17 Best Things To Do in Marbella Old Town [2024]

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17 Best Things To Do in Marbella Old Town [2024]

What are the best things to do in Marbella old town, and is there enough to see for an extended trip?

If you’ve been asking yourself these questions, this article has all the answers you need.

I’ve been living next to Marbella, on Costa del Sol, since 2020, and thanks to my many trips to the city I am very familiar with the Casco Antiguo (old town) and what it has to offer.

In short, the best way to explore Marbella’s old town is by self guided or guided walking tour, visiting the pretty small churches and chapels, enjoying a drink at Plaza de los Naranjos and indulging yourself in the local tapas experience in a beautiful setting.

Let’s get into the details so I can help you plan your trip to Marbella’s old town!

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PS: This article has some affiliate links. They help me make a small commission that supports my site. So thank you if you use them! (disclosure)

While there are no big tourist attractions in the old town, like you would see in Malaga for example, there are still plenty of cute local places and beautiful locations to discover.

How much time do you need to explore the old town?

I would say one day is plenty of time to tick off many of the locations from my list of best things to do. At the end of the article, you will also find a Google map with all the locations marked.

BONUS TIP: For exploring beyond the city limits, I highly recommend renting a car. Check Discover Cars to get the best prices for your car rental. 

17 Top Things To Do in Marbella Old Town

Here is the full list of activities and things to do in Casco Antiguo de Marbella.

At the end of the article, you will find practical tips to help you plan your stay in Marbella.


1. Enjoy a Drink at Plaza de Los Naranjos

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Plaza de los Naranjos (Orange Square in translation) is a charming square, nestled in the heart of the old town.

It is a lively spot where locals and tourists alike gather to enjoy the terraces of the outdoor cafes and restaurants around the square, dining under the fragrant smell of the orange blossoms.

The square is adorned with beautiful traditional Andalusian architecture, with white-washed buildings and intricate iron balconies overflowing with colorful flowers. It’s like stepping into a postcard.

The evenings bring a different charm, with the soft glow of street lamps creating a cozy, almost magical atmosphere.

Visiting Plaza de los Naranjos is more than just a sightseeing experience; it’s about immersing yourself in the laid-back yet vibrant culture of Marbella.

BONUS TIP: There are plenty of restaurants on Orange Square, and I tested most of them. The food quality is just average, with premium prices for your meal, so I would only recommend stopping for a drink. You’re better off walking a little more to get a better dining experience. The Farm is not far from here and offers wonderful food in stunning surroundings.


2. Take a Photo at Marbella’s Town Hall (Casa Consistorial De Marbella)

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The local town hall located on the same square is one of the most popular photography spots in Marbella.

You can totally see why – the white walls are decorated with colorful flower pots, and the beautiful architecture just adds a nod to the stunning surroundings where it’s located.

If you need any help planning your trip or want to get a local map, there is a tourist office located on the right side of the same building.


3. Book a Tapas Tour

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Dining around Marbella can be a little challenging – there are plenty of tourist traps and finding the few local gems requires a bit of testing and trying.

To avoid any disappointment, I recommend booking a tapas tasting tour which will introduce you to the flavours of Andalusia and educate you a bit more about the region and the culinary history.

This tour offers the best of both worlds – a short walking tour of the old town combined with tapas tasting.

It runs even in winter months, and you can book without any risk – they offer free cancellation up to 24 hours before the tour, and the option to book now and pay later.

The starting point for the tour is in Alameda Park, just outside of the old town, and the tour takes 3 hours.

The languages offered on this food tour are English, Spanish, German, Russian, and French. Book your tour here.


4. Book a Walking Tour

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Another option if you’re not interested in tapas, is booking a walking tour with a local expert guide.

This specific tour takes 1.5 hours and finishes at the Plaza de los Naranjos, so you can enjoy a drink after exploring the old town right there.

It is offered at very affordable prices and with flexible booking conditions (free cancellation up to 24 hours before and the option to book now and pay later).

Book your tour here.


5. Find the Best Photo Locations

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Marbella’s old town is a maze of picturesque streets and beautiful squares, with orange trees lining the streets, and flower pots on display on each wall.

There are cute cafes, restaurants and houses that will offer countless opportunities for beautiful photos.

Even though I have visited Marbella many times, I am always amazed at how many new pretty corners I find every time I venture into the old town.

Currently, the most popular photographed spot is a small street with the Marbella sign, always occupied by tourists taking turns with photos – it’s located behind the small fountain on Plaza de los Naranjos – a street called Calle Nueva.

Other beautiful places to take photos are Calle Caballeros and Calle Gloria, I also like Calle Ancha which is filled with pretty restaurants and bars.

BONUS TIP: When I plan my trips, I like to use google maps and their street view – this way you uncover some of the hidden corners and prettiest streets without having to explore them on foot on the location.


6. Visit Iglesia de la Encarnación Church

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The Iglesia de la Encarnación in Marbella, is a beautiful example of the architectural and historical heritage from the 16th and 17th centuries, built in Baroque style.

What’s fascinating about the Iglesia de la Encarnación is how it reflects the layers of Marbella’s history.

The church was built on the site of a former mosque following the ruling of the Christian Monarchs, symbolizing the shift in cultural and religious dynamics of the region. Its grandiose bell tower, a remnant of its past as a minaret, stands as a testament to this rich history.


7. Go Souvenir Shopping at Boutique Shops

pretty streets decorated with flowers in marbella old town, southern spain
Pretty square in Marbella old town, you will find Calle Nueva and the popular photo spot just around the corner from this wall.

The old town of Marbella offers a variety of options to buy both souvenirs but also some local produce. The shops in the old town are mostly small local boutiques, so you’re guaranteed to get something that’s truly unique.

Just wander through the bigger roads to find these, they are scattered around the main squares and the main roads.


8. Find the Medieval Town Walls (Murallas de Castillo)

The Marbella Castle Walls, or Murallas del Castillo, are remnants of a 10th-century Moorish citadel built following the Norman destruction along the Malaga coast, as part of the Caliphate of Cordoba’s efforts to fortify the coastline with lighthouse towers and protect Marbella.

The citadel, known as Alcabaza, and the walls were built around Marbella, which then had a citadel, mosque, and orchards. The walls included two defensive towers.

In 1485, after the Catholic Conquest, the castle and walls were peacefully transferred to the Catholic monarchs.

In 1786, King Carlos III ordered the demolition of city walls, leaving only limited remains of Marbella’s walls today.

These are not open to public exploration but can be viewed starting from Calle Carmen and following a route through the town. (source)


9. Enjoy a Drink at Casanis Bistrot

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If you were to look for the prettiest restaurant of them all, the crown would probably go to Casanis Bistrot.

This pretty local establishment with old-fashioned charm is one of the most popular dining places on Calle Ancha, and it does come with a price tag.

The reviews for food are a little mixed, and as I haven’t dined here myself I can’t comment, but I did stop there for a drink and loved it.

It’s a great place for people-watching, especially if you visit late in the afternoon when the sun goes down.


10. Ermita de Santiago Church

This small modest church with a single nave is Marbella’s oldest Christian parish, originally a mosque that was consecrated as a church following the Christian conquests.

In 1505, it was established as a parish by the archbishop of Seville, holding this status until the 17th century, when it was reclassified as a hermitage.

This hermitage, also known as San Jacobo, serves as the headquarters for the “Brotherhood of Christ of Love.” It is located on the edge of Plaza de los Naranjos.


11. Enjoy a Live Performance at the Farm Restaurant

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Fancy watching flamenco while you enjoy your dinner?

In that case, the Farm restaurant in Marbella’s old town is the place to be!

It’s the first restaurant I visited in Marbella, on my very first trip in 2020, and one that I loved the most. They have a stunning courtyard and very unique ambiance that’s hard to find anywhere else.

You can check the events schedule on their website, and remember you need to book your table in advance. The Flamenco shows are available from the end of March, they do not operate in the winter months.


12. Enjoy a Drink at a Rooftop Terrace

Linda hotel in Marbella old town, Southern Spain
Linda hotel in Marbella old town

If you’re looking for drinks with a view, a rooftop terrace is the best place to be.

While there are many stunning rooftop bars in Marbella, the old town doesn’t actually have many to choose from.

Your best option is the beautiful Linda Marbella hotel in the old town, with its pretty terrace open all day long from 8 am. In addition to drinks, you can also enjoy a meal and nice chilled atmosphere.


13. Book a Tapas & Bar Crawl in the Old Town

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This food and bar tour offers a chance to discover hidden culinary gems and enjoy the city’s finest tapas in beloved local taverns.

As part of the tour, you will visit three unique tapas bars, each showcasing a mix of traditional and innovative flavors, sure to delight your palate.

You’ll learn about the origins of tapas and get insights into perfect wine pairings, enhancing your culinary journey.

This tour departs from Marbella’s Golden Mile, and your food adventure will conclude in the center of Old Town. All food and drinks are included in your tour fee.

Book your tour here with free cancellation and the option to pay later.


14. Visit Chapel of San Juan de Dios

The “Hospitalillo,” once known as the “Royal Hospital of Mercy,” was established by the Catholic Monarchs.

A notable feature inside its chapel is the coffered ceiling, which was concealed until the mid-20th century. The chapel consists of a single nave, covered by a wooden framework with three panels.

You will find the location of this chapel on the map shared at the end of the article.


15. Find Santo Cristo de la Vera Cruz Church

the pretty church of Santo Cristo de la Vera Cruz in Marbella
The pretty entrance to the church

Heading north on Calle Ancha, you’ll come across the Santo Cristo chapel, a significant historical site in the town.

This chapel, dating back to the 16th century, was part of the old Franciscan Convent and stands as one of the town’s oldest temples.

The square where you find this church – Plaza Santo Christo – is a beautiful location too, with two stunning hotels and a pretty local restaurant.


16. Visit the Local Market (Mercado Municipal)

Nearly every town in Southern Spain has its own local market (Mercado Municipal) and Marbella is no exception.

The market is located at the edge of the old town, and even though it’s not as picturesque location as the one in Malaga, it offers a glimpse of the local life and the option to buy fresh produce from the region.

There are also a few tapas bars where you can stop for a quick lunch while exploring the old town.


17. Stroll Through Plaza de la Iglesia (Church Square)

plaza de la iglesia in marbella, Spain
Plaza de la iglesia in marbella, Spain

Plaza de la Iglesia, one of the most picturesque spots in Marbella’s old town, can be accessed via Calle Caridad or from Plaza de Los Naranjos.

The plaza is notable for the Main Church of Our Lady of the Incarnation on one side and the remnants of the old castle walls on the other. It also features a fountain and a statue of Saint Barnabas, the patron saint of Marbella.

The square is a vibrant hub for street events like concerts and markets, especially during Holy Week, when it becomes a focal point for celebrations.

Map for Things To Do in Marbella Old Town

All of the locations from this list can be found on this google map, simply open it on your phone and follow along the marked locations:

Exploring Beyond Marbella Old Town

  • Alameda Park (parque de la alameda)
  • Visit one of Marbella’s best golf courses
  • Take a day trip to Mijas Pueblo
  • Visit the flash district of Puerto banús
  • Plan a day trip to nearby towns of Ronda, Estepona or Fuengirola
  • Spend time at Marbella’s best beaches
  • Dine under the shade of palm trees on Paseo Maritimo
  • Admire Salvador Dali scultpures at Avenida del Mar

Free Things To Do in Marbella Old Town

So what are some of the best free things to do, if you don’t want to spend your budget exploring the old town? Here are a few ideas:

  • self-guided walking tour of the old town
  • visiting the small churches and chapels of old town
  • finding the best photography locations
  • finding the old city walls
  • exploring the local market

Restaurants in Marbella Old Town

I am familiar with only a handful of options in Marbella’s old town, so I will list those along with some local expert recommendations I found online.

I would strongly advise not to use Tripadvisor for your restaurant selection (you can see why in this post).

Practical Travel Tips for Visiting Marbella in 2024

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Airport Transport

To avoid long taxi queues, especially during summer, it’s advisable to book your airport transfer from Malaga Airport in advance.

I recommend using an online service called Get Transfer. I have plenty of personal experience with them, both for private trips, airport pick ups and also business travel.

Get Transfer operates as a price comparison platform, gathering transport quotes from local companies to ensure competitive pricing for your trip. You can obtain a free, no-obligation quote by entering your travel details on their platform here.

For airport pick up, they will ask for your flight details so they can wait for you in case of a delay (free of charge). If you’re traveling with kids, Get Transfer has the option to book a car seat for your little ones, so you don’t have to drag one with you.

Renting a Car in Marbella

Renting a car for your trip to Marbella is a must, if you’re planning to explore beyond the city limits.

A car offers much more flexibility compared to public transport, which is somewhat limited in Marbella due to the lack of a train connection (the train from the airport only goes as far as Fuengirola).

For car rentals, Discover Cars is a great option.

They simplify the process by comparing prices from various companies for you, ensuring you get the best deal. As an award-winning price comparison platform, Discover Cars provides an easy-to-use dashboard and a transparent, no-hidden fees policy.

It’s a good idea to get a quote in advance to explore different car options for your trip, ensuring a smooth and flexible travel experience in Marbella and the surrounding regions.

Key Takeaways

Marbella old town may be small, but there is plenty to discover.

From admiring local architecture, and religious sites, to discovering the local cuisine and photography locations, Marbella’s old town is certainly as charming and as pretty as they say. With this guide, you will have everything you need to make the most out of your trip.

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Southern Spain Travel Tips

Find Best Hotels

Find Hotels

I have been using booking.com for all my trips in Spain and abroad, and it’s the best place to book your hotel.

Find Car Rental

Find Car Rental

To rent a car, I highly recommend Discover Cars, an award-winning price comparison site for car rentals.

Book Your Tour

Local travel companies offer many day trip options from almost all the destinations in Southern Spain. You can check them out here.

Book Local Transport

To get the cheapest bus or train tickets, take a look at Omio to find the timetables and prices.

Find Cheap Flights

Get the best flight deals when you book early via Skyscanner.com

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links - if you decide to book using one of the links, I will earn a small commission that helps me run this site. This is at no extra cost to you.

Hi, I'm Lucia

The founder and writer of Viva La Vita, a blog about traveling in Spain.

On these pages, you will find many practical tips and recommendations from someone who lives in Spain and travels around Spain often.

Filled with my images and unique local perspective, I hope these pages will offer you plenty of inspiration, insights & ideas to plan a wonderful trip to Spain.

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