The Village of Ardales
** Ardales, Malaga
Ardales, a picturesque village nestled in the rolling hills of the Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park, beckons travellers with its rural charm and rich history. Founded by the Romans and later influenced by the Moors, this small Andalusian village offers a captivating mix of natural and architectural wonders... making it a must-see for anyone exploring the region.
In the following paragraphs, we'll explore the top 15 things to see and do in and around Ardales, giving you just a taste of the unforgettable experiences that await you here; from the thrill of the world-famous Caminito del Rey to the depths of the mysterious Caves of Ardales...
You will also have the chance to visit the historic castles of Turón and Peña, the tranquil Guadalhorce reservoir, the ancient ruins of the Mozarabic town of Bobastro and the charming streets of Ardales itself... so get ready to embark on an adventure that will soon reveal the captivating charm of Ardales and its stunning surroundings.
Is Ardales Worth Visiting?The answer is a resounding yes!
Ardales is an ideal day trip destination for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the overcrowded Costa del Sol. Just a 40-minute drive from Malaga, this quaint village offers a refreshing contrast to the bustling coastal resorts, allowing you to experience the authentic Andalucian lifestyle at a much slower pace.
With its rich history, stunning natural landscapes and charming local atmosphere, Ardales is the perfect opportunity to explore the lesser known side of southern Spain. Swap the crowded beaches for a day of adventure, culture and relaxation in this enchanting village and nature reserve. You will fall in love with the hidden natural treasures of Andalucia!
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Where is Ardales located?Where is Ardales? Ardales is a small village in the province of Málaga (Andalucia), in the south of Spain. It belongs to the Guadalteba region and is located at the convergence of three areas: the Sierra of Ronda, the Antequera Valley, and the Guadalhorce River Basin.
Ardales also has the privilege of being equidistant from three beautiful cities: Ronda, Antequera and Málaga, and is surrounded by beautiful countryside with lakes, mountains, natural parks and two rivers (the Guadalhorce and the Turón).
** Ardales Landscape and Lakes
Distances to Ardales (Malaga)
|Malaga||Ardales||54 min (54 km)|
|Granada||Ardales||1 hr 42 min (145 km)|
|Ronda||Ardales||1 hr (45 km)|
|Antequera||Ardales||49 min (53 km)|
|Álora||Ardales||24 min (26 km)|
|El Chorro||Ardales||25 min (14 km)|
|Caminito del Rey||Ardales||21 min (10 km)|
Ardales ➜ The TOP 15 Things to See & Do!Ardales is not limited to the town at its center, but it also encompasses the vast Natural Park that surrounds it. And while many of the sites on our list are within the town of Ardales, others are scattered throughout the surrounding countryside. For this reason, the best way to see the area is by car... to truly take advantage of the many historic and unique sites that can be found here. (cheap car rentals)
El Caminito del Rey
** Caminito del Rey - Ardales, Malaga
The Caminito del Rey is by far the most popular and well-known site in the Ardales area.
Originally built in the early 20th century to allow hydroelectric workers to access the area's power supply, this once treacherous 7.7km (4.8 mile) trail has since been completely renovated and turned into an iconic tourist attraction.
Carved into the vertical walls of the Gaitanes Gorge's, the trail offers awe-inspiring views of the surrounding landscape and the turquoise waters below. The trail begins at the northern access point in Ardales and ends at El Chorro, taking approximately 3-4 hours to complete.
This walk is currently one of Spain's most popular attractions, so if you want to experience the thrill of walking the Caminito del Rey, you need to book your tickets well in advance.
- How to Arrive
- Caminito del Rey Prices 2023
- How to Find Caminito del Rey Tickets
- Opening Hours / Best Time to Visit
- Where to Stay & the BEST Caminito del Rey Hotels
- Everything You Need to Know About the Caminito del Rey - Ultimate Guide 2023
Nuestra Señora de los Remedios Church
The church of Nuestra Señora de Remedios (Our Lady of Remedies) is located in the Plaza de la Iglesia, next to the castle of Peña and the medieval fortress that once housed the town's old mosque. It is Ardales' main attraction within the village itself (along with the Peña Castle), but you must endure a steep climb to see it. The panoramic views from the top make the climb well worth it and are nothing short of mesmerising.
This 15th-century church, partially restored in 1720, has a basilica floor plan with three naves divided by distinctive horseshoe arches and a Mudejar-style coffered ceiling.
** Church of Our Lady of Remedies, Ardales
During the Baroque period, a number of additional chapels were built that now house images for religious processions. The exterior of the church has a Baroque façade designed by the Seville master Diego Antonio Díaz in 1723, while the tower was designed by Antonio Matías de Figueroa in 1775.
** Ardales Cave & Painting - Ardales
Just outside the village of Ardales are the Ardales Caves, also known as the Cueva de Doña Trinidad, which contain some of the oldest and most remarkable prehistoric rock art in Europe. The cave walls are decorated with a series of fascinating red ochre paintings depicting various animals, handprints and abstract shapes. These Palaeolithic paintings, dating from 20,000-40,000 years ago, provide a unique insight into the lives of the region's early human inhabitants and make the Ardales Caves an invaluable cultural and historical treasure.
Discovered in 1821, one of the most amazing features of the Ardales Caves is the magnificent array of stalactites and stalagmites that adorn their interior. These natural formations, sculpted by the slow drip of mineral-rich water over thousands of years, create an otherworldly atmosphere.
Immerse yourself in the prehistoric wonders of the Ardales Caves on a guided tour. For more information and to book your tour, visit www.giglon.com
|Morning Vist:||10:00 am to 13:00|
|Mid-morning Visit||11:30 am to 14:30|
|Afternoon Visit||16:00 am to 19:00|
* This visit is not suitable for children under 8 or adults over 70. The visit to the caves lasts approximately 2 hours, including 1 hour at the Ardales Museum (included in the price). The tour meets at the Ardales Museum (Avenida de Málaga nº 1, 29550 ARDALES, Málaga) | 952 458 046.
Prices: Adults - 15.00 euros | Children (8 - 12) 5.00 euros.
Peña de Ardales
** Peña de Ardales
At the top of Ardales stands a magnificent rocky outcrop, one of the oldest geological fragments in Andalucía, as confirmed by the University of Granada.
The archaeological heritage of Peña de Ardales is truly fascinating, with evidence of a Neolithic village dating back 5,000 years. Throughout history the site has been continuously occupied, with remains and constructions from the Tartessian, Phoenician, Iberian, Roman, Visigothic, Mozarab, Caliphate, Nasrid and Castilian periods. The first fortress was built in 880 A.D. during the Mozarabic period.
** Reconstruction of Peña de Ardales
La Peña was once the site of an Iberian fortified village and possibly even a Roman temple. But the current fortification was built after the conquest of the Peña in 883 A.D. by Omar Ben Hafsun, the leader of the Mozarabic rebellion, whose base was in the nearby town of Bobastro. The Peña became an enduring symbol of the region and has stood the test of time since the Middle Ages.
Although the Peña de Ardales was badly damaged during the War of Independence and is now largely in ruins, the fortress has been transformed into a picturesque viewpoint and is well worth a visit.
Note: The Peña de Ardales is currently closed for restoration.
Peña de Ardales:
|Tuesday - Sunday||Closed|
|Saturday & Sunday||Closed|
Castillo de Turón
** Castillo de Turón - Ardales
Situated in the picturesque countryside near Ardales, Castillo de Turón is a fascinating medieval castle with a fascinating past. Although much of the castle now lies in ruins, its historical significance remains undiminished. It played a crucial role in the defence of the region during the turbulent times of the Reconquista. The castle's strategic location, perched atop a hill, gave it an impressive view of the surrounding area and deterred potential invaders.
To get to the castle, follow the river Turón for 3 kilometres until you reach the old Roman bridge (La Molina). You will then see the castle in the distance. There is currently no road access to the castle, so you have to walk the rest of the way.
Ardales' Castillo de Turón:
|Monday - Sunday||open 24 hours|
* Free entry.
Hermitage of Calvario
** Hermitage of Calvario - Ardales
The Calvario Hermitage, also known as the Ermita del Calvario, is a charming little chapel perched on a hill overlooking Ardales, with breathtaking views of the countryside and the deep blue lakes that surround the village. From this vantage point you can truly appreciate the breathtaking beauty of the Guadalteba region, with its majestic mountain ranges, sweeping landscapes, verdant valleys and winding rivers.
The hermitage dates back to the 18th century and has been well maintained over the years. It has a simple yet elegant design, with whitewashed walls and a modest bell tower.
The walk to the Calvario hermitage is quite steep, but it is a lovely thing to do after visiting the church and castle ruins.
** Museum de Ardales
Immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of Ardales at the local museum. This charming museum offers a range of exhibits detailing the village's storied past. From archaeological finds to informative displays on local customs and traditions, the museum offers a fascinating journey through time.
One of the highlights of the Ardales Museum is the exhibition of prehistoric art discovered in the Ardales Caves, where interactive displays explain the significance of these ancient treasures. Guided tours are also available, which include both admission to the museum and a walk through the nearby caves.
Ardales Municipal Museum:
|Tuesday - Sunday||10:00 until 14:30 pm|
* Price is 3.00 euros. Students and Pensioners 2.00 euros. 952 458 046
Take a Stroll Through the Streets of Ardales
** Pretty Streets of Ardales
One of the simplest yet most rewarding activities you can enjoy while visiting Ardales is a leisurely stroll through the village's narrow, winding streets. As you meander through the village, you'll be surrounded by quintessential Andalucian architecture, whitewashed houses and charming flower-filled balconies.
As you explore Ardales, take time to appreciate the intricate details of the traditional ironwork on the windows and the elegant wooden doors that adorn the village houses. At every turn you'll discover hidden nooks and crannies, each offering a unique insight into the lives of the people who have called this enchanting village home for generations.
Plaza de San Isidro
** Plaza de San Isidro in Ardales
The heart of Ardales comes to life in the picturesque Plaza de San Isidro. Buzzing with activity and charm, this village square is the perfect place to soak up the local culture.
Under the shade of orange trees, locals and visitors mix and mingle, enjoying traditional dishes at the inviting restaurants that line the streets. Large umbrellas offer respite from the sun, while the idyllic landscape provides the perfect backdrop to your dining experience. The Ayuntamiento, the town hall of Ardales, stands proudly in the centre of the square, adding to the authentic atmosphere.
** Guadalhorce Reservoir, Ardales
When you have finished your tour of Ardales, venture into the tranquil beauty of the Embalse del Conde de Guadalhorce, a picturesque reservoir set in stunning Andalucian countryside. Created in the 1920s, this vast collection of crystal clear lakes plays a vital role in supplying the region with fresh drinking water and maintaining the agricultural vitality of the area. As you explore the reservoir, you'll be enchanted by its tranquil atmosphere and the stunning, tree-lined shores that surround it.
As well as being vital to the region, the Embalse del Conde de Guadalhorce offers a range of leisure activities for you to enjoy. Embrace the great outdoors by taking part in activities such as hiking, cycling or birdwatching, all while admiring the beauty of the natural landscape.
For water enthusiasts, the reservoir offers opportunities for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and even fishing in designated areas. With so much to see and do, the Embalse del Conde de Guadalhorce is an idyllic spot for a day of adventure and relaxation.
Parque Natural de la Sierra de las Nieves
** Parque Natural de la Sierra de las Nieves
Just a stone's throw away from the charming village of Ardales, you'll discover the breathtaking beauty of the Parque Natural de la Sierra de las Nieves. A protected area, this stunning natural park boasts a diverse landscape teeming with flora and fauna, making it an essential destination for nature lovers.
The park's importance extends beyond its picturesque views, as it plays a vital role in preserving the unique ecosystem that thrives in this part of Spain. As you explore the rugged terrain, you'll be fascinated by the variety of wildlife that calls this park home, from the majestic Spanish fir to the elusive Iberian ibex.
For the more adventurous, Parque Natural de la Sierra de las Nieves offers a wealth of leisure activities. Hikers and cyclists can enjoy the well-marked trails, while birdwatchers will be delighted to catch a glimpse of rare and fascinating species.
** Antequera, a city near Ardales
While you are staying in the picturesque village of Ardales, take the opportunity to explore the nearby city of Antequera. Steeped in history and full of architectural wonders, Antequera is a treasure trove waiting to be discovered. From ancient dolmens to majestic churches, this charming town offers a fascinating glimpse into the past.
As you stroll through Antequera's cobbled streets, you'll be captivated by its rich heritage, reflected in the many monuments and historic sites that dot the landscape. Don't miss the opportunity to explore the Alcazaba, an impressive fortress perched high above the city, or the Royal Collegiate Church of Santa María la Mayor, a stunning example of Renaissance architecture.
Visit the Bobastro Ruins
** The Bobastro Ruins Near Ardales
Not far from Ardales lies the fascinating ancient site of Bobastro. Shrouded in mystery and intrigue, this site is a powerful testament to the region's past, once serving as a stronghold for rebel leader Omar Ben Hafsun during his 9th century revolt against the Umayyad Caliphate.
The breathtaking ruins of Bobastro, carved into the rock face, are an architectural marvel not to be missed. The crowning glory of the site is the Church of the Virgin of the Rock, an ancient Mozarabic church carved directly into the limestone. The craftsmanship and artistry on display at Bobastro is truly awe-inspiring, making it an essential stop on your visit to Ardales.
While the journey to Bobastro is an adventure in itself, traversing rugged terrain and winding paths, the rewards are well worth the effort. The sweeping panoramic views of the surrounding countryside only add to the allure of this enchanting place.
The Bobastro Ruins Near Ardales:
|Tuesday - Friday||10:00 until 15:00|
|Saturday||10:00 until 18:00|
|Sunday||10:00 until 16:00|
* Note: Last entry is one hour before closing time.
** Álora - a village near Ardales
Just a 25-minute drive from Ardales, you'll discover the delightful town of Álora, a destination rich in history and oozing with charm. As you meander through its winding cobbled streets, you'll come across the town's crowning jewels: the historic castle of Álora and the church of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación. The Plaza de Fuente Arriba, in the historic centre of Álora, is a lovely place to visit, lined with quaint cafes and traditional shops.
A visit to Álora is a must for anyone wishing to experience authentic Andalucian culture and an ideal excursion during your stay in Ardales.
Enjoy outdoor activities such as cycling, rock climbing, or horseback riding in the surrounding countryside.
** El Chorro Near Ardales
Ardales is an excellent base for the adventurous, with a wealth of outdoor activities to suit all tastes. The stunning countryside beckons, offering opportunities for exhilarating cycle rides along scenic routes, challenging rock climbing expeditions on the area's rugged cliffs and leisurely horse rides through the picturesque countryside.
Best known for its rugged beauty, Ardales is an outdoor enthusiast's paradise where you can get away from it all, reconnect with nature and create unforgettable memories while exploring the beauty of the Andalucian countryside.
Ardales ➜ Where to StayThe village of Ardales itself does not have a large choice of hotels, but there is a good option near the Caminito del Rey:
- Hotel La Posada del Conde: This rustic hotel is located between the Conde del Guadalhorce and Guadalteba reservoirs in the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes Park. It offers spacious rooms with scenic views of the forest and free Wi-Fi.
- Rent a Holiday Cottage in Ardales: View all the available holiday homes near the Caminito del Rey village of Ardales.
The Best Places to Eat in ArdalesNo visit to Ardales would be complete without sampling the delicious local cuisine, which offers a wide variety of mouth-watering dishes. While dining in the village's cosy restaurants and tapas bars, be sure to try the gazpacho, a refreshing cold soup made with ripe tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and a hint of garlic. The chilled soup is the perfect way to cool off on a hot summer's day while soaking up the vibrant flavours of Andalusia.
Two restaurants we recommend in Ardales:
- Bar El Millan: A popular restaurant in Ardales known for its delicious traditional Andalusian dishes, friendly atmosphere and attentive service. With a varied menu of local favourites such as tapas, paella and grilled meats, Bar El Millan offers an unforgettable dining experience in a cosy setting.
- Mesón La Alternativa: A charming, family-run establishment in the heart of Ardales, serving a variety of homemade dishes made with fresh, local ingredients. Known for its warm atmosphere and delicious food, Mesón La Alternativa is the perfect place to sample regional specialities such as gazpacho, migas and succulent meats cooked over an open fire.
** Old Fountains in Ardales
The History of ArdalesArdales has a rich and fascinating history that spans thousands of years. Inhabited since prehistoric times, this charming village has seen the passage of many civilisations, each of which has left its mark on the area. Remnants of ancient life can be found throughout Ardales, with the Cueva de Ardales (Ardales Cave) containing some of the earliest signs of human habitation. Here, impressive cave paintings dating back 20,000 years offer a glimpse into the lives of the region's first settlers.
The village itself flourished during the Roman and Visigothic periods, and later under the Muslims, who left an indelible mark on the architecture and culture of Ardales. The Castillo de Turón, a medieval fortress, is evidence of the Muslim influence in the area. With the Reconquest in the 15th century, Ardales came under Christian rule, and many of its churches and monuments were built during this period.
Ardales ➜ How to ArriveThe easiest way to reach Ardales is by car (cheap car rentals), as there are several major roads connecting the village to other nearby cities. You can also take a train or bus from Malaga, Granada, or Seville.
Ardales is only 40 kilometers from Málaga. Take the A-357 north to the Ardales exit, then follow the signs.
Can I take a day trip to Ardales from Malaga?Can I make a day trip to Ardales from Malaga? Yes, Ardales is a short 40 minute drive or train ride from Malaga (to El Chorro station), making it a popular destination for day trips from the city.
If you would like to combine a guided tour of the Caminito del Rey and the village of Ardales, there are several available and you can find them here: Caminito del Rey Tickets and Guided Tours
** Streets in Ardales
Ardales ➜ When is the Best Time to VisitThe best time to visit Ardales depends on your preferences and the activities you wish to enjoy. Generally, spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November) are considered the best times to visit. These seasons offer pleasant weather, with mild temperatures and less rainfall, making them ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking, sightseeing and exploring the beautiful countryside.
The summer months (July and August) can be quite hot, with temperatures often exceeding 30°C (86°F). While the heat can be intense during the day, the evenings are cooler and more comfortable. If you're interested in local festivities, the Feria de Agosto is held the first weekend in August.
The winter months in Ardales (December to February) can be cold and wet, but it is generally less crowded and offers a more peaceful experience. If you don't mind cooler temperatures and a little rain, you can enjoy the natural beauty and attractions of Ardales without the crowds.
Note that some activities, such as hiking the Caminito del Rey, may have seasonal restrictions or limited availability at certain times of the year.
- Does Ardales have a dry season? Yes, May, June, July and August are very dry.
- What is the hottest month in Ardales? August, with an average maximum temperature of 31°C.
- Which is the coldest month in Ardales? January, with an average max temp of 17°C (62°F).
- Which is the wettest month in Ardales? November, with 103mm (4.1in) of rainfall.
- What is the driest month in Ardales? July is the driest month with little or no rain.
- Which is the sunniest month in Ardales? July, with an average of 348 hours of sunshine.
Ardales ➜ Popular Fiestas
- Fiesta de San Isidro Labrador | May 15: This lively celebration honors the patron saint of farmers, San Isidro Labrador. Ardales comes alive with colorful processions, traditional music, and dancing.
- Feria de Agosto | First weekend in August: Ardales' annual summer fair is a lively event full of festivities, including live music, cultural performances, and a variety of food stalls showcasing the delicious local cuisine.
- Romería de la Virgen de los Remedios | September 8: This religious pilgrimage is dedicated to the patron saint of Ardales, the Virgen de los Remedios. A procession of villagers accompanies the statue of the Virgin from the church of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios to the hermitage in the countryside.
- Day of the Cross | May 3: Ardales celebrates this traditional Andalusian holiday by decorating crosses, typically with flowers, all over the village.
Ardales ➜ GastronomyRooted in the culinary traditions of Andalusia, the flavours and aromas of Ardales' cuisine are a testament to the region's agricultural wealth, and one of the key elements of Ardales' gastronomy is the emphasis on fresh, local ingredients.
The surrounding countryside provides a diverse range of produce that is used creatively in the village's dishes. Olive oil, a staple of Mediterranean cuisine, plays a starring role in many recipes, adding its distinctive flavour to a wide variety of dishes.
The village's culinary scene also features a range of succulent meats, including tender cuts of pork and delicious lamb dishes. Local game, such as rabbit and partridge, is also used in traditional stews, demonstrating the ingenuity and adaptability of Ardales cooks.
All in all, the gastronomy of Ardales is a delightful fusion of tradition, creativity and the natural abundance of the Andalusian countryside, offering you a unique and unforgettable dining experience.
** Convent of San Sebastian in Ardales
Ardales ➜ Natural EnvironmentThe natural environment around Ardales is a captivating blend of diverse landscapes that will leave you in awe. This stunning region is characterized by peculiar rock formations that create an otherworldly atmosphere, while lush pine forests provide a stark contrast to the rocky surroundings and are home to a variety of flora and fauna.
Ardales is also home to the mesmerizing Ardales Lakes, a series of three dazzling blue reservoirs that glisten under the Andalusian sun. These enchanting lakes are not only a visual feast, but also a center for recreational activities such as swimming, fishing and kayaking. They serve as an idyllic spot for relaxation and adventure, with their turquoise waters and sandy beaches inviting you to bask in the beauty of nature.
Adding to the allure of Ardales' natural environment is the striking canyon near the famous Caminito del Rey. This awe-inspiring canyon, with its sheer rock walls and dizzying depths, is a sight to behold. The rugged beauty of the canyon, combined with the lush vegetation and unique geological features of the area, make Ardales an irresistible destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Are there any guided tours available in Ardales?Yes, there are guided tours available, including those for El Caminito del Rey and the Cueva de Ardales (www.giglon.com). Local tour operators can help you arrange customized tours based on your interests.
Is Ardales a good place for a family vacation?Absolutely! Ardales offers a variety of activities and attractions suitable for families, including outdoor adventures, historical sites, and cultural experiences. The village's welcoming atmosphere and beautiful surroundings make it an excellent destination for families to explore together.
We recommend renting a cottage in the countryside and exploring the whole area.
** The Ardales National Park - Ardales
Can I rent a bicycle in Ardales to explore the surrounding area?Yes, there are bicycle rental services in Ardales and nearby towns. Renting a bike is a fantastic way to explore the beautiful countryside and enjoy the natural environment at your own pace.
What are the most popular outdoor activities in Ardales?Popular outdoor activities in Ardales include hiking in the nearby mountains and natural parks, exploring the citrus and olive groves, and enjoying water sports on the Guadalhorce River.
Can I do a wine tour in Ardales?Yes, there are several wineries and vineyards in the area that offer tours and tastings, allowing visitors to sample some of the region's delicious wines. We recommend this wine tour: Guided visit to a beautiful vineyard and winery with wine tasting and tapas. It leaves from Malaga or you can join the group in Álora (25 minutes by car from Ardales).
Can I go swimming in Ardales?Yes, there are several natural swimming pools and waterfalls in the area that are popular for swimming and picnicking, such as the Chorro Gorge and the lakes of Ardales.
Ardales (Malaga) ➜ On The Map