What to visit in Ardales (Malaga)

15 May
Last update: 20 January, 2020

Fall in love with Ardales, its closeness to the Caminito del Rey and its famous Cave. Ruralidays offers you all the info for you to enjoy the best getaway

Ardales is located at the crossroads of three regions of Malaga: the region of Antequera, the region of Ronda and the Guadalhorce Valley. Being a transition area, its landscape and history get enriched with some of the features that characterise those regions. Besides, its location near the Sierra de las Nieves natural park and all the touristic resources of Costa del Sol, makes it ideal for a getaway to the area, to make the most of its fabulous landscape.

With more than 2,500 inhabitants, Ardales preserves the charm of the splendid white towns of inland Andalucia, featuring a castle that overlooks the whitewashed houses dotting the steep hills.

How to get to Ardales

To get to Ardales, you will have to go by car, as there is no public transport that reaches the town. From Malaga, take the A-357 road towards Cartama (this being the first village you will find as you leave the city). This road leads you to Ardales, after a 50-km drive, so you won’t have to worry about diversions: just follow the indications for Álora-Carratraca.

Ardales seen from the road
Photo courtesy of Sebastián Aguilar

History of Ardales

Thanks to the archaeological discoveries of the area, one can come to the conclusion that Ardales dates back to Prehistory, being the cave paintings of the Cave of Ardales the most conclusive proof.

The town also welcomes a fortification that dates back to the times when the Celtiberian populated the south-eastern part of the Iberian Peninsula, when Ardales was known as Turobriga. This area would develop during the Roman times, whose legacy is still present nowadays in the form of the castle of Peña de Ardales.

Fountain in Ardales
Photo courtesy of Sebastián Aguilar

When the Moors ruled the area, Ardales was at the peak of its historic importance, and it was known as “Ard-Allah”. During the 9th century, Omar Ben Hafsun led a Christian rebellion against the caliph of Cordoba, in Bobastro. The fortress of Ardales and Turón, the castle of Teba and the castle of Alora ensured the safeness of Bobastro.

The town, as we know it nowadays, was founded in 1389, when the castle of Ardales was conquered by don Juan Ramírez de Guzmán.

Fun fact
The badge of Ardales is formed by two castles, Turón’s and Ardales’, united by a bridge.
Photo courtesy of Sebastián Aguilar

What to see and what to do in Ardales

As you enter the town of Ardales, you will find a varied touristic offer, although the surrounding landscape is what will draw your attention the most: from the Guadalhorce reservoirs to the spectacular Caminito del Rey, you can’t miss out on the fabulous surroundings of the town. Also, its architectonic heritage is worth mentioning, as are the spectacular archaeological sites. All of these make Ardales one of the must-see destinations in the province of Malaga.

Castillo de la Peña

The castle of la Peña is the most emblematic monument in Ardales. It dates back to the 9th century and it witnessed Omar Ben Hafsun’s rebellion against the caliph of Cordoba. The castle is located on a plateau, at 496 metres above sea level, which allows you to enjoy some breathtaking views of Ardales and the fields that surround it, until the Sierra of Peñarrubia.

Castillo de la Peña in Ardales
Photo courtesy of Sebastián Aguilar

The structure of the castle features two walled enclosures, with nine towers each. The Nasrid and Christian influence have completely overcome the 9th-century original structure.

Enter the Centro de Interpretación del Castillo de la Peña (Visitors’ Centre) to discover the secrets of the castle and enjoy a guided visit throughout the monument.

Church of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios

Photo courtesy of Sebastián Aguilar

Near the castle, you will find this 15th-century Mudejar church, i.e. the most important religious monument in town. You can visit its interiors, which will impress you for the quality of the coffered ceiling, various Baroque chapels, the fabulous Baroque facade, and the tower’s chapitel, decorated with tiles.

Besides, the backdoor of the church provides access to the ruins of the Castle of la Peña.

Fun fact
Due to its bad conditions, the church had to be rebuilt in 1720.

Convent of Los Capuchinos

This religious building dates back to the 18th century and it’s located in the lowest part of Ardales. What stands out the most is its church, located near the 18th-century hermitage of La Encarnación.

Museo Municipal de la Historia y las Tradiciones de Ardales

The municipal museum of History and Traditions of Ardales features a hall entirely dedicated to the Cave of Ardales and the Paleolithic art. It is provided with big panels that recreate life-size cave paintings. Besides, it keeps archaeological rests that prove the origin of the urban area and several pieces of ethnographic material.

The six halls of the museum are located on two floors. Downstairs, you can enjoy an itinerary through the origins of Ardales, in the Prehistoric Era. On the first floor, you will find a hall dedicated to the classic and medieval archaeology.

The museum also welcomes the meeting point for visitors of the cave of Ardales, in addition to the office of the cave, where you can also book your visit.

Address: 1, Avda de Málaga

Opening hours:

  • From Tuesday to Saturday: 10 am – 2 pm, and 4 pm – 6 pm
  • Sunday: 10 am – 2 pm
  • From June 15th to September 15th: Tuesday to Sunday: 9 am – 2 pm

The surroundings of Ardales

Cave of Ardales

The prehistoric cave of Doña Trinidad Grund is another of the must-sees of Ardales and its surroundings.

Fun fact
The cave is also known as “Cueva de la Calinoria” or “Cueva de Doña Trinidad Grund” because it was the woman who bought it as a complement to her thermal business in the nearby town of Carratraca.

In its interior, it features important traces of Paleolithic art, which makes it one of the world’s three oldest caves, together with the cave of Maltravieso in Caceres and the cave La Pasiega in Cantabria. It is thought that the cave is more than 66,000 years old, the artistic representation being of Neanderthals. The Cave also welcomes different burial sites, which are more than 20,000 years old.

Fun fact
The Gran Cierva or Cierva de Ardales (the Great Deer), painted in black except for a red point where her heart is supposed to be, is the most famous cave painting.

The Cueva de Ardales was discovered in 1821, after an earthquake brought it back to light. The 1.5-km-long itinerary was declared National Monument in 1931 and it was opened to the public in 1985,

Info: to enjoy its interior, you have to book the visit by calling (+34) 952 45 80 46 (Museum of Ardales). The guided tour is 1.5-hour long.


The rock area of Bobastro (also known as the archaeological site of Mesas de Villaverde) is located 13 km from Ardales. Its history is strictly related to Omar Ben Hafsun’s rebellion, as it was there where he established its dominions to fight the caliph of Cordoba in 880.

Due to Omar Ben Hafsun’s conversion to Christianism, this town features the rests of a 9th-century church. It’s the only Mozarab church that’s been preserved from the Al-Andalus times. Besides, you can see a monastery that came to light in the 1980s after a series of excavations.

Route of the Reservoirs of Guadalhorce

If you like hiking, we recommend you do the 7-km route of Reservoirs of Guadalhorce. Landscape-wise, It’s the most appealing route of the area, as it features several reservoirs and lakes. Besides, this is what comes before the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes, see of the famous Caminito del Rey.

The Caminito del Rey

The Caminito del Rey is a 3-km path that passes near the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes, a gorge carved by river Guadalhorce. This foothpath was built between 1914 and 1921 to facilitate the access to the reservoirs of Guadalhorce and Guadalteba for workers. It belonged to the town areas of Ardales, Antequera and Álora.

The Caminito del Rey, near Ardales
Fun fact
Its name (the King’s Path) is due to the fact that King Alphonso XIII inaugurated it and, therefore, it was named after him.

When it was built, the Caminito was one of the most dangerous in the world. However, after the 2014 restructuring, it has become a perfectly safe route. It’s still not suitable for people that have a fear of heights, as some of the footbridges pass very close to steep vertical walls, at more than 100-mt height, and there are some hanging bridges. Still, the views are breathtaking and they are truly worth it.

Info: Ardales is considered to be the entrance door to the Caminito del Rey, for you to enjoy the descending route. Once the itinerary is over, you will have to go back to the starting point, either with your own vehicle or with a bus shuttle provided by the organisation of the Caminito.

Festivals and Events in Ardales

Ardales is known for the importance and interest that its events raise year round.

Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos

When: January 5th

The parade takes place in the afternoon, when the Three Kings distribute presents and sweets.

Fiesta de la Matanza

When: in 2020, on February 2nd

Fiesta de la Matanza

This fair celebrates the elaboration of cold meat and meat pork, gastronomic products typical of the region, that are distributed for free. Besides, stands are located in the Plaza de San Isidro so that you can buy the products. Musical performances also accompany the visitors starting 5 pm.

Semana Santa

When: in 2020, April 5th-12th

The Holy Week in Ardales dates back to the 16th century, proof of which are several documents that testify the existence of brotherhoods. Processions take place on Palm Sunday, Good Thursday and Good Friday.

The Ceremonia del Encuentro (the Meeting Ceremony) is particularly awaited-for, and it’s been celebrated in the town since the 19th century. On Good Friday, the Virgen de los Dolores and the Cristo de la Sangre “meet” in the Plaza del Pueblo.

San Isidro

When: May 15th

One of the most important events in Ardales takes place in May, when San Isidro, one of the Patron Saints of the city, is celebrated. The image of the Saint is taken through the streets and the celebrations also feature paella dishes in the fairground and performances.

Romería de la Virgen de Villaverde y Feria y fiestas populares de Ardales

When: first week of September

During the first week of September, the Romería de la Virgen de Villaverde takes place. This religious pilgrimage include a popular meal on the riverbank of the reservoir of Guadalhorce.

The Fiestas Patronales celebrate the other Patron Saint of Ardales, the Virgen de Villaverde. The Feria Grande (Great Fair) is celebrated to honour the Virgin.

Cuisine in Ardales

Dishes such as the caldereta de carne (meat that’s been left in a broth for more than 2 hours) and the cordero a la pastoril (lamb cooked with olive oil, onions, garlic, flour, sweet pepper, white wine and laurel) stand out. Dessert-wise, the almond cake and the empanadillas con cabello de ángel are famous: remember to buy the latter in the same area  where they are made to ensure their high quality.

Interesting data about Ardales

  • Surface: 106 km2
  • Inhabitants: 2,493 (2018)
  • Demonym: ardaleños
  • Location: Ardales belongs to the region of Antequera, and it’s located between Antequera and Ronda, near the Caminito del Rey. Its urban centre is at 454 metres above sea level and 62 km from Malaga.
  • Average rain falls: 400 l/m2
  • Average temperature: 15.3ºC
  • Official website: http://www.ardales.es/home.asp

Tourist office of Ardales

The tourist office of Ardales is located in the Town Hall.

Address: 1, Avenida Málaga
Telephone: (+34) 952 45 80 46
Opening hours: the same as the Municipal Museum

Your holiday home in Ardales

Your holiday rental in Ardales - MAL0079

A comfortable way to get to know the area and enjoy everything the northern part of the province of Malaga has to offer is by renting a holiday home in Ardales. Now that you know what you can do in the town, don’t wait to book your accommodation and choose the one that suits you best among the best holiday homes in Ardales.

Are you ready to enjoy a getaway to Ardales?

What to visit in Ardales (Malaga) is an article that talks about City Guide in Malaga
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