Estepona – the new shining star of the Costa del Sol

With its authentic Spanish village feel, plentiful green spaces and beautiful Old Town, along with reduced government turmoil and a Mayor on a mission, Estepona is starting to grab the property headlines.

Set just outside the municipal boundaries of Marbella, Estepona is no stranger to change, with regular reinvention that can be traced back to prehistoric times and a name that has evolved through Alextebbuna, Asttebbuna, and Estebbuna.

The town has extended a warm welcome to many foreign residents and tourists attracted by a Mediterranean lifestyle based on traditional picturesque looks, some of the best sandy beaches in the region, rejuvenating promenades along the lovely Paseo Marítimo, and the stunning backdrop of the Sierra Bermeja Mountains.

Now this proud town is showing the rest of the world what it has to offer with a bold programme of investment and development that is far beyond anything being undertaken by Marbella and has established Estepona as the shiniest corner of the famous Golden Triangle.

Many are talking about the New Golden Mile, an exclusive stretch of first line properties with more high-end, new-build projects than Marbella or anywhere else on the coast. Estepona town also offers privileged residents the added bonus of properties that not only enjoy sea views but are also within walking distance of the port and the charming Old Town, with its many cobbled streets, tapas bars and plazas ready to explore.

Estepona has the added luxury of space, a happy legacy from times when its appeals were overlooked in the rush to exploit every available square metre in Marbella. Now, while Marbella struggles to get itself back on an even keel, Estepona finds itself with plenty of untapped potential in terms of land that is not only in prime locations, but is also supported by seriously upgraded infrastructure and facilities.

So, while rich history and nature is all around, big 21st Century-style changes are happening in Estepona. The power behind it all is that Mayor on a mission: José García Urbano. This is a man with the creativity, determination and drive to showcase Estepona’s natural assets, exploit favourable political circumstances and turn his sweeping vision into reality.

Perhaps most crucially, the institutional woes of Marbella have presented a clear opportunity to press home the advantage of being able to grant building licences with much greater freedom and Urbano has grasped it with both hands.

He has initiated an unparalleled programme of investment and development that has changed the very structure of his town, with a dramatic expansion of investment in infrastructure and lifestyle projects, as well as residential and guest accommodation.

The list of improvements and additions is long and impressive. New additions and highlights include a state-of-the-art hospital, an athletics stadium, the Teatro Felipe VI and Europe’s largest Orchidarium.

In an impressive illustration of the adage that ‘if you build it they will come’, investors are jumping on the Urbano juggernaut, with high-end property developers and retail and leisure operations lining up to add extra luxury and lustre.

New hotels include the Maravilla Palace, which is the first in the Old Town and will be followed by several more, while shopping centres and designer outlets are inevitably springing up to serve the growing demand and developments such as the upcoming Playa Cristo Beach Club are set to enhance the already vibrant and sophisticated seaside lifestyle.

This waterfront culinary offering is just a part of the wide range of restaurants on offer throughout the town that cater for an eclectic range of tastes from Goan and Japanese to local fresh fish and authentic Spanish dishes offered al fresco in the iconic plazas of the Old Town.

But Mayor Urbano is not about to let bricks and mortar dominate the picturesque urban landscape. A raft of projects have created beautiful outdoor green spaces and rejuvenated parks and costal paths to embrace more organic growth that has established Estepona as ‘The Garden of the Costa del Sol’.

This is not a vision of a new Marbella, but a dynamic, integrated plan to embrace development while safeguarding the unique identity of this family-friendly town. This includes many impressive details that show careful consideration rather than blind investment, via projects that may not need big money, but make a big difference.

For example, 14km of street renovations include pedestrianisation and giant murals and poems painted on open walls, while 13,500 flowerpots have been scattered on walls and terraces across the town, in colours chosen by the various barrios and stocked from the town’s own gardens.

The result of such initiatives is an immeasurable feel-good factor, a sense of wellbeing that may be ethereal but gives rise to hard statistics such as a ratio of green space to residential that is twice the national average – for a total of more than 600,000m².

Urbano is in no doubt as to the value of this element of his grand plan, declaring that, ‘before, the streets were full of cars and potholes. Now they are full of flowers, trees and happiness.’ Urbano is not tweaking, he is transforming.

Inevitably, such a dynamic, coordinated programme of change has had a strong effect on property demand. The market in general may be experiencing uncertainty as a result of events in Europe and beyond, but Estepona is unquestionably high on the shopping lists of those looking to invest or live on the Costa del Sol.

The profile of buyers has evolved alongside the town, and the roster of those whose interest has been piqued by Marbella’s neo-precocious neighbour has become more sophisticated and wide-ranging.

The traditional profile of British over-50s carrying golf bags has given way to tech entrepreneurs from Scandinavia and Eastern Europeans who are more concerned about family life, good international schools, healthcare, a seaside lifestyle, great communications and the space to build their vision of a perfect home.

These are young, savvy buyers in their 30s and 40s who are looking for cutting-edge, new-build properties that are architecturally innovative, with sustainable and alternative energy sources, provision for electric vehicles and all the future-proof features a family home could possibly need.

There’s no question that Mayor Urbano is giving buyers and investors more of what they are looking for in Estepona. His enthusiasm is not just infectious, it is effective, and he is determined to keep up the momentum while avoiding the mistakes made by Marbella.

Under Urbano’s steely-eyed guidance and with the ever-growing interest and support of the local and international community, it seems that in a region notoriously paved in gold, Estepona is set to shine brighter than its close neighbours for years to come.

Here are some of Lucas Fox’s most exclusive developments in Estepona:

Estepona Luxury Beachfront Apartments

Boutique development of 28 exceptionally high quality, spacious, beachfront condominiums for sale, in an excellent location between Puerto Banús and Estepona with stunning Mediterranean views.

Prices from €3,100,000

Estepona Beach Properties

Exclusive penthouses and apartments for sale off-plan in a luxurious New Development in Estepona occupying almost 10,000m² of privileged beachfront space.

Prices from €621,000

Superb Beachfront Development in Estepona

Luxury beachfront development with panoramic sea views, outstanding facilities and close to all amenities in Estepona.

Prices from €895,000

Estepona Beach TH

3, 4 and 5-bedroom houses for sale in a brand new gated front line beach development with magnificent communal gardens, swimming areas and gym.

Prices from €1,140,000

Estepona Apartments

Outstanding new Estepona complex offering homes with large terraces for sale overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

Prices from €454,000

New Golden Mile VEL

Beautiful apartments, penthouses, villas and bungalows for sale in a brand new beachfront development in New Golden Mile.

Prices from €792,000

Estepona Sea Breeze Apartments

A New Development of 36 seafront apartments for sale in the centre of Estepona.

Prices from €890,038

Estepona Apartments

Exceptional luxury complex of 112 exclusive 2 and 3-bedroom residences for sale with the highest quality finishes, each with a garage parking space and storage room, in the heart of Estepona.

Prices from €406,950

View more properties for sale in Estepona with Lucas Fox