What to do and what to see in Fuengirola

The municipality of Fuengirola is located to the south of the province of Málaga and integrated into the region of Costa del Sol Occidental. Its municipal area, with an extension of 10.5 km² almost entirely urbanized, occupies a narrow coastal strip of about 8 km in length, with beaches facing southeast.

Located 30 km southwest of Málaga city, the municipality of Fuengirola limits to the north with the municipalities of Benalmádena and Mijas, with the latter also limiting to the west and south. To the east it is bathed by Mediterranean Sea.

Fuengirola is one of the most populated municipalities in the province of Málaga and one of the most densely populated in Andalusia. It is eminently urban, given that the urbanized area occupies almost all of the 10.5 km² of the municipal area.

Fuengirola has a strong demographic growth since the middle of the 20th century caused by the development of tourism. It has one of the highest immigration rates in Andalusia, with people from other countries, mainly from United Kingdom, Ireland, Finland, Denmark and Sweden.

Its economy is mainly based on tourism and leisure sector, and with a notable dependence on real estate activity.

History of Fuengirola

Fuengirola was founded by the Phoenicians, although it is believed that previously there was a “bástulo” settlement.

During the Roman occupation, from the 3rd century B. C., Fuengirola became a federated city. At this time Sohail Castle was built, which the Romans called Suel. This castle has been very important throughout the history of Fuengirola and has remained despite of the of several civilizations have had during the history. The baths and the villa of Secretary Estate or the fish salting places found on the slopes of the Sohail Castle mount also belong to this period.

Later, Byzantines, Visigoths and Arabs were in these lands. The castle was named Sohail from this last period. In 858, the municipality of Fuengirola was devastated by an assault by Viking hordes and its population took refuge in Mijas. However, the Sohail Castle was rebuilt in the 10th century by Abd al-Rahman III.

In 1485, Fuengirola was conquered by the Castilian troops and an attempt was made to repopulate the area with 30 neighbors, but it failed due to the threats it received from North Africa, among other factors. This depopulation led to the lands of Fuengirola becoming Mijas. For a long time, the only place enabled was the Sohail Castle, which housed a military detachment that was in charge of monitoring the coast.

Its development slowed down due to the intense Berber piracy that the area suffered for centuries, a small population center began to be built and, after separating from Mijas on May 30, 1841, the municipality was constituted, still being a small fishing village.

During the Independence War, Sohail Castle was in the hands of the French as a consequence of the Gallic occupation of Spain. This was the scene of the so-called Battle of Fuengirola, in 1810, which pitted a Spanish-British army against a Polish garrison in the service of France.

The railway arrived in Fuengirola in 1916 and the car in the 1920s. Starting in the 1930s, beachfront hotels began to be built. They are the beginnings of the avalanche of tourists that, since the 1960s, has not stopped arriving in Fuengirola, completely transforming the municipality. This fact marked a change in the economy of the municipality, which was based on fishing and agriculture, and came to depend mainly on tourism.

Nowadays, Fuengirola is an important tourist center with an intense attraction of people, especially during the summer months.

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What to see in Fuengirola

Despite the fact that the municipality of Fuengirola was destroyed in 858 by the Vikings, there are some vestiges of previous times within its cultural heritage. In this way, you will be able to appreciate elements that are present in Fuengirola almost from the origins of the municipality.

Due to its importance throughout history, as you will have seen, the first monument of relevance in Fuengirola is the Sohail Castle. It is an Arab fortress, from the middle of the 10th century, built on an earlier Roman fortress. It is located on a small hill next to the mouth of River Fuengirola, where Phoenician and Punic remains have also been found in its surroundings, in the sites of Suel Roman City and Cortijo de Acevedo. The latter is from the 1st century B. C. because of some coins that were found from that time and it is an architectural complex that belonged to the urban part of a high imperial villa.

Between the 1st and 5th centuries, you will find the Roman archaeological site of Secretary Estate, located next to Arroyo Pajares, in the neighborhood known as Los Pacos. The complex is divided in two by N-340 road and has two different areas, a salting factory and a thermal area. A porticoed room decorated with mosaics and two ovens for heating the hot springs stands out.

And speaking about hot springs, in Fuengirola you can also see the Torreblanca Hot Springs, from between the 2nd and 6th centuries. It is an archaeological site of Roman origin with remains of a thermal building in good condition. It has been declared a Cultural Interest Asset and was acquired by Fuengirola City Hall in 2017, which has allowed conservation work to be carried out and, in this way, it can form part of the municipality's cultural heritage.

The Church of Our Lady of Rosary dates from the 40s of the 20th century, a much more recent time and with the municipality of Fuengirola repopulated. It is located in the Constitution Square and highlights the Baroque style doorway made up of two pilasters and a split pediment.

Also, while you stroll through the streets, you will be able to appreciate the Fuengirola urban art, in squares, roundabouts, corners and facades of buildings. A considerable amount of large sculptural works and murals, by prestigious national artists. There are more than forty sculptures and murals that decorate the streets of Fuengirola.

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What to do in Fuengirola

The tourist development of Fuengirola, means that today the municipality can offer you different activities to do during your visit, either by expanding your knowledge by visiting a museum or practicing water sports on any of its beaches.

As far as culture is concerned, in Fuengirola City Museum you can find different exhibitions, depending on when you visit the city, as its exhibitions are constantly being renewed. It is located in the old official house of the veterinarian, in Spain Square. Initially, it brought together a collection of objects related to the history of the city, originating largely from the sites of Suel Roman City, Sohail Castle and Secretary Estate. It has collected unique exhibitions of an extraordinary nature, such as "Japan: honor and tradition" or "the legacy of the Catholic Monarchs".

Also, related to culture, you can visit the Peace Palace or the Varietés Theater. The first is a multipurpose space for the representation of theatrical and musical shows, exhibitions and papers. While the second is a small theater that offers programming exclusively in English. It is the only one in Andalusia managed by foreign residents.

You can complete your desire for knowledge in Fuengirola by visiting the House of Culture, with an exhibition hall and an auditorium with capacity for 165 people where conferences, concerts, theater and recitals are held, or one of its three municipal libraries, Central Library, Francisco de Quevedo Library, in Los Boliches, and Lope de Vega Library, in El Boquetillo neighborhood.

When it comes to getting into nature without leaving the city, Fuengirola offers you an authentic adventure through the deepest tropical forests of Madagascar, Equatorial Africa, Southeast Asia and Indo-Pacific islands, thanks to the BIOPARC Fuengirola. This animal park based on respect for nature and the preservation of its species, was opened in 1978 and has been expanded on various occasions. It has an area of two hectares and contains about 1,300 animals of 140 different species. Its model in which animals coexist in a recreation of their natural habitat, has become a benchmark in Europe.

Do not forget the Fuengirola parks, as the city has a surface area of public green areas of more than 428,000 m², making a total of 47 parks. All the parks have equipment that will allow you to fully enjoy these little paradises.

Regarding the natural environment of Fuengirola, the most characteristic and that best represents the municipality are the beaches. The municipality of Fuengirola has eight kilometers of coastline divided into seven beaches, all of them urban, sandy and with calm waters. All of them are accessible from the promenade, can be reached by bus or car and have a high degree of occupancy. As a curiosity, Fuengirola promenade is the longest in Spain. From north to south the Fuengirola beaches are as follows:

  • Torreblanca Beach - It is located on the border with the municipality of Benalmádena. With dark sand and calm waters, it has a wide and long bathing area and another with a curious horseshoe shape that penetrates the sea. At around 1,200 meters long and about 20 meters wide, it usually gets the Blue Flag quality badge. It is accessible to people with reduced mobility and offers services of showers, toilets and litter bins, rental of sunbeds and umbrellas, rental of nautical equipment, beach bars, restaurants, parking, daily cleaning service, relief service and surveillance equipment.
  • Carvajal Beach - It is a beach of dark sand, gravel and bowling, with a fairly high degree of occupation and an extension of 450 meters in length and about 35 meters in width. It is characterized by its calm and high quality waters, as well as the benefits it offers. That is why it usually gets the Blue Flag quality badge. It is accessible to people with reduced mobility and offers services of showers and litter bins, rental of sunbeds and umbrellas, beach bars, kiosks, parking, daily cleaning service, boat rental, warning signs, surveillance by local police, beach volley area and a children' play area. It also has a leisure area on the shore, where you can have fun with your family and friends, on giant slides in the water.
  • Los Boliches-Las Gaviotas Beach - It is an urban beach, located next to the promenade, about 2,800 meters long and about 50 meters wide, with fine, dark sand. It usually has a high occupation in summer and is accessible to people with reduced mobility. It offers showers and litter bins, hammock and umbrella rental, nautical equipment rental, beach bars, restaurants, parking, daily cleaning service, relief service, surveillance equipment, rescue equipment, Red Cross post, danger signaling , sports area and children' area.
  • St. Francisco Beach - Located next to the Fuengirola port, close to a tourist office. It is an urban beach flanked by the promenade, with a high degree of occupation due to the liveliness of the area and the great conditions that it advises for bathing. About 700 meters long and about 30 meters wide, with fine, dark sand. It is accessible to people with reduced mobility and offers showers and litter bins, rental of sunbeds and umbrellas, rental of nautical equipment, beach bars, restaurants, kiosks, parking, daily cleaning service, surveillance equipment, rescue equipment, surveillance by the local police, Red Cross post and warning signs.
  • Fuengirola Beach - It is an urban beach about 1,550 meters long and about 40 meters wide with dark sand, flanked by the promenade. It offers showers, toilets and litter bins, hammock and umbrella rentals, nautical equipment rental, beach bars, restaurants, kiosks, parking, daily cleaning service, sports area and children' area.
  • St. Amalia Beach - Located next to El Castillo Beach, is an urban beach with calm waters, 1 kilometer long and about 30 meters wide and characterized by its family atmosphere. It is accessible to people with reduced mobility and offers services of showers, toilets and litter bins, rental of sunbeds and umbrellas, rental of nautical equipment, beach bars, restaurants, parking, daily cleaning service, surveillance equipment, rescue equipment, security surveillance, local police security, Red Cross post, danger signs and children' play area.
  • Ejido Beach - Also known as El Castillo Beach, since it is located around Sohail Castle. It is a semi-urban beach with calm waters and a type of fine, dark sand, about 800 meters long and about 50 meters wide. Its level of occupation is medium and it offers showers, toilets and litter bins, sun lounger and umbrella rentals, nautical equipment rental, beach bars, restaurants, parking, daily cleaning service and sports area.

These beaches will offer you the magnificent opportunity to practice some of the water sports such as diving, paddle surfing, parasailing or wakeboarding; have fun at the water attractions or relax on a boat ride.

To practice other sports, Fuengirola has six nearby golf courses, three municipal sport centers, a skatepark, a gym and a marina and fishing port, where the Fuengirola Nautical Club has a sailing school and organizes regular competitions.

One of the sporting events taking place in Fuengirola city is the Fuengirola Half Marathon, which welcomes more than 1,000 participants and is held in early November each year.

In addition, in Fuengirola there are private centers where you can arrange the rental of bicycles and guided routes, go-kart circuit, multi-adventure, paintball, motorcycle rental, etc.

After a bit of sport, you can collect energy at one of the beach bars along its promenade. And in the vicinity of this, you will find numerous pubs and clubs where you can have fun at night in a very international atmosphere.

Finally, it may be interesting to know that Fuengirola houses the largest second-hand market in Andalusia, which opens on Tuesdays at the Fairground. It is a very famous street market on Costa del Sol where you can find almost any object.

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Traditional festivities and celebrations in Fuengirola

The calendar of celebrations in Fuengirola extends throughout the year with a large number of festivities, so that you can coincide your visit with any of these events.

The first celebration is in spring and has a national character, Holy Week. It takes place in the months of March or April, depending on the year. For a week the inhabitants go out to Fuengirola streets in procession of the sacred images corresponding to four brotherhoods. A beautiful manifestation of popular religiosity that is followed with great devotion.

The next one is at the beginning of the month of May and it is celebrated for four days. This is the International People' Fair, which takes place in the Fairground. A great festive gathering where the culture and traditions of more than thirty countries are mixed, with manifestations of gastronomy, art and folklore.

The St. John' Night takes place the night of June 23 to 24. In it the popular "juas" are burned and Fuengirola beaches fill with people celebrating the end of spring and the beginning of summer.

During summer there are numerous celebrations in Fuengirola. The first is Virgin of Carmen Festivity, on July 16, where all of Fuengirola pays tribute to the patron saint of sailors, Virgin of Carmen. According to tradition, its image is taken in procession by land and sea, by sailors and fishermen, where very emotional moments are lived.

Also in the month of July, the Music and Dance International Festival takes place, in the Sohail Castle, and the Night Live, with music in various squares in Fuengirola city, special prices in hotel establishments and shops open until three o' the dawn.

In the month of August, for four days, the Medieval Market is held, which takes place at Sohail Castle. You will take a trip back in time to the Spain of minstrels and artisan guilds, and it will allow you to find all kinds of products characteristic of the time.

During a week in September, Fuengirola International Film Festival takes place at Alfil Multiplex.

Already in autumn, Fuengirola celebrates Virgin of Rosary Fair, between October 6 and 12 in honor of the patron saint of the municipality, Virgin of Rosary. During these festivals there are exhibitions of horse hooves, bullfights, flamenco singing and dancing and magnificent carriages that run through the streets of the city. At the same time, in the Fairground there are musical and humorous performances, children' parties with shows, fun animations and games.

On Sunday before this celebration, the Pilgrimage of Our Lady of Rosary takes place. It begins with a mass in Church of Our Lady of Rosary and, later, it leaves the procession with typical carts, horsemen, pilgrims and vehicles decorated for this purpose.

At the beginning of winter, as in any other part of Spain, Christmas takes place in Fuengirola. In it, the performances and activities of this date begin the last weekend of November with music concerts, pastorals, choirs, nativity scenes and New Year' parties, and ends on January 5 with the cavalcade of the three kings.

In addition to all these festivities and celebrations, cultural activities of all kinds take place throughout the year in Fuengirola. During the winter season they are mainly concentrated in the House of Culture and the Peace Palace, with weekly activities that include theater, book presentation, conferences, music, dance, etc. With the arrival of summer, these activities move to the Cristóbal Blanca del Moral Auditorium, in Spain Park, and also extend to Sohail Castle, where musical events take place fundamentally. The exhibitions take place mostly in House of Culture, which permanently houses one, in the Tenure of Mayor of Los Boliches, and in Fuengirola City Museum.

Other festivals that take place in the municipality of Fuengirola are Guadebro open-air dance, the last weekend of July, Los Pacos open-air dance, the last weekend of August, Carnivals, the weekend before Ash Wednesday and St. Cayetano open-air dance, the weekend closest to August 7.

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Gastronomy of Fuengirola

The gastronomy of Fuengirola is based on healthy and tasty Mediterranean cuisine and, as it is a coastal municipality, the most representative products are of marine origin, such as fish or seafood.

With these products some of the typical dishes of Fuengirola are cooked, among which are noodles a banda, fried fish, sardine spits, Málaga salad and Fuengirola cakes.

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