Frigiliana is considered one of the prettiest villages in Andalucia and in Spain, with white houses and cobbled streets.
Below is my guide to help you plan your visit, including map, access, tips and photos.
All the best things to do in Frigiliana !
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Why visit the white village of Frigiliana on Costa del Sol?
Is Frigiliana worth visiting?
Yes, in my opinion, Frigiliana is worth a visit.
The village is well maintained and it combines white houses, hills, gorge and seaviews.
It is very touristic but large enough that you can find quieter charming streets.
Why are the houses white in Frigiliana?
There are 3 reasons:
- When Christians took over from the Moors, they painted it white for God to see that it was now a Christian village (as it is considered a holy color)
- the white reflects the heat, making the houses cooler in the summer
- The lime used in the whitewashing of the walls is antibacterial, repelling insects
Since 1971, a law imposed by the mayor forces houses to be maintained white.
Video - Virtual visit
Below is a short video to give you an idea of what a visit could look like
About the name
Frigiliana does not mean anything in Spanish.
There are 2 main theories about the origin of the name:
- It is mostly believed to be derived from the name of the land owner Frexinius
- or It could have Roman origins, based on Fraxinus in latin, meaning 'place of the ash tree'
Brief history and facts
- Frigiliana is located 300m above sea level, the hill El Fuerte reaches 976m.
- Its current population is around 3500
- The caves around the village were occupied in Prehistoric times
- It started being built around 900 BC by the Phoenicians and then settled by the Romans
- In 711 AD the Moors took over the peninsula. They added the irrigation system and drew the basic layout of the village
- In 1492, the Catholic Kings pushed away the Moors. Some Moors became catholic and were called Moriscos. Many of them gathered above what is now Frigiliana
- On 11th June 1569, the bloody 'Battle of Frigiliana' took place
- From then on, Christian settlers occupied the village
- In 1916 the road between Nerja and Frigiliana started being built
- In 1930, during the civil war, many churches were burnt
More photos after the planning tips.
Planning Tips & Map - Frigiliana, Andalucia
Where is Frigiliana located? Map
- Located in Andalucia,
- On the Costa del Sol
- Just North of Nerja, East of Malaga
- Nerja to Frigiliana = 15min drive
- Malaga to Frigiliana = 50min drive
- Granada to Frigiliana = 1h15 drive
- Sevilla to Frigiliana = 2h45 drive
- Below is a map to help you get oriented:
All my favorite locations are included (with GPS coordinates and practical tips) in my Travel Guide eBook that helps you easily plan your road trip around Andalucia:
Plan your dream road trip around Andalucia!
How to get to Frigiliana
- by car - this is the easiest way - the road is wide, easy, and in good conditions
- by taxi from Nerja - it is quite close to the town of Nerja, so the taxi fare would not be crazy
- by bus - there is public transportation but they are not frequent
- by organized tour - from Malaga, Marbella or Granada - day trips normally combine Nerja and Frigiliana - see options
Need to rent a car in Spain?
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Parking at Frigiliana
- There is an underground carpark right next to the old village entrance
- Otherwise, most cars park on the main road under the old village
- I recommend visiting early (before lunch time) so as to avoid searching of a parking space
How to get around Frigiliana
The village is best explored on foot. This is how you discover the best views and the most beautiful streets.
However, if you cannot climb stairs, there are 2 options to see a bit more:
- the touristic train - a 30 minute loop in Spanish and English going around the South part of the town
- tuk-tuks which cannot take stairs but still take you on the upper parts for nice views.
2 sections to explore
When facing the Palacio, you have 2 options:
- go left to visit the old part of the village - this is where you will find historical buildings, and the 12 plaques
- go right and visit the new part of the village - this is where you have the gorge/river views and views of the old part of the village
How long to visit Frigiliana
I recommend half a day to visit Frigiliana and to add a meal. There are great restaurants with beautiful views.
For example, to avoid the crowds, you could explore in the morning and enjoy lunch.
But if you enjoy sunset, you could visit in the afternoon and stay for dinner
Best time to visit Frigiliana
Depending on how you want to experience the village, here are a few things to consider:
- It is a very popular location - to visit when less crowded, arrive before 10am and after 4pm
- It has a great orientation to watch sunset
- There is a weekly market at the bottom of the village every Thursdays
- There are many festivals throughout the year such as: The Three Kings in January with a parade, the Carnival in February with processions, the Fiesta de San Antonio mid-June, the Festival of the 3 cultures on the last weekend of August
- Public toilets across from underground carpark
- It can be extremely hot in Summer. Avoid middays.
- Frigiliana is claimed to have 320 days’ sunshine every year.
Where to stay
Thanks to its beauty and altitude, Frigiliana is also a great place to spend a few nights.
It offers cooler temperatures in Summer and has charming Bed and breakfasts.
Check out the best rated accommodations in Frigiliana.
Alternatively, Nerja is also a great destination and only 15 minutes away - Check out the best rated accommodations in Nerja.
Looking for the best place to stay in Andalucia?
#1 to 7 - Best things to do in Frigiliana - the old town
The best thing to do in Frigiliana is just to walk around and admire the beautiful views and the charm for the village.
But here are a few things to pay attention to as you explore.
#1 - Elect the most beautiful streets
There is a big effort in the village to keep the houses in good condition and to make the narrow streets more attractive with plants and flowers.
Take side streets and get lost in the hope of finding the most charming street of all. In the picture below, you can see my favorite one.
#2 - Collect pavement drawings
Don't just look at the houses. Look down.
The other interest of the village are the beautiful cobbled streets.
However, don't be fooled. They look old and historic but the streets were paved only recently. Until 50/60 years ago, they were made of dirt and gravel.
But as they built them, they were really creative and you can find many different shapes.
#3 - Notice the fountains
Throughout the village, you can find fountains from various period.There is
- the Fuente Vieja (Old Fountain) built by the Moors and restored in 1640.
- the old Roman fountain (very old but not especially beautiful) with a source in the mountains.
- the fountain of 3 cultures (to be seen further in the article).
- and more...
#4 - Travel back in time - find the 12 plaques
Throughout the village you can also find ancient looking ceramic plaques.
Once again, they are not very old. They were installed for the National Award of Beautification.
They depict the most famous moments in the history of Frigiliana.
For example, the one below is a map of the area in the mid-16th century. It will allow you to better understand the other plaques.
#5 - Climb stairs
Be courageous, make sure you climb the stairs to reach some of the most beautiful views over the village and towards the sea.
It is always fun, to go up and wonder what you will discover.
#6 - Mirador de Santo Cristo
One of my favorite views is just below the Mirador de Santo Cristo.
There is a 180° panorama with the hills, white house, sea and beautiful flowers.
#7 - Shop artisanal
The village is also home to artists and artisan.
You can find many items to take back home, especially ceramics.
#8 to 16 - Main monuments in Frigiliana
As you walk around the older part of town, you will find several monuments worth stopping for.
Below is a selection of what to look for.
#8 - Palacio de los Condes de Frigiliana a.k.a. El Ingenio
The main building you will notice is right in the middle of the village.
The 2000 sqm 'Palacio de los Condes de Frigiliana' has its first build in the 16th century, as a home for the Manrique de Lara family, in Renaissance style. They used some material from the old castle to build it.
Later, it was turned into a sugar factory producing syrup.
At the time, there were mills on the hills above to grind grain and sugar cane.
It is also known as El Ingenio and the House of the counts.
#9 - The old 'silo' (granary)
Another beautiful feature are the remains of a granary "Los Reales Pósitos".
Built in the 18th century, it was used to store surplus during the good harvest years to redistribute during the bad ones.
A warehouse may have been there before, since 1640.
Today houses have replaced it and only the arches remain.
#10 - Penon de La Sabina
In the middle of the old village, look up or down. You will notice a historic rock called "The Sabina".
Heavy rain moved it in 1936 causing a big scare. It was then attached to the bedrock with steel cables.
#11 - Museo Arqueológico - Casa del Apero
Just at the beginning of the new part of the village, you can find the small archaeological museum in Casa del Apero.
Inside, you will find displays about Frigiliana from the Neolithic times to today.
It closes between 2 and 4pm.
#12 - Church of Saint Anthony of Padua (Parroquia de San Antonio de Padua)
As I wrote earlier, several churches were burnt during the war.
One remains: La Iglesia de San Antonio. It was built in the 17th century under Mason Bernardo de Godoy, in Renaissance style.
It has across-shaped nave that divides it into three different aisles.
Don't miss the ceiling in the Mudéjar style (with wooden trusses), the bell tower (which was a minaret from when it served as a mosque).
However, inside, almost everything only dates from the 1940s onwards.
#13 - El Torreón
100m from the church, opposite the town hall is one of the oldest buildings in the village: El Torréon.
The Moors were using it as military barracks and then it became a granary.
#14 - The Castle of Lizar
If you have the time and the energy, you can climb to the top of the hill where the ruins of the castle are (steep).
There is really not much left, but the views overlooking Frigiliana and Nerja are worth it.
#15 - El Teatro Mecanico
Below the palace and the old village, don't miss the small circular "theater" that plays upon paying with a coin.
Several windows have different scenes. The one in the picture below is "The Moor and his Parrot".
If you enjoy those, there are apparently more in the heart of the village but they are difficult to find.
#16 - Plaza de la Tres Culturas
And in that same area is the Place of the 3 cultures.
You will hear the mention of the 3 cultures very often about Frigiliana. It is even sometimes called the ‘Village of theThree Cultures’.
This is to reflect the hundreds of years in which Muslims, Christians and Jews lived here in tolerance and harmony.
The fountain represents just that.
Around there, you can enjoy beautiful of the valley:
And keep track of your own trip!
#17 - Have lunch at one of the Frigiliana Restaurants
Frigiliana has several well rated restaurants.
It is a great place to soak in the sun and enjoy a meal with a view.
However, book your table or go early if you want to get them.
I don't often mention restaurants on this website, but with my parents we looooooved our experience at the Garden Restaurant. The food was excellent and the view exceptional.
#18 to 21 - Things to do in the area
As I wrote earlier, I think half a day is a good time to visit Frigiliana.
Therefore, you can combine with other attractions in the area.
#18 - Frigiliana River walk - Rio Chillar
Next to the village is a gorge with a river: Rio Chillar.
There are hiking trails in the area.
#19 - Cueva de Nerja
The Nerja cave is a series of chambers with impressive stalactites and stalagmites. One of the most Impressive rock formations is the column of Hercules, due to its size: 32m (105ft) in height and 18m (59ft) in diameter.
Inside this cave, some of the oldest works of art known to man have been found. But this section is not open to the public.
In Summer you should prebook on their official website. 400 stairs.
Open 9am to 4:30pm - 12 €
#20 - Nerja Aqueduct
Considered as "a historic jewel of Spanish architecture", the aqueduct was built in the 19th century to aid the industrial revolution. It is 4 stories high and has 37 arches. It was intended to carry water from Nerja town to the local sugar refinery in Maro. The factory is now closed but the aqueduct is used for local irrigation.
#21 - Nerja
Nerja is a popular coastal town at the Eastern limit of the Costa del Sol. It is surrounded by beautiful mountains and has not been damaged by tourism construction.
The old quarter of the town is typical with narrow streets and white houses.
Its most famous feature is the Balcony of Europe, a promenade on the edge of the cliff.
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