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Setenil de las Bodegas is a small town in the province of Cadiz, bordering the providence of Malaga in southern Spain. According to the 2018 census, its population is made up of about 2800 welcoming Spaniards.
We knew we had to visit this unfamiliar town once we saw the spectacular images online.
Getting to Setenil de Las Bodegas
To reach Setenil de las Bodegas we drove an hour and forty-five minutes from Seville along narrow, winding roads past mountains and cliffs. The GPS gave us three routes to choose from.
We took the back roads which allowed us to enjoy the natural landscape and glimpse the “Ruta de Los Pueblos Blancos” (White Town Route). Other than a couple of tourist buses, traffic was non-existent. Frankly, I thought we were lost until I saw the tourist buses.
It is best to arrive early as parking is scarce in the small town. The nearest parking spot we found was within 2 miles of the popular streets of “Calle Cueva del Sol” (Sun Cave Street) and “Calle Cueva de la Sombra” (Shade Cave Street).
About Setenil de Las Bodegas
Setenil de Las Bodegas is a place like no other. Established in the early 14th century, they built whitewashed houses and shops into the cliffs. The house roofs are the overhanging cliffs and the inside of the homes and shops are rock walls.
The individual nooks are small but proper for their use. Basically, all they need to build is a facade. Are they safe to live in? I’m sure they are. After all, they have been there since the 14th century.
There is a river, “Rio Trejo,” that divides the two main roads. It is steep with very little water flowing. One side of the river is Calle Cueva del Sol, where the cliff overhangs the residences and shops, but it’s not a completely closed cave.
On the other side of the river is Calle Cueva de la Sombra. With cliffs on both sides, Calle Cueva de la Sombra is a pass-thru cave with residences and shops throughout. These streets are very narrow and open to vehicle travel, but it is only for residents and deliveries.
Local Shops and Restaurants
Souvenir shops, restaurants, bars, bakeries, ice cream parlors—even an electronics store are all available in the narrow streets of Setenil de las Bodegas. The place was crawling with tourists by 11:00 am.
We could imagine the resident’s frustration while trying to get to work through the congested road in the morning. On the other hand, the locals are also likely grateful to the visitors since there are so many family-owned souvenir shops and restaurants along both roads.
Every business owner we spoke with lived locally and were happy to be able to sustain their family within their small community. However, many other residents travel to another city to work.
We stopped for lunch at La Dehesa del Iberico (Museo del Jamon y El Vino), a small deli owned by two brothers. The decor fits the cozy deli well and the staff is friendly. We enjoyed just-sliced Iberian ham on freshly baked bread accompanied by newly brewed coffee while listening to the young lady narrate the delis beginning.
They sliced the ham right before our eyes and allowed us to taste it before ordering. We also bought some Iberian ham, vacuum-packed for international travel, along with a couple of bottles of their local wine. We found it to be some of the best in the area.
Winemaking in Setenil de Las Bodegas is one of the primary sources of income and their prices are very good. You can’t go wrong with a delicious lunch for less than 10 euros and only 5 euros for a bottle of local wine.
Other shops, like “La Cueva de la Sombra” (Shadow Cave) rely on the natural canvas for decor. The only decorative items were the plates they sell that are handmade by local artists.
Natural forms of the mossy stones make a perfect backdrop to display such beautiful handmade art. Their prices are great and the shop attendants are always eager to help you with proper packaging for safe travels.
Though we did a day trip, we found a few local affordably priced hotels in Setenil de Las Bodegas. It must be lovely to spend the night in this unusual town in Spain. We will most definitely book an overnight stay the next time we visit.
Sweeping Views From a Hilltop Castle
Setenil de las Bodegas elevation is 2100 ft. Way up high at the hilltop stands a castle, Torreon del Homenaje. It dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries and used to be a fortress.
Views of the town and luscious countryside are visible from the highest peak of the hilltop and are sure to mesmerize you. However, it is not for the faint of heart. Reaching the top takes a lot of strength and effort. The inclines are steep and there are many steps to climb.
Setenil de las Bodegas is an extraordinary place in Spain well worth visiting. When there be sure to enjoy the picturesque views of balconies lined with planters full of colorful flowers while walking along the cobblestone streets.
Also. spend some time meeting with the locals to learn about their culture, their beginning, and how they live in Setenil de Las Bodegas. Ask them for recommendations on where to eat and what to see and do. Who better than a local to give you the best recommendations? I promise you won’t regret it.
Book This Trip
Ready to plan your extraordinary excursion to Setenil de las Bodegas? Prepare for your trip to Spain with tips on the best restaurants to visit, hotel and VRBO accommodations, local advice on how to get around and more through TripAdvisor and Travelocity.
Find the best flight deals, train tickets and ground transportation options through OMIO Travel Partner.
- La Dehesa del Iberico: https://ladehesadeliberico.com
- Castillo Setenil de Las Bodegas: http://andaluciarustica.com/castillo_de_setenil_de_las_bodegas.htm
Authors Bio: Debbie Centeno is a freelance writer who enjoys traveling abroad and locally. After several trips and helping friends and family with itineraries for independent travels, she started a travel blog, Traveler Wows (https://travelerwows.com). She shares her experience and offers tips on places and landmarks to visit. As well as reviews on airlines, hotels, and restaurants.