- PRICES LIST
- HOTELS (BEST RATED)
- HOTELS (BEST VALUE)
- SIGHTS & LANDMARKS
- MUSEUMS & GALLERIES
- THINGS TO DO
- FESTIVALS & EVENTS
- THINGS TO KNOW
- STAY SAFE
Marbella is a city and municipality in southern Spain, belonging to the province of Málaga in the autonomous community of Andalusia. It is part of the Costa del Sol and is the headquarters of the Association of Municipalities of the region; it is also the head of the judicial district that bears its name.
Marbella is situated on the Mediterranean Sea, between Málaga and the Strait of Gibraltar, in the foothills of the Sierra Blanca. The municipality covers an area of 117 square kilometres (45 sq mi) crossed by highways on the coast, which are its main entrances.
In 2012 the population of the city was 140,473 inhabitants, making it the second most populous municipality in the province of Málaga and the eighth in Andalusia. It is one of the most important tourist cities of the Costa del Sol and throughout most of the year is an international tourist attraction, due mainly to its climate and tourist infrastructure.
The city also has a significant archaeological heritage, several museums and performance spaces, and a cultural calendar with events ranging from reggae concerts to opera performances.
|TIME ZONE :||• Time zone CET (UTC+1)|
• Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
|AREA :||• Total 114.3 km2 (44.1 sq mi)|
• Land 114.3 km2 (44.1 sq mi)
• Water 0.00 km2 (0.00 sq mi)
|COORDINATES :||36°31′0″N 4°53′0″W|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male:49.5% |
• Female: 50.5%
|AREA CODE :|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :|
Marbella is one of the Mediterranean's most representative tourist venues and a top favorite for travellers. What was once a small white village of fishermen is now one of the most cosmopolitan beach resorts on the Costa del Sol in Spain.
The city is especially popular with tourists from Northern Europe (including the United Kingdom, Ireland and Germany) and also Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Marbella is particularly noted for the presence of aristocrats, celebrities and wealthy people; it is a popular destination for luxury yachts, and increasingly so for cruise ships, which dock in its harbour.
The area is popular with golfers and boaters, and there are many private estates and luxury hotels in the vicinity, including the Marbella Club Hotel. Marbella hosts a WTA tennis tournament on red clay, the Andalucia Tennis Experience.
Sights in or near Marbella include:
- Arabian wall
- Bonsai museum
- Museo del Grabado Español Contemporáneo
- Old city centre
- Playa de la Bajadilla (beach)
- Playa de Fontanilla (beach)
- Puerto Banús, a marina built by José Banús where Rolls-Royces and Ferraris meet yachts.
- The Golden Mile featuring the Marbella Club Hotel and its beach club, as well as the late King Fahd's palace.
- Encarnation's Church (Iglesia de la Encarnación). Oldest church in the city situated in the old-town.
- Basilica Vega del Mar
- Las Bóvedas
- Basilica Vega del Mar
The beaches with its fine sand and the Mediterranean with its clean water are the main attractions of Marbella. A variety of activities, both on land and sea are available, as is shopping, eating and nightlife.
The city itself has a long history, being settled by the Phoenicians in the 7th century BC. Later on came the Romans and Moors, who have left traces in the city. The Moors called the city Marbil-la, probably derived from an earlier Iberian name. Much of the current old town dates from the 15th and 16th centuries, when Marbella had once again become part of Spain. Later on the city was a center of iron mining industry.
Some of the first hotels were built in the 1920's, but the Spanish Civil War brought the development to a stop. After WW2, Marbella emerged as a popular destination for Europe's rich and famous. Soon the affluent beach suburb of Puerto Banús (handled in its own article) sprung up about 7 km west of Marbella. Eventually, the city also became a getaway for "royals" of organized crime and in their footsteps petty criminals and drug users, which in the early 1990s gave Marbella a bad reputation. Nowadays, however, the city is clean and safe and according to a 2008 study boasts the highest life quality in all of Andalusia. The city is also full of both domestic and international visitors, most of them from the British Isles.
The 27 kilometres (17 miles) of coastline within the limits of Marbella is divided into twenty-four beaches with different features; however, due to expansion of the municipality, they are all now semi-urban. They generally have moderate surf, golden or dark sand ranging through fine, medium or coarse in texture, and some gravel. The occupancy rate is usually high to midrange, especially during the summer months, when tourist arrivals are highest. Amongst the various notable beaches are Artola beach, situated in the protected area of the Dunas de Artola, and Cabopino, one of the few nudist beaches in Marbella, near the port of Cabopino. The beaches of Venus and La Fontanilla are centrally located and very popular, and those of Puerto Banús and San Pedro Alcántara have been awarded the blue flag of the Foundation for Environmental Education for compliance with its standards of water quality, safety, general services and environmental management.
Tourist offices are located at the Plaza de los Naranjos (in the corner of the city hall) and Paseo Maritímo.
Prehistory and antiquity
Archaeological excavations have been made in the mountains around Marbella which point to human habitation in Paleolithic and Neolithic times. Some historians believe that the first settlement on the present site of Marbella was founded by the Phoenicians in the 7th century BC, as they are known to have established several colonies on the coast of Málaga province. However, no remains have been found of any significant settlement, although some artefacts of Phoenician and later Carthaginian settlements have been unearthed in different parts of the municipality, as in the fields of Rio Real and Cerro Torrón.
The existence of a Roman population centre in what is now the El Casco Antiguo (Old Town) is suggested by three Ionic capitals embedded in one section of the Murallas del Castillo (Moorish castle walls), the reused materials of a building from earlier times. Recent discoveries in La Calle Escuelas (School Street) and other remains scattered throughout the old town testify to a Roman occupation as well. West of the city on the grounds of the Hotel Puente Romano is a small 1st century Roman Bridge over a stream. This bridge was part of the ancient Via Augusta that linked Rome to Cádiz. There are ruins of other Roman settlements along the Verde and Guadalmina rivers: Villa Romana on the Rio Verde(Green River), the Roman baths at Guadalmina, and the ruins of a Roman villa and an early Byzantine basilica at Vega del Mar, built in the 3rd century and surrounded by a paleo-Christian necropolis, later used as a burial ground by the Visigoths. All of these further demonstrate a continued human presence in the area. In Roman times, the city was called Salduba (Salt City).
During the period of Islamic rule, after the Normans lay waste to the coast of Málaga in the 10th century, the Caliphate of Córdoba fortified the coastline and built a string of several lighthouse towers along it. In the Umayyad fashion they constructed a citadel, the Alcazaba, and a wall to protect the town, which was made up of narrow streets and small buildings with large patios, the most notable buildings being the citadel and the mosque. The village was surrounded by orchards; its most famous crops were figs and mulberry trees for silkworm cultivation. The current name may have developed from the name the Arabs gave it: Marbal·la which may in turn derive, according to some linguistic investigations, from a previous Iberian place name. The traveller Ibn Battuta characterised it as "a pretty little town in a fertile district." During the time of the first kingdoms of Taifa, Marbil-la was disputed by the Taifas of Algeciras and of Málaga, eventually falling into the orbit of Málaga, which in turn later became part of the Nazarid Kingdom. In 1283 the sultan Marinid Abu Yusuf launched a campaign against the Kingdom of Granada. Peace between the Marinid dynasty and the Nasrid dynasty was achieved with the signing of the Treaty of Marbella on 6 May 1286, by which all the Marinid possessions in Al-Andalus were restored to the Nazarid sultan.
Early modern age
On 11 June 1485 the town passed into the hands of the Crown of Castile without bloodshed. The Catholic Monarchs gave Marbella the title of city and capital of the region and made it a realengo (royal protectorate). The Plaza de los Naranjos was built along the lines of Castilian urban design about this time, and some of the historical buildings that surround it, as well. The Fuerte de San Luis de Marbella(Fort of San Luis) was built in 1554 by Charles V. The main door faced north and was protected by a moat with a drawbridge. Today, the ruins of the fort house a museum, and on the grounds are the Iglesia del Santo Cristo de la Vera Cruz (Church of the Holy Christ of the True Cross) and Ermita del Calvario (Calvary Chapel). Sugar cane was introduced to Marbella in 1644, the cultivation of which spread on the Málaga province coast, resulting in the construction of numerous sugar mills, such as Trapiche del Prado de Marbella.
In 1828 Málaga businessman Manuel Agustín Heredia founded a company called La Concepción to mine the magnetite iron ores of the Sierra Blanca at nearby Ojén, due to the availability of charcoal made from the trees of the mountain slopes and water from the Verde River, as a ready supply of both was needed for the manufacture of iron. In 1832 the company built the first charcoal-fired blast furnace for non-military use in Spain; these iron-smelting operations ultimately produced up to 75% of the country's cast iron. In 1860 the Marqués del Duero founded an agricultural colony, now the heart of San Pedro de Alcántara. The dismantling of the iron industry based in the forges of El Angel and La Concepción occurred simultaneously, disrupting the local economy, as much of the population had to return to farming or fishing for a livelihood. This situation was compounded by the widespread crisis of traditional agriculture, and by the epidemic of phylloxera blight in the vineyards, all of which accounted for Marbella's high unemployment, increase in poverty, and the starvation of many day labourers.
The associated infrastructure built for the installation of the foundry of El Angel in 1871 by the British-owned Marbella Iron Ore Company temporarily relieved the situation, and even made the city a destination for immigrants, increasing its population. However, the company did not survive the worldwide economic crisis of 1893, and closed its doors in that year due to the difficulty of finding a market for the magnetite iron ore removed from its mine.
In the late 19th century, Marbella was a village composed of three parts: the main districts, the Barrio Alto or San Francisco, and the Barrio Nuevo. There were three smaller nuclei arranged around the old ironworks and the farm-model of the colony of San Pedro Alcántara, as well as isolated dwellings in orchards and farms. The general population was divided between a small group of oligarchs and the working people, the middle class being practically non-existent.
In the early decades of the century the first hotels were built: the El Comercial, which opened in 1918, and the Miramar, which opened its doors in 1926. During the Second Republic, Marbella experienced major social changes and contentious political parties mobilized.
As the Spanish Civil War began, Marbella and Casare suffered more anticlerical violence than the rest of western Málaga province. The day after the failed uprising that led to the civil war, several religious buildings were set fire to in Marbella. Only the walls of the Church of St. Mary of the Incarnation and the Church of San Pedro Alcantara were left standing. With the aid of Fascist Italian troops, Nationalist forces seized Marbella during the first months of the war. It became a haven for prominent Nazis, including Léon Degrelle and Wolfgang Jugler, and Falangist personalities like José Antonio Girón de Velasco and José Banús.
After the Second World War, Marbella was a small jasmine-lined village with only 900 inhabitants. Ricardo Soriano, Marquis of Ivanrey, moved to Marbella and popularised it among his rich and famous friends. In 1943 he acquired a country estate located between Marbella and San Pedro called El Rodeo, and later built a resort there called Venta y Albergues El Rodeo, beginning the development of tourism in Marbella.
Soriano's nephew, Prince Alfonso of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, descendant of a high-ranking aristocratic family (his mother María de la Piedad de Yturbe y Scholtz-Hersmendorff, was the Marquesa de Belvís de las Navas) acquired another estate, Finca Santa Margarita. In 1954 he opened it as the Marbella Club, an international resort aimed at movie stars, business executives and the nobility. Both these resorts would be frequented by members of European aristocratic families with famous names: Bismarck, Rothschild, Thurn und Taxis, Metternich, de Mora y Aragon, de Salamanca or Thyssen-Bornemisza, thereby transforming Marbella into a destination for the international jet set. Trading on Prince Alfonso's kinship to the royal courts of Europe, the hotel quickly proved to be popular with vacationing members of Europe's social elites for its casual but discreet luxury. Jaime de Mora y Aragón, a Spanish bon vivant and brother to Fabiola, Queen of the Belgians, as well as Adnan Khashoggi and Guenter Rottman, were frequent visitors. Prince Alfonso's first marriage was to Princess Ira von Fürstenberg, an Agnelli heiress. Princess Marie-Louise of Prussia (great-granddaughter of Kaiser Wilhelm II) and her husband Count Rudolf "Rudi" von Schönburg–Glauchau eventually took over the Marbella Club Hotel from Prince Alfonso.
In 1966, Prince Alfonso brought in a Beverly Hills architect and, with the assistance of the Banus family, who were personal friends of dictator Francisco Franco and had already developed the later-controversial Valle de los Caídos, developed the high-end tourist resort Puerto Banus. The resort opened to much fanfare in 1970. Celebrities in attendance included Franco's designated successor, Juan Carlos (then Prince of Asturias), Prince Rainier of Monaco and his wife Grace Kelly, and Aga Khan IV; entertainers included Julio Iglesias. In 1973, exiled dictator Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar, who had left Cuba with a fortune estimated at between $100 and $300 million and lived extravagantly in various Iberian resorts, died of a heart attack there. Fugitive financier Marc Rich bought a house in Marbella, renounced American and claimed Spanish citizenship during his decades of evading American income taxes, although he spent more time (and died) in Switzerland.
In 1974, Prince Fahd arrived in Marbella from Montecarlo. Until his death in 2005, Prince Fahd was a frequent and profligate guest; Marbella welcomed his retinue of over a thousand people spending petro-dollars. The then-anonymous Osama bin Laden visited on a number of occasions with his family between 1977 and 1988.
In the 1980s, Marbella continued as a popular jet set destination. However, the 1987 kidnapping of Melodie Nakachian, the daughter of local billionaire philanthropist Raymond Nakachian and the Korean singer Kimera, focused less-favourable international media scrutiny on Marbella, even though a police raid ultimately freed her.
From the first democratic elections after the adoption of the 1978 Spanish Constitution, until 1991, all the mayors of Marbella were members of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party ('El Partido Socialista Obrero Español' or PSOE in Spanish).
In 1991, the builder and president of Atlético Madrid, Jesús Gil y Gil was elected mayor of Marbella by a wide majority. He and his party, the neo-conservative Independent Liberal Group ('Grupo Independiente Liberal' or GIL in Spanish), promised to fight petty crime as well as the region's declining prestige. Actor Sean Connery became Marbella's international spokesman, although Connery later ended this business relationship after Gil used his image in an election campaign. Gil's administration facilitated a building boom. However, critics complained about disregard for the existing urban plan, market speculation and environmental predation by developers; the regional Andalusian government suspended some development. Gil despised town-hall formalities, instead ruling from his office at the Club Financiero, and cultivated a maverick image. The PSOE and the People's Party criticized Gil even at the national level, but voters re-elected him—and Spanish celebrities continued to spend summers there. Gil's political party, GIL, also proved popular in other tourist-dependent Costa del Sol towns like Estepona, and even across the Strait of Gibraltar to the Spanish North African cities of Ceuta and Melilla.
In 1999, Gil was convicted of embezzling public funds and falsifying public documents. Gil died in 2004, and his party remained in power until 2006, but related scandals continue to this day, as discussed below.
The climate type is Mediterranean, unsurprisingly. Marbella's location between the ocean in the south and the Sierra Blanca range in the north gives the city a pleasant microclimate. With about 320 sunshine days a year, it's no surprise that many telecommuters, retirees and other expats (especially from the northern half of Europe) have made Marbella and other destinations on Costa del Sol their second home. December and January have somewhat more rain than the rest of the year, though.
|Daily highs (°C)||16.4||16.9||18.3||20.2||23.2||26.2||28.9||29.5||27.1||23.3||19.5||17.0|
|Nightly lows (°C)||8.1||8.4||10.0||11.5||14.0||17.1||19.5||20.0||18.3||15.0||11.2||9.1|
The Marbella municipality occupies a strip of land that extends along forty-four kilometres (27 miles) of coastline of the Penibético region, sheltered by the slopes of the coastal mountain range, which includes the Bermeja, Palmitera, Royal, White and Alpujata sub-ranges. Due to the proximity of the mountains to the coast, the city has a large gap between its north and south sides, thus providing views of the sea and mountain vistas from almost every part of the city. The coastline is heavily urbanised; most of the land not built up with golf courses has been developed with small residential areas. Map of Marbella. Marbella is bordered on the north by the municipalities of Istán and Ojén, on the northwest by Benahavís, on the west by Estepona and on the northeast by Mijas. The Mediterranean Sea lies to the south.
According to 2003 data, Marbella is amongst the municipalities ranking highest in household disposable income per capita in Andalusia, second to Mojácar and matched by four other municipalities, including its neighbour, Benahavís.
Its business sector consisted of 17,647 establishments in 2005, representing a total of 14.7% of the businesses in Malaga province, and showed greater dynamism than the provincial capital itself for growth over the period 1998-2004, when it grew 9% compared to the 2.4% growth rate of Málaga. Compared to the rest of Andalusia, the volume of production in Marbella is higher than that of most other municipalities with similar population, ranking even above the capitals of Almeria, Huelva and Jaen.
As in most cities of the Andalusian coast, Marbella's economy revolves around tertiary activities. The service sector accounts for 60% of employment, while trade accounts for almost 20%. The main branches of the service sector are hospitality, real estate and business services, which fact underscores the importance of tourism in the Marbella economy. Meanwhile, the construction, industrial and agriculture sectors account for 14.2%, 3.8% and 2.4% of employment respectively.
The number of business establishments in the service sector accounts for 87.5% of the total, those in construction account for 9.6%, and in industry, 2.9%. Of these companies, 89.5% have fewer than 5 employees and only 2.3% have a staff of at least 20 employees.
In 2008 a study by the Institute of Statistics of Andalusia (IEA) based on 14 variables (income, equipment, training, etc.), found Marbella was the Andalusian city with the best development of the general welfare and the highest quality of life. According to the results of the study, Marbella ranks highest in the number of private clinics, sports facilities and private schools.
Old Town (Casco Antiguo)
The old town of Marbella includes the ancient city walls and the two historical suburbs of the city, theBarrio Alto, which extends north, and the Barrio Nuevo, located to the east. The ancient walled city retains nearly the same layout as in the 16th century. Here is thePlaza de los Naranjos, an example of Castilian Renaissance design, its plan laid out in the heart of Old Town after the Christian reconquest. Around the square are arranged three remarkable buildings: the town hall, built in 1568 by the Catholic Monarchs in Renaissance style, the Mayor's house, which combines Gothic and Renaissance elements in its façade, with a roof of Mudejar style and fresco murals inside, and the Chapel of Santiago, the oldest religious building in the city, built earlier than the square and not aligned with it, believed to date from the 15th century. Other buildings of interest in the centre are the Church of Santa María de la Encarnación, built in the Baroque style starting in 1618, the Casa del Roque, and the remains of the Arabic castle and defensive walls; also in the Renaissance style are the Capilla de San Juan de Dios (Chapel of St. John of God), the Hospital Real de la Misericordia (Royal Hospital of Mercy) and the Hospital Bazán which now houses the Museum of Contemporary Spanish Engravings.
One of the highlights of the Barrio Alto is the Ermita del Santo Cristo de la Vera Cruz (Hermitage of the Holy Christ of the True Cross), built in the 15th century and enlarged in the eighteenth century, which consists of a square tower with a roof covered by glazed ceramic tiles. TheBarrio Alto is also known as the San Francisco neighborhood, after a Franciscan convent formerly located there. The so-called Nuevo Barrio (New Town), separated from the walled city by the Arroyo de la Represa, has no monumental buildings but retains its original layout and much of its character in the simple whitewashed houses with their tiled roofs and exposed wooden beams, orchards and small corrals.
Historic extension (Ensanche histórico)
Between the old town and the sea in the area known as the "historic extension" (ensanche histórico), there is a small botanical garden on Paseo de la Alameda, and a garden with fountains and a collection of ten sculptures by Salvador Dalí on the Avenida del Mar, which connects the old town with the beach. To the west of this road, passing the Faro de Marbella, is Constitution Park (Parque de la Constitución), which houses the auditorium of the same name and the Skol Apartments, designed in the Modernist style by the Spanish architect Manuel Jaén Albaitero.
Marbella's Golden Mile
What is known as Marbella's Golden Mile is actually a stretch of four miles (6.4 km) which begins at the western edge of Marbella city and stretches to Puerto Banús. The area is exclusive and home to some of Marbella's most luxurious villas and estates with spectacular views of mountain and sea, such as the Palace of King Fahd, as well as some landmark hotels, among them the Melia Don Pepe, the Hotel Marbella Club and the Puente Romano Hotel. The area developed during the tourism boom of the 1960s, where may be found the ruins of the Roman villa by the Rio Verde, and El Ángel, where the land of the old forge works was converted to an agricultural colony, and the Botanical Gardens of El Ángel with gardens of three different styles, dating from the 8th century.
The Golden Mile is divided into two parts by a motorway that runs through it. Along the motorway are strings of business centres, five-star hotels, golf course and other services. The beachside of the motorway is fully developed, while the mountain side is still undergoing development. Urbanisations in the area's sea side are Alhambra del Mar, La Alcazaba, Las Torres, Los Verdiales, Marbellamar, Marina Marbella, Oasis, Rio Verde and Santa Margarita. On the Mountain side of the motorway, the following urbanisations are currently developing: Sierra Blanca, Nagüeles, Cascada de Camoján, Jardines Colgantes, Marbella Hill Club, El Venero, El Batatal, La Capellania, La Virginia, Carolina, El Vicario, Altos de Salamanca, Casas del Señorio de Marbella, Coto Real, Ancon Sierra.
The Golden Mile should not be confused with the New Golden Mile which is a marketing name given to the area between San Pedro del Alcantara and Estepona.
Nueva Andalucía is an area just west of Marbella and inland from the marina of Puerto Banús. Home to many Golf Courses it is also known as Golf Valley. The bullring by Centro Plaza marks the entrance to Nueva Andalucia where the villas and apartments are based on traditional Andalusian architecture and design.
San Pedro de Alcántara
At the heart of San Pedro de Alcántara are two industrial buildings of the 19th century: the Trapiche de Guadaiza and the sugar mill, which now houses the Ingenio Cultural Centre. The 19th century heritage of San Pedro is also represented by two buildings of colonial style, the parish Church and the Villa of San Luis, residence of the Marqués del Duero. Next to San Pedro, near the mouth of the river Guadalmina, are some of the most important archaeological sites in Marbella: the early Christian Basílica de Vega del Mar, the vaulted Roman baths of Las Bóvedas (the Domes) and the eponymous watch tower of Torre de Las Bóvedas. The important archaeological site of Cerro Colorado is located near Benahavis; it features a chronologically complex stratigraphy that begins in the 4th century BC within a Mastieno (ancient Iberian ethnicity of the Tartessian confederation) area, then a town identified as Punic, and finally a Roman settlement. A series of domestic structures built behind the city walls, and corresponding to these different stages of occupation recorded in the archaeological sequence of the site, characterise the settlement as being fortified. A hoard of three pots filled with silver coins of mostly Hispano-Carthaginian origin, and numerous pieces of precious metalwork, along with clippings and silver ingots, all dating from the 3rd century BC, were found here.
District of Las Chapas
In the eastern part of the municipality in the district of Las Chapas is the site of Rio Real, situated on a promontory near the mouth of the river of the same name. Here traces of Phoenician habitation dating to the early 7th century BC were discovered in excavations made during an archaeological expedition led by Pedro Sánchez in 1998. Bronze Age utensils including plates, carinated bowls, lamps and other ceramics of Phoenician and indigenous Iberian types have been found, as well as a few Greek examples. There are two ancient watchtowers, the Torre Río Real (Royal River Tower) and the Torre Ladrones (Tower of Thieves). Among the notable tourist attractions is the residential complex Ciudad Residencial Tiempo Libre (Residential Leisure City), an architectural ensemble of the Modernist movement, which has been a registered property of Bien de Interés Cultural (Heritage of Cultural Interest) since 2006.
Prices in Marbella
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€0.68|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||€4.50|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||€23.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||€39.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||€69.00|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||€7.00|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||€2.00|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€1.50|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||€10.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||€|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||€0.15|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||€4.80|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||€|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||€65.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||€28.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||€65.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||€1.20|
Transportation - Get In
Malaga Airport (Aeropuerto Pablo Ruiz Picasso), 45km to the east, is the nearest major airport. It's the major airport of Costa del Sol and serviced by most European carriers both regular, budget and charter. From there, your options are bus (one way €6.15 as of May 2015), taxi or rental car. If you're coming from the UK you can alternatively fly in to Gibraltar, although this entails a 1.5 hour drive.
There is a train service between Fuengirola and Malaga, which due to be extended to run further down the coast to Marbella in the near future. As of now, you need to take some other form of transportation the last part from Fuengirola. Malaga is reachable by the AVE rapid train from some other major cities in Spain such as Seville, Córdoba or Madrid.
Marbella's central bus station is right off the motorway (A-7 / E-15), right off exit 164. It's a kilometer and a half to the old town and the beach, walkable in 15-20 minutes.
From Malaga Airport, buy a bus ticket from the vendor facing the exit of the arrivals hall. In May 2015 a one way ticket costs either €6,15 or €8,30 depending on the comfort level of the bus. Buses to Marbella are operated by Avanzabus. The buses will arrive every hour or two on the road behind the vendor. Make sure to be there on time, since the bus leaves exactly on time, or even a minute before. Be aware that drivers don't sell tickets, you need to have bought one at the station or online. The buses are modern and air conditioned. Make sure to sit on the left side of the bus if you want to see the beautiful coastal view. When riding back to the airport you'll get a much better view sitting on the right. Without traffic (there really shouldn't be any, since the bus takes the toll road), the ride should take around 40 min.
Also, there are buses from all other major cities and towns along Costa del Sol, plus other larger cities in Andalusia. Although cheap, the buses can run to their own timetable (!) and are often very busy in summer.
The main coast road (N340, now known as the A7) connects the major towns along the whole southern coast and Marbella is approx 30 minutes drive along the N340 from the provincial capital, Malaga. If you are prepared to pay the toll fee (around 4-6 Euros depending upon season) you can take the new AP-7 road which runs parallel to the N340, but with less traffic and higher speed limits means you will reach your destination more quickly. Several parking houses are available both in Marbella and in Puerto Banus.
Marbella has two yacht harbors.
Taxis are available from Malaga Airport to Marbella outside the terminal. The cost of the journey is around €68. The disabled can also pre-book a wheelchair accessible taxi or minivan online with Marbella Taxis for €65, if you are looking for a reliable and at the same time economical taxi company you can Pre-Book with malaga taxi service, no waiting in long airport queues for your taxi or minibus transfer.
Other companies specialised in private transfers (private taxi) are Autosol Private Transfer and Holiday-Transfer.co.uk. A transfer from Malaga Airport to Marbella will quote 66.50 € with Autosol Private Transfer.Holiday-Transfer.co.uk will quote only 58.00 €.
Transportation - Get Around
Downtown is fairly compact and you can get around by foot fairly easily if you are moderately fit, just remember to drink water regularly if visiting in the summer when daytime temperatures above +30°C are the rule rather than the exception. Also sidewalks are often very narrow.
If travelling any distance agree the fare in advance. Official rates should be displayed inside any licensed taxi.
A car is probably an option if you want to go somewhere further out — west, east or inland. If you want to rent a car, all the major car hire firms are represented, but the best value will probably come from local firms. Small car for around €80-90 a week in off season.
The city operates a network of seven local bus lines. Here is information concerning routes, schedules and fares. The Spanish version of the site has an additional route map for each line using Google Maps. Single tickets cost €1.18 when purchased from the driver.
- BEST RATED -
- BEST VALUE -
The narrow streets of the old town features small shops selling fashion and souvenirs. Avenida de Ricardo Soriano, the main street, and streets running parallel to it are other good places for shopping. If you want to go to a big mall, head to La Cañada in the north of the city. Finally, in the suburb of Puerto Banús you can find a Corte Inglés department store and many upmarket shops such as Versace and Emporio Armani.
For bargains, check out the weekly markets. One is held in the Albarizas neighborhood, east of the old town each Monday morning. Other markets take place on Fridays in San Pedro de Alcántara on Thursdays and Puerto Banús. Though, here it's more likely than not that brand products for sale are fake.
- La Cañada. A shopping mall with about 150 shops with many European name brands. Located right off exit 185.
- Che Olé, C/ Valdés 3, . Clothing.
Streets in the old town around Plaza de los Naranjos are lined with restaurants - if they are not (souvenir) shops they are restaurants. You will therefore have no trouble finding a restaurant and as elsewhere in touristed parts of the world the menus may be available in even ten languages and restaurant staff are very eager to get passers by patronizing their restaurant! Also, your hotel is likely to have one or more restaurants, especially if the hotel is away from downtown.
Even as all major cuisines are represented on the Marbellan restaurant scene, most (also) offer Spanish and Andalusian dishes — especially paella in all thinkable varieties. Also, unlike lesser touristed parts of Spain, restaurants open for dinner already at 18:00, even with some special offers for early diners. Tapas are available all day.
- La Taberna del Pinxto, Avenida Miguel Cano 7 (One block from Playa de Venus). Basque style tapas. Set lunch €9, tapas €1,50.
- Venencia, Av. Miguel Cano 15. Outdoor and indoor seating. This is a popular tapas bar where you can try gambas pil pil (fried shrimps and garlic served with bread), patatas bravas (roasted potatoes with spicy sauce), pimientos fritos (fried paprika with sea salt). Dishes cost €4-8. Fast and attentive service.
- Los Cano (Alicate Beach, 3 km east of downtown). €10-20. A nice restaurant next to the sea with pleasant ambiance, good service and delicious fish. Dishes to try are boquerones fritos, lenguado a la planche, dorade al sal and rodaballo al horno.
- El Salón, C/ Virgen del Pilar 14. Popular restaurant open all day, specializing in tapas.
- Casa del Corregidor, Plaza de los Naranjos 6 (southwestern edge of the Orange Square), . One of the restaurants at Plaza de los Naranjos, so the outdoor seating is great for people-watching too. Fish, meat, seafood, and of course paella on the menu. One Wikivoyager found the secreto iberico (barbecued ham with baked potato) particularly delicious. around €15.
- Restaurante El Cortijo, C/ Remedios 5 (opposite Virgen de los Dolores), . Specializing in Andalusian cuisine with a lot of different paellas on the menu. Indoor and outdoor seating, like most places in the old town. around €20.
- Vale Vale Bar & Grill, Bulevar del Príncipe Alfonso von Hohenlohe s/n, edificio Marbella Forum, . Breakfast Monday to Saturday. Dinner service from Tuesday till Saturday. Set menu at 19 euros per person. Friendly international personnel. Excellent place for a casual and fun mornings and evenings with your friends.
- Restaurante La Buena Vida, Av. de la Puerta del Mar.Mediterranean food and sushi, to that a large selection of wine and beer available.
- La Meridiana, 0.1 km N, Cno. la Cruz, .International cuisine, apparently more a place where you arrange events rather than dropping in for dinner. A couple of kilometers west of downtown.
- Santiago, Paseo Marítimo 5 (at the beach promenade), . A good fish restaurant with beautiful decor. from €25.
- Restaurante Marbella Club, Bulevar Principe Alfonso von Hohenlohe. Internationally awarded restaurant of the eponymous upscale hotel.
Sights & Landmarks
Although a modern town, Marbella's origins date back several centuries BC. The main sight of the city is the historical old quarter (Casco Antiguo) with Andalucian and Moorish architecture, flower filled balconies, decoratively painted tiles, narrow streets and the "Orange Square" in the middle of it all. Also, if you're interested in beautiful churches and chapels, Marbella has a lot to offer.
- Plaza de los Naranjos. The square lined by the city hall, orange trees, restaurants and bars is the lively heart of the old town. Built after the Christian reconquest of the city, it is an example of renaissance architecture
- Parque de Alameda. A nice little park in the middle of the city with a beautiful benches and a fountain decorated with painted tiles. Buy an ice cream, sit down and watch locals and tourists.
- Avenida del Mar. From the park, the pedestrian street Avenida del Mar leads down to the Mediterranean. Along it you can see ten statues by the famous Spanish surrealist Salvador Dalí.
- Nuestra Señora de la Encarnacion. Marbella's baroque cathedral, from 1618 and colorful on the inside.
- Ermita de Santiago. A former mosque, this building next to the main square is nowadays a small church — the oldest one in Marbella.
- Capilla del Santo Sepulcro. Actually built in 1994 on the site of a former hospital. The throne inside it depicting Christ is much older and is carried around Marbella on Good Friday.
- Capilla de San Juan de Dios. A 16th century chapel that also has functioned as hospital and a home for foundlings.
- Virgen de los Dolores. A statue of Holy Mary looking out from a window over the eponymous alley.
- Moorish walls. Part of a former fortress, these are in a quite good shape for having been standing there for centuries.
- Parque de la Represa. A quite long and narrow park, just east of the old town. The park was constructed in the 1980's on a former riverbed, and a road bridge goes across it. The park also features a Bonsai Museum, reportedly one of the largest in Europe.
- Paseo Maritimo. The beach promenade, 6km in length with palm trees, restaurants, bars and of course the Mediterranean.
- Museo del Grabado, Calle Hospital de Bazán. Tu-Fr 10-14:30 and 17-20:30 (summer: -22), Mo and Sa 10-14. Interested in contemporary Spanish art? Then this museum is something for you.
Museums & Galleries
- Contemporary Spanish Engraving Museum: created in 1992, contains a collection of prints by 20th century artists such as Picasso, Miró, Dalí, Tàpies, Chillida and the El Paso Group (Rafael Canogar, Manolo Millares, Antonio Saura, Pablo Serrano, et al.) amongst others, as well as an exhibition hall dedicated to teaching engraving techniques.
- Museum Cortijo de Miraflores: in addition to the museum, the farm houses an exhibition hall and other cultural classrooms, amongst them the olive oil mill.
- Bonsai Museum: opened in 1992, it has a collection of specimens on permanent display and others for sale, with an emphasis on its extensive collection of olive trees and examples of species such as Ginkgo, Oxicedro, Pentafila Pino, and zelcoba, also pines, oaks, and other species.
- Ralli Museum, dedicated primarily to art in Latin America, it has sculptures by Dalí and Aristide Maillol and paintings by Dalí, Miró, Chagall, Henry Moore, amongst others.
- Municipal Archaeological Collection: its collection consists of archaeological artefacts found in the municipality.
- Mechanical Art Museum: a cultural centre located in the 19th-century Barriada del Ingenio, it contains sculptures made from second-hand car parts by Antonio Alonso.
Things to do
- Sunbathing and swimming on the sand beaches along the seafront or at a pool, is undoubtedly Marbella's biggest draw for much of the year. Beware of getting sunburnt, though!
- Parasailing activity (Parasailing activity), Puerto deportivo Marbella(Puerto deportivo Marbella), . summer season, Easter-October. The activity takes place at Puerto Deportivo of Marbella and consists of 12 minutes of flying over the sea, at a height of over 70 meters. The company offers you a lifejacket, harness and other equipment needed. Then a boat will pull you across the water until you take off and during your flight. Then you're brought back to land. 55€.
A major vacation destination, Marbella has facilities for a range of sports, especially golf and padel tennis. The latter is a mixture of tennis and squash invented in Mexico and widespread in the Spanish-speaking world.
- Golf - If you love golf then Marbella and the surrounding area has spectacular golf courses that have been designed by the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Peter Alliss and Clive Clark. There are more than 40 quality courses to be played throughout the Costa del Sol making it a perfect destination for the golf enthusiast. Also, the courses are frequently the venues for major international golf competitions, which means you'll get to see real golf pros playing.
- Guadalmina Club de Golf, Urbanizacion Guadalmina Alta. One of the largest and best golf courses in Europe with a 45-hole course.
- Horseracing - about 15 minutes from the centre of Marbella is the Hipodromo Mijas Costa. The recently built all weather racetrack has meetings throughout the year including floodlit night racing on summer weekends. The course also boasts plenty of entertainment including bars, music and restaurants.
- If you like hiking, it's possible to hike up to the summit of La Concha — the 1215 m high mountain that can be seen from everywhere in the city. The summit is located about 6 km northwest of the old town as the crow flies, but the main hiking trails start from the northern side of the mountain. They are located near the villages of Ojén (longer trail) and Istan (shorter but steeper trail). The walk itself is not very difficult, though if you do it in summer you'll need sunscreen and plenty of water.
Festivals and events
Save for the winter, there are several festivities and processions going on each month in and around Marbella, most of them religious.
- Easter week: During the Santa Semana, processions are a common sight in the city.
- May: Pilgrimage to Cruz de Juanar
- June: La Fiera, a week-long party in the old town to honor San Bernabé who is the city's patron saint.
- July: The festival of Virgen del Carmen
- August: Pilgrimage to the Virgin Mother
- October: The fair and festival to honor the parton of nearby San Pedro Alcantara
- November: Día del Tostón, a day celebrated by roasting chestnuts
Between the patron saint festivals in June and October, also several smaller fairs take place, the Feria y Fiestas de Nueva Andalucía, Las Chapas and El Ángel. In addition each neigborhood of Marbella has their own "day" sometime during the year.
Most late night action takes place in Puerto Banús, or in one of the clubs along the 7 km road there (ie. west of Marbella). Clubs keep going until the morning and it's not uncommon that they don't even open before 1AM.
- Karaoke #1 (Karaoke №1), Bulevar del Príncipe Alfonso de Hohenlohe s/n, Edificio Marbella Forum, .
- La Notte, 0.1 km N - Cno. la Cruz, S/N, .
- Buddha del Sol, Avenida del Mar 3. Night club.
- Circus Cabaret, Plaza de los Olivos. Club and entertainment venue.
- Bar El Estrecho, C/ de San Lázaro 12. Tapas bar.
Things to know
The traditional cuisine of Marbella is that of the Malagueño coast and is based on seafood. The most typical dish is fried fish, using anchovies, mackerel, mullet or squid, amongst others. Gazpacho and garlic soup are very typical. Bakeries sell oil cakes, wine donuts, borrachuelos (aniseed rolls fried with a little wine and dipped into syrup), torrijas (similar to French toast) and churros (fritters). In addition to the traditional native cuisine, there are many restaurants in Marbella that serve food of the international, nouvelle, or fusion cuisines.
Besides the typical Andalusian cultural events, a variety of annual festivals are held in Marbella, mainly between June and October; other events are held sporadically. Festivals dedicated to music include the Marbella International Opera Festival held in August since 2001, the Marbella Reggae Festival in July, and the Marbella International Film Festival in June at different locations around the city—amongst them the beach, aboard a boat or in Old Town. It also hosts the Marbella International Film Festival, the Spanish Film Festival and the Festival of Independent Theatre.
To provide venues for these and other events, the city has cultural facilities both publicly and privately managed, such as the Auditorium of Constitution Park, the Ingenio Cultural Centre, the Teatro Ciudad de Marbella or Black Box Theatre, among others. In addition, there is a music conservatory, a cinema club and several cinemas showing foreign films dubbed into Castilian.
The International Contemporary Art Fair I, also known as MARB ART, was held in Marbella in 2005, exhibiting works of photography, painting, sculpture and graphic design by over 500 artists; it has been held annually since at the Palace of Congresses. The following year the 2006 extension of the Ateneo de Málaga Marbella (Atheneum of Málaga Marbella) opened, dedicated to the development of artistic and cultural activities.
Amongst local cultural associations is the Cilniana Association, an organisation dedicated to protecting and promoting the heritage of Marbella and neighbouring towns, which publishes its own magazine. Since 2009 the city has been home to Marbella University, the first private university in the province of Málaga. In 2013, the city welcomed the opening of Marbella International University Centre (MIUC),an international higher-education institution focused on Business, Politics and Media, and the only university in Andalusia where courses are taught in both English and Spanish.
Safety in Marbella