You might not even have heard about Rute before now and that’s why you’re looking for information to see if it’s worth a visit. I hadn’t heard about it either. Truth is, I was spending some time in the nearby town of Cuevas de San Marcos when I talked with a local that suggested we take a trip to see Rute.
We ended up staying in this quaint town surrounded by olive groves for about a week as it slowly made us feel more and more at home. Rute, Cordoba is easily one of the most enchanting towns in Andalucia.
The friendly locals, the vivid Saturday market, the narrow streets twisting up the steep hills with neatly painted walkways, elegant parks throughout the town, and an intriguing network of hiking trails crisscrossing the hills overlooking the town.
On top of that, Rute is home to some of the most beautiful and award-winning patios in Cordoba, which makes this a true hidden gem in Andalucia!
It all received us with open arms wrapping us in to make us feel comfortable in the local bars and later falling asleep to the sound of lively streets and parks in the late night hours.
But Rute is not only growing on you the longer you stay, it’s also a town famed for its Anis production and Jamon production (which I won’t get further into as I’m a plant eater.) Both industries with their own museum.
Rute was also the home of the poet Rafael Alberti for two years where he wrote several important poems, and the town is proudly showing pieces of his work throughout the town.
Yet, Rute is said to truly come to life at Christmas, when they open the Chocolate museum, the Sugar museum, display the Chocolate Nativity Scene, and their famed marzipan is available.
In this guide, I’ll show you everything you can expect from visiting Rute, Cordoba’s hidden gem.
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Table of Contents
How to get to Rute, Cordoba
Rute is the first town of Cordoba you come to when you pass the Embalse de Iznájar in the northern Malaga territory. It’s situated only a 20-minute drive from Cuevas de San Marcos and just over one hour from both Cordoba and Malaga. Driving from Granada to Rute takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
By bus, you can travel directly from Granada to Rute in 1 hour 30 minutes.
From Malaga, take the bus to Loja and change buses there to Rute. The journey takes from 2 hours and 20 minutes.
From Cordoba, there are a few bus connections through Lucena (only once a day in the summer months.) You can check bus tables here.
Best time to visit Rute
Like other inland towns and villages in Andalucia, it’s best to visit Rute between late September to early May since the summer months are scorching hot.
That said, in the last week of August, the quaint town features the local Feria (town Fair) and you can expect traditional music blended with modern tunes filling the main plaza in front of the Anis Museum.
If you haven’t experienced a small village fair yet and happen to be around at this time, it’s a golden opportunity to mingle with the locals and experience the real Andalucia.
Besides the feria, the town wakes to life before Christmas when they display the yearly Chocolate Nativity Scene and the Chocolate Museum is open (any other chocolate fans out there?)
However, note that being a mountain town, the winter temperatures can drop to 3-4 degrees celsius at night and just about 10 degrees celsius in the daytime, so make sure you bring warm clothing as this is one of the cooler areas in Andalucia in winter.
In the spring, especially during May and June, you can expect all the beautiful patios to be open to the public, so if you’re around at that time, you’re up for a treat. These are some of the best in the entire province!
Things to see and do in Rute
Hit the museums
Rute has a whole lot of interesting museums showcasing the different industries the town is famed for. However, it’s good to know that not all of them are open all year round. I’ll list up the museums here and when you can expect to find them open so that you won’t be disappointed by reaching closed doors.
The Sugar Museum is a wonderful museum filled with sugar statues of famous people and sites. It was founded about 15 years ago and has become an iconic part of Rute’s Christmas visits.
The museum is only open from the 12th of October to the 5th of January.
In the Chocolate Museum, you can see an incredible exhibition of giant and smaller chocolate sculptures. This is a must-visit for all chocolate lovers!
The museum includes the world’s biggest chocolate nativity scene so be prepared!
The museum is only open from mid-October to Reyes in January.
Museum of Turrón, Mantecado and Marzipan
The Museum of Turrón, Mantecado, and Marzipan exhibits the tools and processes used to produce these tasty sweets. You can learn how they integrate the traditional tools and craftmanship to preserve culture and heritage in this 50-year-old company.
The museum is only open 3 months a year, from the 12th of October to the 5th of January.
The Anis Museum is the most important one in Rute showing the 400-year-old Anis production of the town of Rute. The ticket will get you the entrance to the museum, and a tasting at the end, but also a tour of the award-winning patio of the museum’s owner.
Marvel at the most beautiful patios in Cordoba
Cordoba is famed for its spectacular patios and every year there’s a competition where the most beautiful patios enter. You’ll be surprised to know that Rute has won the most beautiful patio in the province 4 years in a row.
The winning patio belongs to the owner of the Anis Museum and is one of few that can be visited all year round. The visit to this astounding patio is included in the ticket to the Anis Museum and is truly one of the highlights of Rute.
To enter the competitions, the patios have to belong to an inhabited house and you’ll get a peak of the old kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom as well as you can enjoy the beautiful flower arrangements and glittering trickling fountains that decorate these imposing outdoor spaces.
To see all the patios this enchanting town hides, head there in May-June and you’ll have a tour of a lifetime!
Get lost in the narrow streets
The hillside town of Rute is wonderful for walking around the narrow streets, and getting lost among enchanting squares, picturesque stairways, and tiled doorways.
Make sure you turn around to see the views of the backdrop of mountains and olive groves. You might even find a hidden bar for a cool drink along the way or end up chatting to an old grandma watering the flowers on the street.
There’s nothing quite like wandering around an Andalusian white village without any particular goal.
Watch the sunset
Being a hillside village, the steep, narrow streets make for the perfect framing for a pastel sunset over the far away hills. There are several spectacular sunset spots in Rute.
Just above the stairway past the Senior Center you’ll have a stunning sunset view, from the dirt parking spot below the Nuestra Señora del Carmen Park is another favorite.
You can also catch a sunset view from the viewpoint outside the cemetery where you additionally get treated with views of Rute from above.
That said, our favorite sunset spot is no arguing from the Torre del Canute. Make sure to bring a headlamp and an online map to follow the route (I use Wikiloc) to find the way back down in the dark.
Shop at the Saturday market
The local market in Rute, Spain finds place every Saturday along the Nuestra Señora del Carmen Park and is a great place to find everything from locally produced vegetables, clothes, potplants, and kitchen gadgets.
According to those working there, it usually opens around 09:30 and they start closing down at around 12:00-12:30. We’re in Spain, so there’s no fixed times.
See a Flamenco show
Rute has a cool Peña Flamenca where they often have flamenco shows with local artists. Since we were there in August, it was closed. However, you can follow them on Facebook to see when they have shows.
They are open every day except when they have vacation (usually around the Feria week in August) but don’t have shows every night.
Normal opening hours the rest of the year are Monday-Sunday 20:00-23:00.
Go for a stroll in Nuestra Señora del Carmen Park
Recently remodeled, this is a wonderful green space for a stroll. There’s a new playground for children which features a medieval-looking tower at the far end.
Dotted with benches to relax in the shade of the lush green trees and trickling fountains with fish and ducks, this is a popular park area among the locals.
In the late summer nights, you can experience free concerts featuring local artists on the built-up stage in the middle of the park. This is easily one of the most used parks in the pueblo with lively bars and restaurants alongside it, open until the late hours.
Hike to the Torre del Canuto and Rute el Viejo
Two of the most popular tourist attractions Rute has, are the Rute Viejo ruins and the Torre del Canuto watch tower overlooking the pueblo.
They are both reached by a short hike or you can do a 2-hour hike to see both of them at once. We did the latter. The path is well marked for each site from the village.
On the other hand, to get from Rute el Viejo to Torre del Canuto it’s better to use a Wikiloc map to follow the route so that you don’t get lost as the trail takes you through olive groves before reaching the forested area.
Rute el Viejo ruins are poorly maintained, but you can see a square tower and some fortress walls that are still intact. That said, the views are spectacular!
To reach Rute el Viejo, you can drive and park by the Tennis Club and walk the remaining 900 meters. The site itself is not signalized (the beginning of the hike is – from the Tennis Club,) but once you see the square stone tower, take the path to the left and walk around the tower and up the hill above it. You can walk around the site and find old walls and remains of old structures.
Torre del Canuto might be one of our favorite sunset spots in Rute with sweeping views of the pueblo and the Iznájar Reservoir. It was originally built as a series of watch towers where they kept wood inside to lit up a big fire when the enemy got close to communicate across the mountains.
You can walk to Torre del Canuto from above the square where the Anis Museum is and after about 30-40 minutes along a well-marked forest trail, you’ll reach the antennas and the tower.
Enjoy the views from the Iznájar Reservoir
Only a 15-minute drive from Rute, you get to the Iznájar Reservoir which was built by Franco to create the largest artificial lake in Spain, Pantano de Iznájar.
What is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the area today, was once a curse to the locals of Iznájar who not only had to abandon their homes but were also victims of a large flood as a result of the building. Before the building was finished, the locals had to swap out cars for boats to get around.
Even today, there are houses, streets, and bridges on the bottom of the lake. However, it’s not allowed to dive there to have a look. According to the locals, the underwater plants have become a large threat and many people have drowned there.
However, it has been built a beach by the lake where you can go for a swim and get some sun on a hot day.
The views of the lake from the reservoir are spectacular, but if you’re a little more adventurous, take the short hike to Mirador del Pantano de Iznájar for even better views.
Where to eat and drink in Rute, Cordoba
After spending a week in this enchanting whitewashed town, we’ve picked out a few favorite places to eat and drink. Either for the ambiance or service, these hit the top list!
Taberna Los Claveles
Situated on the main square close to the Anis Museum, this is a vivid bar serving food and drinks. We dare to say they’ve got the most friendly and sweet waiters in the entire pueblo.
Food is tasty and it’s got a friendly and local ambiance to it. Whether you’re planning on a quick drink after a hike or hanging out with friends over food and drinks, I highly recommend Taberna Los Claveles.
If you’re up for a drink, this is a vivid bar in the Nuestra Señora del Carmen Park with outdoor tables at the end by the children’s playground.
It stays open until late, they don’t serve food but make some mean cocktails and mocktails. In our experience, the service wasn’t the most WoW in Rute, but it’s clearly one of the local’s favorites and a pleasant place to sit down for a drink in the late evening hours.
Tourist office in Rute
The tourist office in Rute is extremely helpful if you want information about the pueblo, hiking routes, bus tables, etc. They’re situated in the newly remodeled Nuestra Señora del Carmen Park (which includes a cool playground for children.) It sits right by the public toilets facing the duck pond.
Address: Parque Ntra. Sra. Del Carmen, s/n, 14960 Rute, Córdoba
Opening hours: Monday-Tuesday 10:00-14:00, Wednesday-Sunday and public holidays 10:00-14:00 and 16:00-18:00.
Reflections on Rute
After spending a week in this enchanting town, it’s safe to say that it’s worth visiting. And even so, we visited in the middle of the summer. If you have the chance to go in December to experience Rute around Christmas and visit the museums that are closed throughout the rest of the year, I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed.
The last week in August, they celebrate the Feria which is also one of the most festive events you can experience in any Andalusian town you visit.
That said, Rute has been one of the most pleasant surprises in Andalucia for a while and while it’s not hitting the typical lists of the best towns in Andalucia, it’s still a great day trip from Cordoba for those willing to discover beyond the trodden tourist route – especially if you enjoy hiking, then you might like to stay longer.
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