"Short stories and travel reports from my life adventures around the globe".

Travel Report: Fuengirola, The Costa del Sol.

Fuengirola Costa del Sol.

Fuengirola, The Costa del Sol.

December 2016. After an initial flurry of Costa del Sol visits in the summer of 2016, I had admittedly forgotten about my strange travel project.

Basically, I had resolved to check out the coastal region’s British-Spanish hybrid towns one by one. Chiefly to see if they really were as awful as everyone says. Guilty pleasure travel, I suppose you could call it.

Costa del Sol map.

After a surprisingly lovely day in Benalmadena, the town of Torremolinos had shown me that there was good reason for the general disdain surrounding the Costa Del Sol. With so many genuinely gorgeous and authentically Spanish towns and cities to focus on throughout Andalusia, my CDS project had fallen by the wayside.

Then, one December afternoon in Malaga, I found myself at a loose end. Quite suddenly, I decided to grab my rucksack, throw on some shoes and head down to Maria Zambrano Railway Station.

Maria Zambrano Railway Station Malaga.

Mario Zambrano Railway Station.

Photo courtesy of Terry Wha. 

I was so completely devoid of a plan, I didn’t even know where I was going. Not until I was on the train that runs along the Costa del Sol’s seemingly infinite coastline. “Next stop Fuengirola” came the tinny announcement. Upon which I thought, yeah, that’ll do.

Fuengirola, The Costa del Sol.

Fountain obelisk Fuengirola Costa del Sol.

Fuengirola, The Costa del Sol.

Outside the train station, I stopped by the handsome Obelisk Roundabout and mapped out a walking route to the old town. Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that I’m usually a do-er. Typically, I like to stay in places for an extended period of time. Peel back the layers and get under the skin. When I can’t do that, I tend to get super organised and pack in as much as I possibly can.

By its very nature, The Costa Del Sol allowed me to take a giant step back. With a general lack of sights, or at least the kind of sights I’m interested in, these experiences were purely about doing exactly what I wanted at precisely my desired pace. Moreover, on that particular afternoon, I was feeling somewhat reflective and wanted nothing more than an aimless stroll.

Plaza de la Constitucion Fuengirola.

Plaza de la Constitución.

My first stop was at Plaza de la Constitución, the town’s definitive focal point. Originally a fishing village, Fuengirola’s development as a tourist town and British expat haven began in the mid 19th century. This main square dates back to 1841 when the town’s first mayor, Antonio García Cortés, unveiled a newly paved space with a grand opening ceremony.

Plaza de la Constitución.

Plaza Constitucion Fuengirola.

Plaza de la Constitución.

Immediately, the square gives off much more of an authentic Spanish feel than both Benalmadena and Torremolinos combined. Especially with the pockets of local seniors who habitually hang out at the square’s central fountain. Somehow, I liked the fact that although the British may have overtaken Fuengirola, this square was theirs!

Old people Plaza de la Constitucion Fuengirola

Fuengirola, The Costa del Sol.

Happy to engage in some sittin’ doin’ nothin’ myself, I took a load off on one of the iron benches and observed for a bit. They were not what one could call a happy bunch. While my Spanish comprehension is patchy at best, I could still pick out bits of gossiping, complaining and even arguing.

Moreover, it was grimaces all round as I glanced from face to face. Still, I suppose if one must be unhappy, misery is always better in the sun.

Unfortunate man Fuengirola Costa del Sol.

Plaza de la Constitución.

My theory possibly also works for this unfortunate man. He was snoozing by one of the fountain’s corners, an empty and forlorn looking cap laid out on the step below his feet. You certainly wouldn’t be able to do this mid December in London. Nevertheless, he had my full sympathy. Hence I dropped a couple of Euros into his cap as I rose and moved on.

Visit Fuengirola.

Our Lady of the Rosemary Church Fuengirola The Costa del Sol.

Our Lady of El Rosario Parish Church.

The towering Our Lady of El Rosario Parish Church provides the square with much of the shade people come to hide in. Don’t let its Neo-baroque facade fool you, as it wasn’t actually built until the early 1950s.

As I made my approach that day, I found myself greeted by a tall man selling candy in a Mickey Mouse suit. Which, I have to say, was definitely a Spanish church first.

Church of Our Lady of the Rosary Fuengirola.

Fuengirola, The Costa del Sol.

Inside, an elegant, ceramic altar stands in honour of Our Lady of The Rosary, Fuengirola’s patron saint. Its main feature is an impressive carving of the virgin made locally in the late 1940s.

According to online articles, which are very few and far between, daily mass still takes place and there are regular services in English.

The London Pub Fuengirola Costa del Sol.

Alright, guv’nor?

On my way to the beach, I caught some glimpses of Fuengirola’s British revolution. Some utterly charmless watering holes, such as The London Pub, and plenty of greasy cafes trumpeting “the best English breakfast in town”.

Garden cafe Fuengirola.

Garden Cafe.

However, for the most part I found Fuengirola’s old quarter the nicest of the three towns I’d visited so far. So pleasant, in fact, that I decided to stop at the peaceful Garden Cafe for a beer and to sink a chapter of my Truman Capote book, In Cold Blood.

Las Gaviotas Beach.

Las Gaviotas Beach Fuengirola.

Las Gaviotas Beach.

What a wonderful surprise I got when I arrived at Las Gaviotas Beach. Gone were the summer crowds and those awful squadrons of parasols I’d seen in Benalmadena and Torremolinos. In their place, absolutely nothing but an unbroken sandy vista of crashing waves and whitewashed buildings nestled in the distant hills.

Despite the fine weather, I had the place largely to myself. Just a woman reading, a dog walker and half a dozen fishermen on one of the piers. 

Visit Fuengirola in The Costa del Sol.

Fuengirola, The Costa del Sol.

There are several rocky piers running off the beach. I decided to head down an empty one for a few shots back across the beach and town.

At some point, I realised the wind had picked up and the waters had gotten quite choppy. It was all very fresh, a shaking off of the internal cobwebs, so to speak. 

Fuengirola, The Costa del Sol.

Visit The Costa Del Sol Fuengirola.

Fuengirola, The Costa del Sol.

On my way back to the train station, I had a sudden craving for coffee and cake. I could have stopped at a hundred and one places. But in the end I settled on a corner table at Cafe Andino on Avenida Matias Saenz de Tejada. The resulting latte and chocolate fudge cake really hit the spot.

Coffee and cake Cafe Andino Fuengirola.

Cafe Andino.

This is one of those occasions where I can’t say I got anywhere near seeing what Fuengirola had to offer. In addition to its beaches and old town, tourists come here for a number of nearby attractions.

These include Biopark Fuengirola, a naturalistic zoo with a jungle clearing, and Sohail Castle, an isolated hilltop ruin dating back to AD956. Sometimes, you just can’t do it all.

Leighton Travels travel reports short stories.

Like this? Why not read more of my reports from The Costa del Sol.

You can also check out my my many articles from across Andalusia.

To delve further afield, I’ve written loads of pieces from all over Spain.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

Leighton Travels logo travel reports and short stories.


  • Ticker Eats The World

    Beautiful photos and description. Just wrote about my time in Fuengirola on the blog so do have a read. Luckily didn’t find it that “bad” but then it was only a base as we explored all the different areas around it.

    January 23, 2017 - 10:36 am Reply
    • leightonliterature

      Hi Ticker, thanks for swinging by and taking the time to comment. I have just read a bit of your blog, nice work!

      January 23, 2017 - 11:13 am Reply
  • wanderlustig

    Beautifully written ! Have you ever read the LP Guide to Experimental Travel ? The beginning of your post was just like it. I once spent a weekend in Lindau without any planning and no map. Of course I ended up rather soon in the old town but still it was a very inspiring journey.

    December 19, 2020 - 9:59 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey thanks! I haven’t read the LP guide to experimental travel, is there a public excerpt I can read online? Just had a look at Lindau and it looks gorgeous. Would definitely like to squeeze in a bit more of Germany one of these years.

      December 19, 2020 - 10:03 am Reply
  • wanderlustig

    Only found this t
    However I recommend to read the book. It is fun to read and if you wish you can try out a few methods of traveling, even for a short time. You can order the (used) book rather cheaply from Amazon.

    December 19, 2020 - 10:20 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks! I used to have a huge LP collection from cities and countries I’ve visited, but have never read one of their general travel advice editions. Thanks for reading!

      December 19, 2020 - 10:23 am Reply
  • pedmar10

    Beautiful photos but an area too much overrun by tourists even whole communities of them lives there for retirement. Cheers

    December 19, 2020 - 11:36 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Absolutely, although I found Fuengirola much more charming than both Torremolinos and Benalmadena.

      December 19, 2020 - 11:57 am Reply
  • 100 Country Trek

    Loved our time there..did a home swap with our vacation house in was a fantastic place . Loved roaming around the area. This brings back memories..thanks.

    December 19, 2020 - 11:42 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for reading! Did you manage to see that castle I mentioned?

      December 19, 2020 - 11:57 am Reply
  • 100 Country Trek

    No ..only saw it from the outside.

    December 19, 2020 - 4:34 pm Reply
  • Lyssy In The City

    Love all of the photos, the chocolate fudge cake is making me hungry!

    December 19, 2020 - 5:15 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Lyssy, could do with a slice myself right now.

      December 19, 2020 - 6:05 pm Reply
  • rkrontheroad

    I can certainly see why these towns are popular with tourists. The old towns and beaches are worth the wander.

    December 19, 2020 - 6:47 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Yeah, Fuengirola isn’t so bad. Especially in the off season without the crowds.

      December 19, 2020 - 7:38 pm Reply
  • Rebecca

    It’s amusing that you had the time (and dedication!) to visit these resort towns in Spain. I’ve only been to Marbella, which I found lackluster, i.e. not much to do. But it was pretty, and I recall having lunch at a vegetarian/vegan restaurant, which was very not-Spanish! Thanks for your documentation on these spots in the country!

    December 19, 2020 - 7:47 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      I did have a lot of time that year, ha, hence the luxury project. I quite liked Marbella (for what it is), which is maybe my favourite of the five Spanish resort towns I went to. I think they all suffer from not having much to do. I mean, if you’re not lying on a beach or eating or drinking. Marbella and Nerja are next up, then it’ll be back to ‘real’ Spain, so to speak. I think it’s cool that everyone’s stuck with me through this diversion, you are all such troopers!

      December 19, 2020 - 8:03 pm Reply
      • Rebecca

        Your posts are far from a diversion…I thoroughly enjoy them all!

        December 19, 2020 - 9:02 pm
  • Memo

    Your comments about what you didn’t visit always make me want to see a few. Some of your city shots are really attractive – like the opening shot and the city shot across the white cap waves with the mountain and clouds in the background. If you ever get tired of writing these posts, you could always get a job shooting postcards. Nice Christmas vibe, by the way.

    December 20, 2020 - 12:22 am Reply
  • Lookoom

    In many countries these are small towns that could be recommended for a visit, but Spain has so much more to offer, it’s no wonder that they are somewhat ignored by travellers. This reminds me of my (mistaken) stop in Benidorm on the way back north.

    December 20, 2020 - 9:39 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha! I have heard so many stories about Benidorm. Many moons ago, I did visit Tenerife with my college friends for a drinking holiday. I’m guessing it’s similar to Benidorm. Thanks for reading!

      December 20, 2020 - 9:52 am Reply
      • Lookoom

        It was a bit off-season, Benidorm was overrun with white hair. It looked like a premonition film where the human species would be in its last generation, without any more births of children.

        December 20, 2020 - 9:57 am
      • Leighton

        Ha ha, nice description!

        December 20, 2020 - 3:12 pm

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: