Although as a family we travel around a great deal it is always within the UK. I love going abroad, but I am terrified of flying. I have been to a lot of places and will always get on the plane (sometimes need a bit of encouragement / a good shove) but it will be with a racing heart, shaking legs and sweating palms – not fun for me or whoever is travelling with me. As a result, I think I have been using the fact I have a toddler as an excuse not to go anywhere.
So, when my other half told me he had booked us on our first family holiday abroad, a 10 day trip to southern Spain at the beginning of May I had an extreme mixture of emotions. Firstly terror (of course). Not only was I going on a plane, i was going to have to do it with an energetic 2-year-old who could kick off at any moment and from whom i would have to keep my fears completely hidden – I really don’t wont E to develop a fear of flying like his crazy mother. On the other hand, i was so so excited about going somewhere new and was looking forward to showing E a new country.
Turns out E is a natural traveller. He was such a cool customer on the plane, just playing with a few new toys we brought him, a new sticker book and a colouring book. Oh and consuming a LOT of snacks. I need to take a leaf out of his book on how to approach air travel!
Spain was fantastic. It is an area we know well as a family, which is why we chose it for our first holiday as we already knew the lay of the land. We flew into Malaga and stayed just north of Fuengirola in a self catered flat, nestled beneath the hills of Mijas.
The weather was perfect for E, being between 22 and 27 degrees Celsius. We have been out there before in August when the temperature was in the mid to high 30’s and that would have been too hot. We just wouldn’t have got to half the places we did.
We hired a car and used it every day. Some days we stayed near to home and other days we drove over an hour to get to somewhere we had not seen before. In general most places are toddler friendly. A lot of the villages we visited had lovely little play areas which E loved. Towns tend to have narrow, winding streets and therefore not too much traffic which meant we could let E wander and explore. Most towns have beautiful parks and gardens which are all pedestrianised and great for a bit of shade and an wander.
So i thought i would just list a few of the places / things we did on our holiday which we and E enjoyed the most.
A cable car ride to the top of the world at Benalmadena
This is a firm family favourite which we had all done before (bar E) and was on our must do list as we knew E would love it. There is free parking in the car park for the Tivoli world theme park. The Teleferico Benalmadena Cable Car is a 15 minute cable car ride up to the summit of Mt. Calamorro. The cable car is basically like a ski gondola and although E was wary at first, he enjoyed skimming over the roof tops of Benelmadena and being able to look out onto people’s back gardens and pools and especially loved it when the gondala crossed the motorway.
At the summit there is a selections of walks to take you up to the top of the mountain. Although the paths are solid (and have lighting I’m guessing for trips up at sunset – that would be amazing), this is not buggy friendly (E went up on my other half’s shoulders) and there are a LOT of steps. It probably took us around 15 minutes to get to the top from the cable car…we were going very slowly! The path winds its way up the rest of the mountain and at the top you are met by the most stunning views of the Costa del Sol 800 meters below. It was so peaceful up there, we spent a good half hour wandering round looking at the views.
There is a small cafe at the top of the mountain as you exit the cable car what does a small lunch menu and really good coffee. There are also toilets and baby changing here as well.
Round tickets were around 12 Euros per adult, 9 Euros for under 10’s and under 3’s are free.
The Beach at Cala Da Mijas
This is a lovely little fishing village on the coast in between Fuegorola and Marbella and it was the perfect place to let E have a wander on the beach.
The beach was beautiful and clean with soft golden sand which was perfect for building sand castles. The water was quite shallow as well which allowed E to have a little paddle. There are great foot washing stations all along the beach. These were little wooden platform areas that were free to use and allowed us to rinse the sand off of E before we continued our stroll. Such a good idea as sand and toddlers is sometimes a messy combination.
The whole sea front is pedestrianised which meant we could let E run around. There are lots of bars and cafe’s along the front selling food and drink. There are also some really lovely children’s play areas along the front which were fantastic. Lots of seating around them so we could get a coffee from a nearby cafe and let E play. The perfect afternoons wander.
A day out in Mijas
Mijas is a beautiful traditional Spanish town nestled in the hills above the Costa del Sol.
The town is made up of the classic mixture of winding narrow cobbled streets, little sides streets and alley ways to be explored and bright white washed houses with colourful front doors. It makes it the perfect place to have a wander with a toddler as there was not much traffic in the old town. There are lovely little streets full of shops to explore and lots of restaurants and cafe’s dotted here and there.
We wandered through town and climbed the hill up towards the Bull ring. Up here there were fantastic views across Mijas. There was also a lovely shady play park for E to enjoy. Behind the Bull ring we found the towns botanical Gardens which are beautiful and welcoming with the trees providing dappled shade and the numerous water features providing a cooling atmosphere.
As Mijas is built on a hill there are fantastic views to be had all over this pretty Spanish town. A definite must if you are in the area.
An afternoon in Frigliana
This was one of my favourite trips we did on our holiday. We travelled an hour to the east of Malaga and visited the beautiful hill-top town of Frigliana. It has been voted one of the prettiest villages in Andalusia and you can see why.
Nestled in the hills above the sea-side town of Nerja (also well worth a visit), this village is beautifully traditional with white washed houses with gorgeous pastel coloured front doors and red roofs all nestled along beautiful winding cobbled streets. It was a joy to wander along the beautiful streets, the town is pristine and clean and every front door, street and alleyway is adorned with pots and pots of flowers. I have never seen so many flowers and they looked even more pretty against the white washed walls. Even the cobbled streets were a work of art with beautiful cobbled patterns leading you through the town.
We had lovely afternoons wander around the town. There are countless streets, alleyways and steps to explore and every now and then there are breaks in the houses and you get a glimpse of the views down to the coast. We found a beautiful flower lined, sun drenched square which had a great restaurant with outdoor seating and had the yummiest lunch. E is not one for sitting through even a quarter of a meal so sitting outside is perfect as it allows him to wander (with one of us in tow). The town has minimal traffic so I felt happy letting him explore the cobbled streets and shops before returning to the table for another bite of food (the joys of eating out with a toddler) We took our pram and E thought it was really funny when he was pushed over the cobbles.
There was a lovely play park near to the main car park which E enjoyed and there is even a small land train that gives rides around the town.
All in all this is the perfect Spanish town and is well worth a visit. We will definitely be going back again.
Fuengirola Zoo / Biopark
Although you would not expect to find a zoo in downtown Fuengirola this has to be one of my favourite zoos I have ever visited. Nestled in the middle of this bustling town Bioparc Fuengirola is a beautiful little oasis of green and calm and is the perfect place to spend half a day with little ones.
The park is beautifully designed to make it feel like you are just out for an afternoon walk in the forest. Lots of mature trees give much-needed shade and make it pleasant to walk around the whole park.
The park is a new concept of zoo which is based around the preservation of natural species and you can feel the love and respect that the zoo has for its animals in the pristine way the park looks and feels. Another thing I liked about it was they like to put different animals in to one area together making it feel much more natural.
I loved the fact that each enclosure looked well designed and spacious, in fact they don’t really look like enclosures at all – and it has been so well thought out that you literally get to see every animal from tigers to baby hippos, the biggest kimodo dragon to the smallest little fish. E loved the crocodiles the best – which I have to say i found a little unnerving as they just glared at us, barely moving or breathing…. (I promise there is glass in between that huge croc and my child).
The zoo is quite small – I think we wandered around it in about 3 hours (and we wandered slowly) but there are so many animals to see and so many shady spots to sit and watch them from.
I really wish I lived near this zoo – i would be in there every day. All Zoos should be like this one. It is quite expensive (19 euros per adult, 14 euros for children age 3-9 and under 3’s are free) but we have been a few times now and I would definitely pay to get in next time we are there. It was perfect for a little one as it was not a great distance to walk to get around the park.
The whole park is pram friendly with solid paths throughout. There is a cafe by the entrance to the gift shop that does the most wonderful cups of coffee (so good we had 2 cups, and then found myself wondering hours later why I couldn’t go to sleep).
We had the most amazing week in the sun on the Costa del Sol. I was so nervous about taking E abroad, but he had the best time. It was lovely to see him waking up every day excited about the next adventure. Whilst I love the UK and still have so much to see here on my doorstep, this week definitely gave me the confidence to plan trips further afield.