Estepona is almost a synonym for holiday at the seaside in Andalusia: it was in fact one of the first resorts on the Costa del Sol to open up to tourism.
More than 50 years after the arrival of the first vacationers, Estepona is still a very popular seaside resort, which every year attracts a multitude of Spanish and international tourists for the quantity and quality of the services offered.
Many hotels in the different price ranges, beautiful beaches which can also be reached on foot, bars and restaurants where you can taste the specialties of Andalusian cuisine and fresh fish dishes and a long seafront promenade are the main ingredients of its success.
Despite the tourist development, Estepona has managed to keep its charm intact. This historic city boasts ancient origins dating back to the XNUMXth century; in the period of the Moorish occupation, thanks to its strategic proximity to the Strait of Gibraltar, it became one of the most important centers of Andalusia.
Today the historic center looks like a labyrinth of narrow and steep pedestrian streets, adorned with flowered balconies reminiscent of those of the more traditional Andalusian pueblos blancos.
At the western end of the town, beyond a characteristic lighthouse, stands the port, divided into a tourist marina and a larger area from which fishing boats depart.
Le Estepona and surrounding beaches they are mostly sandy or mixed sand and stones, equipped with numerous services, easy to reach and safe. Some beaches are suitable for beginner surfers, while if you are already experienced you may want to move elsewhere.
The most famous and popular beach in Estepona is Rada Beach, very close to the historic center and very extensive. 2,7 km long, it is a beach of fine golden sand lined with palm trees; parallel to the beach extends the Paseo Maritimo and behind it a long line of mega-hotels.
Playa de la Rada is a lovely city beach, ideal for those who want comfort and services. You will find numerous chiringuitos and restaurants, directly on the beach or across the street, beach umbrella and deckchair rental, children's play areas, sports equipment rental.
To the west of Playa de la Rada is what many consider to be the most beautiful beach in Estepona, Christ Beach: set in a crescent-shaped bay, it is well sheltered from winds and currents and therefore suitable for those who love warm and calm waters. The seabed slopes gently, making the beach safe even for small children and inexperienced swimmers.
The buildings next to Playa del Cristo are lower than the mega-hotels behind the more popular Playa de la Rada.
More beaches not to be missed in Estepona and surroundings They are: Sabinillas Beach, Ancha Beach, El Padrón Beach, Arroyo Las Cañas-Velerín Beach, El Saladillo Beach and Casasola-Atalaya Beach.
What to see in Estepona
Despite being one of the first resorts on the Costa del Sol to have developed a thriving tourism industry, Estepona has remained a charming town, suitable for those who want to combine afternoons on the beach with other activities.
Here what to see and what to do in Estepona.
The historic center of Estepona is the second biggest attraction in the city after the beaches. Tourists inevitably come here for a holiday of sun and relaxation by the sea, but then it is the characteristic alleys of the center that pierce their hearts.
Strolling through the cobbled streets of the center, adorned with flowered balconies, you will feel light years away from the crowds of the beaches and find yourself in a corner of authentic Andalusia. Don't miss the lovely Flowers Square: with its pretty fountain surrounded by flowering plants it is a perfect oasis of relaxation at all hours.
Visit it early in the morning to enjoy the utmost tranquility and take advantage of the minimally invasive light of the early hours of the day to take breathtaking photographs. In the afternoon you can come here to find some relief from the scorching sun in the shade of the orange trees. In the evening the square becomes a lively meeting place for locals and is therefore perfect for those who want to do some local life.
Other characteristic corners of the historic center are Castle of San Luis, a fortress built by the Spanish kings in the late fifteenth century, e Clock Square, a small square dominated by the bell tower of the Iglesia de los Remedios. The tower is the only part of the church that remained intact, which was instead destroyed by an earthquake in the eighteenth century.
A refreshing diversion from beaches and cobbled streets is theOrchidarium Estepona, a botanical garden consisting of three modern greenhouses: the highest reaches 30 meters and has a bizarre heloidal shape that is impossible not to notice. The different levels of the orchidarium are separated by a bamboo park.
During your visit you can admire about 5000 plants belonging to 1300 different species, an artificial lake and a 15 meter high waterfall.
Opened only in 2015, the Estepona Orchidarium has already become one of the top tourist attractions in all of Andalusia.
Perfect for a day of family fun, the popular Selwo Aventura Safari Park it can be reached easily from Estepona by going towards Marbella.
On foot or aboard an off-road vehicle, you can admire more than two hundred species of exotic animals in semi-captivity including Bengal tigers, rhinos, zebras and lions. The star of the park is Kanvar, the only Asian elephant born in captivity in Spain.
You can indulge in a trek aboard a camel or add some adrenaline to your day by walking along a suspension bridge, jumping on trampolines that will catapult you to eight meters high or try your hand at an aerial tour of the park attached to a pulley.
For an exclusive experience you can book Obama VIP Visit, a small group guided tour similar to the one offered to Mr and Mrs Obamas during their presidential visit to the Costa del Sol in 2010. It will be a bit like being President of the United States for a day!
Less than 15 minutes by car from the center of Estepona is the Archaeological Conjunct Dolmens of Estepona, until a few years ago known as the Corominas necropolis.
It is a somewhat bizarre archaeological museum, housed in a reconstruction of a dolmen. Entering the dolmen you will descend into the underground galleries of the museum, which with spectacular visual effects will lead you to the observation point of some original prehistoric tombs.
The murals of Estepona
Some buildings in Estepona could have remained anonymous white apartment buildings forever, but the creativity of some local artists has transformed their mundane facades into colorful works of art. There are about twenty murals scattered throughout the city, which have become one of Estepona's most famous and photographed tourist attractions.
The most interesting is a marine-themed mural that covers six condominiums arranged in a row: it is a gigantic work that represents the largest mural in all of Spain, impressive at a glance.
At the tourist information office you can pick up a free booklet with a mural-themed itinerary in the city of Estepona, but as street art is an ever-evolving art, with works that are born and disappear all the time, it is much more fun to wander around. the city at random looking for the most beautiful murals without a set program.
Where sleeping in Estepona
The quantity and variety of hotels, apartments and holiday homes is one of the strengths of Estepona, capable of satisfying the tastes of different types of travelers.
Exclusive spa hotel luxury, mega-hotels with hundreds of mid-range rooms, small hostals (hotel 1 or 2 place) family-run: Estepona's accommodations are truly for all budgets.
Most tourists prefer a hotel, b & b or holiday home near the beach, but don't mind other areas. Moving away from the sea you may find cheaper, quieter accommodation or in a more characteristic neighborhood.
How to reach Estepona
The easiest way to reach Estepona is taking a flight to Malaga and renting a car.
From Malaga airport you can get to Estepona in about an hour along the AP-7; alternatively you can take a direct bus from the local company Portillo, but check the timetables before leaving because the rides are infrequent.
Estepona is connected by direct buses to other important seaside resorts and cities of Andalusia such as Marbella, Torremolinos, Tarifa, Algeciras. Long-distance buses connect Estepona to Madrid and Barcelona.
To move between the various areas of the area and reach the different beaches you can take advantage of the local buses.