Between the Atlantic in the west and the Mediterranean in the east, lies some of the prettiest hidden towns of Spain. If you are visiting or living in Andalucia, southern Spain, you cannot miss a trip to “pueblos blancos”, also known as white villages.
These white villages, with whitewashed walls, red tiled roofs, cobblestone streets and ornate churches atop cliffs are rich in history. They date back to the Romans and Moors, offer spectacular flora & fauna, historical walking routes and are havens for birds watchers & wildlife lovers.
Grazalema Natural Park is declared a Biosphere Reserve. A natural park with splendid flora and fauna that varies from Spanish fir, maple woods to deers and Iberian wild goats. It’s known for it’s great hiking routes and outdoor activity options. Grazalema Natural Park has a trail of white villages going through it, many of which belong to the Natural Park, which gives them an additional factor of interest.
The “route of the white villages” is a tourist route that spreads from region of la Sierra, the region of Janda, in the province of Cadiz and the Serrania de Ronda, in the province of Málaga . The official route goes through these villages and towns: Alcalá del Valle, Algar, Algodonales, Arcos de la Frontera, Benaocaz, Bornos, El Bosque, El Gastor , Espera, Grazalema, Olvera, Prado del Rey, Puerto Serrano, Setenil de las Bodegas, Torre Alháquime, Ubrique, Vejer de la Frontera, Villaluenga del Rosario, Villamartín, Zahara de la Sierra.
Most Andalusian towns were once fortresses that stood along the frontiers between the Christian and Moorish realms. This is why some of their names have are very similar ending “___ de la Frontera” meaning “of the frontier”.
Some of the commonly visited and renown villages are “Jerez de la Frontera”, “Arcos de la Frontera”, “Morón de la Frontera”… easily confused. Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
De noche, todos los gatos son pardos, translates to ‘by night, all cats are brownish-gray.’
Meaning, in the darkness, all things, people, places – look pretty much the same.
What we wanted to say with this is that although all the white villages may look the same, white and all, they each have their own characteristics and charms to experience and explore.
If you are interested in driving to explore more of Andalucía, one of the most famous white villages is Arcos de la Frontera. This old town, at the highest point on the ridge, is a maze of steep narrow streets leading up to a square named Plaza Cabildo, at the top. The views are spectacular, we highly recommend a visit.
If you’re flying into Málaga airport, and don’t consider yourself too much of a adventurer but you still want to see a white village, we recommend you go to Mijas Pueblo.
Mijas Pueblo is 5 minutes drive towards the mountain from popular holiday destination Fuengirola and is one of the closest white villages from Málaga airport. Mijas hosts live flamenco shows every Wednesday in the main square, has a charming hill top cave church, various tapas bars and restaurants and endless quirky shops, museums and even chocolate factory, probably the smallest one in the world. It’s a wonderful town where it’s easy to spend a full day, walking and admiring village life and breathtaking views.
A not-so-white village is the village of Júzcar. This town had been one of the White Towns of Andalusia, with buildings traditionally white. In spring 2011, buildings in the town (including the church and gravestones) were painted smurf-blue by Sony Pictures to celebrate the premiere of the Smurfs movie.
Since the movie this town has gone back to routine village life. Town citizens decided that they did not want to paint the village back to white, but leave this tinge of blue as a memory. Nevertheless, this town has stunning landscape views to look out to, if the blue get’s too much.
We hope you want to visit Andalucia’s hidden jewels; white washed village. You won’t be disappointed.
Below is a map with many white villages marked with golden stars.
If you click the map below you can see and select directions from your exact location. Don’t be alarmed by the amount of villages on the map or places to see in general, plan your trip around your schedule and enjoy the perks of a holiday in Spain.