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White Villages Base

I am planning a Southern Spain Trip for spring of 2022 . I could use some help in deciding the best base to use to explore the white villages that Spain is known for. We will have a car.

Thank you!

Posted by
2814 posts

Although you don’t say how long you want to use it as a base, to me, the choice is easy, Ronda. The popular Grazalema is 11 miles away, Zahara de la Sierra is a little further. The furthest of that area’s white towns, Arcos de la Frontera, is 36 miles away. All the other towns are in between. Sentenil de las Bodegas is only 8 miles north of Ronda. If you planned on visiting the Cueva de la Pileta, it is only about 7 miles away. While the distances are short, the roads are very rural and parts can be windy. In that area assume you’ll be driving no faster than 35-40mph. The distance between Grazalema and Zahara de la Sierra is a little over 6 miles, but will take about 25 minutes due to all the curves. That’s the worst road I came across in the area. The rest are fine. There is pretty much a northern and southern road in that area, so you can easily make your villages tour into a loop so you’re not backtracking.

Posted by
3542 posts

Ronda is a great suggestion. I’d only add that, in preparation for your basing in Ronda with a car, practice parallel parking on steep hills, prior to your trip. Have a great trip!

Posted by
14103 posts

I've done that twice, stayed in Ronda both times. Driving in Ronda pretty easy - it's mostly flat, but daytripping to the villages is another story. Look carefully from the road before you drive too far into one - it may be better to park near the entrance and hike around on foot. My problem wasn't parallel parking but simply driving on the steep narrow streets, with parked cars and sharp, blind corners. Other than that, driving in the area was a delight - always scenic with frequent pullouts to stop for viewing and photos.

Posted by
2814 posts

What Chani may not have clearly stated is, getting to the towns is easy, but driving in some of them can be a pain for the reasons he stated, so parking on the town’s edge is frequently the best choice. In Arcos de la Frontera, while you can drive up to the overlook, park at the bottom of the hill in the large lot and take the tram, or hike up. While driving up to the overlook is straight, coming down has a couple 90 degree turns. If your rental is too large, something will get scraped and scratched. In Ronda, there is a fairly large parking lot “parking el Castillo” just past the town hall. It’s the lot our hotel had us park in.

Posted by
5756 posts

WE loved Ronda -- we did it by bus and train so one thing to be sure is to work with the hotel to reserve parking ahead or get good instructions on parking.
https://janettravels.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/ronda-the-most-romantic-town-in-spain/
Ronda had a lot of good restaurants and is beautiful to stroll day or night. I think it is really worth it to get a room with a view. We were hanging over the gorge and the Parador across the way was perched at the juncture of the gorge and the valley -- the Don Miquel where we stayed was old fashioned -- to get a balcony room we had to take a room with a very very small 'double' bed -- but the view was worth it to me (not so much my husband).

Posted by
186 posts

Thank you so much for your advice. It is very helpful and appreciated. I believe we will have 5 weeks in Southern Spain. Other stops we want to make are Ubeda, Cordoba, Granada, Seville and Cadiz. We can spend up to a week in Ronda if needed. In addition to the history, architecture and food we like to do day hikes. We are just getting started planning for spring of 2022.

Posted by
17398 posts

If your trip extends into later spring when it can get quite hot in Andalucia, you might consider a day or two of hiking in the Alpujarras outside Granada. The elevation means the area is cooler, and I believe it's popular with hikers. There's some bus service, so with care you could get back to your car at the end of the day by public transportation.

Posted by
66 posts

If you manage to get to Malaga ( or maybe from Rhonda).. We did the walk on the Caminito del Rey in '17. It has been rebuilt (for safety). The walk is easy but rather long (depending on route @ 7 K) - hanging on the wall of a gorge. Not for those with a fear of heights but the views are amazing. We did a day tour from Malaga - the company didn't usually offer on a Sunday - but said keep our time open and they would do if a few more wanted to join. Ended up total of 4 - instead of the "usual" of 20+. Needless to say we had a great time with a happy guide. It never hurts to contact any tour operator and ask if they might be able to meet your needs.

Posted by
14103 posts

When is spring? That there are many festivals in Andalucia in spring, beginning with Holy Week/Semana Santa, on April 10, 2022. That means very high hotel rates and lots of crowds. As acraven noted, it gets hot. I just looked at the temps in Sevilla last May and the 2nd half was mostly in the 90's. Check here for other towns and other years.

If your dates are flexible, consider going earlier. I've been there 3 times, each for 2-3 wees, in February and March. The weather was mostly excellent and I enjoyed low season prices and few crowds anywhere.

Posted by
186 posts

I had no idea it got that hot in April-May in Southern Spain. We were thinking to catch the festival in Cordoba with the patio flowers but we certainly don't want 90 degree temps!. We are newly retired so we can be flexible with our dates. Thank you so much for your advice. Is it still pretty there in Feb.-March? We were in Portugal in April a few years ago and it was fairly cool so I was expecting the same in Spain.

Caminito del Rey was on our radar and we definitely want to do that.

Posted by
17398 posts

For a realistic idea of what sort of temperatures you might encounter, check out the actual, day-by-day, historical weather statistics for Seville (about the hottest place in Andalucia) on timeanddate.com. I've given you a link to the April 2020 data. Last year it didn't get significantly hot until early May, but weather varies so much from year to year that it's essential to look at multiple years' worth of data. I usually go for five years' worth.

Posted by
186 posts

Thank you for the link and the heads up.

Posted by
3212 posts

I do as acraven does for temperature guidance. Past 5 years of actual temps. Certainly southern Spain has had climate changes recently with increasing temps.

Posted by
17398 posts

It's really risky to rely on average-temperature charts these days. So often the figures are based on a time period that ended many years ago. For example, the weather chart in Seville's Wikipedia entry covers the years 1981-2010. I've seen others that cut off in the year 2000.

Posted by
186 posts

Thank you everyone for your help. I think I'm going to take Chani's advice and avoid Holy Week, Crowds and heat after that. You guys have already helped me a lot in my planning. It is much appreciated.

Posted by
14103 posts

Lori, as I said before, February and March are very mild. Check the daily temps. I wore good shearling gloves often, esp. in Feb., but never had more than a fleece jacket and a rain poncho (good as a windbreaker as well). On my last trip, which was in March, I remember around the 24-25th wishing I had a pair of sandals with me. The vistas driving around the white villages were beautiful, lots of green (and few cars, because few tourists). The gardens were mostly pruned back in Feb, but I remember streets lined with trees literally dripping oranges (saw one tourist get bonked on the head :-). In mid-March they were all in bloom and the heady scent of orange blossoms was heavenly. From what I've heard the patio festival in Cordoba isn't that special.

I used DK's Back Roads Spain and it was useful for planning, not much help on the ground. You'll want a better guide book and GPS can be useful, especially for getting in and out of the cities.

Posted by
186 posts

Sounds just perfect! Thank you for your tips!