Itinerary: 5 Days through the Pueblos Blancos
Today we are featuring an itinerary suggested to some of our clients. Their goal is to drive from the Costa del Sol to Seville, taking a slow route through idyllic landscapes, visiting picturesque towns and staying in boutique hotels. So we at Willamette International Travel have planned the following week for them, complete with transportation and hotels. They will be leaving Casares, where they are attending a wedding, and spend a few days journeying through the small white villages in the mountainous regions of Andalucia, before reaching their final destination of Seville.
photo by Lee Cannon
The Pueblos Blancos, or “white villages,” are fortified hilltop towns, so named for their whitewashed décor in the Moorish tradition. There is plenty to see in the quiet countryside, gorgeous vistas of valleys and cliffs, and a bounty of architectural masterpieces that spans religions and centuries.
Day 1. Casares to Ronda.
Ronda is a city of dramatically perched houses and amazing views of 500-foot gorges. Ronda is the spiritual home of bullfighting and heir to a Moorish and Spanish blend of traditions. Check out the city for some spectacular architecture, from the Plaza de la Ciudad, the church and its former minaret, to the mosaic-decorated Palacio Mondragon and the frescos of biblical scenes and South Americans on the Palacio del Marques de Salvatierra. There are some great walking excursions on the footpaths, which lead you to ruined Moorish mills, waterfalls, the old mansion Casa del Rey Moro, the 18th century Puente Nuevo bridge that runs over Tajo Gorge. This area is also great for birdwatching, cycling, rock-climbing, and horse-riding. One of Willamette Intl Travel’s own agents, Pam, stayed here—she says the ancient Roman bridge is still in use!
photo by Benjamin Vander Steen
Day 2. Base in Ronda. Day trip to various towns.
From your base in Ronda, take a day trip around to the various sites. Check out the town of Montejaque and the nearby Hunidero cave; Benaojan, with its Pileta caves and Paleolithic cave paintings; Olvera with its stunning 12th century Arab castle. You can also enjoy a view of Grazalema Nature Park nearby. From here a path to the right leads to Garganta Verde, a gorge with an impressive cave known as Ermita de la Garganta. At Grazalema Park, walk around ancient Roman and Arab settlements and artistic churches.
Day 3. Drive to Arcos de la Frontera. Stop at Zahara de la Sierra.
On the languid drive to Arcos de la Frontera after breakfast, make sure to stop in Zahara de la Sierra, a National Monument town with uneven streets, 12th century Moorish castle, and impressive cliffsides. Pam recommends the slow but scenic route through Parque Natural de Sierra.
Arcos de la Frontera clings impossibly to an outcropping of rock with the Guadalete River at its foot. Navigate carefully up its labyrinth of narrow alleys and old quarters up to the ruins of an Islamic castle. Once a Moorish stronghold, the Reconquista reestablished a Christian presence still evident in the Gothic-Mudejar church, the Gothic Iglesia de San Pedro and the Renaissance Palacio del Mayorazgo. “I drove through this area several years ago,” says Pam. “Stayed in Arcos which was beautiful. We had a balcony jutting out over a cliff (we looked down and could see birds flying underneath us!). Lots of little winding streets leading to the top of a mountain with a church, a nunnery, and some houses in the village. Very beautiful.”
photo by cayetano
Day 4. Base in Arcos. Day in Jerez de la Frontera.
The main reason to visit the larger city of Jerez de la Frontera is to check out the bodegas where sherry is made—and fans of the delicate fermented wine must make a stop here. Tours with tasty samples usually run from 9am to 1pm, so plan your time accordingly. The varieties produced here are fino (extra dry and light), amontillado (dry and dark), oloroso (medium, golden), and dulce (sweet). Due to popularity, its best to call ahead for a reservation! The Jerez region is also renown for quality horse-breeding—the Lippizzaner horses, still used at the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, originally came from this area. If you happen to love horses, check out trainers and their mounts at the Real Escuela Andaluza de Arte Ecuestre.
photo by Michael Osmenda
Day 5. Drive from Arcos to Carmona or Doñana National Park.
At this point, you can choose either to head west, to the National Park of Doñana, or northward past Seville to Carmona. Carmona has a fantastic architectural atmosphere, with the polished arches of Plaza de Arriba, archaic Seville Gate, and the lavish and ornate churches. Don’t miss the Roman necropolis! The food is also excellent—tapas, chicken soup, gazpacho, curdled eggs, patrirdge, Serrano ham, etc.
If you have the time or just prefer to explore wild nature, head now to the National Park of Doñana, one of Europe’s greatest wetlands. In 185,000 acres of marshes and sand dunes, you can spot rare species such as fallow deer, red deer, imperial eagle, flamingo, lynx, umbrella pine, and lavender. Be advised however that you must book an officially guided day tour in order to cross the wetlands.
Day 6. Seville.
Conclude your tour of the magnificent Pueblos Blancos and the Andalucian countryside by heading over to the bustling city of Seville. Celebrate with an idyll afternoon and a glass of sherry.
Willamette International Travel assists clients in customizing their itineraries. We do the research and legwork so you don’t have to! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800.821.0401 for more information.