Mijas, Costa del Sol
Updated: Aug 28, 2019
Travelling from Bristol to Malaga, Spain, flight length approx. 2.5 hours.
I once read that no matter how many times you visit Spain, there is always something new to see. How true this is...even visiting just one area, each time you go you will find something new to marvel at and some of the best sights in the Med, from the beautiful golden sandy beaches to the quaint traditional villages, Spain will leave you wanting to return year after year.
Accommodation: We stayed at Marina Del Sol at Club La Costa Resort, Mijas. More info on this resort in the Hotels and Resorts section.
This location is a good base if you want to easily travel around Costa Del Sol. We hired a car and visited some beautiful areas. Fuengirola town is 5 minutes away by car, there is a bus that will take you there or use local taxis which you can book through reception. Fuengirola Castle (Castle of Sohail) is lovely if you fancy a stroll, situated on the side of a hill, the views are wonderful and there is a beach just below it. By night it is lit up and from here you will often see barbecues on the beach and parties taking place. Admission to the castle is free however please check the admission times as it seems these are limited.
Once a fishing town, Fuengirola now hosts a variety of shops, bars and restaurants. Enjoy a stroll along the beachfront to the harbour, where you will find amusements and little side streets leading you into the main town. Be aware the beach is approx 5 miles long, so wear appropriate footwear. There is a bus terminal and train station in Fuengirola, ideal if you want to travel by public transport. Whilst walking or travelling through the town look out for the many roundabouts, all with different sculptures on them.
Tip: visit the local supermarkets for your food, there is an Iceland and Lidl store within 5 minutes of the resort. Don't buy too much frozen food though as the freezer compartment in the apartment is only small. We visited two restaurants in Fuengirola, the Coriander on Paseo Maritimo Rey de Espana an Indian restaurant that also serves, Italian, Pastas and pizzas. Situated on the road overlooking the beach, serving a variety of alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks, good food and excellent service.
We also dined at Wok on Urbanizacion Urb la Noria, a buffet restaurant serving, chinese, Asian and sushi. Lovely atmosphere, friendly staff and plenty of choice of foods, some of which you pick yourself and take to the chef to be cooked to your liking. Good prices and lovely for an evening meal.
La Cala de Mijas is well worth a visit, a pretty little village approx 10 minutes from the resort. Here you will find pretty narrow cobbled streets, a Moorish tower, shops, restaurants, cafes and in the evenings a lovely open air market alongside the beachfront. Best time of day to go is in the evening as the market is lit up, creating a lovely atmosphere where you can enjoy a lovely cold drink whilst people watching on the beachfront. Ideal for a relaxing evening and buying gifts from the market to bring home.
Mijas Pueblo, a bustling traditional Andalucian town is situated on the side of the mountain about 30 minutes from the resort. With its white washed buildings, narrow cobbled streets, shops, restaurants and cafes, a castle and beautiful gardens overlooking Fuengirola below, Mijas is well deserved of being on your Malaga bucket list. A trip here in the late afternoon and evening, gives you plenty of time to explore and observe the wonderful views both by day and night. Take a look for the Iglesio de la Inmaculada Concepcion, a church which is built into the rocks and overlooks a lovely garden area, with plenty of benches for you to sit and take in the views. The Municipal auditorium, an open air theatre area and the Bullring are all within close proximity. Don't forget to look our for the donkey taxis, you can hire a donkey and trap or horse and coach to take you around the area. Mijas Pueblo is a popular tourist area for local crafts and pottery, fantastic if you want to pick up some souvenirs or gifts. Parking is chargeable in the multi-storey car park or you can park for free on some of the side roads if you don't mind walking a bit further. Check local information boards or at your resort for upcoming festivals in the village.
Marbella is about 30 minutes away by car, it is a major attraction for tourists and well known for its celebrity visitors. A mixture of old and new, there is plenty to see and do. Marbella has some beautiful beaches to explore and your very near to Puerto Banus, where you can view the yachts and bigger boats at the harbour. Keep an eye open for the supercars that drive around the town.
Gibraltar, haven for duty free, a British Overseas Territory, steeped in history and dominated by the Gibraltar Rock. Take English money, although you can pay with Euros, visit the main town and buy all your duty free whilst you are there. You can reach the top of the rock, by foot (it's a long uphill walk), by cable car or by minibus. We took the minibus tour which stops at four points.
The first stop is the Pillars of Hercules, sadly the monument is no longer in situ, however this is a fab viewpoint and on a clear day you can see over to the African continent.
Second stop is St Michael's Caves. Legend has it that the caves were linked by an undersea passage to Africa which is how the Gibraltan Apes came to the Gibraltar. The caves are now a tourist attraction with upper and lower caves leading to many smaller chambers. The Cathedral Cave now hosts concerts and performances such as ballet. Here you can see beautiful stalagmites, centuries of years old, which are lit up, casting an enchanting environment.
To wander around the caves takes about 20 minutes, were appropriate footwear and the ground is uneven and wet in places. You may see some apes that usually congregate at the entrance of the caves, this is because they have worked out that there is a shop here and shops mean food :) Yes they will steal your food given the chance and children will quite often find their packet of crisps or ice creams are a lovely treat for the apes.
The third stop is to see the apes on the Upper Rock. You are given time to get out of the minibus and watch the Apes as the wander around the roadside and interact with each other. Don't get to close to them whilst they are normally passive animals, they are known to bite if you try to touch them. Just keep your distance and they will soon wander around you. If you have bags with you, either leave them on the minibus or make sure they are zipped up and that you have them secured to your body as the Apes are inquisitive characters and like to investigate your bags and pockets for foods. Given the opportunity they will steal your crisps, sandwiches, bags, sunglasses, basically anything that takes their fancy ;) Feeding the apes is discouraged, they are well looked after and you will see fresh veg left for them in their feeding areas. The Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society provide food and monitoring of the apes daily.
The final stop is the Great Siege Tunnels, a fascination and impressive piece of history. The tunnels were initially dug by hand in 1792 with the use of sledgehammers, crowbars and some gun powder for blasting. According to history it took 5 weeks for 18 men to build a tunnel 8 feet square by 82 feet long. During World War II, mechanical devices were brought in and this was advanced by 180 feet eventually becoming 370 feet long. You can still walk to the end of the tunnels, looking out of the view points on your way and see some of the cannons that are still in situ. Be warned, it is a downhill walk to the end and the ground is uneven, obviously you do have to walk back up so be prepared for an uphill trek ;) If you're lucky you may even see a plane landing at the airport from the viewpoint outside of the tunnels. The runway crosses the road into Gibraltar so all the cars can be seen queueing when a plane is due to land.
Finally you go back to the minibus for the trip back down to the town centre, or if you prefer you can make your own way down the rock taking in the wonderful views over the harbour. If you have hired a car to visit the rock, it is well worth a drive down to Europa Point, where you can see the mosque, Trinity lighthouse and Harding's battery.
From Europa Point, you can drive along the east side of the island back to the checkpoint. A nice stop off on your way back is Little Genoa a small bay with some lovely restaurants overlooking the beach. The houses are painted bright colours and there is a quaint church in the middle of the village. Foods served here are a mixture of traditional English and Spanish dishes.
Of course, there is lots more to do and see in Mijas, you can take a day trip to the Aqua Park, visit the Bioparc, for shopping go the Miramar Centre or try your hand at the various watersports and activities on the beachfront. A week is easily filled in this destination.
Car Hire from Malaga Airport. Hiring a car abroad can be confusing so make sure you read all the information on the hire site. When hiring a car you can either leave a deposit on your credit card or pay for insurance when you collect your car.
You can choose whether to have a tank full of petrol and return it full at the end of your stay or to pay for the petrol you have used. Also consider the size of the car you will need, a small car may seat four people but that doesn't necessarily mean you will have enough room for all your bags and suitcases. Compact cars can vary, so for a family of four with cases and bags you will probably be better off hiring a medium sized car. We hired a 7 seater and this sat 5 comfortably but the extra two seats at the back had limited leg room so if you have teenagers they are going to be quite squashed and you will lose your boot space for cases. The 7 seater is fine if you have young children sitting in the back seats and don't need to get a lot of baggage in the car with you. Another tip when booking is to check if the car hire company is based at the airport, if it is then this is a relatively quick process, you just go downstairs upon arrival, find your check in counter, show your booking and ID, then pay your insurance or deposit. If the car hire company is off site, you need to exit the arrivals lounge and walk across the road, down to the car park and turn right to the minibus area where you find transport who will transfer you to the hire site. Always make sure you check around the car for damage upon collection. You will be given a bodymap that will indicate if the car hire company is aware of any damage, if you spot anything else make sure you advise them and that the bodymap is updated before you leave the site. It's worth keeping a photo of the petrol level as well.