San Pedro de Alcántara
You would be forgiven if you had never before heard of San Pedro de Alcantara- and some of its regular visitors would quite like it to stay that way!
For this attractive whitewashed pueblo, which has quietly grown in recent years into a ‘piedra’ of a holiday destination, is one of the Costa del Sol’s best kept secrets.
Huddled in the foothills of the Sierra de Ronda mountain range, San Pedro’s jewel may not shine as brashly as its nearby neighbours, Marbella and Puerto Banús, but, rather, gives off a warm glow, echoed in the friendliness of its townsfolk and their willingness to share their traditional way of Spanish life. The main pedestrian area, climbing through the centre of the town, is flanked by individual shops and café bars where you are invited to browse at your leisure or sit and drink in the atmosphere and a delicious cup of café con leche. A walk through the narrow side streets give a privileged glimpse into real Spanish living, something that is hard to find on a coast awash with new property development.
Crowning the town is the Plaza de la Iglesia, a meeting place for the town elders who occupy the benches and cast a benevolent eye over the activities of the families, friends and first time visitors who find their way there to sit, eat, drink and, if they are lucky, watch a wedding play out on the steps of the butter hued Parish Church. 10 minutes walk from the Plaza will take you to the weekly market, held every Thursday. Here, the mountains of fruit will have you buying enough to feed a vitamin C deprived army and the traditional wares on sale further strike home the fact you are most definitely in Spain.
But there is nothing parochial about the culinary fair on offer in San Pedro. The town boasts an impressively eclectic mix of cuisine from delicious informal tapas to special occasion a la carte, Italian pasta to Irish steak, Mexican, Indian, Chinese and everything in between. It would have to be a lengthy stay that could exhaust the choice of eating places in San Pedro- you may have to resort to finding somewhere for lunch and dinner to up the possibility!
It was an undeniably wise decision to build a 2 km underpass to take the busy A-7 road, which dissected the town lengthways, beneath San Pedro. It eliminated long queues for drivers and a death defying road crossing for pedestrians and has brought the two halves of San Pedro together. Where once was an asphalt traffic jam, there now stands a beautiful boulevard, as easy on the eye as the rest of San Pedro but creating a new generation of architecture.
But the boulevard is not just for show. Running along its length is an imposing, undulating footbridge. The bridge’s name ‘Un Mar de Sensaciones’ (a sea of sensations) could just as well be in reference to the boulevard itself. For here, there is something on offer for everyone. There are visual delights to be had in the amphitheatre where performances and concerts are held throughout the summer. There is physical satisfaction on offer with 6 different playgrounds providing fun for the even the most discerning young adventurer, space for roller skaters, scooterists and skateboarders to stretch their skills without disapproving looks, and a cycle path runs from one end of the boulevard to the other. And taste is catered for also, with a couple of restaurants sitting on the edge of the boulevard offering indoor and outdoor seating and an opportunity for parents to have a relaxing meal while the children play safely in full view on a large paved area adjacent.
From the boulevard Nueva Alcántara– San Pedro’s beachside area- is a 10 minute stroll away along the tree lined Avenida del Marqués del Duero, aside which the majority of San Pedro’s rental apartments stand. For those approaching the beach by car, there is no rough surfaced car park to test your off road parking skills, but the luxury of parking spaces on both sides of the road adjacent to the beach. Running the length of the beach is a wide, straight promenade where people watching is the rigour, preferably whilst sampling a freshly caught fish dish at a table of one of the cafes there. For the more energetic there is outdoor gym equipment for use by all and, often, instructor led groups can be seen being put through their paces on the grassed areas. The promenade is so much more than a long brick path- it is as much an area for the community of San Pedro to gather, both permanent and visiting, as anywhere else in the town.
The beach itself is sandy and wide and scrupulously clean. It holds a Blue Flag award for its cleanliness and, because of its size, is rarely crowded. Sun beds are available for hire on parts of the beach and there are several chiringuitos from which to buy tapas and the obligatory sunbathing mojito.
At less than an hours transfer time from Malaga airport, 10km from Marbella and 20km from Estepona, it’s easy to understand why San Pedro de Alcántara and its beachside area Nueva Alcántara is such a popular choice for our Blackhorse clients. Once you’ve visited, you’ll no doubt feel the same- but you might want to keep it under your hat!