Arcos de la Frontera, one of a series of Pueblos Blancos, or white towns, in Andalusia, is easily one of the most picturesque locations we've ever encountered. From Seville, we rented a car and continued our journey southward into the province of Cádiz, a few hours drive away. Arcos is perched on a sandstone ridge and renowned for its stunning views in every direction.

A town of about 28,000 which was declared a national artistic and historic monument in 1962, Arcos' location was considered a strategic value during war with the Moors in the 12th century. We arrived in the late afternoon at Plaza del Cabildo, the center of old town Arcos, and were greeted with a sweeping view of the Guadalete Valley below, tinged with the saturated hues of golden hour.

Stunning view from Plaza del Cabildo, the center of the old town of Arcos

Stunning view from Plaza del Cabildo, the center of the old town of Arcos

Golden light washes over the white walls

Golden light washes over the white walls

The Basílica de Santa María, also in the Plaza del Cabildo, was built in the 15th century and declared a cultural heritage site in 1931

The Basílica de Santa María, also in the Plaza del Cabildo, was built in the 15th century and declared a cultural heritage site in 1931

The architecture of Arcos reflects the many occupations of its past; from the Arabs in the Middle Ages to the gothic style of the Christians in the 15th and 16th centuries. In the late afternoon, the cobblestone walkways of old town Arcos are alive with locals and visitors enjoying tapas or playing music outdoors.  

Local musicians infuse the streets with lively sounds

Local musicians infuse the streets with lively sounds

Alfresco dining along Calle Dean Espinosa

Alfresco dining along Calle Dean Espinosa

Hand-painted pottery is sold in charming boutiques

Hand-painted pottery is sold in charming boutiques

Spanish meal essentials: olives and bread

Spanish meal essentials: olives and bread

Galleries and boutiques abound in the maze of streets

Galleries and boutiques abound in the maze of streets

We purchased several of these beautiful bowls, hand painted on the inside, terra cotta on the outside

We purchased several of these beautiful bowls, hand painted on the inside, terra cotta on the outside

Almost every facade in Arcos is ridiculously picturesque 

Almost every facade in Arcos is ridiculously picturesque 

Charming displays of flower pots are a common sight in Arcos

Charming displays of flower pots are a common sight in Arcos

We made Arcos our home base for day trips around Andalusia and it was a joy to spend time in this charming locale that seems to have preserved its pace of life. Tiny gems of galleries, shops, and restaurants can be stumbled upon through the maze of streets and reveal many artisanal treasures, from delicately hand painted ceramics, woven goods, or a deliciously comforting Spanish dish.

Gambas al ajillo for lunch

Gambas al ajillo for lunch

Outdoor dining area for Bar la Carcel, where we were repeat customers many times during our stay 

Outdoor dining area for Bar la Carcel, where we were repeat customers many times during our stay 

What sights await up these stairs?

What sights await up these stairs?

One of many old arches that frame perfect views to the valley below

One of many old arches that frame perfect views to the valley below

The terrace at Parador is a great setting to indulge in wine and tapas while catching the sunset

The terrace at Parador is a great setting to indulge in wine and tapas while catching the sunset

Feast:

Bar la Carcel Calle Dean Espinosa, 18, 11630 Arcos de la Frontera, Cádiz, Spain

Highly recommended by the owner of La Casa Grande, where we stayed, Bar la Carcel ended up being our nightly dinner spot during our 3 days in Arcos. It exemplifies the charm of Arcos; friendly and warm service with authentic, regional food. 

Stay:

La Casa Grande Calle de Maldonado, 10, 11630 Arcos de la Frontera, Cádiz, Cádiz, Spain

Details from our stay at this preserved 18th century mansion; almost every room looks out to the Guadalete Valley.

Parador Arcos de la Frontera Plaza del Cabildo, 11630 Arcos de la Frontera, Spain

The Paradors located throughout Spain are original castles, palaces, convents, monasteries, fortresses and other historic buildings that have been converted into luxury hotels. Guests who stay are contributing to the upkeep of these buildings while experiencing a piece of history. The Parador in Arcos has a wide open terrace for dining and drinks, one of the best places in town to watch the sunset. 

Play:

In addition to soaking in the local food, art, and scenery, Arcos is an hour's drive from the coastal city of Cádiz. More on Arcos and our day trip to Cádiz coming up.

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