For the love of the good Lord above, don’t confuse Mijas Costa with Mijas Pueblo. The former is a 12km stretch of resorts along the very popular La Cala de Mijas Spain – think more bars and restaurants than you could manage in months, beach life/sporting activities that include windsurfing, water skiing, jet skiing, and paragliding.
The latter is a ‘white’ town sitting 400 metres above sea level and about 10km from the coast – think flower-bedecked narrow streets and laneways, pretty plazas, lazy bars and lassez-faire restaurants (in the afternoons) and busy bars and bustling restaurants (in the evenings). You might think there isn’t much to do in Mijas Pueblo, but that really depends on what you want to do.
Oh, sure, if you want to fill your time with hustle and bustle all day long, surrounded by beach buddies and bar mates, then get thee hence to the Costa side of things. If, however, you want to chill out day after day, amble along narrow shaded streets for a coffee or two in the mornings and a pint of iced beer in the afternoon, then Mijas Pueblo is the place. If you want to ramble through a lived-in area with no obvious designs on entrapping a tourist and divesting them of their money and/or sense, then Mijas Pueblo is the place. If you want sun as well as sanity – well, you get my drift, right?
TOP TWO THINGS TO DO/SEE
Mijas Museum of Miniatures
It sounds fantastical, but it’s actually true: this museum hosts the most unusual exhibits and in order to see them you will need to look through incredibly powerful microscopes. Celebrating its 50th year as a museum, there are over 300 minuscule items here, many of which have to be seen to be believed. Some are amusing (anyone for stuffed dressed fleas?) and some are amazing (a copy of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper on a grain of rice). In other words, it’s good fun for young and old and all ages in-between.
Mayan Monkey Mijas Chocolate Factory
It used to be a secret, but word is getting out about one of the (if not the actual ‘the’) smallest chocolate factories in the world. Located in the town’s Plaza Virgen de la Peña, with an entrance sign that doesn’t lie (‘Happiness Laboratory’), a visit here is great fun for adults and kids alike. After a quick tour of the factory, you will be set to work making your own chocolate bars, which will surely not last the journey back to your hotel! If the preference is for a more involved chocolate-making experience (this will probably depend on the age of any youngsters you have in your charge) then there is an hour-long workshop you can sign up for.
TOP TWO RESTAURANTS
Aroma Café and The Secret Garden
Ah, boy… The Aroma Café is lovely, encased in a house that dates back to the 1970s, but bypass it and make a beeline for the Secret Garden Restaurant in Mijas Spain. It is, in fact, a blink-and-you-miss-it area, but once seen never forgotten: an open-air dining space with tables languishing under multiple decades-old olive, fig and orange trees. The menu includes seafood, Andalucian meats (cooked via barbecue), pasta and traditional tapas. A bit pricier than other restaurants in the town, but worth it.
A new restaurant is something to be celebrated, and so on the recommendation of a passer-by (which, now I think of it, could have been the owner, Salvatore Di Stefano), we popped into Patio Antiguo, where we were shown (via the spacious, freshly minted indoors area) to the al fresco section. A beautiful space was complemented by a menu that offered up all kinds of treats: we chose Ensalada de Pulpo a la Gallega (Octopus salad Galician style), Berenjenas Fritas Con Miel de la Casa (Crispy aubergines with house honey), Mejillones a la Crema (Cream mussels) and a bottle of Bardos Romantica. Will we be back in a heartbeat? Just listen to this: boom, boom, boom, boom.
TOP TWO BEST BUYS
We have seen many smart shopping options in our time, but we were very much taken with the footwear in 47 Designs, a small shop in a narrow laneway in Mijas Spain that specialises in customising Converse-style runners and boots with whatever design/image you like. With designs that borrow from pop music icons (Beatles, Rolling Stones), television (Peaky Blinders, Breaking Bad), movies (Pulp Fiction, Harry Potter) and artists (Frida Kahlo, Banksy), they’re fun, funky and probably best suited to the lovable teenagers in your life. Despite any reservations about copyrights, you can’t deny it’s a novel twist on an old idea.
Sabor A España
A very different type of shop and nothing at all like you might see in Ireland? That’s the vibe at the family-run Sabor A España, which specialises in the on-site manufacture and sale of dried/brittle fruit and nougat. The tagline on their website (‘Always smile, always offer food sampling, like a grandma who keeps feeding her grandchildren’) reflects the face-friendly atmosphere on the sparkling clean and very contemporary premises.
TRH Hotel Mijas
This four-star hotel is bang in the centre of Mijas Spain, so it made sense to stay here primarily because of the elevation of the town. There are, admittedly, fancier and pricier hotels in the area, but staying here meant we were about five minutes’ walk away from the centre. While the four-star rating is nominal (the lobby and lounge areas, and the anterooms, are traditionally Spanish and lovely because of it; the bedrooms are decent if functional and not at all what you might classify as a contemporary four-star; the gym is tiny), you can’t beat the location. Factor in a decent outdoor swimming pool for that much-needed post-afternoon cool-down soak (and the staff, which couldn’t do enough to make us feel welcome) and it’s a winner.
Article written by Tony Clayton Lea