San Pedro de Alcantara is close to Puerto Banus and Marbella, yet has a character all of its own. It has a lovely old town, with a car-free street leading up to the pretty town square with a great café culture. There are often special events, parades and a huge weekly market to take advantage of and there is a plethora of language schools if you want to work on your Spanish. The old town area is pretty and quaint, but can be tricky to navigate in a car, with lots of one way roads and limited parking.
This is balanced by the other face of San Pedro which is the area between the sea and the main road. This area has a large number of modern developments of attractive flats and houses which represent excellent long term rental properties and are decorated to appeal to foreign tastes. The sea front has a great promenade, restaurants and bars, wide sandy beaches and plays host to regular events such as the Arte Sano festival at the end of November.
The residents of the area have been suffering whilst the long overdue bypass was being constructed and a lot of the main street was undergoing construction and repairs, but now they are reaping the rewards and have a beautiful public park, lots of new amenities and much less traffic going through the centre. But it doesn’t end there, the council is planning to build a new bus station covering 120 square meters with parking around the old 340 bypass road.
Rental properties are surprisingly well-priced, especially compared to nearby Puerto Banus, and renting long-term in San Pedro allows you to mix comfort, modernity and space with the benefits of being able to be part of a thriving Spanish community. Read our San Pedro area guide for more information.
Renting long term on the Costa del Sol is a dream come true for most foreign residents – the great weather, wonderful lifestyle, excellent facilities, laid back life and a family-friendly atmosphere, but there is one stumbling block for most of us – the language.
It’s particularly tricky here as there are strong foreign communities and lots of support in place for non-Spanish speakers, so the necessity isn’t there to really push yourself to learn. People live here for many years without mastering the language, but those that do make the effort, experience a much better level of integration with the community, get a wider understanding of the culture and are able to cope better with things like the medical system, schools and the service providers like electricity, phone and water companies.
There are lots of courses on offer, from subsidised courses put on by the local Town Hall which you can get access to if you are registered on the empadron, to intensive classes at language schools or private classes. Pop down to your local town hall or Casa del Cultura to find out what they offer there, or look through the local papers to find classes and schools near you.
One interesting option if you like to chat more than study is a new company just launched here called Club de Conversación Marbella which is bridging the gap between relaxed classes and unfocussed conversation by organising conversational Spanish classes from beginners to advanced. They have a qualified Spanish teacher who comes to a relaxed environment such as a bar or café and runs a class which is really practical and interactive and where the focus is useful conversational vocabulary that you can actually practice with.
We’ve also created a number of useful posts about learning Spanish which you can refer to and will be regularly updated for you to keep practicing.