Exploring Zahara de la Sierra— Andalusia's Biggest "Pueblos Blancos" Secret Set on a Pristine Lake

Zahara de la Sierra was my most anticipated 'pueblo blanco,' and I discovered it whilst planning my trip months ago and trying to sort out which villages to choose and go to given we only rented a car for 4 days, and we were going to be based in Málaga. 

The best thing about visiting the pueblos blancos is that it's easy to base yourself anywhere if you are planning to be driving around. However, if you're not driving, it might be easier to base yourself in one of the bigger cities like Seville. 

Read: The Ultimate Guide to Seville— What to Do & See in the Andalusian Capital

Read: What to Eat in Seville from Creative Tapas Restaurants to Traditional Spanish Taverns to Churros Bars

I knew about the famous ones like Ronda and Nerja, but I knew I wanted to go somewhere new, somewhere different. 

I took a look at Google Maps, and found a lake set near the mountain range of Sierra de Grazalema, and found the town of Zahara de la Sierra. 

I saw pictures of it and my heart was set. 

I was going to make it out here. 

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There wasn't much information available online yet with other travel blogs, I probably found three or four.

Didn't matter though, I was going to plan my trip with the help of Google Maps and that was it.

On the drive through from Málaga, we spent 2 hours going through motorways and country roads, and at certain points had to share a road with a tractor. 

Once we entered a long winding road that started near the lake with the town finally in sight, the drive up was absolutely stunning. 

I couldn't wait to finally get to the town so I could get out of the car and start taking pictures.

We made a beeline for the viewpoint of Zahara de la Sierra, which had us driving up a narrow road that was barely wide enough to fit the car, and into a small carpark at the top. The views from up top were unparalleled. 

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There was a path leading up to the castle of Zahara de la Sierra as part of a hiking trail, and we made it to an open air terrace with panoramic views of the town, lake and surrounding mountain range. 

After which, we had lunch at the foot of the town at Meson Oñate, a traditional Spanish restaurant serving traditionally Andalusian cuisine with a good view from the terrace. Mind, English isn't spoken here, but in return you get a restaurant that's mostly authentically traditional.

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Truth be told, past the views and the castle, Zahara de la Sierra isn't a town packed with attractions, and one day is more than enough to explore and discover the small town.

If you have more time though, just outside of the town, there's a yacht club by the name of El Mogote where you can also have a meal, rent a canoe, jump into the lake and have a swim, and you'll not only get stunning views of the lake but also of Zahara de la Sierra nestled in the hills too.

There's also a municipal park called Área Recreativa Municipal la Playita which is also great for the family, where you can swim in the lake and have a picnic, and spend an easy afternoon there. 

I loved Zahara de la Sierra though, and is one of my most memorable pueblos blancos experiences, followed closely by Frigiliana. 

I think the biggest reason why I loved it was the sight I saw at the panoramic open air terrace, where I saw this view and it just washed me with a sense of calm. 

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There's not a lot to do, but that's the point.

Minutes turn to hours, and hours turn to days. 

And when the views from my morning hike look like this, I don't mind a single bit.


From my trip to Spain this summer, I've turned some of my photography into my brand of everyday products which you can check out below. Worldwide shipping is available so if you're looking for a tote bag or postcard to take home to remember your travels if you too have been to these parts of Spain, and if you'd like to support this passion project of mine, look no further!

View the full product catalogue at the shop here.

Flowers of Andalusia Tote Bag
24.90

The stereotypical view of the white villages of southern Spain (los pueblos blancos) includes white houses, narrow pebbled streets barely wide enough for vehicles to pass through, and the flowering bougainvillaea poking through the houses.

Frigiliana made all the pueblos blancos views I had in my mind manifest in real life.

It was stunning on every corner, but from where we parked at the foot of downtown, we had to scale a number of steps to get up to the town centre, and halfway up we saw these bougainvillaea growing out of the walls with the beautiful town in the background which was absolutely stunning and this is where I took this photograph.

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Afternoons in Seville Tote Bag
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When in Seville, we went on a walking tour to get ourselves familiarised with the city.

Read: The Ultimate Guide to Seville— What to Do & See in the Andalusian Capital

I've fallen hard for walking tours after this summer, and I'm so glad I went on 2 in Spain alone.

Across the Guadalquivir River lies the neighbourhood of Triana, so called the neighbourhood of gypsies and outcasts, where inhabitants used to identify as being from Triana before Seville. 

The draw of Triana though, apart from the flamenco flair, is Calle Betis, the riverfront promenade lined with restaurants and bars which turns into a hotspot in the evenings. 

Read: What to Eat in Seville— From Creative Tapas Restaurants to Traditional Spanish Taverns to Churros Bars

In the sleepy late afternoon though, the buildings shine in the sun as workers of each restaurant start slowly setting up for a busy evening ahead.

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The Barcelona Coffeehouse Tote Bag
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Barcelona wasn't on the itinerary this summer, but as you can imagine I have plenty photos from my stint 2 years ago. 

Read: What it Was Really Like Moving to Spain On My Own at 19

Read: What Moving Away From and Returning to Spain After 2 Years Felt Like

One of my favourite neighbourhoods in Barcelona is El Born, which is basically the Gothic Quarter except lined with local boutiques instead of kitsch tourist souvenir shops, which lends itself to a really nice bohemian atmosphere.

Read: Breaking Barcelona Down by Neighbourhood— The Best One For Your Needs

Not to mention some of the best tapas bars in the city can be found here, which is a major plus.

El Born's also where you get all the beauty of the Gothic Quarter, and I particularly like the doors and façade of shops and houses here. 

So here's a photograph of a coffeehouse in El Born, and I think this is quintessential Barcelona in a photograph.

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Vinyls in a Vintage Store Tote Bag
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When I lived in Barcelona, there were quite a few vintage clothing stores around, and this in particular was a chain of them— Flamingos Vintage Kilo. I would always walk into these stores even if I wasn't looking for anything in particular for the vibe of them. Everything about them just felt so damn cool. In this shop, I stumbled onto an area where there was a collection of vinyls, and there really is something about vinyls for me and the way they are packaged. There was no way I was leaving this store without at least a snap on the camera.

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