Ronda is one of the oldest towns in Europe, with the area’s history dating back 30,000 years. Set dramatically above a deep gorge, the stone Puente Nuevo bridge stands high above the waterfall below.
There is something wistful and warm about this scenic town – it seems like a blend of Spanish culture with Tuscan ambiance; the olive groves and roaming horses, the gushing waterfall beneath the city centre, the rolling green hills across the horizon. It seems that I’m not the only one to be caught under Ronda’s spell – many international artists share their love for this town, including Ernest Hemingway who spent many summers here writing about Ronda’s beauty.
How to get there
To reach Ronda, your best bet is to travel via Madrid, Malaga or Seville. These are the closest major airports to Ronda and those which offer the best connections with wider Europe. Two daily trains run direct to Ronda from Madrid, taking just under 4 hours, and buses from Malaga or Seville take only 2 hours. There are also number of direct bus connections into Ronda from nearby towns such as Benalmádena, Fuengirola, Málaga, Marbella, San Pedro and Torremolinos.
How to get around
The train station is located 1.2km from the famous bridge, and the bus station only 900m. Depending on where your accommodation is, you may need to organise transportation – taxis are common around town, either hail one from the rank outside the station or call +34 952 872 316. Some lodgings will offer you transportation, so make sure you ask before you book. There isn’t a local bus service connecting the town as it is quite a compact area.
Ronda is a small town with all major sights within walking distance, so you won’t need any other form of transport during your stay, particularly when it’s peak hour…
Where to eat
Many of the cafés and restaurants in town offer lunch specials – keep an eye out for this on their blackboards or menus. You can get a 2 or 3 course meal for between €10 & €15.
As with wider Spain, tapas are very common and most restaurants offer a great selection of tastes and local ingredients.
Do not, I repeat, do not visit the McDonalds in the main square. Why? Because it’s McDonalds and you’re in a small town in Spain!
Where to stay
There are a few hostels in Ronda, however I cannot recommend Albergue Los Molinoshigher – this gorgeous lodging, with dark oak hardwood floors and high a-frame ceilings, gives a warm, homely, cosy feeling you’ll no doubt be craving during your journey.
Some of the rooms even look up at the famous Puente Nuevo Bridge, with the stream rushing quietly only metres from the window. Absolutely magical. The common-area houses bookshelves filled with books of all languages, comfy lounges draped with crocheted blankets and even a log-cabin style fireplace. Sit here and enjoy a hot cup of coffee and a new book after a day of exploring.
Breakfast is included, and consists of locally made pâté and spreads, home-baked bread and tea and coffee.
An idea of costs for one day in Ronda
€102 per day
– Hostel: €60 per night
– Free Breakfast at Hostel
– Lunch Special from Cafe: €15
– Gift from boutique: €10
– Homemade sandwich from Deli with bottle of wine: €12
How long to spend in Ronda
2 full days is sufficient to enjoy Ronda’s beauty and culture.
What to see and do
The Puente Nuevo Bridge
This is Ronda’s crown jewel and most famous landmark. It is the largest of Ronda’s several bridges that cross the Tajo gorge which separates the city in two. The bridge is 98 meters tall and has a small room under the road that since the bridge’s construction in 1793 it has been a hotel, a bar, a prison, and is now a small museum.
There is a town story that a decade after the construction of the bridge, a second, and perhaps more beautiful bridge, would be needed, and that Martin de Aldehuela, the main architect of The Punente Nuevo jumped from the bridge in despair. While this is a very dramatic and beguiling tale it is untrue, in fact he lived a long and happy life dying many years later in Malaga in 1802.
There are a number of other enjoyable walking paths throughout the valley and surrounding areas of Ronda. Ronda Today has a concise list to choose from here.
The El Tajo gorge, of which The Punente Nuevo bridge spans across, is a lush and rocky oasis complete with waterfalls and cascades. By following the path down from the centre of town you can pass abandoned mills and can even continue underneath the bridge and further along the Río Guadalevín river.
To find the starting point, sights not the miss and other tips, check out my hiking guide.
Due to the local production of leather and wine, Ronda also has many high quality boutiques and delis. You’ll find plenty of stores selling bags, belts, wallets, and locally grown produce
Plaza de Toros
This arena is considered to be the most historically important bullring in Spain. While the building can only seat 5000 people, this was of mammoth size for its day. It has the largest central sand surface, known as the rueda, in the world.