Since being a teenager, like most independent adults, the idea of a 'family holiday' has been one sure to fill me with dread! But with our family recently expanding thanks to the arrival of my lovely niece Matilda, this Spring it was time for organised family fun again...
And where to go for the tick-list of Spring sunshine, a range of activities to meet everyone's needs, and just a 2 hour flight time from the UK... well it turned out to be Spain's sunny Costa Del Sol! Hmmm... my first reaction as someone who tends to seek out hidden gems was one of uncertainty, envisaging straw donkeys and 1€ beer. But maybe I was about to be surprised... time for a new kind of family holiday in Mijas and to rediscover the Costa Del Sol ...eek wish us luck!
Where to stay
With my sister, brother-in-law, baby Matilda, my parents and grumpy-pants me (I may OCCASIONALLY be known to be unsociable) all wanting our own space and something different from the week ... the obvious choice for accommodation had to be a private villa.
We opted for Villa Mimosas, a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom property managed by Panoramic Villas in the small urbanisation of La Sierrezuela between the beach town of Fuengirola and the charming Andalusian village of Mijas.
Panoramic Villas offer a range of villas and apartments on the Costa Del Sol with private pools, BBQs, outdoor spaces and whatever else you might need for your family holiday. Set in lovely gardens, with a pool and plenty of chill out spaces, Villa Mimosas was perfect for us to be able to spend lazy days sunbathing and enjoying meals together, but with enough space to escape from each other for a bit if needed!
We were just a few minutes from the local village of El Coto with a small supermarket and a couple of restaurants, or a 5 minute drive to the main beach town of Fuengirola. You could also get to the coast by walking about an hour through the local villages ... a stroll I did one day when needing a bit of me time! :)
Walking into the resort of Fuengirola, it's easy to feel like you're in a bit of a timewarp back to the Spanish package family holidays of the 1970s and 80s. That's not necessarily a negative either, as I found the retro sun loungers and high rise apartment blocks a rather charming reminder of seaside holidays gone by! Walking along the front with over 5 miles of sandy beaches it most certainly felt like I was on my holibobs :)
That being said, if you're looking for the more authentic side of Andalusia, behind the bright lights of the tourist resort centre, you will find the pretty Plaza de la Constitucion, plus lots of little streets, housing bars and tapas restaurants for those seeking refreshment.
And more real Spain was to be found I walked out of Fuengirola, back up the hill towards La Sierrezuela. The working town of Las Lagunas de Mijas was a bustling centre of shops, residential blocks and all the colours and noises of Andalusia. It felt like you'd just walked out of your studio flat and popped out to grab a juice and pick up some fruit in the market ... I love places like that!
For many Mijas is the perfect stereotype of a traditional Spanish village ... a beautiful little picture-postcard white pueblo 428 metres above sea level, with incredible views out to the ocean. The ideal choice for a family day out!
With our hire car we climbed the steep and winding road away from El Coto towards Mijas and having parked up, wandered leisurely through the narrow cobbled streets full of fresh flowers, soaking up the traditional Andalusian way of life.
There is plenty to see round every corner and amazing vistas panning much of the Costa Del Sol. We enjoyed pottering around with an ice cream and letting our feet find their way around this chaming little town full of characterful architecture, splashes of colours against white and vibrant plant pots.
Strolling around, we eventually came across one of Mijas' main attractions, its bullring, opened in 1900 and unusually for Spain, oval in shape. Personally, bullfighting is not my cup of tea, but nevertheless it is an interesting building and there are more stunning views over the gardens surrounding it.
Descending back into the village, there's just time for a well-earned glass of vino and some tapas on a small plaza before we head back to the villa for an afternoon of sunbathing. Family day out DONE and no squabbling!
Getting my fix of outdoors
Whilst in Mijas, I looked up wistfully at the incredible green carpeted mountains behind the town and my need for a little hiking fix kicked in. Thankfully my dad is game for an adventure and armed with a very easy to follow walking map from the local tourist office, we set off early one morning.
Picking La Ruta Canada Gertrudis as an 'achievable looking' 1.5 hour hike of medium difficulty, we quickly climbed into the forest leaving the town behind and heading for the hills. Suffice to say the route was a little more challenging than the early morning stroll we might have anticipated, but we were rewarded for our efforts by incredible scenery and a real sense of being back to nature (helped by the snake I saw!) just a short way from civilisation!
It was a morning very well spent and I would definitely recommend taking the time to discover the outdoors just a stone's throw from the tourist areas. The maps were very easy to follow and in summer the tourist office offers guided walks.
Having done our exercise for the day, we smugly headed back to the villa for a final afternoon of sunbathing, eating and drinking ;)
Wish you were here ...
All too quickly our week in the sun was done ... but what a blast we had!
Despite my reservations, it turned out that Mijas and the Costa Del Sol offered something for everyone ... sun, sand, beaches, authentic Spain, great accommodation, hiking and not a straw donkey in sight! Just 2 hours away from the UK and umpteen low cost flights available to Malaga, where you'll find the Costa Del Sol, Granada and Andalusia all at your fingertips to explore, it really is a part of Spain to explore with fresh eyes.
And most importantly Matilda loved her first time in a swimming pool ... and really on a family holiday that's all that matters :)
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