A Guide to Visiting Olvera, Spain: Best Things to Do

In this guide to visiting Olvera, we’re talking about the best things to do and things to know before you go.

View of Olvera, Spain with 22 castles on hills overlooking the city.

Olvera is a sleepy, off the beaten path village on the pueblo blanco route of southern Spain. This adorable little village has several interesting attractions, beautiful views, and, best of all, you’ll have it mostly to yourself.

Olvera has one of the most prominent skylines I’ve ever seen in a small village – the cathedral is built on a hill and is high above the rest of the city’s buildings. Adjacent is the old, historic castle, also set high on a rock. Together, these two structures literally dominate the entire city and create an incredibly striking view.

This guide walks you through everything you need to know about visiting Olvera, including how to get there, where to park, what to see and do, and where to stay. Let’s dive in!

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11 Things to Do in Olvera

There are so many ways to immerse yourself in Olvera. Don’t miss these options:

1. Calle Calzada

Staircase to church with a wall that has pots and flowers on it.

The charming street of Calle Calzada leads up to the Olvera Cathedral and offers some beautiful views along the way. Flowerpots adorn the whitewashed walls, as the staircase lane narrows, twists, and climbs up to the church. Walking up Calle Calzada is a great way to start your visit to Olvera.

2. Appreciate the Views from the Plaza de la Iglesia

View of Olvera with the countryside farther out.

The top of Calle Calzada will take you to the Plaza de la Iglesia, a small square where many of the attractions of Olvera are located. Here, you can see the church up close, look out over the rooftops of the village and the surrounding countryside, and take a picture with the Olvera sign. The tourist office, Arab Castle, cemetery, and the museum are all located right on the square.

Church with open space outside.

Sign that says Olvera in black lettering. Taking a photo here is a popular thing to do in Olvera, Spain.

3. Admire the Iglesia de la Encarnacion

View of the cathedral with countryside behind it.

The church’s name is officially “Iglesia Mayor Parroquial y Arcipestral Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación” which in English is “Main Parish and Arcipestral Church of Our Lady of the Incarnation.”

As mentioned above, this church stands prominently on a tall hill overlooking the entire village and valley, and is a striking neo-classical church with two tall bell towers and spires. The church is relatively new – having been built in the 1800’s, and was constructed on the site of a previous church.

The church is closed on Mondays, but even if you can’t go inside, admiring the façade from various vantage points around town is one of the best things to do in Olvera.

4. Visit the Castillo Arabe

Stone castle(Castillo Arabe) on a tall hill.

The Arab Castle, or sometimes just called called the Castle of Olvera, is built on a rocky hill just adjacent to the church, and visiting is an exceptional activity in Olvera. The castle was built by the Moors in the 1200’s to protect the borders of the Nasrid Emirate (one of the Moorish rulers when Spain was controlled by Arabs). The Nasrids ruled from Granada, and Olvera was part of their territory.

After Olvera was reconquered by the Christians in 1327, the Spanish king rebuilt the castle to the structure you can visit today. The castle is designed to conform to the irregular contours of the rock, and thus has a unique shape. You can walk the walls, go up in several towers, look into a tomb, and walk through a few rooms.

View looking at castle

To visit the castle, you’ll buy tickets at the tourist office on the Plaza de la Iglesia, enter a building on the side of the square, and then climb the exterior stone staircase on the side of the castle. This staircase gives incredible views back to the Olvera church.

A woman standing by a wall with a chapel in distance--this is one of the best things to see in Olvera, Spain.
  • Hours: 10am-7pm
  • Entrance Fee: 2 euro

5. Olvera Cemetery

Cemetery with castle in background.
Photo Credit: iStock.com/Photographer and 3d designer

While it may seem bizarre to recommend visiting a cemetery, the Olvera cemetery is definitely worth your time. Located off of the Plaza de la Iglesia, this spot has been named one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Spain (it actually won the “Best Cemetery in Spain” contest in 2019 – a contest that I find rather amusing).

Dating back to the 1500’s, this cemetery is somewhat unique in that it is entirely above ground, with tall rows housing the deceased. Each row is painted white, in typical Andalucian style, and is adorned with flowers. The cemetery sits in the shadow of the castle, and the towers overhead just add to the ambiance.

The cemetery is closed on Mondays.

6. La Cilla Museum

Building with displays of people and things.

La Cilla is a small museum about the history of Olvera and the region roundabout. There are just a couple of small rooms here, that have placards, pictures, and some displays of what life was like in Olvera. Learn about the Muslim invasion into Iberia, their reign over the course of many hundred years, and the process of the Christian re-conquering.

Note that the museum is entirely in Spanish – there are no English (or other languages) on any of the informational placards or signage. You’ll really either need to be able to read Spanish, or use Google Translate’s camera feature to read the signs.

  • Entrance Fee: None. You can enter the museum through the tourist office.
  • Hours: 10am-7pm

7. Wander through Barrio de la Villa

Walkway with flowers along the side.

Barrio de la Villa is a small neighborhood in Olvera that historically was the Muslim part of the town. This area comprises 13 different streets, is located just behind the Church of the Encarnacion. (If you’re in the Plaza de la Iglesia, walk to the back of the church and take a left).

This neighborhood is one of the most charming parts of the city, as the streets are narrow and winding, and there are flowers and plants decorating the sidewalks and doorsteps everywhere. In fact, Barrio de la Villa reminded me of the patios of Cordoba, where the front steps of the houses were little miniature patios, sublimely decorated with flowers and pots.

Door with a tree over it.

Olvera even seems to have a similar sort of competition for the “best patio,” like Cordoba does – there were little decorative plaques up near some of the prettiest spots saying “The Most Beautiful Street in Olvera – 2021”.

Porch with flowers and chairs with a table.

Beyond the beautiful streets, Barrio de la Villa also has the Torre del Pan, an old military tower that also functioned as a bakery (and today is a little café):

White building with tables and chairs.

8. Stroll Down Calle Llana

Road with white buildings along the side.

This beautiful lane is one of the main streets in Olvera, with the typical white walls of Andalucia complimented by the colorful doorframes and window frames, the wrought iron lamp posts and windows, the cobblestoned lanes, and the occasional flower box.

After walking for a few blocks down Calle Llana, turn back and look at the Church of the Encarnacion – rising above the buildings in the town.

White buildings with a church behind.

9. Plaza Andalucia

Off of Calle Llana, you’ll find Plaza Andalucia. If you’re traveling to Olvera with children, this is a great spot to visit, as the plaza is almost entirely filled with a fun, interactive (free) children’s playground.

Pavilon with wood fence.

Plaza Andalucia is also the entrance to a beautiful terraced garden that climbs up a very tall, rocky outcropping that sits right in the center of town.

Stone staircase going out from a platform with a well like structure with flowers in it.
Walkway with vine arch above it, one of the best places to go in Olvera.
Walkway with flowers along it.

10. Monumento al Sagrado Corazon

View of Olvera with 2 castle in distance.

Monumento al Sagrado Corazon is a religious monument at the very top of the rock with the terraced garden on Plaza Andalucia. The best part of this monument are the incredible views back over the town and towards the castle and church – a truly gorgeous sight.

This is a spot not to be missed in Olvera (and is free of charge).

11. Bike or Walk on Via Verde de la Sierra

Dirt path grass and trees on the sides.

The Via Verde de la Sierra is a greenway for biking or walking that extends 36 km between Olvera and the town of Puerto Serrano. This gorgeous greenway follows an old, abandoned railway line, and cuts through the Spanish countryside, and includes numerous tunnels and viaducts.

One of the most notable landmarks of this Via Verde is the Peñón de Zaframagón nature reserve, where the largest colony of Griffin vultures in Europe nest.

You can rent bikes in Olvera to take out on the greenway here.

Alternatively, this excursion from Ronda to bike the Via Verde provides transportation to the village, bikes to ride, a guide on the trail, and a pickup at the end in Puerto Serrano.

How Long Do You Need?

A half day is plenty of time to visit the village. Add on another 2-3 hours if you want to bike the Via Verde (one way). If you can, I’d recommend not visiting on Monday, as several things are closed that day.

Where Else Should You Visit on the Route of the White Villages?

If you’re renting a car and doing a road trip through southern Spain, you can’t miss the Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos! Besides Olvera, you definitely need to visit Grazalema, a pristine mountain town, Setenil de las Bodegas, a “cave village” built into the sides of cliffs, and Frigiliana, one of the prettiest white villages.

Where to Stay on Your White Villages Road Trip

If you’re doing a day trip to Olvera, then I’d actually recommend not staying in the town, and staying in Montecorto, a little, off the beaten path white village that is central to most of the white villages of Andalucia.

Views over a courtyard bnb and to the green hills and mountains in the distance.

This guesthouse – called “Grandfather’s Mill”, has an adorable patio, rooftop terrace and pool, courtyard, garden, and little grove that you could spend your time in.

There were orange trees, lemon trees, olive trees, a little well, arched doorways, white paved paths, hammocks, and a little stream running through the property. It only has 5 rooms, though, so make sure you check availability.

A tree filled with lemons overlooks a little patio set with benches and seating areas.
A little courtyard of a house in the white village of Montecorto.

You can eat breakfast on the patio, a delicious, homemade spread of local fruits, breads, pastries, and produce. From the upper rooms, you get views over the village and out to the surrounding mountains. I never wanted to leave.

A table set with 10+ plates with different fresh fruits, avocados, breads, and granola, in a white village in Spain.

The cherry on top is that Montecorto is very centrally located and so it’s easy to stay there and then quickly drive to the many pueblo blancos nearby.

👉Book El Molino del Abuelo here

Where to Park

You can find free parking on the side of the street on CA-9102 (also known as Calle Bellavista). This is one of the main highways that will bring you to Olvera. You can just park on the side of the road here, almost on the sidewalk. I parked very near the Jardin de la Victoria on CA-9102.

There are also paid parking garages in town that cost about 1-2 euro an hour. Parking Calle Lepanto is a good option if you prefer a garage.

The Wrap Up – Is Olvera Worth Visiting?

Absolutely, Olvera is worth visiting. For a small village, there are quite a few unique attractions and places to visit around town, not even counting the beautiful greenway. Plus, Olvera is still a pretty off the beaten path in southern Spain, which provides some peace and quiet as you explore the village.

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