Exploring Spain's Most Romantic Pueblos Blancos
Feel the love in Andalusia's white villages.
Travelers to southern Spain's Andalusia region will find the enchanting Pueblos Blancos, (white villages) tucked into crevices of the jagged Sierra Mountains. Each of these hilltop towns are remarkable for their Moorish architecture, most notably scores of whitewashed buildings with tiled roofs, stacked precipitously atop each other like so many Lego blocks.
The tranquil towns' steep and winding cobblestone streets, balconies draped in colorful bougainvillea, and jaw-dropping vistas make a journey through the Pueblos Blancos one of the most romantic jaunts in Spain.
Though they might appear similar from afar, each town has its own character, as well as an array of restaurants, overlooks, and bars where you'll experience views of the mountains, Spain's southern coastline, and sparkling sea below that will make any soul swoon.
Frigiliana tumbles toward the sea from a crevice in the Sierra Mountains, and is widely known as La Luz de Andalusia, or the Light of Andalusia -- rightfully so. As you approach the village from a distance, Frigiliana's blinding-white buildings seem to shine -- a burst of light in the crack of a jagged, green mountain.
Its winding, stone streets, colorful flower-filled balconies, and endless views of the valley and sea below are dizzyingly gorgeous. Watch the sunset turn the town hazy shades of pink and coral while eating dinner at The Garden restaurant. It's the best perch in town for enjoying views while sipping a cold glass of wine and digging into a divine, Middle Eastern-inspired meal.
Arcos de la Frontera
The spectacularly preserved Moorish architecture of Arcos de la Frontera plays second fiddle to its dramatic location. Arcos sprawls across the edge of a steep precipice, overlooking a sprawling green valley dotted with occasional homes and hamlets and sliced by the River Guadalete. To experience the best views, head to the Parador de Arcos to snap selfies with your sweetie.
History buffs can check out the 12th-century Moorish fortress, and Church of San Pedro, a can't-miss structure looming over the cliff's edge. Refuel over a plate of tapas in a cozy, cave-like setting at Alcaravan, then soak in more valley views from the central Plaza del Cabildo.
Mijas's convenient location, just 19 miles from Malaga, makes it a popular stop on the tour bus circuit, which means this lovely town is often clogged with camera-toting tourists. Still, it shouldn't put you off a visit. The town's streets are among the Pueblos Blancos most scenic; from the blue ceramic flower pots filled with bright, flowering plants delivering postcard-perfect bursts of color to the gleaming, whitewashed homes.
The city's multiple overlooks offer exceptional views of the Costa del Sol coastline and sparkling water below. A well-maintained pathway winds around the town's edge, and makes for a lovely walk with uber-romantic vistas. Artisan craft shops line the streets, and you might be tempted to buy some hand-painted ceramics before tucking into decadent chocolate goodies -- the ultimate aphrodisiac -- at Mayan Monkey Chocolate factory and cafe.
Zahara de la Sierra
Zahara is tucked inside Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park and is perched above a turquoise lake. The stunning locale and tranquil village vibe belie Zahara's turbulent history as the setting for centuries of often violent conflicts between Christians and Moors. Today, the whitewashed buildings are lovely, and the remains of an enormous Moorish castle rise above the village, making for a remarkable backdrop.
Enjoy the quiet, and listen to the wind whistle down narrow, stone streets, or stretch your legs with a hike into the Garganta Verde (green gorge) for even more exceptional beauty. Enjoy dinner with a stellar view at the Hotel Al Lago restaurant, known for its Andalusian-inspired cuisine, like baby Moroccan chicken.