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The Hidden Gems of Spain

If there is one thing that the COVID-pandemic taught us, then it sure is to appreciate the little things in life… like Mijas. Similarly, in the travel industry, there is a definite trend towards travelers longing to find the “Hidden Gems” and spend quality time. Sometimes in places, most of their friends never heard of. Like, Albarracín, or Cadaqués, or Cudillero.

Some villages are so tiny, you’re almost out of it as fast as you got into it! However, in each of them is a gem waiting to be discovered. 

In the words of the Dalai Lama, “Once a year, go somewhere you’ve never been before”, I’ll take you on a discovery of some of Spain’s hidden gems…

Drop a comment below if you'd like me to add some more tucked-away gems!

Albarracín, Teruel, Aragon

This little village almost pops up from nowhere and is worth an overnight. You can’t help but notice the historic walls that once surrounded Albarracín. It makes for a nice walk around the village.

There are more than a handful of lodging options in Albarracín. Hotel Albarracín stands out from them all and has a variety of room types, making it also a family-friendly hotel stay.

  • Travel time from Valencia to Albarracín: About 2h10m via A-23 
  • Travel time from Madrid to Albarracín: 3h40m via A-40 and A-3.
 
All travel times are subject to traffic, weather, and road conditions.

Mijas

Planter pots with a theme in Mijas Spain
Mijas Donkey ride

About thirty minutes by car from the popular tourist destination, Marbella, lies another one of Spain’s hidden gems.

Picture geraniums, charming white buildings with red tile roofs, archways, the sound of the odd chirping canary, stunning coastal views, and superb seafood! All of this is waiting for you at Mijas, and more!

The lovely town is perched on the hillside above Fuengirola and Mijas Costa and still has a village air from years gone by.

Inhabited since ancient times, the small village of Mijas was devoted mainly to agriculture and fisheries through to the explosion of the tourist boom in the 1950s. Mijas offers travelers the contrast between the traditional image of the area and adaptation to current times, all without losing the traditional essence.

Get Your Guide

Ready? Set? Go!

There are plenty of touristy things to do such as a donkey taxi, great seafood, especially shellfish. By the way, there is even a bronze statue of a donkey at the tourist office! 

  • Meander through the beautiful village with its steep narrow streets and plenty of delightful locations.
  • If you’re lucky, you may even stumble upon a flamenco show! In good weather, such shows are usually held on Wednesdays and Saturdays (in season).
  • Its well-preserved Andalusian architecture with charming white houses and barred windows. The colorful planter pots are a feast to the eye.
  • Look out for the fountain at Constitution Square. The fountain and benches were built with the stones from the 1884-flood to commemorate those who died in the flood. On the morning of 2nd November, a waterspout fell on the mountains. Consequently, lives were lost of both mankind and animals. alike. Another reminder of the past tragedy is the tombstone on Carril Street. There you can see the level the water reached on that disastrous day.
  • Spot the remains of the old Arab wall.
  • The tiny oval bull-ring Plaza de Toros is worth going to. It has a quaint specialty museum, Museo Taurina de Mijas. (More museums to follow…)
  • Virgen de la Peña Square has lovely eateries and coffee shops.
  • From Mijas, you get to enjoy awesome views of the coast and the Strait of Gibraltar.
mijas iglesia de san sebastian church spain
Mijas is a lovely Andalusian town on the Costa del Sol. Spain.
Mijas is a lovely Andalusian town on the Costa del Sol. Spain.
Flamenco show
Flamenco show.
Virgen de la Pena patron of Mijas the Chapel of the Virgin of the Rock
Virgen de la Pena patron of Mijas the Chapel of the Virgin of the Rock
Virgen de la Pena patron of Mijas
Virgen de la Pena patron of Mijas Chapel of the Virgin of the Rock
  • The Chapel of the Virgin of the Rock (carved from rock) is a very interesting sanctuary of the “Virgen de la Peña” patron of the town. Prepare for some great seascapes from here!
  • The Parish Church of the Immaculate Conception was built by the Muslims, in 836. Then, after the conquest, it was converted into a Christian church, and in 1510 a Moorish-style tower was added. The botanical gardens and views will call for another camera moment.
  • Lastly, the 18th century Hermitage of Calvario. Usually, it’s open on Fridays during Lent and the first Friday in March. The panoramic views from here over the coastline will delight you.

If you’re fit, you’ll enjoy the challenging 3 km walk up the mountain to the 18th century Hermitage of Calvario. The beautiful trail, through the pine forests, is marked with crosses. And when you get to the top you’re rewarded with a stunning view of Mijas and over the Mediterranean coast.

  • For some insight into the life of a Spanish family and farming community, go to the fascinating Museo Histórico-Etnológico. It’s value for your Euro.
  • The Contemporary Art Museum is well worth going to whether you’re a fan of art, or not. 
  • Museo de Miniaturas Carromato (Miniature Museum) has one of the world’s largest collections of small things.

Go to Museo del Vino. Yes, in a museum of all places! This little museum has some of the best wines in the area. And their tapas is super tasty, too!

Another winning combination is a food and wine tasting (half-day) tour. This one is great fun!

  • For starters, book a private walking tour or a small-group walking tour. The tour guides have tons of information and interesting stories about the history that will make you see Mijas in a whole different light. This little hidden gem has an interesting history. Thereafter, you can visit places and spend more time there, if you so wish.
  • Another benefit from such a tour is that you get to find out (first-hand) about the latest spots to experience traditional food and authenticity at its best. A lot has changed with the COVID-pandemic situation, and what you’ve read was the best spot to go, may have closed or changed.

June, July, and August are the” silly season” months in Europe. That’s when the schools close and everyone is in a holiday mood. It is also the time when the weather is at its best. 

The long hot summers call for sunseekers to enjoy the beaches (about 9 km away), all equipped with public showers and toilets.

Virgen de la Pena Square Plaza Mijas Spain
Virgen de la Pena Plaza.
Constitution Square Mijas
Constitution Square.
The tiny bull ring Plaza de Toros Mijas.

Most popular places to stay

The Church of the Immaculate Conception was built by the Muslims in .
Sunset over Mijas Spain
Sunset over Mijas.

More Hidden Gems of Spain