Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos
The Famous White Villages of Cádiz
** Castle of Olvera - Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos, Cádiz
Nestled between three of Andalusia's most famous cities, Malaga, Sevilla, and Cádiz, you will find a string of ancient white villages known as the "Pueblos Blancos".
These pretty villages share a similar past but each is vastly different from the other. While most are built high on the cliffs with imposing towers and castles protecting them from bandits and other dangers, one was built deep into a ravine.
Whatever their differences, they are all steeped in history and culture and today still retain their authentic Moorish roots and charm.
** Zahara & Grazalema - Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos, Cádiz
Read about these other incredible areas in Andalucía too!: The Costa Tropical - The Alpujarras - Nerja
Follow the Famous Route of the Pueblos Blancos!
Contents on This Page
- Where are the Famous Pueblos Blancos?
- The History of These Pretty Villages
- How Many Pueblos Blancos are there?
- Top 6 Pueblos Blancos You Must Visit
- Pueblos Blancos on the Map
- TOP Pueblos Blancos Routes
- Best Places to Stay ➜ Pueblos Blancos Route
- Distances Between Towns
- Best Recommended "Pueblos Blancos" Tours
- "Prettiest Villages in Spain" ➜ Winners
- Best Time to Visit the Pueblos Blancos
- Transportation to the Pueblos Blancos
Where are the Famous Pueblos Blancos?The Pueblos Blancos are mostly located in the northeastern part of the province of Cádiz, in Andalucía. However, the largest of these villages, Ronda, is in the province of Malaga. It is just 1 hour and 30 minutes west of the provincial capital, also called Malaga.
These special villages are just 1 hour and 45 minutes east of Cádiz and 1 hour and 45 minutes southeast of Sevilla, so if you are visiting any of these major cities, the Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos is an easy one- or two-day excursion... and well worth your time.
** Sierra de la Grazalema - Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos, Cádiz
The pueblos blancos are known for their stunning natural beauty. The villages themselves are exquisite, but it's their unique surroundings that really make them stand out. Many of the pueblos blancos are located inside the Sierra de la Grazalema Natural Park, an unspoiled mountainous area surrounded by a colorful patchwork of rural farms and bright turquoise lakes. Just driving from village to village is an absolute dream.
The History of These Pretty Villages
The Pueblos Blancos date back to prehistoric times. We know this based on artifacts unearthed in the area and black soot found on the cave ceilings in Setenil de las Bodegas, which were probably used as a natural shelter. The Romans, Moors, and Christians later occupied the area.
Clustered together between mountains, lakes, and lush valleys these rural villages formed the final frontier against the Christians in defense of the Kingdom of Granada.
It was in Zahara, which was perfectly positioned between the great strongholds of Seville and Ronda, where the Christians and the Moors battled over final control of the western border. After having been defeated in a vicious battle, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel were so enraged that they attacked and finally conquered the Moors in the capital of Granada.
** Olvera - Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos, Cádiz
Also of historical interest are the ruins of the 32-hectare ancient city of Acinipo. Acinipo was an urban area that thrived in the first century AD and had a population of more than 5.000 people. It fell in 429 AD but it's believed that its people moved to Arunda (modern day Ronda) because it was strategically better located.
Acinipo can still be visited today (there is a very impressive Roman Amphitheatre), it's just a 15-minute drive from the town of Setenil. Or take this Free Tour of Acinipo.
How Many Pueblos Blancos are there?
There are about twenty-one (21) pueblos blancos of varying sizes. Ronda is the largest, most well-known, and considered to be the capital of the pueblos blancos. It's also the only one that is not in the province of Cádiz.
The remaining fifteen (15) pueblos blancos are: Alcalá del Valle, Algar, Algodonales, Benaocaz, Benamahoma, Bornos, El Bosque, El Gastor, Espera, Prado del Rey, Puerto Serrano, Torre Alhaquime, Ubrique, Villaluenga del Rosario, and Villamartin.
Top 6 Pueblos Blancos You Must Visit
#1 TOP Pueblos Blancos Stops ➜ RONDA
Known as one of Andalucía's most iconic cities and one of the most visually stunning villages in Spain, Ronda should not be missed.
When one envisions the village of Ronda, the first thing that comes to mind is its striking juxtaposition atop a steep gorge, its two sides joined together by the famous "Puente Nuevo" bridge that falls steeply but elegantly into the ravine.
** Ronda - Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos, Cádiz
Ronda’s cobblestone streets are an absolute pleasure to explore, and the old Roman bridges and historic baths will take you back to a time when Ronda was a power to be reckoned with.
Make sure not to miss these top sites while in Ronda; the Plaza de Toros, the Casa del Rey Moro, El Puente Árabe (Moorish bridge), Palacio del Marqués de Salvatierra, and the Baños de los Árabes (Arab baths).
➜ Being a destination in such high demand you will find a huge assortment of tours to Ronda leaving from the Costa del Sol, Malaga, Granada, and Seville. There are also several free walking tours available within the city itself.
#2 TOP Pueblos Blancos Stops ➜ GRAZALEMA
Resting peacefully under the magnificent "Peñon Grande" is the lovely white village of Grazalema. It lies in the heart of the Sierra de Grazalema National Park, a completely untouched natural reserve replete with soaring mountains, crystalline lakes, and a vast expanse of rolling farmland.
** Grazalema - Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos, Cádiz
Grazalema's quaint "Plaza de España", which is adorned from end to end with bright red geraniums flowing from their pots and presided over by the imposing beauty of its 18th century Iglesia de la Aurora, has been designated as a "Site of Historical Importance" and the village itself has been chosen as one of "Spain's Prettiest Villages".
If you find yourself in this "Pueblo Blanco", join this private tour to learn more about its Moorish history and don't forget to take home some locally made products, such as its wool blankets and artisan cheeses.
#3 TOP Pueblos Blancos Stops ➜ ARCOS DE LA FRONTERA
Surrounded by a colorful patchwork of rolling hills and farms, Arcos de la Frontera is a must do stop on the Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos.
Arcos is yet another of Cádiz's famous "pueblos blancos" that competes with Ronda in its dramatic and breathtaking location atop a staggering rocky cliff along the Guadalete River. A visit to Arcos will reward you with amazing views of its rustic whitewashed homes clinging to the limestone gorge and the church of Santa María de la Asunción reigning over the town from high above.
** Arcos de la Frontera - Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos, Cádiz
A walk through its cobblestone streets will reveal its impressive history that dates to the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. Arcos has been inhabited by the Phoenicians, Romans, and later the Moors, all of which contributed to its outstanding architecture and way of life. This is why in 1962 Arcos de la Frontera was recognized as a National Historic and Artistic Monument.
Don't miss seeing the Castillo de los Arcos, the church of Santa María de la Asunción, or the views from the Plaza del Cabildo. If you are staying in Arcos, we recommend the Parador directly across from the castle with panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, and this walking tour of the village.
#4 TOP Pueblos Blancos Stops ➜ ZAHARA DE LA SIERRA
Zahara de la Sierra looks like something out of a fairy tale. On approach the town suddenly appears high on a hill with its houses draping over the edge of a rocky crag. Its formidable castle stands tall at the apex of this story book village and a bright turquoise lake protects it from below.
** Zahara de la Sierra - Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos, Cádiz
Zahara is steep, but worth the climb. It has a very pleasant old town with a central plaza flanked on either end by the Iglesia de Santa Maria de la Mesa and the San Juan de Letran Chapel, both deserving a visit. It's pretty plaza is also lined with good, authentically Spanish restaurants and is a good place to stop for lunch.
After lunch a walk up to the Zahara Castle (Torre del Homenaje) is recommended and you will be rewarded with the best views in all of Andalucía.
To learn more about this history of this beautiful Andalucían village join this private guided walking tour.
#5 TOP Pueblos Blancos Stops ➜ OLVERA
Surrounded on all sides by a sea of olive groves, Olvera is the starting point for the Via Verde, a 38 km award winning hiking / bicycling route along an old, abandoned rail line... once connecting Olvera with a neighboring pueblo blanco, Puerto Serrano.
Thousands of people flock to Olvera every year to cycle through tunnels and over bridges on this now famous route. Restaurants are open along the way, in old railway stations, where cyclist can enjoy a quick snack. A hotel has even been built out of some of the old train cars.
** Olvera - Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos, Cádiz
People have been living in the area around Olvera for more than two thousand years and the village was very active in defending the Kingdom of Granada during Moorish times.
Explore the winding streets of this picturesque white village starting in the Villa neighborhood, the first Moorish settlement, which included the Cathedral (a mosque at that time), the Plaza Iglesia, and the Arab castle.
#6 TOP Pueblos Blancos Stops ➜ SETENIL DE LAS BODEGAS
Of all the pueblos blancos, Setenil de las Bodegas is the most interesting and unique. While most of the nearby villages were built high on a cliffs edge to watch for approaching danger, Setenil had a different strategy...
As you get close to the town of Setenil you will notice that you are driving deep into a mysterious ravine. The people of Setenil decided long ago that the best way to protect themselves was to hide their village within the walls of a steep gorge. You will see as you wander around this pretty village that all the homes and storefronts are built into the cave walls with only the facades facing outward.
** Setenil - Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos, Cádiz
Two of the most interesting areas of Setenil to visit are the Cueva del Sol and the Cueva de la Sombra. This translates to the "Sunny Cave" and the "Shady Cave". Named appropriately, the Sunny Cave is a long promenade that runs along the sunny side of the River Trejo, protected above by a giant boulder. The Cueva de la Sombra can be found on the shadier side of the river. Both "caves" are bustling with activity and lined with cafes, bars, restaurants, and small shops.
While in Setenil don't miss seeing the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación, the Nazari Castle (Homage Tower), or the Roman Amphitheatre in the ancient city of Acinipo just outside of town. Walking tours of Setenil are also available, as well as touring one of the cave homes.
Pueblos Blancos on the Map
As you can see on the map below, all twenty-one (21) pueblos blancos are sprinkled throughout the northern part of Cádiz, and all are relatively close together. You could easily see two or three in a day.
** 21 Villages - Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos, Cádiz
Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos - THREE (3) Itineraries
If you are thinking about following the "Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos" and visiting some of these stunning villages, we suggest you stay in one of three places; Ronda, Grazalema, or the area around El Gastor.
Staying in any of these three towns will allow you to see many of the pueblos blancos in two short days by following one of the itineraries below...
** The Ronda Route - Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos, Cádiz
The Ronda RouteThe first route we recommend, which takes you to four of the TOP "pueblos blancos", is the Ronda route. This route assumes you are staying in the town of Ronda. If you haven't already planned a night in Ronda, you definitely should!
This route is done in one or two days, depending on how much time you have, but if you visit all four villages in one day it will take about 10 hours and you will have to stay on a tight schedule. We recommend doing it in two days, to make the most out of your trip.
Ronda Route - One DayStart this itinerary early in the morning, around 8:00 am and for Ronda hotel recommendations read the "BEST Places to Stay ➜ Ronda Route" section below.
* If you are running out of time, drop Olvera and go directly from Zahara to Setenil (43 minutes / 32 km).
Ronda Route - Two DaysThis route is more relaxed and will give you at least three hours to visit each village.
BEST Places to Stay ➜ Ronda RouteRonda is an amazing town with a lot to see. We suggest spending at least a day and a half in Ronda, then venturing out to see the other "Pueblos Blancos".
El Gastor Route - Two Days
Another option for a wonderful rural holiday is to stay in Ronda for a night or two and then move on to the El Gastor area. From El Gastor you can visit many of the most popular pueblos blancos as well as some of the smaller off the beaten track ones.
This route will be done in two days.
** El Gastor Route Day 1 & 2 - Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos, Cádiz
BEST Places to Stay ➜ El Gastor RoutesThe advantage of staying in El Gastor versus Ronda is the stunning natural beauty of the El Gastor Lakes and surrounding areas. You will be staying in a rural home with a swimming pool and stunning views versus a hotel or hostel in town.
El Gastor is a tiny village and doesn't have many hotels or hostels, but it has been rated as one of the BEST areas to rent rural villas in all of Spain. Here are three of our recommendations below:
The Grazalema Route - Two Days
Grazalema is one of the prettiest of the pueblos blancos and is right in the heart of the incredible Sierra de Grazalema National Park, making it a wonderful place to spend two or three days. The hiking in the Grazalema area is also fantastic and worth doing.
** Grazalema Route Day 1 & 2 - Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos, Cádiz
On the Grazalema Route, you will see five of the top pueblos blancos and some of the popular smaller ones. It's a little further away from a few of them (Olvera & Setenil), compared to El Gastor, so you will have to do a little more driving.
The advantage of staying in Grazalema is that you are also closer to Arcos de la Frontera, one of the must-see pueblos blancos that didn't make it on the other itineraries.
If you have extra time, you will find these villages less than half an hour from Grazalema: Benaocaz (26 min (19.5 km)), Benamahoma (22 min (13.3 km)), Prado del Rey (36 min (27.1 km)), Ubrique (36 min (26.3 km)), Villaluenga del Rosario (20 min (13.5 km)), and Villamartin (44 min (37.9 km)).
BEST Places to Stay ➜ The Grazalema Route
We also recommend in Grazalema...
- Villa Turística de Grazalema - Our second favorite! A rural hotel with self-catering cottages.
- Puerta de la Villa - A four-star hotel, BEST location in town!
- Peñon Grande - A two-star budget friendly option off the main plaza.
- Camping Tajo Rodillo - Grazalema's campsite, great for hikers!
Distances Between the Pueblos Blancos & Other CitiesLarger Cities ➜ Ronda
Malaga: 1 hr 26 min (102.5 km)
Marbella: 1 hr 8 min (63.1 km)
Cádiz: 1 hr 46 min (145.5 km)
Sevilla: 1 hr 46 min (133.0 km)
Cordoba: 2 hr 15 min (167.0 km)
Smaller White Villages ➜ Ronda
Jerez de la Frontera: 1 hr 32 min (115.4 km)
Arcos de la Frontera: 1 hr 10 min (85.0 km)
Zahara de la Sierra: 39 min (36.4 km)
Olvera: 44 min (34.3 km)
Setenil de las Bodegas: 21 min (18.9 km)
Grazalema: 39 min (33.5 km)
Oficina de Información Turística
Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos
Plaza Blas Infante, s/n, 29400
Telephone: +34 952 18 71 19
10:00 am - 14:00 pm
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
BEST Recommended Tours to the "Pueblos Blancos"The natural environment throughout the Sierra de Grazalema and the Sierra de Cádiz is so spectacular that if you have a car... we recommend you drive.
If you don't have a car and want to visit these charming pueblos blancos, rent one, or join a tour that leaves from Ronda, Malaga, Sevilla, or Granada. Most stop in at least two or three of the villages.
Try these other unique tours and experiences of the Pueblos Blancos and Ronda!
- LA Organic Estate & Olive Oil Tasting Experience,
- Private Tour of Grazalema,
- Private Tour of Zahara de la Sierra,
- Free Walking Tour of Ronda,
- Setenil de las Bodegas Tour
Other Important Information You Should Know About the Pueblos Blancos
1. "Prettiest Villages in Spain" ➜ Winners
Not only are the Pueblos Blancos beautiful but three of them have been chosen as "winners" by the Association of The Most Beautiful Villages in Spain.
The "Association of The Most Beautiful Villages in Spain" was formed in 2013 to recognize the country's most picture-perfect villages, inspired by the Les Plus Beaux Villages de France ('most beautiful villages in France') association. It began with a group of sixteen villages and over the years it has gradually added locations to reach a total of 94 villages throughout Spain.
Out of the five villages that have been chosen in the Province of Cádiz, three have been part of the "Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos"; Grazalema, Zahara de la Sierra, and Setenil de las Bodegas. The other two are: Vejer de la Frontera and Castellar de la Frontera.
2. When is the Best Time to Visit the Pueblos Blancos?
- During the months of April, May and October you are most likely to experience good weather with pleasant average temperatures that fall between 20 degrees Celsius (68°F) and 25 degrees Celsius (77°F).
- On average, the warmest month(s) are July and August, with July being the hottest.
- The months of January, February, March, April, August, September, and October have a high chance of precipitation, with November being the wettest (average in Grazalema is over 800 mm - the highest in Spain).
- On average, the coolest month is January.
- June is the driest month.
3. Transportation to Ronda & Pueblo Blancos
From Malaga: 1 hr 23 min (102 km) follow the A-357 and A-367 to Ronda.
From Cádiz: 1 hr 43 min (145 km) take the A-384 to Ronda.
From Seville: 1 hr 43 min (133 km) via A-375 and A-374 to Ronda.