Jimena de la Frontera is a white village that serves as a perfect rural base for Spanish adventures.

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When deciding which of southern Spain’s white pueblos to visit, we knew it was important to choose one that was conveniently located to as many other sightseeing options as possible. We also knew we wanted to be fairly close to the ocean, and a departure point for either Morocco or a yet-to-be-determined country elsewhere in Europe.

After a fair bit of deliberation, we decided to make our way to the magical mountain village of Jimena de la Frontera to experience a true agricultural part of the Andalusian region. Roughly 30 minutes from the coast, it offers easy access to a wide array of authentic travel experiences for those seeking soft adventure in a romantic setting.

The atmosphere of Jimena is classic Andalusia, with abundant farm animals, white stone houses that shine against the green of the pastures and the adjacent natural park, and plenty of Spanish grandpas out for their daily stroll on any given morning. The locals are friendly, and the location provides a postcard-perfect drive to any nearby sightseeing you might want to experience for the day.

Where to stay

While private holiday rentals are abundant for those who want to stay for longer periods of time, an option exists for shorter visits at Hostal Anon. With 12 rooms, a rooftop pool and a grown-up Bohemian atmosphere, the Anon’s prices start at 60 euros for a spacious couple’s room with a private bath. The price includes breakfast, and it’s walking distance to the bars and historic tower in the main village plaza.

If you find yourself with several months in your schedule however, the prices for private vacation rentals reduce drastically. Laslimasandalucia.com, for example, has multiple cottages available for long-term occupancy. My husband and I scored a converted horse stable with granite kitchen counters, splash pool, wireless Internet and sitting porch for 550 euros per month starting in the fall. Shorter-term and weekly rates are also available.

Activities

You might think there is only so much to do in such a small rural town, but the truth is there are plenty of options for keeping yourself entertained.

The castle and Roman ruins at the top of the village are free to visit, and can easily provide an afternoon’s worth of entertainment. The free natural park adjacent to Jimena is popular with biking enthusiasts, wild mushroom hunters and hikers.

When you find yourself itching for a day trip, head to the nearby pueblo of Gaucin to experience an antique river mill turned wool factory. Free to tour by appointment, Lanas del Rio sells artisanal blankets, capes, scarves and more. This town also has a free castle to visit, which is a hangout for eagles and other birds of prey. This makes it a nifty archaeological site for birders to explore.

The castle and Roman ruins at the top of Jimena de la Frontera are free to visit. (Thinkstock)
The castle and Roman ruins at the top of Jimena de la Frontera are free to visit. (Thinkstock)

Additionally, Gibraltar is within visual range of the town square. This makes for a fun excursion that will technically let you visit another country. The changing of the guard and the lighthouse at Europa Point are both free to visit, and the Gibraltar Museum provides a peek into the peninsula’s noteworthy history.

Where to eat

Perhaps the most unique place to eat in the area is Esenia. Across the bridge next to the train station, it is a two-part vegan establishment run by twin sisters. One half is a tea and coffee room with inexpensive snacks and boutique gifts. The other is an eatery with an affordable 12-euro menu of the day. Typical course options include gourmet juice blends, healthy soups and carob-flavored sweet treats. They also sell organic local wine.

If you prefer to dine on the hillside, Hostal Anon offers more than just rooms. There’s also a bar and restaurant frequented by locals with great tunes and an indoor fireplace for cooler, rainy days. Their starters are nearly all less than 10 euros, with house beer and wine pours for roughly 2 euros each. I was a huge fan of their wild mushroom pate.