Avoid the tourist trail and instead create your own tour of discovery through wine and tapas
‘Puente Nuevo’ is Ronda’s iconic bridge, spanning the ‘Tajo’, the huge gorge upon which this ancient town has been built. This historic monument brings together two of the three main areas of the city; the old Moorish district, ‘La Cuidad’ on one side, with the new town of Ronda on the other (once known as the ‘Mercadillo quarter’). The third main area of Ronda, ‘El Barrio de San Francisco’ is the residential area that spills out from the ancient city walls of old town. Like the rest of Ronda, this area is full of great bars where you can eat and drink like a local.
So, be willing to venture beyond the lofty 100 metre deep gorge and its unique hanging houses, the ‘casas colgantes’ which reach to the very edge of the precipitous cliff, and discover the flavour of Ronda through its many tapas bars. Thanks to the growth of the local wine industry and the success of local chefs, Ronda is now a real foodie destination.
If you arrive early in the town there’s time to indulge in a Spanish style breakfast of toast with olive oil, and tomatoes. Yet if you’re willing to forget calories for a day, then head to ‘La Ponderosa’, on the square by the bus station in Ronda’s new town (Plaza Concepción García Redondo) for the best ‘churros’ in town. These freshly fried, artisan dough pastries are a rich golden brown, and when sprinkled with sugar or dipped in hot chocolate, combine to give a sensational taste. If you arrive closer to lunchtime, then nearby is ‘Los Caracoles’, one of Ronda’s best bars for tapas and fish dishes. It open for lunch and dinner, and for generations has been serving super fresh food to a lively local crowd; boquerones (anchovies) are superb here
The Alameda Park is one of the best places to take in the expansive views out across from the Tajo. A visit to the nearby bull ring is a requisite, and this ‘plaza de torros’, the oldest in Spain certainly deserves time to be discovered.
Cross the gorge to the nearby narrow cobbled street ‘El Campillo’ and discover Ronda’s old town. The Moorish style ‘Palacio Mondragon’ is a town museum and for just a few euros makes a wonderful place to chill out, relaxing in its Al Andalus style gardens.
Continue on through the old town, following the twisting narrow cobbled street past beautiful period buildings and the renovated remains of the Arab baths, at the former entrance to Ronda. As you climb back up towards the main thoroughfare and the bridge, take a walk through the terraced gardens of ‘Parque de los Enamorados’.
Once just across the bridge, opposite the Parador, in Calle Nueva one finds the creative tapas bar, ‘Tragatapas’. Expert, contemporary, gourmet tapas and good wines are on offer. Other favourites are close by, in the Plaza de Socorro, including the ‘Bodega el Socorro’, a traditional bar with hams hanging from the ceiling, which is great for meat skewers, ham and classic tapas like ensaladilla rusa.
At the other side of the square, the elegant ‘Casa Ortega’ is the place to get a taste for local Ronda wines, including robust and hearty reds from boutique wineries such as ‘Descalzos Viejos’ or a fresh white or an ‘Acinipo’ red from the original Ronda winery, Federico Schatz.
This sophisticated bar and restaurant has a professional ham cutter (‘cortador’) who prepares clients beautiful plates of moist, tasty cured ham; the cheeses are great too.
For a lively and authentic bar experience, then get down to the ‘El Barrio’ district. Here there are wealth of popular bars that have superb tapas, in a historic, village-like setting. Both ‘Bodega San Francisco’ y ‘el Convent’ serve fresh salads as well as vast array of typical Andalusian snacks such as little fried shrimp pancakes (tortitas de camarones). Almocabar, also of the square, offers more complex tapas and raciones using fine ingredients and a certain degree of flair.
Pack your toothbrush, as a day in Ronda isn’t enough and after enjoying your very own tapas and wine tour, one of the town’s boutique hotels or friendly guest houses will be a welcome end to the day!
I was not hosted by any of these bars – I was a paying guest. Please bear in mind that this site and my articles are intended as entertainment only and not a definitive resource for purchasing decisions. Before making any travel or purchasing decision I recommend that you seek as much information as possible from various sources including review sites, guide books and other blogs. If you act based on my writing you do so at your own risk. If you wish to add anything to this piece, simply comment using the WordPress or Facebook plug-in.