A bustling Spanish town located approximately 24kms from the City of Malaga, Fuengirola is a popular destination for British holiday makers seeking a sunshine retreat from the mundane 9-5. A once small fishing town now aligned with busy bars, restaurants and an National Geographic award winning zoo – Fuengirola is a must visit holiday destination for all ages.
Flying into Costa Del Sol’s newly refurbished Malaga Airport, the train station to Fuengirola is a stone’s throw away from arrivals. With trains running every twenty minutes and costing a mere 3.50 euros, you’ll arrive in Fuengirola in 40 minutes. Saunter up the train station stairs and you be teleported into an array of supermarkets, shops and small bars. Amongst the smell of the overheated rail lines you will hear aggravated screeches of horns and flamboyant Spanish exclamations. Instantaneously you’ll notice an artfully distressed fish fountain. You have arrived in one of my favorite towns!
Where to stay
Fuengirola is bursting with hotels scattered alongside the beachfront from high-rises to smaller boutique hotels. Hostels, villas and apartments are all in abundance, it is simply dependent on one’s budget.
Hostel el Cid – A centrally located recently renovated Hostel close to the plaza major (main square), a two minute walk to the beach. Ideal for backpackers seeking a cheap stay.
Fuengirola Holiday village – A dream to some, a prison camp to the more pretentious (sorry dad). A family orientated, all-inclusive resort with numerous pools and slides. Located near the beach but within very close proximity to the train line.
El Higueron hotel – A contemporary, aesthetically pleasing hotel set back from Fuengirola town. Located on higher ground, this hotel offers incredible views of the med ocean and beaming coastline. Highly recommended for a romantic break.
As Fuengirola stretches along a ten kilometer coastline, where to eat is often a challenging decision. My grandmother always tells me “if there are Spanish people eating there it must be good”. I have stuck by this rule which has lead me to some unbelievable discoveries. The most prevalent area of restaurants are situated in an area known to locals as ‘Fish Alley’ positioned in the town center, across from the beach promenade. Venture into the ‘Fish Alley’ maze from a multitude of directions, down narrow streets layered with restaurants serving a wide variety of cuisines. Eventually the streets intertwine creating a somewhat gridlocked junction. In high season ‘Fish Alley’ is chocka block full of lobster red, perspiring Brits and angry looking Spaniards weaving through the layers of street merchants (looky looky men) to find a suitable place to dine. I’ll save you the trouble.
La Casa Rustica – The rustic house is a quaint Spanish restaurant with a choice dining options. Sip rioja in the open terrace garden or sit in the heart of the action outside the entrance. This restaurant is without a doubt one of the best restaurants on the “Fish Alley” strip. The authentic Spanish cuisine will satisfy even the toughest critiques. What makes this restaurant truly magnificent is the menu of the day option which many Spanish restaurants offer. Choose from a range of starters, main courses and desserts for fifteen euros! I highly recommend the French onion soup – Devine!
Cala Luna – A Hungarian restaurant off the beaten track. A beautiful place to dine inside or out, the food is fantastic. Just look at the picture!
Ponchos – Everyone loves a good quality steak and who can cook steak better than the Argentinians? A thick cut, flame grilled steak accompanied with sautéed onions makes this place a must visit in Fuengirola.
Vegetarian options – I have to reference vegetarian options otherwise my sister will be mad. Spanish cusine generally involves meat and seafood dishes however if you look hard enough you can find some veggie places; Vegetalia, Shafi’s Indian, The tropical hut to name a few. A vegetarian favourite of hers is an Italian restaurant run by the cutest Italian couple.
Trifula Ristorante Pizza – Freshly made Italian pizza and pasta at its finest. The Nutella parcels are to die for!
As Fuengirola is a major tourist destination, most Tapas bars offer English speaking staff although much of the menu can often be in Spanish. Tapas in Fuengirola is generally very good quality and excellently priced. I will go into further details in later articles about specific recommended dishes.
Casa Colon – A slightly more upmarket tapas bar located in a sleepless square behind Fuengirola post office. Enjoy an ice cold san Miguel and snack on olives in the Spanish heat.
Tipi Tapa – This place screams variety! I guarantee you will be drooling over the enormous glass display of admirably presented tapas dishes. The extensive menu offers almost every tapas dish from Russian Salad to specialty croquettes. A flamenco show takes place at Tipi Tapa a few times a week which is an experience which cannot be missed whilst in Spain. Tipi Tapa is positioned right near Fuengirola zoo which is slightly out of the town center.
Things to do
Fuengirola Zoo (Bioparc Fuengirola) – You could walk past the zoo numerous times without realizing a zoo is actually there. Situated next door to a trivial cinema on a random side street a few blocks behind the beach promenade, this zoo does not appear like anything extravagant from the exterior. Journey through the gates and you will reach a tropical biosphere filled with exotic species. Bioparc Fuengirola resembles a small version of Disney’s Animal Kingdom with a comparable imitation Baobab tree sprouting gigantically out of the ground. Occasionally you can enter the tree and observe the lemurs playing around in the grass. In high season the zoo opens until late which is much more suitable due to the scorching summer days. Animal displays take place throughout the day, showcasing porcupines and birds of pray. Cost is around 15 euro per adult.
In the high season Fuengirola is besieged with row after row of beach loungers and umbrellas full of sun pursuing holidaymakers. Two loungers and an umbrella will typically cost around 9 euros per day, the price does not fluctuate throughout the year. The busiest beaches are near the town center where you can hire pedalos (paddle boat) and water boards for 10-15 euros per hour. The beaches in Fuengirola are not the most alluring during the summer months. During August beaches are incredibly overcrowded when all the Spaniards from inland flock to the coast. If you decide to catch the train a few stops out of Fuengirola to Carvajel or decide to stroll along the promenade, you will discover quieter beaches which are in my opinion the best.
Castle – I used to walk up the somewhat steep hill in the picture below CADA DIA and appreciate the gorgeous sea views. Have a brief tour of the castle which offers great views from up high.
Speakeasy Jazz and Cocktail Club – Some of the finest cocktails I have ever tried have been made in the legendary Speakeasy. The owner is a cocktail master offering a broad assortment of cocktails. I highly recommend visiting on a vibrant Friday night sipping an expresso martini listening to the live jazz music.
Old Town Club– Located on the main strip, this is the place to be seen and of course people watch. A modern club with copious outdoor all white themed seating. A range of cocktails and drinks are displayed with the option to smoke fruity shishas. Old Town is often thriving during weekends where a scantily clad dancer waves her derriere around the entrance, using causing a massive pavement obstruction. If you decide to get incredibly drunk and leave Old Town you will find you either wonder past freshly made waffles and doughnuts or a kebab shop depending which way you stumble or which smell you pursuit. I like to do both.
I could write pages about Fuengirola but I am bored now and hungry which is why I am digressing onto food. Again.
Adios for now.