Ardales, a charming town located in the province of Málaga, awaits you with its irresistible combination of history, nature, and traditions. Known for its impressive mountainous landscape and cultural heritage, Ardales is a perfect destination for those seeking a quiet and charming getaway.

Although it is known for its proximity to the iconic Caminito del Rey, the main tourist attraction in the area, you shouldn’t miss discovering the secret and importance of the ruins of the Bobastro settlement.

History of Ardales: A Journey through Time

Ardales has been inhabited since the Copper Age, as evidenced by the Paleolithic rock paintings found in the Cueva de Ardales. Subsequently, the Celtiberians and Romans built fortifications (Turobriga) in the area, which was a regular trade route.

In the year 716, the Arabs conquered these lands and called it “Ard-Allam,” which means the land of God. This culture left a deep influence on the architecture and culture of Ardales. Years later, they built the Castle of La Peña, a fortress located in a strategic point to protect the ancient town of Bobastro.

Strategic castle on a hill: Castillo de la Peña
Strategic castle on a hill: Castillo de la Peña |

It was around this castle that the town of Ardales was settled and built. However, it was the Bobastro settlement that went down in history, as it became the stronghold of the Mozarabic rebels who rose against the Caliphate of Córdoba, resisting constant attacks for 50 years.

The Mozarabs were Christians who inhabited the area during Muslim rule and were allowed to retain their religion and way of life.

During the Reconquest by the Christians, in the year 1389, the town became a municipality and experienced a period of growth and development. Today, it has retained its traditional charm and has become a popular destination for nature and history lovers.

What to See and Do in Ardales

Ardales offers a variety of monuments to discover and activities to enjoy. Here are some of the most popular places you shouldn’t miss during your visit.

What to See in Ardales

Castle of La Peña

The Castle of La Peña is an ancient fortress located in the heart of Ardales. It has survived different eras throughout history and undergone certain renovations. Today, the architectural remains of the irregular-shaped walled enclosures and the towers that surround the highest part of the rock are preserved.

Additionally, it stands at an altitude of almost 500 meters, offering incredible panoramic views of the region. It is undoubtedly a must-visit to discover the events of the past in this picturesque town.

Cueva de Ardales

Transport yourself to the Neolithic era and discover the unique stories of this ancient cave. The Cueva de Ardales is a fascinating system of caves that houses impressive geological formations and cave paintings. It has maintained its original appearance for over 30,000 years.

Cave of Ardales, dating back more than 30.000 years
Cave of Ardales, dating back more than 30.000 years |

Inside, it has a kilometer and a half of archaeological sites, stalactites, and cave paintings. The visit lasts about two hours, and they recommend bringing flashlights and non-slip footwear. To visit the cave, you will need to make an appointment by calling the phone number.

The visit is not recommended for children under 8 years old or people with mobility problems.

  • Address: 29550 Ardales, Málaga
  • Price: €15 for ages 12 and above, €5 for children aged 8 to 12.
  • Phone: 952 45 80 46

Ruins of Bobastro

The Bobastro settlement was an ancient Mozarabic village from the 9th century that was destroyed by the Caliph Abd al-Rahman III. Today, it preserves the remains of the Mozarabic rock church, the only one in Andalusia, and certain dwellings excavated in the rocks near the Castle of La Peña.

The Ruins of Bobastro, a village built in the 9th century
The Ruins of Bobastro, a village built in the 9th century |

This archaeological site is one of the most interesting points for tourists, receiving hundreds of visits every year. Its significance is not only due to its architectural relevance, but also the threat it posed to the Emir of Córdoba at that time. Its capture was such an important event that the Emir ordered its communication to all the cities.

  • Address: 29550 Ardales, Málaga
  • Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday 10:00-15:00, Saturdays 10:00-18:00, Sundays 10:00-16:00.
  • Price: €3 for ages 12 and above, €2 for children aged 6 to 12.
  • Phone: 952 45 80 46

Church of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios

This church is an architectural gem that combines Gothic and Renaissance elements. It was built at the end of the 15th century on the site of a mosque. Inside, the precious original architectural styles of its construction are preserved.

Gothic and Renaissance: Nuestra Señora de los Remedios Church
Gothic and Renaissance: Nuestra Señora de los Remedios Church |

Outside, you can find the bell tower built at the end of the 18th century by the ecclesiastical architect Antonio Matías de Figueroa, who also created the façade of the church in Campillos.

  • Address: Calle Iglesia, 39, 29550 Ardales, Málaga
  • Opening hours: Wednesday to Friday at 18:00, Sundays and holidays at 13:00.
  • Phone: 952 45 81 74

Nature and Hiking

Nature and hiking enthusiasts will find a paradise for exploration in Ardales. You can enjoy walks around the Embalse del Guadalhorce, surrounded by lush vegetation and crystal-clear waters. It is undoubtedly a unique experience you shouldn’t miss.

Caminito del Rey

Its most important route is the Caminito del Rey, located in the Gaitanes Gorge. This route has a distance of 7.7 kilometers and starts at the northern access from Ardales, heading towards Antequera, and ends upon reaching El Chorro, near Valle de Abdalajís.

One of the most beautiful routes in Malaga, Caminito del Rey
One of the most beautiful routes in Malaga, Caminito del Rey |

During the journey, you will cross hanging bridges and walkways built along the walls. Additionally, you can discover the characteristic natural landscapes that this area offers and enjoy the wonderful views from different points along the route.

  • Address: El Caminito del Rey, 29550 Ardales, Málaga
  • Opening hours: November to March 10:00-14:00, April to October 10:00-17:00. Closed on Mondays.
  • Price: €3 for ages 12 and above, €2 for children aged 6 to 12.
  • Phone: 952 45 80 46

You need to reserve your ticket in advance before visiting. The route is not recommended for people who may have vertigo issues.

Ruta al Castillo de Turón

Another option is the Ruta al Castillo de Turón, which is a circular route of 8 kilometers and a perfect plan for a family outing. It starts from the center of Ardales and reaches the ruins of the Castle of Turón.

Route to the Castle of Turón, a quiet and familiar path
Route to the Castle of Turón, a quiet and familiar path |

It is a medieval military fortress and was the main military support for the Peña de Ardales. During the journey, you can enjoy the green landscapes with easy access.

El Chorro de Ardales

If you’re looking for a peaceful place to enjoy nature, this is the ideal spot to spend a great day with family or friends. It is a beautiful reservoir located 8 kilometers from the town center, where you can go hiking and explore the surroundings.

El Chorro, a reservoir to spend a refreshing day with friends
El Chorro, a reservoir to spend a refreshing day with friends |

If you visit Ardales in the summer, you have the option to swim in the designated areas and engage in water activities such as kayaking, pedal boats, or canoes. It is a truly beautiful and tranquil area with picnic tables where you can have a meal or take a break.

Popular Festivals and Gastronomy

The festivals in Ardales reflect its rich cultural tradition and are a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in local life with popular celebrations full of music, dance, and delicious traditional food.

One highlight is the Fiesta de la Matanza, celebrated in the month of February, where they hold a fair of pork-derived products that they offer for free to visitors. In the evening, you can enjoy singing and dancing performances in the town square. It’s definitely a festival you must see.

San Isidro, a festival in honour of the town's patron saint
San Isidro, a festival in honour of the town’s patron saint |

On May 15th, the day of San Isidro is celebrated, paying homage to the patron saint of the town. The day begins with a mass in his honor, followed by a procession through the streets of the town. To end the day, residents and visitors gather at the fairground of the town to share a large paella and enjoy various musical performances.

The Romería de la Virgen de Villaverde is another popular festival in Ardales. On this occasion, homage is paid to the Virgen de Villaverde, the patron saint of the town. On September 8th of each year, the image of the Virgin is transported from the convent in the town to the hermitage of Villaverde, located in El Chorro.

Paella held in San Isidro for locals and visitors
Paella held in San Isidro for locals and visitors |

As for gastronomy, Ardales offers a wide variety of typical dishes. You must try the local dishes, such as “calderetas” (stews) and game meat dishes. However, their true culinary art lies in pastries, such as “roscos” (ring-shaped cookies) and almond cookies, which are a delight for the palate.

How to Get to Ardales

How to Get There by Bus

If you want to reach Ardales by public transportation, you can take the direct bus operated by the company Interbus from the Málaga Bus Station. It takes about an hour to reach Ardales, and the ticket price is around 10 euros.

How to Get There by Car

The best option to go to Ardales is by car, allowing you to explore the area. If you’re coming from Málaga Airport, you can take the A-357 from Málaga towards Campillos and then, just after passing Carratraca, take the exit towards Ardales. The journey takes approximately an hour and offers beautiful views of the landscape.

Renting a convertible car at Málaga Airport is a smart option if you want to make the most of your visit to Ardales and its neighboring towns like Teba, Álora, and Casarabonela.

Ardales Map

Below, you’ll find a map with the highlighted places in Ardales to help you easily plan your routes and discover all the treasures that this charming town has to offer.

Come to Ardales and be captivated by its history, natural beauty, and welcoming atmosphere! Discover its charming corners, enjoy the local cuisine, and have an unforgettable experience in this unique corner of Málaga.

Relevant Information

Best time of the year to visit: Between the months of May and June.

Can’t miss: A day journeying into the past by visiting the most historical monuments, and then stopping to taste the delicious cuisine at local restaurants.

Nearby places to eat: Our favorite places to try exquisite dishes are Restaurante Caminito del Rey, Mesón la Posada del Conde, or Restaurante El Cruce.

We hope you find this post about Ardales useful and that you have the opportunity to visit this gem of the Costa del Sol. For more information, visit the Ardales Town Council website:

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