Living in Andalucía was just as I expected it to be. Long, beautiful days without a cloud in the sky, friendly people and a laid back lifestyle. Andalucía is best known for it’s famous cities like Sevilla, Granada, Málaga and Córdoba, but consider getting off the beaten track and taking a day trip to one of the many little white villages, pueblos blancos, in the Córdoba province, settled in the mountains, surrounded by olive trees.
Zuheros is a small village located in the Córdoba province, with a population of only 650. As you drive into the village there is a sign which says “el pueblo mas bonito del mundo” (the most beautiful village in the world), and it is not wrong, nestled between mountains with Moorish castle ruins clinging to the rocky edge and beautiful white homes, Zuheros is stunning.
What to do?
Take in the views
Wander through the winding, narrow streets, there are not many tourists around, so you will feel like a local. A plus is if you are visiting in spring and into summer, you will be lucky enough to see the patios and windows filled with beautiful flowers. Take a walk up to the castle ruins on the edge of the cliff, to take in the view, which goes for miles.
Zuheros is set in the Sierras Subbeticas Natural Park, making it the perfect base for hiking or climbing. The Rio Bailon Canyon is a great trail of about 5 kilometres. The riverbed was very dry during my visit (it doesn’t rain a lot in this area and gets very hot in summer, think 40°C / 104°F plus), but the rocky, scenery was stunning, with many fruit and nut trees along the way. There were amazing views looking back to the village at the start of the walk.
If you ask a local in the Córdoba region where to go walking, they will suggest the via verde. This is just one of the disused railway lines around Spain. This one in particular was historically used for olive oil production, stretching 124 kilometres through the Jaén and Córdoba provinces, starting just out of the city of Jaén and finishing in Puente Genil, a small town in Córdoba, it is the longest via verde in Andalucía. I have walked part of this route from Baena to Luque Station to Zuheros, which is very picturesque with mountain views, of course lots of olive trees and rolling rural fields. The route itself is easy, mostly flat and suitable for either walking or biking. It is very quiet, so makes for a peaceful walk.
Cueva de los Murciélagos
Cueva de los Murciélagos means the cave of the bats, is the famous cave near Zuheros, with Neolithic paintings and it is located only 4 kilometres up the road from Zuheros, offering more great views over the region. This cave extends for 2 kilometres, taking you 63 metres below sea level. The tours are only in Spanish and lots of stairs but they are well worth it!
Where to eat?
Cafes by the castle
Beside the castle there is a cafe with outdoor seating. Order lunch or a drink to cool down and take in the view, it is a beautiful spot to sit and observe.
This restaurant and cheese factory is just outside of Zuheros. If you like goats cheese (or want to try) this is the place to go. The cheese is from free range and organic goats from local farms. There is also a shop if you fancy trying or buying some cheese to take home and enjoy later.
Zuheros is really a postcard picture village, offering a truely authentic Andalucían experience.