Marbella is known around the world as a luxurious and beautiful destination. Located just 45 minutes from Pablo Picasso International Airport in Málaga; Marbella is easily accessible and visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.
This cosmopolitan city is also home to an eclectic mixture of International residents and wealthy expatriates from all over Europe. Its green mountain backdrop, historic architecture, chic culture, and charming beaches make this town a true gem of the Mediterranean.
The city’s population contains a diverse assortment of people of all ages, demographics and nationalities. It is famous for providing a second home to wealthy northern europeans looking to enjoy a superior lifestyle but remains the first home to a resident population of 135,000. Visitors include families, young party-goers, part-time residents and those looking to visit this historically rich area and relax. Being one of the major cities on the coast with an established business infrastructure, Marbella also attracts professionals and entrepreneurs.
Approach Marbella by car, on the Autovía (CN340 or A7) a toll-free dual carriageway following the coastline. This is the most important road in the area running from one end of the Costa del Sol all the way to Cádiz. Many exits from this road, lead directly into Marbella city centre.
Marbella’s public transport system is one way to travel around the area. There are plenty of bus stops in Marbella and even adjacent towns and the service is fairly regular. If you are afraid to hop on the bus because your Spanish isn’t too good, don’t fret. Most Marbellí understand and can communicate in basic English.
More regional bus travel is available from Marbella’s main bus station, the Portillo on Avenida del Trapiche, near the La Cañada shopping center. Amongst others, DAIBUS departs from here offering a 6 hour deluxe trip to Madrid. These buses are fully equipped with WC, TV, reclinable seats, mini-fridge and a radio/CD player for each passenger. A one way ticket cost to Madrid around €24 and ALSA buses also offer routes to hundreds of other destinations in Spain. There is a very regular bus transfer service between Málaga airport and Marbella bus station, which takes about 45 minutes and costs €4.35.
Official Marbella taxis can be found in abundance at locations around the city and can be called directly on 952 823 535.
For a more sedate way to see the sights, why not try a horse drawn carriage in the center of the town or the Trencito, a small train-like vehicle with a hop-on and off option.
Marbella’s Paseo Maritimo (promenade) follows the city’s beautiful coast line for six kilometers. A striking white marble pathway stretches along two kilometers of it (Avenida del Mar) and visitors and residents can be found all year round strolling along this ‘Ocean Avenue’ enjoying the views and the fresh Mediterranean air. (Even during winter, temperatures rarely fall below 15º!) The wide promenade is a perfect place to cycle, run, practice exercise on one of the work-out machines provided by the local government and is also home to charming restaurants, bars, kiosks, and even a Cine Sur cinema.
Marbella features two important ports, one in the middle of the town dedicated to fishing and sporting activities (Puerto Deportivo) and another, world-famous one Puerto Banús, named after José Banús which is the home to many millionaire yachts.
AT THE BEACH
The coast around Marbella offers a wide verity of beach fun for all tastes and ages.
Unlike overpopulated beaches, such as Alicante’s Benidorm, in Marbella one can usually find good space to roll out a beach towel and relax. Some of the most notable stretches are Puerto Banús, Río Verde, El Ancon and Nagüeles Beach. All have good facilities, plenty of beach bars and parking. For family fun don’t miss Funny Beach, located near the entrance arch to Marbella (km 184). There you will find a typical sunbathing beach as well as jet skis, banana boats, wind surfing, trampolines, miniature golf, and even an arcade equipped with a mechanical bull!
Marbella is home to world-famous beach clubs and quaint chiringuitos. Whether you fancy enjoying local fresh fish while curling your toes in the sand or sipping a cocktail in an exclusive beach club, Marbella has it all.
Nikki Beach, located within the grounds of the Hotel Don Carlos plays host to the rich and famous and is renowned for its summer party season. Ocean Club, the urban style Puerto Banús beach club is known for celebrity spotting and is also featuring a large sea water pool. Both offer fantastic dining in addition to the delux sunbathing and clubbing facilities.
Chiringuitos are everywhere along the coastline, with some offering more amenities than others. Trocadero Playa, located in Playa Santa Petronila of Marbella’s promenade, is a great example of a long established chiringuito with parasols, televisions, a huge wooden bar and a mouth-watering menu. Refer to our business directory for more information about beach clubs and chiringuitos in the Marbella area.
Marbella is rich in history, and was heavily influenced by the Moorish occupation of the coast (and the rest of Spain) of nearly 800 years. The Moors primarily settled in the southern region of Spain, which is known today as Andalucía. They left behind breathtaking monuments that are definitely worth a visit. Wondering around Marbella’s old town, you can find the famous castle walls (Murallas del Castillo) and light houses (Las Torres Almenaras) are strategically located all along the coast, near what were then influential Moorish villages.
A large Roman community once thrived in what is now, Marbella´s old town (El Casco Antiguo), and were responsible for building recently discovered historic monuments such as La Muralla and Los Tres Capiteles Jónicos. Experts are still baffled as to how it maintained its Roman architecture during the moorish occupation.
THE OLD TOWN
The old town is a charming maze of tiny streets filled with rich history and is divided into two mayor areas, el Barrio Alto and el Barrio Nuevo. Perhaps one of the most visited parts of Marbella’s old town is ‘Orange Square’ (La Plaza de los Naranjos), named after the orange trees that grow there. The charming fountain in the square was built in 1604. This square is also home to the original town hall, built in 1572. It is well known for its beautiful Mudejar-style door with detailed coat-of-arms and inscriptions. The old town is full of restaurants, bars, exclusive boutiques, and in early evening is bustling with life.
Other important roman landmarks in Marbella are the Vaults (Las Bóvedas), the ‘Villa Romana de Rio Verde’, ‘Basilica Vega del Mar’, and the Church of the Incarnation (Iglesia Mayor de la Encarnación).
It’s only natural that a city as luxurious as Marbella offers an abundance of places to shop. One can shop for hours, catch a movie and have a meal at Marbella’s epic shopping centre La Cañada. Situated just off the CN340 at the junction for Ojén, it is one of the largest shopping complexes on the coast and has over 150 shops.
El Corte Inglés, Spain’s largest department store chain is represented in Puerto Banús for those with a more expensive and sophisticated taste. It offers absolutely everything from luxury brand clothing and cosmetics to music, movies, portable & household electronics, furniture, hardware, books, groceries, gourmet food, cars and even a travel agency. All that coupled with a fully complete online shopping site, it is considered the most convenient stop for a shop for most foreigner residents. Hipercor, Supercor, Opencor and Sfera are too owned by El Corte Inglés whose name is also associated with impeccable after-sale service.
Alternatively, you can visit Avenida Ramon y Cajal in Marbella city center and find luxury brands such as Burberry, Bvulgari, Cartier as well as Spanish high street shops. If none of that takes your fancy make your way to the old town and get lost in the maze of gorgeous streets and plazas full of boutiques. There is also a local weekly street market every Monday from 9-2 pm at the fair site (Las Albarizas area). This quaint and long established mercadillo sells handmade jewellery, food and clothes.
The wealth and prestige of this Andalucian city promotes healthy living and an active lifestyle. Therefore sport facilities are abundant and thanks to the great weather, one can practice sports all year round. The municipal sport centre, Polideportivo Municipal Paco Santos is located on Avenida Cánovas del Castillo in the centre of Marbella. There you can practice tennis, swimming, football, badminton, as well as other sports for a minimal fee.
If you would like to opt for something more exclusive, the sporting facilities of the five-star Puente Roman Hotel for example are outstanding. With a private golf course and tennis and paddle facilities that host world-class matches – one can’t go wrong!