San Pedro de Alcantara
San Pedro Alcantara is a coastal town wedged between Marbella and Estepona.
Like its sister, Puerto Banus, it comes under the administration of the Marbella municipality. Sanpedreños have a very strong sense of their own identity and pro-independence supporters have been clamoring for almost two decades to become an independent municipality in its own right, but to no avail.
Backdropped by the omnipresent la Concha peak and with a beautiful beachside promenade, it is one of the Costa del Sol’s well-kept secret. San Pedro has always been off the mass-tourism radar and a relatively unknown entity in the international travel market. Very traditional and laidback, it attracts the type of visitor looking for a more low-key holiday. It is easy to understand the appeal; friendly locals, extremely child friendly, safe beaches and a slew of eateries make it a great holiday destination for those who enjoy simple things in life (strolling, chilling around the pool or beach).
If you are looking for cutesy, undiluted pueblo blanco charm with narrow warren-like streets filled with pots of geranium, San Pedro does not have it. Nor does it have the elegance of Marbella’s Old Town. San Pedro is totally unpretentious and therein lies its charm. Vacationing in San Pedro is really about experiencing the outdoor Costa del Sol lifestyle and blending in. Being such a compact town, it is easy for the holidaymaker to rub shoulders and exchange holas with the Sanpedreños at any of the churrerias or fruits shops scattered around the town.
Shaking off its reputation of poor relation to Marbella and Puerto Banus, San Pedro has experienced a seismic shift and is finally blossoming. The tunnel, inaugurated in 2012, plus the new boulevard with its amphitheatre, children’s play areas and ample green spaces have transformed the town. Prior to the construction of the underpass, San Pedro was split in two by the busy N34 main road. Now the boulevard seamlessly links the town proper with the newer extension of Nueva Alcantara.
The old town has a traditional Andalucian feel with leafy plazas, whitewashed houses and sidewalk cafes. Like most Spanish towns, the heart of the “pueblo” is the square, overlooked by a lovely 19th century church. The square is bordered by statues and benches where you can find elderly men with walking sticks and flat caps busily chatting and watching the world go by.
Nueva Alcantara is the new part of town with wide tree-lined avenues leading down to the beach. On the waterfront, the 2 km sweeping tiled promenade serves as an open-air gym with exercise machines and is always bustling with joggers, strollers and dog walkers. It is dotted with chiringuitos all the way along, most of them offering Mediterranean cuisine and, of course, the ubiquitous thirst-quenching tinto de verano. Many of our friends recommend the Guyaba beach bar, past Bora Bora. The promenade also links up to Puerto Banus and it is possible to walk all the way to Marbella along the sea front.
Nueva Alcantara has several upmarket gated communities with well-manicured sub-tropical garden and swimming pools. The prestigious beachfront complexes of Las Adelfas and El Noray are quite popular with holidaymakers, especially Scandinavian visitors.
Although San Pedro is small, there is a lot to do to keep the visitor entertained. It is a vibrant town abuzz with restaurants, bars, bakery cafes and ice cream parlours. The food scene is both local and international, with Irish pubs, Asian restaurants, Dutch bars all next to traditional Spanish bars and restaurants. There are a couple of well-priced supermarkets (Mercadona, Maskom, Supersol and Día), a 24-hour pharmacy and boutiques. Thursday is street market day, a true bargain hunter’s paradise.
Don’t expect any wild nightlife. A night out typically consists of a meal and a few drinks at a local bar - although there are a couple of salsa clubs- or a moonlight stroll along the beach promenade. If you’re looking for a big party night, Marbella and Puerto Banús are a short drive away. San Pedro also has the last summer fair (feria) in Andalucia being in the second week in October.
For sporting activities, there are many options. The Nueva Alcantara padel and tennis club has 11 padel courts and 4 tennis courts. The adjacent residential area of Guadalmina is also known for its well kept golf courses. If you just want to hit a few balls try the Guadalmina public driving range (Located close to the Barceló Hotel). For a bit more action for the kids, the Cable Ski Marbella, next to the driving range, offers wakeboard, kneeboard, and water-ski lessons. The road to Ronda starts at San Pedro so experienced cyclists can enjoy a challenging but beautiful ride.
With a fairly recent history, San Pedro offers history and heritage lovers very little in the way of old buildings and ancient ruins. The town was founded in the late 1800s and was an agricultural farming community, famous for its sugar cane. It is along the beach that all the other websites will mention a must for history buffs, the Paleochristian Balisilica Church by the sea and the third century Roman Baths. On viewing these we have come to the conclusion that though we enjoy looking at historical artefacts we are not history buffs. The ruins are closed to casual visitors, but guided visits can be arranged through the tourist office. We can only recommend viewing these on passing as part of the wonderful beach stroll and not driving specifically to view the ruins.