Marbella, 100 kilometres square and 24 kilometres of beach, is known all over the world as one of the classiest and most beautiful holiday destinations in Southern Europe.
Thanks to its geographical location in southern Spain and to the mountains surrounding the city, Marbella enjoys a unique climate. Temperatures are mild year-round, winters aren’t freezing and summers aren’t stifling. You can go to the beach practically every day from May to September!
Since the 70s, Marbella has been renowned as a playground for the rich and famous. Yet underneath all the swagger, there is so much more to Marbella. It has a wonderfully cosmopolitan atmosphere, exudes charisma; attracting visitors for its many facets: diverse beaches, mild climate, multitude of leisure facilities, including some of the best golf courses in Europe; Michelin star restaurants, world-class nightlife and International luxury shopping brands.
Marbella is a charming, warm and welcoming city, beguiling to all who visit her. So it’s no surprise that time and again, it tops the most visited city in Spain list. Who wouldn’t want a piece of the action in Marbella?
Marbella’s motto is “a way of life”, if you are looking for a holiday that offers great beaches, wonderful all-year round climate, unique leisure facilities, gastronomy and entertainment, then choose Marbella, its way of life will enchant you.
The history of the town goes back to Palaeolithic times, as we can see from archaeological remains found in the area. Then the Romans came and settled, leaving clear evidence of their presence in the area, especially in the Las Bóvedas area and the Villa of Río Verde, with its exceptional mosaics.
In Marbella too is one of the most interesting Visigoth remains in the country, the basilica of Vega del Mar, which the Moors called the “well lived in,” and there built a fortress that has survived the passage of time. The urban centre they built on the spot is now Marbella’s Old Town, with aristocratic buildings like the Hospital Bazán and convents that hold a permanent place in the history books of this nation: from one of them the ransom of Christian prisoners, among them Cervantes, was negotiated. In modern times, Marbella has been a mining town and an agricultural centre before becoming what it is today.
It was the capital of the iron industry in this country in the 19th century, with three plants in La Finca de La Concepción and three in the El Ángel area, belonging to the Heredia and Ejiró families. A full 75 percent of all the iron produced in Spain came from the El Peñoncillo works at that time, but it closed down in 1931. Competition from Northern Spain sank the industry in the south when coke replaced vegetable fuel in the production process.
But Marbella was also a pioneer in agriculture in Andalucía, with the Marqués del Duero farm and, on a lesser scale, the El Ángel farm making an industry of what had previously been a subsistence activity. At the end of the 19th century, the aristocrat Manuel Gutiérrez de la Concha designed what is now San Pedro Alcántara, the biggest farming entity built in this country, covering 10,000 hectares of land.
See & Do
From the beaches and enclaves of east Marbella through to the western municipal of San Pedro de Alcantara, Marbella offers so many activities and facilities, visitors have no need to venture away from the area to enjoy a full and active holiday.
The old town with its narrow cobbled streets and flower-filled plazas is packed with delightful shops and art galleries selling pretty clothes and accessories, and handmade wares. One of the prettiest spots is the fabled orange tree-filled Plaza de los Naranjos, which is located just off the main street and is home to the 16th-century town hall and tourist office, where you can pick up a detailed map and other visitor information.
Cross the road from the Old Town and you find yourself in La Alameda Park, filled with exotic plants and trees, leading down to an open exhibition area; where you can enjoy a permanent exhibition of Dali sculptures and temporary art and media exhibitions during the year.
Down from the park is the Paseo Maritimo (Promenade); this is one of the favourite places for locals and visitors. The boulevard is filled with restaurants of all gastronomies, with terraces facing out to the beautiful Mediterranean.
Marbella’s beaches: The Marbella coastline stretches from Cabopino through to San Pedro de Alcantara. 26 kilometres of golden sandy beaches, shelving down to the calm Mediterranean Sea.
To the east, Cabopino port and beach are home to a couple of laid-back and economical Chiringuitos (Beach Restaurants), the beach right next to the port has sunbeds for hire and is a popular kite surfing spot. As you move west away from the port, the beach becomes a nudist spot. Head west to the popular area of Elviria and the famous Nikki Beach and then on to one of the most beautiful and natural stretches of beach, which joins Elviria and the urbanisation of El Rosario.
Funny Beach just outside of Marbella, is an amusement park on the beach, with go karts, parasailing, water scooters and a restaurant bar.
Marbella town’s beaches are well equipped, with water sports facilities, beach restaurants line the golden sands, cooking sardines on the spit, the waters are calm, ideal for family beach days. Head further west into Puerto Banus and you have a mix of family beach zones and hedonistic beach clubs, where you’ll likely bump into a few celebrities and paparazzi.
Finally, you reach San Pedro de Alcantara, at the western limits of Marbella. Here the wide, palm-fringed beaches are more laid-back, backed by a beautiful promenade and restaurants.
Shopping: If you want to combine a beach holiday with a shopping trip, Marbella is an excellent choice. Between Marbella town and Puerto Banus you have an impressive mix of independent boutiques, luxury brands and international Spanish high street brands, such as Zara and Mango.
The luxury Puerto Banus is crammed with designer boutiques, if you have a few hundred pounds to spend on a tshirt, bikini or pair of shoes, then this is the place to shop. If you’re looking for something a little more unique, then Marbella Old Town is a good shopping destination and La Cañada Shopping Centre on the highway above Marbella, is home to chain stores, boutiques, supermarkets, DIY stores. Here you’ll find the largest Apple store in Spain, Habitat and Marks & Spencer!
Museums: Marbella might not be a big city, but it has its fair share of cultural attractions. If the day is overcast and you don’t fancy shopping, then we recommend a trip to the Bonsai Museum (Museo de Bonsai), which houses a wonderful collection of Bonsai trees from all around the world, in it’s fantastic garden-museum.
Art lovers have the choice of the Ralli Museum, a contemporary art space, with works from Latin American artists; the Poligono Gallery, a wonderful space created to emulate the art district in Beijing. The Museo del Grabado Español Contemporáneo houses exhibitions of engraving and art works from national artists.
Golf: There are 10 golf courses in the Marbella area alone and over 50 in the region of the Costa del Sol. Local courses include: Rio Real, Los Naranjos, La Quinta, Marbella Club and Aloha Golf.
Places to visit
In the famous Plaza de Naranja ’Orange Square’, you can while away hours, sipping sangria, taking in the beautiful surroundings and people, visiting the charming boutiques and art galleries.
The labyrinth of tiny streets and alleys that surround Orange Square will reveal further tiny shops selling all forms of trinkets, fashion and souvenirs and there are some excellent restaurants and bars for a young and trendy crowd.
Cross the road from the Old Town and you find yourself in La Alameda Park, the park is filled with exotic plants and trees and you will feel like you have arrived to a tropical forest in the centre of Marbella. During many weeks of the year there are exhibitions on show in La Alameda.
Down from the park is the Paseo Maritimo (Promenade); this is one of the favourite places for locals and visitors. The boulevard is filled with restaurants of all gastronomies; all look to the beautiful Mediterranean Sea.
There are heaps of activities to keep a family occupied in Marbella, but if you want to venture out of town, pop down the road to Puerto Banus, making sure you stop off to visit some of the cool cafes and restaurants on the Golden Mile (Milla de Oro). Puerto Banus is notoriously known across the globe for its glitz and glam, chic and showy boutiques, clubs and yachting port. And it’s not far off the mark. If you have the cash to dash for a shopping spree, then here you can shop Gucci, Tom Ford, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, the designer list is endless. If you don’t have a spare couple of grand to go shopping, you still need to experience the port. During the day you can enjoy a stroll to the end of the portside, rhapsodize over the luxury yachts and then enjoy a Cosmopolitan cocktail at one of the portside bars, where you can sit on the terrace, watching the world glide by in their Ferrari.
Gastronomy & Nightlife
Whether you enjoy fine dining or traditional tapas, some of the best restaurants on the Costa del Sol can be found in Marbella, East Marbella, and Puerto Banus. Traditional tapas bars, jostle with fish and seafood restaurants, beach bars, Michelin-star establishments and international diners. Whichever way you turn in Marbella, you’ll come across a restaurant. Head to the old fishing port for a plate of fried fish, clams sardines. The Old Town combines budget tapas with some real fine dining establishments.