A typical pueblo blanco

Istan is a picture-perfect village tucked away in the Andalusian mountains

The white villages, or pueblos blancos as they are known in Spanish, can be found all over the south of Spain and make you feel as though you have stepped back in time.

But not all of them.

Some of them have been taken over by donkey riding tourists so much so that they feel as though they have become amusement parks. As though nobody actually lives there anymore and the locals pack up and go to their real homes after the tourists have left for the day.

Well, not Istan.

Istan is authentic in every sense of the word.

Where is Istan?

Istan is just 20kms from the town of Marbella on the Costa del Sol in Spain.

It’s in the province of Malaga which itself is in the region of Andalusia and sits up in the mountains, away from all the hustle and bustle of the beaches and tourists.

By far the easiest and most convenient way of getting there is by car since public transport is very infrequent and often unreliable.

Photographing the small pueblo blanco

Like I’ve already said, this place is authentic. Don’t expect there to be lots of things to do for tourists apart from exploring the narrow streets, taking some photos and maybe grabbing some lunch and a drink.

Row of houses

And it’s small. So it won’t take you long to see it all.

But that’s why it is so charming. It’s a small rural community living in the same way they have for generations. Between 2pm-5pm everyone will be taking a siesta so don’t expect anything to be open.

Colourful alleyway

You just have to walk around the village and you’ll come across typical whitewashed houses with plenty of colourful flowers on the walls. There are also a few viewpoints that provide stunning views over the surrounding landscape and the enormous Istan Reservoir.

View of the landscpae

Istan reservoir
The Istan Reservoir

There is also a beautiful cemetery that is open to the public during the day.

Cemetery in Istan 2
The Cemetery

Istan restaurants

On the main square, there are only two restaurants to choose from and only one of them is open during siesta time. Bar Bodega Sudamerica is open all afternoon and has great tapas and is very affordable if you’re hungry after walking around capturing this beautiful village with your camera.

The main square

If you get thirsty for some water on your way around there’s no need to stop at a bar or shop though.

Dotted around the village you will find pipes constantly flowing with water which you can drink. It’s the freshest mineral water straight from the mountain that you’ll ever find. Very refreshing on a hot summer’s day!

Drinking the miniral water from a pipe in Istan

Istan makes for a great half-day trip from Marbella

If you are in the area and have a car, then I highly recommend a trip to Istan.

It’s so close, but so far away in terms of atmosphere. The rest of this part of Spain and the Costa del Sol can get rather busy especially during the summer months.

Walking around the streets

But only 20km away from it all you can get a glimpse into the traditional side of Andalusian culture.

Even compared to other pueblos blancos, like Mijas Pueblo, it feels much more authentic.

More photos of Istan:

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