Fuengirola is one of the beautiful, tourist-packed beach towns on the Costa del Sol just minutes from Malaga. It’s a mouthful of a name to a non-Spanish speaker: fwen here OH la. Get used to it, because this is a place you want to visit!
Fuengirola is about 15 minutes southwest of the Malaga airport. It’s easily accessible by car, bus, or train. Fuengirola is a popular vacation spot for English tourists, so just about everyone in town speak English. Unfortunately because of this, prices are also a little higher than local, non-touristy Spanish towns. Summer is the most popular season to visit Fuengirola and the Costa del Sol for it’s almost guaranteed sunny and HOT days (summer temperatures average 30ºC / 86ºF), but summer is also the most expensive.
Where to Stay
Luckily, multi-story hotels line the beach and compete for business, so you can usually find something within your price range. If you happen to visit in the off-season (I visited in mid-November), you will find a great deal on everything. Hotels drop their prices down to less than $50 US! We stayed at the Confortel Fuengirola (now called Hotel Ilunion, still a Confortel) for $47 US and it was directly across from Los Boliches beach! It’s an excellent choice in a high quality hotel with a great English-speaking staff.
Even though the average temperature in Fuengirola is about 18ºC / 65ºF, it was a bit too chilly for the beach the next day. It’s rumored that the Costa del Sol, which means Sunny Coast, gets 364 days of sun each year, so unfortunately we also must have caught the one cloudy day in Fuengirola all year.
Where to Eat
There are plenty of restaurants all competing for your business along the beach and throughout the town. Watch out for restaurants with billboard-type signs out front – they’re usually overpriced fried food geared towards tourists. Look for a place full of Spanish people; that’s probably your best local food and best prices. We passed by all the restaurants full of English speakers and ended up at Marisqueria dos Mares, where I had my first (and last) paella in Spain. I do love paella, but I was surprised to find it’s not as popular as I thought! I thought it was a little pricey based on Olvera prices, but tourists would think it’s dirt cheap.
What to Do
Of course just about every town in Andalucia has a Moorish castle and a mercadillo, similar to a flea market. We didn’t make it to the castle, but we did visit the market. It was bigger than Olvera’s, but also dirtier. There was something for everyone and lots of English-speakers, but we didn’t find anything we could use. If you’re looking for a flea market in Spain, check out Fuengirola’s Saturday market!
The small village of Mijas is nearby. Unfortunately we never made it to Mijas, although it was on my list. Mijas is famous for having an unusual form of transportation: people can take ride on a donkey taxi! Donkeys are dressed up and give tourists rides around town. While Mijas was on my list for months, I eventually gave up on it because of the bad reviews the donkey taxi got. The donkeys seem to be treated poorly (as with many animals in Spain) and I decided I didn’t want to see them working to the bone for little food, water, and rest. It’s also listed as one of the top tourist traps in Spain. I’d probably recommend Mijas just as a typical Spanish village close to Fuengirola, but I wouldn’t recommend the donkey taxi.
Fuengirola is one of the beautiful beach towns lining the Costa del Sol. It’s a popular summer resort mainly for the English to get away from rainy, cold England. If you’re looking for an English-speaking town that doesn’t quite represent Spain but is beautiful and relaxing, Fuengirola is a great place to spend a few days!