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Sensational Sotogrande

Sotogrande – synonymous with sunshine, sports and shopping – is Spain’s most exclusive resort and the largest privately owned development in Costa del Sol, Andalusia, Southern Spain. The 20 sq km (8 sq mi) resort is located in the municipality of San Roque, in the province of Cádiz, Spain and stretches from the Mediterranean Sea east of Gibraltar to the foothills of Sierra Almenara.

Sotogrande was planned and developed in the 1960’s by Joseph McMicking, who saw the enormous potential of the area. Sotogrande has a unique geographic location – it enjoys the tranquillity of the countryside as well as breathtaking beaches only moments away, with dramatic Atlantic beaches and Mediterranean coves. Its close proximity to Costa del Sol makes it attractive for those looking for a more commercial area to visit.

Sotogrande has much to offer visitors, including its famous year-round sunny climate and access to beautiful beaches. The exclusive luxury resort incorporates a wealth of outdoor leisure activities including the Santa Maria Polo Club, world-class golf opportunities – it is home to the famous Valderrama Golf Course, and a luxury marina with a delightful array of shops, restaurants and bars. Accommodation options are plenty in this tourist resort with five star hotels, as well as luxury villas and apartments available for rental.

Sotogrande epitomizes the essence of tranquillity and sophistication, and is fast becoming one of the top places to be seen on the Costa del Sol.

General Information 

How do I get to Sotogrande?

Sotogrande is one of the most southerly tourist resorts located on the far left-hand side of the southern Costa del Sol, in the province of Cadiz. The main airport serving this region is Malaga International Airport, which is a 1 hour drive away from Sotogrande. Malaga Airport is the busiest airport of Andalusia, with flight connections to over 60 countries worldwide and daily links with over 100 European cities. Another route to Sotogrande is via Gibraltar Airport, located in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar which is just 20 minutes away by car. This airport is increasingly being used by people visiting Costa del Sol from UK, although only a few flight options are available.

On arrival at either airport, visitors can hire a car; use a taxi, or use direct transfer to get to Sotogrande.

Car Hire

There are several car hire companies available at the airports.

Gibraltar Airport Car Hire companies include: Europcar, Auriga Crown, Niza and Avis. Note – it is important to get Spanish plated cars.

Malaga International Airport Car Hire companies include: Auriga Crown, Autos Lido, Avis, Europcar, Goldcar, Hertz, National Atesa, Record and Sixt.

Taxis and Direct Transfer

For those who prefer to use taxis, a one way trip from Gibraltar Airport to Sotogrande costs approximately €30, whilst fares from Malaga International Airport to Sotogrande will be around €150. Visitors can also opt to use direct transfer using minivans or mini buses for larger families. Airport transfer services can be booked in advanced, are ideal for large groups travelling together and are more cost effective than booking a taxi.

Bus and Train

Although bus and train services are available from the airport, there are no direct routes to Sotogrande. Tourists will have to connect from larger stops such as Malaga bus station or Marbella.

What is the best way to travel in Sotogrande?

Depending on accommodation options, visitors can decide whether to hire a car or not. Whilst many hotels in Sotogrande are centrally located and are within walking distance to prominent town areas, other accommodation options such as apartments and private villas are some distance away. In these cases, it would be best for visitors to hire a car. Hiring a car is the best option for holiday makers looking to go to the beach, explore Sotogrande and make the most of their holidays, especially for those who have booked a villa.

There are opportunities to hire a car directly at the airport for the duration of stay, or at Sotogrande for daily outings. Rates differ according to car model, season (off peak vs. peak) and company. It is important to note that not everyone can just rent a car in Spain – you have to be old enough to rent a car (at least 21 years old, although this varies depending on vehicle category and car rental supplier), hold a valid driver’s license, have insurance and bring the credit card with which you have booked your insurance with.

What is the best time to visit Sotogrande?

Sotogrande remains a world-class destination any time of the year – this is why it attracts holidaymakers from January through to December. The favourable year-round sunny weather in Sotogrande is the number one reason why people choose to live and holiday in this region. The climate is typical of the Mediterranean, with long, hot summers and mild winters. Sotogrande residents and visitors enjoy one of the best climates in the world with approximately 325 sunny days each year.

Sotogrande in Summer (June, July, August)

The weather in summer in Sotogrande is very hot with little to no rainfall with clear blue skies virtually guaranteed. Temperatures during the day vary between 25 – 35 degrees Celsius, whereas temperatures at night rarely drop below 15 degrees Celsius. In August, temperatures are extremely hot (exceeding 40 degrees Celsius), although cooling breezes from the Mediterranean Sea make these months enjoyable. It is important to note that Sotogrande’s humidity is low, so you will not feel the temperature as high as it really is.

Sotogrande in Autumn (September, October, November)

Autumn is a good time to visit Sotogrande, as the weather is still very warm, but not as hot as summer. The Mediterranean Sea is still warm and ideal for swimming well into October. The rains begin halfway through the season, with November seeing twice as much rain as October. There are occasional thunderstorms with lightning and torrential rainfall, but these do not last long. Autumn is a popular time for older visitors from northern Europe who want to escape the harshness of their native country’s weather.

Sotogrande in Winter (December, January, February)

Sotogrande enjoys very mild winters compared to northern Europe, making it a popular destination for Christmas holidays. Most winter days in Sotogrande are clear and sunny, although it is very cool in the evening. Temperatures vary greatly in winter, from highs of 20 degrees Celsius to lows of 6 degrees Celsius. December is known to be the wettest month, however rains rarely last more than a day. The sea is too cold for swimming during these months, and frosts are seen regularly in the hills.

Sotogrande in Spring (March, April, May)

Sotogrande in Spring is lovely – the weather picks up after Winter, and the beaches become popular once again. Temperatures hit an average of 20 degrees Celsius in May, although sea temperatures take some time to increase. The nights are cool, and days are long and sunny. From the end of April sunbathing is ideal, whilst the area is good for sporting activities from mid May onwards. Spring and autumn are the most popular seasons for golfers, as it is not too wet, hot or crowded.


Things to do and see in Sotogrande 

Golf in Sotogrande

Sotogrande is world renowned for its golf courses. Sotogrande’s jewel in the crown is the Valderrama course, which hosted the Volvo Masters and Ryder Cup and is the one of the best courses in Europe. Other golf courses and country clubs in the Sotogrande area include: the Real Club de Golf Sotogrande, which was designed by Robert Trent Jones; Club de Golf La Canada, La Reserva de Sotogrande, Almenara Golf, and the San Roque Club. Alcaidesa Links and Heathland courses only 10 minutes away.

All golf enthusiasts including novices, intermediaries and expert players will be enthralled with what Sotogrande golf courses have to offer – breathtaking views, challenging holes and beautifully landscaped courses.

The Sotogrande Marina

The Sotogrande marina is the heart of Sotogrande – this exclusive 550-berth leisure port is situated 16 km north east of Gibraltar, and is the first destination yachts see as they enter the Mediterranean from the Atlantic. The development of the marina began in the 1960s; today it is one of Europe’s most exclusive cosmopolitan communities with the nearby shore tastefully lined with exclusive condominiums, trendy boutiques, boating shops, elegant bars and chic restaurants.

The marina offers all the facilities one expects when docking including fresh water, electricity, security, showers, saunas, gymnasium, a marine supply store and heliport. The port has an impressive sailing club, and visitors are able to charter a sailboat, yacht or other vessel. Jet skiing rental services are also available here for water sport enthusiasts. The marina holds competitive annual summer regattas, which are exhilarating for both spectators and participants.

The Santa Maria Polo Club

The Santa Maria Polo Club is said to have Europe’s best pitches, and is dubbed the ‘’Wimbledon of polo pitches’. Watching a match here is unforgettable and thrilling, and best of all – it is free! Though not many people can afford to play polo here, there is nowhere better to watch the exhilarating sport being played. The nine fields of Santa María Polo Club are located in three different places: Los Pinos, Río Sotogrande and Puente de Hierro. The pitches are protected by mature trees and are flanked by the Guadiaro River, with beautiful views of the sun, skies and distant mountains.

The club is where the crème de la crème of European society come to socialize, and is a great place to spot royalty and celebrities. El Torneo Internacional, one of the sport’s most prestigious trophies is held every August in the Santa Maria Polo Club, bringing together the best polo players in the world. This tournament attracts the rich and famous from all over the globe, and is a wonderful treat to watch.

Natural Area River Guadiaro Estuary

This UNESCO protected natural park lies on the west bank of the Guadiaro River, and is an important resting, feeding and breeding place for local and migratory birds. Although it is the smallest natural area in Andalusia, it is nevertheless an important site as it is one of the few natural spots left on the Costa del Sol. Birdwatchers have access to numerous bird species via wooden walkways that cover the 27 hectares of marshland.

The natural area is abundant with gorgeous flora which is similar to other coastal areas of the Mediterranean region, such as reeds, saltmarsh bulrushes, tamarisk, wild olive and ash trees. The area attracts several migrant birds due to its location near the Strait of Gibraltar. Common visitors include penduline tits, flamingos, spoonbills, purple herons and ospreys. During winter, jack snipe, gulls and waders are spotted easily. The estuary is also populated by otters and eels, whilst badgers, hedgehogs and Egyptian mongooses are found in the surrounding area.

Beaches in Sotogrande

Sotogrande’s 12 km coast has several stunning beaches that are beautifully maintained by local authorities, and charming in their own way. Most of the beaches in this area are sandy, with soft golden sand or hidden rocky coves. Visiting the beach is a must for tourists and residents alike. Sunbathing is popular from mid April until late September, which is when beach bars are open, with sunbeds set out and water sport facilities available in certain areas. The peak season is July, August and September (in between summer and autumn), during which time, parking can be difficult. Local policemen patrol the coast off Sotogrande and Torreguadiaro beaches. Here are some of the best beaches to visit around Sotogrande:

Playa Sotogrande (Playa is Spanish for Beach) is a 2 km long, 35 m wide beach that fronts the Sotogrande estate and is situated west of the Guadiaro River estuary. This semi-urban beach boardwalk has a medium occupancy level and basic facilities such as toilets, lifeguard huts and parking. Visitors can obtain day membership at the Sotogrande Beach Club for more facilities.

Playa Guadalquiton is a 5 km beach that stretches between Sotogrande and Alcaidesa to the south. The beach is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of other beaches – it is quiet, tranquil and isolated. However, there are no facilities available. Visitors can access this beach on foot from the Playa Torrecarboneria to the west and Playa Sotogrande to the east.

Laya Paseo del Mar is a small triangular shaped 1 km long beach, situated between the mouth of the Sotogrande Marina and the Guadiaro River. The beach is located in front of the Paseo del Mar urban section and the Octagon Beach Club (El Octógono), where day membership can be obtained. The beach is quite popular during the summer. Facilities include showers, toilets, lifeguard huts, a chiringuito (beach bar) and water sports centre.

Torreguadiaro Beach, also known as Playa de las Conchas, is a semi-urban sandy beach which lies between the village of Torreguadiaro and Sotogrande port to the east. The beach is small – just a little over 1 km long, but gets very busy especially during summer. There are several facilities available here such as a chiringuito, sunbeds, showers and lifeguard posts, which lie towards the village end of the beach.

The Cala Chullera Beach is perfect for diving and rock fishing, with thick lush sand and rocky areas. The beach is divided into two zones by a rocky projection and is located on the feet of the tower of Chullera. The coastline consists of small sandy coves with rocky outcrops, and boasts excellent views.

Sotogrande has two excellent beach clubs – El Octógono which leads to the Laya Paseo del Mar Beach and El Cucurucho – a members-only beach club named after the beach itself. Both clubs offer a wide range of beach-side facilities including swimming pools, activities for youngsters, restaurants, and even reception rooms for parties, meetings and exhibitions. These beach clubs are ideal hang out spots for the entire family.

Shopping, Eating and Nightlife in Sotogrande

Where to shop in Sotogrande?

Sotogrande has several opportunities for shopping enthusiasts with a wide variety of exclusive specialty shops and boutiques.

The marina, which has a good selection of Restaurants, Bars, shops and Banks also hosts a weekly street market and car boot sale every Sunday morning which is very popular with residents and tourists looking for up market antiques and crafts. During July and August, a smaller version of this market is held every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

There are three large supermarkets in Sotogrande – Supercor, Mercadona and LIDL which carry excellent fresh produce and wine selections. The stores are open from 9.30 am to 9.30 pm Monday to Saturday and are closed on Sundays.

Mar y Sol Commercial Centre is another centre with shops and restaurants. Notable shops here are Golfino – a sport golf shop and Tiger Lily fashion boutique. Shops in the Puerto Deportivo de Sotogrande – Plaza de las Palmeras include Brando & Co boutique for gifts and clothing and Haagen Dazs Ice cream.

During the month of August, during the International polo tournament, visitors can find a great selection of shops at the Santa Maria Polo Club. In addition, tourists in Sotogrande can enjoy VAT-free shopping in Gibraltar, provided they bring their passports and pounds.

Where to eat in Sotogrande?

Sotogrande is home to several haute and international cuisine restaurants – an eclectic mix brought about by the influence of the tourist industry. Many local restaurants and beach chiringuitos (beach bars) in the coastal areas specialize in traditional fish, shell fish and BBQ dishes, whilst other inland areas offer diverse fish and meat options. There are various snack bars and restaurants to cater to everyone at Sotogrande:

Cancha II is one of the most exclusive restaurants in Andalusia, serving delicious Argentinean meat of excellent quality in a relaxing fine dining setting. Although dishes are costly, the entire dining experience is worthwhile; making this restaurant an excellent place to celebrate special occasions.

PuraTapa is an informal, trendy modern restaurant that serves an incredible number of affordable Spanish appetizers or snacks – known as tapas. Although the menu is chalked on the wall in Spanish, waitresses help with translations and help diners choose. The restaurant does not take reservations, so it is wise to go early and get a table before it gets busy.

La Cabana is situated in an old country house on the hillside above Sotogrande serving excellent food at reasonable prices. Only open in the evenings, the restaurant consists of a very spacious interior room, and equally large terrace surrounded by exquisite gardens. The owners also run El Molino del Conde in Guadiaro.

La Quinta is an Argentinean restaurant set in a stunning location overlooking the Polo fields in the heart of the Sotogrande residential area. It is famous for its meat selections which are imported directly from Argentina.

Ke Bar is located on the edge of Sotogrande Port, with great views of the yachts and palm-trees and lovely apartment buildings. With various menus according to time of day, visitors can enjoy a drink, tapas, cakes, coffees, or lunch and dinner here.

Where to go out at night in Sotogrande?

The nightlife in Sotogrande is very relaxed and laidback – and mostly consists of long sumptuous dinners and drinks in the marina at night. There are several fine restaurants in Sotogrande, as well as bars and cafes here. One of the bars to visit is Ke Bar, which is located right on the frontline of the marina. During the summer, this is a popular handout spot for post-match drinks for polo teams and spectators. Another popular bar is The Hairy Lemon which offers a great selection of food and drinks.

Those looking for a more intense night can head out to areas outside Sotogrande, such as Guadiaro, Estepona or Puerto Banús.