ESPAÑA, COSTA DEL SOL
Welcome to Estepona
Tucked away at the west end of the Costa del Sol, Estepona might be just a stone’s throw from the glamour of Marbella and Puerto Banús, but this town offers a completely different vibe. Despite its popularity, Estepona has managed to retain its typical Andalusian pueblo style and feel.
Estepona has its share of luxury tourism, boasting several world-class hotels and golf courses. Like Marbella, the town also has stunning sea and mountain scenery. The Mediterranean coastline stretches for a full 21km with both Gibraltar and Morocco permanent features on the horizon.
But despite the similarities with its jet-setting neighbour, Estepona is all about going back to its traditional roots. The town has seen a total transformation over the past few years going from “just another seaside spot on the Costa del Sol” to an authentic Andalusian experience. The extensive refurbishment involved the pedestrianization of no less than 120 streets plus the planting of thousands of scrubs and flowers throughout the town.
As a result, Estepona stands proud as the Garden of the Costa del Sol and is a perennial favourite with families and retirees, visitors and residents, in search of a quiet spot to soak up the original essence of the Costa del Sol. The town was also included in the top 10 places to visit in Spain 2019.
Like everywhere on the Costa del Sol, Estepona enjoys a year-round pleasant climate. The town’s proximity to the Atlantic means you can expect windier weather and slightly more rain than in towns in the east, but over 300 days of sunshine a year still come guaranteed. Winter temperatures are mild.
Estepona lies almost in Cadiz province, home to some of the most mountainous countryside in Andalusia. Sierra Bermeja rises behind Estepona and beyond it is the Serranía de Ronda with some of the highest mountains in the area. Sierra Bermeja itself provides a stunning backdrop to the town and is home to dense forests whose trees include the rare Pinsapo pine, native only to this part of Malaga province and northern Morocco. Numerous hiking trails crisscross the mountain range whose views across the Mediterranean are second to none.
In true Andalusian style, Estepona loves a fiesta and the town celebrates several throughout the year. The largest in honour of the patron saint, San Isidro, takes place in the middle of May and celebrates Estepona’s agricultural roots with a traditional parade of livestock, wine competitions and horse shows. The main Fair with singing, dancing and funfair attractions is during the first week of July.
The town also marks traditional Costa del Sol events such as Holy Week with solemn parades of religious figures through the town centre; San Juan at midsummer when townspeople make “bigotes”, papier-mâché caricatures that are all burnt on bonfires on the beach at midnight except the best, which is saved from the flames until the following year; and the Virgin del Carmen, the patron of fishermen in mid-July with a parade through the town and then a maritime flotilla.
Estepona locals provide a warm and friendly welcome to visitors. They’re keen to help and show off their town to newcomers, often highlighting how authentic it remains despite the influx of tourism. They’re justly proud of their pretty streets and façades and as a result, Estepona almost gleams it’s so clean and tidy.
Esteponeros relish the traditional side of life – you’ll often see locals sitting outside their homes in the town centre or gathered in small groups in one of the squares or parks passing the time of day. Part of the town’s peace and quiet lies in this tranquil approach to life, but that doesn’t mean they don’t love a party.
Most locals look forward to and attend the two annual fairs and takes part in the religious celebrations throughout the year. They also welcome outsiders with open arms to join in.
Architecture & Market
Estepona is surrounded by ancient sites and has roots going back over 100,000 years, but the first surviving construction are the remains of the Roman Villa in the town centre. The Moors left their mark too, in the ruins of the Castle and in the seven watchtowers that line the coast.
But the most important surviving architecture in Estepona goes back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Several buildings in the town centre date back to this time including the Clock Tower and the main church as well as many typical townhouses.
In the charming Plaza de las Flores, the Casa de las Tejeringas, built in the 18th century and with one of the prettiest patios on the Costa del Sol, takes pride of place. It houses the Museum of Art showcasing the work by 21st century Spanish artists.
Residential architecture also mixes the old and the new. Many homes in the town centre and in the established developments on the coast are built in traditional Andalusian style with whitewashed façades and pan tiled roofs. Several complexes on the beach imitate village architecture with low-rise buildings, flat roofs, patios and fountains.
Newer architecture, a trend among those looking to buy in Estepona, features avant-garde design such as that found in the Senator Banus Spa, built to resemble a ship, or the glass-domed Orchid House.
Offering a tranquil atmosphere and perfect climate, this is the place to buy in
What You Will Love
The tranquil atmosphere in Estepona is perhaps unique on the western Costa del Sol and nowhere else on the coast will you feel the same peace and quiet. And at any time of year. The lack of traffic in the centre, the long seafront promenade and all the thousands (and thousands!) of flowers and plants make Estepona one very relaxing place.
Art lovers will find delight after delight on the streets while foodies can try traditional cuisine in the bars and restaurants. Families will love the laid-back children-friendly atmosphere as well as some great attractions.
If you love the outdoors, then the clean blue-flag beaches in the town centre are a must-visit before you explore Sierra Bermeja to enjoy spectacular views in stunning natural surroundings. You can even drive to the top if the walk up seems a little too strenuous. All this together with great property to buy in Estepona and a pleasant sunny climate all year-round makes this destination impossible to resist on the Costa del Sol!
Like so many seaside enclaves in the area, Estepona once relied solely on fishing and agriculture, but the advent of mass tourism in the 1960s and 1970s placed the town firmly on the holiday map. The town grew outwards with developments springing up along the entire coastline between Marbella in the east and Manilva in the west. As a result, it offers a range of different areas, each with their own characteristics but all sharing the same sense of tranquillity and popular to buy in Estepona.
Estepona might not feature in the guidebooks as a white town on a par with Ronda and Arcos de la Frontera, but the town certainly offers one of the prettiest centres on the Costa del Sol. A stroll round the centre takes in pristine cobbled streets, flanked by whitewashed façades complete with wrought-iron grills and decked with vibrant flowerpots. Each street has a different colour and the around 10,000 pots are an attraction in themselves.
Practically all the town centre is pedestrianised, adding to the peace and quiet. As well as flowers, orange trees and fountains, Estepona centre does art with a capital A. Taking the form of sculptures, murals and poetry, artistic treasures adorn almost every street. The almost 50 sculptures cover all styles and include the apt Homage to the Tourist on the seafront. When it comes to murals, Estepona has over 50 (more are added every year) with some among the best in Spain such as Fishing Day, a mural that covers five buildings. Poetic verses sit on tiled plaques on many corners.
The modern side to Estepona also has its place in the centre. The Orchid House with its spectacular 30-metre high glass dome houses over 5,000 plants among them 1,300 orchids. The giant greenhouse reproduces a tropical climate and boasts a 98-metre high waterfall.
Down by the sea is one of the best beaches in Estepona, the family-friendly Playa de La Rada flanked by almost 3km of seafront promenade. Like the rest of the town, this too is decked in flowers and plants, and has the best vantage points for sunrise and sunset.
The eastern section of the town contains some of the oldest and newest developments, and is one of the most popular places to buy in Fuengirola. Bordering Marbella are the established residential areas of El Paraiso and El Atalaya, home to two golf courses and one of the quieter beaches on the Costa del Sol. Slightly further west lies the popular development of Cancelada, almost a small town.
But much of this area of Estepona is also all about modern architecture. Christened the New Golden Mile by developers some 20 years ago, the stretch between the Guadalmina River and the Kempinski Hotel is home to a succession of high-end developments, built to a similar standard as those you’ll find in neighbouring Marbella.
And like the original Golden Mile in Marbella, you’ll also find top hotels and beach clubs in this part of Estepona. The Senator Banus Spa, Healthouse Las Dunas and the Kempinski Hotel Bahia are all 5-star. Beach clubs include Puro Beach and Bronzzzano. Excellent golf clubs are also available such as Los Flamingos, several-time host of the European Seniors and home to Anatara Villa Padierna Palace, another 5-star hotel whose famous guests include Michelle Obama and her daughters in 2010.
The New Golden Mile is still under development – unlike Marbella, Estepona has an abundance of available building land – with high-end apartments and townhouses under construction. Many enjoy frontline beach positions or in the case of those in the foothills, panoramic views of the Mediterranean and Strait of Gibraltar.
Two of Estepona’s main visitor attractions are located here. Selwo Aventura, an immersive safari park experience with 2,000 animals sits in the foothills. And the Costa del Sol Equestrian Centre, one of the world’s top horse-riding schools has its headquarters slightly inland from the coast near Laguna Beach.
To the west of the town side lies Estepona Marina with a bustling selection of cafés and restaurants and a thriving Sunday market. Like the rest of the town, the Marina has a relaxed atmosphere – by day, you’ll find families enjoying the pretty Playa del Cristo beach, admiring the yachts and trying fresh fish at the excellent restaurants and by night, the bars and clubs offer entertainment for all ages and tastes.
Many well-established residential developments are found here including Costa Natura and Arroyo Vaquero alongside newer complexes such as Valle Romano. This area also has a good choice of golf courses including Valle Romano and Estepona Golf with Finca Cortesin Golf Club just a short distance away. Several hotels such as H10 Estepona Palace, Hotel Fuerte Estepona and Elba Estepona Gran Hotel are found here as is the Costa del Sol’s only naturist resort, Costa Natura.
Eating out in Estepona is, above all, a traditional experience. You’ll find an abundance of fresh fish and seafood served and Andalusian staples as tapas are commonplace too. The foodie scene is, however, moving with the times and several gastro-bars have appeared in the town centre serving innovative tapas and dishes. Foreign cuisine also has its place with British, Italian and Asian restaurants.
Tucked just around the corner from the Plaza de las Flores lies one of the most sophisticated places to eat out in Estepona. Casa del Rey in a restored 200-year old townhouse, offers creative tapas and a wine list that runs to over 120 labels.
On the menu are modern takes on traditional recipes such as Thai croquettes and Russian salad with king prawns. Service is excellent and you can eat inside the cosy main bar, outside on the street terrace or in the intimate patio.
Under the lighthouse in Estepona Marina, Restaurante La Escollera is often the busiest place in town and locals flock here especially at weekends.
La Escollera specialises in fresh food and seafood, with house specials including octopus salad and salt-baked whole fish, although regular visitors to the establishment claim that anything on the menu tastes as good as it gets. Be prepared for a wait for a table and a lot of noise as locals enjoy some of the best fish on the Costa del Sol!