The three main methods of transportation in and out of Estepona are by car, plane and train. Today we focus on the latter.

One of the places where the people of Estepona spend most of their dead time is undoubtedly the María Zambrano station in Málaga. Either to pick up someone arriving by AVE or because you are leaving from there for Madrid, Zaragoza, Barcelona or any other destination.

Depending on the waiting time, we propose several activities for which you do not need to leave the station. But let’s start at the beginning.

What is the first thing to do when you arrive at Maria Zambrano station in Malaga?

For those arriving:

If you arrive on the train and they are waiting for you outside, don’t dawdle. People usually crowd just outside the exit doors to give their loved ones a hug. When there are many people it can be complicated to find each other, but the volume of people is not so high that you are unable to identify those close to you. If you don’t see them in a couple of minutes, chances are they haven’t arrived yet. A phone call will clear up any doubts. If those who come to pick you up by car, you can meet directly at the parking lot (the first 15 minutes are free but be careful, you must present the ticket to leave). The elevators are on the left as you exit the building. Another option is that they are in the few passenger loading and unloading bays in front of the station.
If no one comes to pick you up and you have to get to your destination by your own means, here are other alternatives: cab, bus and rental car. By cab, a trip from Malaga to Estepona can cost up to 150 euros. The bus is more economical: here is a specific article that explains this option in detail. If you are going to spend several days in the area it is advisable to rent a car. Just where the people are waiting, as you exit on the right hand side, there are several car rental companies.
You also have the option of leaving the station and across the street there is a company that usually has better prices (although not as much availability).

For those who will be picking up:

The first and most important thing is to see if the train in question has arrived, is about to arrive or is running late. To do so, just enter the main hall of the station and look at the information panels. It is quite clear, you will see the time, the track and the origin. If it doesn’t match, it is probably because you are looking at the departures panel instead of the arrivals panel 🙂
If you have any problems you can ask at the Renfe office. It is located in that same main hall, looking at the panels on the left hand side.

What to do at María Zambrano station if you have half an hour to spare?

Thirty minutes may seem like a long time but it flies by. If your train leaves in half an hour, the first thing to do is to make sure there is not a long queue at the access control. Although the line usually moves quickly, it is not a good idea to get in at the last second. In fact, two minutes before departure time, you are no longer allowed on the train.
Once you know how much time you need to access the train with peace of mind, you can choose to have a coffee. There are several sites in the station and all are quite similar. If you are particularly nervous and afraid of being left outside, you can pass the access and have your coffee at the bar that is only for travelers. If for whatever reason you have already passed the checkpoint and you need to exit again, on the side facing the stores you have a revolving door that allows you to exit (and through which you will not be able to re-enter, for that go back to the access control).
Another classic for those who have little time and some urgency is to go to the toilet. And although it seems that there is nothing simpler in the world, beware. There are two types of toilets in the station, the pay toilets (located near the connection with the local trains) and the free toilets (from the main hall, take the corridor on the right hand side and go to the end). Also, if you are ready to board the train, there is a restroom after the checkpoint. The last option, the train, which also has a toilet.
If you’re not into coffee or Mother Nature, you can also choose to buy a snack for the trip, a book or a souvenir.

What to do at María Zambrano station if you have between one and two dead hours?

One hour is starting to be enough time to get bored. Ideally, you should take advantage of this time to have breakfast, lunch or dinner, depending on your convenience. There is a wide range of restaurants. Almost all the major chains have their premises on the second floor of the station. If you want fast food there are the typical hamburger joints, if you are looking for something more elaborate there are restaurants with an Italian name, places to savor American ribs… and if you opt for the supermarket route, there are also some. Choose according to the time of day and the time you have left. There is nothing worse than being in a hurry and eating in two minutes because they have taken forever to serve you.
You can also choose to buy some clothes. There are several brands available for both women and men and also some specific children’s fashion stores.
And if you’re the type that wants to look good, gift and toy stores are your thing. If you have had any problems with your luggage or you need an extra suitcase, as in all places of this style, you will also find the typical traveler’s store.

What to do at María Zambrano station if you have more than two hours of waiting time?

If you have timed it really badly and arrive at the station more than two hours earlier, the options multiply. Because then you have enough time to get out of the station and take a walk around Malaga.
Not far away, less than 10 minutes walking with suitcases, you have the Larios shopping center, with more stores and more dining options. For having one of those hotels, the only thing that adds value is that they are where they are.
And then, the whole city. The center is especially beautiful. However, calculate the time well so as not to get hung up and miss the train.

For the lucky ones: the VIP lounge at María Zambrano station.

November 15, 2022 marks one year since the return to normality according to Renfe, as this is the date on which the so-called club lounges or VIP lounges reopened.
At María Zambrano station, the VIP lounge is located on the second floor. The windows overlook either the main hall or the train tracks, depending on which side you stand.
To access it you need a Renfe Gold or Silver card. If you are Gold you can bring a companion. If you are Silver you go alone and no more than 4 times a year.

Inside you will find soft drinks, coffee, wine, potato chips, nuts and candy. Nothing like a meal replacement, but not bad. The space is truly VIP. There is a first room for common use, bathrooms, a reserved bar with its corresponding sofas and even a quiet room where the use of cell phones is not allowed.

So much for our description of what there is and what you can do at the Maria Zambrano station in Malaga. That said, what we highly recommend is that if you go to Estepona, go many times. And if you go home, don’t be slow to return.