6 Beautiful White Villages of Andalusia
The white villages of Andalusia, or ‘Pueblos Blancos’, are a group of 19 villages in the province of Cadiz. They sit within Andalusia, an incredible region of Spain with a very warm, friendly culture and fascinating Moorish history.
In this southern part of Spain, close to the border of Africa, temperatures can get above 100°F (38°C). To combat this, the villages’ houses were painted white to reflect the sun’s rays, preventing them from getting too hot in the summer months.
The white villages of Andalusia were also used as defense towns, watching out for other cities in the valley below. Because of this, you’ll find them perched on top of mountains, with amazing coastline views.
Olvera is one of the most beautiful white villages of Andalusia. The extraordinary village sits high up on a hill with a beautiful church that overlooks it. Even higher than the church is the town’s hilltop fort that’s perched on top of a gigantic boulder. From here, you can discover incredible views of the olive groves and the white houses below.
However, due to its spectacular location, you can also see Olvera from all around the region. Because of this, the drive to reach Olvera is simply breathtaking, particularly the road between Olvera and Sentinel. On this winding road, you’ll pass over rolling green hills from canyons into olive groves and vineyards. As you snake your way into the town, you’ll have the castle looming over you from almost every angle.
The Castle of Olvera
Once you’re in Olvera, walk up to the white-stone castle and pay 2 Euros (2.15 USD) to enter the area. This gives you access to explore the castle and the surrounding grounds. It also includes entry to the museum, which teaches you about Olvera’s Moorish history. You can even climb onto the castle’s roof for amazing views of the church and the white village below.
Please note: The castle grounds only stay open until 8 PM. During the summer, you won’t be able to see the sunset from here, so watch it from the church courtyard instead.
Getting to Olvera
Driving to Olvera is stunning. However, alternatively, you can also cycle to Olvera along the famous Via Verde de la Sierra. This green route cycle path spans 36.5 km along a disused railway line. It starts in Puerto Serrano and goes through 30 tunnels and 4 viaducts before reaching Olvera.
Ubrique sits in a valley, nestled in the foothills of the mountains, and located between the two large national parks of the area, Los Alcornocales, and Grazalema. You’ll get a great view of the village and its sweet, red-tiled roofs as you drive towards the mountain.
Most importantly, Ubrique is one of the ‘Pueblos Blancos’ famous for making leather goods. This industry has been in Ubrique for many years, and they still produce designer bags. Because of this, one of the top things to do in Ubrique is to visit the leather museum (Museo de la Piel de Ubrique). It’s a beautiful building, and inside, you can learn about ancient leather bag making.
Ubrique also has beautiful streets; it’s home to white houses, with pink and purple bougainvillea growing up the walls, adding a pop of color to the village. Explore the town’s main historical sites, including the Arabic Castle of Fatima and the ancient Roman road. Plus, if you’re into hiking, you can walk up into the mountains and hills above the village and see some beautiful nature.
3. Setenil de las Bodegas (Most Unique White Village of Andalusia)
Setenil de las Bodegas is definitely the most unique of all of the white villages of Andalusia. Discover huge rocks that overhang the town, with houses built underneath or coming out of the stone itself.
This inventive way of building utilizes the spaces between rocks as much as possible and prevents the houses from getting too hot in the summer. What’s more, this same rock also protects the homes from getting too cold in the winter. Win-win!
A different white village in Andalusia
Unlike the other Pueblos Blancos, this medieval settlement was built within the canyon rather than on top of mountains and hills. The gorge, caves, and overhanging rock were formed naturally by the water from the creek below, showing the power of nature. In prehistoric times, it’s believed Troglodytes (cave dwellers) lived within the caves in this village.
Most people head straight for the main street ‘Calle Cuevas del Sol’, built under overhanging rocks. However, although this is beautiful, we recommend exploring other parts of the village too. On your way, look for the various viewpoints in Setenil de las Bodegas.
4. Zahara de la Sierra: Beautiful White Villages of Andalusia
If you’re looking for a postcard-worthy village in Cadiz, Zahara de la Sierra is the place to go. Perched above a turquoise blue reservoir, the scenery is some of the best you’ll find in the whole of Andalusia! As you approach, you’ll see the beautiful colors of the lake, surrounded by bright green fields and the white houses of Zahara.
Spend some time wandering among the cute streets of Zahara de la Sierra, finding charming squares and restaurants. Make sure also to climb to the top peak of the mountain, where you’ll find the remains of an old castle tower. This was once one of the most important fortresses in the area, protecting bigger cities like Malaga from oncoming attacks. The views from up here are incredible, providing panoramic views over the lake and surrounding mountains.
5. Villaluenga del Rosario
Villaluenga del Rosario means the ’long town of the rosary’ because its shape is long and narrow and hugs the side of a rocky mountain cliffside. In the winter, you’ll find the area covered in snow, and in the summer, the white houses are brightly lit by the sun and blue sky.
Although you can’t necessarily tell (there are no high viewpoints in Villaluenga del Rosario), this is the highest of all the white villages of Andalusia. It sits at 900 meters above sea level and has many hiking trails going up the mountain. These trails are perfect for exploring the many caves in the area; it’s estimated there are about 100 nearby!
The main thing to do in Villaluenga del Rosario is to visit one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Spain. It sits inside the ruins of an old church that was burned down by the Napoleanic troops. What is left are the remains of the beautiful old stone arches, which now stand above the white graves and endless flowers. You’ll see the mountains looking at the cemetery, making it one of the most scenic, peaceful, and humbling locations.
There is also an ancient bull ring carved out of the mountain rock, which sits on top of an open viewpoint at the edge of the village. It is mainly used for concerts and performances and is a nice place to come and watch the sunset. However, please avoid watching a bullfight (they still occur here) as it’s a form of animal cruelty and a bad example of wildlife tourism.
Where to Eat in Villaluenga del Rosario
The village is famous for sheep cheese, the primary industry in the area. There’s a great cheese shop called Queso Payoyo, SL, where you can buy some cheese to take home. For a bite to eat, Meson Rural Los Caños is a great spot.
6. Arcos de la Frontera
The landscape around Arcos de la Frontera is one of the most impressive of Andalusia’s white villages. Looking over the Guadalete River, the town’s steep winding streets spread uphill from the river banks.
In the village, you’ll find a unique mix of architecture, including Roman, Moorish, and Baroque. This diversity shows the town’s evolution as it moved through various conquering and reconquering. Make sure to visit the beautiful Basilica of Santa Maria, a huge church with an ornately carved exterior.
After visiting Arcos de la Frontera, pay a visit to the winery Bodega Tesalia, a family-run estate in the fields of Cadiz. You can join a tour and learn more about the area and the wine-making process. You’ll also get to enjoy a wine tasting, of course!