Marbella

Street in Old Town

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.

Understand

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.

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
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
Precipitation (mm) 91 79 66 46 28 10 1 4 16 56 101 104

Source:

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.

Tourist information

Tourist offices are located at the Plaza de los Naranjos (in the corner of the city hall) and Paseo Maritímo.

Get in

By air

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.

By car

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.

By bus

Marbella's bus station. To the right a part of the mountain La Concha

  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.

By train

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.

By taxi

Marbella's own taxis are white with a blue strip

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 €.

By boat

Marbella has two yacht harbors.

Get around

By foot

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.

By bus

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.

By car

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.

By taxi

If travelling any distance agree the fare in advance. Official rates should be displayed inside any licensed taxi. Phone 952 823 835

See

Plaza de los Naranjos and the city hall (Ayuntamiento)
Capilla de Santo Sepulcro

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.

Do

One of Marbella's beaches

Sea

Land

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.

  • Guadalmina Club de Golf, Urbanizacion Guadalmina Alta. One of the largest and best golf courses in Europe with a 45-hole course.
Pico de la Concha

Events

Save for the winter, there are several festivities and processions going on each month in and around Marbella, most of them religious.

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.

Learn

Buy

Typical old town shop

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.


Eat

Barbecue fish

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.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

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.

Sleep

Colorful bench in Parque de Alameda
Pool with a view to the Mediterranean

One of the major tourist centers on Costa del Sol, in and around Marbella you have plenty of accommodation to choose among from simple hostels to luxurious resorts.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay healthy

Clinics can be found along Av. Soriano, for more serious cases there's the   Costa del Sol hospital, about 5km east of downtown.

Go next

Nearby

Day trips

For instance Gibraltar is doable as a daytrip

Further away

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, March 29, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.