Frigiliana has been voted as “Spain’s most beautiful and well-preserved village” several times and, honestly, that’s the least interesting thing about it. This small whitewashed village sitting pretty on the outskirts of Alhama Natural Park (just a few miles north of the best beach resorts in Spain) boasts the most unusual and intriguing history in the region. It was built by the Moors, controlled by the Christians, and briefly occupied by the Jews, all of whom briefly coexisted peacefully together in the 15th century.
Today, it’s celebrated with the annual Festival of Three Cultures which draws people from far and wide to its picturesque streets, along with its excellent tapas, Andalusian views, and Alhama hiking trails. We cover exactly what to see, where to stay, and where to eat in Frigiliana, Spain.
Top Things To Do In Frigiliana
As a small mountain village at the base of the Sierra de Almijara, Frigiliana can be explored in just one day. Therefore, a simple yet satisfying stroll around the cobbled streets is the best way to get acquainted. Its undeniable beauty and rich history will be revealed as you go.
The central streets of Frigiliana make up the Old Town where the always-freshly-painted whitewash walls provide a bold backdrop for its historic features. These include the ornamental fountains from the town’s Roman, Moorish, and Jewish periods and a few centuries-old religious buildings that survived the Battle of Frigiliana in 1569. The multifaceted history of the Old Town is beautifully described in 12 hand-painted ceramic plaques decorating its buildings, but for a more in-depth insight, take a guided walking tour.
The Famous Streets of Frigiliana
Wandering around the peaceful streets of Frigiliana, anyone can see exactly why it’s voted the prettiest town in Spain. The mosaics decorating the cobbled lanes, the flower pots hanging off walls and around doorways, and the ceramic plaques decorating the walls add to its wistful charm. If you make the short climb to Calle Santo Cristo, you can reward yourself with gourmet fusion gastronomy served alongside unbeatable views of the town’s rooftops at The Garden Frigiliana.
As the central passage through Frigiliana, Calle Real is home to some of the town’s best restaurants, must-see landmarks like the Chapel of San Sebastián and San Antonio de Padua, and the chic boutique bed and breakfast Hotel Casa Torreon 109.
From Calle Real, climb leisurely up the steps of Calle Zacatin to find Frigiliana’s best viewpoints, admiring its sweet aesthetic details along the way. Both streets feature some of the town’s 12 ceramic plaques.
Tapas Bars in Frigiliana
Frigiliana’s rustic yet refined local tapas bars are a big part of the town’s personality, making them an essential stop for any visitor. Bar Vinos El Lagar knows how to pair tapas and wine better than anyone else in town. Plus, you can take away a selection of local artisanal treats like wine, nougat, jam, and chocolate to savor the flavors of your trip. If gin is more your tonic, then opt for Pura Cepa, a terraced tapas bar that creates delicious gin concoctions along with its artful small plates. Meanwhile, El Casino ticks all the boxes for those looking for a charming traditional family-run tapas restaurant. Remind yourself of the tipping etiquette in Spain here to ensure your waiters are fairly compensated.
Festival of Three Cultures
For four days across the last weekend of August, Frigiliana hosts the Festival of Three Cultures, a highly anticipated annual event celebrating the town’s rich mix of Christian, Islam, and Jewish heritage. The Plaza de Las Tres Culturas and the surrounding streets become abuzz with street parades, musicians, belly dancers, jugglers, and 150 street food and artisanal market stalls. Lasting from morning well into the evening, it’s a lively and fervorous affair.
Frigiliana’s Historic Highlights
Once called home by the Moors, Christians, and Jews (simultaneously), Frigiliana has a rare and interesting historical, architectural, and cultural mix of three religious groups. Spotting the influences of each as you walk around the town is a rewarding way to pass the time here.
Palacio de los Condes de Frigiliana (El Ingenio)
Stop to admire the stunning Renaissance characteristics of the 16th-century Palacio de los Condes de Frigiliana, one of the few buildings from this era in the town. It was built in part using the ashlars from the old Moorish fortress which can be seen today along with the original chapel, hall, stairs, and stables. After serving as a palace for the Count of Frigiliana, it became a sugar cane mill — the only one still standing in Europe today.
Admire Fuente Vieja (meaning Old Fountain) on your Old Town stroll as it’s arguably the most curious and charming feature. It was installed in 1640 by the then-Count of Frigiliana to supply the villagers and their animals with fresh water and it still supplies water to passersby today. Get up close to see the Count’s coat of arms that proudly crowns the fountain as you fill up your water bottle.
Since Frigiliana sits on the outskirts of the Parque Natural de Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama, it’s an ideal base for keen hikers. El Fuerte (meaning The Fort) is the most popular trail, leading 7.4 kilometers (4.6 miles) from La Plaza del Ingenio to the fort where a pivotal battle between the Christians and Moors once took place. With an elevation gain of around 650 meters, it’s moderately challenging and the views of the surrounding sierras are greatly rewarding.
Day Trips & Activities
From the Costa del Sol to the Costa Tropical, Málaga’s La Axarquía region is bursting with beauty, history, and culture. Discover it all on these day trips from Frigiliana.
Alhama Natural Park (Sierra de Alahama)
Get lost in 157 square miles of pine forests and mountain peaks in the Sierras of Tejeda, Almijara, and Alhama Natural Park which reaches over 1,500 meters at its highest point before dramatically dropping into the Mediterranean Sea. Frigiliana is the perfect base from which to hike the park’s trails. While the ‘La Maroma Loop’ trail will lead you to Alhama’s highest peak, the ‘Rio Verde’ trail will guide you into the park’s towering gorge.
El Acebuchal, Andalusia
Stop in El Acebuchal on your Costa del Sol road trip (which lies just 4.3 miles northwest of Frigiliana) to see how this tiny hamlet became known as the ghost village of Málaga. Today, it has around 30 occupied buildings, each of which is beautifully restored by local families to embody the same charm as its Andalusian neighbors. Having restored much of the hamlet himself, Bar El Acebuchal owner Antonio Garcia provides great insight into El Acebuchal’s history along with delicious local dishes.
Consisting of impressive mountains like Sierra de Almijara, quaint towns like Frigiliana, and tucked-away beaches like Playa Carabeillo, the Málaga Province’s La Axarquía area is well worth exploring. The best way to do so is by car (preferably a 4×4 for extra oomph up the steep sierras), which will give you the freedom to explore at your own pace. Plus, some of the best views in the region can be seen through your own windshield.
East of Nerja, Spain’s Tropical Coast surprises visitors with quaint seaside towns like La Harradura known for its Bombay Sapphire-tinted water and palm-tree-lined bay. After a day spent relaxing in the tropical paradise, sunbathers peel themselves from the water’s edge and wander around the seafront boutiques. At the same time, hikers set off for a sunset hike around the headlands. A day in La Herradura ends best with fresh paella at the beachfront restaurant La Sardina.
Caves in Nerja
Lost for thousands of years, the Nerja Caves (a three-mile-long cavern system) were rediscovered by adventurous youths in 1959. Inside, they found the world’s largest limestone column measuring 32 meters in height. Now, this impressive sight is open to the public on tours that allow you to go deep into the caves and discover its natural obscurities for yourself. Combine your Frigiliana visit with a Nerja Caves exploration on this private day tour, and finish the day with refined Andalusian cuisine at Oliva.
Stays In Frigiliana
Frigiliana is a popular day-trip destination, which means there is limited overnight accommodation in the town itself. However, there are several luxury boutique townhouses and villas in and around Frigiliana that make a homely base for exploring everything from the coastal cliffs of Maro to the hiking trails of the Sierras Natural Park.
- Hotel Casa Torreon 109 is a light and airy Moorish casa in the heart of Frigiliana with unbeatable views of the Málaga sunset from its private terrace infinity pool.
- Boutique family-run B&B Miller’s of Frigiliana combines a familial feel with high-end services like in-house massages and afternoon tea on the terrace.
- Style and exclusivity go hand in hand at Villa Eda, a seven-bed seven-bath luxury villa between Frigiliana and Nerja featuring a pool, tennis court, and sea views.
- There’s something especially luxurious about the French elegance of Villa Aluz, a six-bed three-bath villa with a pool and sea views between Frigiliana and Nerja.
If you’re after a day trip to Frigiliana from Málaga, book a room at the Palacio Solecio, an award-winning boutique palace hotel, and set aside an evening for table service at the two-Michelin starred haute cuisine, Skina.