Costa Del Sol, the Sun Coast, is the name given to the 100-mile strip of coastline that runs the length of Southern Spain. The area is not only popular for its sunny climate, but also for its golden sandy beaches, and of course the warm waters of the Mediterranean.
Our home base in Alahama de Granada was close enough to allow us to make a couple of day trips to the coast. Our first visit was to Torre del Mar, one of the main tourist resorts east of the capital city of Malaga. Playa de Torre del Mar is an impressive two-and-a-half-mile long beach and promenade which stretches all the way to the neighboring village of Caleta de Velez. The promenade is lined with beach bars, cafes, and shops, and is a wonderful place to stroll and explore.
The beach is long and wide with plenty of space for everyone, even in the height of summer. In June, the sun sets around 9:30pm and when we decided to call it a day at 8:30 the beach was still packed with people. But after a relaxing afternoon soaking up the sun, we were more than ready to rinse of the salt and sand under one of the many public beach showers and check out our options for dinner.
Costa del Sol is famous for its espetos, sardines on a skewer grilled over open fires, and it was fascinating to see them being cooked in boats pulled up onto the sand. I wasn’t up for the distinctive fishy taste of sardines, but I did tackle my very first whole fish (complete with googly eyeballs), a daring feat for someone who is not too partial to fish!
Our second day trip was to Mijas Pueblo. This incredible village clings to the mountain side just 6 miles from the coast and 400 meters above sea level. The narrow-cobbled streets, whitewashed buildings, and beautiful mosaics give the village a distinctly Moorish style. Many artists and writers have made this their home and there are a number of craft shops and galleries selling their work.
There are some fascinating sights to see in Mijas including the Grotto of the Virgin de la Pena. Legend has it that this shrine, which is set in a tiny cave, was built by the father of two children who were led here by a dove to discover a statue of the Virgin Mary (the patroness of Mijas) which had been lost for over 500 years. The statue can still be seen above the alter, surrounded by flowers.
Parque Muralla is a pretty botanical garden located on the grounds of the old fortress. It is the sight of San Sebastian church and offers spectacular views of the coast and the old part of Mijas village.
Plaza de la Constitucion is lined with shops and restaurants, including Myan Monkey Mijas, the world’s smallest chocolate factory! However, the thing which Mijas is most famous for, is its donkey taxis. These brightly decorated beasts stand waiting patiently in the plaza for customers to ferry through the steep streets. It is quite a sight watching their drivers heading home in a long meandering line at the end of the day.
As a final stop on our Spanish adventure, we couldn't have asked for a more beautiful, evocative Andalusian experience than our time in this charming village.