Planning a visit to the charming Setenil de las Bodegas? In this travel guide, we’re sharing everything to know before you go.
Setenil de las Bodegas is one of the most unique villages in all of Spain, and a can’t miss stop on a southern Spain road trip. What makes it so unusual and special? Besides being one of Andalucia’s gorgeous pueblos blancos (white villages), it’s also a troglodyte city, or a “cave city.”
Indeed, throughout all of Setenil, you’ll see the buildings are actually caves carved into the rock walls of the cliffs that the village is built around. Massive boulders overhanging the streets, and doors to buildings seemingly coming right out of the rocks.
I walked through the city truly in awe of the way the geology of the land and the engineering of the city just melds together, working harmoniously to create a one-of-a-kind village.
History of Setenil de Las Bodegas
The area of Setenil de las Bodegas has been settled for at least 2,000 years, if not more – it was definitely settled during the Roman invasion and occupation during the 1st century AD.
However, the current town was established by the Moors between the 1100-1200’s AD, when Andalucia was controlled by the North African Arabs. The name of the city is thought to come from the latin term “septem nihil”, which means “seven times nothing,” referring to the multiple failed assaults on the city by the Christian re-conquerors.
Finally, after a 15 day siege, the city was reconquered by the Christians in 1484. Much of the castle and defenses were destroyed during that siege – today, only a tower of the castle remains. The term “bodegas” refers to the vineyards that were planted in the region during the 1500’s.
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Things to Do and Places to See in Setenil de Las Bodegas
Discover the Picturesque Streets
The main thing to do in Setenil de las Bodegas is explore and discover all the streets with rocky overhangs – each one a delightful surprise as you wander the small town.
Here are 7 “cave streets” in Setenil, including the most popular and famous streets, as well as lanes that are more off the beaten path.
Calle Cuevas del Sol
Calle Cuevas del Sol is the “main street” in Setenil, and is the most famous street in the city. This street runs right along the babbling Trejo River, and has a jaw-dropping horizontal rock overhang over a long stretch of the street.
Along this area, you’ll find multiple restaurants and cafes where you can linger over your lunch and enjoy the sights and surroundings of the city. Reservations are recommended for these locations.
Calle Cuevas de la Sombra
Just around the corner from Calle Cuevas del Sol is the also very popular Calle Cuevas de la Sombra. This street features an absolutely massive boulder that covers the entire street (and makes for a stunning photo).
Calle Herreria was actually one of my favorite streets in Setenil de las Bodegas – I loved the contrast of the stone overhang and the narrow staircase ascending up towards it.
Calle Jaboneria is actually the same street as Calle Cuevas del Sol, but this section of the road is located around a curve and closer to the outskirts of town. Calle Jaboneria was likely named for the soap factories or markets that could have been located here (“Jaboneria” means soap shop) or it could have just been that this was an area where women would go down to the river to do their washing.
Calle Cabrerizas is also the same street as Calle Jaboneria – it changes names again after a near 90 degree turn in the street (and the river that the street is following). This street is definitely part of the outskirts of town, but it still has a pretty significant rocky overhang.
This little street isn’t even named on Google Maps, but it’s a tucked away and adorable rocky street near the Trejo River. You can find it right off of Calle Callejon (named Calle Cjon on Google Maps), right before Plaza de Andalucia. I’ve also pinned it at the map at the bottom of this post.
Finally, Calle Calanas is a little street that can be found very close to the Parking Los Canos, but even the street itself does not show up on maps! This little lane is a small offshoot of the Calle Callejon, around #47. Again, the location is pinned on the map below.
Miradors (Viewpoints) Over the City
There are 3 main miradors (aka viewpoints) that I want to highlight in Setenil de las Bodegas. If you picture the town as a rectangle, each of these viewpoints is on a different side of the rectangle, so they all give a unique look down over the village. These viewpoints are located on top of the cliffs that overhung the streets highlighted above.
Mirador del Carmen
Mirador del Carmen is one of the main viewpoints over Setenil de las Bodegas, and is located pretty centrally in town. You will need to climb up 2 large staircases to reach the viewpoint, but it’s worth it!
Mirador del Lizon
This viewpoint near the castle tower gives a beautiful side view of the city and some of the cliffs that the town is built into.
Mirador Balcon de Setenil de las Bodegas
This viewpoint, the “Balcony of Setenil,” is located across the village from the Mirador del Carmen, and is definitely the highest viewpoint over the city. I loved seeing the church sitting high on the hill and and the white buildings and tan roofs surrounded by the olive groves in the surrounding countryside.
Of note: In town, signs to this mirador call it the “mirador del penon de los enamorados”, or the viewpoint of the rock of the lovers.” In Google Maps, it’s just called the Mirador Balcon.
Other Points of Interest
The Almohade Tower and Cistern
Also known as the “Castillo of Setenil, ” this tower is the only remaining structure from the large Almohade Castle, built in the 12th century when the North African Moors lived in the region. The castle held off conquerors from Setenil de las Bodegas for hundreds of years, before falling and being destroyed when the city was finally overtaken by the Christian armies in 1484.
Inside, there is a large cistern that you can walk around, as well as several rooms that function as a museum, sharing information about the tower and history of Setenil.
You can buy tickets for the tower at the tourist office in Setenil.
Puente Sobre el Rio Trejo
This charming little bridge crosses the River Trejo that winds its way through the town, connecting Calle Cuevas del Sol and Calle Cuevas de la Sombra. The name literally means “Bridge Over the Trejo River” – ha!
Iglesia Nuestra Senora de la Encarnacion
This is the largest church, by far, in Setenil, and stands proudly on top of the hill just adjacent to the old Almohade Tower. This late Gothic cathedral was built on the ruins of a mosque, and has a chasuble (a ceremonial outfit for priests and bishops) that was a gift from the monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, after they laid seige to and conquered the village.
Ermita de Nuestra Senora del Carmen
This small and charming little chapel is just around the corner from the Mirador del Carmen.
Practical Information for Visiting Setenil de las Bodegas
Where to Park
If you are driving yourself around Spain, you know that finding parking can sometimes be a stressful part of your road trip. Thankfully, parking is easy and straightforward in Setenil.
There are several paid parking garages, where you can park your car for 1-2 euro per hour that you’re in the village. You can search “parking” on Maps to find the locations of several garages. I’d just recommend choosing one on the outskirts of the city, so you don’t have to drive through the middle of the village. I parked in Parking Los Canos.
Don’t want to drive yourself? Prefer going with a guided tour? Here are 2 great options that go to Setenil de las Bodegas:
All Day Guided Tour from Malaga: This highly rated tour takes you to 2 great spots in the Andalucia: Ronda and Setenil de las Bodegas, with time to learn about and explore both incredible cities.
Private Guided Day Trip from Cadiz: This *private* day trip is for only your party, and takes you to the villages of Ronda and Setenil de las Bodegas. You’ll get individualized attention from your guide, and are able to customize your day to your liking.
Neither of these options work for your itinerary? Explore other day trip options to Setenil de las Bodegas here
How Long Do You Need
You can definitely criss-cross the village, take in the sights, visit the streets, admire the views from the miradors, and enjoy a meal with a half day in Setenil. After your time in Setenil, you can visit other beautiful white villages in the region, such as Grazalema, Zahara de la Sierra, Olvera, or Ronda.
Where to Stay
If you’re just doing a day trip to Setenil de las Bodegas, then I’d actually recommend not staying in Setenil, and staying in Montecorto, a little, off the beaten path white village that is central to most of the white villages of Andalucia.
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.
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.
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.
A Note About the Town
One thing I noticed when visiting Setenil de las Bodegas is that while the town is extremely cool with the cave houses and rocky overhangs, I felt like this was one of the more run down villages in the pueblo blanco route.
That’s not to say that the village is decrepit, but rather, compared to other villages, like Frigiliana or Grazalema, which were absolutely immaculate, Setenil had some spots that were in a little bit rougher shape. For example, the yellowing slightly crumbling wall, above.
Map of Places to Visit in Setenil de las Bodegas
When to Visit
Setenil is a great place to visit any time of year. Like most of Andalucia, Setenil enjoys generally warm temperatures, with winters seeing highs in the 40’s and 50’s, and summers seeing highs in the 80’s to 90’s (or more). Spring and fall are generally the most pleasant times to visit, weather-wise.
Setenil has become an increasingly popular destination in the past few years, and as such, crowds have also increased. Visit in the early morning or late afternoon for the lowest crowd levels. When I visited in April, I arrived right at sunrise, at 8am. I had 1-2 hours with the village practically to myself, which was delightful, and then around 10-11am, the village started getting more visitors, but it wasn’t packed yet.
The Wrap Up
Setenil de las Bodegas is one of the most unique cities you will find in Spain, or really anywhere in the world. It has its own unique charm with the towering cliffs, and way the buildings built into the caves create a truly organic feel as the city merges into its surroundings. It is definitely worth a visit as part of your tour through Andalucia. Enjoy!