Spain is a gorgeous country that has much to offer. From romantic coves to surfing hotspots, there are adventures and activities for everyone. If you are ready to check into a modern-day, glamorous resort town, then you must check out the chic, sun-drenched town of Marbella. This resort town is a favorite with the rich and famous, boosted by foreign residents who are seduced by the lifestyle. Located on southern Spain's Costa del Sol, the Sierra Blanca Mountains are your backdrop to sand Mediterranean beaches, hotels, villas, and golf courses.
In this travel guide, we will share everything you need for a perfect getaway to Marbella, Spain!
Best Time To Visit Marbella, Spain
Marbella has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers. The climate is such that you can enjoy sports and sightseeing at any time of year, so it really comes down to your weather preference!
To avoid crowds, visiting during the off-peak season of tourism is best, so you should visit between April to May or September to October. If you enjoy soaking up the sun, the best time to visit is between June and September. The hottest month of the year is August, reaching high temperatures up to 29°C (84°F) at the day's peak.
Old Town Marbella
Also known as the Casco Antiguo, Old Town Marbella is the more traditionally Spanish area of Marbella. You'll know it from its white-washed buildings with red tile roofs lining winding streets. This is where many historical points of interest are located, such as the Plaza de los Naranjos, the Old Town Hall, and the Iglesia de la Encarnación.
Iglesia De La Encarnación
Meaning "Church of Our Lady of the Incarnation," this Old Town landmark absolutely has to be on your to-see list. The church was built on the ruins of a mosque during the 16th century, and it's architecturally impressive! It has two bell towers, a large Baroque facade, a carved wooden ceiling, and an exquisite altar.
Plaza De Los Naranjos
This is the city center of Old Town Marbella. In the center of the plaza is a stunning Renaissance fountain, and the whole area is filled with orange trees. The cafes and restaurants facing the plaza offer outdoor seating, making it a perfect spot for people-watching in the afternoon with a refreshing drink in hand.
Alameda Park is a natural gem filled with sculptures, orange trees, palm trees, and vibrant flowers! The pathways through the city park are dotted with tiled benches and lead to an incredible water fountain that is a popular photo spot. Alameda Park also has a playground and pond with ducks hoping you'll feed them. Many events and festivals are held here throughout the year, and it's worth checking the schedule to see if you can experience one!
If visiting historical buildings doesn't strike your fancy, head to the La Canada Shopping Centre. There are over 150 outdoor shops here, many of which carry designer brands.
For a nice picnic lunch, bring your basket to Turtle Lake. A long dam was built in 1890 to supply the city with water, and the resulting reservoir is frequented by wildlife. If you just need to get away from the hustle and bustle of Marbella, this is the place to go.
Spain is known for its Moorish architecture, and the Marbella Castle is one of the best-preserved examples in the whole country. Built-in the 9th century on a hilltop with beautiful views, you can still explore the grounds and castle interior.
This art museum houses some incredible, one-of-a-kind pieces from Salvador Dali and Marc Chagall. Even if you're not an art connoisseur, you'll enjoy the gardens around the museum.
Things To Do
Take A Food Tour
The food in Marbella is fantastic, spanning from seafood to more traditional Spanish cuisine. You won't go wrong by just popping into whatever restaurants strike your fancy, but if you'd like to be more methodical, go on a food tour! You'll enjoy a wide variety of dishes as you head around Old Town Marbella, and the guide will tell you about the historical and modern food culture. Or, if you'd rather, there are also wine and tapas tasting tours!
Sunbathe On The Beaches
It would be a visit to Spain without hitting the beach, and Marbella has some of the best beaches in all of Spain! Some beaches are better suited to a relaxing day soaking up the sun, such as Artola Beach (also known as Cabopino Beach), Nueva Andalucia Beach, and Puerto Banús Beach.
Marbella is truly known for its golf culture, with over 20 golf courses available for you to choose from! There is a golf course for anyone, from beginning to experienced golfers. The most popular courses are the Real Club de Golf Las Brisas, the Aloha Golf Club, and the Marbella Golf & Country Club.
Playing chess outdoors is a popular Spanish pastime, and the Plaza del Mar in Marbella is a prime destination for it. Located in Old Town Marbella, the Plaza del Mar has many outdoor cafes bordering a picture-perfect spot, and locals there would love to play a game with you.
Hike Up La Concha
If you're of the outdoor adventures sort, then you simply must hike up La Concha - the highest peak in the area. It will take 3 to 4 hours - so start early in the morning to avoid the heat - but the views are worth it! On a clear day, you can see across the Mediterranean Sea to Morocco! And along the way, you'll probably see wild goats, deer, and rabbits.
Catch A Horse And Dance Show
Marbella is found in the Andalusia region of Spain, and the traditional Andalusian horse and Flamenco shows are a great way to steep yourself in Marbella's local culture and life! Andalusian horses are known worldwide for their grace and beauty, and the Flamenco dancers are ridiculously talented.
Try Water Sports
There are many water sports to try in this Spanish city! Rio Verde Beach is a popular destination for them, particularly for surfing. It has waves gentle enough for beginners and strong enough for experienced surfers. Scuba diving is another great option, as these Spanish beaches are filled with sea anemones and other marine wildlife. Stand-up paddle boarding is a popular sport in Marbella as well. You can rent a board, take a lesson, or go on a paddle-boarding tour!
Enjoy The Nightlife
Marbella is known for its hopping nightlife, particularly in the Puerto Banús Marina area. This area of Marbella is luxurious, and you'll find the streets lined with a wide variety of clubs, bars, discos, and pubs.
Take A Day Trip To Andalusian Villages
There are many charming villages in the Andalusia region of southern Spain, two of which are a short day trip away from Marbella. Ronda and Setenil de las Bodegas are the perfect places to spend a long day away from the crowds. Both have beautiful views of the countryside around them, and Ronda has quite a few historical buildings of interest. Setenil de las Bodegas is unique in that its houses are built right into the rocks!
Attend a main annual event
Three major annual events are happening in Marbella every year. Be sure to check out the dates for Marbella Carnival, Marbella Fair (Feria de San Bernabe), and Noche de San Juan.
Where To Stay
When determining where to stay during your Marbella visit, first consider what sort of "vibe" you're looking for. Marbella can be divided into two parts - the old town (Casco Antiguo) and the new town (Nueva Andalucia). There are places to stay in both areas of town, so are you looking for a historical, old-world feel or something more luxurious and modern? Quaint hotels and bed-and-breakfast houses are found in Old Town Marbella and along the Avenida Del Mar. If luxury hotels are what you're looking for, head to Puerto Banús. Locations here are frequented by the jet-setters and celebrities of the world, so you know they're top of the line!
Where Is Marbella, Spain, Located?
Marbella is an Andalusian city located on the southern coast of Spain's Costa Del Sol. It's about 37 miles southwest of Malaga and 48 miles east of Gibraltar. It's surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea and is nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Blanca range.
How To Get To Marbella, Spain
The easiest way to get to Marbella is from the nearby city of Malaga. The Malaga International Airport is the largest airport in the Costa Del Sol region and connects to over 100 airports all across Europe. From Malaga airport, you can take a bus, taxi, or rental car to Marbella, and the drive will take under an hour.
Transportation Within Marbella
Transportation within the city varies from one section to the other. Old Town Marbella was built in times gone by when walking was the main mode of transportation, so you'll see narrow, meandering walkways. All of your basic needs are within walking distance, with restaurants and shops scattered along these old roads. Bikes are also frequently used here.
In Nueva Andalucia, the streets widen and start to fill with luxury cars. You'll be able to find taxis more readily here, and parking for a rental car will be more widely available. Uber, Lyft, Bolt, and Rideshares are also available in Marbella.
Visit The Square Early
Visit the square early in the morning before all the tourists flock in. The square will get busier as the day goes on until nighttime.
Avoid Flying in Too Late
If possible, avoid flying in too late, as there is limited public transportation. Otherwise, your only option is a taxi.
Use The Taxi App
Uber, Lyft, Bolt, and Rideshares are available in Marbella. You can also use the local taxi app, Cabify.
Bring your comfy walking shoes
Marbella Old Town is compact enough to be explored on foot, and you can find all the attractions within walking distance, so bring your comfy walking shoes.
Get a Travel Card
If you plan on using public transportation services a lot during your trip, getting a rechargeable travel card is much more convenient.