Ronda is the most famous of Andalusia's pueblos blancos ("white villages"), but it's not the easiest city to get to in Spain. Situated overlooking the Tajo Gorge, this city has several historic bridges that afford excellent views of the Andalusian landscape, and due to its proximity to Malaga, Ronda is accessible by bus, car, or train, making it the perfect stop on your trip from Malaga to Seville.
Adding in Ronda in this way does add quite a bit to your travel time from Malaga to Seville, but with so many things to do in Ronda, it certainly warrants an overnight stay. Ronda can be also visited as a day trip from Malaga. However, due to the logistical issues with getting to and from Ronda (the roads are windy and rail connections are patchy), a guided tour is perhaps the best way to experience Ronda in a day.
How to Get from Malaga to Ronda
|Train||2 hours, 2 minutes||from $18||Arriving quickly|
|Bus||2 hours, 15 minutes||from $12||Flexible travel times|
|Car||1 hour, 45 minutes||63 miles (102 kilometers)||Exploring more of southern Spain|
Although there is only one daily direct train from Malaga to Ronda—which takes two hours—there are a number of other transfers and connections that run through this Andalusian city where you can get off and explore before continuing on your trip through Spain.
The best option is the direct train offered by Spain's national train service, Renfe, which costs around $16 for a one-way ticket or about $26 if you book a roundtrip ticket. Availability only opens up about two weeks in advance, but the price doesn't change even if you buy tickets at the station on the day of your trip. It leaves Malaga in the morning and returns from Ronda in the afternoon, so you could make it a quick day trip if you wish.
If that departure doesn't work for you, several other trains leave Malaga for Antequera Santa Ana each day, and from there you can also catch a train to Ronda. This option takes about two and a half hours, depending on how long you have to wait to change trains. The best place to see all of your train options and purchase tickets, whether direct or with a transfer, is Trainline.
Slightly cheaper than the train at around $12 but still providing direct service to Ronda, several buses bring visitors to Ronda from Malaga every day. The best place to compare prices and look at bus schedules is Omio. The trip takes around three hours total by bus.
The bus route between these cities is almost identical to that of the train, but the bus follows the winding roads through mountains before heading down the valley past Ardales and Cartama.
If you have a little more time to explore Spain, you can catch the bus from Malaga to Fuengirola, then another from Fuengirola to Ronda, which takes you through two multi-colored mountain ranges. Although this takes about 40 minutes longer, it's worth it if you're a big fan of awe-inspiring natural landscapes. Plus, Fuengirola is another great city to visit along the way.
If you want to rent a car and drive yourself from Malaga to Ronda, make sure you have all the proper paperwork in order, including an international driver's permit.
Once you're ready to depart, the best way to go is by taking E-15 along the coast, past Fuengirola and Marbella to San Pedro de Alcántara; then, take the A-376 from San Pedro de Alcántara for 44 kilometers before taking the A-369 to Ronda. All of this should take about 1 hour, 45 minutes.
Since renting a car provides you more flexibility in your trip itinerary, you could consider continuing your adventure with a trip to Seville, the capital and largest city of Andalusia. It takes about another 1 hour, 45 minutes to get to Seville from Ronda, so you could explore Ronda all day long and be in Seville by dinner time.
What to See in Ronda
Without a doubt, Ronda is one of the most picturesque towns in Spain. Of all the famous "white villages" around Malaga, Ronda is by far the most famous, and once you arrive it's apparent why. The city is special because its two sides are separated by a deep ravine and connected by an 18th-century bridge. Whether you're a professional photographer or just an amateur Instagrammer, it's one of the most photogenic backdrops you'll ever encounter. Many tourists come for the day, snap a picture of the bridge, and head out, but it's worth staying the night if you have the time. Modern-day bullfighting traces its roots back to Ronda and you can visit the impressive Plaza de Toros building for a history lesson—but avoid a day where a bullfight is happening if you prefer to skip the gore. Take a look down into Ronda's deep ravine by stepping out onto one of the many viewing points peppered around the city. These small balconies jut out over the drop and locals call them balcones coños, in reference to the expletive you'll scream out when you see the plunge below you.