The south of Spain is one of the most visited areas in the country. With its beautiful beaches, Sierra Nevada mountains and endless parties, it’s easy to see why the community of Andalucía attracts so many people. Among the mix of bustling big cities and picturesque small towns are the famous white villages of Andalucía. Known locally as ‘Pueblos Blancos’, the predominantly whitewashed houses found in this part of Spain create some spectacular images. The town of Ronda, with its emblematic Puente Nuevo bridge stretching over a breath-taking gorge, is no exception.
But it’s not just the bridge that makes Ronda such a popular destination and there are plenty of reasons to visit. That’s why a day trip to Ronda is a must-have experience on any visit to Andalucía. Many visitors to the region choose to travel from nearby Malaga to Ronda for a day trip, looking to get away from the city. Once they arrive there’s only one place to begin a tour of Ronda.
Walk across Puente Nuevo
Puente Nuevo, or ‘New Bridge’, is the main highlight of a Ronda day trip and the first place the majority of visitors head. From Ronda train station it’s around a 15-minute easy walk through the town centre. As you exit the more modern area of the town the road ahead opens out to lead across the famous Puente Nuevo. Standing on either side grants spectacular views. On the left as you approach from the centre look down into the jaw-dropping gorge far below you. The way the Guadalevín River has cut through the rocky landscape to create the gorge is truly incredible.
On the opposite side of the bridge the scene opens out to spacious Andalucian countryside. Ahead of you are distant mountains and large fields. Below your feet the gorge opens out as it leads into the countryside just beyond the town’s borders.
Walking across the bridge leads you towards the old town of Ronda. However, before you head there, take a moment to enjoy one of the many stunning viewpoints around the town.
Admire the view from Mirador de Ronda
You’ll find several vantage points around Ronda offering incredible views of both the bridge and the spectacular gorge below. The first viewpoint you should head to is to the right of the bridge as you approach it. Follow the path around the side of the Parador de Ronda Hotel to an observation deck, where you can enjoy some amazing views of the valley and mountains ahead of you. This is the edge of town and for those used to big cities that seemingly run into one another it can be surprising to see such open countryside directly in front of you. Especially after passing through a built-up town centre to get there.
Looking down you’ll see a path leading to the Guadalevín River, which runs through the gorge below. This is the route to take to see Puente Nuevo from below or for the famous shot of the bridge from in front.
Take a break at Plaza de Maria Auxiliadora
With so many viewpoints in Ronda of not only Puente Nuevo but also the beautiful surrounding scenery, it’s nice to stop for a while and take advantage. Plaza de Maria Auxiliadora is a quiet, tree-shaded square complete with gardens and seating area perfect for just that. You’ll find the gardens just a short walk from Puente Nuevo by turning left on Calle Tenorio. From there it’s just a few minutes down the narrow streets until you arrive at the plaza.
Many people pass this way to access the path leading to the bottom of the gorge or before heading to the old town, but few stop for more than a few minutes. In fact, the only company you’re likely to have will be the local cats soaking up the warm Andalucian sun.
Gaze up at Puente Nuevo from below
The view from the bridge is stunning and so is Puente Nuevo itself. However, to get a truly breath-taking perspective of this spectacular bridge follow the trail to the bottom and gaze up in wonder at this spectacular feat of engineering. The footpath leading down to the gorge starts just to the side of Plaza de Maria Auxiliadora, leading away from the old town. The stone covered track is easy to follow and it’s possible to take a pushchair or wheelchair all the way to the bottom.
Around halfway down there’s a split in the footpath with one route continuing down the hill and another leading off to the right. Taking the path to the right will lead you to the base of the bridge. From there you can admire the small waterfall flowing out of the gorge as it drops away before staring up in awe from such an incredible vantagepoint at the bridge towering high above you. The path gets a little trickier the closer to the bridge you get, but it’s nothing too difficult and definitely worth the view.
Tackle the challenging Via Ferrate route
One of the most famous viewpoints of Ronda’s bridge is directly opposite. The footpath continues from the earlier detour to a final stop facing Puente Nuevo where you can really appreciate its beauty. However, for an alternative route that is far from straightforward, but well worth the challenge, take on the secret Via Ferrata.
Through a combination of the metal steps (which double up as handles as you move past them) and cables, you make your way down the cliff to the bottom. The steps are not continuous and there are several breaks where the ground levels off, allowing you to rest, take a breath and enjoy the views of the bridge. Alternatively, peer up at where you’ve just come from and wonder whether to go back or continue on this not so safe route to the bottom of the gorge. It takes around twenty minutes to reach the end, depending on how cautious you are, but definitely gives you a sense of achievement once you feel solid ground beneath your feet.
One word of caution. I found one step close to the end was a little loose and the drop from the final step to the ground was a little over a metre. I was forced to use a rock to my side and jump the rest of the way from there. You can’t go very far from that point if you mess it up, but it’s something to be aware of.
How to find the Via Ferrata route
The Via Ferrata is not always easy to find. What you’re looking for is a black, metal pole sticking out of the rocks. Once you find that, carefully peer down over the edge to see several metal ‘steps’ fixed into the rockface. Then simply clamber over the edge and follow the steps heading down.
Stroll through Ronda’s old town
No day trip to Ronda is complete without a walk through the old town. Back at the top of the footpath from the gorge, Ronda’s old town will be directly ahead of you. Outside of the busiest seasons this area of Ronda is much quieter than its main tourist attraction and the boring town centre. The old town is where you’ll find many interesting buildings and more views of the surrounding countryside away from the crowds. The narrow, twisting streets take you past picturesque houses, tiny squares, cafes, monasteries and museums.
Ronda is very typical of the white villages in Spain and as you follow the footpath along the town walls you’ll see exactly how these villages get their name. Ahead of you will be the closely packed homes of Ronda’s residents. Their whitewashed walls standing out in clear contrast with the nearby Andalucian countryside.
Learn about Ronda’s past in La Casa del Rey Moro
On the approach to Puente Nuevo, as the old town merges with the new, you’ll spot La Casa del Rey Moro. However, unlike many other places in Andalucía such as Granada or Cordoba, the house was never actually occupied by the ruling Moorish King. The house was built long after the all-conquering Moors had departed from Spain as were its beautiful gardens.
That doesn’t mean you should miss a visit to the house though. At the bottom of almost 300 stone steps cut into the sides of the gorge you’ll find a key feature in the historic wars fought between the Moors of Granada and the Christians in Seville. The water mine was used as a way of ensuring fresh water supplies for the Moorish soldiers.
The water mine, gardens and house (including the mysterious ‘Room of Secrets’) are all included in the €7 entrance price. You can learn more about the interesting history of La Casa del Rey Moro by listening to the free audio guide as you explore the grounds.
Search for Ronda’s other bridges
There are more bridges in Ronda than just the famous Puente Nuevo. On your walk through the old town you should come across a footpath following the old town walls. This trail leads back to the river and where, eventually, you’ll find both the Roman Bridge and the old bridge, Puente Viejo.
Located deeper in the awesome gorge, Puente Viejo faces its newer counterpart as it spans the wide ravine ahead of you. You’ll first see the smaller (but no less beautiful) Puente Viejo from the new bridge as you cross it. Admiring the bridge from this side helps you gain a better perspective of the breath-taking gorge.
The Roman Bridge (which was actually built by the Moors) is another small bridge, now used solely for pedestrians and very close to Puente Viejo. You pass by it on the way to the Arabic Baths, which are located just outside the old town.
Have lunch in Jardines de Cuenca
A little after Puente Viejo you’ll find a path leading to Jardines De Cuenca, a picturesque garden from where you can relax and take in the sights ahead of you. The gardens are filled with flowers and trees year-round, and with such great views to enjoy it’s the perfect place to stop for a lunch break.
You’ll find many restaurants and cafes in Ronda, however many of those close to Puente Nuevo will be more expensive than you might expect to find elsewhere in the town or typical of Andalucía. A cheaper alternative is to bring something to eat with you and enjoy it in the beautiful surroundings of Jardines de Cuenca. Situated between the old and new bridges in the middle of the gorge, with La Casa del Rey Moro directly opposite, wherever you look there is such spectacular scenery it’s impossible not to want to spend a long time here.
Relax in Alameda del Tajo park
The largest green space in Ronda is Alameda del Tajo. The park has botanical gardens, plenty of shady spots for relaxing away from the hot Andalucian sun and a large viewing area overlooking the incredible countryside beyond the town’s boundaries.
Located just 10 minutes from the train station, Alameda del Tajo is a great place to stroll either as you arrive or as a final stop before leaving Ronda. It’s also very close to Plaza de Toros, Ronda’s bullring, which is one of the oldest in Spain. You’ll find a museum detailing the history of bullfighting at the Plaza de Toros, however they still hold bullfighting competitions and therefore not somewhere I recommend visiting.
How to get to Ronda
Malaga to Ronda
The easiest way to get there is to take a train from Malaga to Ronda, which takes around two hours and costs €11. Renting a car in Malaga, or at the airport as you arrive, gives you more freedom and choice when it comes to driving the 100km between the two places. You can also travel from Malaga to Ronda by bus with journeys throughout the day, each taking around one and a half to two and a half hours.
Seville to Ronda
Seville to Ronda by bus typically takes two hours although it could be longer depending on the time of day. It’s a little under 130km between Seville and Ronda and driving generally takes an hour and 45 minutes.
Tours to Ronda
There are many tours that run between Seville and Malaga, the majority of which include a stop in Ronda. Lots of tour companies offer stops in several of the white villages Andalucía has to offer. Places such as Zahara de la Sierra, Arcos de la Frontera or Medina Sidonia.
However, with your own transport you can decide your own itinerary and stay in Ronda for as long as you like before venturing on to Malaga, Seville or another of the white villages in Andalucía.
When to visit Ronda
As you’ll find in much of the region, the summers in Andalucía are incredibly hot. I wouldn’t recommend visiting between late June and August, especially if you plan on taking on the Via Ferrata route. The winter months can also be pretty cold. Outside the town centre it’s very open and with the wind you need to be prepared for low temperatures. Shoulder seasons of spring and autumn are perfect conditions and should see less crowds. Giving you enough time and space to get that perfect shot while you stand admiring the beauty of Ronda’s famous bridge.