The Marbella region is as popular now as it ever has been with visitors of all ages and nationalities for so many different reasons.
Enjoying the perfect setting on the sun-drenched Costa Del Sol, Marbella and the surrounding area is a mecca for tourists thanks to its scenery, cuisine, nightlife and excursions that can all be savoured while staying in one of Vacation Marbella’s stunning apartments.
But with so much on offer, it is often impossible to sample and experience everything on offer, so Vacation Marbella, the region’s premier rental accommodation company, has come up with some suggestions on 10 things to do in and around Marbella.
The Marbella region has been dubbed “Golf Valley” and it is easy to see why as there are 21 golf courses within half an hour of the town and 15 quality courses alone in the vicinity of Marbella.
These range in both price and difficulty rating, and therefore suit golfers of all standards, with the added benefit that they are accessible all-year round thanks to the temperate climate.
They all enjoy breath-taking backdrops, courtesy of the rugged terrain and sea views that can be seen from most holes. And the beauty for Vacation Marbella guests is we have negotiated specially discounted green fees as part of our fabulous and great-value golf stay-and-play packages.
One such partnership is with nearby Los Naranjos, a superb Robert Trent Jones Senior-designed course that, as the name suggests, cuts through fragrant orange trees. This friendly club, boasting a first-class clubhouse with stunning views serving excellent food, is renowned for being in excellent condition.
2 Puerto de Puerto Banús
This is the famous port known to everyone, often imitated but never equalled. Puerto Banus harbour is the place that never sleeps – the area that is awash with energy and life both day and night.
Whether you are a party person, or just wish to unwind and relax on your holiday, then this is a MUST on any to-do list. Puerto Banus, situated just 6km south-west of Marbella town, was the brainchild of local property developer José Banus and took three years to build, earning its star status in May 1970 when Prince Rainier of Monaco and his wife, actress Grace Kelly, officially opened it.
And that prestigious reputation has only strengthened over the years, maintaining its standing as a playground for the rich and famous with the luxury marina being home to hundreds of yachts spanning 15 hectares.
The views are spectacular in every direction, whether it is the glistening waters of the Mediterranean or, Marbella’s most famous mountain and landmark – the 1,200-metre La Concha, translated as “shell” due to its shape.
During the day visitors can enjoy one of the many highly acclaimed restaurants, high-end designer stores, while those with a real sense of adventure will love one of the many water-based activities.
But it is at night when Puerto Banus comes alive. The glitz and glamour draws crowds from far and wide for the stylish party scene thanks to its array of bars and clubs that line the harbour front and narrow lane just behind.
Being home to a staggering 23 beaches along just 27km of coastline and 20 alone on Marbella’s front, the area is a beach lover’s paradise.
And with an average of 320 sunny days a year, it is clear to see why tourists flock here. Yet with so many golden beaches they are rarely over-crowded, even on the clearest and warmest of summer days.
One of the favourites near Marbella is the Cabopino area, which is just a 10-minute drive east of the town. This strip is dotted with sandy ‘playas’ and the vast majority benefit from cosy beach bars known as chiringuitos, which serve delicious food and refreshing drinks.
The bronze sands make for a perfect setting in which to relax and soak up the rays, while the crystal-clear waters are clean with 25 Blue Flags awarded to the province of Malaga last year. The beaches are also safe with fully-qualified life guards on duty from Easter to the end of September, to bring peace of mind for parents.
As well as being a haven for golfers, Marbella is a food-lover’s paradise thanks to its incredible array of restaurants and fine dining options.
Gastronomy has always been one of the major reasons for visitors choosing the region, with something for all tastes and budgets. Serving world-wide cuisines, the area between Marbella town and Puerto Banus now boasts five Michelin star restaurants and hundreds of other more modest eateries.
Being in Spain, naturally tapas bars are plentiful and often represent fantastic value, especially in the old town, while most of the restaurants on the main promenade that runs from Marbella to Puerto Banus all enjoy breath-taking sea views, as do the chiringuitos, or beach bars, that are famous for serving excellent fish dishes.
5 La Concha
La Concha mountain, which translates to ‘shell’ due to its iconic shape, stands an awe-inspiring 1,200metres above sea level as it proudly looms over the Marbella region.
Situated just 25 minutes from Marbella town, this famous block of limestone is part of the Sierra Blanca mountain range situated just outside the limits of the Natural Park of Sierra de las Nieves, which stretches from the Mediterranean Sea towards the internal area of Andalusia, offering spectacular views as far as Gibraltar in one direction and Fuengirola the other way, while on a clear day, even the Atlas Mountains in Morocco can be seen.
Because of this, La Concha is a hugely popular hiking route for those with a real sense of adventure – and for those who are fit (it is strongly recommended that children under the age of 12 do not attempt the climb, while experienced guides are also advised for first-time climbers).
The Citizens Security delegation also advise: “Anyone who wishes to visit this beautiful mountain zone needs to take the necessary precautions: wearing adequate clothing, taking enough water and a mobile phone with charged batteries. In case of emergency, you should contact emergency services by calling 112 and stay in one place until you are found.”
La Concha is a must for nature lovers who will marvel at the wonderous sights such as olive groves, pine trees, walnut trees, Spanish goats, eagles and owls.
6 Marbella Old Town
Marbella’s historic and picturesque Old Town is so often overlooked, perhaps, and unjustly because of the modern delights of the “new” Marbella or the nearby glamorous Puerto Banus.
The Old Town – situated just a couple of hundred metres from the sea – can be found near the centre, close to the Avenida Ricardo Soriano – the main street which runs through Marbella, opposite La Alameda park. With its maze of narrow cobbled streets and plazas it has maintained both the characteristics of the Arabic and Christian eras.
With its picturesque, ancient architecture, the Old Quarter, which is comprised of Barrio Alto and Barrio Nuevo, is full of colour and life with its glistening white-washed buildings, boutique shops, funky art galleries, bars and restaurants.
At the heart of this bygone village, that dates back to the 16th century, is Orange Square, a beautiful and typically Andalusian plaza full of orange trees and tropical plants that has a real buzz to it.
While this charming small mountain-top ‘town’ is slightly off the beaten track and about a 45-minute drive from Puerto Banus, it deservedly makes Vacation Marbella’s top 10 sights.
Andalusia boasts some stunning scenery and you will be hard-pressed to find anywhere as picturesque as Ronda thanks to its unique historic charm.
Ronda sits above the El Tajo gorge and a 100m chasm, and next to the 18th-century Puente Nuevo bridge, offering unrivalled and breath-taking views of the Serrania de Ronda mountains.
Ronda is also famous as the birthplace of modern bullfighting, which is now seen just once a year at the spectacular Feria Goyesca at the beginning of September as the bullring, Plaza de Toros, is now a museum, where visitors can stroll through the arena.
But any visit to Ronda is incomplete without a trip to Descalzos Viejos. Originally a monastery, the 16th century building is now a renovated winery thanks to the imagination and dedication of owner Flavio Salesi, who arrived in Spain from Argentina in the mid-90s.
8 Water activities
With the shimmering Mediterranean Sea, golden beaches and warm climate it is easy to see why water sports and activities are so popular.
And Vacation Marbella can organise everything for you, such as the wide choice of boat and rental services from smaller sports boats for the thrill-seekers to the larger more expensive yachts, which are ideal for overnight trips as part of a group of friends, family or a more romantic voyage for two.
We have a range of excursions available for all our guests, ranging in both time and cost, and perfect for sampling the incredible sunsets at sea.
Vacation Marbella also organises a raft of fishing trips and incredible dolphin watching tours, which depart from Puerto Banus and take you 8km out to sea. Here you can fish for local delicacies such as red snapper, sea bream, sea bass or octopus, while there are also deep sea and big game fishing trips available.
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9 Vega del mar Basílica
La Basilica de Vega del Mar was an early Christian church (Paleo-Christian) place of worship and necropolis dating back to the sixth century that is situated in the middle of a eucalyptus forest by the Guadalmina river on the outskirts of Marbella.
The site is now home to the unique remains of the Basilica, including its foundations and burial site and has unearthed many items of historical Spanish importance that are now housed in the National Museum of Archaeology in the capital Madrid.
This archaeological site, 10 miles west of Marbella town, lies just inland from Guayaba Beach and lies on a well-known Roman route that stretches from Cartagena to Cádiz.
Evidence discovered at the site, in the form of gravestones and coins, suggest that the existing edifice was built in the sixth century, atop the relics of the earlier construction. A tombstone coloured “Constantine Crimson” after the Emperor Constantine discovered on the site is arguably the oldest tombstone found anywhere in Spain, demonstrating the site´s considerable importance in Spanish history, making it a must-see when visiting Marbella.
10 Iglesia de la Encarnación
This is Marbella’s main historic landmark and translates into English as Church of Our Lady of the Incarnation.
Located at the Plaza de la Iglesia in Marbella’s monumental centre, it is just one of several historic sites that are worth visiting with the Misericordia Chapel, Santo Sepulcro Chapel, Santiago Chapel and Santo Cristo Chapel all within a short stroll of each other.
Dating back to the mid-18th century, the Iglesia de la Encarnacion is a marvellous renaissance and baroque church that was originally a mosque that later became a Christian place of worship. It is
The Church of Our Lady of the Incarnation of Marbella stands out for its sheer size, which stands approximately 33 metres high with the bell tower consisting of four bodies – the oldest bell of which was made in London in 1804.