Estepona is a municipality of Malaga with an area of 137.52 square kilometers and 74,493 inhabitants according to the last census of 2022. The urban area does not exceed 10 square kilometers, but concentrates more than half of its inhabitants. It is in this area where we will focus this analysis of Estepona’s traffic at present because, except for the exit to the highway in Cancelada or problems arising from Puerto Banús at Isdabe, traffic in the rest of the municipality is fast and fluid.
Limits of the urban area of Estepona
Our town center is bounded on the north by the highway and on the south by the beach, with the Guadalobón traffic circle at its easternmost end, and by the McDonald’s traffic circle on the east when coming from Marbella.
Our downtown streets have always been an oasis compared to their surroundings in terms of mobility with motor vehicles. The province of Malaga has always had problems of access to the center of their localities, from its capital to Marbella were continuous queues of cars from the highway to access any of them, making Estepona in a different place to its neighboring towns.
But that’s all in the past now. If it has been more than a year since you last came to Estepona I have bad news for you. In March 2022 our town underwent the integral reform of the Paseo Marítimo, which is to completely pedestrianize the main avenue of the town, leaving the following panorama for those of us who are forced to circulate through its streets.
Entrances to Estepona from the highway
We have only four entrances from the highway, one at each end of the municipality.
- The entrance through Guadalobón if you come from Sabinillas.
- The McDonald’s entrance coming from Marbella
- The entrance of Caniquiqui, normally saturated
- The entrance to the industrial park
The latter two are the ones that give access to the city center. One is next to the other and their destination is exactly the same place, the BP traffic circle as it is colloquially known.
Formerly, you entered through any of the four accesses and circulating along the promenade, in just five minutes, you were already at the traffic circle of the Alboran building, which is the confluence of Avenida España and Avenida Juan Carlos, as the central point of traffic in Estepona.
Avenida España is the recently cut Paseo Marítimo, which joins the Guadalobón and McDonald’s traffic circles in a straight line. From the three-flag traffic circle to Terraza Street it is pedestrianized, leaving four measly lanes to circulate through the town. The rest are small streets and have no major problems other than those derived from the ancestral custom of the Esteponeros to leave the car in the middle of the street or double-parked “for a moment while they make a mandaíto“.
I would like to point out that this post talks about traffic and not about flower pots or how nice the town looks. Being aware that those who defend a city designed for the passerby may be offended, we cannot omit that our beloved town is unfortunately one more in the traffic chaos of the Costa del Sol and lacks the necessary infrastructure to ensure the mobility of the people of Estepona.
Three and a half avenues to tour the Scalextric that we have left in Estepona.
1- Avenida Puerta del Mar
We will start with more eastern. It is perpendicular to the beach and joins the BP traffic circle with the port, its name is Avenida Puerta del Mar and is well circulated except for its access to the BP traffic circle.
2- Avenida Juan Carlos
The second is Avenida Juan Carlos. It joins the Alboran Building traffic circle with the BP traffic circle and its traffic both at peak hours and during school entrance and exit times is disastrous. Access to the BP traffic circle is particularly bad.
3- Avenida de Andalucía
The traffic circle at Avenida de Andalucía, the third and only avenue that crosses the town from side to side, is an ode to urban precariousness. It has only one lane on each side, both completely collapsed at almost all hours and with traffic averaging a chilling 10 km/h average speed. The scooters pass you on the right while you continue to stop at the one hundred and fifty thousand crosswalks on this third world avenue.
All regular bus lines that pass through our municipality have several stops on Avenida de Andalucía: minibuses, rigid buses of 13 meters and articulated buses of more than 18 meters long, which normally have their stops occupied by cars, they have to stay to pick up their passengers in the middle of the avenue, cutting traffic for minutes. And when it’s not the buses, it’s the delivery drivers or any car leaving its cousin for a moment. All of this creates a perfect scenario to get on the nerves and abhor anyone who doesn’t have the blood of horchata. The trips you used to make in 5 minutes are now covered in 20 minutes, a drama.
1/2- Ronda Norte
Finally, let’s talk about the half avenue that remains: the north ring road. It runs along the highway from Calancha Street to the Felipe VI Auditorium. Its traffic flows through its slopes and traffic circles comfortably. This bypass is wonderful if you live right where it passes. If this is not the case, you will be far away for sure. It goes through the suburbs, there are no stores or anything you are going to visit, such as an exit to the highway. It was sold as an alternative to circumvent the very slow Avenida de Andalucía, but it does not work because at its westernmost end begins in the most absolute nothingness, Calancha Street, and on the other side ends at Ricardo Ortega Street (San Fernando field) that like virtually everything in this poorly designed city will give no other option to the collapsed BP traffic circle, causing traffic jams at the height of the auditorium at almost all hours.
Estepona is a town for all services, but for traffic we are a big city, and don’t think that this is going to improve in the future. The Avenida de Andalucía has to be renovated in two of its sections, only the section between the front and the promenade has been renovated, which guarantees us some crazy detours through who knows what streets, in addition to the project of a shopping center that can only be accessed from, the more than named in this entry, BP traffic circle.
If you are on vacation or you are a retiree park the car and go for a walk around town, Estepona is designed exclusively for you. For those of you who have no choice but to drive through its streets, I recommend patience, courage and resignation.