* Cuenca: With its famous casas colgadas (“hanging houses”) cantilevered over the edge of a precipitous gorge and its three museums of contemporary art, this aerie engages the imagination even as it wins over the heart. Few villages in Spain seem so magically suspended between earth and sky.
* Mijas: Even as the countryside around it becomes a solid mass of hotels and vacation home subdivisions, tiny, whitewashed Mijas, tucked into the hills above sprawling Torremolinos, remains a quintessential Andalucian village where life revolves around ancient churches, excellent bars, and a tiny religious shrine.
* Ronda: Ronda is famed for its 150m (492-ft.) gorge of the Río Guadelevín. The Romans bridged the river at the water’s edge, and Moors built homes and palaces all the way to the top. The Christians added a bullring and a belvedere. What more could you ask?
* Zamora: When the Christian kings of Castilla took back Zamora from the Moors, they made sure they could hold it by building two dozen fabulous Romanesque churches in the 12th and 13th centuries. The town fortifications have great views along the Río Duero.
* Elche: Boasting the largest palm forest in Europe and an archaeological museum devoted to the ancient Iberians, Elche also has the Pikolinos shoe factory outlet at the edge of town.
* Deià: Set on the western end of Mallorca, this high-country village of stone houses draped in bougainvillea was the favored retreat of English poet and interpreter of Greek mythology, Robert Graves. It was here he wrote the enduring historical novel I, Claudius.
* Santo Domingo de la Calzada: Established in the 12th century as a stopover for pilgrims heading to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela, this little village in La Rioja eventually grew into a full-fledged pilgrim town where live chickens are kept in the cathedral.
* Trujillo: It’s said that 20 Latin American countries were born in this tough little Extremaduran town, which produced so many conquistadors who colonized the New World in the 16th century. The riches they sent home financed the lavish buildings on its beautiful square.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.