San Pedro de Alcántara Area Guide

San Pedro de Alcántara, known as just San Pedro by locals, is a small town to the west of Marbella. Much younger historically than other resorts on the Costa del Sol, San Pedro has maintained its Spanish atmosphere and is less cosmopolitan in feel than Marbella and Fuengirola, for example. However, its family-friendly vibe and pleasant surroundings make it a popular place to live for both Spaniards and foreigners. 

Where is San Pedro de Alcántara?

San Pedro is about 10km to the west of Marbella. It lies between two rivers and consists of the town centre in the north and the seafront promenade on the coast. A Boulevard Park links the two areas. The town is the gateway to Ronda from the Costa del Sol via one of the most spectacular mountain drives in the area. 

What’s San Pedro like?

San Pedro de Alcántara has a very different feel to it than other Costa del Sol resorts. It’s much younger for a start. While most towns and villages go back centuries, San Pedro’s foundations start in 1855 when the Marquis of Duero set up a farming community in the fertile river plains. The town isn’t on the beach, and this factor probably means that San Pedro has conserved its typically Andalusian feel without the dominating influence of tourism. The centre has a more Spanish atmosphere than Marbella, and this isn’t a resort where you’ll find the high-end luxury lifestyle that is so common in nearby Puerto Banús and Nueva Andalucía. Visiting tourists in the summer tend to be from Madrid and northern Spain rather than British and Scandinavians. The beach and promenade area have an authentic vibe with traditional restaurants rather than beach clubs. Above all, it’s very much a family town, and there’s plenty to do for children. 

How big is it?

San Pedro is longer than wider – it takes just a few minutes to drive through the A-7 tunnel underneath the Boulevard Park. Although the town sprawls down to the coast and up into the hills, this is a compact part of the Costa del Sol and smaller than neighbouring Nueva Andalucía, for example. 

What’s the population of San Pedro de Alcántara?

Just over 36,300 people live in the part of the Costa del Sol. 

How many foreigners live in San Pedro?

Unlike nearby Marbella and Estepona, San Pedro de Alcántara does not have a large foreign population. Around one-fifth of its inhabitants are international and mostly from Northern Europe and South America. 

What’s the weather like in San Pedro?

This part of the Costa del Sol enjoys the same warm climate as Marbella. The high mountain ranges to the north protect it from cold winds in winter, and Atlantic breezes temper the heat in summer. San Pedro has an average of 320 days of sunshine a year and mild temperatures all year round. 

How do I get to San Pedro?

If you’re driving from Malaga Airport, San Pedro de Alcántara is about 10km west of Marbella and after Nueva Andalucía. It has an exit on the toll highway (AP-7) but is best reached on the coastal highway (A-7). From the west, San Pedro is the next stop after Cancelada and Guadalmina, two neighbourhoods to the east of Estepona. 

How far is it to Malaga Airport from San Pedro de Alcántara?

Approximately 60km, a journey that takes around 40 minutes (slightly longer in the summer months). 

How far is it to Gibraltar Airport from San Pedro de Alcántara?

If you’ve chosen to travel to the Costa del Sol via Gibraltar, San Pedro is 64km to the east. Allow just under an hour to drive plus extra for passport and border control. 

How far is it to Marbella from San Pedro?

Just a short 10km drive along the coast via Puerto Banús and the Golden Mile. 

What are the main attractions in San Pedro de Alcántara?

The town centre sits around an attractive central square, dominated by the church and some fine buildings. This is the hub of life in San Pedro, and you’ll find most of the cafés, bars, shops and amenities in this area. Moving south towards the Mediterranean, you’ll cross Boulevard Park, a modern recreational area with numerous play parks, an amphitheatre for small events and greens. A stunning bridge known as the Mar de Sensaciones (Sea of Emotions) runs the length of the Park. Its wave-like structure is an iconic landmark in the town. Nueva Alcántara lies between the Park and the beach. This is the newer part of the town with many townhouses and low-rise apartment developments, mostly in gated complexes with communal gardens and pool. La Colonia where the original agricultural community was set up 1855 is there. The sugar factory (Ingenio) is now a cultural centre and museum of the history of San Pedro. Nearby are two of the most historical monuments in Marbella: a 4th-century basilica and cemetery and some 3rd-century Roman baths (Las Bóvedas). Both are in ruins, but open to visitors. Flanking the beach is a boardwalk to Marbella, one of the prettiest coastal walks on the Costa del Sol. 

What are the beaches like near San Pedro?

Wide avenues with cycle lanes lead from Nueva Alcántara to the beach, which has held blue flag status since 1992. The 5km of grey sands offer family-friendly beaches, backed by traditional restaurants serving local fish and seafood. If you’re looking for beach clubs, Bora Bora and El Ancla, one of the first on the Costa del Sol, are at the west end. 

What is there to do in San Pedro de Alcántara?

San Pedro offers plenty for families. As well as outdoor playparks and the beach, the town has good sports facilities and one of the best volleyball teams in Malaga province. There’s a selection of state schools, and the private Laude San Pedro International College is in Nueva Alcántara. Golf enthusiasts are spoilt for choice from the next-door Guadalmina (one of the first golf courses on the Costa del Sol) and nearby Golf Valley with five courses in Nueva Andalucía. Outdoor fans have some of the best hiking and horse riding on the Costa del Sol on the doorstep with the Sierra de las Nieves National Park just 40 minutes’ drive away. 

What cultural activities are there in San Pedro?

San Pedro celebrates a year-round calendar of traditional fiestas that include Holy Week at Easter, the Virgen del Carmen (patron saint of fishermen) in July and Christmas. The town holds a week of festivities in October when it celebrates St Peter’s day in Andalusian style. Cultural events such as theatre and concerts happen all year round. Bigger events take place in the large theatre in nearby Marbella. 

What about eating out in San Pedro de Alcántara?

Eateries in San Pedro don’t have the international flavour that is common in other parts of the Costa del Sol and food tends to be traditionally Andalusian or Spanish. Tapas take centre stage at bars in the town centre, and you’ll find delicious fried fish and fresh seafood at the restaurants near the beach. Prices tend to be slightly cheaper than nearby Marbella. 

What’s a typical local dish?

Locally-caught fish are a top delicacy especially sardines in the summer months (best in those without an ‘r’ in them so May to August). The beachside restaurants grill them on skewers over an open fire of olive wood logs. A simple dish that is made even more delicious if accompanied by an ice-cold beer or a fresh white wine from Ronda! 

How about shopping in San Pedro?

The town centre has a good selection of food shops and larger supermarkets. The indoor market opens daily for fresh and seasonal produce. The weekly Thursday market has a large selection of stalls selling all variety of items from fruit and vegetables to handbags and shoes. La Colonia shopping centre offers some boutiques and home stores. For more variety of shopping and chain stores, head for La Cañada shopping centre to the north of Marbella. Here you’ll find brand names such as Zara, Guess, Mayoral, FNAC and an Alcampo hypermarket. 

And property in San Pedro de Alcántara?

If you like the sound of the traditional vibe at this family-friendly town, you might be interested in looking at property in San Pedro. On the market are apartments, townhouses and villas in the different areas of the town. New construction is currently taking place in the town centre – perfect for a home with all amenities on the doorstep – and nearer the beach. Jade Beach is a particularly sought-after complex within a short walk to the seafront. Villa properties are also available, often on large plots. Find out more about real estate in San Pedro.