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Our Andalucian paradise

My husband and I had lived in Mexico City, LA, Paris, Guadalajara, Oslo, Montreal and Vancouver. On a rainy November night we moved to a small town an hour inland from Malaga. 'Our Andalusian paradise' is about the historical town of Ronda, the mountains that surrounds it, the white villages dotted amongst them, of hikes, donkey trails and excursions around Andalucía and journeys further afield.

A dozen + 1 reasons to spend a weekend in romantic Ronda
31 July 2020 @ 15:17

Ronda sunset. Photo © Karethe Linaae


Ronda with its world famous bridge and to-die-for views should be on everyone’s bucket list. This Andalucian mountain pueblo simply lives and breathes history, having been ruled by Celts, Romans, Visigoths, Moors and Catholic Kings. In the 18th Century, the infamous bandoleros and other law-breakers practically ran the town. It was also the birthplace of modern bullfighting, and later in the 1950s and 60s a favourite hangout of Ernest Hemingway and Orson Wells. Not surprising Ronda is so romantic!


Plaza de María Auxiliadora.  Photo © Karethe Linaae


The town is a perfect place to wander about picturesque streets and sit on a park bench in the shade of a pink Oleander, taking in the views while listening to a trickling fountain or someone playing classic Spanish guitar. However, to fully enjoy la cuidad soñada (the dream city), you must spend at least a night.

Here are a dozen + one reasons why: 


  1. Wake up on the edge

Corner room terrace at Parador de Ronda. Photo © Karethe Linaae

There is nothing quite like it - waking up and looking out your window and seeing this view. The Tajo gorge literally cuts Ronda in two, with the Casco Histórico on one side, and the newer town on the other. Created by the eroding waters of the river Guadalevín, with a drop of 100 - 160 meters straight down, those with vertigo might ask for an interior room.


Room with a killer view. Hotel Parador de Ronda. Photo © Karethe Linaae


While the hotels on the Tajo edge are not the most reasonable accommodation in town, they are certainly worth the extra splurge. For a room with a killer view, try a night at the classic Parador de Ronda hotel.

Cost: 150-250 € per night



  1. Take a morning stroll across the bottom of the sea

Valley below, Ronda above. Photo © Karethe Linaae


The valley beneath Ronda was once the bottom of the ocean, hence the many seashell encrustations in the surrounding vertical cliffs. The fertile ground has been used for olive and wine farming since the Romans were here 2000 years ago. Ask the tourist office for directions and start your morning walk in the San Francisco or La Dehesa neighbourhoods.

Either way, stop for breakfast at the Albergue los Molinos, which in addition to a stunning view of the town from below, makes its own bread in a traditional outdoor wood oven.


Albergue Molinos del Tajo. Photo © Karethe. Linaae

Walk duration: 1.5 - 2 hours
Cost: Free (breakfast not included)



  1. Step deep down into history in Ronda’s secret Mina de Agua

The great hall of La Mina de Agua. Photo © Karethe Linaae

Most visitors forgo this pleasure, but to literally submerge yourself in Ronda’s dramatic past, there is nothing like stepping down some 60 vertical meters into la Mina de Agua. The 700 hundred-year-old ingenious construction was dug into a natural fissure in the Tajo wall. The mine supplied water to the independent Moorish Kingdom Izn-Rand Onda (City of the Caste) during several Christian sieges. You can still descend the steps where slaves carried water up to the city above. Hidden gaps in the shaft provide magical natural illumination, making the mine interior appears like a subterranean cathedral. Enter the hall where a waterwheel once proved the superiority of Medieval Islamic hydraulic engineering and peak through the door where a Moorish traitor let in the first Catholic troops, making the mine the doorway for Ronda’s Reconquista in 1485.

Ticket: 7€
Calories consumed: 300+


  1. Light a candle by the Virgin of Tears

Santa María la Mayor church. Photo © Karethe Linaae


These days we can all need to light a candle, and no place is better for this than la Iglesia Santa María la Mayor across from Ronda’s town hall. In its lofty interior you can be assured to find peace and quiet and a blessedly cool environment on a hot summer day. Once Ronda’s main mosque, the church is allegedly standing on the ruins of a Roman temple to the goddess Diana. Do not miss a trip up to the rooftop with its magnificent views.


Roof walk, Santa María la Mayor. Photo © Karethe Linaae


In contrast to many other churches, one can still light a real candle and place it in one of the church’ many beautiful candelabras. However, if you really want your prayers heard, leave it in front of the Virgin of Tears, the main statue brought out for the annual Easter processions.

Entrance: 4.50 €
Candle donation: 1 €



  1. Immerse yourself in an Arab bath - then and now

Magic light in Ronda’s ancient Arab baths. Photo © Karethe Linaae


Even for those who do not enjoy museums, Ronda’s Arab baths – Baños Árabes de Ronda - is worth a visit. On the winding walk down from the centre, you will pass some of the town’s other landmarks, the Carlos V gate and El Puente Viejo (the old bridge). The baths, dating back to the 13th Century, are the best preserved in the entire Iberian Peninsula. When you see the magical light therein, you can almost imagine how it was back in the day.

After seeing the historical baños, stop by Ronda’s present day bathhouse Hammam Aguas de Ronda next door, for some very reasonable pampering. Constructed in an old mill (which can be seen on maps of Ronda from the 1500s) the modern and clean facilities takes full advantage of the beauty of the old edifice.


Aguas de Ronda Hammam and spa. Photo © Aguas de Ronda

Museum 3.50 €
Hammam with massage 33€



  1. Eat lunch with El Loco (the crazy one…)

De Locos Tapas by the San Francisco neighbourhood. Photo © Karethe Linaae


There are tapas and then there are great tapas. In Andalucía unfortunately, the former are more common. However, De Locos Tapas just inside the Almocabar gate at the edge of Ronda’s historic quarter, is a rare exception.    
Their spectacular and unique tapas are due to el loco himself, the Basque owner Guillermo (William), and his wife Begoña. With excellent reviews, personal service, vintage tunes and only a handful tables, you need to book ahead. Try their Quails Nest, Thai Prawns or Ceviche, and make sure to keep room for dessert!


Tapas. Photo © De Locos Tapas

3-5 € per tapa



  1. Enter the bullring that Hemingway made famous

Plaza de Toros. Photo © Karethe Linaae


Though bullfighting isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, Ronda would not be the same without this historical edifice with its glamorous past. Inaugurated in 1785, Ronda’s Plaza de Toros is one of the oldest and certainly most beautiful in Spain, in addition to being the world’s oldest arena specifically made for equestrian displays and bullfights. The site houses one of Europe's most prestigious riding schools - the Real Maestranza de Caballería de Ronda, dating back to 1571 (two years after the founding of the Vienna Spanish Riding School). Ronda’s Plaza de Toros is where the legendary Romero family started modern bullfighting in the 18th Century. Frequented by Spanish royalty and movie stars, it was also favoured by Orson Wells and Ernest Hemingway.


Plaza de Toros de Ronda. Photo © Karethe Linaae

Museum entrance including stables, Tauromachy Museum and Royal Harness Collection: 8 €



  1. Taste wine in a former convent garden

Wine tasting in the monastic garden at Descalzos Viejos vineyard. Photo © Karethe Linaae


Ronda has an inordinate amount of small boutique style wineries, many of which are organic. Almost all can be visited, just be sure to make an appointment in advance (sometimes requiring a minimum of 6 visitors). It is hard to pick a favourite as so many are excellent. The one thing that makes Descalzos Viejos winery stand out is its location. Situated in an abandoned monastery with an open vista towards Ronda, I cannot imagine a lovelier place as a backdrop for a wine tasting than the barefoot brothers’ ancient cloister garden.

Standard visit and tastings: 30 € + tax p.p.
Duration: 2.5 hour tour
Private tasting tour (1- 5 people) with owner: 150 € + tax



  1. Pit-stop at Los Arcos

Tabanco Los Arcos. Photo © Karethe Linaae


If you need something to hold you until dinner – a tentenpie as the Spanish call it - join the rondeños at Tabanco Los Arcos. This wine bar just off the Puente Nuevo bridge is said to be Ronda’s best. Pisqui and his friendly and speedy team serve regional Spanish wine and tasty titbits in what must be Ronda’s narrowest wedge of a building.


Ronda’s narrowest building – on the edge. Photo © Karethe Linaae


Try to get a table near the window, or at least peak out at the abyss below. Ask for their Chicharrón de Cádiz and the wild mushroom paté. Once you are seated in the lively atmosphere, you might not want to leave... 

Tapas 1.5 – 2.5 €




  1.  Enjoy a sundowner on the roof of Hotel Catalonia 

 View from Hotel Catalonia rooftop bar. Photo © Karethe Linaae


This is a MUST when you are in Ronda. Hotel Catalonia, located across from the bullring, has Ronda’s most amazing rooftop bar. The hotel offers modern 4-star accommodation, a great restaurant and a skyline pool – all very lovely. However, the best part is their rooftop bar. Nowhere else in town will you get this birds eye view of the Plaza de Toros and the backdrop of the Serranía de Ronda mountains. The optimal time to visit it is just before the sun is setting when the last rays bathes the town in golden light.

Drinks 3 - 5 €
View: Priceless



  1. Dine with a Michelin star chef

Michelin star gourmet chef Benito Gómez. Photo © Tragatá


Ronda is perhaps not best known for fine dining, but the Barcelona born and trained chef Benito Gómez changed this with the establishment of his two-Michelin-star restaurant Bardal. Voted the best restaurant in the province of Málaga in 2017, it was described by Conde Nast Traveller as “Without doubt the best excuse travelling south to the evermore romantic Ronda.”


Michelin Taster’s Choice Tragatá restaurant in Ronda. Photo © Tragatá.


While the celebrated restaurant is closed until 2021 due to CoVid, travellers can still enjoy Benito’s Haute Cuisine in his more informal dining establishment – Tragatá. Located a minute’s walk from Ronda’s Puente Nuevo and his other restaurant, this Michelin traveller’s choice restaurant offers a gastronomic journey with the best products to be found in the Serranía de Ronda.

Tapas 3 -12 € / Main dishes 15 - 30 €



  1. Sleep a la Philippe Starck

Cortijo LA Organic Boutique Hotel. Photo © Karethe Linaae


Ronda’s LA Organic Oleoturism Experience offers far more than designer olive oils. In addition to touring the beautifully landscaped farm with design features by the world famous French designer Philippe Starck and tasting the premium organic oils in the restaurant, you can also book a night in their rural boutique hotel, merely minutes outside Ronda. This classic Andalucian Cortijo has a bespoke modernistic interior, designed by the Starck Studio. Reserve one of the 4 delux rooms or suites, or why not rent the entire cortijo for a selected party.     


Living Room designed by Starck Studio. Photo © Karethe Linaae 

Delux room - 120-180 € for 2 per night
Suite – 140 – 210 €
Entire cortijo (4 bedrooms) 620 – 930 € per night



+ 1. Start out the day high  - Balloon flight over Ronda

Balloon flight over the city of dreams. Photo © Glovento Sur S.L.


Nothing can top a flight in an air balloon when it comes to taking in the city of dreams. Balloon pilot and owner of Granada based company Glovento Sur, Miguel Juliá Garrido offers a safe and unforgettable experience. Depending on the balloon size, the flights can take 6, 8 or 12 people. Starting at daybreak in the outskirts of Ronda, the trip includes safety preparations, a one-hour flight and breakfast. Total duration: 3 - 4 hours. The company has Civil Responsibility insurance and follows the CoVid protocol of the Spanish Ministry of Health. Glovento is associated with the Agencia Estatal de Seguridad Aerea and is part of the European Aviation Safety Agency.


Walk, eat or fly your way through the Ciudad soñada (city of dreams). Photo © Karethe Linaae

Group flight: 200€ per person (in groups of 6, 8 or 12)
Private flight: 900€


If you need more reasons, check out Tourism Ronda. Otherwise, what are you waiting for?

Fiesta for two at El Parador de Ronda. Photo © Karethe Linaae

Like 1


marelison said:
01 August 2020 @ 08:45

Hi Karethe -

Always nice to read your blogs early saturday´s mornings !
Good and interesting article, as usual. Good photos which frame the atmosphere well

Mar Elison
Spain / Islandia

Jenni52 said:
01 August 2020 @ 09:00

A great article, I only wish you’d posted this three or four weeks ago as we spent three nights at the Parador in Ronda a couple of weeks ago. The views over the valley were fabulous and we watched many people drive to Albergue Los Molinos in the mornings, wondering why. The museum at the bull ring is fascinating. There’s so much to do in Ronda and many nearby places worth a visit. We will definitely be returning.

Berno said:
01 August 2020 @ 13:35

Very informative article. Have been planning to visit Ronda on each of my visits to Fuengirola over the last couple of years. When I get back to travelling to Spain again (which hopefully will be soon) one of my first onward visits will be to Ronda.

cowiz said:
02 August 2020 @ 14:42

Wonderful article and really makes us want to go back to Ronda asap! I am especially interested in the Augergue Los Arcos, the bodegas, the tapas bar and of course the views to be shared with friends!

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