For Fuengirola read FUNgirola as this busy and very popular seaside town is dense with a huge variety of shops, bars, restaurants, cafes and nightclubs along and behind its 7km swathe of broad sandy beaches.
A traditional destination for holidaying families that originally – like so many other places along the Costa del Sol – was a tiny fishing village, Fuengirola may have all the tourist trappings but has never lost its Spanish identity; this despite it long being an ex-pat stronghold for Europeans eager to embrace the sunshine lifestyle, chiefly Brits.
Many will love Fuengirola from the off but, for those who find it all a bit too much, take your time and explore because it is not only what it may seem at first blush. Visitors who have been away for some years will find it has kept pace with holiday trends, introducing trendy and upscale places to eat and drink and embellished public areas mixing old and new.
Radiating out from the pretty Plaza de la Constitucion square, where you might well observe a well-heeled Spanish wedding crowd or religious celebrants spilling out and around the church, are little lanes with all manner of independent shops including greengrocers selling high quality fruit and veg; a trail of tapas bars for authentic, tasty snacks; and surprise ‘finds’ of restaurants you just happen to stumble upon. You’ll find many different cuisines represented.
The beaches here are exceptionally clean and have Blue Flag distinction, at the eastern end they stretch past Los Boliches to Torreblanca with its Roman Baths.
Places of interest
Part of Fuengirola’s history dates back to Moorish Andalucia, before the 15th century Christian re-conquest, and one of the most notable landmarks is the Arab Sohail Castle. This lies on a seafront hill, with cascading landscaped gardens, at the western end of Fuengirola’s beach strip.
The castle originates from the 11th century and was destroyed by Christians in 1487, though later rebuilt by its captors for defence purposes.
Fuengirola’s long promenade, the Paseo Maritimo, is a pleasant stroll taking you past the small streets leading to the centre of town and the church square. After this you come to the marina and port area: Puerto Deportivo, with its boat yard, 226 berthings and range of restaurants, bars, shops and chandlery, with access to fishing, sailing and water sports providers.
Water is the theme at nearby adventure park Parque Acuático Mijas, on the edge of town, a popular place for families to have fun braving daredevil slides, the waves pool, body ski run, adventure river… or to relax in a Jacuzzi; with Lizard Island created for younger children to splash around and climb about in, and a new kids’ pool.
Within the town is Fuengirola BioParc, a zoo with a surprising variety of creatures, recreated jungle and other habitats and with a respect for animal conservation programmes. Among the many inhabitants are tiny mouse deer, Borneo Orangutan, armadillos, crocodiles, leopard, exotic birds and playful lemurs. A towering Baobab tree of gigantic girth is one of the largest artificial trees in the world!
Moving around Fuengirola
With its train and bus stations, and plentiful supply of taxis, Fuengirola is very easy to get in and out of without a car. It is the last stop on the local coastal train which connects it with Benalmádena, Torremolinos, the airport, Plaza Mayor commercial village, and Málaga city. Buses ply along the coast and also inland to Mijas, Benalmádena Pueblo and Coin. An organised tour of the town can be enjoyed by electric bicycle, these are available too for private hire.
Shopping in Fuengirola
There are dozens of shops along each of the narrow streets and main thoroughfares of Fuengirola, selling everything imaginable including full scale flamenco costumes. There are chemists, banks, shoe shops, boutiques, hardware stores; whatever you need you are likely to find it here and including more quirky and unique fashion and souvenirs.
A major shopping centre looms on the other side of the coastal highway, the Miramar, with over 160 shops, restaurants and cafes, where you can buy famous Spanish High St labels such as Zara and Mango, or buy new holiday wardrobe essentials on a budget in Primark.
Fuengirola holds two traditional street markets, on Tuesdays and Sundays at its large fairground, with a flea market also happening there on Saturdays.
Fuengirola has a real village feel that becomes especially noticeable when its Spanish residents take to the streets for any of many religious festivals and celebrations. Most important of these are Easter Week, San Juan (June), Las Fiestas del Carmen, the Verbenas (night-time parties in August), Romeria (pilgrimage in October), Feria (October) and Christmas (December – January).
Sohail Castle hosts many tourist events including the annual International Festival of Music and Dance (July), the highly popular Beer Festival (July-August) and Medieval Market (August). A programme of theatre, concerts and flamenco is presented in Palacio de la Paz (palace of peace), while English speaking live theatre can be enjoyed at Salón Varietés, which has been entertaining mostly British ex-pats with high standard shows since 1985.
Eating and drinking
Fuengirola holds an annual ‘erotic tapas’ and other food events to highlight the gastronomy of the town. It pays to do a little research to discover which of the many restaurant styles might suit you best as whether looking for authentic Spanish, traditional British or other cuisines, the range is wide and varied. During the daytime, chiringuitos (beach bars) are the source of appetizing cooking smells, along with sardines cooked out in the open on a spit.
Drinking and dancing in the evening can extend well into next day; but, as with any lively place where people may be enjoying large quantities of alcohol, it is as well to exercise a little caution if staying on late. Of course, you could remain on resort and enjoy the live entertainment and bar facilities at Club La Costa World, able to retire to your apartment just when you want to.
Club La Costa World is ideally located on the edge of this bustling town, just a few minutes’ drive or energetic stroll from all the fun of Fuengirola.