Southern Spain is known for its charming Pueblos Blancos, "white villages," or "white cities." Often surrounded by mountains or forests or set atop dramatic hills, these hamlets are not only scenic but also full of unique history, culture, art, and gastronomy. Though Spain's official Pueblos Blancos route highlights 19 popular and picturesque villages, there are over 30 options, and this guide helps you choose the right village for you, your crew, and your interests.
Spain's White villages are known for hilltop locations and views

Andalusia, Spain's southern region, is synonymous with Pueblos Blancos, the country's famed white villages. During the Roman era, these towns began painting some of their buildings white, a practical solution to stave off the region's heat, as white reflects light. But it wasn't until the 14th century, when the plague hit the area, that residents painted all the buildings' exteriors and interiors white, believing it would ward off disease. 

Today, these villages are a huge attraction for travelers worldwide, offering unique history and geology, plus vistas across Andalusia's mountain ranges and seaside. Many of these towns feature Roman, Visigoth, and Berber influences and relics of the past, such as dramatic rock formations, cave-like homes, and stone paintings.

The official Pueblos Blancos route twists through 19 of these charming villages, which you can visit on an epic road trip. But the entire province is home to nearly double that number, so choosing the right spot can be tricky. Famous options include Ronda and Arcos de La Frontera, but you'll find a few less-visited towns on our list, such as Frigiliana and Olvera.

Read on to discover kimkim's picks for the top white villages in Andalusia and their key differences, what you need to know to choose the best option for you, and suggested road trip routes.

The Most Famous White Cities & Villages

If you'd like to visit the towns and cities that get the most attention, set your sights on the most popular and famous options. Sure, they'll definitely be busier and more crowded, but they're favorites for a reason. From Ronda's breathtaking scenery to Setenil de las Bodega's curious streets, you'll get a proper history and cultural lesson by visiting these top villages. 


Puente Nuevo in Ronda at sunset

Though it's actually a city, Ronda may very well be Spain's most famous and popular white "village." You might feel hesitant to visit such a hot spot, but don't let the crowds stop you from enjoying this city, set atop a dramatic cliff and gorge with sprawling views of the surrounding valleys and mountain ranges.

Ronda is known for its unique setting on top of a long cliffside where the Guadalevín River snakes its way through El Tajo Gorge, cutting the town into two parts. The city also has an exciting history with Roman, Berber, and Catholic influences. However, Ronda was initially a refuge for Muslims fleeing the more significant towns after the Spanish Inquisition in 1492.

During the 19th century, the city became known for its bandits, prompting artists like Washington Irving and Richard Ford to reflect the region's fascinating landscape with risky travel. This appealed to romantics, and the rest is history, as Ronda became a place of allure despite its danger. Soon women were making the journey with the help of guards, plus famous creatives like Orson Welles and Hemmingway declared Ronda a dream city.

Ronda is a top pick because you can easily spend an entire day here—or, better yet, spend the night. Some of the best boutique hotels in Ronda sit right along the gorge, meaning you can enjoy the town and scenery even after the tourist buses leave. And some of the best things to do in Ronda include walking down to the many viewpoints of the El Tajo Gorge and visiting all three of the bridges: Puente Nuevo, Puente Viejo, and Puente Romano. Strolling along the cliffs, you'll pass sites like the Alameda del Tajo Park, the Mirador del Ronda, and the Bullring of the Royal Cavalry of Ronda.

How to Get There: Ronda is easily accessible by car from many Andalusian cities, including Seville, Málaga, and Cádiz. 

  • From Seville, the journey by car takes a little under two hours if traveling via the A-375 and A-374 highways. Head south or east of the city via SE-40 or A-4, respectively, and connect to A-375. You'll eventually transition to A-374, which takes you straight to Ronda.
  • From Málaga, plan for 1.5 hours by heading northwest via A-357 and connecting to A-364 near the turnoff for the Caminito del Rey gorge hiking trail.
  • From Cádiz, just a little over 1.5 hours will take you northeast along E-5 through Jerez de la Frontera (an excellent stopping point) and then east via A-384 and A-374. 

Where to Park: If you're staying in Ronda overnight, look for accommodation with parking included or plan to pay for parking at one of the town's lots or garages. The streets are narrow (though wider than most white villages), so you might prefer to park at the edge of town and walk in.

If starting from the north of Ronda, try the parking garage Parking Publico El Fuerte or Parking Martínez Astein if coming from the east. It's a bit trickier in the southern part of the city, as that's the most historic area. Instead, we recommended the two garages mentioned or parking in the underground lot in the city center at Plaza Del Socorro.

What to Do/See: An overnight stay is the best idea for Ronda, as there are plenty of attractions and experiences to enjoy, including:

  • Cross the three bridges and visit the 18th-century Fuente de los Ocho Caños with its eight significant spouts
  • Learn about the 19th century Romantic travelers at the Mirador de los Viajeros Románticos
  • Walk down the gorge day and night to enjoy views of Puente Nuevo
  • Sip local wine and enjoy regional tapas at Tabanco Los Arcos
  • Discover local history at one of the museums, including the Mondragon Palace, Museo Lara, or La Casa del Rey Moro
  • Savor the views from Paseo De Los Ingleses, Alameda del Tajo Park, and the Mirador del Ronda
  • Sip drinks from the rooftop bar at Hotel Catalonia, which overlooks the Bullring of the Royal Cavalry of Ronda
  • Visit one of the churches, such as the mosque-turned-cathedral Iglesia de Santa María la Mayo or the prominent Parroquia de Nuestra Señora del Socorro.

How Long to Stay: Ronda makes an excellent hub if you want to explore more than one white village. One night in Ronda is enough to enjoy the town, but extend your stay to two or three nights to take day trips to nearby villages, hike the famous Caminito del Rey, or visit Grazalema de Sierra Natural Park.

Perfect For: Ronda can appeal to any traveler, including those with younger kids. The views, history, shops, and food will keep you busy, so it's best for overnight stays. 

Pairs Well With: Setenil del las Bodegas, Olvera, Zahara de la Sierra, Grazalema

Let kimkim help you organize your visit to Ronda

Setenil de las Bodegas

The unique rock formations in Setenil

Another famous white village in Andalusia is Setenil de las Bodegas, thanks to its unique geology. A portion of the town sits under rocky overhangs, with many buildings and homes built right into dramatic boulders, cliffs, and caves. These rocks come from the village's location in the Rio Trejo Gorge and provide temperature control, naturally keeping homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter. 

The town's residents live—quite literally—under rocks, surprising visitors with charming facades that line the caves. As you stroll along the streets, you can imagine what it's like to open your window to a giant boulder or keep cool during the summer. The town is relatively small, so it's best for a day trip. Still, if you're traveling during festive Spanish holidays, including Carnival, Easter, or the town's Feria in August, you'll find parades and plenty of festivities to enjoy. 

Setenil de las Bodegas has a long history dating before the Roman invasion, though its most influential occupation was the Moors, as the town's castle is from the 12th century. If you're a fan of local products, you can taste some of the region's best meats and produce in the town center, including chorizo sausage and pasteles (pastries). 

How to Get There: Setenil de las Bodegas is sandwiched between two other white villages, Ronda and Olvera. If you're staying in Ronda, it's a 30-minute scenic drive north, but you can also get there from bigger cities, including Seville, Málaga, and Cádiz. 

  • From Seville, head south and east via A-376/75 and A-384 for about one hour and 45 minutes.
  • From Málaga, the journey takes just under 1.5 hours and follows A-357 west out of the city, turning north at highway A-357 and west again at A-367.
  • From Cádiz, plan for a little over 1.5 hours, following E-5 out of the city and past Jerez de la Frontera, then turning northeast via A-384.

Where to Park: Because the streets are pretty narrow and compact, we recommend parking at one of the lots on the edge of town and strolling into the city. This is a famous village, so you'll find free spots along the twisting streets leading into town (CA-4223 being the largest). There's also free designated parking on Calle Jaboneria or, to play it completely safe, a lot next to the town's football stadium. 

What to Do/See: Setenil de las Bodegas is the perfect white village for lunch and a leisurely walk. The highlights of the town include:

  • Strolling through the rock-covered streets and taking lots of photos
  • Enjoying lunch or a snack at one of the cafés lining the famous Calle de las Cuevas
  • Visiting the Arab Castle, built in the 12th century during the Almohad Caliphate occupation
  • Stopping to admire a church or two, such as the Our Lady of the Incarnation (a mosque turned cathedral)
  • Discovering all the incredible viewpoints in the town, including the Mirador del Carmen, or from atop the castle tower

How Long to Stay: If you're visiting Setenil de las Bodegas on a day trip, a few hours to stroll around the village and eat lunch is all you need. But if you happen to be in the area during the Carnival, Easter, or Feria festivities, you might want to stay a little longer and arrive earlier in the day. These holidays feature parades and activities like horseback riding, Flamenco performances, street food, and lots of music and dancing.

Perfect For: Couples, friend groups, and solo travelers will enjoy Setenil de las Bodegas for a day trip or a quick stop for lunch. Because there's not a lot of entertainment outside of holidays, families might want to choose a different white village—though kids certainly like seeing the rocks and cave houses!

Pairs Well With: Ronda, Olvera, Zahara de la Sierra

Arcos de La Frontera

The dramatic landscape of Arcos de la Frontera

One look at Arcos de la Frontera, and you'll know why it's one of the best white villages to visit in Spain. Its four main monuments sit on separate hills atop sandstone cliffs that drop down into the Guadalete River. The scenery is remarkable, and you can enjoy it from a walkway along the top of the cliffs. Because this is such a narrow area, you'll get 360-degree views across the surrounding valleys, featuring the twisting Guadalete River, Arcos Reservoir, and mountain ranges. 

The town's history is just as fascinating as the scenery, which includes influences from prehistoric times to the Modern Era. The village's Castillo de Arcos de la Frontera was once a military fortress but now features renovations from the 14th and 15th centuries. You can admire the original archway, four towers, a cistern, and viewpoints with unmatched vistas of the agricultural valley and Guadalete River.

Iglesia de San Pedro is another landmark dominating the town's cliffside skyline. The church is an exceptional example of late-Gothic religious architecture from Andalusia, built in the 16th and 17th centuries. Though originally Gothic, you'll also notice some Renaissance and Baroque elements, such as its oldest altarpiece in the Cádiz province.

How to Get There: Arcos de la Frontera is just 40 minutes from Cádiz and not too far from Seville, but if you're coming from Málaga, we suggest pairing a visit with an overnight stay in a nearby town or city. Cádiz is a great option, but so is Ronda. 

  • From Cádiz, head northeast along E-5 and A-382, passing by Jerez de la Frontera.
  • From Seville, you'll follow the E-5 highway south for a little over an hour, eventually transitioning to a local road (SE-5207) in the town of Las Cabezas de San Juan.
  • From Málaga, the journey takes about 2.5 hours, so you might want to make your hub in Ronda or use Arcos de la Frontera as a stopping point on your way to Cádiz or Seville. You'll take A-357 and A-367 northwest, switching west on A-384. As you'll pass by a few other white villages, a road trip from Málaga to Cádiz is an excellent opportunity to tour the Pueblos Blancos!

Where to Park: You'll want to park your car in one of the lots near Calle Muñoz Vázquez. There's plenty of parking there, and it's easy to get your vehicle in and out, unlike the city's narrow streets. 

What to Do/See: There are quite a few sites in Arcos de la Frontera, but the town's highlights are undoubtedly the viewpoints. Some activities not to miss include:

  • Strolling to the Old Town via Calle Paseo de Boliches and enjoying the views
  • Admiring the facade of Palacio Del Conde Del Aguila
  • Walking through the charming and very narrow Calle Nuevo to the Ayuntamiento de Arcos de la Frontera
  • Visiting the castle and savoring the views from its observation deck
  • Popping into the Iglesia de San Pedro
  • Passing through the charming Bésame en este Arco to reach the 360-degree views at Mirador de Abades
  • Walking under the Puerta de Matrera and admiring the 18th-century Casa Palacio García de Veas
  • Strolling along charming streets, such as Calle Mozárabes, Calle Mudéjares, and Calle Sefardíes.
  • Hiking out to the reservoir and enjoying the views via Sendero Tajo de Arcos

How Long to Stay: Though this is one of the bigger white villages in Andalusia, it's still relatively compact, so you only need a few hours to see it all. Again, this is a great spot to include on a road trip between Cádiz and Málaga or while staying in Ronda. And because it's a bigger town, you'll find many cafés, bars, and restaurants to enjoy a meal. 

Perfect For: A road trip between Cádiz and Málaga could easily include stops at the Caminito del Rey hiking area, Ronda, Olvera, Zahara de la Sierra, and, of course, Arcos de la Frontera. Otherwise, the town is perfect for history buffs or as a standalone adventure if you can only pick one or two white villages to visit.  

Pairs Well With: Ronda, Olvera, Zahara de la Sierra, Grazalema, Setenil de las Bodegas

The Best White Villages for Hiking

Because you'll find many of these towns nestled in the hills and mountains, there are a few excellent options for hiking and trekking. Two of our top picks for white villages in Andalusia are right in Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park and just outside Ronda, so you can enjoy hiking trails ranging from leisurely strolls to challenging treks. 


The forests and peaks surrounding Grazalema

You'll find Grazalema at about 2,600 feet (800 m) in the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, surrounded by the foothills of the Sierra del Pinar mountains and overlooking a scenic valley. The town has gone through quite a few transitions over the centuries. It was once an essential Roman village, possibly called Lacidulerium, then under Arab rule as Raisa lami Suli, changing to Zagrazalema under Christian control. One thing Grazalema had in common throughout the different occupations was its economy centered around forestry, agriculture, and textiles. 

The views alone are worth a trip to Grazalema, but hiking is another appeal. If you're interested in something easy and short, head up to the Mirador Del Santo viewpoint and visit the ruins of Ermita del Calvario. For a slightly more challenging route, follow the Camino de los Charcones and enjoy views from El Puerto del Boyar

Another popular trail is the Pinsapar, a 10-mile (16-km) hike that takes about six hours to complete and leads through a dense forest of pine trees. The trail has an elevation gain of 2,625 feet (800 m) and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

How to Get There: If you're based in Ronda, driving to Grazalema through the park is easy. Just head west out of Ronda via A-374 and connect to A-372 once in the park, which takes about 45 minutes. 

You can also reach this white village from Seville, Málaga, and Cádiz. 

  • From Seville, head south and east via A-376/5 and A-384/74 for about one hour and 45 minutes.
  • From Málaga, plan for 2 hours by heading northwest via A-357 and connecting to A-367 right to Ronda. From there, you'll drive through the park via A-374 and A-372.
  • From Cádiz, the 1.5-hour drive is particularly scenic, as you'll take E-5 past Jerez de la Frontera, connecting to A-382 to Arcos de la Frontera, another white village worth a stop. Then you'll drive right through the park via A-372.

Where to Park: In Grazalema, you'll find plenty of free and public parking on A-372, either at the start of the town from the east or as the road curves around the El Tajo viewpoint. 

What to Do/See: As a village in the national park, the appeals are the views and hiking trails. Some highlights in Grazalema include:

  • El Tajo viewpoint
  • Walking up to the Mirador Del Santo viewpoint and the ruins of Ermita del Calvario
  • Visiting the colorful Iglesia de San José
  • Checking out the town's most famous facade at Casa de los Cactus
  • Sipping coffee at Grazalema's main square, Plaza de España
  • Enjoying two other viewpoints, Mirador Los Peñascos Grazalema and Mirador de Los Asomaderos
  • Popping into one of the artisan shops or art galleries.

How Long to Stay: You can easily make an entire day of visiting Grazalema if you decide to focus your time on hiking. Because of parking and summer crowds, we recommend starting in Grazalema in the morning to enjoy a hike during cooler hours. To make the trip easier, plan to stay in the town of Ronda or at one of the boutique hotels outside Ronda. 

Perfect For: Choose this white village if you're looking for adventure! Grazalema is ideal for hiking, even for those without experience, as you'll find plenty of more accessible options. Families might prefer Grazalema for its more accessible, kid-friendly walking and hiking options. 

Pairs Well With: Zahara de la Sierra, El Bosque, Ronda

Let kimkim help plan your trip to Grazalema and Zahara de la Sierra (a perfect pair).

El Bosque

El Bosque, near Benamahoma, tucked into the mountains

El Bosque is a small village known for its natural beauty, charming architecture, and vibrant local culture. Though small, the town has a rich history that dates back to the Roman Empire. During the Roman period, the area had valuable minerals, including silver and lead, and was a prosperous center of mining and commerce. In the following centuries, the village passed through the hands of various civilizations, including the Visigoths and the Moors, who left their mark on the local architecture and culture.

During the Reconquista, the Christians took control of the region, and the village became part of the Kingdom of Castile. In the 16th century, the village was granted the title of "villa" (town) by King Philip II, and its prosperity continued to grow throughout the following centuries. Today, El Bosque is a popular destination for tourists and nature lovers who explore its scenic landscapes and traditional Andalusian culture, which is why it's a perfect spot for trekking. 

Some hiking options in and near El Bosque include:

  • El Bosque to Benaocaz (easy). Though leisurely, this route takes about two or three hours to complete, as you'll hike about 5.6 miles (9 km) roundtrip. You'll start in El Bosque and follow a gently rolling path through the countryside to the nearby town of Benaocaz. Along the way, you'll enjoy views of the surrounding hills and forests and the traditional Andalusian architecture of the villages you pass.
  • El Bosque to La Mojonera (moderate). For a longer hike, plan for at least four hours, trekking about 8 miles (13 km) roundtrip. From El Bosque, you'll follow a scenic trail through the hills to the nearby village of La Mojonera, passing through forests and viewpoints offering vistas into the surrounding hills.
  • El Bosque to El Pedroso (difficult). Considered one of the more challenging hikes in the area, this 12.4-mile (20-km) trek takes about six or seven hours to complete roundtrip. The trail starts in El Bosque and follows a steep path through the hills to the nearby village of El Pedroso. Enjoy views of the surrounding forests and valleys, but prepare for an elevation gain of nearly 4,000 feet (1,200 m).

How to Get There: It's best to visit El Bosque if you've made your hub in Ronda. You'll leave the city via A-374, then connect to A-372 and drive through Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park. Since you'll pass through Grazalema, visiting both villages is easy. Plus, the drive is exceptionally scenic and offers views of the beautiful Andalusian countryside.

You can also reach this white village from Seville, Málaga, and Cádiz. 

  • From Seville, you'll head south on A-375, then switch to A-373 to reach El Bosque. The drive takes about one hour and 15 minutes.
  • From Málaga, plan for a little over two hours by heading northwest via A-357 and connecting to A-384, then A-373. If you're taking this route, adding a few other white villages to the mix, including Ronda, Grazalema, and/or Zahara de la Sierra, is easy.
  • From Cádiz, just one hour gets you to El Bosque via the E-5, A-383, and A-372 roadways. You'll pass right through Arcos de la Frontera, another great white village worth a stop.

Where to Park: You can find street parking in the village center or a public parking lot just outside the town, which is better if you have a larger vehicle.

What to Do/See: El Bosque is a tiny village, mostly visited for its natural beauty and hiking opportunities. Still, aside from the hikes suggested above, there are a few other things to do in the village and area. 

  • Visit the church of Nuestra Senora de la Merced
  • Take a stroll through the botanical gardens
  • Enjoy a traditional Andalusian meal at a local restaurant
  • Visit the nearby town of Ubrique, famous for its leather industry
  • Visit the castle and church in the nearby village of Benaocaz (which you can get to by following the easy hike option).

How Long to Stay: A few hours in El Bosque is sufficient to see the main sites and enjoy a hike, but add a bit more time if you'd like to eat lunch in the village or combine the road trip with Grazalema or another town. 

Perfect For: Hikers and nature lovers will enjoy time in El Bosque the most, as there's not much to do outside of experiencing its natural environment. 

Pairs Well With: Grazalema, Zahara de la Sierra, Ronda

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The Best Off-the-Beaten-Path White Villages

Andalusia's White Villages are naturally famous, as the scenery, architecture, and history make visiting them a unique experience. But some options see fewer tourists than others, which can feel more authentic. These off-the-beaten-path villages are where residents meet with neighbors over coffee, kids play in the streets, and annual fiestas take place. If this is more your scene, we recommend the following towns. 

Zahara de la Sierra

Zahara de la Sierra
The beauty of Zahara de la Sierra and its hilltop castle

Zahara de la Sierra could easily be one of the most scenic white villages, as it sits at the base of its castle and overlooks the Zahara-El Gastor Reservoir. Once a Moorish outpost, the Arabs ruled Zahara de la Sierra until the early 15th century. You can still visit the remains of its Moorish castle, the town's biggest highlight, but it's also nice to wander the streets, check out the viewpoints, and eat lunch at one of the restaurants overlooking the reservoir. 

How to Get There: If you're based in Ronda, driving around the reservoir to Zahara de la Sierra is easiest. Just head west out of Ronda via A-374 and connect to A-2300 to follow the southwestern shores of the lake. If you'd like to make a quick stop, you'll pass a nice walking area with exceptional views at Cola del Embalse de Zahara. After about 40 minutes, you'll reach the village. 

You can also reach this white village from Seville, Málaga, and Cádiz. 

  • From Seville, head south and east via A-376/5 and A-384 for about 1.5 hours. 
  • From Málaga, plan for 2 hours by heading northwest via A-357 and connecting to A-384. If you're taking this route, adding a few other white villages to the mix, including Olvera and/or Ronda, is super easy.
  • From Cádiz, the 1.5-hour drive is particularly scenic, as you'll take E-5 past Jerez de la Frontera and connect to A-382 and A-384. You'll pass by Arcos de la Frontera, another white village worth a stop.

Where to Park: In Zahara de la Sierra, the main road into town, CA-9104, is lined with free public parking spots overlooking the reservoir. 

What to Do/See: Besides strolling through the village and enjoying a meal, the highlight in Zahara de la Sierra is certainly the viewpoints. Some of the best include:

  • Puerta de la Villa
  • Viewpoint Zahara de la Sierra
  • Muralla Urbana de Zahara de la Sierra
  • Vistas Castillo de Zahara
  • Mirador Zahara de la Sierra

How Long to Stay: You only need about one or two hours in Zahara de la Sierra to enjoy the views, have lunch, and relax at the reservoir. To make the trip easier, plan to stay in the town of Ronda or at one of the boutique hotels outside Ronda

Perfect For: Zahara has some options for water sports at the reservoir during the summer months, but other than that, this village is best for those who enjoy nature, scenery, and a relaxed, quiet vibe.

Pairs Well With: Grazalema, Olvera, Ronda


The charming streets of Frigiliana

Frigiliana is a beautiful village in the hills above Nerja, offering incredible views and a few hiking trails. Start with wandering the charming streets of the Old Town, stopping at art galleries and artisan shops, and admiring the historic architecture and viewpoints (you'll find some good ones along Calle Santo Cristo and Calle Real).

Frigiliana's two biggest draws are its 16th-century Molasses Factory and the remains of an Arab castle. There are a few routes up to the archeological ruins, with plenty of signage leading the way. The views are stunning, and Castillo Lízar was part of a complex water system built by the Moors, which ran several miles to bring drinkable water to the town, so you can witness impressive and historical engineering. 

You'll also find a few hikes to enjoy in the area, an easy option being the lower trail to the Higuerón River, a loop that takes about two hours to complete. A moderate route is a three-hour trek that follows the river bed and offers impressive views of Frigiliana. If you're after a challenging hike, consider the Cohorros Higuerón River Trail, but keep in mind that it requires about 6.5 hours to complete.

How to Get There: A visit to Frigiliana is easiest if you stay in Ronda or Málaga. You can still reach the village from Seville and Cádiz, but it would be a long journey, so we suggest creating a more extended road trip out of the adventure.

  • From Málaga, head east along the A-7 highway for roughly 45 minutes, then transfer to the MA-5105 road north of Nerja for about 15 more minutes.
  • From Ronda, the journey takes about two hours, passing through Málaga. First, you'll head northeast via A-367 toward the Caminito del Rey hiking area, then transition south to Málaga along A-357 and continue along A-7 to Nerja, then Ma-5105 to Frigiliana. 

Where to Park: In Frigiliana, parking is relatively easy since it's such a small, hilly village. You can park your car in the main garage in the town center. In the summer, it can get busy, so try to arrive early to ensure you get a spot!

What to Do/See: The views, hikes, and history are the appeal of this white village, so don't miss:

  • Touring the Molasses Factory housed in a 16th-century manor, the very last sugar cane factory still in operation in Europe
  • Exploring the twisting streets, corners, and alleyways to find all the incredible viewpoints
    Visiting the La Fuente Vieja (The Old Fountain) with its three spouts representing the co-existence of three distinct cultures: Christian, Muslim, and Jewish
  • Popping into the Church of Saint Anthony of Padua and walking through the Santa Fiora Botanical Garden
  • Walking up to the Arab castle remains at Castillo Lízar
  • Hiking along the Higuerón River
  • Attending the Festival de las Tres Culturas (Festival of the Three Cultures) at the end of August

How Long to Stay: Frigiliana makes an excellent day trip from Málaga, so we recommend staying in one of the boutique hotels in Málaga, so you have plenty of time to explore the village. It's perfect for a day trip, spending a few hours in the town and enjoying lunch. 

Perfect For: Even though this is one of the best off-the-beaten-path white villages, it's also a win for families. Kids can depend on entertainment from the Molasses Factory and hikes to the castle. However, couples and more adventurous types can also enjoy strolling through the charming streets and taking a longer trek along the river. 

Pairs Well With: Nerja, Ronda


View of Olvera and its church from the castle at sunset

Olvera doesn't get as much attention as the other white villages on our list, making it a quieter option. Despite its low-key vibe, it's one of the most beautiful white towns and offers incredible views of its surrounding valleys and mountain ranges. Olvera is a 700-year-old village with a diverse history and several cultural influences. The village's original Moorish walls still enclose its Old Town, and the 12th-century Arab castle dominates its skyline, sitting at over 2,000 feet (623 m) to create the town's highest point. It's a remaining part of the old defensive system of the Emirate of Granada, and, though simple, the preservation of the monument and the views from the top are worth a visit. 

Next door to the castle is a 19th-century cathedral built upon the foundation of a Moorish church. The 19th-century church features a neoclassic style built on the foundation of an Arabic mosque. Inside, you can enjoy viewing frescoes and historical relics, though its impressive vistas are on the outside observation deck. 

How to Get There: Olvera is a perfect spot on a tour of Andalusia's white villages, as it's just north of Ronda, about 45 minutes north along A-374/84 (passing Zahara de la Sierra), or via the local routes that pass right through Setenil de las Bodegas. Olvera isn't far from the region's other major cities, requiring about 1.5 hours to reach the town.

  • From Seville, the drive takes you through some beautiful rural countryside along A-375/76.
  • From Cádiz, you'll follow the exact directions as if going to Ronda but continue on A-384 at the town of Algodonales.
  • From Málaga, again, you'll follow the same route as you would if traveling to Ronda but continue north after the Caminito del Rey turnoff to connect west on A-384. 

Where to Park: There are two free public parking lots at the base of the town, Vereda Ancha 1 and Vereda Ancha 2. Street parking is free, but you'll want to stick to the main roads. 

What to Do/See: Adorable Olvera offers just a few exciting things to do and see, including:

  • Strolling along the central Calle Lana and Calle Victoria to the historic Old Town (La Villa district)
  • Wandering the twisting streets at the top of the hill
  • Savoring the view from the Arab castle, Castillo de Olvera
  • Admiring the frescoes and relics in the Iglesia Parroquial Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación
  • Standing atop the patio of the Moorish Wall
  • Listening to the fountain at Plaza La Alameda
  • Walking to the top of the Rock of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
  • Visiting the religious monuments in the area, including the 18th-century El Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Los Remedios and the 16th-century El Monasterio de Caño Santos

How Long to Stay: Plan for an hour or two in Olvera. This is a sleepy local town, so the two main attractions are all there is to see (but they're worth the stop).

Perfect For: Travelers who want a quieter, calmer, and more local experience might prefer visiting Olvera. There aren't many options for eateries, so we recommend using Olvera as a stopping point rather than a single destination.

Pairs Well With: Ronda, Setenil de las Bodegas, Grazalema, Zahara de la Sierra

The Best White Villages for Families

Though we'd consider Ronda perfect for all types of families and Grazalema ideal for those with kids who like to hike, there's no denying that Nerja is the best white village for families. Thanks to the idyllic beaches perfect for swimming and water sports (plus a nearby cave), this white village takes it to another level that kids tend to love.


Nerja is the perfect combination of white village and beach

To mix up this list, we've added a beautiful coastal white village, Nerja, which sits just east of Málaga along the Costa del Sol. Nerja is one of the most beautiful and famous of Andalusia's white villages and is best for kids. Its setting is unique along the coast, meaning you'll get a dose of culture, history, and time to spend at the beach. The most popular activities in Nerja include visiting the numerous viewpoints, such as the famous Balcón de Europa observation deck, eating traditional seafood, checking out the caves, and spending time at the beach. And since kids love to go to the beach, we recommend the following:

  • Playa Carabeillo
  • Playa de la Calahonda
  • El Salón Beach
  • Playa la Caletilla

For shopping and eating, stroll along Calle Hernando de Carabeo, Calle Almirante Ferrándiz, Calle Pintada, and, of course, the narrow Calle de la Gloria.

How to Get There: A visit to Nerja is easiest if you stay in Ronda or Málaga. You can still reach the villages from Seville and Cádiz, but combining the visit with a road trip between the main cities is the better option.

  • From Málaga, head east along the A-7 highway for under one hour to reach Nerja. 
  • From Ronda, the journey takes a little over two hours, passing through Málaga. First, you'll head northeast via A-367 toward the Caminito del Rey hiking area, then transition south to Málaga along A-357 and continue along A-7 to Nerja. 

Where to Park: Unlike many other white villages, Nerja's streets aren't as challenging to navigate, so you'll find plenty of parking near the main sites. If there's space, we suggest grabbing a spot at the Carabeo lot, which is very large and easy to enter and exit. 

What to Do/See: You really can't get bored in Nerja! A few highlights include the following:

  • Spending time at the beach just relaxing or enjoying water sports
  • Walking out to the Balcón de Europa observation deck
  • Shopping for artisan goods along the charming streets
  • Listening to music and dancing at Plaza Tutti Frutti
  • Visiting historic sites like the 17th-century Parroquia El Salvador Church and 16th-century Nuestra Senora de las Angustias Hermitage
  • Learning more about the town and region at the Museo de Nerja
  • Exploring the surroundings with a visit to El Acueducto del Águila, Cliffs of Maro-Cerro Gordo, or Cueva de Nerja.

How Long to Stay: Nerja makes an excellent day trip from Málaga, so we recommend staying in one of the boutique hotels in Málaga so you can enjoy the village for an entire day. This way, you have plenty of time to spend at the beach and in the town, but you can also see other sites outside the center.  

Perfect For: Though we're highlighting Nerja for families, there's something for everyone and many diverse activities. There's plenty of entertainment for kids, but it's also an excellent spot for couples who want a romantic beach day and dinner on the coast, history and geology buffs who want to check out the aqueduct and caves, and active travelers who want to swim or paddleboard in the sea. 

Pairs Well With: Frigiliana, Ronda

The Best White Village Driving Routes 

Olvera Spain
The road leading to Olvera, Spain

Most likely, reading about these white villages has probably piqued your interest in more than one of them. If that's the case, you can make a long road trip out of the experience. Since starting this type of road trip from one of Andalusia's cities is common, we've created four routes to consider. 

Route 1—White Villages Road Trip from Seville

Arcos de la Frontera, Spain
The beautiful landscape of Arcos de la Frontera

You can see several of the listed white villages from Seville. We recommend the following route, though keep in mind it will require four hours of driving time. Plan for at least 30 minutes at each stop, or more if adding an activity like hiking. 

Seville to Arcos de la Frontera

To start, you'll drive almost directly south for one hour and 15 minutes to Jerez de la Frontera via the A-4 highway, then switch to A-382 to reach Arcos de la Frontera. As one of the most popular white villages, there's quite a bit to see here, but during a road trip, we recommend prioritizing the two main attractions, the medieval castle, and the 17th-century church. They both dominate the skyline, so getting between the two will require strolling through the charming streets and stopping at viewpoints. 

Arcos de la Frontera to El Bosque and/or Grazalema

This is the perfect route to enjoy a hike, and per our list above, the two best white villages for trekking are El Bosque and Grazalema. We recommend choosing one or the other. For better hiking choices, go with El Bosque. For views and more of village culture, choose Grazalema. Regardless, you can drive to the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park from Arcos de la Frontera. The journey is just 25 minutes to El Bosque and one hour to Grazalema.

El Bosque/Grazalema to Zahara de la Sierra

If you chose El Bosque, you could still enjoy the park's beauty by going through it to Zahara de la Sierra, a one-hour drive. Or you can cut the journey in half by going around the park via the CA-8102 roadway. If starting from Grazalema, the drive is very scenic and takes 30 minutes. Either way, Zahara de la Sierra is known for its numerous viewpoints, so you won't miss out on any scenery. For the best panoramic views, climb to the top of the castle. Or, to see the village from across the lake, head to the Mirador del Embalse de Zahara-El Gastor.

Zahara de la Sierra to Seville 

From here, you'll return to Seville by driving north on the A-375 roadway for about 1.5 hours. 

Route 2—White Villages Road Trip from Málaga

Nerja, Spain
The coast along Nerja, Spain

Málaga offers the opportunity to visit some of Andalusia's top white villages, mixing hills and valleys with the beach. But because of the city's location, it's best to go east or west. If you'd like to see all the towns listed below, we suggest spending a night or two in Ronda. If you do this, you can add a few more villages to the mix, including Zahara de la Sierra and Setenil de las Bodegas. 


Málaga to Frigiliana

Frigiliana isn't too far from Málaga, just an hour's drive along the A-7 highway east, then north via MA-5105. We recommend arriving in the morning so you can find a parking spot and spend some time walking through the town and its cobbled streets. If you'd like to enjoy some nature, there are a couple of hiking options here, both with exceptional views of the village and coastline. 

Frigiliana to Nerja

When ready for lunch, drive just about 15 minutes south to Nerja. More charming streets await you, plus views from the famous Balcón de Europa. After your meal, enjoy the rest of your day at one of the beaches, swimming in the sea and relaxing in the sun. You could also visit the town's cave or aqueduct for a cultural experience.  

Nerja to Málaga

Return to Málaga via the A-7 highway west, driving for about 50 minutes. 


Málaga to Olvera

The first stretch of this road trip takes about 1.5 hours, heading west, north, and west again. Olvera is one of the most striking yet least visited white villages. The town's unique structure is atop a hill with a towering cliffside castle and church. Enjoy exploring twisting cobbled streets, the Castle of Olvera, and plenty of towers, plazas, and viewpoints. Save some time for the local shops to pick up regional products, like wine, cheese, and tropical fruits.

Olvera to Setenil de las Bodgeas

Head south for about 25 minutes and stop in Setenil de las Bodegas, with its charming white-washed buildings and cave houses with rocks hanging above the streets. It's fun to stroll along the streets and marvel at the rocks and cliffs, then stop here and there for a drink or snack. But if you're into history and architecture, don't forget to check out the medieval fortress Castillo de Setenil de las Bodegas.

Setenil de las Bodegas to Ronda

Just 20 minutes by car gets you to one of the most popular white villages, Ronda. If it's lunch or dinner time, consider a delicious locally sourced meal at LA Organic, a stunning property surrounded by views and olive groves. Just keep in mind that you need to make a reservation in advance. Once in Ronda, save some time to walk around the Old Town, crossing the bridges, strolling along the cliffs, and hiking down the gorge. 

Ronda to Málaga

If you decide not to stay in Ronda overnight, you'll return to Málaga. We suggest taking the more scenic route through the Parque Nacional Sierra de las Nieves and along the coast. This route takes about 1.5 hours. 

Route 3—White Villages Road Trip from Cádiz

The mountainous white village of Grazalema, Spain

Cádiz is possibly the perfect hub for driving to Andalusia's white villages. The suggested route includes all the possible stops and takes about five hours to drive, but if you'd like to shorten the list, we suggest sticking to Arcos de la Frontera, Zahara de la Sierra, and Ronda, which knocks an hour off the driving time. 

Cádiz to Arcos de la Frontera

The first stretch of your road trip takes about 40 minutes. You'll start by following E-5 east and north toward Jerez de la Frontera, a large city famous for its sherry production (and worth a visit if you have the time). Then you'll switch to A-382 north to Arcos de la Frontera, one of Andalusia's largest and most popular white villages. Remember that the town has two main attractions atop cliffside hills: a large medieval Castillo de Arcos de la Frontera and the Iglesia de San Pedro, constructed in the 16th and 17th centuries. The views are fascinating, especially from Mirador de Abades, with its 360-degree panorama. 

Arcos de la Frontera to Setenil de las Bodegas

Continue east for another hour via A-384 and stop in Setenil de las Bodegas. To refresh your memory, this white village is known for its white-washed dwellings built straight into the rock that overhangs above the streets. Enjoy strolling and eating tapas underneath the hanging rocks, check out some of the town's incredible viewpoints, admire the cave houses, and walk up to the remains of its medieval fortress, Castillo de Setenil de las Bodegas.

Setenil de las Bodegas to Ronda

From Setenil, Ronda is only 20 minutes by car directly south. Again, you'll drive right by LA Organic, a delicious eatery serving locally sourced food within a property featuring incredible views of the mountains, valleys, and olive groves. But the star of the show is Ronda, so you can also make your way straight there. Ronda is perfect for walking around leisurely and savoring the scenery from the cliffside paths and bridges. 

Ronda to Grazalema

Next, drive west through Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park to Grazalema, a scenic 40-minute journey. As you read above, this is an excellent spot for a hike. But since you might be short on time, you can enjoy a short walk up to the Mirador Del Santo viewpoint and visit the ruins of Ermita del Calvario. Or, if you'd rather stick to the village, there's always the colorful Iglesia de San José and the town's main square, Plaza de España.

Grazalema to Zahara de la Sierra

Now head north through the park to Zahara de la Sierra, just 30 minutes from Grazalema. Remember that this is the white village for its views, and some of the best are at the Castle of Zahara de la Sierra and Torre del Homenaje. You can enjoy about six other viewpoints, but we recommend finishing your visit at the Church of Santa María de la Mesa and walking down Calle San Juan, lined with restaurants, cafés, and bars, to enjoy a meal or snack. 

Zahara de la Sierra to Cádiz

From Zahara de la Sierra, your drive back to Cádiz will take about 1.5 hours following the A-384/82 highways until Jerez de la Frontera, then E-5 back to the coast. 

Route 4—White Villages Road Trip from Granada

Ronda, Spain
El Tajo Gorge in Ronda, Spain

Granada is a bit out of the way, but it's still possible to enjoy a white villages road trip from the Red City—just plan on driving more. If interested, you could break your drive into two days, staying a night in Ronda. If you do that, you can add more white villages to the list, including Zahara de la Sierra, Setenil de las Bodegas, and Frigiliana. The following route requires five hours of driving, but plan time to visit the towns. 

Granada to Ronda

A 2-hour drive west via the A-92 highway, eventually connecting to the A-384/367 roadways, gets you from Granada to Ronda. You'll be ready to stretch your legs when you arrive, and this is the perfect place. This is a long road trip without as many stops, so we recommend taking your time in Ronda. Complete the walking loop across all three bridges (Puente Nuevo, Puente Viejo, and Puente Romano) and stroll along the cliffs or down the gorge.

Ronda to Nerja

Since this is a loop road trip, you get new scenery for this stretch. Another two hours takes you through the Parque Nacional Sierra de las Nieves via A-397 and hugs the coast via the A-7 highway. You'll pass Málaga and reach Nerja, hopefully in time for lunch and an afternoon swim. Don't forget to stroll down some of the charming streets and take in the views from the Balcón de Europa. 

Nerja to Granada

You'll drive just one more hour to return to Granada, following A-7 along the coast, then heading north via A-44.

Additional Considerations

Ronda, Spain
Views of El Tajo Gorge in Ronda

When planning a trip to Spain's famed white villages, there are other details and FAQs to consider.

When should you visit?

The ideal time to travel to Spain's Pueblos Blancos is in the spring and fall when the weather allows for outdoor exploration, especially for the towns with hiking or beaches. If you're traveling in the winter, you can still enjoy these hamlets, as Andalusia doesn't typically experience freezing temperatures. Just bring layers and prepare for any unexpected weather changes. 

These villages can get very crowded and hot by midday during the high summer season. Most locals escape the hotter cities and come up to these villages or out to the coast, making it even busier. If you must travel in the summer, arriving as early as possible is best. Of course, many shops and restaurants don't open until 9:00 or 10:00 am, but parking can be tricky and limited. 

If you want to experience some truly authentic Spanish culture, visit the villages during a holiday. Each town has its own website and will detail the dates and activities during holidays like Carnival (February or March), Easter (March or April), and ferias and fiestas, which occur a few times throughout the year.  

Should you rent a car?

You'll need a car to visit the bulk of Andalusia's white villages. Some more popular towns have train and bus stations, but we recommend a rental car to make the most of your time. Spain's highways and larger roads are well-maintained and smooth. Some roads into Grazalema de Sierra Natural Park or up to Frigiliana are a little more rural and narrow but certainly doable. Parking in these towns is almost always free (aside from Ronda), even in designated lots, but always check for signs indicating otherwise.

What should you bring?

As you may have noticed, these towns are pretty hilly, so it's best to wear sturdy walking shoes or bring hiking boots if you plan to tackle any treks. Though the weather isn't generally too temperamental, some villages sit at higher elevations, so layering will help you keep warm in the shade or wind—and it's always a good idea to bring rain gear just in case. You'll find shops and cafés in all the villages, but you might want to fill up your water bottles ahead of time or stock up on some snacks at the grocery store before starting the drive. Don't forget sun protection and your camera. 


Map of How to Choose the Best White Villages in Spain for You
Map of How to Choose the Best White Villages in Spain for You