Banos de la Encina is a charming city that lies in the south of Spain in the Andalusia region. Not many people have heard about this place, and even less about the fact that Banos de la Encina was voted one of the prettiest towns in Spain in 2021. So, you can already think of this place as your next stop during vacation in Spain. Here is the complete guide to Banos de la Encina, Spain. All the information that you should know including things to do and how to get to Banos de la Encina is below. I hope you will find this article helpful!
The Complete Guide To Banos de la Encina
As I already mentioned, Banos de la Encina is located in the Andalusia region in the South of Spain. It is a part of Jaen province.
If you are planning on driving yourself, there won’t be any problem or heavy planning for you. It takes around 20 minutes by car from Jaen city.
For those who want to take public transportation, planning is essential.
You need to know that there is no train that goes to Banos de la Encina, therefore your only choice is a bus.
Since Banos de la Encina is a very small town with just 2600 people living there, not a lot of bus companies have Banos de la Encina on their route. In fact I know just one company, SAMAR, that goes to Banos de la Encina from Jaen city.
Therefore, your first stop on the way to Banos de la Encina will have to be Jaen city, which is a pretty big city and has a lot to do for tourists.
For example I was traveling to Banos de la Encina from Granada (another great place in the Andalusia region). There is an app (Alsa) that I used to buy bus tickets from Granada to Jaen. Check it out, maybe it will help you as well.
Unfortunately, you cannot buy a ticket from Jaen to Banos de la Encina online. However, you can check the bus schedule on the website of SAMAR company, and buy the ticket at the bus station directly. As of today (the end of 2022) the ticket costs €4.40 pp.
Why did I say that you will have to plan your way to Banos de la Encina if you are traveling by a bus? It is because there are just one or two buses a day that go to Banos de la Encina from Jaen (same goes on the way back from Banos de la Encina).
The bus from Jaen to Banos de la Encina will drop you near the bus stop/parking lot where you will have to catch your bus on the way back. By the way, the bus stop is located a 7 minute walk from the center of the city.
If you need to take a taxi from Jaén to Baños de la Encina, it will cost between €45 to €65.
Baños de la Encina is a small town with a few things to do, therefore if you are planning on exploring just the town itself, you actually need just one day/afternoon for this. However, I recommend staying overnight in Baños de la Encina, since they have quite a few charming hotels here.
You also need to know that one of the main reasons people come to Baños de la Encina is to take a tour to see the Iberian lynxes in Sierra de Andujar natural park.
A tour to Sierra de Andujar with a professional tour guide can last from one to three full days (you leave at 7 AM and come back at 9 PM every day). Therefore people who are planning to see the Iberian lynx should plan on staying in Baños de la Encina one extra day to have time to see the town itself.
Baños de la Encina is a very underrated tourist destination in Spain. You won’t see crowded streets full of international tourists here. At most you can see a few local tourists in small groups that came here for a day, or just stopped here on the way somewhere else. So, you can come to Baños de la Encina at any time you want, it doesn’t matter if it is a high or low season.
The same goes for visiting Sierra de Andujar and seeing the lynxes. It is possible to see them year around.
Baños de la Encina has a few very charming hotels where you can stay.
Hotel Palacio Guzmanes is located 2 minutes walk away from the church of San Mateo and 5 minutes to the castle.
The hotel has a charming terrace/restaurant, swimming pool, and very cute rooms with medieval furniture.
Price: €70 a night
Palacete Maria Rosa is another charming hotel with lovely rooms that is located right behind the hotel Palacio Guzmanes.
The hotel has its own restaurant as well (most hotels in Baños de la Encina have a restaurant).
Price: €65 a night
Hotel Restaurante Banos is a hotel with the best view in the whole town. It is located on the hill opposite to the Castilo de Baños de la Encina, therefore some of the rooms have a spectacular view of the castle.
The restaurant at the hotel Restaurante Banos is quite good with fair prices. It might not be a small boutique hotel like Palacio Guzmanes or Palacete Maria Rosa, but it is definitely one of the best in Baños de la Encina.
Price: €60 a night
Baños de la Encina doesn’t have that many restaurants or cafes. Most of the time the restaurants are closed anyway, or don’t serve food. But not to worry! As I mentioned before, most of the hotels in Baños de la Encina have their own restaurant.
Most of the hotel restaurants have decent food with decent prices, so just make sure that your hotel is one of those that has a restaurant on its premises (the three mentioned prior all have restaurants attached).
Castillo de Baños de la Encina is the oldest castle in Spain and the second oldest in Europe. It was built in 968 AD and was used mostly for military purposes until the 19th century.
During the 19th and 20th century the castle was used as a cemetery. The niches in the walls were turned into private crypts, and the castle ground was covered with tombs.
In the 1950s the government started the exhumation of the bodies to move them to a new cemetery on the outskirts of the town. This lasted until 2007.
Nowadays the castle is open for visitors and there are no dead bodies in the walls or anywhere else in the castle (as far as we know).
To enter the castle you will have to pay a small fee. The ticket costs €3 pp.
Castillo de Baños de la Encina is a nice place to visit, learn a bit of history and take some great photos. It is also one of the must things to do in Baños de la Encina.
The church of San Mateo is located on Plaza de la Constitución (3 minutes away from Castillo de Baños de la Encina).
The church of San Mateo was built in the 15th century. It is a very well preserved structure that looks amazing on the outside and on the inside. Pay attention to the altar and the ceiling, they are absolutely magnificent.
You can visit the church on your own and with a professional tour guide (you can ask about the guide at the tourist information office).
As I already mentioned at the beginning of this article, Baños de la Encina was voted the prettiest town in Spain. So, there is no way you can visit this place and not have a walk around it.
Baños de la Encina has many charming streets, and many spots with amazing views of the castle and the valley that surrounds the town.
Molino de Viento del Santo Cristo is a windmill that was built in the 18th century.
It is a beautiful stone structure that is located 10 minutes walk from the church of San Mateo.
Usually the windmill is closed and you cannot have a peek inside, however you can ask at the tourist information office for an excursion with a professional guide to learn more history and see the windmill from inside.
An excursion to Sierra de Andujar is quite a popular activity. You, of course, can drive yourself there and look for the animals, but most people prefer to do it with a professional guide who knows all the best spots to do animal and bird watching.
The tour guide picks you up in the morning in Baños de la Encina and drives you to the wilderness to see the animals. You can have a one or a multi day tour (some people prefer multi-day tours since there is no guarantee you see the lynxes every day).