Sheltering under the Bermeja mountains, Estepona is a major tourist centre on the western coast of Málaga which has magnificent beaches equipped with all kinds of services, as well as a busy marina. What was the Phoenician settlement of La Astapa today boasts a well-cared for centre with an Andalusian flavour which houses some architectural gems, among them the church of the Virgen de los Remedios and the castle of San Luis. The major festivals, el Carmen and a peculiar Holy Week are some of the celebrations which the residents of the town live most intensely. Nor can we forget its gastronomy, which is composed of traditional recipes based on fish and other products of the sea.
Estepona is located at the western end of the Málaga coast, a few kilometres from the provincial border with Cádiz. This exceptional spot attracted the Phoenicians more than two thousand years ago, who made Astapa a major commercial port in the Mediterranean. Estepona has managed to stay prominent today thanks to the major tourist infrastructure it has built around its magnificent beaches. La Rada beach is one of the most emblematic. Located next to the city centre, this extensive stretch of sand is backed by a long, palm-lined promenade and has all manner of services to enjoy the sun and sea no matter the season. Other beaches of much beauty are La Galera, Bahía Dorada, El Saladillo or the well-known nudist beach of Costa Natura, in Arroyo Vaquero. The town has a notable marina, which provides the opportunity to do all kinds of water sports, such as sailing, scuba diving or sea fishing. Only a few kilometres from Sotogrande, Estepona is also a golfer's paradise. Both new players and those already initiated in this sport can enjoy the select facilities offered by these courses, considered among the best in Europe. Those who prefer horses will find one of the most important riding schools in the region in Estepona. the Costa del Sol School of Equestrian Arts. It provides the opportunity to learn or perfect all kinds of equestrian sports, as well as the chance to take part in different activities related to the world of horses. History and art A visit to Estepona provides us with the opportunity to see a historic quarter which runs along the beachfront and which has managed to maintain its Andalusian flavour. Whitewashed streets reveal major monuments, such as the church of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, built in the 18th century, the tower of the former parish church and the hermitage of the Way of the Cross (18th century). Scene of naval and land battles during the Middle Ages, Estepona conserves fine examples of defensive architecture. As well as the castle of San Luis (15th century), dotted along on the coast are numerous watchtowers which were erected between the 15th and 16th centuries, such as those of Arroyo Vaquero, Sal Vieja, Padrón, Velerín or Saladillo. There are abundant vestiges of its rich Roman past, outstanding among which are some old Roman baths and other remains found around the Tower of the river Guadalmansa. Gastronomy, festivals and surrounding area Salted fish, fried fish Málaga style, octopus salad and sardines on the spit or the "teja" sweet are some of the delicious specialities which make up the culinary heritage of Estepona. Also typical are the soups, among them the "gazpachuelo" (with bread, mayonnaise and potatoes), "ajoblanco" (with almonds, oil and grapes) or country soup (with potatoes). As far as wines are concerned, of recognized fame all over the province are the sweet wines, produced under the Designation of Origin Málaga standard. Featuring prominently on Estepona's calendar of festivals is Holy Week, unusual because of its Easter floats carried in procession. At the beginning of June, the town's Fair and Major Festivals are held. A week later, the Festival of the Virgen del Carmen gathers residents together on the coast, where a maritime procession takes place. Taking Estepona as the point of departure, all the towns of the province can be visited. Only a few kilometres inland, raised on a hill is Manilva, which in its coastal area has seven kilometres of beach and, very close by, Casares, a Historic-Artistic Site dominated by the church of Encarnación and the Salt tower. Following the coastline from Estepona are Marbella, one of the most important tourist centres on the Costa del Sol, and Fuengirola, a city with a strong Andalusian flavour which has magnificent beaches. The natural surroundings provide incredible landscapes in Los Reales de Sierra Bermeja Nature Site, in the southwest of the province.