Andalusia in southern Spain is one of the most popular regions in the country. With its beautiful beaches, Sierra Nevada mountains, endless parties and mix of big cities and small towns, it’s easy to see why so many people go there. One town that is a little more famous than others is Ronda. With its bridge and spectacular gorge, it’s easy to see why Ronda is on so many people’s travel list. Located close to the city of Malaga, there are several ways to visit Ronda. Keep reading for a guide on what to see and how to get there.
How to get to Ronda
Getting to Ronda is relatively simple. The nearest city to Ronda is Malaga with regular buses and trains from there throughout the day, each taking around one and a half to two and a half hours. Sevilla is less than two hours away, although public transport to Ronda is more difficult to find. Instead book a tour that includes a stop in Ronda or rent your own transport.
There are many tours that run between Sevilla and Malaga, which include a few hours in Ronda. However, with your own transport you can decide the itinerary and stay in Ronda for as long as you like. It also gives you the option to visit more of the Pueblos Blancos (White Villages) Andalusia has to offer, such as Zahara de la Sierra, Arcos de la Frontera or Medina Sidonia.
What to see in Ronda
The bridge, Puente Nuevo, is the main attraction in Ronda and is what everyone typically goes to see. From Ronda train station it’s around a 15-minute easy walk through the town centre. Once there you’ll find several viewpoints of the bridge and looking down to the gorge below.
Puente Nuevo vantage points
The first viewpoint is to the right of the bridge as you come upon it. Follow the path around the side of the cafe (Cafetería del Parador) to an observation deck where you can enjoy some amazing views of the valley and mountains ahead of you. Looking down you’ll see a path leading to the Guadalevín River, which runs through the gorge below.
To reach this path head back to the bridge and walk along it to the other side. There’s a narrow road on the right which leads to some small gardens, after which is the trail leading down to the gorge. This stone path is easy to follow and it’s possible to take a pushchair or something similar down to the bottom. Around halfway there’s a split in the path with one route continuing down the hill and another leading off to the right. Taking the path to the right will lead you closer to the bridge, giving you an incredible viewpoint as you gaze up from the bottom of the gorge. The path gets a little tricky the closer to the bridge you get, but it’s not too difficult and worth the view.
After enjoying the scenery, including the waterfall just below the bridge, follow the path back to where you took the detour. Around halfway back you’ll come across an alternative route that is far from straightforward, but well worth the challenge. It’s not always easy to find either. What you’re looking for is a 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. This is the secret Via Ferrata and your alternative route to the bottom of the gorge.
If the Via Ferrata isn’t your thing then simply take the main path leading to the bottom. The end point of both trails is the same and the views equally as impressive. For those wanting to take the difficult option simply clamber over the edge and follow the steps heading down the rockface.
Through a combination of the metal steps (which double up as handles as you move past them) and cables, make your way down the cliff to the bottom. The steps are not continuous and there are several breaks where the ground levels off and you can rest, take a breath and enjoy the view 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 warning. 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.
Whichever way you decide to travel to the bottom, you’ll find more incredible views of the bridge, as it stands towering above you with the gorge beneath. It’s a perfect place to rest and maybe enjoy a quick snack before preparing for the more arduous task of hiking back to the top. I’d recommend the path, but if you really want to take the Via Ferrata then go for it. Just be on the lookout for anyone coming down the other way.
Back at the top the best direction to follow is through the old town ahead of you. This allows you to see the rest of Ronda away from the tourist trap that is the bridge 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. Eventually you should come across a path leading back to the centre, first reaching Puente Viejo. The old bridge.
From there look up at Ronda’s Puente Nuevo bridge from the other side and gain a better perspective of the breath-taking gorge below it. 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.
How long to spend in Ronda
Ronda is a small town and even with all the routes and stunning views of the bridge there isn’t a lot to see in town. You’ll find a few small museums and such, as well as plenty of cafes and restaurants. However, beyond that there isn’t too much to keep you occupied. Half a day is probably enough time, giving you the rest of the day to venture to Malaga, Sevilla or maybe another of Andalusia’s famous white villages.
When to visit Ronda
As you’ll find in much of the region, the summers in Andalusia are incredibly hot. I wouldn’t recommend visiting at that time of year, especially if you plan on taking on the Via Ferrata route. The winter months can also be pretty cold. Outside the town centre is 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. It really is worth visiting.