The town of Ronda is the largest of Andalucía’s white towns and was part of my recent budget road trip around the South of Spain – alongside Cordoba, Arcos, Granada and Mijas. The epic 1700’s Puente Nuevo (New Bridge) was the main appeal for me to visit Ronda, however, its violent history, brimming with tales of bandits, outlaws, rebels and guerilla warriors, has made it an enormous hit with day-trip tourists. As with most of the small Spanish towns I visited, vegan food wasn’t a priority, however, it was possible. Here’s where to stay, what to do and where to eat with 24 hours in Ronda vegan …
Ronda Puente Nuevo
Towering almost 400 above the El Tajo gorge below, this spectacular bridge is even more jaw dropping in person than it is in its photographs. Despite its name, construction of the bridge started in 1735. The aim to provide the citizens of Ronda a direct route between the old town and the new town. As well as its general grandeur, the bridge is known for its shady past – a the hidden chamber above the central arch being used as a prison. It also said to have been a torture chamber during the Spanish Civil War.
There are a number of spots to view the bridge from; a large public view point over the gorge on the new town side, two separate locations either side of the gorge alongside the rose gardens, plus the hike trail starting in the old town. The hike offers the most impressive views and all of these walks can easily take up a good half day of exploring.
The abandoned houses of the gorge hike trail
The stop point for most tourists on the gorge hike is the main photo opportunity spot. However, continue following the trail down the mountain, and the path becomes a little less stable and a little more exciting as it winds down the slope towards the river. I didn’t come across one other person as I made my way down the path. What I did find was a small complex of abandoned buildings that have succumbed to the power of nature. Although some are now just stubs of wall, other structures maintain their mosaic tile floors and crumbling signage. A real hidden gem in terms of sightseeing in Ronda.
Ronda’s rose garden
Work your way through the streets of the new town and down to Calle Mina, which leads to the entrance of Ronda’s Jardines de Cuenca. These hillside gardens boast the most spectacular rose beds, lining the path down to the older Puenta Viejo. This side of the bridge seems to be less crowded than the larger viewpoint, but offers a more romantic surrounding with stones benches to sit and soak in the surroundings.
Felipe V Arch ( Arco de Felipe V)
Not an enormous structure, but on the circular path that crosses the oldest of Ronda’s bridges and heads down to the old Arab baths, and therefore, worth checking out. As merchant and traveller traffic boomed in 1700’s Ronda, the arch was built in name of the first Bourban king of Spain in order to collect tax from those who entered. This was common practice for most towns at this time and was a good little money earner given that almost every visitor had to pass under this archway.
Vegan food in Toro Tapas
This popular tapas joint was recommended to me by another blogger, and it didn’t disappoint. The relaxed restaurant’s budget tapas meant that I could fill my little vegan boots (1.50 euro gazpacho – yes please!). This was the first small town that was able to find a veggie burger with no dairy products. They even have a little art gallery located on their 1st floor.
Vegan Pizza in Ronda – Nonno Peppe
There’s only so much patatas bravas a girl can take! Located down what I affectionately named ‘pizza alley’, Nonno Peppe was a fantastic little pizza place where the staff couldn’t do enough to make me a real, wood fired, pizza that would accommodate my vegan diet. I chose this place due to the fact that it was one of the cheapest on the street, creating a huge, vegetable laden, cheese free pizza for only 8 euros – alongside 1.20 euro beers. Cheers boys!
Hotel San Cayetano Ronda
With only 24 hours, I wanted Ronda accommodation smack bang in the middle of the town, but at my usual budget price. Ronda hostels were few and far between, and my last minute planning meant that by the time I hit Hostelworld, options were slim. I wouldn’t normally book a hotel due socialising restrictions, but at £28 a night and with only 24 hours to spare, it was ideal. Hotel San Cayetano is located on Calle Sevilla, which is lined with morning breakfast cafes, most of which did soy milk coffees and a simple bread, tomato and oil breakfast for 3 euros all in! One of the best budget hotels in Ronda by far!
With Arcos being such a small place, two nights would definitely be enough to cover everything you needed to see. If you’re looking to get the perfect, people free photography, head to the main tourists spots like the bridge before 9am. The majority of day tour buses arrive between 9.30 and 10am. From that point on (until 6pm) things get a little chaotic.
Thinking of taking a budget trip around Spain? I recently wrote a post about how to travel Ibiza for free.
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