A guide to Ronda – the rugged jewel of Andalucía

The municipality of Malaga in southern Spain is one of the most naturally stunning holiday destinations along the Costa del Sol, with rugged mountains overlooking the beaches and dotted with charming towns and cities that are steeped in history and legend. The city of Malaga itself is a well established tourism hotspot, although taking a trip to the nearby town of Ronda is a great way to experience the best of what Andalucía has to offer.

Reaching Ronda from Malaga is easy, with the two destinations linked by the A357, which also passes through other towns like Ardales and Carratraca. This makes Ronda a perfect option for either a day trip or an overnight stop, and to do this you’ll need to hire a car from Malaga airport from companies such as Auto Europe. One thing you’ll notice along the drive is that the town is surrounded by some of the most spectacular scenery in southern Spain, and is perched high above the breathtaking El Tajo Gorge. It’s this that makes the place to incredible to visit, and in this guide we’ll be taking a look at some of the things to do both in the town and throughout the surrounding terrain.

What to do in Ronda

As previously mentioned, Ronda overlooks the dramatic gorge of El Tajo, and as such has become most famous for its amazing views. These can be best enjoyed from the Puente Nuevo – or New Bridge – which was built way back in 1793 and claimed the lives of no fewer than 50 construction workers. Sitting 98 m above the canyon itself, the bridge connects the old and new quarters of the town.

The Puente Nuevo was in fact constructed to replace the even older Moorish bridge, which was abandoned in the 16th century when Ronda began to expand, requiring a better connection to be built between the Mercadillo district and the older part of the city. Moorish influences can be seen throughout Ronda, giving an insight into the history of Andalucía, which long ago fell under Arabic control.

The Arab baths, for example, are thought to have been built in the 11th or 12th centuries and offer a glimpse into times gone by. In subsequent years the Catholics took control of the region and many of the palaces and other important buildings in Ronda are indicative of this history. The Palacio del Marques Salvatierra and Palacio de Mondraga, for example, are among the finest Spanish palaces in Andalucía.

In addition, Ronda is thought to be the birthplace of modern bullfighting, and the town’s bull ring – or plaza de torros – is the epicentre of local culture, regularly hosting celebrations and other significant events.

What to do outside Ronda

Due to its location in the mountains, Ronda is perfectly placed for adventure enthusiasts to get their fill of adrenalin. The Serrania de Ronda, as the mountain range is known, is fantastic for hiking and other sports including parasailing and hang-gliding, with the steep cliffs of Ronda la Vieja providing the perfect launch pad.

A number of small towns are also hidden among the mountains and make for fascinating excursions, including the likes of Setenil and Benoajan, both of which have maintained their traditional customs and lifestyles and sit atop dramatic cliffs.