Estepona, not just sun and sand

By Gilmar 

| 13th Feb

Estepona has long been in the shadow of its better-known neighbours Marbella and Puerto Banús, though in recent years the town council, under the leadership of Mayor José Urbano, has made real strides in updating and refurbishing the town. Now rebranded as ‘the garden of the Costa del Sol’, Estepona has seen a fabulous rejuvenation.

Estepona, pico Los Reales

Of course, it was always blessed with a beautiful wide, sandy beach, but now this is joined by rows of flowering shrubs and an old town festooned with pretty polka dot flowerpots – each street having chosen its own unique colour.

And yet, what many people do not realise is that just ten kilometres outside this pretty town is one of the highest coastal mountain ranges to be found, the Sierra Bermeja. At 1,149 metres it provides a stunning backdrop and frames Estepona from almost every angle. In under an hour by car, you could be in a different world to the ‘sun and sangria’ atmosphere of the beachside bars.

Leaving Estepona behind, you will notice the ‘Mirador Ciclista’, a nod to the many cyclists who make the ascent and – much speedier – descent, including the Vuelta de España 2012 and the Vuelta de Andalucía, which had stages finish here.

Continuing to climb, just past the ‘peñas blancas’ at 960 metres, begins the Paseo de los Pinsapos, an evocative pine forest with its unforgettable alpine scent and scenery. These particular pine trees (abes pinaspo boiss) can only be found here and in the hills around Ronda.

Finally, approaching the summit is a ‘refugio’. A refuge that is literally what this ‘hut’ is – by day you can buy drinks and often hearty mountain food and tapas, while by night it’s possible to camp out here. Don’t forget to bring blankets, however – even during the heat of summer, it can get chilly this high up!

A little walk on from the refuge brings you to the Mirador Salvador Guerrero viewing point and its spectacular panoramic view of what seems like the whole of the Costa del Sol.

Hard to believe the ‘sun and sangria’ is just an hour away from here!

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