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The White Villages

  • Andalusia, Spain

  • Bucket List Experience

Last updated: 28 April, 2024

Just outside of the beautiful town of Ronda, in the gorgeous Andalusian countryside of the Sierra de Grazalema region, you’ll find a series of so-called White Villages (Pueblos Blancos) scattered across the landscape, sprawling over and down large hills.

These 20 hill towns are named after their glowing, universally white walls. The buildings are all white-washed with slaked lime – known locally as ‘cal‘ – that bleaches in the sun to a sparkling white, a practice introduced by the Arabic-speaking Moors. Not only does the white colour keep homes cool during the searing Andalusian summers, but it came to symbolise hygiene. When a series of epidemics from plague to cholera and yellow fever swept through the region between the 16th and 19th centuries, houses were painted with cal in the wake of infection. (It may have actually helped: studies have shown that slaked lime does kill bacteria that cause cholera).

Each village possesses its own unique character, but they share a timeless allure characterised by narrow cobblestone streets, flower-filled balconies, and breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. It’s Andalusia’s rich and enchanting cultural heritage at its idyllic best.

Who to go with: tour operators

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Arcos de la Frontera

  • Arcos de la Frontera, Andalusia, Spain

The white village cascades down the side of the hill

Experience

Traditional, picturesque gateway to the White Villages from Cadiz, curling around a sheer cliff on the Guadalete river, with a Moorish fortress, steep narrow cobbled lanes, lavishly ornate churches, and cubist white houses.

Good for age: 18+

Grazalema

  • Grazalema, Andalusia, Spain

A pretty central square in a white village

Experience

Surrounded by craggy mountains, in the heart of the eponymous Natural Park (a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve), this flower-filled White Village is dominated by the dramatic limestone outcrop of the Penon Grande.

Good for age: 18+

Medina Sidonia

  • Medina Sidonia, Andalusia, Spain

View through a bell tower across rooftops and out to countryside

Experience

Just south of Arcos, a White Village founded by Phoenicians and believed by some to be the oldest city in Europe, before become a famous dukedom, with Roman sewers and waterworks to visit and a ruined castle.

Good for age: 18+

Vejer de la Frontera

  • Vejer de la Frontera, Andalusia, Spain

A pretty central square in the white village of Vejer de la Frontera, with intricate and colourful central fountain

Experience

Very Moorish, very pretty hilltop village, with a 10th-century castle, Jewish quarter, and colourful tiled fountain in the Plaza de Espana; views extend towards the sea and its beach, El Palmar, 10km away.

Good for age: 18+

Zahara de la Sierra

  • Zahara de la Sierra, Andalusia, Spain

View of the white village going up the hill

Experience

North of Grazelma, a village so perfect it looks like a film set, piled over a hillside under a precipice topped by a ruined castle overlooking an azure artificial lake where you can swim; it’s also a good base for walks.

Good for age: 18+

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

There are a number of organised tours to the popular white villages, that will arrange all of the logistics for you. See our recommendations below.

If you want to self-drive, you can take in three of the most picturesque White Villages by heading 17km north to Setenil de las Bodegas with its famous cliff houses, then head west 33km to Zahara de la Sierra. From here drive south 16km on the breathtaking CA-9104 to Grazalema; from here it’s 33km back to Ronda. For a multi-day cycling (or e-bike) tour of the White Villages, try Cycling Country.

When to do it

The White Villages are achingly beautiful year-round, but maybe less so in July and August when it can be very hot and crowded. Spring and Autumn are the best times to visit for clement weather.

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

White Villages and Ronda Day Tour from Seville

  • Seville

(mandatory, please READ DEPARTURE & RETURN SECTION to choose your pick up.) Take the day to discover the famous “White Villages” of Andalusia. These stunning white washed towns will amaze you with there uniformity and cliffside construction. These ancient dwellings have survived war and power changes.Their existence today is a true miracle and telling about the advanced construction practices of the ancient Moorish settlers. Leave the logistics up to us, and enjoy the day touring these UNESCO World Heritage sites. Visit the village of Ronda, one of the most famed “White Villages” it will leave you in awe. This village is situated on a plateau that will allow you to enjoy expansive views of the valleys below and marvel in the cliff sides. Ronda is separated in two parts by a 120 meter chasm. This has been crossed by a 18th century stone bridge that will surely make you feel like your in a wonderland.

Price €79

Min age 0

Rating 4.50 / 5 [1215 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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White Villages and Ronda Guided Day Tour from Seville

  • Seville

Take a unique trip to the most significant traditional White Villages of Andalusia. A perfect itinerary for those who want to know the roots, folklore and Andalusian Nature, visiting some beautiful places with extensive history and tradition. These stunning white washed towns will amaze you with their uniformity and cliffside construction. The ancient dwellings have survived war and power struggles throughout centuries. Their existence today is a true miracle and is telling about the advance construction practices of the ancient Moorish settlers. Leave the logistics up to us, and enjoy the day touring these UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Price €79

Min age 0

Rating 4.47 / 5 [250 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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White Villages and Ronda Day Trip from Seville

  • Seville

Discover White Villages and Ronda from Seville with our local guide. We will visit, among others, the most emblematic places of the city, the New Bridge, also, we will pass through Zahara de la Sierra and the natural park of Sierra de Grazalema, you will enjoy the nature and the fresh air of the mountain. We will also visit an olive oil mill where we will do a small tasting of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Price €79

Min age 0

Rating 4.12 / 5 [130 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Private Guided Day Trip to the White Villages and Ronda from Seville

  • Seville

Enjoy the authentic and renowned tour of the White Villages, our tour endorsed by the excellent reviews of our expert guides Alexis, Ana or Enrique allow us to offer a unique and different day tour. We will enjoy the beauty of Zahara de la Sierra, the impressive orography of Setenil de las Bodegas and the carteristic and majestic city of Ronda. We will finish enjoying the local bakery of the village of Olvera. All this in a semi private tour (maximun 6 peoples) without hurry, enjoying the beauty and the landscapes that we will visit. Obliged to take photo camera or smartphone !!! Being a private tour, we are flexible for the villages that you wish to visit, you only have to indicate it in the reservation or comment on the same day of the tour to our mate. We are flexible (within a logic on logistics).

Price €274

Min age 8

Rating 4.92 / 5 [119 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Private White Villages & Ronda Day Tour from Seville

  • Seville

Discover the 'White Villages' of Andalusia, visiting Zahara de la Sierra, Grazalema and Ronda. Join this Private Guided Day Tour from Seville where you will enjoy these beautiful towns and stunning landscapes around one of the greatest natural parks in southern Spain. Remember that you can customize the tour depending on your preferences by adding and removing white villages or attractions. Setenil de las Bodegas, Acinipo, Pileta´s Cave, Olvera or visiting a local winery are some examples that you could add to your itinerary.

Price €540

Min age 0

Rating 4.86 / 5 [110 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo
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