BEST SPANISH VILLAGES FOR A RELAXED HOLIDAY
With flower-adorned balconies and ruin sites the whitewashed villages across Spain define the colourful nation of the country. This is our guide to the rural Spanish villages you should pay a visit to
Words: Aleksandra Georgieva
Photography: Johan Mouchet, Ines Alvarez, Anca Gabriela, Roberto Nickson, Dave Herring
04 October 2020
Spain is a country of colourful history with warm-hearted nation that adores everything involving good food and great fun. From cobbled streets, white-washed villages, ancient castles, ruin sites, flowers-adorned balconies and cosy corners Spanish villages have a certain charm that is hard to put into words. On your next trip to this sunny destination, make sure to leave time for a detour to some of the rural villages of Spain.
Explore spots form the Mediterranean Coast to Catalonia and the Basque Country and then head for the little towns and villages scattered all across the country. You will discover each region is different. Some places like Malaga can easily be explored on a day trip. Nearly all of the hundreds of Spanish villages that are often overlooked by travel guides, are easily accessible and truly beautiful. This is our guide to some of the best Spanish villages you should visit.
Located in Province of Málaga, the charming village of Ronda is one of the most representative rural spots of Spain. If you ever find yourself in this this beautiful Andalusian town, make sure to cross the Puente Nuevo and look down into the deep 'Tajo' gorge. This is the home to some of the Serranía de Ronda’s best wineries with produce originating from Sierras de Málaga. Across the little streets lay many tapas bars and restaurants serving fresh local cuisine.
Valldemossa, Sierra de Tramontana, Mallorca
Valldemossa is one of the most romantic spots in Spain and we are not the only ones to think so. Chopin was a well-known visitor of the area and admired the village so much, he referred to it as the most beautiful town in the world. This Mallorcan village is found among the luxury setting of the Sierra de Tramuntana. Stay at a holiday home and roam the cobblestone streets where lovers admire the elegant Valldemossa architecture.
Cudillero is layered with houses facing the sea – an ideal setting for the lovers of a relaxed summer holiday. The colours of the buildings contrast with the shades of the sea in beautiful harmony. It is no wonder that visitors of Asturias often make their way to Cudillero to photograph the doorways of this fishing village. Instead of letting us try to describe the village’s charm, head for the north of Spain and capture its true essence for yourself. Visit Puerto Pesquero, go down to Playa del Silencio (Silence Beach) and admire the coastline around Cabo Vidio.
Travellers often head for Tenerife but many fail to explore its rural side alongside the top resort sport. The small village of Masca is just the spot for the lovers of tranquillity. With only 150 locals inhabiting houses built on ravines, the location is a true gem in the crown of Spain’s villages.
Zahara de la Sierra, Cádiz
With beautiful white houses gracing the landscape, Zahara de la Sierra is truly a picturesque town. Tourists can book a stay at any of the holiday homes that allow visitors to indulge into the serenity of the area. Zahara de la Sierra also hosts a castle that overlooks the reservoir. This little corner of the province of Cádiz is both peaceful and beautiful.
Authentic Spanish cuisine dictates the rules in Plaza Mayor. Located among the charming villages of the Aragonese Pyrenees, this spot will have you feeling like you’ve taken a historic journey. Aínsa preserves five doors of the walled enclosure. Visitors can stay in a holiday home and take a stroll down the cobbled streets of the medieval town. More adventurous travellers can also ski or hike in the Aragonese Pyrenees.
Another fishing village, this time a tiny one, is Combarro. It is located only a twenty-minute drive from Pontevedra. The laid-back spot is easy to find on the north-west coast, where the freshest fish in the region is served in O Bocoi. Make sure to visit the fisherman harbour in Combarro where historic huts and fishing boats fleet the water.
Among our selection is what was chosen as the most beautiful town in Spain in 2018. Teruel and the Albarracín is surrounded by cobblestoned streets and the famous Castillo del Andador. The town is charming and elegant within the Sierra de Albarracín – a medieval dreamy location for the non-commercial travellers.
Sallent de Gállego, Huesca
Sallent de Gállego is found in the Valle de Tena within the Aragonese Pyrenees. The rural getaway spot is high in the mountains combining the cosy vibe of houses with stone walls meets the adventurous spirit of the ski resort of Formigal, located only 15 minutes away.
Located on the Costa del Sol in the province of Málaga, Frigiliana unveils unparalleled views of the Mediterranean. The white village is filled with craft shops and holiday homes. One of the most visited Andalusian towns, Frigiliana allows travellers to explore at their own pace.
In the province of Cuenca, surrounded by walls is Alarcón – a town of impressive beauty. The old town captivates visitors with the charm of narrow streets as the rest of the village overlooks the castle on top of a hill – a vital monument of Alarcón.
Campillo de Dueñas
Another Spanish village famous for hosting a castle is Campillo de Dueñas. If you are ever driving between Valencia and Zaragoza, you must visit this spot. The Castle of Zafra was featured is season 6 of Game of Thrones and it is located slightly outside of town, about ten kilometres from the A23 road.
The list of the most beautiful villages of the Principality of Asturias is also graced by Lastres, which was also recognised as Artistic Historic Site. With its geolocation on top of a hill, the village overlooks the sea as narrow streets join the ensemble of mansions, monuments, and homes all falling under similar architecture.
La Vilella Baixa
If you ever travel to Catalonia, you must make it to La Vilella Baixa. The historic village is located within the famous province of Tarragona, a couple-hours’ drive from Barcelona. It takes about a quarter of the hour to walk across the village, but the spot is perfect for a laid-back afternoon away from the business of crowds.
More than forty years ago Bocairent was declared an Artistic Historic Site. Today it remains relatively undiscovered. The region preserves aspects of its medieval and Arab past. Roam the labyrinths of streets and narrow alleys in the place people say the ‘stones speak’.
Vejer de la Frontera, Cádiz
Typical for Cádiz, the whitewashed houses and narrow streets in Vejer de la Frontera make it the perfect getaway from Spain’s major cities. Here you can rent a holiday home, enjoy the local cuisine and visit the Arch of the Nuns alongside the Jewish quarter next to the monastery.
If you appreciate authentic cuisine, the Basque food will spoil your senses. The coastal town of Hondarribia, positioned only 20 km from San Sebastian, offers delicious food and colourful stone houses that tempt photography enthusiasts. The town charms visitors on both rainy and hot summer days.
A truly traditional Spanish town is Soller, positioned in the north-west coast of Mallorca. At the train station you’ll witness exhibits of Picasso’s ceramics – Sala Picasso y Sala Miro. If you are after exploring the island, make sure to visit, as the village is surrounded by the lapping sea on one side and forests and mountains on the other. Dining at the pier is another option in town while the centre of Soller offers boutique hotel accommodation.
Another gem in terms of the tastiest Mediterranean food in Spain is Cadaques. The small town is found on the bay of Punta de Sa Costa. Here you can visit the Dali Museum-House, the Cap de Creus National Park and the town’s beautiful cathedral Esglesia de Santa Maria.
Setenil de las Bodegas, Cádiz
Imagine picturesque streets attached to a large rock and you’ll be picturing Setenil’s narrow paths and distinctive setting alongside the Trejo river. Gastronomy enthusiasts will particularly enjoy Sierra de Cádiz, famous for its chorizo made from pigs bred. Setenil also offers stunning views of the hills surrounding the town.
The seaside town of Llastres is found within the autonomous region of Asturias. Once you’re on the north coast, attempt the two-hour drive from the city of Bilbao and you’ll find yourself in beautiful Llastras, home to Torre del Reloj and Faro de Lastres. The region is famous for its food and Eutimio offers delicious seafood from the Bay of Biscay. The village also reveals a front-row view of the town from Mirador de San Roque.
Another gem of Catalonia is the medieval town of Besalu just an hour away from Girona. Picture-perfect stone houses, narrow cobbled streets, delicious local wines and a Romanesque bridge crossing the Fluvià River add to the charm of this Spanish village. Here you can explore the Monasterio de San Pedro, relax at Lake Banyoles or walk to the local castle over the Bridge of Besalu.
A typical Spanish village is just what travellers seek to explore and Mojácar in Almería never fails to make the rankings for most charming towns in the area. The white Andalusian village bathes in bars with colourful flowers exhibited on their balconies. Whitewashed houses and tiny streets. The village guards the traces of all the past civilisations that have lived in the area, charming travellers with long-gone history and traditional Spanish beauty.