As with our day-trip to Ronda, at only 52-km and a 1-hour drive away, Gibraltar is also within easy striking distance of Estepona (border formalities are minimal). Sue and I were looking forward to seeing this icon of the British Empire while we were in the area but, with living in England, her sister was not nearly as keen to re-live life at home! We could see her point of view, so saved this visit for later in our trip when we were winding down after our tours of the Atlantic coast in the Tarifa and Vejer de la Frontera areas south of Cadiz.
The weather was not perfect, but we knew it was our last chance on this trip, so bit the bullet as we took in the majestic sight of The Rock shrouded in mist at its upper elevation of 426-m. We enjoyed our short excursion there, after crossing the border on foot from La Linea de la Concepcion and then walking through Gibraltar's main defensive fortification - the Landport Gate (2nd photo). This gate dates from before 1704 when the strategic choke-hold of Gibraltar at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea was captured from Spain by England in the War of the Spanish Succession. Because the tunnel was the main landward approach to Gibraltar by attacking forces, it has been greatly fortified over the following centuries.
Our weather was not the best, but we sat down outdoors for a British beer in the Lord Nelson pub once we had made it inside the fortress itself. A couple of bus ride tours later including an encounter with a few of Gibraltar's famous Barbary Macques (3rd photo), the only wild apes in Europe, and we then had to boot along to find our next accommodations while the light still held!
Bull Fighting Museum
Flamenco and other art exhibitions.
On the outskirts of the town, heading towards Gibraltar is the town bullring (pictured left). This white-washed building has a strange architectural style, similar in style to that of Dali's work. The bullring offers bullfights on a regular basis, as well as doubling up for concerts and filmshows.
El Cristo Beach is situated just outside the town, to the west of the Marina. This beach is situated in a delightful sheltered cove, ideal for children and boasts two new chiringuitos. It's ideal location means longer hours of sunshine, making it a particular favourite for serious sunbathers. This beach has become increasingly popular in recent years and tends to get quite crowded on summer weekends. It has a good atmosphere with music playing at two of the beach bars.
The town beach 'La Rada' - is fab - it is blue flag and runs for 2.4 Kilometers with a great promenade full of activity parks for kids and some good chiringuitos.
Really enjoyed wandering around the old part of Estepona town. Lots of lovely windows brimming with geraniums, traditional Spanish courtyards featuring the Saints (pictured) and some quaint shops and bars.
Find Calle Terraza and Real and pop into one of the traditional bars on Calle Caridad for an ice-cold fino (sherry) and tapa.
A must visit, is the Plaza de las Flores. Walk west to view the Clock Tower, the municipal market, the old town hall and the Castle of San Luis .
It was Boxing Day, December 26 when we finally decided to just sit tight for once and enjoy where we were on such a beautiful day and with such great surroundings! Because the sun was shining, after returning from our morning beach excursion in Estepona, we decided to simply sit back and enjoy the amazing surroundings at our B&B.
It was great to take a day off from driving to enjoy a beer or two in the sunshine while enjoying the visual pleasure of this swimming pool area, while reading a book! The owners kept a supply of cold San Miguel beers in our breakfast refrigerator so I helped myself to a few (he said they were free but I just had to give him a few Euros for having them so handy). We also enjoyed some chips and our usual sandwiches while relaxing. Despite the mid-teen C temperatures, the water was still holding at a much lower level if one was brave enough to actually dip their feet in for a brief time, such as Sue in the 4th photo.
With the owners away for the day, we had the place to ourselves - no other guests. Frankly, I could get used to this life, especially after seeing on the internet that it was approaching -50 C back in Regina, Canada! One of our most enjoyable days in Spain.
Considering that we roamed around Andalusia for three weeks, we actually spent very little time on the Mediterranean beaches themselves (being late December/early January did not help)! We just had to wet our hands on a beach at Moraira, east of Alicante when we first arrived on the coast but it was not until 9 days later that we had our next seaside opportunity - in Estepona. As we pulled into town after our drive from Cadiz, we parked on one of Estepona's coastal streets and took in this view as Sue's sister accessed some cash from a banking machine to pay upcoming B&B expenses.
We ate at Trader Vic's restaurant along this shore the next evening (my 'Restaurant' tips), so returned in the morning to see what the coast was like in the clear light of day. The palm trees in front of the complex in which the restaurant was located looked like they had taken a beating from a storm or two (2nd photo) and the beach itself had more rocks and dark sand than I was expecting (3rd photo). However, that did not bother me since I was not planning much in the way of beach activities anyway - I just like being by the water no matter what it is like.
We continued along the beach toward that distant treed headland, but one has to deal with various rivulets of water running down into the sea - often so wide that a detour inland toward solid ground is required if you wish to get across without getting your footwear soaked! However, a good thing was the number of flattened stones that could be used to see how many times they could be made to skip on the relatively calm waters of the Mediterranean.
When we finally did reach that headland, it was worth the effort because of the abundance of blossoming flowers and cacti (4th and 5th photos) as well as the opportunity to watch a couple of the locals trying their hand at fishing from the shore (my 'Local Customs' tip).
It was about noon by the time we made it to Ronda and found a car-park in which to ditch our rental vehicle. Even though it was mostly overcast when we arrived, Ronda did not take long to impress us by both its natural setting high above the Guadalevin River and its man-made attractions! I could already see that this place was going to have a VT-page of its own!
The town is located about 750-m above sea level in a mountainous area and with a magnificent view out over the wide valley as shown here. The modern town is bisected by the gorge created by the Guadalevin River, providing a spectacular setting for the famous Parador de Ronda hotel where you have a choice of falling off into either the gorge at the side or the valley in front (2nd photo)!
Ronda's history goes back more than 2000 years, with evidence of successive settlement by the Celts, Romans, Moors and finally today's Spanish rulers. The fact that the city is perched on the edge of a cliff and also has a river gorge made it a great defensive position, but it also meant that bridges were needed to get across that gorge. The latest and greatest is the Puente Nuevo (New Bridge), completed some time in the late 1700s according to various records (3rd photo). This one would make a great bungee-jumping site, especially with the view you would have from the bridge looking toward the old Moorish part of town (4th photo)!
We enjoyed our Christmas Day visit to Ronda, but just wished that we had more time to fully enjoy its attractions before returning to our B&B in Estepona.
Our main objective while staying in Estepona was always to make the short 66-km drive (a little more than an hour) to Spain's world famous mountain village of Ronda. On the morning of our first full day since arriving, the weather forecast looked good, so by 10 AM we were off, driving east a short distance before turning off the coastal highway at San Pedro de Alcantara as we began our climb into the Sierra Bermeja mountain range.
Moves are afoot to make this another of Spain's national parks, because of its very rare red peridotite rocks and as well as its thick cover of Spanish Fir and Pine trees. Major species living in this coastal range include Golden Eagles, Mountain Goats and Otters as well as many reptilian types. As for geography, about a half-hour into our drive we must have been near the impressive 1919-m La Torrecilla mountain, the highest in this range - but we could not see it's peak due to high cloud cover. However, we did stop to look in the other direction - westward toward a distant 'white village' (2nd & 3rd photos). From maps, my guess is that it was probably Algatocín, perched 720-m above sea level, a small village with less than 1,000 inhabitants and with its population continuing to dwindle.
You may as well plan on enjoying the scenery on this section of highway, because with all its switchbacks as it scales the mountainsides, speed is just not going to happen! Traffic was not bad on Christmas morning.
The Estepona Bullring was inaugurated in 1972, and it is quite peculiar in its shape. I personally don't like bullfights, not that I’m against them but it’s just I don't really see it much of an attraction, but for many visitors it is a unique experience and a bullfight is what we could call 'the symbol of Spain'. The bull in Spain does get killed.
Another thing to see in The Marina is the fishermen side of the marina. It is still in the same marina but away from the expensive vessels. In this area you will see the fishermen unloading the catch of the day from their fishing boats. Most of them are small fishing boats. Usually in the early morning or late evening the catch is auctioned and the pallets of fish covered with ice is loaded onto vans. It is not possible to buy fish, but you can see the auction. If you walk a bit further along you will find fishermen fixing their nets for the next day.
The church was completed around 1473 on the site of an old mosque, it is the oldest church building on the Costa del Sol, but only the clock tower survives. In the 18th Century a neo-classical dome was added. Nowadays the site has been converted to a school.
About a 25 minute drive from Estepona towards Cadiz, you will get to the town of Casares. The road is a bit winding and there is some construction work carried out on the road itself. This town is a little white village which has kept its traditional Andalusian character. The sunset over the town is spectacular.
The photo was taken about 1830hrs, with a tripod and a little help from Photoshop.
Estepona has a beach front of around 20 Km. I thought of naming two of the most popular beaches and one which is a different kind of beach. A chiringuito for all of you who do not understand the lingo is a beach restaurant.
This beach is situated in the City centre it has a length of 2600m and is about 30m wide, I would say that this beach is quite busy during the summer period, it has been awarded the Blue Flag for its good condition. During the summer months there are lifeguards manning the towers. It does have access for disabled persons and parking is available in the underground parking. There are sunbeds and beach umbrellas for hire. To eat try one of the many beach Chiringuitos.
PLAYA DEL CRISTO
This beach is to the west of the Port, as you are leaving Estepona. It has a length of 700m. This beach is quite busy in the summer months. I would recommend this beach when it is windy in other beaches, as this beach is more enclosed and is affected less by winds. Due to its position you can enjoy a beautiful sunset. For eating it has two Chiringitos. It does have access for disabled persons and parking is available. There are sunbeds and beach umbrellas for hire.
This is one of the first nudist beaches in the Costa Del Sol, it has a length of around 400m. I don’t really know much about the facilities as I have never been there, but I thought of giving this beach a mention. The entrance is by the main road.
Estepona has some nice streets and you'll discover them just walking for the Calle Real and Plaza de las Flores area. I like specially this house, next to Calle Málaga, parallel to Calle Real. I suppose it's a private house, with wooden porch and a lot of plants and flowers.
Estepona tiene algunas calles muy bonitas. Las descubrirás simplemente paseando por la zona de la calle Real y la plaza de las Flores. Especialmente me gusta esta casa, junto a la calle Málaga, paralela a la calle Real. Supongo que será una casa privada, con porche de madera y muchas plantas y flores.
There are several museums in town, all of them located in the same building. There is an archeologic museum, a paleontologic exhibition, an ethnological museum and a bullfight exposition too.
Hay algunos museos en la ciudad, todos ellos en el mismo edificio. Hay un museo arqueológico, otro paleontológico, un museo etnológico y un museo taurino.
Opening hours - Horario de apertura
Mondays to Fridays / Lunes a viernes: 9:00 - 15:00
Saturdays / Sábados: 10:00 - 14:00