The town of Ronda lies 60km up a winding mountain road from Marbella at an altitude of 739m. It’s one of the most visited towns in Andalucia thanks largely to the mobs of tourists who arrive daily on coach excursions from the Costa del Sol. If that’s your only way of getting there then go for it, it’s well worthwhile but if you have your own transport or can get there independently by bus or train then better still, especially if you can spend a night or two there. There’s a good selection of excellent hotels in town and some quaint family-run hostels. Stay the night and you can join the ‘Rondeños’ on their daily ‘paseo’ up and down what is known locally as “Calle la Bola” (c/Carrera Espinel). This pedestrianised street is packed with interesting, little shops as well as local bars, cafés and fabulous cake shops (and that comes from someone who doesn’t have a sweet tooth!).
Getting to Ronda
Take a coach trip to Ronda from the Costa del Sol or get a bus or train.
Places to Stay
Stay overnight stay in one of Ronda’s many charming hotels.
Things to See & Do
Spain’s original bullfighting arena is just one of Ronda’s many attractions.
As I’ve mentioned there are daily excursions from all the main resorts along the Costa del Sol but if possible I’d recommend getting there under your own steam. Buses arrive in Ronda from Malaga and the main coastal resorts on their way to Seville and beyond whilst train services arrive from Granada, Malaga, Seville and Algeciras. It isn’t the best connected place in Spain so ideally you’d drive here which provides you with a base from which to discover the beautiful villages of the region known collectively as ‘Los Pueblos Blancos’.
What to See
As you enter Ronda from the south you’ll cross the “new” bridge which was built in 1761. This Puente Nuevo stands 130 metres above the Guadelevín river below. It seems that a scene from Ernest Hemingway’s novel ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ which describes fascist sympathisers being pushed to their death in a deep gorge refers to true events which occured in Ronda during the Spanish civil war. Hemingway was a regular visitor to Ronda and there’s a great photo on sale in some of the tourist shops in the town centre showing him alongside Orson Welles and local bullfighter Antonio Ordóñez whose statue stands outside the ancient bullring.
Whilst the general architecture and atmosphere of Ronda announces its Moorish past, it’s the Iglesia de Santa María de la Encarnación la Mayor in Plaza Duquesa de Parcent that bears the clearest testament to that era. As is typical throughout Andalucia, this church was built on the site of a former mosque whilst retaining many characteristics of the original building. Another Moorish site of note are the 13th century Arab baths which are probably the best preserved in the country. They lie just a few minutes walk beyond the amazing Enfrente Arte hotel which is one of my two favourite places to stay in Ronda along with the Parador.
When to Visit
Whilst Ronda gets more than its fair share of blue sky days all year round be prepared for some very cold days up here in the mountains during the winter months. Spring tends to be mild and dry whilst summer temperatures are usually very pleasant. In terms of events the big celebration of the year is the Feria de Pedro Romero during the first week of September when locals dress in typical 18th century Goyesque costumes.