One of Spain’s oldest towns, Ronda is also arguably its most spectacular, as it’s severed in two by a whopping 120 metre gorge. Linked by the remarkable Puente Nuevo (new bridge), Ronda offers instant drama, along with vistas and a town that’s swooned artists such as Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles, who often returned. Without further ado, here’s 12 things to do in Ronda, the prettiest town I’ve been to in Spain.
1. See Puente Nuevo at sunset
Many race down to Puente Nuevo when they first arrive in Ronda (I did). When you see it you’ll know why. The best time to view this striking bridge, however, is at dusk, when the sun bathes the arches in a tangerine glow and soft light falls on the surrounding clifftop. Unforgettable.
2. Visit Plaza de Toros
This old ring is believed to be the home of bullfighting, as it’s where the cape and muleta were first added to the sport by bullfighter Francisco Romero. His grandson, Pedro Romero, was one of Spain’s greatest bullfighters who often performed here. You can explore the atmospheric arena and visit the attached museum, which houses an interesting collection of bullfighting memorabilia. I’m not particularly enamored with bullfighting yet I enjoyed the visit.
3. Experience Churrería Dana
If you’re thinking of trying the popular Spanish pastry known as churros, I urge you to do so here. I’ve travelled from the south to the north of Spain trying these and Ronda’s Churrería Dana produces the best I’ve tasted. Here the pastry is thick (unlike in the north), crispy, super long and comes with a cup of dark, rich hot chocolate. The service is fast and it’s a locals’ place, through and through.
4. See a mystical hand and a secret bakery
The Nuestra Señora de la Merced is a curious little church near the centre of town that houses the reliquary encased hand of Saint Teresa of Avila – a Spanish mystic, Roman Catholic saint and author who founded the Discalced Carmelites. She is so revered in Spain that Spanish dictator Francisco Franco allegedly slept with her hand each night until his death. Viewing the hand is an interesting experience, as is purchasing from the secret bakery run by the Carmelite nuns, where money and goods are exchanged via a revolving cabinet.
5. Walk inside Puente Nuevo
More of a novelty than anything, walking inside Puente Nuevo only takes a couple of minutes from the top. It also gives you an insight into the bridge’s structure, along with a few different views, making it worth your time.
6. The Mirador de Aldehuela
Named in honour of Spanish architect Jose Martin de Aldehuela – the man behind Plaza de Toros, Puente Nuevo and the completion of Malaga’s cathedral – Mirador de Aldehuela is one handsome lookout. The views of the gorge, Puente Nuevo and sweeping countryside are not to be missed.
7. Take a horse and carriage
If you’ve just arrived in Ronda, consider discovering the town via horse and carriage. Clopping along cobblestone streets while taking in vast vistas from a horse-drawn carriage is quite the experience. If you’re going to enjoy a good clop anywhere, do it in style in Ronda.
8. Visit Bar Maestro
This spartan little tapas bar is a tad rough around the edges, but that’s what makes it so good. Inside there’s a small bar and urinal (no ladies toilet) and some of the best tapas in town. The place was named after “El Maestro”, Antonio Ordóñez, who was a regular here and who many believe was the greatest matador ever. Try the Rondeña beer, which is a damn fine drop.
9. Hike beneath Puente Nuevo
To get a different perspective of Ronda, cross the bridge, walk a couple of blocks then turn right past a fountain and continue until you reach a dirt path. From here the path runs for about a kilometre, down into the bottom of the gorge, underneath Puente Nuevo. The views are tip top and there’s a few old wells and huts to investigate along the way.
10. Dine alongside Arabic walls and the Almocabar Gate
Ronda is home to walls and gates that were built by the Moors during the town’s Islamic period, which provide a unique glimpse into the city’s past. The Almocabar Gate comprises two gates (one is pictured below) that were the entrance to the walled city. A good tapas bar named De Locos Tapas sits adjacent to this. It’s reputedly excellent but as I hadn’t booked, I missed out on eating there twice.
11. Dine at a clifftop cafe/restaurant.
Why not? You only live once and it’s not often you get views like this.
12. Explore town during dusk.
Get inspired by the romance of Ronda during the dreamiest time of day. Ronda is a charming place replete with wonderfully preserved buildings and landscapes that look even more sublime beneath the fading light.
Anything I’ve missed? What are your favourite things to do in Ronda?