gaucin, to name but a few!

We visited Gaucin a few times – it’s an utterly enchanting fortified hill top town, giving unbelievable views south to Gibraltar and North Africa.

The maze of narrow winding streets offers a wealth of places to explore – no end of pretty doorways and flower filled window sills, art installations, monuments, markets to discover, and its also well known for its community of artists.

El Torcal de Antequera

It’s about 100km to El Torcal from Ronda, but it can’t be emphasised enough – El Torcal is unmissable. This rocky ridge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lying at 1,100m above sea level. Its surreal limestone rock formations draw visitors from far and wide.

There are several walking routes marked out and it’s advisable to stick to these – getting lost in between the formations is a very real risk. Also, there are wild boar roaming the park and you probably don’t want to get trapped in a ravine with one!

The geology is seriously impressive, and if you like your flora and fauna, you will not be disappointed – there are over 30 species of orchid, and a whole host of interesting bird life to be seen.

Plan for a good half day out – and you’ll need good walking shoes, lots of water and protection from the sun – it’s pretty exposed. For more information and to plan your trip, see here.   

When to Go to Andalusia

Reviewing this list, I reckon 3 days isn’t actually enough to see all the sites and secret gems that Ronda has to offer – but it is a really good start.

It’s beautiful all year round – if you like the heat, the summer is probably for you.

If you like lush scenery and plenty of wildlife, perhaps spring is better.

And if you like to avoid the crowds, maybe consider a visit to Andalusia in winter.

This three day itinerary of Andalusia, taking in El Torcal, some pretty Peublos Blancos, the Grazalema National Park, and Ronda of course, provides a delightful taste of some of the best places to visit in Andalusia – And that’s not even mentioning all the amazing tapas bars yet! 

FYI. For a brief intro to tapas in Andalusia – brief yourself here!

But the bottom line is  – Andalusia is an incredibly diverse area with plenty to see and do.

As I’m writing, I’m already planning a trip to go straight back – there is just so much more to see.

We visited in the height of summer, and I’d love to go back in spring or summer to see more of the migration season.

Go, explore, and we bet you’ll fall in love with it like we did!

Are you like us, lover of all things Andalusia? Do you have a favourite spot in Ronda?

Leave a comment and let us know! 

Want to know more about us? Find out what made us go wild here!