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A smaller neighbour to Marbella, Estepona is a lively Spanish town with an authentic 'pueblo' feel, a pretty marina and an attractive stretch of Mediterranean coastline lined with child-friendly beaches.
Smaller, more relaxed and down-to-earth than neighbouring Marbella, Estepona nevertheless shares some of the same appeal – namely, the sunny climate, beautiful Mediterranean coastline, and everything that comes with it.
Estepona is surrounded by a great choice of beaches, watersports, golf courses and marinas, but it’s also a very charming little Spanish town with all the life, hustle, bustle and atmosphere that you’d associate with Andalucia.
Even when you’re strolling through the pretty streets, squares and parks of its charming historic centre you can always feel the presence of the sea. You’re never more than a few hundred metres from the endless kilometres of long beaches that line the coast here and look out over the Mediterranean to Gibraltar and North Africa.
A luxurious resort and a handful of hotels are situated just west of the town’s lively marina. Many of these have their own spa wellness centres and beach clubs. Nearby there’s a great choice of beachside cafés and seafood restaurants, nightlife spots and, of course, beautiful beaches.
The area also offers its share of first-class golf courses, equestrian centres and charming trips into the surrounding countryside – usually rewarded with a meal at a classic Spanish venta, or country restaurant.
The pleasures of Marbella and Puerto Banus are only 15 minutes’ drive, while pretty mountain villages like Casares and Gaucin are waiting to be discovered little more than half an hour away. Gibraltar and Sotogrande are also within easy striking distance.
The Estepona area is also home to a true luxury travel landmark: Finca Cortesin. This exclusive country club resort has the feel of a Spanish country estate, complete with beautifully appointed lounges, fine dining restaurants and a championship golf course – conclusive proof, if it were needed, that this part of the Costa del Sol can more than hold its own with the best of international five-star luxury.
- Sitting at the western end of the Costa del Sol, Estepona’s size and ambience make it a popular resort town with an authentic Spanish feel.
- The old town centre is Andalucian charm at its best, with shops, cafés and restaurants dotted along pretty streets and shaded squares.
- You’re never far from great beaches in Estepona, many with fish restaurants and ‘chiringuito’ beach bars.
- Estepona’s marina is lively, friendly and down-to-earth. A great place to saunter around, enjoy a meal or the nightlife, and get nautical.
- The area has its very own golf valley, complete with luxurious resort and spa hotels, little country restaurants and equestrian centres.
For getting out and about, Estepona has an awful lot going for it, with sea, mountain and countryside activities all within a short distance of one another.
The long beaches of Estepona are obviously a popular spot for relaxing, lazing, sunbathing and taking in views across the Mediterranean to the outlines of Gibraltar and Morocco. In true Spanish style they’re also a sociable area, so expect to find ‘chiringuito’ beach bars, fish and seafood restaurants, volleyball nets and regular events such as beach football competitions.
If the beach is fronted by a stylish, modern beach club, then chances are it backs on to a luxurious hotel with its own set of swimming pools, tennis courts and padel tennis facilities. Being this close to the sea and the nearby marina, though, you may want to learn to snorkel, windsurf, jetski or even sail your way out into the shimmering blue Med.
If you prefer dry land there are many options within easy reach, too, starting with a half dozen of the Costa del Sol’s finest golf courses within a short drive.
Just inland from Estepona, the mountains rise up sharply. Here you can enjoy a gentle stroll amongst dramatic scenery, or you can be more active and cycle, hike, mountain bike, canyon or even mountaineer. It’s all right on your doorstep.
From fine dining to beachside bars and country road ventas via the traditional seafood restaurants and tapas bars of the old town itself, there are many ways to experience a taste of Andalucia in Estepona.
Naturally the cuisines on offer also feature Asian, Italian, French and other genres, but Estepona is above all known as a place to enjoy Andalucian gastronomy.
Especially recommended in summer are the beachside restaurants that specialise in grilled fish, seafood dishes and traditional ‘pescaito frito’ consisting of the catch of the day in a light tempura batter, all perfectly well accompanied by a cool glass of Fino.
Head into Estepona’s old town centre and you come across a great many tapas bars that serve a typical array of delicious small snacks washed down with a beer or a glass of wine.
If it’s a more substantial meal you have in mind, then follow the country roads inland and after 10 to 15 minutes you’ll start seeing roadside restaurants offering hearty country fare such as rack of lamb, suckling pig and stews – just the thing if you’re visiting Estepona in winter, too.
Estepona is not a shopping destination in the style of Marbella, Puerto Banus and Malaga. However, it does have a charming town centre full of shopping streets with a mix of boutique and traditional shops where you can pick up some local crafts and souvenirs.
Combine these with the fresh food markets and car boot sales, and it makes for an interesting mix – especially if you add the glamorous little beachside mall just east of Estepona. Known as Laguna Village, it naturally also comes complete with restaurants, beach clubs and seductively pampering spa treatments.