Arcos de la Frontera is a treat. Located in the province of Cádiz, in Andalucía, this makes for a great day trip or one-nighter if you’re in the South of Spain. We visited by driving from Sevilla when we lived there.
Arcos is one of the picturesque “pueblos blancos,” or white towns, of Andalucía. As such, it is, well, white! And full of arches! And adorable. Fun fact: In the 11th century, Arcos was a kingdom ruled by North African Berbers. In 1255, King Alfonso X El Sabio reconquered the city; the town’s name comes from the fact that it was literally on la frontera, or the frontier, between Moorish-held territory and areas that the Spanish had reconquered.
5 Things To Do in Arcos de la Frontera
One of the best ways to appreciate Arcos de la Frontera is paseando, or walking around town, through its twisting lanes. When we visited in May 2019, the city’s streets were adorned with decorative textile art.
No visit to a city in Andalucía is complete without some tapeo, or tapas-eating. We really enjoyed sitting outside for lunch at the restaurant in Hostal San Marcos. The outdoor seating could not be more pleasant: The restaurant is nestled on a perfectly charming street right in the heart of town. We posted up here for a while with cañas, local manzanilla (dry sherry), and lots of yummy plates. The food was good! For dinner, we enjoyed caracoles (snails) and cabrillas (bigger snails, lol) on the outdoor terrace at La Taberna del Casino. Caracoles and cabrillas are very popular in Andalucía, particularly when they’re in season in May. The caracoles are served in a savory broth; the cabrillas – which are essentially like French escargot – are usually served in a delicious tomato-based sauce that is every kind of finger-licking good.
One of the most photographed sights in Arcos de la Frontera is this specific arch, which bears tiled letters that read, “Besame en este arco,” or “Kiss me at this arch.” The arch then opens up to some wonderful views of town and the surrounding countryside.
#4. Parar en el Parador!
In Spain, a parador is often a hotel in a privileged setting that has been converted from a historic building. At the parador in Arcos, the terrace offers an expansive view of the surrounding town and landscape. I highly recommend that you parar – or stop – at the parador, especially for a drink at sunset. The views are incredible – see the main photo for this post above.
One of the best things about traveling is exploring a city on your own terms. When exploring Arcos, step into the city’s Gothic-Baroque churches, Basílica de Santa María de la Asunción and Iglesia de San Pedro. Like many churches in Andalucía, the Basílica de Santa María was built on the site of a former mosque. Although both churches are known to have historic and ornate interiors, we were unfortunately not able to visit them during our stay – but we would have liked to! During your meandering, you’ll inevitably come upon the Plaza del Cabildo, the central square of town, lined with historic buildings – some of Moorish origin. You’ll also get great views from the plaza’s mirador.
Enjoy Arcos de la Frontera!