Estepona is a traditional Andalusian town on the sun-kissed Costa del Sol in Southern Spain. It has the perfect summer combination of sandy beaches and well-serviced resorts, while still retaining much of the authentic character of the old Pueblos Blancos - white villages.
While it may have gotten some bad (drug-related) press a few years ago, its reputation has quickly recovered - and for good reason. With a blend of traditional Andalusian character and modern amenities, Estepona offers a unique Spanish experience away from the usual tourist crowds.
The town is earning its name as one of the most popular hotspots on the Costa del Sol, so don't be tempted to skip Estepona and head straight for Marbella (the more popular option). Not only is Estepona less busy and touristy than Marbella, but you also get much better value for money. Here are just a few more reasons why you should add Estepona to your Costa del Sol itinerary.
The historic centre in Estepona surpasses all expectations with its charming Andalusian village vibes that transport you back in time. Imagine wandering through a maze of narrow cobblestone streets, white-washed houses adorned with colourful flower pots, and charming plazas.
You can explore the narrow and tranquil lanes, smell the flowers, stop by a fountain and take a break at a local tapas bar. Two top historic locations in the old town that you should check out are San Luis Castle and Plaza del Reloj town clock.
Estepona is known as the ‘Garden of Costa del Sol’, and in the old town, you can easily see why. No street is left without a beautiful flower display, and colourful pots decorate the walls of each home, bodega or shop. The pots are also colour-coordinated, so one street is a display of blue pots, then the next is filled with pink pots, and so on...
Estepona’s old town is the perfect place to wander around, admire the scenery and sit down for a drink with a view. If you only have one day to see Estepona, you should definitely spend it in the old town!
The Orchid House in Estepona, also known as El Orquidario by the locals, is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the town.
The large collection of plants housed inside boasts an impressive display of 5,000 specimens and over 1,300 orchid species sourced from all around the globe. You can marvel at a stunning waterfall tower at 17 meters as well as traverse your way through a vertical garden designed to showcase the rich diversity of plant life.
Whether taking a peaceful stroll or seeking more knowledge on unique orchid varieties and their captivating traits, this spot is an ideal destination for nature lovers.
The exquisite Orchidarium sits right in the heart of Estepona's historic centre and is easily accessible for vistors. Admission fees are €3 for adults, and €1 for children aged 4-11 years.
Visit their Facebook page for information about upcoming events, concerts or exhibitions.
Art enthusiasts will certainly be mesmerized by the stunning murals in Estepona. These captivating pieces of street art are on display all around the old town, on sides of apartment blocks and reach impressive sizes.
The 'Mural Route' is a collection of over 50 large-scale murals, beautifying the buildings across the town. The highlight is the largest mural in all of Spain, sprawled across six towering apartment blocks. An arrow painted on the sidewalk of the first block guides you to the perfect vantage point for capturing this monumental piece of art with your camera.
As you meander through Estepona, you'll encounter many unique murals, each one a testament to the town's creative spirit. This initiative has not only revitalized neighbourhoods but also encourages exploration off the beaten path. The art is diverse, ranging from abstract to hyper-realistic, each telling a unique story.
You can book one of the dedicated street art walks with a local guide, or simply pick up a map from the local tourism office and check off all the street art locations on your own.
Spain is a country with beautiful beaches, but during peak season, popular destinations can get very crowded. For those seeking a quieter experience in the sun, Estepona is an excellent option.
The towns is relatively unknown to tourists and is a welcome respite from the crowds in other coastal cities. Even during summer months, Estepona's popular Playa Rada beach is less crowded than those found in other Costas combined.
Located just a short stroll from the heart of the old town, this beach area has a row of lively chiringuitos and seafood restaurants, making it a popular spot to indulge in local cuisine. Estepona also has a unique coastal promenade with has bars and restaurants along one side, and colorful flowers and benches perfect for taking in the breathtaking views of the beach on the other.
Several beaches in Estepona are well worth visiting. La Rada, mentioned above, is a Blue Flag beach located within walking distance from the town center. This long stretch of sandy coastline caters to families with its abundance of sun loungers, exceptional lifeguard services, and a variety of beach bars serving fresh seafood delicacies and refreshing cocktails.
Families with young children looking for a great beach option can head to Playa del Cristo. The beach is perfect because it features warm, shallow waters and gently sloping sand. It's also in a protected cove making it ideal for families. There are two lively chiringuitos located on the beach that often play live music on the weekends, adding to the overall experience.
Playa Bahía Dorada is a long beach on the western side of town. Strolling along the shoreline is made easy thanks to its well-developed promenade, which also adds to a car-free environment. For those seeking variety, nearby options include Playa Costa Natura, a nudist beach, and Playa El Cristo with a picturesque cove and two fantastic chiringuitos (beach bars).
The Marina Puerto Deportivo de Estepona is worth visiting even if you aren't into sailing. Just take a stroll along the marina, soak up the atmosphere and admire the sleek yachts docked there - and, of course, the gorgeous views.
The marina is also known for its vibrant nightlife and restaurant selection - all with stunning views! Thee restaurants and lively bars serve a range of cuisines, perfect for a seaside lunch or a romantic dinner under the stars.
The Sunday market held at the marina is a must-visit, teeming with local produce, crafts, and clothing from local businesses.
The Marina is also the departure point for sailing tours, fishing trips and dolphin-spotting excursions. So if you’re looking for water sports or boat rentals in Estepona, the marina is a great place to go.
Estepona is a great option if you're looking for luxury accommodation. There are several 5-star hotels in town, making it an excellent alternative to the popular Marbella.
Ikos Andalucia is one of Estepona's finest 5-star hotels, situated on the peaceful shore of Playa de Guadalmansa. Guests can explore and enjoy endless miles of unspoiled beaches here - it's a real paradise and perfect if you want to switch off and relax. The hotel also has more than 21 acres of manicured gardens and offers numerous leisure activities.
If five-star hotels aren't your thing, you can also choose to stay in one of the charming boutique hotels located in Estepona's Old Town area for a more authentic experience. The Hotel Casa Veracruz is a favourite, housed in a beautiful building with an Andalusian-style patio and close to the beach and restaurants.
There is enough to do in Estepona to keep you busy for a long time... That said, if you want a change of perspective, there are plenty of other towns in the region just a short distance away.
Gibraltar makes an excellent addition to your travel itinerary and only 45 minutes' drive from Estepona. The charming town is a fascinating fusion of British and Spanish cultures that is well worth seeing for yourself.
The major attraction is, of course, the renowned Rock of Gibraltar, which dominates the skyline andis home to a tribe of wild Barbary macaques. If you don’t fancy a drive in a car, or using local transport, you can book the Estepona to Gibraltar day tour from a local travel company at a very affordable price.
You also can't leave the Costa del Sol without visiting its sunny capital - Malaga. Birthplace of Picasso (and Antonio Banderas), home to the ancient Alcazaba, Roman Theater and Gibralfaro Castle, Malaga has so much to offer even for a day trip!
You can get to Malaga from Estepona easily using public transport or by booking a day tour with a local travel company.
Planning a trip to Estepona? Stay at the Hotel Casa Veracruz in the old town.