Ronda is probably the most famous of Andalucia’s ‘pueblos blancos’ (white towns) and is perched above El Tajo Gorge in the Serrania de Ronda with spectacular views across the mountains and valleys.
For a small town (it has a population of around 35,000) there’s a surprising number of things to do in Ronda and, while you can probably squeeze many of these into a day trip, I’d highly recommend staying longer to be able to fully appreciate the beauty of Ronda and its surrounds. As one of the most visited places in Andalucia, Ronda gets busy with day trippers during the summer months but, if you’re able to stay even for just one night, you’ll be able to experience a different side to it once the crowds have left for the day.
Ronda’s sights can be split into those in the old town (la ciudad) and those in the new town (el mercadillo), with the Puente Nuevo joining the two together.
Ronda is, indeed, one of those places which stands alone. I know of nothing to which it can be compared.Lady Tennyson, 1850
A note about Covid. Make sure you check opening times as many attractions, plus bars and restaurants, are operating on reduced hours.
Despite being called the new bridge, the Puente Nuevo is actually over 200 years old and is easily the most recognisable landmark in Ronda (and what most people come to see). The cobbled bridge spans El Tajo gorge between the old and new towns and, despite its bloodthirsty history, is now more of a tourist selfie spot.
To learn more about the history of the bridge there’s a small museum inside the chamber above the central arch. This was apparently used as a torture chamber during the Civil War with some unfortunate prisoners being thrown to their deaths at the bottom of the gorge.
Entry to the museum is €2.50.
Puente Nuevo, Plaza de España, Ronda
El Tajo Gorge
While the views from Puente Nuevo are spectacular, to really appreciate the sheer size of the gorge (and get the obligatory photo of Puente Nuevo in all its glory) you need to walk down to its base from the old town side of the bridge.
There’s a footpath starting at Plaza de Maria Auxiliadora which takes you down to several viewing areas. The first viewpoint you reach is Mirador Puente Nuevo de Ronda and from here you can go off road to the right towards the bridge, or continue on the path until you reach Mirador del Viento. If you have time you can continue on the path through Puerta del Viento until you reach Mirador La Hoya del Tajo at the bottom of the gorge. It’s then a steep climb back up or, alternatively, if you’re not on a day trip and have a little more time to spare, you can walk all the way to Benaojan and jump on a train back to Ronda.
There’s a restaurant at the bottom, Albergue Los Molinos, which, unfortunately, was closed when we were there but would make an ideal spot for a cold beer with a view.
For serious hikers, this route makes up part of the GR7, the longest walking route in Europe, which starts in Tarifa and ends in Greece some 9,000 kms later. It’s also part of the Gran Senda de Malaga.
There are plenty of guidebooks to the best hikes in Andalucia. I particularly like the Cicerone guides.
If you’re visiting in late spring or summer be aware that it gets very hot in Ronda so do make sure that you carry lots of water with you if you’re walking down into the gorge. We’ve been in both May and June and, while the walk down into the gorge wasn’t too bad, getting back up was energy sapping but totally worth it, so don’t be put off!
Palacio del Rey Moro y la Mina
For an alternative view of the gorge it’s worth a visit to the Palace of the Moorish King. Although the palace itself was being restored on our visit, we were still able to visit the beautiful gardens and, from there, we climbed down the 200+ steps to the ‘secret mine’ coming out to the river at the bottom of the gorge. It was so peaceful – just the sound of the birds flitting around the cliffs and the lapping of the water. Definitely a nice spot to rest before tackling the steps again!
Entry to the palace gardens and the mine is €5.00.
Palacio del Rey Moro y la Mina, Calle Cuesta de Santo Domingo, Ronda
Dating from the 13th century, the Arab Baths are exceptionally well preserved.
From the entrance, you’ll find yourself overlooking the roof of the baths and, once inside, you’ll be able to see how the star shaped vents in the roof create patterns of light on the floor and walls.
The baths typically had three separate areas – the cold, warm, and hot rooms. Unlike in Roman baths like the ones at Baelo Claudia where visitors would immerse themselves in water, here, they were used as steam baths.
Entry to the baths and gardens is €4.50.
Baños Arabes, Calle San Miguel, Ronda
Jardines de Cuenca
For another perspective of the Puente Nuevo head to the Cuenca Gardens. Crossing the Puente Viejo near the Arab Baths (although not to be confused with the Puente Arabe), these terraced gardens on the new town side of Ronda cling to the side of the cliffs. We pretty much had the gardens to ourselves and it was lovely to wander through them and take in the alternative views of the bridges spanning the gorge.
Jardines de Cuenca, Calle Escolleras, Ronda
This museum, just a few minutes’ walk from Puente Nuevo, is home to a huge collection of curios from around the world.
Collected over his lifetime by Juan Antonio Lara Jurado there’s everything from clocks, weapons, and vintage guitars, to telephones, typewriters, and scientific instruments.
The highlight though is the witchcraft exhibition in the basement (where else?) with a motley collection of exhibits including a preserved mermaid, a bat-headed tarantula and, my personal favourite, Sergio the toad. That’s before we even get to the torture devices relating to the Spanish Inquisition.
Entry to the museum is €4.00 and you can take a virtual tour if your interest has been piqued.
Museo Lara, Calle Armiñan, Ronda
Plaza de Toros
While I don’t condone bullfighting, it’s definitely worth visiting the bullring in Ronda for an insight into this controversial aspect of Spanish culture.
Entry includes access to the stables and stockyards, a small museum housing a collection of art plus bullfighting memorabilia and artefacts, as well as the bullring itself.
As we had stayed overnight in Ronda we were able to get to the bullring not long after it opened so, until the tourist buses arrived, we were pretty much the only ones in there. Seeing it almost empty was quite an experience and it’s hard to imagine that, during fights which still take place throughout the year, it seats 5,000 spectators.
Entry to the bullring and museum is €8.00.
Plaza de Toros, Calle Virgen de la Paz, Ronda
Parque Alameda del Tajo
This is a beautiful public park with yet more great views across the valley and is a lovely place to take a break from the sun. Chances are there’ll be a guitarist playing flamenco music somewhere.
At one of the entrances to the park you’ll find statues of Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles, both of whom had links to Ronda. Hemingway arrived in Spain in 1936 just as the Spanish Civil War was starting and several of his books are about his love of bullfighting.
If you haven’t read any of Hemingway’s books, ‘Death in the Afternoon’ and ‘The Dangerous Summer’ are both about Ronda while ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ is set during the Spanish Civil War.
Orson Welles had a long love affair with Ronda and, after his death, his ashes were placed at the bottom of a well in the country estate belonging to his friend, the great bullfighter Antonio Ordoñez (whose statue stands in front of the bullring and who, interestingly, is also the subject of Hemingway’s book ‘The Dangerous Summer’).
From the park you can turn right and walk along Paseo de Los Ingleses. This path was originally connected to the Hotel Victoria for the exclusive use of guests who arrived in Ronda by train from Gibraltar. I walked there early on a Sunday morning and, apart from the swallows and a few kestrels, there was very little activity.
Parque Alameda del Tajo, Paseo Blas Infante, Ronda
Balcon del Coño
There are plenty of viewing points around Ronda but, to really test your nerve, step out onto the Balcon de Coño – the overhanging balcony near the bandstand in the park.
Suspended over the gorge it gets its name from the ubiquitous Spanish swearword – presumably you step on the balcony, look down, say ‘coño’ and jump back to safer ground!
I’m not a fan of heights but it does offer a good viewpoint and, yes, I probably did swear!
Balcon de Coño, Paseo Blas Infante, Ronda
Watch the sunset (or sunrise if you’re an early bird) from one of the miradors
The best spot, in my opinion, to watch the sun go down is from anywhere along the Paseo Blas Infante.
If you want to catch the sunrise cross to the other side of the Puente Nuevo and watch from Mirador de Aldehuela.
Mirador de Aldehuela, Calle Armiñan, Ronda
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More things to do in Ronda
Despite being twice and spending several days on each visit, there are still things that I haven’t seen or done yet and which I’m saving for my next trip.
Mondragon Palace is renowned for its Moorish courtyards and gardens, as well as its views over the Sierra de Grazalema. It’s also home to the Ronda’s Municipal Museum.
Mondragon Palace, Plaza Mondragon, Ronda
Casa Don Bosco
Casa de San Juan Bosco, sits on the edge of the El Tajo Gorge on the old town side of Ronda. At one point in its history, it was a nursing home for elderly and sick priests but is now a museum with a peaceful courtyard garden with views of the Puente Nuevo and across the Serrania de Ronda.
Casa Don Bosco, Calle Tenorio 21, Ronda
Walking the old city walls
As if Ronda’s defensive position on the El Tajo Gorge wasn’t enough it was also an impressive walled city.
The walls, and impressive Puerta de Almocabar, are on the opposite side of town to the main tourist sites so are often overlooked
Puerta de Almocabar, Plazuela Arquitecto Francisco Pons Sorolla, Ronda
Day trips to Ronda
If you only have time for a day trip to Ronda these are easily booked from various cities within Andalucia and usually include hotel pick-up and drop-off. Get Your Guide has a good selection with both group and private tours available.
Don’t forget your guide books!
Did you know that Ronda is twinned with the Moroccan town of Chefchaouen?
Where to stay in Ronda
On our first visit to Ronda we stayed in Hotel Andalucia which I booked primarily due to its proximity to the railway station (it’s quite literally just across the road). Our room (on the ground floor) had recently been refurbished and, although small, had a comfortable double bed, a lovely shower, and the usual facilities you’d expect from a budget hotel.
The hotel currently offers a left luggage service for non-guests at a cost of €2.50 per day.
Hotel Andalucia, Avenida Martinez Astein 19, Ronda
On our second visit we stayed at Soho Boutique Palacio San Gabriel, a restored 18th century building which is just a few minutes’ walk from the Puente Nuevo in a quiet side street.
The hotel is stuffed full of antiques but has all the usual mod cons including free wifi and aircon, not to mention a huge bathroom.
Hotel Soho Boutique Palacio San Gabriel, Marques de Moctezuma 19, Ronda
If you want a room with a view the Hotel Don Miguel is a budget option and has reasonably priced gorge and bridge view rooms but, if money’s no object, why not splash out with a stay at the Parador de Ronda?
Where to eat in Ronda
There’s no shortage of places to eat in Ronda from the smallest tapas bars to Michelin starred restaurants.
For breakfast, head to Churreria Alba for churros con chocolate with a café con leche. It’s highly likely there’ll be a queue but, trust me, the churros here are worth the wait – the fattest churros paired with the silkiest hot chocolate (you’ll only really need one hot chocolate between two) is guaranteed to get your day off to a good start.
Churreria Alba, Carrera Espinel 44, Ronda
For food with a view I highly recommend Tabanco Los Arcos. There are covered seats outside under the arches but if you can get the window seat inside, you’ll be rewarded with an outstanding view of the Puente Nuevo. The food is excellent too with a great selection of reasonably priced tapas.
Tabanco Los Arcos, Calle Armiñan 6, Ronda
If you fancy a trip to Ronda, here’s all the practical information you’ll need.
Getting to Ronda
The closest airport to Ronda is in Malaga, just over 100kms away, and which has daily flights to and from destinations worldwide.
If you’re driving from Malaga the quickest route (around 90 minutes) is via the A-357 and A-367.
Alternatively, if you’re staying further south along the Costa del Sol take the A7 (or AP7 toll road) which runs alongside the Mediterranean Sea and turn inland at exit 172 onto the A-397 but, be warned, it can be a challenging (and hair-raising) drive.
Once you arrive in Ronda your best bet is to park on the outskirts of the town rather than try to negotiate the narrow streets. There’s a 24-hour secure parking lot near the railway station or you may be able to find some ‘on street’ parking around this area, which is an easy fifteen minute walk to the old town.
Parking spaces with white painted lines are generally free, while you’ll have to pay for those with blue painted lines and there will be probably be a time limit on how long can you stay.
Ronda sits on the Algeciras – Granada line and there are usually three direct trains a day on this route. The journey from Algeciras takes just over 90 minutes with the first departure at 6.20am so, if you only have time for a day trip, this early start means you can be in Ronda in time for breakfast before you begin your sight-seeing.
There are also three trains per day between Malaga and Ronda, although these aren’t direct services. The journey time is between 2 hours and 2 hours 20 minutes.
The railway station is a fifteen-minute walk from the city centre.
Estacion de Ronda, Avenida de Andalucia, Ronda
On both of our visits to Ronda we decided that we’d let the train take the strain so we could kick back and really enjoy the journey rather than have to navigate the winding mountain roads. We hopped on at Estacion de San Roque, a small station about fifteen minutes up the track from Algeciras.
From the moment the train pulled out of the station the scenery was outstanding with storks nesting on telegraph poles, fields of sunflowers dancing in the breeze, and oleander trees growing in the valleys of the mountain peaks we passed through.
If you can, get a seat on the right-hand side of the train as you head towards Ronda for the best views.
Getting around Ronda
Its size means that it’s best to get around Ronda on foot as all the main sights are within easy walking distance of each other. Having said that, be sure to wear some comfy shoes as you’ll be on your feet a lot, especially if you’re heading down into the gorge.
If you fancy something a bit different, there are horse drawn carriages which will take you on a loop of the old town. You can find them outside the bullring.
Weather in Ronda
It’s worth noting that Ronda gets hot in summer, like really hot. Average temperatures in July and August are around 30°c while, during the winter months, the average temperatures hover around 10°c and it can be very wet.
This post was written in November 2017, and updated in November 2021.
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Get Your Guide offer a range of tours and excursions in and around Ronda.