Renowned as one of the prettiest villages in Spain, the whitewashed village of Frigiliana is beautifully nestled in the mountains in Andalusia. Although the village is close to the bustling beaches of the Costa del Sol, it is also far enough from them to have its own laidback village vibe. Narrow streets wind up the mountainside. Potted plants and blue doors brighten up the radiant whitewashed facades of the buildings. It is an idyllic sight that has often earned Frigiliana the title of most beautiful village in Spain. That obviously attracts quite some visitors, especially with a location this close to the popular Costa del Sol. We fell in love with Frigiliana as well and in this blog we will tell you why! Continue reading to learn about the best things to do in Frigiliana and why this village is worth visiting.
Why Frigiliana is worth it
There are many picturesque white villages in Andalusia to visit, so why is Frigiliana worth a visit? Nestled in the mountains and with narrow streets winding up the mountain slopes, Frigiliana is particularly picturesque. The streetscape consists entirely of whitewashed houses with blue doors and frames. Frigiliana is called the most beautiful village in Spain for a reason.
The mountain environment is beautiful too. The village is located in the Sierras of Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama Natural Park. From the village you have a magnificent view over the surrounding area. The area is also well suited for walks, such as to the even smaller and less accessible village of Acebuchal or to the hilltop above Frigiliana for the best views of the city.
Also special are Frigiliana’s Moorish roots. Just as the Moors once ruled and enriched almost all of southern Spain, Frigiliana has also been a Moorish town. The part now called Barribarto is the old Moorish city. It has the beautiful architecture the Moors were known for, though it isn’t as extravagant as you might know from famous sights like the Alhambra in Granada. The historic center is the reason Frigiliana has been declared a national heritage of Spain. It is the most picturesque and photogenic part of the white town and offers the idyllic street scene for which people visit Frigiliana.
In addition to the Arab influences of the Moors, the history of Frigiliana is also characterized by Christian and Jewish-Sephardic influences. Frigiliana is proud of these three cultures and throughout the village you will also find references to Frigiliana as the village of the three cultures. In August, the village has its renowned Three Culture Festival with endless parties and markets for four days. There are concerts, a Ruta de la Tapa for tapas lovers, light projections on the church and countless activities. The village is overrun with visitors during these days, so we wouldn’t recommend visiting Frigiliana during the festival if you want to enjoy its idyllic village atmosphere.
How to get to Frigiliana in Andalusia
Frigiliana is located in the south of Spain in the popular area of Andalusia. We already mentioned its location on the Costa del Sol, as the village is not far from the famous beaches of southern Spain.
Although the village is in the mountains of the Sierras of Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama Natural Park, the coast is only 7 kilometers to the south. The most famous coastal town in the area is right there: the popular Nerja. Although Nerja is more visited than Frigiliana, we prefer the mountain village to the coastal town. Nerja is quite touristy and lacks the charm that Frigiliana is known for. But because the two are so close to each other, it is definitely worth visiting them both while you are in the area.
The nearest international airport is that of Málaga. In our experience it is fairly easy to find cheap and direct flights to Málaga. Málaga itself is definitely worth a city trip and we are big fans of all the beautiful sights of Málaga. However, it is also recommended to visit the surrounding area on a number of day trips from Málaga, because there is a lot to see in this part of Andalusia. Frigiliana is only a 45-minute drive from Málaga, so with a rental car you can get there in no time and you can easily visit both Nerja and Frigiliana on a day trip.
Reading tip: 10 best day trips from Málaga.
As Frigiliana is very small and the streets are narrow, you cannot enter the village with your (rental) car. You are supposed to park it on the main road of the village, Avenida Carlos Cano, or in this parking garage. There aren’t many parking spots, so it can be a challenge to find a parking space. We therefore recommend that you come to Frigiliana as early as possible and avoid the crowds.
Where to stay in Frigiliana
Frigiliana consists of roughly two parts, the old Moorish Barribarto and the lower, new part. They are split from each other by a large square, where you will find the local market and the cane sugar factory. Barribarto is the most idyllic part and is located against the mountains. But because Frigiliana is very small and everything is within walking distance, it doesn’t matter much in where you stay.
Don’t expect a large selection of hotels and B&Bs in a small village like this. Two very lovely options with a central location are Hotel Villa Frigiliana and El Torreon 109. Hotel Villa Frigiliana is located in the new part of the city, near the archaeological museum. The hotel has its own swimming pool and terrace. The spacious, stylish rooms have a beautiful view and some also have a private balcony.
El Torreon 109 is our personal favorite. You can find this accommodation in the old Moorish part of the village. The B&B has a swimming pool with a view over the mountains, a delicious breakfast and beautiful rooms that are decorated with style.
The white village is also great to visit on a day trip from a nearby destination such as Nerja or Málaga. The town is not very big, so one day or even half day should be enough to explore Frigiliana. So you don’t necessarily have to book a hotel room in Frigiliana. From Nerja or Málaga you can easily visit the village on a (half) day trip as well. But because the village is mostly visited by day trippers, it is less crowded in the early morning and in the evening. So you get a better taste of the authentic village atmosphere during those moments of the day. If you do choose to spend the night in Frigiliana, as we did, you get to enjoy the village at its best.
Our Frigiliana tourist map
10 best things to do in Frigiliana
#1 The Old Town: Moorish Barribarto
The old and historic part of the village is El Barribarto, the Moorish quarter. It is the higher part of town, built against the mountainside. El Barribarto is characterized by charming, narrow and steep streets and it’s known for its beautiful street scene with white houses, blue doors, cobblestoned streets and potted plants. El Barribarto is the main reason for your visit and wandering through the streets is the best thing to do in Frigiliana.
The streetscape itself is the main attraction of the historic part of Frigiliana and there are no specific must-see places. You will probably end up at the Fuente Vieja though, the old fountain from the seventeenth century. It was a drinking place for cattle and is therefore quite weathered. Scattered throughout the village are more ancient fountains, often with a spring somewhere in the mountains. A modern fountain can be found on the Plaza de las Culturas. It has the symbols of the three cultures of Frigiliana in its design.
The Renaissance palace of Frigiliana, the Palacio de los Condes de Frigiliana, is also hard to miss, as it is a huge structure in a prominent location in the village. It is (literally translated) the palace of the Counts of Frigiliana and was built in the sixteenth century for the noble family who ruled the village. The facade still has traces of the old frescoes if you take a good look. Locals also call the building El Ingenio (The Mind) and it is now in use as a cane sugar factory. Many souvenir and food shops in the village sell delicacies with local cane sugar. Only once a year you can visit the old palace and the sugar cane factory during the festive Día de la Miel de Caña (Day of the Cane Sugar).
At the foot of the hill, sandwiched between the Moorish part and the main road, is the Botanical Garden Santa Fiora. We noticed that the garden is often mentioned as one of the highlights and top sights of Frigiliana, but we weren’t that impressed ourselves. It is a kind of city park with wide walking paths that wind up from the Avenica Carlos Cano. There would be many special plant species along the path, but we found it quite limited. That doesn’t mean it’s not a nice place to see if you’re nearby anyways, as it’s a lovely green spot in a village that does not have much greenery or parks.
#2 The Church of Frigiliana
The main church of the village is the San Antonio de Padova, located on the Plaza de la Iglesia in the old Moorish part of the town. It is a fairly simple church from the outside with a simple facade topped with a metal cross. The bell tower towers over the rest of the buildings.
The church from the seventeenth century is free to visit. Although the church is not very impressive, we recommend you to head inside for a quick moment during your walk through the old part of Frigiliana. We found the carvings in the monumental entrance doors particularly beautiful. The interior is not very impressive with white plaster walls and a golden altar.
#3 The viewpoints
If a town is built on a hill or mountain, you can also count on many beautiful viewpoints. The higher part of Frigiliana has numerous viewpoints, offering a beautiful view of the surrounding area, but also of the village itself. The most beautiful viewpoint can be found just outside the village and offers a view of Frigiliana itself. It is indicated on Google Maps as ‘Mirador Frigiliana‘ (link).
Other viewpoints in the village itself can be found on the roof of the town hall and in the Moorish part. The Mirador de Santo Cristo is the best viewpoint in the old town. But you’ll have the most beautiful view from the mountain top above the town, where the old Frigiliana Castle was once built. Not much remains of the castle, but the view is well worth the climb to the top.
#4 Casa del Apero
The Casa del Apero is one of the most beautiful buildings in the village, located outside the historic part of the village. The property dates from the seventeenth century. It was used as stables, shed and storage for agricultural implements. In the 1990s, the Casa del Apero was thoroughly restored and given a new function. It now has multiple destinations and is also called the Casa de Cultura, referring to the library, the local tourist office, an exhibition space and the archaeological museum.
We especially recommend visiting the building because of the beautiful architecture with a courtyard with small boulders, an authentic wooden beamed ceiling, and the arches and pillars of rammed earth. You can visit the building freely and also go up the stairs for a beautiful viewpoint over the village.
#5 The Teatro Mecanico
One of the most remarkable sights of Frigiliana is the Teatro Mecánico. It is a mechanical puppet theater with puppets behind a window, explaining to visitors the village’s history. It’s extremely touristy and also very boring, but it’s fascinating and funny as well.
The village has several theaters, but they are hard to find. The easiest one to find is in the heart of the city on the main square near the sugar factory. This one has two windows, so even two shows. But the streets of Frigiliana hide are even more secret theaters, such as the Harem Fantastico and in Calle Alta a theater where you can peek through a hole to see a performance.
#6 Frigiliana’s ceramic panels
Twelve ceramic panels are scattered throughout the old part of Frigiliana. They tell about the history of Frigiliana – unfortunately only in Spanish – and introduce you to the three cultures of which the city is so proud.
The ceramic plaques explain to visitors the long history of the town. Even the Romans once occupied this area. The Moors built the now renowned historic center here and brought prosperity for a long time. In the sixteenth century the Christians conquered the area, but not without a fight. Not all panels are equally pleasant to look at. For example, one shows how some Moors threw themselves from the mountain top of El Fuerte so that they would not be captured or killed by the Christian conquerors.
#7 Hiking at Frigiliana
From Frigiliana there are also several walking routes to beautiful places in the area. There are hikes for different fitness levels. The shorter walks are 2.5 hours, but there are also routes of almost 7 hours.
In the heart of Frigiliana – near the mechanical puppet show and the fountain of the Plaza de las Culturas – is a sign with several walking routes in the area. You can also ask the tourist office for more information about routes. This is the hiking map on the information board:
If you don’t want to walk too far, but like a good challenge, you climb up the hill El Fuerto. The peak is 963 meters high and is located near Frigiliana. From El Fuerto you have a beautiful view over the town, Nerja and the coast.
Another walk that we can recommend is the hike to the white village Acebuchal . This picturesque village is hidden even further in the mountains and it is much smaller than Frigiliana. The village is not a big tourist attraction, but the walk is beautiful and relatively flat.
#8 Sierras de Almijara, Tejeda and Alhama
Frigiliana is located in the middle of a beautiful nature reserve, the Sierras de Almijara, Tejeda and Alhama. It is less known and popular than other nature reserves in Andalusia such as the Sierra de Nevada or Cabo de Gata. But from Frigiliana it is a must to explore the park.
The park is characterized by pine forests, vineyards, olive groves, mountain peaks, ravines, waterfalls, caves, ibex and ‘pueblos blancos‘ like Frigiliana. Many of these white villages used to be refuges for highwaymen and during the Spanish Civil War for political opponents. They are so remote that the police and the army hardly ever came here.
Hiking is the most obvious option to take in the natural beauty of the nature reserve. We already provided you with a walking map with a number of beautiful walking routes from Frigiliana. But if you have a (rental) car, you can easily drive deeper into the park to explore even more beautiful parts of it. The most challenging hike in the park is the 80-kilometer GR 242 which takes several days. Also, near Nerja are beautiful caves that you can visit and attract many visitors.