The route of the white villages is a unique attraction taking visitors through traditional Andalusia. Narrow alleys, walls decorated with flower pots, small shops with a touch of Arabic culture – each village has its own flair and yet each is somewhat similar.
The white villages of Andalusia
The white villages owe their name to the white-washed facades of the houses, which protect from the Summer heat. A custom that originates from the Moorish occupancy of southern Spain. Each village tells its own story about life in Al-Andalus at that time: urban planning and street layout, the economy, which is often associated with the cultivation of olives, the handcrafted goods and the sweet Andalusian dishes. Everywhere you can feel and see the Moorish influence in the history of Andalusia.
South or west by car
Arcos de la Frontera is one of the most impressive villages in Andalusia. Located less than an hour away, the drive there alone is an experience. It is perched on top of a mountain and makes for a wonderful view on approach. The former castle sits dramatically on a cliff, with a steep view down on the Guadalete River. From up there you are presented with a wonderful landscape. The old town boasts cute alleys, cobblestone streets and pretty cafes, just waiting to be explored.
Grazalema is about half an hour away from the Finca, a typical white village nestled away in the mountains. With its whitewashed houses and wrought-iron balconies, it is idyllic like no other. The lively main square invites you to linger and enjoy the hustle and bustle.
Just around the corner
Zahara de la Sierra is considered by many to be the most beautiful of the white villages in Spain. Sitting above the turquoise-blue reservoir, it gazes majestically down from the mountain like out of a story book. It is with good reason that it is one of the most popular photo opportunities in the region. The castle high up on the mountaintop and the scattered white houses beneath it make for a very special place.
Algodonales has, despite the influence of tourism, maintained its traditional flair. Here you witness the Spanish lifestyle at play. In the main square, retired men meet to smoke cigars while children play and mothers chat. A beautiful church makes for the centerpiece of the village and locals spill out onto the surrounding streets from the many cafes, restaurants and of course, tapas bars.
After tending to the fields, doing the shopping, collecting drinking water from the local spring and bringing friends and family up to date, the locals typically have a siesta. The village empties out from 2pm until around 6pm, leaving an eerie silence, before returning to life in the evening. As the afternoon heat subsides, it is also a good time to watch the many paragliders soaring above. On good flying days, the sky above Algodonales is a colourful sea of gliders admiring the magical environment with a bird’s eye view.
Of course, we can’t write a complete travel guide for you, but hope to give you an insight into that which awaits you here. Keep an eye on our blog where we will introduce you to other places we have visited. As well as those mentioned above, we particularly liked Olvera and Vejer de la Frontera. A visit to any of the white villages of Andalusia gives you an impressive front row seat to the Spanish culture and way of life.