Marbella is famous for its year round sunshine, 27 kilometres of coastline, luxury boutiques and vibrant nightlife. Golf in Marbella is also extremely popular with some world class golf courses.
Foodies will enjoy the traditional tapas and Michelin starred restaurants. There are so many great things to do in Marbella, Spain and we’re sharing 12 of them to inspire you to visit.
The city of Marbella is located in the province of Malaga on the famous Costa del Sol. Marbella is also a municipality of 117 square kilometres with a population of over 140,000 at the last census in 2012.
The region has a rich cultural heritage as well as a prime position overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Marbella has several twin towns including Miami Beach, Doha, Jeddah and Punta del Este.
Things to Do in Marbella
1 – Marbella Beaches
Take your pick from over 15 beaches in and around Marbella, including Playa del Cable. This is also known as Bounty Beach.
Among the best beaches in Marbella are Playa de Cabopino,Playa Nagueles and Playa Real de Zaragoza. There are also several Blue Flag Marbella beaches including Playa Casablanca and El Faro.
The beach clubs in Marbella are very popular. Some of the best known are Amare Beach, La Cabane and Nikki Beach. There are quite a few beach clubs in Puerto Banus including The Ocean Club and La Sala by the Sea.
2 – Marbella Old Town
The Old Town in Marbella is a charming place to visit. Known as the Casco Antiguo, Marbella Old Town has many cobbled streets with lots of colourful flowers dotted around.
Plaza de los Naranjos, otherwise known as Orange Tree Square, is the beating heart of Marbella Old Town. Here you’ll find the Town Hall and restaurants with shady terraces under the orange trees as well as a beautiful fountain.
Some of the best Marbella Old Town restaurants are:
- Casa Tua
- El Balcon de la Virgen
Iglesia Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación or the Church of Our Lady of the Incarnation is one of the largest churches in Andalucia and dates from the Baroque period. With a cheery yellow and white exterior, it has frescos of the 12 apostles on the inside.
Not to be confused with this religious monument is The Encarnacion or Church of St Mary on Plaza de la Iglesia. This ornate Marbella chruch has one of the largest organs in Spain.
Marbella castle walls, or Murallas del Castillo, are also worth a look if you’re in the old town. The 9th century castle was built by the Moors and the castle walls were formerly spread over 90,000 square metres.
The castle and most of the walls have since been destroyed but there are segments of wall remaining on Calle Salinas. In the upper part of the old town, known as Barrio Alto, you’ll find colourful Plaza Santa Cristo.
On one side of the square, visitors can admire Ermita del Santo Cristo de la Vera Cruz, a church dating from the 15th century with a ceramic roof.
3 – Golf in Marbella
There are so many golf courses on the Costa del Sol that it’s often jokingly referred to as the Costa del Golf. With over 70 courses in the surrounding area and 16 in Marbella, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
We recommend trying a golf initiation course with Gonzalo Golf Academy at Villa Padierna. This incredible place is one of the best golf courses in the world.
Whether you’re an expert or novice golfer, Gonzalo will have you improving in no time at all. He’ll film you to analyse your stance, swing and body rotation and to point out areas of improvement.
4 – Dine on Marbella Beach
Eat delicious seafood at Soleo Marbella Beach Club Restaurant, directly on the beach. With its comfy red and white striped banquette seating, Soleo was designed by renowned interiors expert Isabel López Vilalta.
This Marbella hotspot is a lovely place to enjoy the freshest seafood with charming service. If you’re unsure what to order, the waiters will recommend their personal favourites. For example, rather than a paella we tried the lobster rice in broth, which had a really succulent tomato sauce.
5 – Puerto Banus Bike Ride
Cycle along the Paseo Maritimo, also known as Marbella Golden Mile to Puerto Banus. This picturesque pathway passes along the coast, over an attractive red bridge and past sights such as this sandcastle complete with chimney.
We borrowed complimentary bikes from our hotel, Fuerte Marbella and loved their stylish design. At the end of Golden Mile Marbella, you’ll arrive in Puerto Banus.
Head to the harbour to admire the superyachts. Puerto Banus is a popular playground of the international jetset and there are many bars, restaurants and designer boutiques to enjoy here. You can also visit the Roman Villa built in 200 AD by a local merchant, with its impressive mosaics.
6 – Shopping in Marbella
If you want to achieve the covetable Marbella style, go shopping in Marbella Old Town or Puerto Banus. Marbella itself is great for leather sandals, belts and boho chic clothing.
Snap up a few bargains in the shoe shops who buy their stylish designs directly from the manufacturers. We also love the clothes shops with their colorful kaftans and luxurious swimwear.
Most of the shops in the old town are open from 10 am, close from 1-2 pm. They then stay open until 10 pm so there’s plenty of time to browse.
If department stores are more your thing, there are a few branches of El Corte Ingles in the area. Puerto Banus is known for its designer stores such as Bottega Veneta, Gucci and La Perla.
7 – Hiking to Mirador de Juanar
Hiking is one of the most popular things to do in Andalucia. In the hills above Marbella, lies the beautiful Sierra de la Nieves.
Designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1995, it now spreads over 300 square kilometres. As the park isn’t densely populated, it is home to a wide variety of fauna and flora.
The drive up by car is very scenic, through the forest. We took a guided tour with Canyoning Malaga, who in addition to canyoning and via ferrata arrange some great hikes with local experts.
Our guide showed us many different types of pine cones and also pointed out some mountain goats. You might also spot a mongoose, deer or mouflon.
Hiking boots or trainers are recommended although the path to Mirador de Juanar is quite easy and takes about 40 minutes from the car park. From the viewpoint, you can see the nearby coastline and as far as Gibraltar and Africa on a clear day.
8 – Dali Statues
Admire the 10 bronze statues by iconic Surrealist painter Salvador Dali along Avenida del Mar. The statues were cast in Verona by Bonvicini.
They represent mythological gods such as Perseus and Mercury as well as figures such as Mujer Desnuda Subiendo la Escalera, of a woman climbing onto a snail. Perhaps the most personal sculptures are those of Dali’s wife, including the second statue, Gala Gradiva and Gala Asomada a la Ventana, of Gala Looking out of the Window.
At the end of Avenida del Mar, there’s a sculpture by the artist Eduarodo Soriano entitled A la libertad de expresión. It represents two boys looking out from a window to the ocean and the idea of freedom of expression.
9 – Tapa Experience
Marbella has some of the best restaurants in Andalucia, with a total of 5 Michelin stars across 4 restaurants in 2018. Of course, tapas are a key element of Spanish gastronomy and you can enjoy a great tapa experience in and around Marbella old town.
Hosted by the cheery Nancy, this food tour is a great introduction to the best tapas in Marbella. From traditional tortilla to contemporary small plates, you’ll be impressed by the quality of cuisine.
Nancy will show you her favourite local haunts including a tapas bar on Marbella’s narrowest street and a pinxos restaurant serving mini skewers of food. She’ll also teach you a bit of Spanish so that you can order like a local if you wish to. Contact Nancy at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
10 – Alameda Park
Find shade in leafy Alameda Park or Parque de Alameda, a little square with beautiful Andalucian tiled benches. The central tiled fountain, Fuente Virgen del Rocío, dates from 1792.
At night, the fountain lights up in ever changing hues. By day, the square is popular with families and a popular meeting point with friends. During the Marbella Feria in June, you’ll see women dancing the Sevillanas next to the fountain.
11 – Spa in Marbella
For rest and relaxation in Marbella, head to Amare Spa. Located within the stylish Amare Hotel, it’s one of the best Marbella spas.
Open to day guests, there’s a dynamic pool with massage jets, a sauna, steam room, bithermal shower, Scottish shower and relaxation area. You can also request a massage by the sea at their beach club.
The luxurious spa treatments are by renowned skincare brand Germaine de Capuccini and include signature facials and massages. We recommend the Kirei Sublime facial, which leaves your skin glowing and superbly hydrated.
The luxurious treatment is inspired by Japanese facial massage techniques and includes gentle exfoliation to brighten your complexion. The spa is open from 10 am to 8 pm, Monday to Saturday and 11 am to 7 pm on Sundays.
12 – Pinetreeclub Restaurant
When visiting Marbella, we definitely recommend having lunch in a picturesque garden setting overlooking the beach. Pinetreeclub is popular with locals and guests of Fuerte Marbella on Calle El Fuerte.
The kitchen is open from 11 am to midnight and specializes in Andalusian cooking using local ingredients to great effect. Try the croquettes tasting dish or seabass ceviche to start, followed by a superb tuna tataki with avocado.
When to Visit Marbella
The weather in Marbella is good all year round, with average Winter temperatures of 17 degrees and temperatures above 24 degrees in July.
There are quite a few festivals in Marbella so you might wish to time your visit around one of those. San Bernabe Fair is a week long festival taking place in June, with processions, dancing and food stalls.
Other Marbella festivals include Three King’s Day on 6 January, Marbella Carnival in February, Noche de San Juan on 23 June, Virgen del Carmen on 16 July and San Pedro Feria in October, with a fireworks display and the Parade of the Giant Heads.
Flights to Marbella
Marbella is located in the Andalucia region of Spain on the Costa del Sol. It’s a good base from which to start or finish an Andalucia road trip to places such as the Alhambra in Granada or the city of Seville.
While there isn’t an airport in Marbella itself, the closest international airport to Marbella is Málaga–Costa del Sol Airport (AGP). From here it’s an easy 45 minute drive from Malaga to Marbella.
Where to Stay in Marbella
First time visitors to Marbella might not realize that the town is quite spread out. For that reason, it’s important to choose a hotel that’s close to the main attractions. Hotel Fuerte Marbella is one of the most historic places to stay in the area.
Since opening in 1957 it’s been run by the same family and that may be the reason why staff are so warm and helpful here. This hotel has a prime position overlooking the sea and is just a few minutes walk from Marbella old town.
Many of the bedrooms overlook the beautiful gardens, the swimming pools and the Mediterranean sea. They’re well equipped, with comfortable beds, air-conditioning, a safe, mini bar, your choice of pillow and complimentary Wi-Fi. The suites are extremely spacious with a comfortable seating area and a large balcony with sun lounger and a handy drying rack.
There are two swimming pools, one of which is covered and heated in Winter. You’ll also find a well equipped fitness centre with Technogym machines.
Guests have the choice of 4 lovely restaurants – Pinetreeclub for relaxed dining, El Olivo Restaurant for tasty Mediterranean cuisine, Terraza del Mar which is open in high season for snacks and cocktails, and Soleo Marbella beach club.
One of the most unusual highlights of the hotel is its museum, located in the ruins of the old fort, El Fuerte de San Luis. It showcases items from the family’s personal collection, such as antique cash registers and a vintage telephone exchange.
There are good musical performances in the evenings including flamenco dancing and Cuban singing. Fuerte Marbella can also arrange all kinds of excursions such as the hiking, golfing and tapas experiences that we thoroughly recommend.
As you can see, there are lots of fun things to do in Marbella. Whether you’re more of a beach person or a nature lover you’ll want to return again and again.
We hope you’ve found this guide to Marbella helpful. Have you ever visited Andalucia or the Costa del Sol?
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