Our Top Vanlife Location in Southern Spain
As we’re about to embark on an epic adventure, we thought that we would make use of our last week of calm to let you in on our favorite vanlife location from the past six months on the road.
Since picking up our van in rainy Wales, we’ve driven through England, France, and Spain, stopping along the way to camp, explore, and find places to do laundry!
It has been an adventure, to say the least, with hospital visits, car crashes, wisdom tooth surgery, and busted suspension being just a few of the challenges we’ve faced along the way.
But we’ve also had some incredible adventures, from picking up Hitchhikers in England and hot-footing it all the way to Paris in a day, to going on new years eve boat trips with old friends in Valencia!
Recently, we’ve been lucky enough to find the ultimate vanlife location, with top-notch places to work from, free camping spots right on the beach, proximity to other cool towns, laundry facilities, and showers! I mean come on, what more could a girl ask for?!
I won’t keep you in suspense any longer, drum roll please, our favorite vanlife location in Southern Spain is... Estepona, on the Costa Del Sol.
We were based in the quiet and charming town for an entire month, and got to learn the ins and outs of vanlife in a town whose streets are lined by 20,000 colorful plant pots! Yep, you read that right - twenty thousand plant pots in a municipality with a population of 66,000.
Camping / Parking
There are two camping spots that you’re allowed to camp for free in Estepona; the first one is situated right by the port.
This campground is so close to the beach and looks very popular with the big RV’s! However, if it rains at all - the ground becomes very boggy. It’s also somewhat bumpy so if you’re planning on driving on with a lowered bus - don’t.
Our preferred camp spot and home for most of the month in town was a small beach parking area that is tucked behind the large Carrefour supermarket.
Situated a few minutes walk from the supermarket, and a 24hr gas station - this spot has easy access to bathrooms!
The police drive by this spot frequently and were very friendly which really helps to make the spot feel incredibly safe - ideal for those doing solo vanlife.
Coffee and Workspace
If you’re looking for somewhere to hang out and have good coffee or work for the day - there is one incredible coffee shop in town!
Cocora Coffee Roasters
The friendly gang that own Cocora Coffee become firm friends in the month that we were in town! With tasty coffee, dairy-free milk options, fast WIFI, charging spots, AND raw vegan balls by the incredible lady that is Daria Shiels - this is an excellent spot for digital nomads!
There are a few tables in the Coffee Roastery, but if you’re lucky - you might arrive when the big green couch is free.
There are few different shops dotted on the edges of the town, but watch out - there are few supermarkets right in the center of town, so if you forget your lunch - you'll have a ten-minute walk either way
The biggest is Carrefour, with a good selection -- even for vegans -- and opening hours of 9 am - 10 pm six days per week, we did pretty much all of our shopping here!
On the west side of town, there is a laundromat that has four washers, and three dryers, with parking right outside - we tended to drive over, and have lunch in the bus while keeping an eye on the laundry!
When we went to do laundry during working hours, or first thing on a morning there were always machines free, but evenings were pretty busy.
The laundromat opens at 8 am and closes at 11 pm seven days a week - with detergent added automagically, you don’t need to bring your own!
Bathrooms and Showers
Where we were parked, we had a couple of handy bathroom options! Even if you’re walking around town for the day - there are countless restaurants that you can nip into, and many were open to all.
The supermarket in town has the best bathrooms we’ve found, not only are they super duper clean - but there are even showers!!!
Yep, showers in a supermarket, how crazy is that?! In the underground parking garage, two of their bathrooms have showers, but there is one downside - they’re icy cold.
But hey ho, a bit of cold water won’t stop me from having luscious locks, so we braved that bad boy - and after a few times, you get used to it.
BP Petrol Station
This was our emergency bathroom, and the staff is friendly about giving you the key - even when we didn’t buy something!
As well as being a great place to stay, Estepona boasts a number of lovely neighboring villages, towns, and even cities; and while they aren’t so convenient to stay in, make a great day trip!
A very vibrant city with an area near old town made famous when locals banded together to turn it into the art district of Malaga.
You can even download a local map, and follow the art trail of outdoor art (graffiti) created by local artists!
Not to mention, with a few Starbucks dotted around town, you’re all set for good coffee, free wifi, and a chill spot to work for the day's that you aren't exploring!
One of our favorite beach areas, this combines the manageable size and charm of a town - but has the convenience of a metropolis.
With Starbucks, M&S, and vegan food galore - this was a regular weekend retreat for us!
It is worth mentioning that Marbella does have a pretty “flashy” vibe, with the sounds of new cars zipping by, and stilettos stamping past something you’ll eventually get used to.
Drive through the mountains a little way, and you’ll be met with a sight to make you stop and need to catch your breath.
The medieval majesty, and exquisite architecture of the town, combined with the friendly attitude of locals make this an absolute must see - even if it’s out of your way, you’ve got to do it!
Be warned; the town is as hilly as can be, so be prepared for a workout - or park in the center.
This British territory based on a small peninsula on the Costa Del Sol has everything going for it, it’s England - but with sunshine!!!
Friendly and polite locals, shops that we recognize from our childhoods, cinemas that play movies in English, and monkeys (only on top of the Rock of Gibraltar!) - what’s not to love!
For our fellow vanlifers from the UK wondering whether you can get an MOT for your camper in Gibraltar, I’m afraid to say that you can’t. We looked into it, but we found that we still need to return to the UK to get it done.
Jerez De La Frontera
This hilltop paradise is deceptively large, with a staggering 200,000 + inhabitants. Walking along the winding roads that look as though they should be still used for horse-drawn carriages - we had an incredible time finding hidden photo spots.
We were super happy to find out that ice cream stores in the town sell vegan sorbet - but watch out for the siesta -- usually between 2 pm and 6 pm -- because most of the shops close. And in this case, leaving us to melt outside while gazing through the window at all of their tasty offerings - no fun.
We didn’t plan to be in one place for as long as we stayed in Estepona, but a combination of car trouble, wisdom tooth surgery, and wanting to hang with new friends - made it happen.
Finding such a convenient and beautiful spot to camp out for this time was incredible, and with so many day trips and weekend trip possibilities nearby we’ll be back - maybe next winter!
Hugs and Cookies,