Marbella bills itself as the most luxurious Costa del Sol resort and there’s no doubt the pretty town and surrounding area are quite a bit more polished than some of the neighbours. But you will have to travel a few kilometres east for waterparks and major attractions: not too much of a hardship when you have some of Andalusia’s loveliest beaches and hotels, coolest restaurants, historic architecture and fantastic water sports on the doorstep.
Direct flights to Malaga all year round take less than three hours. Marbella is under an hour’s drive west of Malaga.
Marbella’s on the Costa del Sol, the coastline’s 27km long and has 24 individual beaches ranging from protected dunes to urban waterfronts.
The resorts of Estopona and Puerto Banus are less than half an hour west of Marbella and Fuengirola and Benalmadena are about 20 minutes east.
Temperatures sit between 25 and 30˚ in June, July and August. Spring’s a good time for walking, hiking and mountain biking in the nearby Sierra Blanca.
Marbella Old Town is one of the best preserved on the Costa del Sol and has several good museums and art galleries.
Marbella has ten local markets including the famous Sabanillas Sunday Street Market and the daily Medieval Market in the Old Town. The shopping district is one of the most expensive on the Costa del Sol and home to dozens of international luxury brands.
Accommodation ranges from boutique hotels and beach clubs to four and five star family hotels, holiday villas and apartments, design hotels and luxury resorts.
Stretching from the west of Marbella town to Puerto Banus, this famous strip takes its name from the line of ‘golden’ beaches which runs along its length. The term was coined in the early 1950s when the venerable Marbella Club first opened its doors and set the tone for opulent resorts in lush gardens overlooking the Mediterranean. Extreme luxury’s still the signature today and this is the area to find five star hotels and golf resorts, chic seafood restaurants and, of course, the best of all beaches.
Marbella has an astonishing heritage relative to its size. Spend the afternoon exploring round the Old Town and you’ll come across architecture and influences from Moorish and medieval right through to the Renaissance.
The narrow streets of Marbella town centre are balanced by graceful squares and the long and lovely sweep of Paseo Maritimo. This is the district for eating and shopping and strolling around admiring and being admired (favourite local pastime). It’s also where you’ll find several of the city’s museums and galleries and the Plaza de Toros bullring.
Marbella and its near Costa del Sol neighbours are easy to walk around and most have beaches minutes from the centre. But this is Andalusia and, whatever you think, exploring beyond the coast is irresistible. Hire a car for at least a few days, stock up on water and snacks, charge your phone, get a paper map and take to the mountains. Just remember to watch your speed: the roads are steep, often narrow and can seem like a single, never ending, hairpin bend in some places.