Marbella, a dream place on the Costa del Sol (Spain). With its charming historic centre, golden sandy beaches and a wide variety of places to visit, Marbella has become a popular tourist destination for both national and international tourists.

It is a magical place that has something for every type of traveller, where you can enjoy its combination of tradition, cosmopolitan atmosphere, year-round sun and beach, luxury, golf, gastronomic offerings and natural surroundings to explore. So, if you like to enjoy the good life, Marbella is the place for you.

In this article we will guide you through Marbella’s rich history, the best places to visit, what to do during your visit and the best way to get there, so read on!

History of Marbella

Marbella’s history dates back to prehistoric times, from which Palaeolithic and Neolithic remains have been found. The next settlers confirmed by the discovery of structures and remains are the Romans. The Termas de Las Bóvedas baths and, in a nearby neighbourhood, a Roman villa in excellent condition with well-preserved mosaics.

Remains of Marbella's castle and walled enclosure
Remains of Marbella’s castle and walled enclosure |

During the Middle Ages, Marbella was part of the Kingdom of Granada, which built a castle and a walled enclosure, making the town the hub of other nearby villages such as Istán, Ojén and Benahavís.

After the Reconquest, it passed into the hands of the Christians, when the Church of the Incarnation and the Royal Hospital of Mercy were built, which are two of the main attractions of the historic centre of the city.

Things to do in Marbella

As you will see, Marbella is a city full of charm and history, with spectacular beaches and a wide variety of places to visit. If you visit, you will realise that there are many things to do in Marbella.

Visit the old town

The Old Town of Marbella is one of the most emblematic places in the city. Divided between “Barrio Alto” and “Barrio Nuevo”, it is surrounded by ancient walls and narrow streets full of history. These walls are part of the defensive complex of the Alcazaba, a Moorish castle from the 10th century, of which some remains remain.

Labyrinth of small white streets
Labyrinth of small white streets |

Among its narrow streets, white houses and beautiful squares you will also find the palace of the Corregidor and the Plaza de los Naranjos, a place to relax and enjoy a coffee or tapas in one of its terraces. In this same square you can visit the Marbella Town Hall, and very close by is the church of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación, which dates back to the 16th century.

You can’t miss the Marbella Bullring, which dates back to the 19th century and is considered one of the city’s most important monuments. And if you feel like relaxing, you can stroll through the Parque de la Represa, located next to the old town.

Museums and contemporary art

Marbella also has a wide range of museums and art galleries. The Museo del Grabado Español Contemporáneo is one of the most important of its kind in Spain, with a collection of more than 5,000 works of 20th century contemporary art.

Sculpture promenade designed by Dalí
Sculpture promenade designed by Dalí |

The Ralli Museum, near Puerto Banús, is also a must, with a multitude of contemporary art exhibitions. Finally, don’t forget to stroll along the Avenida del Mar, lined with sculptures designed by Salvador Dalí and cast in bronze by Bonvicini.

Spend a full day at the beach

If you prefer to enjoy the beach, Marbella has many spectacular beaches. The most famous beach in Marbella is Playa de la Fontanilla, which is located in the centre of the city. This beach has fine golden sand, is quite atmospheric and is ideal for a day of sun and sea.

There are also many other beaches in Marbella, such as Playa de Nagüeles and Playa de San Pedro Alcántara, which are equally impressive. If you are looking for relaxation and seclusion from the hustle and bustle of the city, Cabopino beach is the one for you: quieter, secluded and with natural dunes.

In addition, visiting the port of Marbella on your day at the beach can also be an excellent option, in the port of Marbella you can do various activities such as a sailing trip with dolphin watching or a jet ski experience.

You'll find beaches to suit all tastes in Marbella
You’ll find beaches to suit all tastes in Marbella |

As far as water parks in Marbella are concerned, the nearest is AquaMijas, located in Mijas Costa, 28 km from Marbella. What Marbella does have, however, is a multitude of floating water parks, located on different beaches in the town.

On the beaches of Puerto Banús you can see some of the most luxurious yachts in the world, as it is next to the marina.

Nature, walking and hiking

Marbella is also a great destination for nature lovers and hikers. Although not located in the town itself, its proximity to the mountains means that there are many hiking trails around the town, such as the climb to the Cruz de Juanar, which offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Costa del Sol.

The route to the cross starts at the Refugio del Juanar, which is the closest thing there is to a zoo in Marbella, where you can see the native fauna, including the mountain goat and the great variety of birds of prey, among other species.

You can also visit natural parks such as the Paraje Natural de Sierra Bermeja and the Sierra de las Nieves, which is a paradise for birdwatchers.

The Parque de la Constitución and the Parque de la Represa are other highly recommended places. The latter is an urban park in the city centre with green areas and an artificial lake. At Marbella’s marina and its long stretch of promenade you can also take a stroll and enjoy the sea views.

Playing golf

Finally, if you are interested in golf, Marbella is the perfect place for you. There are more than 10 golf courses in the area, some of which are internationally renowned. The Golf Valley is the area with the highest concentration of golf courses in the city, and is located in the western part of the city. Some of them also have a luxurious spa to relax before exploring Marbella further.

Unique golf courses, with an ideal climate and unforgettable views
Unique golf courses, with an ideal climate and unforgettable views |

Popular festivals and gastronomy

Festivals you won’t forget

Known for its great atmosphere in every corner of the city, its festivals had to match it. However, the city does not forget its traditions, and celebrates numerous popular festivals that you can enjoy during your stay.

In terms of popular festivals, Marbella celebrates the famous Feria de San Bernabé in June, where you can enjoy horse parades, live music and local food tastings.

Another popular festival that is celebrated with great expectation is the Noche de San Juan, where locals gather on the beaches to light bonfires and celebrate the summer solstice. It is a magical moment to see the beaches crowded with people enjoying themselves, with bonfires burning throughout the night and fireworks lighting up the sky.

Marbella's luxurious beach clubs
Marbella’s luxurious beach clubs |

In these posts we tell you more about Marbella’s parties and the various beach clubs in the city that organise memorable parties every week.

Typical Marbella food

Speaking of food, Marbella’s gastronomy is a delight for the most demanding palates. Being such a cosmopolitan city, the gastronomic offer is very diverse with very international options.

However, there are restaurants in Marbella that offer traditional food from the region. Many can be found in the city centre, and offer dishes with intense flavours such as those made with oxtail. In stew, in croquettes or in different types of crumbled bread, are some of the ways in which this product is consumed.

It's a pleasure to relax in these sunny squares
It’s a pleasure to relax in these sunny squares |

The food market is a highly recommended place to try the local food, where you can find fresh local produce. Other typical dishes include “pescaíto frito“, fresh local fish that is battered and fried over a high heat.

Not to be left behind is the ajoblanco, a cold soup of almonds, garlic and bread that is pure flavour and will surprise you. Or the well-known rice-based dish, which you can try in front of the beach in some of the beach bars along the Marbella coastline that offer paellas of different styles.

If you are looking for exceptional flavours of the highest standard, Marbella is home to several Michelin-starred restaurants, such as El Lago and Skina. Reservations are a must if you want to visit them.

How to get to Marbella

If you want to know how to get to Marbella, there are several options.

How to get to Marbella airport

Where to fly to get to Marbella? The answer is Malaga Airport, as Marbella doesn’t have an airport, and this is the closest one. From there, you can choose from the following mobility options to get to Marbella, as we explain below.

How to get there by public transport

Being a large city, there are many connecting routes between Malaga and Marbella. However, there is no direct train route, so the most viable means of public transport is by bus.

You will find multiple bus lines with different timetables connecting Malaga with Marbella. We suggest the Avanzabus route, which offers both direct lines and lines with stops, for a cost of between 6.50 and 8.50 approximately. The express route takes 45 minutes, while the other alternative takes approximately 1h25min.

How to get there by car

There are also several car hire companies at Malaga airport, which is a good option if you don’t want to limit your visit to Marbella. Just drive along the MA-21, take the AP-7 towards Fuengirola, and once you have passed Mijas, follow the same route towards Marbella.

This route involves tolls, however, it is the best alternative to get to Marbella. The other option is the coastal road, which is very busy and much slower.

If you decide to rent a 7 or 9-seater car in Malaga, you will have the advantage of being able to explore the region at your own pace with the whole family. You can take the opportunity to visit other nearby places such as Benalmádena, Estepona or even venture as far as Cádiz.

Map of Marbella

Finally, we present you Marbella on the map of Spain that we have created from CarGest. Here you can see where Marbella is and the main places of interest in the city, such as the historic centre, the beaches and the most important monuments. Also, below the map you will find information about the best places to eat, when to visit and other places that may be of interest to you.

From its rich history, endless beaches or luxury everywhere, to its popular fiestas and unique gastronomy, Marbella is a tourist destination that will not disappoint you. So don’t wait any longer and start planning your trip to Marbella, you won’t regret it!

Relevant information

Best time of the year to visit: Spring and summer.

Not to be missed: An ideal day in Marbella. Relax on the beach, stroll through the narrow white streets of the historic centre, taste the most typical dishes and enjoy the city’s nightlife.

Places to eat nearby: We leave you our post about restaurants in Marbella, in case you feel like eating in one of these places. We wanted to have made a ranking, but we have not been able to sort out which one we like the most.

I hope you found this information useful and that you are encouraged to visit Marbella. For more information about the city you can consult the Marbella Town Hall website:

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