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I hadn’t heard anything about the town of Ronda before I went there, but boy is it one of the prettiest towns in southern Spain. If you are visiting Sevilla, then put it on your list. Along with Cadiz, Malaga, Cordoba and Granada, it’s one of the top day trips from Seville.
A day trip to Ronda from Seville is fairly easy to do, and definitely worth your time. The town was known to be a popular spot with Orson Wells and Ernest Hemingway, who considered it to be the most romantic spot in Spain. The events in Chapter 10 of Heminway’s book, For Whom the Bell Tolls, are actually based on real life events in Ronda.
In more recent times Ronda came into the spotlight when Michelle Obama visited Andalusia on a private vacation, and press clippings are displayed proudly outside the Palacio El Rey Moro.
A day trip to Ronda from Seville is a must-do and in this guide I’ll cover all the info you need to plan your trip.
Where is Ronda?
Ronda is located roughly 130km from Seville and 102km west of Malaga. The town is situated in the province of Málaga, between Parque Nacional Sierra de las Nieves and Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park.
How to Get to Ronda from Seville
The best way to get to Ronda is by bus since there are no direct trains. We took the bus on a day trip from Seville to Ronda with Los Amarillos, which is now Damas. Spanish bus companies InterBus and Movelia also run direct buses to Ronda.
Buses depart from Prado de San Sebastian Bus Station and arrive at Ronda Central Bus Station, which is just a short walk from the town center. The journey takes around 2 hours 40 minutes and costs roughly €13.10 each way.
You can also take the train from Seville Santa Justa train station to Ronda but there are no direct services, so you’ll have to change trains in Antequera-Santa Ana. You can check the times on the Renfe website.
The journey by train from Seville to Ronda takes around 3-4 hours depending on which train you take and costs from €17.85-€35.50 each way. It’s much more expensive than the bus and takes longer so I wouldn’t really advise it.
The quickest and most convenient option is to drive. You can search for rental cars in Seville using Rentalcars.com or Kayak. The driving distance from Seville to Ronda is about 133 kilometers (83 miles) and takes around 1 hour 45 minutes to two hours.
To get to Ronda from Seville, take the A-376, followed by a small section of the A382 before returning to the A-376. You will eventually see signs for Ronda.
Ronda is located in quite a remote, mountainous region and so a car will allow you to explore nearby places that you wouldn’t be able to reach without a vehicle.
If you don’t want to worry about transportation and timetables, you could also visit Ronda by tour from Seville. The following tours from GetYourGuide depart from Seville:
Things to Do on Your Ronda Day Trip from Seville
Ronda is small and can be easily explored on foot, so it’s very easy to do as a day trip. When I visited the city it was still relatively unknown but now it’s very popular and can be filled with tourists around lunchtime. If you want to beat the crowds, get there early in the morning.
Ronda has a deep gorge cutting through it called El Tajo, and there are three bridges spanning the canyon. These are the Puente San Miguel, Puente Viejo “Old Bridge”, and Puente Nuevo “New Bridge”. All three are impressive and make for some good photos.
Plaza de Toros de Ronda
Ronda is home to one of the the oldest bull rings in Spain, the Plaza de toros de Ronda. Outside the bull ring is a statue of Antonio Ordoñez, a famous bullfighter of his time. The ashes of Orson Wells are actually buried in a well on Ordoñez’s property.
Construction of Plaza de Toros took place between 1779-1785 after Catholic King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella won Ronda back from the Moors. The bullring has a diameter of 66 meters (217ft) and has seating for 5,000 spectators. It was constructed entirely of stone and the stands feature two level of seating, with 5 raised rows per level. Some 136 Tuscan sandstone columns support the upper level and roof of the Plaza de Toros.
The main entrance features two tall tuscan columns with the royal shield of Spain at the top center. The main door was large enough for horses and carriages to enter the ring and above the door is a balcony featuring beautiful wrought iron metalwork. When Ronda’s Espinal Theater was constructed in 1923, the entrance was actually moved to Virgen de la Paz opposite Restorante Pedro Romero, where it still stands today.
The museum inside Plaza de Toros, Museo Taurino, displays many of the most important bullfighting outfits and bullfighting regalia from the last two centuries. Visitors can also see a collection of weapons used by the Real Maestranza during Spanish wars.
Entry costs 6.50€ or 8.00€ with audio-guide. The ring is usually open from 10:00 and closes anywhere between 18:00 and 20:00 depending on the time of year.
The Punta Nuevo is one of three bridges that span the 120-metre-deep (390 ft) gorge that splits Ronda in two. Designed by architect José Martin de Aldehuela and built by Juan Antonio Díaz Machuca, it’s the largest and newest of the bridges. Construction of the bridge began in 1759 and was completed in 1793, taking a total of 34 years to build.
Above the arch is a chamber that was once used as a prison, among other things. During the Spanish Civil War it was used to imprison and torture captured opponents, who were often thrown from the windows and onto the rocks at the bottom of the gorge. Not a very nice way to go! Today this chamber contains a small museum explaining how the bridge was constructed.
Close to the bull ring you also have the Alameda Park, which offers beautiful panoramic views of the mountains and surrounding landscape. This public park was opened at the beginning of the 19th century and features tree-lined avenues, fountains and gardens. It’s a great place to take a break, relax and do some people watching. There’s a gazebo where musicians perform throughout the day and local artists will often set up stands here to sell their art works.
Within the park is the Monumento a la Dama Goyesca (Monument of the Goyaesque Lady), which is a statue of a woman dressed in the traditional costume of Ronda.
Casa Del Rey Moro
The house at Casa Del Rey Moro, which dates back to the 18th century, is closed to the public due to ongoing restoration works, but you can explore the palace gardens and the Water Mine, with over 200 steps leading down to the river.
During the 14th century Ronda was often besieged by the Moors of Grenada and the Christians of Seville, and the town’s water supply was often the first thing to be targeted. Taking advantage of a natural crack in the wall of the Tagus, Ronda’s Moorish king, Abomelik, ordered steps to be cut into the stone walls of the gorge, meaning water could be extracted and brought up from the River Guadalevín below.
Originally there were 365 steps but now there are less than 300. If you walk down the steps you’ll pass a series of chambers before eventually reaching the bottom of the gorge. Climbing down the staircase is only suitable if you’re fit and agile, since the only way to get back out is by climbing the stairs back to the top.
The palace design is an amalgamation of several 18th century homes conceived by the Duchess of Parcent, and the pretty terraced gardens surrounding the house were designed by renowned French architect Jean Claude Forestier. The garden combines elements of classic Hispano-Moorish garden design with the geometric layout of a French garden.
Entry to Casa del Rey Moro costs €7 for adults and €3.50 for children under 12 years. The palace is open from 10am to 8pm in winter and 10am to 9.30pm in summer.
Palacio de Mondragon
One of the prettiest sights in Ronda has to be the Palacio de Mondragon, which now functions as the town’s museum.
The palace originally the residence of the Moorish King Abomelik, who ruled Ronda in 1314. Eventually it fell into the hands of catholic King Ferdinand II, after he conquered the town of Ronda in 1485. Six years later he awarded it to the Valenzuela family, a prominent family from Sevilla, for services rendered to the Spanish crown during reconquest.
In 1975 Ronda city council turned the palace into a museum, which is located on the upper floors.
This beautiful palace is quite small but very beautiful, featuring Moorish ceilings, doors and windows. It also boasts some lovely courtyards and beautiful clifftop patios. The palace’s water garden is a miniature version of the one found in Granada’s Alhambra and overlooks the gorge.
Palacio de Mondragon is open Monday to Friday from 9am till 7pm and Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays 10am till 3pm. Tickets cost €3 for adults or €1.50 for children.
One of the most popular things to do in Ronda is to pay a visit to the “Baños Arabes” aka the Arab Baths, which were built by the Moors between the 12th and 13th centuries. The baths are one of the best surviving examples of Arabic baths (hammams) in Spain.
There are main rooms – hot, medium, and cold – and the dome ceilings feature star-shaped light and air vents, which were a common feature in Arab architecture.
Since the Moors followed Islam, a Mosque was located next to the baths and locals bathed in the water to purify their bodies before going to pray.
A short video presentation in different languages explains the history, build process and use of the baths. Entry to the baths costs €3.50 € per individual or €2.75 for groups of 10 or more, or children under 14.
Monday to Friday 10am till 6pm (10:00-18:00)
Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays 10am till 3pm (10:00-15:00)
Where to Eat on Your Day Trip to Ronda from Seville
There are lots of great tapas restaurants in Ronda where you can try tasty Andalusian cuisine. Ronda is also home to a Michelin starred restaurant called Bardal, should you want to have a fine dining experience.
Some popular places to try:
Bardal – Ronda’s only Michelin starred restaurant serves beautifully presented dishes in a contemporary, modern setting. The restaurant’s chef, Chef Benito Gomez, is from Barcelona and has a sister restaurant in Ronda called Tragata. He uses fresh, locally sourced ingredients with distinct flavors to create innovative dishes that melt in the mouth. There are two tasting menus – Bardal and Gran Bardal – consisting of restaurant 16 or 20 courses.
Tragata – Chef Benito Gómez’s other restaurant, Tragata, is also excellent. Here you can enjoy creative tapas and small plates such as ciabatta with cheeks au gratin, fried pig’s ear with spicy sauce and Duck tataki with spicy rice. The restaurant interior has a chic, industrial style and the wine list features over 100 options to choose from.
Restaurante Bodega San Francisco – Popular with locals, Bodega San Francisco is located in the neighborhood of barrio San Francisco and serves typical Spanish tapas such as croquettes and gambas al pilpil. The restaurant has a traditional atmosphere and there are tables and chairs in the plaza so guests can dine outside in the summer months.
Restaurante Tropicana – Located in the center of Ronda, Restaurante Tropicana is a family-run restaurant led by father and son. The vibe is casual and the food excellent; the menu features an array of hot and cold starters, vegetables, grilled, grilled and stewed meats, fresh fish and homemade desserts.
FAQs About Visiting Ronda, Answered
Yes, Ronda is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Spain! It’s definitely worth visiting as a day trip from Seville or any of the neighboring cities.
Driving to Ronda is fairly easy and takes around 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours if you’re coming from Seville. However, the town itself has very narrow roads and many of them are one-way, so you definitely don’t want to rent a large vehicle. The best thing to do is avoid driving in the town altogether and park on one of the outlying roads.
It can be very difficult to find parking in Ronda town center, especially during the busy summer months. The best thing to do is to park on one of the streets outside the town and then walk into the center. If you’re planning to stay overnight then some of the hotels have their own parking.
Ronda is quite small, so you can easily see everything in Ronda in one day. If you want to be more leisurely and soak in the scenery, you could spend two days here.
A Final Word…
A day trip to Ronda from Seville is easily do-able. I’d advise getting there by bus and then exploring Ronda on foot. The bus is cheap and it’s direct, unlike the train.
Ronda is incredibly pretty and it was my favorite place to visit in Andalucia. It’s a real gem and was the highlight of my trip through southern Spain.
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