Some of the houses in Setenil de las Bodegas are built straight into the mountain itself
Setenil de las Bodegas, or simply Setenil, is a small village nestled in the Andalusian mountains in the south of Spain.
It’s part of the province of Cadiz and is home to around only 3000 people, so it is the definition of a sleepy Spanish village.
The good old-fashioned siesta is still a staple here and because of that, between 2pm – 5pm the streets are practically deserted apart from the delicious smell still lingering in the air from grandma’s lunchtime cooking.
It has managed to avoid becoming over-run with tourists, unlike Ronda which lies just under 20km away to the south. You may find one or two wandering around, cameras at the ready but in general, it’s an authentic Pueblo Blanco run by, and for, the locals.
Houses built into the mountain
The thing that sets Setenil de las Bodegas apart from all of the other white-washed rural Spanish villages, is the way they have built their homes into the side of the mountain.
The houses and buildings that look as if they are being swallowed by the surrounding landscape were built by expanding natural caves and adding a single wall to the opening.
The single wall that encloses the cave features all of the same things your house does; a front door, windows etc… Which makes it look as if the house is slowly being reclaimed by nature.
The reason for doing this is to take advantage of the natural cooling a cave provides during the very hot summers.
Some even use natural rocky outcrops hanging over the front of the building to provide added shade and protection from the sun that can push the temperature to 40 degrees Celsius in the summer.
Getting to Setenil de las Bodegas
Really the only way to get to Setenil is by car. Like I said, it’s not such a popular tourist destination and being so small it doesn’t really have good (any) public transportation options.
If you do have access to a car and are heading there from the province of Malaga, then drive towards Ronda and from there it’s only a 17.8km drive further on.
If you are coming from the Seville side of things, then you still head towards Ronda but you will come across Setenil 17.8km before you get to Ronda.
It’s reasonably well signed-posted when you get close so it’s not too hard to find.
Restaurants in Setenil de las Bodegas
There are a few restaurants to choose from in the village, but not many.
The one we ate at, and that I can vouch for as being very good, is called El Bandolero.
It is built under one of the large rocky outcrops so makes the experience even more exciting. The chicken stock soup with mint and sherry from nearby Jerez was particularly good. Also the smoked cod, smoked salmon and roasted pepper toasts made a great light lunch.
Parking and driving through Setenil
Here’s where things get a little more difficult to deal with.
As you enter the village there are signs for a public carpark which I would recommend you follow. After going along what seemed like the scenic route, following the winding roads around the mountain, you end up back in the village at an underground carpark.
It costs €1.50 per hour and is probably your best bet when it comes to finding a parking space.
On the other hand though, leaving Setenil can be a little more tricky.
Our GPS was getting a little (very) confused and we ended up in the heart of the village trying to squeeze our car through ever-narrowing roads until we just couldn’t go any further.
If this happens to you then I hope you are a confident driver because I ended up having to reverse up the tiny streets for about 300 meters whilst dodging parked cars until I found a place to turn around.
Don’t let it put you off though, just maybe plan your route out of the village a little better than we did now you know GPS can be questionable in Setenil.