Ronda with its world-famous bridge and to-die-for views should be on everyone’s bucket list. This Andalucian mountain pueblo simply lives and breathes history, having been ruled by Celts, Romans, Visigoths, Moors and Catholic Kings. In the 18th Century, the infamous bandoleros and other law-breakers practically ran the town. It was also the birthplace of modern bullfighting, and later in the 1950s and 60s a favourite hangout of Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles. It's not surprising Ronda is so romantic!


The Ronda Walkabout

It is a perfect place to wander about picturesque streets and sit on a park bench in the shade of a pink Oleander, taking in the views while listening to a trickling fountain or some classic Spanish guitar. However, to fully enjoy la cuidad soñada (the city of dreams), you must spend at least a night. Here are a dozen + one reasons why:

Fiesta for two at El Parador de Ronda © Karethe Linaae

1 – Wake Up On The Edge

There is nothing quite like it – waking up and looking out your window and seeing this view. The Tajo gorge literally cuts Ronda in two, with the Casco Histórico on one side, and the newer town on the other. Created by the eroding water of the river Guadalevín, with a drop of 100 – 160 meters straight down, those with vertigo might ask for an interior room. While the hotels on the Tajo edge are not the town’s most reasonable accommodation, they are certainly worth the extra splurge. For a room with a killer view, try a night at the classic Parador de Ronda hotel.

Cost: €150-250 per night

Valley below and Ronda above © Karethe Linaae

2 – Take a Morning Stroll Across the Bottom of the Sea

The valley beneath Ronda was once the bottom of the ocean, hence the many seashell encrustations in the surrounding vertical cliffs. The fertile ground has been used for olive farming and wine production since the Romans were here 2000 years ago. Ask the tourist office for directions and start your morning walk in the San Francisco or La Dehesa neighbourhoods. Either way, stop for breakfast at the Albergue los Molinos, which in addition to having a stunning view of the town from below makes their own bread in a traditional outdoor wood oven.

Walk duration: 1.5 – 2 hours
Cost: Free (breakfast not included)

The great hall of La Mina de Agua © Karethe Linaae

3 – Step Deep Down into History in Ronda’s Secret Mina de Agua

Most visitors forgo this pleasure, but to literally submerge yourself in Ronda’s dramatic past, there is nothing like stepping down some 60 vertical meters into la Mina de Agua. The 700-year-old ingenious construction was dug into a natural fissure in the Tajo wall. The mine supplied water to the independent Moorish Kingdom Izn-Rand Onda (City of the Caste) during several Christian sieges. You can still descend the steps where slaves carried water up to the city above. Hidden gaps in the shaft provide magical natural illumination, making the mine interior appear like a subterranean cathedral. Enter the hall where a waterwheel once proved the superiority of Medieval Islamic hydraulic engineering and peek through the door where a Moorish traitor let in the first Catholic troops, making the mine the doorway for Ronda’s Reconquista in 1485.

Ticket: €7€
Calories consumed: 300+

Candle in Santa María la Mayor © Karethe Linaae

4 – Light a Candle by the Virgin of Tears

These days we can all need to light a candle, and no place is better for this than la Iglesia Santa María la Mayor across from Ronda’s town hall. In its lofty interior you can be assured to find peace and quiet and a cool environment on a hot summer day or a candle-lit intimacy in the winter. Once Ronda’s main mosque, the church is allegedly standing on the ruins of a Roman temple to the goddess Diana. Do not miss a trip up to the rooftop with its magnificent views.
In contrast to many other churches, one can still light a real candle and place it in one of the church’s many beautiful candelabras. However, to ensure that your prayers are heard, leave it in front of the Virgin of Tears, the main statue brought out for the annual Easter processions.

Entrance: €4,50
Candle donation: €1

5 – Immerse Yourself in an Arab Bath – Then and Now

Even for those who do not enjoy museums, Ronda’s Arab baths – Baños Árabes de Ronda – is worth a visit. On the winding walk down from the centre, you will pass some of the town’s other landmarks, the Carlos V gate and El Puente Viejo (the old bridge). The baths, dating back to the 13th Century, are the best preserved in the entire Iberian Peninsula. When you see the magical light therein, you can almost imagine how it was way back in the day.

After seeing the historical remains, stop by Ronda’s present day bathhouse Hammam Aguas de Ronda next door, for some very reasonable pampering. Constructed in an old mill (which can be seen on maps of Ronda from the 1500s) the modern and clean facilities takes full advantage of the beauty of the old edifice.

Cost: Museum €3,50
Hammam with massage €33

De Locos Tapas © Karethe Linaae
Tapas. © De Locos Tapas

6 – Eat Lunch With El Loco (the crazy one…)

There are tapas and then there are great tapas. In Andalucía unfortunately, the former are more common. However, De Locos Tapas just inside the Almocabar gate at the edge of Ronda’s historic quarter, is a rare exception.

Their spectacular and unique tapas are due to el loco himself, the Basque owner Guillermo (William), and his wife Begoña. With excellent reviews, personal service, vintage tunes and only a handful of tables, you need to book ahead. Try their Quails Nest, Thai Prawns or Ceviche, and make sure to save room for dessert!

Cost: €3-5 per tapa

Plaza de Toros de Ronda © Karethe Linaae

7 – Enter the Bullring that Hemingway Made Famous

Though bullfighting isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, Ronda would not be the same without this historical edifice with its glamorous past. Inaugurated in 1785, Ronda’s Plaza de Toros is the oldest and certainly the most beautiful in Spain. The site houses one of Europe’s most prestigious riding schools – the Real Maestranza de Caballería de Ronda, dating back to 1571 (two years after the founding of the Vienna Spanish Riding School). Ronda’s Plaza de Toros is where the legendary Romero family started modern bullfighting in the 18th Century. Frequented by Spanish royalty and movie stars, it was also favoured by Orson Welles and Ernest Hemingway.

Museum entrance including stables, Tauromachy Museum and Royal Harness Collection: €8

Wine tasting in the monastic garden at Descalzos Viejos vineyard © Karethe Linaae

8 – Taste Wine in a Former Convent Garden

Ronda has an inordinate number of small boutique style wineries, many of which are organic. Almost all can be visited, just be sure to make an appointment in advance (sometimes requiring a minimum of 6 visitors). It is hard to pick a favourite as so many are excellent. The one thing that makes Descalzos Viejos winery stand out is its location. Situated in an abandoned monastery with an open vista towards Ronda, I cannot imagine a lovelier place as a backdrop for a wine tasting than the barefoot brothers’ ancient Andalu’ cloister garden.

Standard visit and tastings: €30 + tax p.p.
Duration: 2.5 hour tour
Private tasting tour (1- 5 people) with owner: €150 + tax

Tabanco Los Arcos © Karethe Linaae

9 – Pit-stop at Los Arcos

If you need something to hold you until dinner – a tentenpie as the Spanish call it – join the rondeños at Tabanco Los Arcos. This wine bar just off the Puente Nuevo bridge is said to be Ronda’s best. Pisqui and his friendly and speedy team serve regional Spanish wine and tasty titbits in Ronda’s narrowest wedge of a building. Try to get a table near the window, or at least peak out at the abyss below. Ask for their Chicharrón de Cádiz and the wild mushroom paté. Once you are seated in the lively atmosphere, you might not want to leave…

Tapas: €1.5 – 2.5

10 – Enjoy a Sundowner on the Roof of Hotel Catalonia

This is a MUST when you are in Ronda. Hotel Catalonia, located across from the bullring, has Ronda’s most amazing rooftop bar. The hotel offers modern 4-star accommodation, a great restaurant and a skyline pool – all very lovely. However, the best part is their rooftop bar. Nowhere else in town will you get this birds eye view of the Plaza de Toros and the backdrop of the Serranía de Ronda mountains. The optimal time to visit it is just before the sun is setting when the last rays bathe the town in golden light.

Drinks: €3 – 5
View: Priceless

Benito Goméz cooking at Restaurant Tragatá.
© Tragatá Restaurant/B. Gómez

11 – Dine with a Michelin Star Chef

Ronda is perhaps not best known for fine dining, but the Barcelona born and trained chef Benito Gómez changed this with the establishment of his two-Michelin-star restaurant Bardal. Voted the best restaurant in the province of Málaga in 2017, it was described by Conde Nast Traveller as “Without doubt the best excuse for travelling south to the evermore romantic Ronda.”

While the celebrated restaurant is closed until 2021 due to Covid, travellers can still enjoy Benito’s Haute Cuisine in his more informal dining establishment – Tragatá. Located a minute’s walk from Ronda’s Puente Nuevo and his other restaurant, this Michelin Traveller’s Choice restaurant offers a gastronomic journey with the best products to be found in the Serranía de Ronda.

Tapas: €3 -12
Main dishes: €20-30

Cortijo LA Organic Boutique Hotel - interiors designed by Starck’s Studio © Karethe Linaae

12 – Sleep a la Philippe Starck

Ronda’s LA Organic Oleoturism Experience offers far more than designer olive oils. In addition to touring the beautifully landscaped farm with design features by the world famous French designer Philippe Starck and tasting the premium organic oils in the restaurant, you can also book a night in their rural boutique hotel, merely minutes outside Ronda. This classic Andalucian Cortijo has a bespoke modernistic interior, designed by the Starck Studio. Reserve one of the 4 delux rooms or suites, or why not rent the entire cortijo for a selected party.

Delux room: €120-180 for 2 per night
Suite: €140 – 210
Entire cortijo (4 bedrooms): €620 – 930 per night

Balloon flight over the city of dreams © Glovento Sur S.L.

+1 – Start out the Day High – Balloon Flight over Ronda

Nothing can top a flight in an air balloon when it comes to taking in the city of dreams. Owner of Granada-based company Glovento Sur, Miguel Juliá Garrido and his other capable pilots offer a safe and unforgettable experience. Depending on the balloon size, the flights can take from 6-12 people. Starting at daybreak in the outskirts of Ronda, the trip includes safety preparations, an hour flight and breakfast, with a total duration of 3 – 4 hours. The company has Civil Responsibility insurance and follows the Covid protocol of the Spanish Ministry of Health. Glovento is associated with the Agencia Estatal de Seguridad Aérea and is part of the European Aviation Safety Agency.

Group flight: €200 per person (in groups of 6, 8 or 12)
Private flight: €900

Please check the specific opening hours of the establishments online. For more information, go to the Tourism Ronda website. Otherwise, what are you waiting for?

About the writer: Karethe Linaae is a Norwegian writer and author living in Ronda, Andalucía. Her book, Casita 26 – Searching for a Slice of Andalusian Paradise was published in USA in 2019. For more information, please go to


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