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My Most Favourite White Villages in Andalusia

  |   Spain   |   15 Comments

It’s been more than six months now since I have relocated to Andalusia. And even though I am more of a big city girl I cannot help but adore the pretty white villages that the south of Spain is so renown for.

Resembling stacks of sugar cubes, they often are placed in gorgeous mountainous settings, in most cases with a towering Moorish castle on top.

The intimate atmosphere of the narrow streets, the stunning vistas from elevated positions and the pretty potted geraniums along walls and on doorsteps make these villages a rewarding day trip destination. In this article, you will soon discover that the real beauty of this region lies not just in cities like Seville, Cordoba or Granada but in the charming old hamlets that are dotted around the landscape.

These are five of my most favourite Andalusian white villages.

The Prettiest White Village in Spain: Frigiliana

Frigiliana

This gorgeous white village, or pueblo blanco, is located east of Málaga and can also be easily reached from Granada. If you plan a holiday in the seaside resort of Nerja, a trip to Frigiliana is a must, since it is only 6km from the coast.

Frigiliana is a fine example of the Moorish Mudéjar architecture – the white cubic houses have only small windows, are huddled close together and are connected via narrow paths and stairways. The villagers are very proud of their cultural heritage and keep the streets clean and uncluttered which makes for great holiday photos.

When visiting Frigiliana, make sure you stop by the old mansion where you will find a small shop selling local artisan goods. There are also several hiking trails that will take you into the surrounding national park.

Stunning Vistas in Mijas

Colourful pots and flowers for sale.

To the west of Málaga, you will find Mijas Pueblo, just a few kilometres into the mountains from seaside resort Fuengirola.

In contrast to Frigiliana, there are far more tourist businesses in Mijas, including restaurants, café and souvenir shops. Not much is left of the Moorish castle but you can still visit the charming Ermita de la Virgen de la Peña which was built inside a rock. Or you can hike up to the Ermita del Calvario which is located in the mountainside on top of the village.

Most visitors will particular come for the sweeping views across the fertile plains all the way to the sparkling blue Mediterranean Sea. Many restaurants offer panorama terraces, or alternatively just have a coffee in one of the cafés overlooking the surroundings.

Cave Dwellings in Setenil de las Bodegas

Setenil de las Bodegas

Most visitors planning a trip to Andalusia will have heard of Ronda with its stunning bridge that stretches across a deep gorge. Unfortunately, most will miss a much smaller village right next to Ronda, which is called Setenil de las Bodegas.

Just like Ronda, Setenil is dominated by its mountainous landscape, however, in this case, the first occupants have decided not to use the mountain-top as a defensive measure but instead, they built their houses underneath the rock ledges.

Technically these are not cave-dwellings since the houses have not been dug into the rock. Instead, the people of Setenil simply closed off the existing cavity with a wall that resembles ordinary house fronts, complete with doors, windows, and even balconies. While this is particularly enchanting, don’t forget to also climb on top of the mountain to visit the many sights of the town such as the churches and the Moorish fortress.

Views all the way to Africa From Casares

Casares

If you are planning a summer vacation in Estepona, make sure you also drop by the white village of Casares. On approach, the sugar cubes that form the village are particularly appealing. Park in the free parking right at the entry of the village and follow the main street to Plaza España where you can soak up the lively atmosphere while sipping a coffee or a glass of wine.

On top of the mountain, visit the ruins of the Moorish castle, the pretty Spanish cemetery and enjoy stunning views all the way to Gibraltar and the African coast.

Just twenty minutes drive from Casares you will find the old Roman baths of Hedondia which can get very busy in particular in summer. The water is very rich in sulfur – hence the smells – and has a beautiful blue colour to it thanks to the limestone underground.

The Caves of Aracena

Aracena

Further east in the province of Huelva, you will find the pretty white village of Aracena. While there is a charming castle on top of the mountain which you can visit, most people will want to take part in a guided tour of the Groto of the Marvels. The story goes that a boy found the caves while looking for a lost pig, but now the caves are located right in the village and are easily accessible.

The most enchanting part of the grottos are areas where underground lakes and rivers have formed. Clever lighting brings out the amazing rock formation, some of which look like alien life forms or giant seashells.

Spain’s Pretty White Villages

These are just five of the many white villages that you can explore in the south of Spain. Each one of them comes with distinctive features, own traditions, and a great atmosphere. If you are looking for more Andalusia inspiration please feel free to get in touch.

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Silke Elzner

AUTHOR - Silke Elzner

Hello! My name is Silke. Happiness and Things is a travelogue about amazing European destinations and beautiful places around the world. I believe that beauty is even in the smallest things and I want to inspire you to see the world differently. Read more about it here.

15 Comments
  • Fiona Maclean | Dec 3, 2017 at 4:40

    I haven’t been to Andelusia, despite having travelled quite a lot in Spain. It is somewhere I really want to visit – Frigiliana looks quite stunning;)

    • Silke Elzner

      Silke Elzner | Dec 4, 2017 at 3:02

      Andalusia is my most favourite region in Spain but then I am probably biased because I live here 😛 I am sure you would like it too!

  • Natalie | Dec 4, 2017 at 1:40

    I haven’t been to Spain, but I’m going to have to visit Andalusia when I go. I find myself really wanting to see these beautiful white villages (like Frigiliana). Then, you tell me about caves and grottos in Aracena! This sounds like a unique place to visit and something right up my alley.

    But really, I want to visit all 5 because they each have interesting features.

    • Silke Elzner

      Silke Elzner | Dec 4, 2017 at 2:34

      Hi Natalie, Spain is such a beautiful country. You won’t be disappointed. Hopefully, you get to vist soon!

  • Marissa | Dec 4, 2017 at 2:43

    I would love to visit Frigiliana and buy some of the local crafts. I like to get souvenirs on my trips, but I hate buying them from large stores where you don’t know where they come from. There’s nothing better than being able to talk to the vendors themselves who made what you’re about to buy.

    • Silke Elzner

      Silke Elzner | Dec 4, 2017 at 3:00

      I agree! It’s always best getting souvenirs straight from the source. I am currently scouting nice plates for our walls, as they are all done differently around Andalusia. The Granada design for example has a pomegranade. It’s a great way of taking something home from your trip!

  • Carol Colborn | Dec 4, 2017 at 13:58

    Loved Mijas. I am glad we took the time to go there when we spent a week in Costa del Sol near Malaga!

    • Silke Elzner

      Silke Elzner | Dec 4, 2017 at 19:18

      Mijas is such an easy win. It’s so close to the coastal resorts, and you can even take the bus! Glad you loved it as much as we do 🙂

  • Divyakshi | Dec 5, 2017 at 0:05

    I loved the way you described the villages as sugar cubes! When I saw your picture of Estepona I agreed too!

    I am a big big big admirer of small hamlets and find beauty in their simplicity coming from Mumbai, cities rarely charm me:)
    Frigiliana looks straight out of a fairy tale with that enchanting Moorish Mudéjar architecture and those pretty local goodies! Houses under rock ledges seems like such a cool thing to have! Cave dwellings with a twist, indeed!
    The Caves of Aracena have such an interesting story! Thoroughly enjoyed this read!

    • Silke Elzner

      Silke Elzner | Dec 5, 2017 at 1:15

      Thanks, Divyakshi, for your kind comment. The village that you refer to is called Casares. Estepona is a popular seaside resort nearby, so Casares is a great day trip destination for people who spend their beach holidays in Estepona. I can imagine that it’s quite different to Mumbai, I am sure you would love it. 🙂

  • Meagan | Dec 5, 2017 at 4:32

    This post is SERIOUS travel inspo! I always think of Greece having the monopoly on beautiful, bleached coastal cities, but these are absolutely stunning. And I love how you go into details about what makes each village or city unique. And that “cave dwelling” city? OH MY GOSH. We’ve been dreaming of Spain lately, so I’m 100% keeping this post for later!!

  • Paige | Dec 5, 2017 at 18:24

    I’ve not been to Spain, but I’m going to have to make Andalusia a must-see. I had no idea that there were white villages like this – they remind me of photos I’ve seen of Greek Islands like Mykonos. Casares would be the top of my white village list because the town itself looks beautiful and how cool that you can see all the way into Africa! It’s cool enough when you can see into another state or country, but another continent is amazing! I’ll have to stop through here on my way to Morocco next year!

    • Silke Elzner

      Silke Elzner | Dec 5, 2017 at 19:25

      That’s a great idea! These villages were built by Moroccan tribes, so I am sure you will love them.

  • Amelie | Dec 6, 2017 at 20:05

    Ahh man, it’s so gorgeous! I like that you refer to some of the villages as sugar cubes, I think it makes them even cuter. The first photo reminded me of Greece a bit!

    • Silke Elzner

      Silke Elzner | Dec 9, 2017 at 2:11

      Thanks Amelie! The term sugar cubes was something that I picked up from somewhere else but I found it an apt description of the setup so I stole it 🙂

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