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
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
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
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
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
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.