Most people visiting Southern Spain head for the popular cities of Granada, Seville or Cordoba and it’s no wonder as those places are abundant with Spanish culture and its colorful history. But for sheer drama, it’s hard to beat Ronda.
This delightful village perches precariously overlooking El Tajo gorge and is a longstanding favorite of so many visitors to southern Spain. Here’s why you must include Ronda next time you visit Spanish soil and what you should do there.
Wander the cobblestones of the old town
Begin at Ronda’s 16th-century convent, now an art museum, and fan out into the neighboring streets lined with mansions built by Ronda’s wealthy nobility. Step inside the Casa de Don Bosco and admire its roofed patio. Palacio Mondragón is arguably the shiniest jewel in a richly studded crown, its beautiful water gardens a reminder that it was once a Moorish palace.
Nearby you’ll find the charming Plaza Duquesa de Parcent; don’t miss the church of Santa Maria de Mayor with its attractive bell tower.
Also worth a mention is the Minaret of San Sebastián. Once part of a mosque, later a church, the minaret survives though the rest of the building has long gone. Surprisingly, when the church was completely destroyed in the 1600s due to the Morisco uprisings or the revolt against the Castilian Crown, rumor has it that the minaret was intentionally left remaining as a constant reminder to the people of what they had since lost. This famous building was declared a national monument of historic importance in 1931 and its intriguing tower is a commonly photographed historical landmark as you will observe.
A view you will never forget
Like every other visitor, you’re going to want to walk out across the Puente Nuevo, the bridge which straddles the chasm separating the old town and the new. Despite its name, it actually dates from the late 18th century – even “nuevo” is pretty ancient in these parts.
It’s Ronda encapsulated; the bridge features in every brochure and is the iconic image of the town. Peering down to the bottom of the canyon or across to the whitewashed houses that characterize this part of Spain is a must. But once you’re done, hike downhill and gaze up at the bridge itself – now that’s a splendid view. Almost 100 meters tall, this impressive structure creates the most awe-inspiring backdrop to any photograph.
For some of the best views in the city, consider a stay in the old city hall, Parador de Ronda, which is one the edge of the cliff. It is the building to the left in the photo at the top of the page.
Picnic in Ronda’s green lung
The trouble with living at the edge of a precipice is that you don’t really get a garden of your own. No matter, when the town’s own garden is the wonderful green space of the Alameda del Tajo. This pretty little park was designed with the idea of providing somewhere for locals without gardens to get much-needed space and relax. These days it particularly comes alive on summer weekends, when tourists and locals alike flock to its shady trees and soothing fountains to seek solace from the heat of the sun. Just a little further stroll along the park’s path, you’ll reach a fantastic ‘mirador’ or viewpoint with expansive views deep into the valley and plain. Even in inclement weather, the views down to the valley is a memory you will never forget, though you’ll prefer the clearer views if you choose to avoid the winter months. Once you’ve strolled beside its rose-entwined pergolas, settle down and enjoy one of southern Spain’s best sunset spots.
Visit one of Spain’s famous baths
You’ll find Baños Arabes, Spain’s hammams, all over Andalusia and no visit is complete unless you’ve tried one. Since Moorish times, people have come to the baths mainly for health reasons; to sweat out toxins and impurities in the hot steam. Ronda’s were constructed underground in the 11th or 12th century and featured a combination of hot, warm, and cool rooms. Though the baths here no longer function as a pool, they’re open as a museum – and after a visit here you’ll be sure to want to find working baths elsewhere in Andalusia.
Ronda is also well known for its long tradition of bullfighting. In fact, the Plaza de Toros in Ronda continues to hold a special place in modern Spanish culture and history. Although the practice of bullfighting is what some would consider a controversial topic, the building itself is somewhat of an architectural masterpiece. It is the oldest bullring constructed entirely of stone, with an incredible 136 Tuscan sandstone columns forming 68 spectacular arches, which is still considered a great ambitious project of its era.
Time your visit for the Feria Goyesca in September for a colorful, albeit challenging, experience. The bullring is a museum for those who prefer not to watch the action.
If you’re planning to visit Spain, you won’t want to miss Ronda whatever time of year you come although we thoroughly recommend photographing the most spectacular views it has to offer during summer and late spring.
Transport options. The easiest ways to get to Ronda from Malaga
Getting to Ronda from Malaga airport is now easier than it once was with a network of public transport & private hire options.
If you bring a rental car you will not need it in Ronda which is pretty small. You can park your car under the Plaza del Socorro in the new part of town.
Taxi from Malaga airport to Ronda
Malaga airport taxis can be booked online in advance without having to pay anything upfront at www.malagaairporttaxi.net.
Public bus from Malaga airport to Ronda
Although there is still no direct bus from Malaga to Ronda, there is the option to take one to Marbella, and transfer to another bus at Marbella bus station to Ronda. You will find the bus stop in easy reach just outside arrivals at Malaga airport. One word of wisdom, Keep your ticket just in case you need to transfer to another bus. Check bus schedules here www.alsa.com/en/web/bus/bus-schedules.
The train from Malaga airport to Ronda
From María Zambrano station in Malaga, you can take a train to Ronda at 10:05 am for less than 15 euros. There is another train at 16:48 pm for only 10 Euros. Book tickets here www.renfe.com.