Andalusia is best known for its mix of beautiful beaches and historic cities dotted along the south of Spain. However, its pueblos blancos (white villages) tucked away in the hills between Sierra de Grazalema and Sierra Nevada, offer a lesser-known travel experience. We were lucky enough to squeeze Frigiliana into our road trip through southern Spain, the town often labelled as Andalusia’s prettiest. Quiet, quaint and colourful in its presentation, Frigiliana is not to be missed for travellers seeking out beautiful facades. Appearances aside, this village community has relaxed living down pat, making it the perfect place for stress-free travel. Here’s how to experience all aspects of the town, making the most of sun-drenched Spain…
QUICK FACTS ABOUT FRIGILIANA
- Frigiliana is only 6kms north of popular beach town Nerja.
- The town’s population is just over 3000 people.
- Once a year Frigiliana hosts the Festival de las Tres Culturas (festival of the three cultures) to celebrate the coexistence of Christian, Muslim and Jewish traditions in the region.
- Within an hour of Granada and Malaga airports, Frigiliana makes the perfect stop for travellers exploring the Andalusian coast.
Lower Frigiliana captured from the upper side.
A traditional Andalusian home.
GETTING TO FRIGILIANA
- By car: the easiest way if you are already on a road trip. You will have to park the car in a secure car park near the center of town. Cars cannot drive through the northern part of town but rest assured that everything is a short walk away. One look at the tight alleyways and you’ll be glad you couldn’t drive through anyway!
- By bus: services operate from Malaga via Nerja every 20 to 30 minutes. You’ll have to change at Nerja making the total trip around 1.5 hours. The journey from Granada is longer with buses taking 3 hours to reach Nerja.
- With a tour: tour buses arrive regularly in Frigiliana, parking next to the secure car park in the middle of town. Tour companies offer day trips, usually from Malaga and including a stop in Nerja. Being so small, the upper section of Frigiliana can certainly be explored on one day. However, if you want to experience all it has to offer I’d recommend staying for a few nights.
Ceramic street plaques.
Being such a small town, accommodation in Frigiliana can be quite limited. Hotels are generally boutique in size and more dated in their style. We opted for an Airbnb apartment and there were a few great gems to choose from. Most Airbnb listings here require a minimum three night stay so factor this into your broader plans. We were able to stay for 3 or 4 nights and snapped up this apartment right in the center of town. It’s meters from the car park and bus stop with an ATM and bar right underneath. What more could you need right?
Our Airbnb apartment building in the center of town.
The view from our balcony looking north to upper Frigiliana.
SEE + DO
Walking the streets of Frigiliana you’ll find many boutique shops. Most sell locally made products like leather bags, beaded jewellery, soaps, olive oil, and muscat wine. I loved looking inside Miro Slavin’s Photo Gallery too. It’s full of photographs from around town, taken from a local’s perspective.
Every Thursday is market day in Frigiliana. Locals sell baskets, leather goods, tapas bowls and more at Plaza de las Tres Culturas. I picked up a straw basket for 4 euro and tapas bowls for 2 euro each. At that price I wish I’d squeezed more into my suitcase!
Acebuchal is a small village 7 kilometers north of Frigiliana. It was abandoned in 1948 when residents were ordered to leave during the Spanish Civil War. In 1998 the family of Antonio Garcia returned to rebuild the village and subsequently opened Bar El Acebuchal. This restaurant serves up the perfect example of traditional food from the region that would’ve otherwise been lost. Their home-baked bread is delicious and the hearty meals well worth the drive from Frigiliana.
Frigiliana’s mountainous landscape is a popular route for hikers. Village ruins like the old Moorish castle are popular spots for walks with a spectacular view to finish. Walking tours also depart from the bus stop if you’d like some extra guidance and local knowledge.
WALK THE CERAMIC PLAQUES
For a shorter walk in the upper part of Frigiliana, look out for colourful ceramic plaques on the walls. These 12 plaques tell the story of the Moorish uprising as well as the battle at the Rock of Frigiliana in 1569.
The local fruit shop.
A popular photo spot in upper Frigiliana.
*TIP: you can find this spot right near Restaurante el Jardin. You can either walk up the stairs on Callejon del Penon or walk down from the panoramic view of El Mirador restaurant. Either way, you’ll find a lookout at the top of these stairs which gives you a great view of the town below (and this unforgettable street).
EAT + DRINK
Restaurante Bar Virtudes: Start with a hearty breakfast here to fuel the walk ahead. This place was under our apartment so every day started with a couple of cafe con leches (white coffees) and as many ham and cheese toasties we could manage.
Vinos El Lagar: My idea of heaven on earth. A deli that serves beer, wine and bar snacks along with its charcuterie. Everything is take-away and can be enjoyed on the wine barrels placed on the deck outside.
Plaza de la Iglesia: An easy option before the highest hill climb. This little plaza is home to several restaurants with al fresco dining facing the local church (Iglesia de San Antonio de Padua).
El Adarve: A cosy local haunt offering hearty meals served by a charismatic host. We ducked in here on a rainy afternoon when a lot of outdoor places were shut. The terrace was still nice and dry and the lasagna to die for.
El Mirador: The highest bar in town. Head here for jugs of sangria with a view. Also the best serrano ham we had in all of Spain….still searching for a rival actually.
Restaurante el Jardin: The most formal and romantic setting in Frigiliana. This restaurant is beautiful in its design, with giant palms shading tiled outdoor tables. It also has a view to rival all others so I’d recommend making it there before dusk. The menu is an impressive blend of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavours.
Churreria Alexis: A little pop-up churros shop opposite the car park for when you just can resist a sugary snack.
Enjoying my 1000th jug of sangria at El Mirador.
Vinos El Lagar.
Tapas at El Mirador.
Warm homemade bread from Bar El Acebuchal.
Plaza de la Iglesia.
Frigiliana may be small enough to walk in a day but should not be overlooked when planning a trip to Spain. Spend a few days here and you will really get to immerse yourself in local life. Expect your daily walks to be lined with pot plants and your dinner to be served amongst clustered rooftops. When exploring a town like Frigiliana it’s all about taking in the little details that make for a truly authentic experience.
Have you been to Andalusia before? I’d love to hear your thoughts on Frigiliana or other towns that you’ve visited in the region. If you’re currently planning a trip there please feel free to ask any questions below.
All images by Escape Button and Flomotion.