Destinations / Spain

Setenil de las Bodegas: An Andalucia Wonder

A Visitor Guide

“Setenil de las Bodegas,

where the sky is rock…..

Gerardo Diego
Setenil de las Bodegas

Setenil de las Bodegas is a village of about 3,000 people in the Andalucia region of Spain. The municipal area is located in the northeast of the Cadiz province and is part of the Ronda Valley (check out our post on spectacular Ronda). The landscape is one of the gently rolling fields of olive and almond groves across which the River Guadalporcun flows. One of the most unusual and stunning of the “Pueblos Blancos,” otherwise known as this region’s white towns, is Setenil. It is famous for its dwellings built into the rock walls of the narrow river gorge that runs through the center of town, which is the true architect of this remarkable sight. Many homes and businesses are literally built into and under the rock. We were drawn here by the images that seemed surreal and in person are not any less mind-blowing.

The town grew out of a network of caves within the cliffs above the Guadalporcún river. Setenil de las Bodegas stands proudly on a slope crowned with an ancient castle and lovely church. The natural caves served a purpose; there was no need to build entire buildings. Similar to semi-troglodytic dwellings, they take advantage of the shelter of the rocks in the gorge created by the river. It kept out the heat in the summer, during the winter, kept homes warmer. This area is believed to have had inhabitants since prehistoric times.  

A Brief History of Setenil de las Bodegas

Setenil de las Bodegas

The town’s name ‘Setenil de las bodegas’ tells a bit of its fascinating history. Setenil, from the Latin words septem nihil– “seven times no,” refers to the seven times the Catholic rulers tried to take back the territory from the Moors, the medieval Arab inhabitants who ruled much of Spain for several centuries. On the seventh attempt to conquer Setenil, the Catholics regained the territory. It was one of the last Muslim strongholds in Iberia. Setenil later began using the cool areas under the rock to store local produce in large storerooms, which is how the town earned the name “bodegas, “meaning ‘warehouse’ in Spanish.

“Modern” Setenil de las Bodegas dates from the 15th century. The Christian rulers began establishing extensive olive and almonds trees and vineyards. The olive and almond trees flourish all around the hills and rooftops of the town to this day. It makes for a beautiful setting within the village and from afar. Sadly, the vineyards were wiped out by the European phylloxera insect infestation of the 1860s.

First stop

This tiny village does have a visitors center located inside a lovely 16th-century building that houses a beautiful Mudejar-style coffered ceiling. They are warm and welcoming and will provide you with the guidance you need to make the most of your visit to Setenil de las Bodegas. It would be an excellent place to get a recommendation on where to eat or grab a drink.

What to see and do in Setenil de las Bodegas

Setenil de las Bodegas

Setenil de las Bodegas has an intimate atmosphere that is vibrant and welcoming. Take the time to stop at one of the many bars and restaurants where many locals seem to hang out (see suggestions below). It feels precarious to sit below these massive rocks and have a meal, but it is a must-do. When we were there, the local outdoor market was open, and it was fun to see all the locals doing their shopping and socializing.

We did drive to the top, it was a bit of a challenge, but the views are entirely worth it!! When you are at the top of the town, make sure to visit the beautiful old Church of la Encarnacion, admission is free. The 12th century Nazari Castle is relatively small and quick to see. Entry was 1 euro, and you can visit all three floors, including an art gallery. It’s worth the visit for the views alone and to get a sense of the town planning involved. 

There are many options for shopping with local specialties and artisan fare. A store that is fun to check out is La Cueva Del Ibérico which produces hams and Iberian sausages. They carry a nice collection of gourmet products from the province of Cadiz, such as Payoya goat cheese. There is an extensive collection of wines and craft beers, honey, jams, and oils from the Sierra de Cadiz. They have a free sampling of many of their products.

Learning the history

Tiled entry

If you want to learn more about the town’s history, visit The Torre del Homenaje, which is an example of an old Almohase fortress that has surrounded the Setenil rock since the 12th century. The Aljibe, located on the ground floor of the Torre del Homenaje, is where rainwater was collected to supply the city’s residents. Inside the tower, there is an exhibition with photographs and information on the history of Setenil de las Bodegas. In the Museum of the Damita de Setenil, there is a collection of archaeological finds from the town. The most important piece is the Little Lady of Setenil, venus more than 5,000 years old that proves life in caves since prehistoric times. It is a nominal fee of 2 euros to visit.

The highlight of our visit was wandering this fascinating village and cave streets. Though beware of the cars, there is little room in these streets for both vehicles and pedestrians. Check out our photo gallery to see how cars and pedestrians intermingled.

Local events

Setenil de las Bodegas

Carnival (Feb/Mar) includes street parades, dancing, and music. Easter Week (Mar/Apr) sees two local brotherhoods put on competing processions through the town’s narrow streets. The Feria de Setenil de las Bodegas (Aug) is a multi-day event with concerts, and flamenco dancing. The Fiesta del Aceite (dates vary) celebrates local olive oil production with an outdoor market and tastings.

How to get to Sentenil de las Bodegas

Sentinel de las Bodegas can be reached by car, train, and bus. During our visit, we were driving, which we would strongly recommend as there are many sights in the area. The town is 90 minutes from Malaga and Seville and 24 minutes from Ronda by car. It takes about 3 hours from Seville and Malaga by train or bus.

Parking can be a challenge within the town itself. Streets are very narrow and parking very limited. We parked just outside the outskirts of town with no issues finding a space.

Bring some good shoes to hike the town as it is a relatively steep climb to the top.

Planning a trip to Spain? Check out our Spain Travel Guide

Where to stay when visiting Setenil de las Bodegas

Setenil de las Bodegas

During our visit, we came from Granada and ended our day in Seville; it was a long day. We seriously regretted not staying one night in this area. If you can stay overnight, there are not many hotel choices in the town except for the two-star hotel Hotel Villa de Setenil. There are though many houses, apartments, and rooms for rent. They can be found at the links below.

Ronda will have the most options for accommodations and is about 25 minutes away. It is where we will stay the next time we visit.


If you use these links to book something, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

Where to eat

Calle Cueva Del Sol

Calle Cueva Del Sol owes its name to having the sun streaming down on it practically all day. It is the best known and busiest street in the town. There are several terraces of bars and restaurants to choose from, most with outdoor seating. Some of the most well-rated restaurants in this area include Bar Frasquito, Cafeteria Bar Sol y Sombra, and Restaurante Casa Palmero.

Best time to visit Setenil de las Bodegas


Setenil de las Bodegas has a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers (Jun–Aug) and mild winters (Dec–Feb).

Temperatures in the summer are often in the 80’s. During the winter months, the average temperature is in the 50’s.

Rainfall is highest in the winter months. With rock covering many streets, it is the ideal protection from the rain. Most of the restaurants and bars are under the rock overhang so that you can eat or enjoy a drink outdoors, even in the rain.

White Towns we suggest to visit nearby

Ronda Spain

ThWhite Towns of Andalusia, or Pueblos Blancos, is a series of whitewashed towns in the northern part of the provinces of Cádiz and Málaga in southern Spain, mainly within the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park. The area is quite broad, so we will focus on two towns within the same vicinity of Setenil de las Bodegas to visit.

Ronda and Zahara de la Sierra are entirely different from Setenil de las Bodegas but astounding in their ways. They are all relatively close to each other, and the drive is scenic. It would take an hour to drive a loop to all three towns.


Ronda (click here to see our post on Ronda) is known as the “City of Dreams.” It is a small yet bustling city with a fascinating history dating back to the Neolithic Age. Established in the 9th-century BC, storytellers say those who arrived here never wanted to leave. The first Ronda inhabitants were primitive people, then the Romans, followed by the Moors. After conquering the town, the Crusaders drove out the Moors in the 15th century. Ronda bears markings from all these various inhabitants over the years. It is truly a step back in time. Its beguiling white houses and buildings, Roman and Moorish Antiquities, and impressive architectural wonders like the Puento Neuvo bridge. The immense sandstone cliffs in the deep river gorge that divides the city in half were most memorable. It is a beguiling sight and a joy to photograph. Ronda will capture your heart.

Zahara de la Sierra
Zahara de la Sierra
Zahara de la Sierra

Is an incredible small hilltop white town with a strong sense of community that is heartwarming. The valley around Zahara de la Sierra is breathtaking, and the views alone are worth the trip up to narrow roads to reach the town. There is Castle perched above the village as if watching over its residents. You can choose from many restaurants and bars in town. Walking the city is a challenge due to the steep streets, but take your time and take it all in. Our visit there came on Halloween, the day before All Saints Day. The town residents were in the process of decorating the graves of their loved ones in the most elegant and elaborate floral displays. It felt very personal and meaningful to observe this annual ritual that honored those who passed before them. The cemetery was lovely and had the best views the town offered.

Final thoughts

Spain is a country with incredible diversity and wonder. The White Towns of Andalucia is one of the gems of this beautiful and fascinating country. It is a perfect fit with a visit that includes Cordoba, Granada, Malaga, and Seville. It was part of our two-week road trip to Portugal and Spain. We were so intrigued we do plan to visit again, giving the region at least three days.

Setenil de las Bodegas

© 2022 Wanderers Compass All Rights Reserved

Check out the Official Tourism site for Setenil de las Bodegas

Become part of our Wanderers Compass Travel Community

Stay updated on all our new posts and happenings

Check out our most recent blog posts

Want to learn about Wanderers Compass?


Our favorite travel insurance site!

If you are booking a trip, don’t forget to get travel insurance within 14 days of your first booking. We could not be stronger advocates of being well insured. Not for the little stuff but the big stuff like medical emergencies. We never leave home without it. Over the years, we have used many sites but have now found our go-to place. Squaremouth.com does a fantastic job; it has a user-friendly interface, they use top-rated and reputable insurance carriers, and most policies cover Covid medical issues and cancellations. They also mediate on your behalf if you have problems with your policy.


Medical transport back home from anywhere in the world

They are the premier global air medical transport. One caveat to travel insurance is that medical evacuation usually gets you to the closest facility to care for you. Medjet gets you back to the U.S. to the hospital of your choice once you are stable enough to fly. They cover Covid-related transports as well.

Medjet carries its own policies. The policy is only for transport and no other aspects of travel insurance. They have individual trip policies starting at $99 and annual policies for $295. Most of their policies limit the age to 74 and younger. Prices are not based on age below that.


Hotels, home rentals, BNBs, flights, and other transportation & tours 

Expedia is a US-based company whose mission is to power global travel for everyone and everywhere. Whether planning a family vacation, booking for business, or organizing the trip of a lifetime, they are a fantastic resource. Wanderers Compass focuses on independent travel, and using sites like Expedia makes that possible. Every aspect of travel you would need, from airfare, accommodations, rental car, and cruises, to activities to do at your destination, can be booked on Expedia.  


Hotels, Home rentals, BNBs, Flights, and other Transportation & Tours 

Booking.com connects millions of travelers to memorable experiences, various transportation options, and incredible places to stay – from homes to hotels and much more. It is one of the world’s largest travel marketplaces for established brands and entrepreneurs of all sizes.

We always start with Expedia to check prices, but it sometimes says it is sold out. We then try Booking.com, and we find it lists plenty of rooms. It could be they are a Europe-based company. Try both before booking accommodations.

Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO)

Are you traveling with a family or having an extended stay at your destination?

With over 2 million bookable vacation rentals, VRBO connects homeowners with families and vacationers looking for something more than a hotel for their trip. The VRBO community offers families or groups various rental property types such as condos, cabins, lake rentals, beach houses, etc.

VRBO is under the Expedia group ownership now, which many were worried about, but it hasn’t panned out to be a concern. It is a massive network that has access to all forms of lodging should issues arise. Joelle has used VRBO for many years with her family with no problems.


Tripadvisor, the world’s largest travel guidance platform, helps hundreds of millions of people each month become better travelers, from planning to booking to taking a trip. Travelers worldwide use the Tripadvisor site and App to discover where to stay, what to do, and where to eat based on guidance from those who have been there before.

With more than 1 billion reviews and opinions from nearly 8 million businesses, travelers turn to Tripadvisor to find deals on accommodations, book experiences, reserve tables at delicious restaurants, and discover great places to see nearby. We use them for guidance and research on every trip; it is a valuable app for the independent traveler.

Rail Europe

Discover Europe by Train

Rail Europe sells train and bus tickets for travel across Europe. They cover 24 countries, 105 rail operations, and 20,000 stations. They are the official rail and bus operations agents in the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Rail Europe continues to add coverage all the time.

It is a fast, easy and economical way to purchase European train and bus tickets. Eurail passes are also available to buy through their site.


An excellent source for travel essentials and guides

Amazon is one of the most comprehensive online shopping sources in the world. On behalf of their customers, teams worldwide provide lower prices, better selection, and rapid delivery. They offer a vast inventory, and their 1.7 million small and medium businesses worldwide selling on Amazon.com provide extensive options to customers.

We buy most of our travel books, accessories, and luggage from Amazon. We have ordered up to two days before travel and get what we need.

Travelpro Luggage

Thoughtfully Designed | Meticulously Constructed | Quality Guaranteed.

We have used this luggage for years, left briefly to try others, and returned to Travelpro. Travelpro luggage is carried by crews from over 90 airlines worldwide.

Travelpro takes the time to learn what travelers want and need, then builds it. The key factor for us is that it must be lightweight upfront and resistant to rough handling. Their luggage is the best, and we could not recommend it enough. It is our go-to luggage.


Travel documentation made more accessible

iVisa.com is dedicated to providing customers with a simple, fast, and reliable way to get travel documentation for their journey. Their online application process makes getting visas, health declarations, or passport photos a breeze, all from your home’s comfort. As a leading independent company in the travel documentation industry, they take pride in making global travel more accessible for everyone. Ultimately, it is a simple and affordable travel resource to complete the necessary entry documents for your international travel.

This section contains affiliate links. If you use these links (the ads with photos are NOT affiliate links) to buy something, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

Become part of our Wanderers Compass Travel Community

Stay updated on all our new posts and happenings

Do you have a question for us or have a comment?

No Comments

    Leave a Reply

    Cinque Terre

    Become part of our Wanderers Compass Travel Community

    Stay updated on all our new posts and happenings

    No spam, unsubscribe at any time, no more than one email a month