If you are looking for that quintessential Spanish fairytale experience, then look no further than the city of Ronda in Spain’s Malaga province. This mountaintop city, which is built-up on the precipice of a deep gorge, looks like it was conjured up from the mind of one of this world’s greatest storytellers. It really is that beautiful and unique.
While this fabulous city may not have been imagined up by a great storyteller, it has attracted some of this world’s most creative minds. In fact, both Olson Wells and Ernest Hemingway spent some significant time in this city of dreams throughout their lives. According to Hemingway, “Ronda is the place where to go if you are planning to travel to Spain for a honeymoon or for being with a girlfriend. The whole city and its surroundings are a romantic set.”
Ronda is one of Spain’s most picturesque cities and a destination that many people dream of visiting. Many visitors flock to Ronda to see the views, while others come to enjoy the rich bullfighting history in one of the country’s oldest bullfighting rings. Although it is a bit off the beaten path, this only adds to the allure of Ronda. Whatever your reason for wanting to visit Ronda, planning a trip doesn’t have to be difficult if you have the right resources.
In my visitor’s guide to Ronda, I will provide you with all of the information you need to plan a trip to this fantastic city. With this guide in hand, you will be able to determine the best time to plan your trip, know what type of transportation to take to get to Ronda, where to stay when you visit Ronda, and what top attractions in Ronda you should see.
How to Get There
Ronda is located in Southern Spain, roughly an hour and forty-five minutes Northeast of Gibraltar. Ronda is in the Andalucia region of Spain, which is one of Spain’s most popular tourist rivieras. The Andalucia region of Spain has a rich set of cultural traditions which, over the centuries, have become synonymous with Spain in general. This includes such things as Flamenco dancing and bullfighting, which both can be traced back to the Andalucia region.
Within the region of Andalucia, Ronda resides in the Spanish province of Malaga, which is characterized by its long, warm, and dry summers and short and mild winters. Ronda sits on the Northern end of the province, between the Parque Natural de la Sierra de Grazalema to the West and the Parque Natural Sierra de las Nieves to the East.
Other popular cities of interest in the Malaga Province of Spain include the province’s capital and namesake, Malaga, as well as Marbella, Mijas, Fuengirola, Vélez-Málaga, Torremolinos, Estepona, and Benalmádena on the coast and Antequera near Ronda in the interior.
Because of its location, the city of Ronda can be a little more difficult to get to than some of the other, larger cities in the region, but it isn’t impossible to get to if you have the right information to plan your trip. The best ways to get to Ronda are by either train or car, both of which I have outlined below for you to review.
Taking a Train
The most hassle-free way to get to get to Ronda is undoubtedly by train, but it isn’t the most expedient way to get there, which makes it a less-than-desirable option if you are planning to visit on a day trip. Depending on where you are traveling to Ronda from, you might not be able to get to Ronda until around mid-day and you may have to leave earlier than you would like to make your return trip. If you would like to take a look at the train schedules, I suggest you check out the www.trainline.eu website.
Seville to Ronda
If you are traveling to Ronda from Seville by train, your best options are to go thru the towns of Bobadilla or Antequera. The quickest option will be to take the 12:50pm train from Seville to Ronda, switching trains in Antequera, but it will cost you quite a bit more than some of the other options. Please note that none of these options are able to get you to Ronda until late afternoon, so a day trip to Ronda from Seville by train is probably not an option.
Malaga to Ronda
Malaga is much closer to Ronda, so the options you have for train routes are much more appealing in terms of both duration and cost. Your best bet is to take the direct train from Malaga to Ronda that departs the Málaga-María Zambrano station at 9:40am and gets into Ronda at 12:08pm. If you aren’t able to catch that train, your best option is to take one of the routes thru Antequera, which are typically reasonably priced. However, the much quicker ride that departs the Málaga-María Zambrano station at 5:00pm and gets into Ronda via Antequera at 7:53pm is more expensive.
Cordoba to Ronda
If you are going to be visiting Ronda from Cordoba by train, there are some really great options for you to choose from. The most attractive options are going to be either the 7:40am train from Cordoba that has a transfer in Bobadilla that gets you into Ronda at 9:17am or the 1:40pm train from Cordoba that has a transfer in Antequera that gets you into Ronda at 3:45pm. Both have very short durations and are very reasonably priced.
If you are looking to take a day trip to Ronda from another city in Southern Spain, then your best option is going to be to rent a car. Not only will this typically be the most economical option if you have a group of people, but a rental car will allow you to be much more flexible with your schedule. If you are interested in some advice about renting cars in Europe, I have a whole section dedicated to that in the second part of my Travel Planning Advice guide.
The drive to Ronda from many of the other towns in Southern Spain is quite reasonable. If you are planning on driving from Seville, Malaga, or Cordoba, you are looking at anywhere from a 1.5 to 2-hour drive. Not only are the drives reasonably short, but they also go thru some absolutely stunning scenery. To give you an idea of which routes are recommended, I have included route maps below for you to reference.
|Seville to Ronda||Malaga to Ronda||Cordoba to Ronda|
|View Larger Map||View Larger Map||View Larger Map|
Best Time to Visit
With long, warm, and dry summers and exceptionally mild and short winters, Ronda is a destination that is fabulous to visit all year round. However, if you are looking for the absolute best time to visit, I would say that it is undoubtedly in the late summer. Between the months of August and September, the temperatures are still rather warm, but not unbearably hot, and the weather is typically still dry. In addition, the crowds are typically much smaller than you would see in late spring and early summer, which is the peak tourism season for Ronda.
The temperatures in Ronda are typically very nice, with the summers being warm, but not too warm, and the winters are typically very mild. If you are planning to visit between the months of November thru April, you may want to consider bringing a light jacket to wear at night, but the temperatures don’t get uncomfortably cold. If you visit during the summer months of June thru September, you will want to make sure you bring some sun protection, but the temperatures typically don’t get uncomfortably hot.
The weather is typically rather dry in Ronda, which makes it generally a sunny destination year round. The rainiest months of the year are between October and December, but even then there typically isn’t an abundance of rainfall. The summertime, which also happens to be the busiest time of year, is really dry, which makes Ronda a great summer vacation destination.
Visitors (1,000’s People)
With plenty of sunny days and warm temperatures, it is no surprise that the late Spring and Summer months of May thru August is the busiest time of year in Ronda. If you are planning to visit Ronda during these months, you should be prepared to deal with the influx of tourists and crowds around the city. However, because Ronda is a bit off the beaten path, the crowds are never so large that it ruins the experience of visiting the city. Around mid-August, the crowds start to taper off, so the months of August and September really are the best times of year to visit Ronda. You get the warm, dry weather, but also miss the late Spring and early Summer crowds.
Where to Stay
Even though Ronda is a popular tourist destination, I found that it still had a small town vibe when I visited. This is great because all of the shops, restaurants, hotels, and hostels seemed to be more intimate. If you are planning on spending a few days in Ronda, there are some really great hotel and hostel options for you to choose from (at a variety of different price ranges). Obviously, rates are going to be higher during the busy months of late Spring and Early summer, so plan on spending a little more if you plan on visiting Ronda during this time of year. I have included a map of some hotel and hostel options for you to review below, though your options are far from limited to just these choices.
Where to Eat
On top of being an absolutely beautiful city, Ronda is also known for having some fantastic cuisine. There are a number of really great restaurants for you to choose from during your stay and some that you should avoid. I am going to give you some recommendations on where to eat, but first I want to give you some advice on where not to eat.
The Restaurante Don Miguel (pictured above and below) is a well-known restaurant in Ronda because of its location. Being situated right on the precipice of the gorge means that you get some absolutely stunning views from the restaurant’s dining balcony. However, as great as the views are, the service and the food leave much to be desired. I read the reviews for the restaurant on TripAdvisor before we visited Ronda, so we planned to just have drinks and a few appetizers at the restaurant, but decided to have lunch there when we arrived to try it out. Needless to say, the reviews are pretty spot on.
I would definitely recommend stopping by the restaurant to have some drinks and possibly a cheese platter (which was very good) on the balcony, but I would avoid eating at the restaurant because the food isn’t the best and the service is subpar because they are typically so busy.
If you are looking for some great restaurant options for lunch and dinner, I have included a list of restaurants below that we either tried and really enjoyed or have gotten really great reviews (in most cases both).
If you are going to be visiting Andalucia and would like to take a day trip to Ronda, or are looking for an interesting tour to take while you are visiting Ronda, there are some really great options out there for you to choose from. I have compiled a list below of some highly recommended tours and day trips for you to review.
- Ronda and White Villages Guided Day Tour from Seville ($118.19 USD)
- Ronda and El Tajo Gorge Tour with Winetasting from Malaga ($52.35 USD)
- 2-Hour Ronda Walking Tour ($27.80 USD)
- Ronda Historical Walking Tour with Bullring Entrance ($39.40 USD)
- Panoramic guided tour through the historic center of the city ($29.00 USD)
Top Things to See
Ronda is an incredibly beautiful city with a rich history and culture. There is no shortage of things to see in Ronda, which is why it is such a popular tourist destination. To assist you in planning your trip, I have included a map of some of the most popular tourist attractions in Ronda below as well as some descriptions on these attractions.
|Plaza de Toros|
|Palacio de Mondragón|
|Arabic Wall and City Gates|
|Plaza Del Socorro|
|Jardines de Cuenca|
|Alameda del Tajo|
Puente Nuevo is the newest and the largest of the three bridges that span the 120-feet deep gorge that intersects the city of Ronda. It is the main focal point in the city and one of the city’s most well-known landmarks. You will often see crowds of people on the bridge taking pictures as the view of the city and the surrounding countryside from the bridge is absolutely breathtaking.
Plaza de Toros
Bullfighting can trace its origins to the Andalusian region of Spain and the city of Ronda has one of the most famous bullfighting rings, not just in Andalusia, but in perhaps all of Spain. With the construction of the Plaza de Toros beginning in 1779 and finishing in 1785, it is one of the oldest bullrings in Spain. The city of Ronda has a very rich bullfighting history and it is remarkable to see all of that history in the Plaza de Toros. It is an absolute must see when in Ronda, as is the tour of the facility.
Widely regarded as some of the best preserved Arabic hammams, or water baths, in Spain, the Baños Árabes in Ronda date back to the Moorish occupation of Spain from the 8th to the 12th centuries AD. These baths were built in either the 11th or 12th centuries and consist of three main rooms – for hot, medium, and cold baths. The stone arches inside the bathhouse are beautifully built and the remarkably well preserved. If you are interested in history, a tour of the Baños Árabes should be high on your list when visiting Ronda.
Palacio de Mondragón
Also known as the Mondragón Palace, this absolutely remarkable architectural feature is without-a-doubt the most important civil structure in the city of Ronda. According to legend, the Mondragón Palace was once the residence of King Abbel Malik, son of the Sultan of Morocco. Today, the Mondragón Palace contains elaborate gardens, as well as beautiful courtyards, balconies and water features. If you would like to tour the Mondragón Palace, I have included the hours of operation below.
|Summer||Monday to Friday||10am-7pm|
|Summer||Saturday, Sunday, & Holidays||10am to 3pm|
|Winter||Monday to Friday||10am to 6pm|
|Winter||Saturday, Sunday, & Holidays||10am to 3pm|
|Closed January 1, January 6, and December 25|
Arabic Wall and City Gates
When the city of Ronda was built, beauty wasn’t the primary factor for choosing a rocky hilltop on the edge of a 128-foot river gorge. Instead, the primary factor for choosing this location was the natural defenses the location provided. With the natural border of the mountains and Guadalevin river gorge on one side, the city’s defenses were strengthened further by adding city walls on the other side.
Much of the Arab city walls and gates are still standing to this day, and in fact, many are very well preserved. The most notable of city gates include the Almocabar gate, which is located at the Southern end of the town. It was built in the 13th century and then restored during the reign of Charles V. The gate gets its name from the Arab word “Al-maqabir“, which translates to mean cemetery because the gate is located near the city’s main cemetery. Another of the more notable city gates are the gates of Cijara, which are located on the Eastern side of the city near the Arab baths.
Plaza Del Socorro
The Plaza del Socorro is a beautiful plaza in the center of the new part of Ronda and is one of the busier areas of town. It is a great place for walking, and because of its central location, you will often find a lot of pedestrian traffic in the plaza. One one side of the plaza stands the facade of the Church of Socorro, which is a beautiful church that was built in the 12th century. It has two beautiful belltowers, with one on each end of the building. However, my favorite part of the plaza has to be the central fountain that has a statue of Hercules standing triumphantly beside two lions and the pillars from the Strait of Gibraltar inside of it.
Jardines de Cuenca
The Jardines de Cuenca is an absolutely beautiful terraced garden that is located on the ledges of the embankment with the Guadalevín river gorge. These terraced gardens include a winding staircase that takes you from the city’s edge down into the gardens, with some of the most spectacular views of the gorge and the Puente Nuevo in all of Ronda. One of my favorite views is to stand on the Puente Nuevo and look out over the gorge at the Jardines de Cuenca on the other side. The picture you see above is from this viewpoint looking at the gardens. I would say this is arguably one of the most popular places to get your picture taken in Ronda with the river gorge and the gardens in the background.
Alameda del Tajo
The Alameda del Tajo is one of the most popular public parks in Ronda, and for good reason. In addition to being a beautiful park, it also has some of the best viewpoints in all of Ronda. From the park, you can look out over the valley below and get a really good perspective of just how high up the city is built. As you can see from the picture I included below, these balcony viewpoints in the park are extremely popular for good reason. The views they offer are absolutely breathtaking.
Ronda may be my favorite city in all of Spain. It is an absolutely beautiful city that is steeped in history and culture. There is no shortage of beautiful things to photograph in Ronda. Below is a gallery of just some of the pictures I took when I visited.