Frigiliana is a quaint, picturesque little village in Andalusia, perched on a hill with stunning views of the sparkling Mediterranean coastline and the surrounding countryside. Known for its beautiful white-washed houses, narrow cobblestone streets and Moorish architecture, it is often considered to be the prettiest village in Andalusia. Despite being a small village, it is well-equipped for the many tourists who come to visit it. Located 60 kilometres (37 miles) east of Malaga and just a few kilometres north of Nerja, Frigiliana is an easily reachable must-visit destination.
Is Frigiliana worth visiting?
Absolutely. Frigiliana is an idyllic example of the typical Andalusian White Villages, locally known as Pueblos Blancos. It is well worth the small detour when visiting Andalusia. The white walled houses boast colourful doors and balconies adorned with vibrant flower arrangements. Walking around this picturesque town feels like walking around inside a beautiful painting.
Frigiliana is also a typical village where every corner you turn you see something nice and beautiful. Wandering around without a map will spontaneously bring you to yet another viewpoint to admire the surrounding area, the rooftops of the village and the turquoise blue Mediterranean sea in the distance. Don’t worry about getting properly lost here, this is not Barcelona, Paris or London.
Even though the town is relatively close to the Costa del Sol coastline with its bustling beaches and cities, it remains a relatively quiet village that has managed to maintain its local character and where you can still find a reasonable balance between history, sustainable tourism and nature.
The history of Frigiliana goes way, way back. The area was inhabited by man for many centuries as proven by the human remains that were discovered in the nearby Nerja Caves. Later, it was the Romans who fortified and named the town.
However, it wasn’t until the arrival of the Moors in the 8th century that the area of Frigiliana gained special attention and started to develop more economically. The main economy at that time was the production of oil, grapes, silk and figs.
After the Reconquista, the Christians, Muslims and Sephardic Jews coexisted peacefully, living and working side by side for quite some time while having a major positive influence on one another. That coexistence is still celebrated today in the Three Cultures Festival.
Together with the food culture, the legacy of the Moors is still very noticeable today in the Mudéjar and Moorish architecture, especially in the old town. In fact, it is the one village in the region that has best managed to retain this Arab legacy. In later times, the economy changed into the cultivation of sugar cane and the production of molasses and honey.
In 1982 Frigiliana gained the prize of most beautiful village in Spain. We think it still is.
Things to do in Frigiliana
Frigiliana is divided into two parts; the upper part which is known as the ‘Old Moorish Quarter’ and the lower slightly more modern part which is located, well, in the lower section of town.
The main highlight of Frigiliana is to wonder around town and to explore the small labyrinth of narrow cobblestoned streets that soon lead you to yet another wonderful viewpoint. Be prepared to walk a bit and climb some stairs while getting wonderfully ‘lost’. Regular shoes, sneakers or closed sandals will be fine for this.
Stroll through The Old Quarter or Barribarto
Taking a stroll through the Old Quarter, also known as the Moorish Quarter or Barribarto will take you back to a bygone era. The quaint, beautiful little squares, the narrow cobblestone alleys with Moorish patterns, the various fountains, the cozy terraces as well as the wonderful viewpoints are all just waiting to be discovered by you.
It is this area that attracts visitors from around the world who come to marvel at the white washed façades with their colourful doors, balconies and pot plants everywhere.
While discovering the charm of the Old Quarter you will encounter various highlights such as the Old Fountain, the San Antonio Church and the Botanical Gardens, as listed and explained in more detail further down in this post.
But apart from a self-guided tour, if you would like even more info in the form of live explanations, another option to visit all the highlights of Frigiliana is with a local guide. Available in various languages, these walking tours which take about 1.5 hours can be booked in advance either here or here.
The church of San Antonio
You’ll find the church of San Antonio de Padua in the Calle Real in the heart of the Moorish Quarter. Built in the 17th century on top of the remains of a mosque, it is considered the main church of Frigiliana. It’s a beautiful building, with the bell tower being the old minaret of the mosque and the inside wooden coffered ceiling in the Mudéjar style.
Up until 2022 the church used to have a white washed façade in accordance with the rest of the village, but after some renovations it now reveals the original brick work once again.
The Old Fountain
The Old Fountain or Fuente Vieja dates back to the 17th century. Located in the Moorish Quarter on the Plaza de la Fuente Vieja, a side street off Calle Real, the fountain was constructed by Don Iñigo Manrique de Lara, the first count of Frigiliana in 1640. His coat of arms can still be seen engraved in the fountain. It was built to provide drinking water for the inhabitants and their cattle. You can still drink from it to this day.
Santa Fiora Botanical Garden
Inaugurated in 2010, this small botanical garden is at the entrance to the historical Old Quarter. It was created to showcase plants that were useful to the people living in this area over the centuries. The garden contains a variety of flora like sugar cane, grasses and olive trees as well as herbs like thyme, rosemary and oregano.
Even though it’s small, it’s worth a short visit when going to the old town as it also boasts some wonderful panoramic views.
Visit the Palace of the Counts
The Palace of the Counts or the Palacio de los Condes, also known as El Ingenio, is a large building in the Renaissance style located in the central area of Frigiliana. It was built at the end of the 16th century by the Manrique de Lara family and is currently the only remaining factory in Europe still producing cane honey. The building stands out, not only because of its large size but also because it is one of the few buildings not painted white.
Discover the Ceramic Panels
In the Barribarto Quarter, by means of drawings and text in Spanish, 12 panels narrate the events that took place in the months leading up to the Battle of the Peñon in 1569. Locally known as azulejos, these panels are visual storytellers captivating the essence of that period.
Installed in 1960 as part of the restoration of the Moorish Quarter, you can find these 12 panels embedded in the walls of the houses around that part of town. Google Lens will be able to help you translate them if you don’t know Spanish. For that to work you’ll need an internet connection on the spot. Get your international mobile data eSIM here.
Admire the viewpoints
The village is set on the hillside of the Sierra de Tejada-Almijara at 300 metres (nearly 1000 ft) above sea level where the panoramic views are stunning. While strolling through town you’ll come across some beautiful viewpoints where it’s nice to just sit down, relax and marvel at the views of the coastline, the surrounding hills and the rooftops of Frigiliana.
Some particular viewpoints that are well worth exploring are the Mirador de Santo Cristo, Mirador de la Avenida de Carlos Cano, Mirador de la Casa del Apero and the Panorámica Frigiliana.
The best view of almost all of Frigiliana from one place is from the Mirador de la Carretera de Torox, which is located a bit out of town, about a 1,5 kilometre (or 1 mile) uphill walk or drive from the city centre.
Castillo de Lizar
If you have time, you can climb the hill towards the Castle of Lizar, however, very little of it remains as it was demolished by the Christians in 1569. It is/was strategically situated high above town where even though there is little left to see of the actual castle, the location still provides stunning views and is worth a visit, if you fancy a steep climb.
Best tips for your visit to frigiliana
- Good shoes: A visit to Frigiliana means lots of walking around on cobblestone streets, hiking up and down stairs and steep up and downhills. Good shoes are essential for your visit if you want to comfortably explore the town and its highlights.
- How long: Count on a minimum of 2 hours to half a day to visit Frigiliana. You’ll want to make the most of your visit to able to fully appreciate the main highlights. If you intend on walking uphill or hiking in the area we would recommend to stay at least a full day. But just for the centre of town you are fine with half a day, including having something to eat or drink.
- Market day: At the Plaza de las Tres Culturas there is a weekly market on Thursday mornings.
- Accessibility: It might be difficult to get around the narrow and steep streets and definitely the steep stairs if you have reduced mobility.
How to get to Frigiliana
How to get to Frigiliana will largely depend on where you’re coming from, but the easiest way to visit is either by car or with a guided tour. These guided tours usually also include a visit to the Nerja Caves and / or a visit to the beautiful town of Nerja.
Here is a breakdown of how to best visit Frigiliana:
If you are in a car or camper van, either your own or a rental, take the N-7/E-15 motorway towards Nerja, then take exit 933 and continue along the MA-5105 towards Frigiliana.
Parking: Following the MA-5105, at the foot of the historical centre, you’ll reach the paid public parking garage, open 24h. Street parking is free and plenty, however, during weekends, holidays and peak season spaces may become scarce and you might have to park further away from the centre. We visited out of season and already had to park a bit of town. But we like walking anyway, so this was a non-issue for us.
If you’d like to visit Frigiliana by public transport from places other than Nerja you’ll need to catch a bus from your area (Malaga, Granada, Motril, etc) to Nerja. In Nerja you’ll need to change bus and jump on the bus to Frigiliana, or catch a taxi. For a timetable of the bus to Nerja from your area, visit this website. The stop for the bus from Nerja to Frigiliana is located next to the Nerja bus station, so changing is easy.
Nerja to Frigiliana public shuttle
There is a separate public shuttle service from Nerja to Frigiliana and back. It has a regular schedule from Monday to Saturday, but on Sundays and public holidays it runs less frequent. You can check the timetable here. The bus station in Nerja is located on the Calle Antonio Jiménez 37. This ticket is paid directly on the bus.
With a guided tour
If you don’t have your own transport readily available we can highly recommend joining a guided tour, but even if you have a car or camper parked somewhere else, finding parking in and around Frigiliana might be an issue, especially during peak season. Maybe you’d like to just kick back and let someone else do the driving and guiding for a change.
A guided visit to Frigiliana is usually combined with a visit to the Nerja Caves as they are just a few kilometres/miles apart.
Another advantage of taking an organised tour is that it saves you the stress of arriving on time for your entrance slot at the caves. So for peace of mind and to make the most of your day trip to Frigiliana, have a look at these guided tours. There are plenty, so browse around for the one which works best for you:
Various guided tours to Frigiliana depart from Malaga. To make the most of your day we recommend going for a full-day trip which will include a visit to the Nerja Caves and / or the town of Nerja. The Balcón de Europa is a must see attraction of Nerja, as well as a stroll through the Old Town and its many other highlights.
- Combine Frigiliana with Nerja and the Nerja Caves including a skip the line ticket. Join this tour or this tour.
- Join this excursion covering the Balcón de Europa, the Nerja Caves and Frigiliana.
- Discover Frigiliana and surrounds with a hike and a wine tasting tour.
- Go on a private day trip to Frigiliana, Nerja and the Nerja Caves.
- This white village tour combines Frigiliana, Nerja (town) and the village of El Acebuchal.
- Combine a visit to Frigiliana with the Nerja Caves including a skip the line ticket.
- If you want to include the beautiful town of Nerja, you can go with this private tour which includes a visit to Frigiliana, Nerja and the Nerja Caves.
- Join a small group tour here to visit Nerja and the beaches, the caves and Frigiliana.
From other destinations
Here are a few options from other places in Andalusia to visit Frigiliana:
- From Almuñecar to Frigiliana including a Valle Tropical wine tasting.
- From Torremolinos or Benalmadena, this excursion visits the Nerja Caves and Frigiliana.
- From Marbella, explore Frigiliana, Nerja and the Nerja Caves. Book here.
Best time to visit Frigiliana
Frigiliana is beautiful to visit any time of year, but depending on your personal preference regarding weather, crowds and events, you may want to consider the local climate and cultural calendar.
Andalusia is known for its very hot and sunny summer months (June – September) where lots of people from all over the world drift to the coast for a holiday. Frigiliana is close to the coast so it attracts large crowds of people during these months. The temperature will also be pretty warm so keep that in mind if visiting in high summer. At the end of August the famous ‘Festival de Tres Cultural‘ takes place attracting even more people, so the town will be exceptionally crowded at this time.
Spring (March – May) and fall / autumn (October – November) are great months to visit this white village as the temperature is still warm and pleasant but not scorching hot. During spring everything will be in bloom and autumn welcomes the harvest time providing different hues and colours to the countryside.
Winter is mild, although it is more unpredictable regarding rain, wind and clouds. Frigiliana will definitely be less crowded in winter so you can enjoy a wonderful and relaxing day wandering the streets of the Moorish quarter where you’ll also have much more chance of getting a table on a whim for a tapa or coffee.
Enjoy your visit!