Sotogrande – Off the Course
Sotogrande – a golfer’s guide to eating & drinking, shopping, local activities, places of interest and getting around the area.
Not just renowned for its golfing allure, Sotogrande is a popular tourist destination in its own right; as well as being an established destination for ‘second-homers’ looking to enjoy sunny climes and a quieter, less glitzy, way of life than Marbella, a little way down the coast.
Bars, restaurants and tourist attractions can get busy, especially during the key Summer months of July and August, so its always advisable to try to book in advance, especially if your group is large. Maybe try to eat dinner in the early part of the evening before the Spanish who tend to eat later.
English is widely spoken but you should not assume that everyone will understand you. Some basic knowledge of key Spanish words will benefit you.
Eating & drinking
Eating at the golf course before or after your round is a convenient and popular option. For example the Clubhouse at San Roque Club Google map, Ginger Beer’s base in Spain.
Other clubhouses open to the public are La Reserva Google map and Almenara Google map. But, with perhaps the best value of all, try the clubhouse at La Canada Google map.
Cafes, lunch & ‘light bites’
You don’t have to venture too far from your hotel to sample the local restaurants and bars in Sotogrande, Guadiaro, Torreguadiaro and San Roque. As you would expect, there are many restaurants in the area, from luxurious high dining experiences to the simple bars offering ‘cervezas y tapas’.
These are a selection of local favourites, a short drive or taxi ride away from Sotogrande’s hotels:
- PuraTapa (contemporary tapas) – Torreguadiaro Google map
- Inboca Gastrobar – (contemporary tapas) – Torreguadiaro Google map
- La Finca (Thai fusion) – Alcaidesa Google map
- Ivory (Indian) – Pueblo Nuevo Guadiaro Google map
- Restaurante Asador Cancha II – (Argentinian) – San Enrique Google map
- La Cabana de Sotogrande – (Spanish / Mediterranean ) Pueblo Nuevo Guadiaro Google map
- Mytilus – (Belgian bistro) – Sotogrande Port Google map
- Restaurante Midas – (Bistro) – Sotogrande Port Google map
- La Quinta – (Argentinian) – Santa Maria Polo Club Google map
- El Trasmallo de Agustino (specialising in a variety of seafood) – Torreguadiaro Google map
- La Terraza de Teo – (Spanish) – Guadiaro Google map
- El Gaucho de Sotogrande – (Argentinian) Google map
- El Revuelo Bar de Tapas (Spanish tapas) – San Roque town Google map
Sotogrande Port has a selection of sophisticated waterside bars and restaurants. Try also the beach bar/restaurants; such as DBlancos at Alcaidesa Google map.
Tip: Vegetarian food
Eating vegetarian can feel a challenge at times but options beyond tortilla and patatas bravas are offered at La Finca, PuraTapa, Pane & Cioccolato and EcoTapería El Cortijo at Castillo de Castellar.
Local to Sotogrande:
You will find a good selection of local everyday shops, specialist food and drink outlets, cafes, bars & restaurants at the local nearby towns of:
For a shopping excursion:
- Marbella – Parque Comercial La Cañada – (45min drive from Sotogrande) Google map
- Algeciras – Centro Comercial Puerta Europa (25min drive) Google map
- Gibraltar – less than 30min drive from Sotogrande. Branches of M&S, BHS & Morrisons and you can also buy your duty free goods. Please remember you will need your passport.
- Malaga (1hr 20min) Google map
- Seville (2hr) Google map
– Puerto Banus, normally on a Saturday (40min drive) Google map
– Estepona – several but one of the biggest is on a Wednesday
– Sotogrande marina – variety of seasonal markets such as Mercardo del Levante that runs during the summer offering a range of artisan stalls and entertainment Google map
Exploring the area
Sotogrande is perfectly located for many varied and interesting Andalucian excursions, some on your doorstep, some just a short drive away, and others that make a perfect day out, or perhaps an overnight stay, to explore the beautiful Costa del Sol and the surrounding Andalucian region.
On-line resources to help you explore the region are many and varied. What suits you best is mainly dependent on your own interests and priorities. Here are just a few suggestions:
Cadiz, Jerez, Arcos de la Frontera & the coastal towns
Spain’s first Constitution was declared here in 1812 and driving over La Pepa Bridge almost makes the journey worthwhile in its own right.
Tip: Seek out ‘Mercado Central’ – the large covered town food market Google map to see the wonderful range of local produce and perch on a stool with your selection of freshly prepared bites from the many and varied small plates on offer.
Jerez de la Frontera
Famed for sherry and brandy production, fine horses as well as Flamenco music and dance. The sherry production houses, bodegas, are located in the town centre and you can take guided tours – for example Tio Pepe, Gonzalez Byass, Pedro Domecq and Sandeman. Google map
Arcos de la Fontera
If you have time then you can take a diversion to one of Andalucia’s most strikingly positioned pueblos blancos (white villages), about 30 minute drive from Jerez. The old town is a warren of cobbled streets, leading up to the Castillo de los Arcos with tumbling views to the town and plain below. Google map
Coastal towns & national parks
Whether you drive on the coast road or the main road between Cadiz and Algeciras the views are beautiful. Drive through the impressive national park areas of Parque Natural Los Alcornocales and Parque Natural Del Estrecho and take the opportunity for a walk, or take your time and meander among the coastal towns of Barbate, Zahara de los Atunes, Bolonia & Tarifa.
TIP: Tarifa is the kitesurfing capital of Europe and with a truly cosmopolitan atmosphere. Try the Hurricane Hotel there and visit its wooden beach bar with sea views overlooking the Straits of Gibraltar and the African continent. Google map
Historic / Andalucian towns in the hills
While it is only a 3 hour round trip drive, it well worth allowing a day to explore the nearby historic towns of –
Whichever direction you decide to drive, this circular trip offers breathtaking views and the intricate streets of these cobbled towns afford a great introduction to the famous ‘pueblo blanco’ towns of the Andalucian area.
Or park up near the Venta Jarandilla restaurant and walk up the historic pebbled path to Castillo de Castellar (less than 3 miles there and back) rather than driving up the winding road. Try the organic restaurant on your left just as you reach the entrance to the Castillo – EcoTapería El Cortijo – for a selection of home baked tapas, stews and pastries.
Tip: Stop off on your way back to the port of La Duquesa for a ‘sundowner’ by the waterside. Google map
This luxurious sports and residential development encompasses all the amenities you could imagine – polo fields, top flight golf courses, beach & beach club, marina, bars & restaurants and shopping. Google map
Less than half an hour drive from Sotogrande, Gibraltar makes a perfect family day out.
Remember to take your passports and be aware there can be queues at certain times of day to pass over the border. Alternatively you could park the Spanish side (or take public transport) and walk over.
World War II tunnels
The Rock is honeycombed with a 32 mile-long network of tunnels, mainly excavated during 1939-44 when British military leaders believed that an attack on Gibraltar was imminent.
Wildlife & Dolphin watching
With its mild Mediterranean climate, Gibraltar plays host to a variety of rare species of birds, dolphins, whales, fish and turtles, as well being home to the only wild primates in Europe, the famous Barbary Macaques.
A visit to Gibraltar would not be complete without a trip to the top of the rock – located 412m above sea level. The views are spectacular and it takes only 6 minutes to get to the top in the cable car. There is also a walking path leading down to the Nature Reserve.
Often neglected as an ‘airport only’ destination, this city offers a wide range of museums, parks and areas of historical interest, with its own ‘Mile of art’. Check out:
And for eating –
Just a 30 minute drive away, or bus on the local M-240 service.
While many of the popular coastal towns have beachside areas, with palm trees, promenades & restaurants, they are often newly (sometimes overly) developed. Some have old, historic or traditional areas often just a few minutes walk into town and usually much quieter than the popular beach areas, offering a more interesting and ‘local’ selection of cafes, restaurants and ice cream parlours (heladeria). Estepona is a great example of this with its lovely pebbled streets, brightly coloured flower pots and market square.
While only a 2 hr drive away Seville offers such variety and diversity you may decide that an overnight stay is a very worthwhile option. Look out for:
- Alcazar Real de Sevilla (Royal Palace) Google map
- Barrio Santa Cruz – a most picturesque and ancient part of the city, with narrow winding cobbled streets and whitewashed houses, traditional plazas where you can sit outside, enjoy some tapas or wander through centuries-old gardens and relax on beautiful tiled benches Google map
- Metropol Parasol – an alternative to the plethora of historic attractions, this is the world’s largest wooden structure, offering unusual and expansive views of the structure itself and the surrounding city landscape – a photographers delight Google map
There are several daily ferry services from Tarifa to Tangiers with timings to allow a day trip to explore this north African city, either with your car or as a foot passenger. You will need your passport. The journey takes around 50 minutes, leaving from the port in Tarifa about a 45min drive away. Google map
There are various organised trips, with overnight stays available if required, to help you explore this area.
Casino & Entertainment
‘Casino Admiral, San Roque’, newly refurbished and located near the town of San Roque, a short drive or taxi away. Google map
In addition to the Gaming Tables, Slots and Bingo the venue provides a range of music and stage entertainment and a variety of food and drink.
Gaming tables open at 8pm and the Casino and Slots are open from midday. A daily buffet is served at lunch and evenings (from 13:00pm to 01:30am), and Tapas is available from 18:00pm through to 04:00am.
Please note: Entry to the Casino is strictly for 18+ only.
San Roque Club Equestrian Centre (run by Santa Maria Polo Foundation)
Offers group or private lessons and trail rides. The centre is located at San Roque Club; contact them on 956 108 800 or 672 466 663.
E3 Endurance Equestrian Experience – Google map
Riding for all levels of experience.
- Guided tours
- Mountain biking
With the kids
Great fun for all the family. Bahia Park is located on the road to Algeciras exiting at junction 106. With lots of waterslides of all shapes and sizes to be enjoyed. There’s plenty of sunbeds and seating available.
About 20mins drive Google map
The zoo is more like an animal rescue centre that offers a second chance for the animals. Visitors may feed the animals and interact directly with them.
15 – 20min drive Google map
A great adventure park with an African theme. There is lots of wildlife to be seen, birds, mammals and reptiles. Adventure activities, meet the keepers as well as a safari tour. Check out the website for further details.
About 30mins drive Google map
Enjoy a day at the Costa del Sol’s show and amusement park – a place that the whole family will enjoy. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, illuminated fountains and a variety of restaurants you will find plenty of exciting attractions. Enjoy the thrill of the many rides, get swept up in the fun of the shows at the different squares and delight your appetite in the themed bars and restaurants. See the website for more details.
About 1hr 10mins drive Google map
Located in Marbella, you can go karting with your friends or family. And all kinds of water activities such as jet skis, flyboard, banana and much more are available.
40-45 mins drive Google map
Situated in Seville. A great theme park with a wide variety of rides, shows, themed areas, restaurants and a waterpark. Just to say it will be hot in the summer months but water sprayers are located all around the park to keep you cool. Not Disney, but it’s not too far off!
About 2hr drive Google map
Getting around – local transport
A car is invaluable to fully explore the area and travel further afield but the local M-240 bus a regular and well priced service through the nearby towns of:
For a longer trip try letting ‘the train take the strain’:
- Seville (1 change) under 5hr
- Ronda – 1hr 10min
- Cordoba – 3hr 3min
- Granada – 4hr 9min
- Madrid – 5hr 7min
There is ample free parking available at the station.