Thursday, 25 April 2013

Fuengirola on a budget - a review

Over the Easter holidays, we went to Fuengirola on the Cost Del Sol in Spain, for a budget week away. Fuengirola was far more 'Spanish' and cosmopolitan than I expected. It's a working town and port rather than just a tourist resort, so was quite busy even in low season. Although there were plenty of British bars, they were quite low key and scattered between other bars, restaurants and shops.

The resort had a long sandy beach, which sloped gently into the sea, so it would be ideal for families with children of all ages.  

Budget
My top tips for booking a cheap holiday are to book flights directly with a budget airline, watching out for extra costs such as luggage charges. Then look for the best deal for your accommodation.This may be booking directly with the owner, or booking through a low-cost travel broker. I always look at Trip Advisor for reviews and then pick accommodation with the highest star rating for the lowest cost! By booking separately rather than booking a package, we saved several hundred pounds. However, it's worth remembering that you get more financial protection if you book a package holiday through an ABTA/ATOL registered travel agent.

We stayed in the cheap and cheerful Ronda 4 Apartments, which were right by the beach in the quiet area of Los Boliches. We were really please with the location and the quality of the accommodation and would be happy to stay there again.

Food
Before going, I did a bit of research on vegetarian-friendly restaurants in the area. It's worth knowing that vegetarianism is still viewed as a strange concept to many Spanish people and that ham, meat-stock, fish and lard are sometimes included in dishes which may appear vegetarian on the menu. For example, when we were last in Spain I ordered a green salad along with a pizza. The salad came topped with tuna!

I found a couple of useful guides before I went: one from Span Expat and one from Piccavey.
I also discovered that there are several exclusively vegetarian restaurants in the area. We visited two of them: El Vegetariano in Malaga (in a side street just behind the castle) and Restaurante Vegetalia on Calle Santa Isobel in Fuengirola.

El Vegetariano served a full menu for lunch and dinner, with a range of tapas dishes as well as main meals, whereas Restaurate Vegetalia had an all-you-can-eat lunchtime buffet and an a la carte dinner menu. Both restaurants were surprisingly busy and had a good atmosphere. The food in both places was great and there were various vegan options.

We found plenty of other veggie-friendly places to eat in Fuengirola along the paseo (beach front). There were several Indian restaurants, all offering a selection of vegetable dishes plus a good choice of Italian restaurants serving a limited selection of vegetarian pizza and pasta dishes. There was a lot of competition, so the prices were really reasonable.

We self-catered for lunches and breakfasts. There were several large supermarkets (and loads of mini-markets) and we found that most food and drink was a little cheaper than in the UK. We also noticed a couple of health food shops: Bio Casa Health and Bio Natura. Although we didn't go into them, they may well stock vegan foods such as dairy-free milk if you need them.

Integrity Statement
This holiday was taken at my own expense. I did not receive payment or any incentives from any of the businesses/websites mentioned. 

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