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One look at a photo of this beautiful bridge spanning a spectacular gorge was enough to put a day trip to Ronda on our itinerary for Andalusia in southern Spain.
The bridge – the Puente Nuevo – was built in the 18th century to link Ronda’s old and new towns. It is not only beautiful but an engineering marvel.
Walking across the bridge that spans the El Tajo Gorge and taking in the views is a highlight of a day trip to Ronda.
But there is so much more to this little Andalusian town than those admittedly incredible views.
Here are our tips for making the most of your visit to Ronda, but first a little background.
Ronda is a small city of around 40,000 in Málaga southern Spain.
Perched 750 meters above sea level, the city is divided in two by the river Guadalevin, that weaves its way through the El Tajo gorge.
The rolling hills of Sierra de Grazalema provide a dramatic back drop to the city whose history stretches back over 2,000 years.
Ronda has had many rulers, most notably the Romans and Caliphate of Córdoba, who all left their mark on the city.
Best things to do in Ronda
Honestly, you could spend a few days simply wandering the streets, stopping for a drink and taking in the views of this splendid town.
After all, Ronda inspired some of the greatest works by Ernest Hemingway (For Whom the Bell Tolls) and Orson Welles (Don Quixote) but I promised you a list of activities in Ronda, so here they are.
Best views in Ronda
The Spanish have a beautiful word for viewpoint – mirador.
Now I have no idea if it is true but I suspect that Ronda was where the concept of mirador was born.
Whatever you do, don’t forget your camera.
Head straight for the Mirador de Ronda where you can take in incredible vistas of the Puente Nuevo, the rolling hills in the back grounds and the spectacular gorge below.
Then cross the Puente Nuevo bridge to admire the El Tajo gorge. Make sure to cross on both sides of the bridge because the scenery is different depending on which way you look.
On your left, after you cross the bridge, there is the Mirador de Aldehuela – named after the architect Jose Martin de Aldehuela who designed Ronda’s bullring. This is the spot for views of the northern side of El Tajo and the Old Bridge.
Hike the el Tajo gorge
If you are feeling energetic, take the path from the Puerta de Almocábar (Arab Gate) down the gorge for spectacular views of Ronda above.
The hike is short at around 5km but bear in mind there are several steep sections on the ascent and descent.
Bridges of Ronda
Apart from the famous Puente Nuevo, there are two other bridges in Ronda worth taking a look at.
The Puente Viejo (old Bridge), is to the east of the new bridge. Now a pedestrian only bridge, it was built to span the Tajo gorge in the 16th century.
Unsurprisingly, it was Romans who first built a bridge in Ronda. The Roman Bridge or Puente San Miguel is actually the Arab bridge built on Roman foundations. It is found under the Puente Viejo near the Arab baths.
Visit the Arab Baths
Just outside the old city walls, you can visit one of the best preserved examples of an Arabic hammam.
Built on the site of old Roman baths in the 11th or 12th century, there were three main rooms – hot, medium, and cold. Each were fed with water from the two nearby streams.
More information about visiting the baths on this website.
Relax in the Alameda del Tajo
Built in the 1800s, the Alameda del Tajo is a beautiful shady park that leads to magnificent views of the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park.
If you are travelling with children there is a park here and a duck pond that will keep the little ones amused for a while.
Eat and drink your way around Ronda’s tapas bars and cake shops
When in Ronda, you must eat the local specialties.
We discovered delicious cured meats, local queso curado – hard cheese, chestnuts, honey and of course wine from the up and coming Serranía de Ronda wine route.
The cakes were to die for though.
It was so hard to choose from the patisserie selection and then we saw the turrón (nougat).
If you have a sweet tooth make sure you stop at Confiteria Daver – Virgen de los remedios, 6 Ronda
Explore the old city and Puerta de Almocabar
Ronda’s strategic position meant that it is well fortified. The sturdy Islamic city walls and Arab Gate – Puerta de Almocabar – have stood the test of time.
Climb up to the top of the walls and walk along the ramparts for more views of the city.
Visit Casa don Bosco
This well positioned house in the heart of Ronda’s old town belonged to an order of priests. While the history and interior are interesting, you pay your €2 for more amazing views across the Tajo gorge.
Address: Calle Tenorio, 20, Ronda
Ronda bullring – Plaza de Toros
I do not support bull fighting in any way shape or form so we did not visit the bullring in Ronda.
Many people do go there to admire the 18th century building, said to be one of the oldest and most beautiful bullrings in Spain.
“I have sought everywhere the city of my dreams and I have finally found it in Ronda”
– Rainer María Rilke
Where to eat in Ronda
As you would expect, Ronda is overflowing with tapas bars and restaurants.
When it is sunny – and it usually is in this part of the world – tables spill out onto plazas and cobbled streets. The atmosphere is festive and fun.
Old Town – Bodega San Francisco – Plaza Ruedo Alameda, 32, Ronda – buzzing place with an extensive tapas list. Try the setas – mushrooms cooked in garlic.
Near Plaza Socoro – Taberna El Almacén – Calle Virgen de los Remedios, 7, Ronda – modern tapas and local wines
Don’t forget to leave room for the cakes from Daver I mentioned earlier.
How to get to Ronda by car
Seville to Ronda
The drive from Seville to Ronda by car is one of the most beautiful in Europe if you take the scenic route through the Sierra de Grazalema.
Along the way you pass many of the famous Pueblos Blancos (white villages) and you should stop at least once along the way
We took the E-5 south towards Jerez and took exit 44 towards Lebrija/Las Cabezasto and then followed the SE-5209 and CA-5101 signs to Arcos de la Frontera. Here we took some time to walk around this stunning town with its labyrinth like streets.
From Arcos de la Frontera take the A-384 and A-374 road towards Ronda, winding your way through the Andalusian countryside. Some of the towns along the way – Bornos, Villamartin and Zahara – are classic examples of the whitewashed Pueblos Blancos.
If you want a more direct route take the A-376 south east toward Utrera and then the A-375, A-384 and A-374 to Ronda. This route will take just under two hours.
Malaga to Ronda by car
It is an easy 1½ hour drive from Malaga to Ronda, mostly on excellent motorways.
Head west out of Malaga on the A-357 and then take the A-367 to Ronda.
Where to park in Ronda
Make sure to plan ahead for places to park in Ronda. On weekends the town is particularly busy with Spanish day trippers as well as international tourists.
Parking La Merced – Calle Carlos Cobo Gómez, 1, Ronda, Málaga – Open 07:00am – 23:00pm
We found this secure underground car park near the Alameda park and the tourist office. The spaces are small and the ramps down to each level are steep but that’s what you would expect from a city built on a cliff right?
Guided day trip to Ronda from Malaga and Seville
If you prefer to relax while someone else does the driving, here are some of the tours we considered
Where to stay in Ronda (if you just can’t leave)
Honestly, I wish we had scheduled some more time to explore Ronda and the Pueblos Blancos – white villages of Andalusia. But we had other plans in Malaga and a scheduled trip to the Alhambra in Granada.
If I ever go back, and I hope to one day, I would love to stay in the magnificent Parador de Ronda.
You can’t miss the hotel as you walk around the Mirador and towards the Puente Nuevo bridge. With sweeping views of the El Tajo gorge, it really seems like the best place to stay in Ronda. Click for more info and latest prices
Have you been to Ronda and admired these incredible views?
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