Estepona is easily one of my top favourite places in Andalucía – so much so that I actually convinced my parents that it was an ideal place to move to! Estepona is a small city that is ideal for a getaway, whether for a weekend, a week or even longer, or a place to visit as part of a larger trip in Andalucía. There are so many things to do in Estepona and every time I visit I always discover more places! This is a selection of my top things to do in Estepona and recommendations for spots that you just can’t miss when you visit.
Ten Amazing Things to do in Estepona, Spain
Explore the Centro Histórico
The Centro Histórico, or old town, of Estepona is my favourite part of the city. Admittedly, I am a total sucker for narrow calles lined with colourful flowerpots and brightly painted balconies. There are so many beautiful little streets that are the perfect spots for photos or just for exploring and enjoying the views.
In order to make the most of exploring the Old Town, I would recommend starting either at the northern or southern end and working your way through the town. You can make the most of stopping off in cafes, restaurants and bars on the way!
If you’re starting from the southern end of the city, I would recommend walking from Avenida San Lorenzo and up Calle Chorro (which I always misread as Calle Churro…), a beautiful street lined with vibrant pink flowerpots. At the end of Calle Chorro, you will reach the Museo Arqueológico de Estepona. This museum is located in an elegant yellow building that was constructed in the 19th-century and originally housed the town hall. Entrance to the museum is free and, as well as the archaeological exhibits dating back to 5,000 years ago, you can enjoy the beautiful Andalusian interiors.
From here, you will pass the Torre de Reloj (Clock Tower) as you head towards the Parroquia Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, located in the Plaza de San Francisco. This is also where you’ll find the start of the Ruta de la Poesia, or the Route of Poetry.
You can then head to the Plaza de las Flores, which is a beautiful central square. It is also where you’ll find the Casa de las Tejerinas, an 18th-century building that was a charity hospital for the poor. The central patio is surrounded by columns and a balcony with aches. Casa de las Tejerinas also contains the tourist office and the Garó Art Collection.
After visiting the Plaza de las Flores, follow various streets such as Calle Antero or Calle San Miguel. Calle Caridad is a beautiful street lined with a variety of shops, cafes and restaurants. One of my favourite streets in the city is Calle Concepción, a narrow street where the whitewashed houses are decorated with blue flower pots.
Visit the Parroquia Nuestra Señora de los Remedios
While exploring the old town of Estepona, you shouldn’t miss taking a peaceful break at the Parroquia – or Parish Church – Nuestra Señora de los Remedios. The church originally formed part of the old convent of the Terciarios Franciscanos (Franciscan friars), which was constructed at the end of the 18th-century. It was used by the Friars until 1835, when the monks left due to the Disentailment Law.
The celebration of the Virgen de los Remedios Onomástica, or Saint’s Day, takes place annually on the 15th August and is usually celebrated with a procession through the streets of Estepona. Semana Santa (Holy Week) is also marked with a big celebration at the church and holds an important role during these Easter celebrations as it is where the images of the Brotherhoods of Santa Maria de los Remedios, el Captive and la Veracruz are venerated.
The church’s façade combines multiple styles of architecture, with a Baroque stone front with Marian, Franciscan and colonial elements. The style is considered to be somewhat similar to many Hispano-American churches.
The bell tower is topped with a pyramidal roof with blue and white glazed tiles, an iconic part of Estepona’s skyline that you can spot from many places around the city.
See the Torre del Reloj and Castillo de San Luís
The Plaza del Reloj is home to the Torre del Reloj – an easily named place to remember, the Clock Tower in the Clock Square. The Torre del Reloj is another part of Estepona’s skyline that is easy to spot from various places around the city, with its rounded red and white tower.
In the spring and summer, the square is surrounded by beautiful flowers blooming all along the walls. The clock tower itself dates back to the 16th century, when it was part of the old Church of Los Remedios. An earthquake in 1755 destroyed the majority of the church, leaving only the tower still standing. The even older origins of the tower date back to Moorish times, when it functioned as a minaret.
Next to the Torre del Reloj are the ruins of the Castillo de San Luís. Here you will also find the Mercado San Luís, or Mercado de Abastos, which is a great spot to enjoy some of Estepona’s gastronomy.
The Castillo de San Luís dates back to the early 16th-century, when the Catholic Monarchs (Ferdinand and Isabella of Aragon and Castille) ordered its construction. The castle was built in order to defend the Spanish citizens of the city against Berber pirates from North Africa. Only some parts of the castle walls still remain, but heading to this area to check out the parts that do remain is definitely something to do when in Estepona.
The castle was also built in order to replace the former fortification of the city, which was Arab of origin. The name ‘Estepona’ actually comes from the Arabic name for the settlement, and has nothing to do with the word ‘este’ or ‘east’ as I had originally assumed. The city’s name is believed to have originated from the Moorish/Arabic name ‘Estebbuna’ (also written as ‘Istibbuna’ or ‘Astebbuna’), dating all the way back to the Caliphate of Cordoba in the 10th century.
Follow the Poetry Route through Estepona
The Poetry Route, or Ruta de la Poesia, is a beautiful route that takes you on a winding journey through Estepona’s charming and fairytale streets. The route incorporates verses of poetry from various poets, including both Spanish and foreign poets. It’s great fun to see what you can find and, if you aren’t fluent in Spanish, how much you can understand!
Currently, the Poetry Route has 39 different plaques around the city with verses from poets such as the Andalusian poet Ángel Garcia López, Polish poet and Nobel prize for Literature winner Wisława Szymborska, French poet and novelist Victor Hugo, as well as many, many more.
The tourism office of Estepona has a handy flyer for following the Ruta de la Poesia, or you can just see which ones you stumble upon in your exploration of the city! The Poetry Route is easily one of the best things to do in Estepona, whether you do all of it or just a few parts.
Marvel at the street art on the Ruta de los Murales
While much of Estepona appears very ‘quaint’ and traditional, the city also has an incredible array of street art scattered throughout. I have seen some seriously impressive street art around the world and Estepona is definitely up there in the top!
The city is home to more than 60 murals, including brand new ones painted just this year. The largest mural in Spain (and in Europe, I believe!) can even be found in Estepona. The mural Día de Pesca, or Day of Fish, is an incredible 1,000 square metre mural that is spread across six façades. You need to stand in just the right spot to get the perfect shot of the entire mural – it’s definitely a feat to achieve but it is possible!
The idea of a route of murals began in 2012 and the route was inaugurated in September that same year. By 2013, there were 10 different murals and the number increased significantly in 2014 and 2015. In 2017, an international contest was held in Estepona and sponsored by the La Caixa foundation as well as the Ayuntamiento (town hall) of Estepona. 11 new murals were created and presented as part of the competition, including from Spanish artists such as Lalone and Dadi Dreucol and international artists such as Mina Hamada.
By 2018, the official route had expanded to 45 murals, although the city was home to around 55 works of street art. March 2020 saw the second International Contest of Murals in Estepona and artists from around the world took part, including those from Russia, Brazil, and South Africa.
Just like with the Ruta de la Poesia, the tourism board of Estepona has a downloadable brochure so you can locate the various murals (currently only the 45 completed by the end of 2018), as well as learn the names and the artists! You can visit just a few, such as the many located close to the Orchid House, or you can try to see them all during your visit!
Personally, I believe that the Día de Pesca by José Fernández Ríos can’t be missed (Barriada Isabel Simón), as well as the beautiful flower murals that surround the Orchid House and nearby streets.
Admire the Orchid House and Botanical Gardens
Estepona’s Orchid House or ‘Orquidario‘ is the largest orchid collection in Spain and one of the biggest collections in Europe. Whatever time of year you visit, you will see a spectacular flowering display!
The building itself is eye-catching, with three huge glass domes, reaching 30m, 16m and 6m high respectively. The Orchid House is home to 5,000 plants and 1,300 species and the building even houses a 17m high waterfall! The Orquidario has a variety of different environments throughout, including tropical and rocky environments.
You can take yourself on a self-guided tour of the Orquidario in Estepona, with explanatory plaques on the route in both English and Spanish. There is a small entrance fee charged to visit, only €3 for adults and €1 for children. I didn’t manage to visit on my first trip to Estepona since I didn’t know the opening times – don’t make the same mistake!
The Orchid House is open from Monday to Sunday 11am – 2pm, and Sundays to Thursdays it is also open from 5pm – 9pm. Friday has longer afternoon opening hours, from 5pm until 11pm! Don’t try and visit on a Saturday afternoon like I did, though, since the Orquidario is only open from 11am – 2pm and is closed during the afternoon.
The Orchid House truly is a must-visit in Estepona so don’t miss out on a visit to this spectacular gem!
Meander along the Paseo Marítimo
Estepona has a beautiful Paseo Marítimo, possibly better known to most English speakers as a promenade. The promenade stretches for around 3km, all the way from Estepona’s marina and almost up to (but definitely not including) Carrefour Hypermarket. Walking the entire length of the seafront would take you around 30-40 minutes, or longer if you’re like me and are always stopping constantly for photos. Taking a walk along the promenade is definitely something you can’t miss in Estepona.
Better still, explore a little bit of the seafront and the promenade at a time and make sure you enjoy a few breaks at a chiringuito, a classic Spanish beach bar or restaurant. You will find chiringuitos dotted throughout Andalucía and, of course, Estepona has some excellent ones! Some chiringuitos will only be open during peak season, while others are more permanent and open year-round.
The promenade is especially pleasant to wander along on a spring or summer’s day, preferably when temperatures aren’t TOO high. It’s a great way of seeing a bit of seafront Estepona, especially when punctuated by breaks for delicious fresh fish, seasoned and marinated tomatoes, or even a glass (or jug, I’m not judging) of sangria. Many chiringuitos also serve good coffee, perfect for when it’s just a little early in the day for some vino!
Go café hopping through Estepona
For a relatively small city, Estepona has a great concentration of good spots to get your caffeine fix. Whether you’re looking for a simple café con leche or you’re hoping for a steaming pot of chai, Estepona definitely has you covered.
Two of my favourite cafes are located very close to each other: Cafe de Theresa and Honoré. Cafe de Theresa, run by a lovely Dutch lady, is a small cafe where you can enjoy an excellent café con leche and also try one of her salads or sandwiches. I highly recommend a slice of the apple tart with cream, it’s definitely my favourite thing to have! Delicious. Honoré Pastelería is a French-style patisserie with lots of fresh bread for sale, as well as great coffee and a huge selection of pastries.
If you’re looking for a pot of chai, Tolone Bar and Cafe is the best place! They make a big teapot of chai for you and it’s absolutely delicious.
Visit a chiringuito (or two)
As I mentioned above when wandering along the Paseo Marítimo, you can’t visit an Andalusian seaside gem like Estepona without visiting at least one chiringuito. While you probably can’t go wrong with just visiting whichever takes your fancy, my personal favourite for a refreshing drink and the tastiest cazón en adobo has to be Chiringuito Paco, located on the beach opposite Avenida Juan Carlos I and Avenida San Lorenzo.
Other popular chiringuitos along the seafront include Chiringuito El Madero, Lio Beach, and Chiringuito África (which has, you guessed it, decent views of Africa).
Eats lots of fresh fish and seafood
Aside from anyone vegan, vegetarian, or allergic, if you’re in Estepona then you have to try the amazing fish and seafood. The same goes for the entirety of Andalucía, in all honesty, but certain locations along the coast are prime for the best fish.
Some of my favourite dishes from restaurants around Estepona include cazón en adobo (my two favourite places being Chiringuito Paco and Los Rosales), fried calamares (calamari), boquerones and so much more.
If you’re looking to enjoy some of the best fresh fish or seafood in the area, then Los Rosales, Chiringuito Paco, Restaurante El Pescador and Restaurante La Escollera (arrive promptly around 8pm – it’s popular!) are excellent bets for a delicious meal.
There is so much to do in this beautiful and charming Andalusian city and I could go on for even longer with things to do, places to go and spots for food and drink. If you are thinking of visiting, then these are definitely the top things to do in Estepona.
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