Things to do in Setinel de las Bodegas, Andalucia
Setenil de las Bodegas (Bodegas means ‘wineries’) in Spain got its name from a once-thriving wine trade. The wineries are far fewer these days, but it’s still known for its delicious olives and almonds.
However, the town is most famous for its unusual cave houses built directly underneath the boulders of a deep canyon. This canyon was formed naturally by the water from the creek below, creating this incredible landscape.
In prehistoric times, it was believed Troglodytes (cave dwellers) lived within the caves in this village. In more modern days, the villagers built houses in the spaces between the rocks, preventing them from getting too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter.
All this history and beauty make it one of the most popular towns to visit on an Andalusia road trip!
Calle Cuevas del Sol
The main street in Setenil de las Bodegas is called ‘Calle Cuevas del Sol’ (Caves of the Sun), which is built under a massive slab of overhanging rock. This beautiful, sunny street is home to many cave restaurants sandwiched between mammoth boulders and a charming river. Have a bite to eat (try the wild asparagus soup, a typical delicacy of the village) and enjoy the fantastic views.
Although Calle Cuevas del Sol is the most famous street in the town, we recommend exploring other areas too. Wander among narrow streets like Calle Cuevas de la Sombra (caves of the shade) or go further uphill into the village to look at the white houses and viewpoints.
Visit the Castle
One of the top things to do in Setenil de las Bodegas is to visit the remains of the historical Arab Castle from the 12th century. Named Nazari Castle, it was once very impressive and had around 40 towers. During the period of ‘Reconquista’ between the Moors and Christians, it’s said it took the Christians 15 days to capture the castle and over 7 attempts to take back the village. This story gave the town the name ‘Setenil’, coming from the Latin ‘Septem Nihil’, which means ‘7 times no’.
These days, there is only 1 tower left, but you can climb to the top for just 1 EUR (1 USD) for excellent views across the village and valley below.
Apart from the castle tower, you can see plenty of other views in Setenil de las Bodegas. Start by walking along the river, crossing the bridges, and seeing the views of the cave houses and canyon. Once you’ve done that, wander the streets higher up into the village to find other great spots to watch the sunset or take some photos. Some spectacular viewpoints are:
- Calle San Sebastian: A highish part of town with a nice view over the white houses of the village. It’s a 15-minute walk from Calle Cuevas del Sol.
- Calle Ventosilla Alta: An even higher viewpoint. Here is the location.
- Mirador del Lizon: An observation deck open 24 hours a day. It is located here.
- Mirador del Carmen: Prepare to climb 93 steps up; it’s well worth it! Find directions to Mirador del Carmen.
Drive from Setenil to Olvera (Andalusia Road Trip)
The journey to Setenil de las Bodegas is an adventure in itself. Meandering roads travel between olive groves and fields of sunflowers as you head uphill towards the village and the canyon. The best road is the one between Setenil and Olvera (another white village in Andalusia) and definitely one to do on your Andalusia road trip. In fact, the beauty of this drive is part of the excitement of visiting this beautiful cave village!
Best Cafes and Restaurants in Setenil de las Bodegas
Plenty of delicious local delicacies can be found in Setenil de las Bodegas. However, the most picturesque place to eat is on Calle Cuevas del Sol, where you’ll find many cave restaurants. Not only is the food tasty, but you’ll have the unique experience of eating under the overhanging rock. It gets very busy in Setenil de las Bodegas, so make sure to reserve your table on arrival. Alternatively, call to book ahead.
Where to Stay in Setenil de las Bodegas
One of the top things to do in Setenil de las Bodegas is to stay in one of the spectacular cave houses. Many of these have been transformed into hotels or vacation rentals, allowing you to experience the life of a cave dweller. We recommend staying in the center of town for the most atmospheric experience.
There is also the option to stay outside of town or in any of the white villages of Andalusia. From your hotel, you can easily drive to Setenil de las Bodegas for the day. Please note that in the summer, it can get busy with tour groups. Because of this, consider staying overnight to enjoy the tranquil evenings and early mornings.
How to Visit Setenil de las Bodegas
Jerez is the closest airport to Setenil de las Bodegas. However, it’s a very tiny airport with mainly domestic flights. Because of this, it’s better to go to Malaga, as many international flights arrive here from major cities in Europe.
From here, we recommend hiring a car to give you more flexibility. This enables you to enjoy the ultimate Andalusia road trip and see all the white villages of Andalusia.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Setenil de las Bodegas is in the morning or evening. This is because tour buses come through the middle of the day, making the streets very busy, particularly in the summer. During this time, temperatures can also get up to 40 degrees C (104 F), although the mornings and evenings are cooler.
Because of this, an excellent time to visit is in the spring or autumn when the days are still sunny and warm but not as busy, making it much more enjoyable for walking and sightseeing.