La Cala de Mijas, Costa del Sol – An Insider’s Guide: La Cala de Mijas is an excellent holiday base for a family beach holiday, a sightseeing or cultural extravaganza, or plenty of golf with spectacular views.
Once a small fishing village, La Cala de Mijas is now a thriving centre for both tourists and residents. It has retained its intimate village charm, with its narrow streets and whitewashed buildings, displaying colourful hanging baskets and floral tubs.
But it is now also packed with cafes and dozens of good restaurants serving Spanish food, with sardines and other fish caught locally, as well as Thai, Chinese, Italian, English or Indian food. Paella is cooked to order in restaurants next to the beach and there is a specialist fish restaurant. The menu del dia, the menu of the day, is available in the lively Spanish bars, some of them offering tapas or churros y chocolate, which is thin sticks of doughnut to dip in thick, hot chocolate.
A Panaderia, where the smell of fresh bread invites an early morning visit, is in the centre of La Cala and there are two supermarkets that are popular with the large number of self-catering tourists. Cheap souvenir shops are rare; The Wednesday and Saturday open market draws tourists to the stalls full of olives, spices, or leather handbags. Self-catering tourists can buy good value fruit and vegetables there too.
As well as vast amounts of self-catering apartments and villas available, there are two hotels in La Cala de Mijas, the 4 star Gran Hotel and the 4 star Cala Mijas Hotel. Another hotel, Beatriz Palace, is next to the castle on the outskirts of Fuengirola.
The Beach and Beach Bars
There is a large sandy beach, ideal for family fun. Ample sun beds are available even at the busiest time of year. Two main beach bars, Los Delphines; which serves a tasty fish soup, and the Arroyo Bar, both provide excellent value snacks and full meals, as well as chilled wine and beer. Step from the beach to an outside table and look at the sparkling sea while you eat.
Golf Courses Nearby
The golfing visitor has other priorities: The area is known as Costa del Golf, as there are at least 60 golf courses in the region, and 7 of those are within a ten-minute drive. La Noria Golf Course is just across the road and within walking distance; It is a flat 9-hole course with some water features.
La Cala Golf Resort, just 10 minutes drive into the hills, is the jewel in the crown. It has three courses, all equally hilly and all equally demanding, so a buggy is recommended. Adjacent to La Cala Golf Resort, which has a hotel and a spa, is Santana Golf Club that has one 18-hole course.
Horse Racing – A Full Day’s Entertainment
Horse racing enthusiasts are catered for at the Hipodromo, just outside La Cala de Mijas, during the summer months, starting about 10 p.m., and on Sunday lunchtime in February and March. There are restaurants, flamenco dancing in between races, and often live bands. It is an entertaining day out, even if your horses don’t win! There are also horse-riding stables nearby.
The public transport is excellent: Buses run every half hour to Fuengirola; 10 minutes up the coast towards Malaga Airport, and down to Marbella; 20 minutes in the direction of Gibraltar.
The train service from Fuengirola to Malaga is modern, with classical music playing and information screens, and trains are also punctual. Whilst in Malaga the Picasso Museum is well worth a visit, with over 180 works by the artist. So too is the Cathedral and the adjoining Iglesia del Sagrario.
From Malaga, trains are available to a variety of cities, including Madrid; about a 2-hour journey.
Car hire allows flexibility: Cars are available for hire, both in La Cala de Mijas and at Malaga Airport. A car is ideal for the journeys inland to places like the white village of Mijas, nestling in the hills, and only 20 minutes drive, or Ronda, about an hour’s drive. If you don’t like winding roads up into the mountains then avoid Ronda, or take a coach trip to experience the spectacular views from the bridge over the El Tajo ravine.
Nerja is a popular coastal resort and Granada is further; more than a 2-hour drive. You should pre-book your entrance tickets to the Alhambra Palace on the internet. The Alhambra Palace was built by the Moors between the 13th and 15th centuries, and is now a World Heritage Site.
Further up the Coast
If you wish to explore the coast, Puerto Banus boasts a harbour full of expensive yachts and is a trendy place to be seen, with boutiques and gift shops. There are plenty of bars where you can sip a coffee, or savour the coolness of a beer. Or you may prefer to eat a long lunch at one of the quayside restaurants, whilst watching the harbour activity. It is easy to lapse into the laid-back atmosphere.
The avid shopper can visit a mall at La Canada; 15 minutes drive near Marbella, or Myramar mall in Fuengirola. Both offer ample choices of fashion shops, cafes and bars.