To reach this white town from Gaucín, take the winding A-369 out of town, traveling southwest for some 30 minutes, a distance of 23km (14 miles). Enveloped by Los Alcornocales Natural Park, Jimena was built 200m (656 ft.) above sea level. It is so close to San Roque on the Costa del Sol and its string of beaches that it gets a lot of visitors on day trips, especially from the exclusive golf and polo belt of the coast. Chic Sotorgrande, an upmarket resort, is just a short drive to the south.

You enter Jimena through a gateway of three arches. Over the years the town has known many rulers, from the Phoenicians and Romans to the Moors and ultimately the Christian armies.

It's a delight to walk the steep and narrow cobblestone streets of Jimena, one of the more stunning of the Pueblos Blancos. It takes about 15 minutes to ascend to the highest point, the castle-fortress built on Roman ruins. Today the Castillo-Fortaleza is in ruins but still impressive. Inside the castle enclosure, you can take in one of the most panoramic views of the Costa del Sol, including the Rock of Gibraltar and the port of Algeciras, where ferries depart for Morocco.

Visitors with more time will find that Jimena is the gateway to the Parque Natural de los Alcornocales, stretching south to the Mediterranean and north to one of the white towns, El Bosque. The park is named for its cork oaks (alcornocales), which are among the largest in the world, but is also home to the gall and the holm oak as well as wild olive trees. Creatures such as the Egyptian mongoose, the royal eagle, eagle owls, lion buzzards, and the roebuck also inhabit the park. The park is one of the most heavily forested in Spain and will give you a sense of what Iberia used to look like before being deforested.

At one of the tourist offices in one of the Pueblos Blancos that actually has tourist offices, inquire about a booklet, Junta de Andalucía, detailing eight walks through the park, each ranging from 2 to 7km (1.25-4.35 miles).