As a lover of Spain and all things Spanish, we visit Spain a fair amount. I have a list of places I would like to visit in Spain (I am a big fan of lists!) so we decided this summer we would tick off another destination…
We flew from Birmingham to Malaga in mid-July (possibly not the best time to visit due to the heat but we were dictated to by school holidays and work commitments), picked up a hire car at the airport then hit the road. Our first destination was Granada – somewhere I had wanted to visit for some time. It was a fairly lengthy drive to get there and Freya did not enjoy it at all (she left us in no doubt about this!). However, the route was easy to follow and we had no trouble finding our way.
Our accommodation in Granada was La Casita del Corralón, a cosy, traditional, two bedroomed house in the Albayzín district of Granada. It had parking, free wi-fi and a lovely, secluded courtyard garden. A decent breakfast was also included in the price – to be taken at a nearby hotel (100m away). This is definitely one of the loveliest places I have ever stayed! It is only around 250m from the Mirador de San Nicolás, which provides a great view of the Alhambra. There are also a few great restaurants only a stone’s throw from the house.
Our main reason for visiting Granada was to see the Alhambra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most visited places in Spain. To get there we used the Granada Train Tour, a hop on-hop off mini-train which visits the main tourist sites in Granada, providing an audio guide in multiple languages. It was fantastic, and well worth the very reasonable cost.
What I hadn’t realised from pictures I had seen of the Alhambra was quite how vast the complex is – 3,455,000 square metres (although much of it is not open to the public)! It is without doubt one of the most amazing sites I have visited – the ornate decoration, the many fountains and the Generalife gardens are awe-inspiring. We spent a whole day walking around and still didn’t feel we had seen absolutely everything there was to see. It wouldn’t be somewhere I would necessarily visit with young children as there is not that much that would interest them and there is a lot of walking involved, but I would highly recommend visiting if you can – there’s nowhere like it in the world.
After two nights in Granada, we headed to Mijas Pueblo, around 1.5 hours drive away. Mijas Pueblo is a traditional, white-washed village with a population of around 7,500 situated in the mountains of Andalucia. It was much cooler up in the mountains than in Granada and the temperature was very pleasant, even in July.
We stayed for five nights at the TRH Mijas, an Andalucian style hotel, where all the rooms have either a sea, mountain or pool view (we had a beautiful sea view). The food in the restaurant was great, the service was friendly and the views down to the coast were spectacular. The hotel had an outdoor pool (with a view!), which Freya spent most of her time in during our stay, and a pool bar for the adults! The hotel also has a tennis court and a fitness centre if you are feeling active.
The village of Mijas is lovely and there are plenty of cafes and craft shops – selling hand-made pottery and paintings by local artists – to browse around, which is what we spent much of our time doing. We spent a pleasant hour one day sitting drinking freshly-made smoothies outside a café in the main square whilst watching a flamenco performance.
We happened to be there for the Luna Mora Festival – an ancient celebration of three important cultures who lived in the region of Andalucia – Christian, Muslim and Sephardic Jews. In the evening, all the street lights are turned off and the cobbled streets are lit purely by candlelight. Pictures of stars and moons had been made out of candles on the ground and there was a large craft fair by the church. It was a beautiful evening.
Mijas Pueblo is also just a short car ride from the coastline of the Costa del Sol. We visited Mijas Costa a couple of times while we were there, which was pleasant. We enjoyed a stroll along the seafront and a paddle in the sea, but they are nowhere near as picturesque or relaxing as Mijas Pueblo.
After a relaxing five nights, we made the short drive back to Malaga airport. We were sorry to leave Mijas at the end of our stay but we will definitely be returning – it’s a very pretty village and not over-crowded with tourists, even in the height of summer!