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White Hill Towns - favorites & opinions on timing & itinerary.

We are renting a car in Seville & leaving as early as possible based on Car Rental times. Driving to Ronda where we will spend 2 nights. On the way we want to stop in some White Hill Towns....but I want a realistic itinerary. I think I'm set on Seville to Arcos de la Frontrera......but, here's where I'm interested in opinions: How many towns should we reasonably expect to stop in from Arcos to Ronda? Which ones do you recommend and why? Zahara vs. Grazalema? Both? Another one? Not sure how much time we should expect to spend in each town. I don't have any specific sites I have to see in these towns......yet. Will definitely have lunch in one of them. Can't wait to hear your faves & why. Also, one other it hard to park for a few hours? Safe to park? Our luggage will be in the car, not sure what kind of car we will get....hoping for a trunk, but you never know. Thanks for your input in advance!

Posted by
5873 posts

Just know that luggage in a car under the little cover the typical hatchbacks provide is quite vulnerable. Most people do fine, but I knew someone who had everything taking at a stopover in Italy near a beach while they made a stop en route.
At least never leave valuables like computers, cameras, money and ID in the car -- carry those with in a messenger bag when you make a stop. And make sure NOTHING is left showing in the car (if a sweater is on the back seat, a thief might suspect a purse hidden beneath it and break the window.) And pay attention to the place you park; if there is a lot of sparkly glass fragments on the ground that may signal it is a place where a local team of thieves frequently robs cars.

We took the bus from Seville to Ronda so can't advice on stops along the way -- sounds like a great trip. We loved Ronda. Here are our snapshots:
If I were making this trip I would look at lots of pictures on line of the towns you are considering and pick a couple that are particularly picturesque for lunch and a break. There isn't much to see in places like this; it is mostly the ambience that makes them so charming so spending a relaxing time in one may beat many short stops to 'see' a different town. We are doing similar travel in the Dordogne region of France this fall and have done this in Tuscany -- we have found that fewer stops and more time soaking in a place works better for us than trying to briefly survey many similar towns.

Posted by
288 posts

We are currently in Spain and stayed in Ronda last week. We visited Zahara and enjoyed it very much. Cannot comment on Grazalema as we did not make it there. Our Air Bnb host suggested we visit Setenil de las Bogedas. Wow! What a cool little town. Some buildings are built right into the cliffs. We had a great lunch at La Tasca. Not a very big town, but only about 20 minutes from Ronda by car. Search Google images to view this atmospheric town. In Ronda we had fun eating tapas at the locals hangout, El Lechuguita. Nothing fancy but cheap tapas and a fun experience. Make sure to get there early, it fills up as soon as it opens.

Posted by
563 posts

Am curious if visiting all these towns on a quick day sprint by car is doable? Would rent a car from Sevilla and leave as early as possible (~7am) and return car by 8 pm the same day. Would like to see Ronda, Zahara, and Setenil. If there's time for Arcos I'd hit that up too.

Posted by
126 posts

We spent a couple of days in Ronda last September and really enjoyed our stay. Our favourite place to eat was El Convento which is at 140 Calle San Francisco. It's definitely off the tourist track but well worth the walk from wherever you are staying.

Posted by
7124 posts

I would only plan a stop at Arcos de la Frontera on your way to Ronda.
Make an excursion the next day to visit both Zahara and Grazalema - this is about a 2 hour drive to include both from Ronda.
Setenil de las Bodegas and Olvera could perhaps be visited on the return journey if you are taking the car back to Seville.

Posted by
79 posts

djp_syd - thanks for the advice....I kind of came to that conclusion as well. So, would you think that parking in the garage at Arcos would be reasonably safe for our car with luggage in it. Not a lot of luggage and of course we would have valuables with us and not in the car. But, if anyone has parked in the parking garage at Arcos - the one below the cliff or something like that.

Posted by
7124 posts

That is always a hard one. I think as long as your car is not easily identifiable as a rental, and all your luggage is hidden and secure in the boot (trunk). A chain and heavy padlock to prevent easy removal may add to your piece of mind if it's a heavy concern.

Posted by
1100 posts

We own a hatchback and keep it in Malaga. When the opportunity is available we strive to park the car outside of a tourist zone and then walk into the desired area. We typically strive to park curb side in a residential area.
Prior to owning the car, and not always sure of what type of rental car would be available, we carried a single bed size black sheet which we tossed over luggage which would have been available to public view. In all of our travels we only had a car broken into once, in Houston.

Have you obtained an IDP from AAA?

I recommend stopping in only one White Hill Town and taking a deep dive with enjoying it.

Posted by
1 posts

Hello, I am doing a similar trip and lost my Rick Steves Spain book. Can anyone please give me his (or your) recommendation for sleeping? Where in Rhonda? It's my 30 year old daughter and myself. I usually like places RS recommends. Any help is welcomed. I like places that are quiet and quaint. Not expensive and not too small.

Posted by
329 posts

we drove Ronda - Sevilla with one stop in Arcos. Parked in the underground lot at the bottom of the hill, near the Tourist info booth. Super easy to find, car stayed cool and we backed into our spot against outer wall. Our car was a VW Polo, much smaller than a Golf. Our 2 carryon size bags FILLED the hatchback. We loved the car though! No problems at all parking. I agree with previous post - do Grazelema, Zahara on the next day from Ronda, possibly with another stop.

Posted by
5873 posts

Take a look at my photo journal link up the thread. It shows the view from our balcony at the Don Miquel in Ronda. We loved this hotel for the view and the little balcony. I think the Parador across the street would also have pretty great views over the valley, but we liked being suspended right over the gorge.

Posted by
23 posts

Hi Jennifer, I found your post while doing research for our upcoming trip, and wondered where you ended up going? We are thinking of visiting the Andalucia region, having a home base in Arcos de la Frontera, or Ronda, with day trips to Seville, Granada and Malaga. I like the idea of making one of the white hill towns our home base, and being able to come back after a day of touring to one of these peaceful, quaint towns to relax. There are so many beautiful places though, it's so difficult to choose! Also, we were not planning on renting a car (though, I suppose we could, if it isn't a too much of a hassle), so Im not sure if Im thinking reasonably about how much we want to see and do.

Posted by
7124 posts

mschaller719, look at the comparisons below. I know which one would allow me more time for relaxing.

Using Arcos as a base and making round trips to
Ronda is 170km
Sevilla is 158km
Malaga is 350km
Granada is 462km
... For a total driving distance of 1140km

Using Ronda as a base and making round trips to
Arcos is 170km
Sevilla is 254km
Malaga is 204km
Granada is 356km
... For a total driving distance of 984km

Whereas a continuous journey Seville > Arcos > Ronda > Malaga > Granada is a total distance of 398km.

Posted by
69 posts

My wife and I made this trip from Seville a couple of years ago, and it was wonderful. We stopped for an early lunch in Arcos de la Frontera, then headed east on A-372 (a very good two lane road) to El Bosque. We continued on A-372 past Benamahoma and stopped in Grazalema to take a brief tour of the village. This route takes you up into the mountains and was quite beautiful. From Grazalema, we drove on to Ronda. An alternative is to take A-373 to the connecting road CA-8102 that would take you on to Zahara. Then you could drive south (on CA-9104) to Grazalema, then on to Ronda.
Ronda is wonderful at night, after the day-trippers return to Malaga. We stayed at the Hotel Ronda which is in a great location in the old town. The two sisters that run it, Sole and Lara, are full of information on Ronda. And from their front door, you are only steps from El Tajo gorge and Punete Nuevo Bridge. Within easy walking distance from the hotel is Carmen a la Ronda, a very good restaurant and bar on the beautiful Plaza Duquesa de Parcent.
We loved Ronda and I am sure you will too.

Posted by
33 posts

My favourites Comares, Cómpeta, Frigiliana and Torrox in Malaga

Pampaneira, Capileira, and Bubion in Granada

Arcos de la Frontera, Setenil de las Bodegas and Olvera in Cadiz

Posted by
1 posts

If you have the time, two days would be great, that area is some of the prettiest you will find anywhere in Spain. I suggest not missing Zahara de la Sierra, Grazalema and Setenil de las Bodegas. I suggest visiting two villages per day: spending the morning in one and an afternoon in another. No problem to park in Zahara or Grazalema (hard in Setenil, streets are very narrow, so if you have a big vehicle you'll have to park it outside of the main areas and walk into the centre.) Dont miss a lovely sunset from "El Tajo" in Ronda; overall watching creative and resourceful architecture while enjoying a glass of wine in Setenil; the views from the village over the reservoir and mountains in Zahara (the walk up to the top of the castle is well worth the effort and makes the views even more beautiful) and walk into the village of Grazalema, where you can see the typical structure of an Arab village that has remained over the centuries: narrow cobblestone streets, white lime walls, gabled roofs and beautiful sunny squares, with spotless streets make this pretty village a model of the popular Andalusian arquitectua for their care planning.

There´re several local restaurants and bars in the white hill towns (it´s funny to eat in the caves of Setenil). Quality coffee is hard to find, but luckily we found La Chocolaterie in Ronda (the best coffee or chocolate in Ronda, or possibly in Spain).

You´d love The White Hill Towns!!