A quiet and tranquil town. A ‘true slice’ of traditional Spain. One of the most untouched corners of the Costa del Sol and a Spanish stronghold that has successfully defended itself from the waves of property development that has washed along the coast in recent years. Whatever you may have heard about San Pedro de Alcántara, chances are that much of it, while well-intentioned, will be inaccurate.
On the world stage, San Pedro de Alcántara is as unknown as can be. There are no travel agent’s windows in Swindon High Street plastered with hastily felt-tipped ‘Sun in San P – kids go free!’ offers. There are no Facebook postings of ‘Legendary’ weekends spent tearing up the streets of San Pedro from attention-seeking 20-somethings. And there are no – or very few – property developments located in the town. Nope, San Pedro de Alcántara is content to stay serenely under the radar, only developing a local reputation, and even then it’s one based on benign fact rather than fantastical fiction.
The town that forms the majority of what is San Pedro de Alcántara is a square-shaped collection of tightly-knit whitewashed building, straight and narrow streets and a main central plaza that is overlooked by a lovely church. Compact, bright, laid-back and certainly extremely traditional, San Pedro de Alcántara is a favourite with holidaymakers of a certain type, particularly those who take pleasure from strolling through peaceful streets, enjoying a relaxing cup of coffee or glass of beer, sampling a selection of terrific tapas and simply enjoying the sunshine.
Away from the cheek-by-jowl apartments, shops, bars and offices that comprise the busy yet somehow perennially peaceful centre of San Pedro de Alcántara, the newer urbanisations of Nueva Alcántara form something of a front garden for the town. Cross the busy N340 coastal road and a kilometre’s worth of wide boulevards, grid-shaped developments and grassy lawns stretch out before you, fronted by the shimmering azure-blue of the Mediterranean. Here, hundreds of expats, Madrileños and other Spaniards have holiday homes, hidden in vast developments and enveloped by an other-worldly sense of stillness. In the summer, everyone’s either at the beach or round the pool, and in the winter, everyone’s everywhere but here.
The beach and promenade act as an open-air gym, solarium and nightclub all in one – aside from the church plaza, the epicentre of San Pedro life is here, where all celebrations, family outings and first dates seem to take place. Spaniards – creatures of habit for sure – are joined sporadically by a smattering of expat Brits, Irish and Scandinavians, all trying to fit into the locals’ way of life. They often succeed, too.