When I first arrived to my off-the-grid pueblo for my teaching assignment I was a bit worried about how I’d spend my free time and weekends here—feeling a little isolated and unsure of where to even begin exploring, I turned to my local connections… fellow teachers and new friends. Being from the United States where owning a car is almost necessary to even get out of your city and explore, I was feeling like I might be spending a year in isolation, however much to my surprise, this is absolutely not the case in Andalusia. With the creation of things like ride-sharing and apartment rental sites, it’s not only easy, but also very affordable to travel in Spain. For as “off-line” as Spain seems at times, these communities are quite active. I’ve been able to explore nature, numerous towns and cities, and stay in some amazing houses and flats with spectacular views all the while on a part time teaching salary! One of my very favorite getaways in Andalusia is to the gorgeous town of Ronda. By car, this village is about 1 hour from Malaga and there are numerous bus connections from all over Andalusia to get you there in a reasonably short amount of time. Get ready to plan one of the best weekends you’ll have in Andalusia!
Do you like hiking? Do you like breath taking views? Do you like local wine and fresh cheese? History? Avoiding traffic and walking everywhere? Lively nightlife? Delicious and cheap tapas? Friendly locals? Culture? Okay, now you’re listening! But in all seriousness, Ronda boasts all those Spain-isms that we all need in our lives. To begin with, the most impressive view of Ronda is of its amazing bridge over the El Tajo gorge. It’s called Puente Nuevo, or New Bridge, and was completed close to 1800—it was built to join the old Arab part of the town with the newer side. This impressive landmark demands to be on your Instagram; there are many walking routes from the city center to the countryside to get a view of the bridge looking in the direction of Ronda. While you’re at it, you should take a quick visit to the historic bath house build in the 13th century—you can see how people relaxed back in the day.
Another site worth a visit, and in my opinion one of the most impressive, is the famous bull fighting ring. Ronda claims to be the founding city of modern day bullfighting and this amazing bullring was gorgeously crafted in the late 1700’s and has held its charm throughout the years. Here, you can enjoy the picturesque arena and take a stroll through the museum. While this is fun, just outside the city center, you can take a visit to an actual bull farm! Now, I understand the cringy feeling you may get when thinking about bull fighting—being an animal lover myself, I have actually still never seen a bullfight! However, the farm visit near Ronda is absolutely worth your time. Here, you can visit a semi-free natural habitat of bulls and Spanish horses and learn about the history of bull fighting. It’s a spectacular space and best enjoyed on the farm’s four-wheelers!
Ronda is famous for its abundant hiking trails—all so stunning throughout the seasons. I highly recommend a trip to Ronda in the spring to see the wild flowers or in the fall for the changing colors (mid October-mid November). This landscape is full of chestnut and cork trees which turn amazing autumn colors. Two things learned on my most recent hike near Ronda: Chestnuts grow in hairy pods (see photo left)! And cork comes from the bark of a tree (see below)! Now when I enjoy my roasted chestnuts on the streets of Malaga this winter, I will be a little more informed… and the next time I open a bottle of wine…
Speaking of wine… Promise me when you have the best weekend ever in Ronda that you purchase some local red wine. The famous red wine of Ronda is called Chinchilla and it’s delicious, bold and takes you through a wave of flavors. Furthermore, here you can find goat cheese called Payoyo and they pair so nicely… Ronda is crowded with charming restaurants to enjoy local tapas and wine and also boasts some of the best sweet shops in Andalusia!
Ronda is a perfect blend of historic Al-Andalus and all the wonderful Spanish stereotypes we all adore—bull fighting history, wine, tapas, friendly people and stunning landscapes. We’d love to help you explore this amazing town for a visit—ask us about more amazing places to enjoy and let me know if YOU have any more suggestions… I will be back again soon!