Icons of the Andalusian region in southern Spain, the famous pueblos blancos or white villages are dotted across the countryside in a most idyllic fashion. Slow living, a sultry lifestyle and an emphasis on relaxation and good food, these tiny little places are simply beautiful and inviting for a wander.
I joined a tour from Sevilla (since I don't drive) which took me on a full day trek throughout the region, stopping in at various pueblos blancos, admiring the views across the countryside, sampling pure hand-pressed extra virgin olive oil from a local olive farm, exploring ruined castles and best of all, spotting the famous Roman Bridge of Ronda.
If you have your own wheels, you can follow this itinerary too (and have the freedom to add more!), but if not, and you're seeking a way to get to see a bit of the small towns near Sevilla, I can highly recommend this tour.
Stop 1: Castillo de Las Aguzaderas
Privately owned but no longer maintained, visitors are free to wander the grounds here at leisure, including climbing the tiny little stone steps all the way up the tower for sweeping views of the surrounds.
Stop 2: Zahara de la Sierra
The first of a few pueblos blancos you'll get to visit is the beautiful Zahara de la Sierra, with the pretty white houses perched climbing up the hillside. A castle sits atop the mound.
Stop 3: Molino El Vínculo
You'll stop at this olive oil factory where they hand pick and squeeze their own fresh extra virgin olive oil. A little tasting with fresh bread makes this a welcome stop, and of course you have the option to buy some oil to take home. The view from this factory was the best part, looking down over the Embalse de Zahara-el Gastor.
Stop 4: Grazelama
This stunning white village is in the heart of the Parque Natural Sierra de Grazalema with incredible views down over the pretty Spanish lanes and hills below. The drive into the village was the best part, witnessing the incredible forests and rock formations as you go along - my nose was glued to the window.
Stop 5: Ronda
The pinnacle of the day out is of course the stunning town of Ronda, home to the famous Roman Bridge which stretches between the two sides of the city and makes you feel like you've stepped straight into a fairytale as you watch the waterfall gurgling below. Ronda is also home to the oldest bull ring in all of Spain, if that sparks your fancy!