Tour of the White Towns

There are several white towns in the province of Malaga that are located in the Costa del Sol and are near enough and easy enough for visitors to see.

1. Mijas

Mijas is located close to Fuengirola, going up the mountain. This town is prepared for tourism and has plentiful parking because there is a large parking building (12 stories) in the town. Just follow directions as you enter the town. On top of the parking building is the tourism office, one of the best in the Costa del Sol. They have a young man who speaks English and he is very simpatico and friendly. Beside this office you can see the many burros that are part of the town's famous burro taxi fleet. You can take pictures of these burros. There is a nearby lookout point that has a little park and you can see below the coastline and the city of Fuengirola. There is also a little chapel in the grotto, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The town has many top quality stores and many good restaurants. This is a good place to buy leather jackets, but be sure to bargain with the Morrocan owners. A woman’s leather jacket should be around 150 euros, while a man’s jacket should be around 200 euros. The town is so charming that when Robert Redford was younger, he decided to live in Mijas with his family for a year.

Mijas has a very good hotel called Hotel Mijas, a 4 star hotel at the entrance to the town, with a good restaurant, wonderful views, and a swimming pool.

Other good restaurants are:

a. Restaurante La Alcazaba

Plaza de la Constitucion

Tel. 952-486-397

Closed on Mondays

This is a moderately priced restaurant with the most spectacular view of the valley below and the sea beyond. There are big picture windows that let in this view. The restaurant is elegant, has very good service, and the very good food is served on beautiful plates. Everything is first class and it is a delight.

b. El Mirlo Blanco

Plaza de la Constitucion 2

Tel. 952-485-700

This is an expensive Basque restaurant overlooking a little plaza in the upper town. Mirlo blanco means white blackbird. The restaurant has been in Mijas for 40 years. There is a shaded balcony overlooking the plaza. The food is delicious.

2. Ronda

Ronda is set on a high bluff overlooking the fields below and the views are incredible. In the Tourism office, one can pick up a map which shows where the most important tourist attractions are. The town includes a modern parador built on the edge of a cliff. There are historic churches and palaces (now museums) from the time of the Moors in the town.

The most famous views are of the New Bridge, that crosses the gorge over the River Guadalevin and connects the two parts of the town. The views are very impressive and may give many the feeling of vertigo when they look down to the small river below.

Close to the bullring is the Alameda Park, which has a lookout point where one can get panoramic views of the surrounding countryside below the cliffs. The park is beautiful and restful, filled with trees, flowers, and fountains.

There is also one of the oldest bullfight rings in Spain in the center of town, and during one part of the year they celebrate the Goyescas, on the first week of September, where the bullfighters and spectators dress in period costumes depicting times during the painter Goya's lifetime. The Goyescas are the most expensive bullfight event in Spain and the rich and famous can be seen at this event.

Many celebrities have been enraptured by the town and Orson Welles was buried here, in the ranch of one of his bulfighter friends, Antonio Ordoñez.

Antonio Ordoñez was the most famous matador in the 1950s and there is a statue of him outside the bullring. Orson Welles was a frequent visitor at his finca, called El Recreo, and Welles is buried in the well of the finca. There is a street named after Welles called El Paseo de Orson Welles, located near the bullring.

Not to be missed is the Palacio de Mondragon, which has many Mudejar features, and a beautiful garden overlooking the gorge. The municipal museum is located in this palace. The palace was built by a Moorish king and later Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand lived there after they conquered Ronda. The palace has been renovated several times after that. The museum is devoted to the history of Ronda. The beautiful gardens remind one of the Generalife Gardens of Granada, in miniature. When one sits down in the garden, one feels at peace with the world.

Then there is the Church of Santa Maria de la Encarnacion, La Mayor, which has a beautiful retable. It was a mosque and was converted into a Catholic church. There are big murals painted by a French woman artist, who volunteered to paint them a few years ago. Across from this church is the City Hall, built in 1734.

Ronda is not to be missed! Everyone who has gone to Ronda remembers this town for a lifetime. One can also pick up quality souvenirs in the town.

Ernest Hemingway, also a frequent guest of Antonio Ordoñez, considered Ronda as the most romantic town of Spain. In his noved “Death in the Afternoon” (1932), he said:

“There is one town that would be better than Aranjuez to see your first bullfight in if you are only going to see one and that is Ronda. That is where you should go if you ever go to Spain on a honeymoon or if you ever bolt with anyone. The entire town and as far as you can see in any direction is romantic background… If a honeymoon or an elopement is not a success in Ronda, it would be as well to start for Paris and commence making your own friends.”

Here are recommended restaurants:

a. Restaurante Doña Pepa

Plaza del Socorro, 10

Tel. 952-874-777

This is one of the best in Ronda and is moderately priced. Their chicken breast filled with vegetables and shrimp is a winner.

They have a website:

b. Restaurante Alhambra

Calle Pedro Romero 9

Tel. 952-876-934

The inside of this restaurant is built in the Moorish style and there are big pictures of the Alhambra. It is moderately priced and the food is excellent.

c. Restaurante Duquesa de Parcent

Calle Tenorio 12

Tel. 952-871-965

This is an elegant and quiet restaurant that overlooks the gorge, so there are beautiful views from here.

3. Nerja

Nerja is located on the coast and this small town is the favorite of the English, and with good reason. Thee town has one of the best climates in Spain. The main tourist attraction is the Balcon de Europa, or “Balcony of Europe". This is a beautiful place to sit on the benches in the little park adjacent to the balcony. The beaches here are quite small and intimate. Take a walk to the parador and you will have one of the best views from there. The parador has a beautiful garden and overlooks one of the beaches, and in the background are the mountains. The sight is especially beautiful during winter, when the mountain tops may be covered in snow. There are many stores in Nerja that are quite sophisticated and you can get quality merchandise, and many of these stores are on Calle Pintada. There are several good leather stores in town and jewelry stores too. Many stores carry quality souvenirs like Lladro.

Three kilometers away from the center of town are the famous Caves of Nerja. These are some of the most beautiful caves in Europe, with stalagmites and stalagtites. There are also Paleolithic paintings. Recent finds of stone heads used for hunting show that there were visitors from 24,000 years ago, and this shows that Nerja was one of the oldest inhabited towns in Europe. Every July there is a festival of flamenco music and dance in the caves.

Recommended restaurants:

a. Meson Benitez

Calle Hernando de Carabeo 50

Tel. 952-522-208

This tradional restaurant has a big terrace on top of the cliff overlooking a small beach below, and the mountains across. The view is sensational and the fish is very good. Moderately priced.

b. Restaurante Pacomari

Calle Gloria 4
Tel. 952-520-138

This restaurant has a big shaded patio where it is pleasant to eat. The food is tradional and the fish is very good. Moderately priced.

c. Bar El Pulgilla

Almirante Ferrandiz 26

Tel. 952-521-384

This is an inexpensive restaurant that specializes in fish. There is a large patio at the back of the restaurant, covered with an awning. Not elegant, but good fish.

4. Frigiliana

Before one reaches Nerja, there is a turnoff for Frigiliana and one goes up the mountain for about 8 kilometers. Frigiliana has been named the most picturesque village in Spain for many years in a government run contest. Every small plaza has a chapter of the town's history done in ceramic tile. As one see all the plazas, one understands the complete history of the town. During Moorish times many of the Moorish nobles lived in this town. This town is truly extremely charming and unforgettable. Many foreigners are now buying houses in the town. One can walk up to the top of the town and get very good views of the seacoast. The sweet wine of Frigiliana is famous and many visitors go to this town just to buy the wine. This town has had the least development of white towns along the coast, so it is the most original. The charm of this town is overwhelming!