37 Best Things To Do in Marbella, Spain: Expert Guide [2024]

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37 Best Things To Do in Marbella, Spain: Expert Guide [2024]

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Are you planning your trip to Southern Spain and wondering what are the best things to do in Marbella?

Then this article is the perfect place to start your research.

As a local resident of Costa del Sol, I know Marbella is like my second home and can offer local insights and expertise that will save you a lot of time and money.

Let’s skip to the chase, shall we?

pretty buildings in Marbella old town
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)

There are no big tourist attractions in Marbella, in the traditional sense at least.

Most people come to the coastal town to spend time at the Mediterranean Sea and enjoy culinary adventures with authentic Andalusian food or the world-class golf courses.

If that’s not your idea of the perfect holiday, fear not.

There are lots of interesting places to go in Marbella, whether you prefer taking a leisurely stroll in the old town Marbella or looking for a more active way to spend your time, like climbing the La Concha mountain. Marbella is also the perfect base to plan wonderful trips to other popular destinations.

If you’re asking yourself ‘what to do in Marbella’, this article gives you all the best options with practical travel tips.

BONUS TIP: Do you need to rent a car in Marbella? No, to explore the city you’re more than good with walking or taking local taxis around the city. For exploring beyond the city limits, I highly recommend renting a car. Check Discover Cars to get the best prices for your car rental. 

37 Top Things to do in Marbella, Spain

I could create a list of 50 different things to do in the city, but I won’t waste your time making things up just to extend the list because I would hate to read one of those articles too.

My selection offers something for everyone, including lots of options for rainy days if you’re visiting Marbella in winter.

At the end of the list, you will find a Google map with the location for all the activities, and also a list of things to avoid doing in Marbella.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

1. Enjoy a Drink at Plaza de Los Naranjos

plaza de naranjos in marbella old town, southern spain

Plaza de los Naranjos (Orange Square in English), is located in the heart of Marbella old town.

It is a charming and vibrant square with fragrant orange trees hanging over dining tables, with blooming flower beds in the middle, and surrounded by traditional Andalusian architecture, with whitewashed buildings and iron balconies, creating a picturesque setting.

It’s a popular gathering place for both locals and tourists, offering a variety of cafes, restaurants, and shops.

The plaza is also home to the Town Hall and the Chapel of Santiago, adding to its historical allure.

Its lively atmosphere, combined with the enchanting scent of oranges, makes Plaza de los Naranjos a must-visit place on your Marbella itinerary.

BONUS TIP: There are quite a few restaurants in the square, but you shouldn’t be eating there. You will be paying a premium price for a less-than-average meal. Just around the corner from the square, you will find Farm Restaurants, which offers a more authentic dining experience in a beautiful setting.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

2. Admire the Pretty Streets in Marbella’s Old Town

fountain on a square in marbella old town, southern spain

The “Casco Antiguo,” the old town of Marbella, is known for its narrow, winding streets and traditional Andalusian architecture and historic buildings.

At the heart of the Old Town, you will find the Plaza de los Naranjos, which spills into small narrow streets leading you to historic churches, such as the Iglesia de la Encarnación, and charming shops selling local crafts and artisan products.

Exploring Marbella’s Old Town and its cobblestone streets offers a delightful glimpse into the rich cultural heritage and relaxed lifestyle of this beautiful Mediterranean city.

While you don’t need a guide to wander through the beautiful maze of the old town, having one will certainly help you to understand the importance and history of Marbella. You can book a local walking tour here.

BONUS TIP: Some of the prettiest photography opportunities can be found on these streets: Calle Caballeros, Calle Gloria and Calle Nueva.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

3. Enjoy the Sandy Beaches

things to do in marbella beaches

If you’re looking for the best beaches, Marbella offers a mix of all options. Urban beaches, remote beaches and even beaches with protected sand dunes!

Here is a full comprehensive list of their names and some notes, a lot of these are only accessible by car as they are outside of the city borders.

Ancón Beach Located on Milla de Oro, famous for Victor’s Beach bar.
Nagüeles Beach Heart of Milla de Oro, offers a promenade and amenities.
El Faro Beach In central Marbella, small and crowded, near Marina.
Venus Beach Heart of Marbella, next to Río Represa, very busy.
Bajadilla Beach Next to fishing port, suitable for children, busy in summer.
Cable Beach Entrance of Marbella, wide beach, popular with locals.
Guadalmina Beach Near San Pedro de Alcántara, quiet with historical ruins.
Linda Vista Beach In San Pedro de Alcántara, frequented by locals.
San Pedro de Alcántara Beach Well-known, high occupancy in summer, with promenade.
Cortijo Blanco Beach Semi-urban stone beach, quiet, low occupancy.
Nueva Andalucía Beach Characterized by coves and dark sand, near Puerto Banús.
Puerto Banús Beaches Popular, excellent amenities, calm waters.
Los Monteros Semi-urban with dune formations, luxurious area.
El Alicate Golden sands, clear waters, near luxury developments.
Real de Zaragoza Narrow but long, golden sands, clear waters.
Las Chapas Famous and beautiful, medium occupancy year-round.
Cabopino Popular, borders protected Artola Dunes.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

4. Enjoy a Walk on Paseo Maritimo (Coastal Promenade)

things to do in marbella paseo maritimo

Stretching along the Mediterranean coastline, all the way from central Marbella to the district of Puerto Banus, it provides a tranquil escape with its stunning sea views and gentle sea breezes.

Lined with rows of palm trees and a variety of charming cafes, restaurants, and shops, Paseo Maritimo is a hub for both locals and tourists.

Locals use it for leisurely walks, cycling, or simply relaxing and watching the world go by. With its beautiful setting and lively atmosphere, Paseo Maritimo epitomizes the relaxed yet vibrant spirit of Marbella.

BONUS TIP: You can walk on the coastal promenade from Marbella Marina (Puerto Deportivo) all the way to Puerto Banus! I’ve done this walk a couple of times, and while it’s exhausting on foot, you can rent a bike or book a bike tour, and do the trip much faster. On foot, it takes about 40 – 45 minutes.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

5. Stroll Through Avenida del Mar

things to do in marbella avenida del mar

This picturesque promenade near Alameda Park is lined with palm trees, and offers a serene stroll amidst a beautiful setting, leading from Marbella’s historic old town to the seafront.

Its most notable feature is the impressive collection of Salvador Dalí sculptures, displayed outdoors, adding an artistic touch to the scenic walk.

The avenue is not only a visual delight but also a testament to Marbella’s commitment to integrating art into public spaces, making it a must-visit destination for both art enthusiasts and casual visitors.

BONUS TIP: There is a large parking lot located directly under the pedestrian zone, it’s one of the closest places to park your car if you’re heading to the coastline or the old town Marbella.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

6. Visit Puerto Banús

things to do in marbella puerto banus

Puerto Banús is a luxurious and vibrant marina renowned for its opulence and cosmopolitan atmosphere.

Famous for attracting celebrities and the wealthy, this upscale marina area is filled with designer boutiques, fine-dining restaurants, and luxury extravagant yachts.

Beyond its reputation for high-end shopping and nightlife, Puerto Banus offers a picturesque setting with stunning Mediterranean views, making it a popular destination for tourists seeking both relaxation and a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

7. Book a Day Trip from Marbella

things to do in marbella gibraltar day trip

Do you fancy a change of scenery?

I don’t blame you! There is so much more to discover than just the coastline.

Day Trips with Rental Car or Public Transport

In Marbella, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to access to other destinations which makes perfect day trip options. You can find dedicated driving and public transport instructions for day trips to Ronda here, Gibraltar here and Granada (Alhambra) here. I will be adding more soon.

To rent a car, I recommend Discover Cars – they are a price comparison platform, so they will source you quotes from local companies offering the best prices and saving you a lot of time.

Just enter your trip details and pick the price and car that works for you. There are no hidden fees or charges and the platform is super easy to use.

Day Trips with Local Tour Companies

If you’re hesitant to rent a car and drive, there is a great alternative – local tour companies.

Some of the most popular day trip options from Marbella include a day trip to Morroco (yes, you can see Africa on a single trip!), the British territory known as the Rock of Gibraltar, the picturesque village of Setenil de las Bodegas right next to Ronda, or some historical gems like the Alhambra in Granada.

BONUS TIP: If you’re worried about changing your mind or the weather changing, the day trips linked above all come with free cancellation up to 24 hours before the trip. Nearly all of them also offer an option to book now and pay later.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

8. Bask in the Sun at the Local Beach Bars

Marbella is renowned for its vibrant beach bar scene, offering a unique blend of relaxation and entertainment. These beach bars or restaurants, known as “chiringuitos,” are dotted along the sun-drenched coastline, providing an authentic Spanish beach experience.

They range from laid-back, rustic spots to more upscale, trendy establishments.

Around the coastline of Marbella, you will find mostly more trendy and higher-priced establishments, with the district of Puerto Banus leading the pack with the highest prices and top-of-the-game bars.

While I don’t recommend them for a quality reasonably priced meal, they’re a great option for watching the sun go down while sipping on your cocktail.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

9. Get the Jungle Feels at Alameda Park

things to do in marbella alameda

Alameda Park near the old town is a verdant oasis renowned for its lush foliage and serene ambiance.

This beautifully landscaped park offers a tranquil retreat from the bustling city life where you can admire the diverse array of plants, and relax by the ornate fountains.

The park is also known for its exquisite ceramic benches, decorated with traditional Andalusian tiles, and known as a cultural hub, often hosting various events and festivities, making it a beloved spot for both locals and tourists.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

10. Visit Iglesia de la Encarnación Church

things to do in marbella iglesia

Renowned for its impressive size and striking baroque-style architecture, this church dating back to 16th century underwent big renovations in the 18th century.

Its most notable features include a beautiful organ, considered one of the most important in Spain, and its elaborate interior decoration.

The church stands as a testament to Marbella’s rich history and cultural heritage, and in the summer provides a much appreciated retreat from the summer heat.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

11. Ermita de Santiago

The Ermita de Santiago is one of Marbella’s oldest religious buildings, dating back to the 15th century.

This small yet charming chapel, situated in the old town reflects the traditional Andalusian style and has been a witness to various historical events and transformations in Marbella.

The Ermita de Santiago serves not only as a place of worship but also as a symbol of Marbella’s enduring heritage, attracting both locals and tourists who seek to experience its serene ambiance and historical value.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

12. Castillo de Marbella (Marbella Castle)

The historical fortress in Marbella was originally built in the 10th century during the Moorish occupation, and has undergone various transformations over the centuries.

Despite its partial destruction, the remaining walls and towers evoke Marbella’s medieval heritage. You can explore the remnants, including the well-preserved walls and the Plaza de Armas.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

13. Shopping at La Cañada

Are you up for some retail therapy?

La Canada shopping mall has everything you need – the complete shopping experience with over 150 stores, featuring a blend of international brands and local boutiques, cafes, restaurants, and entertainment options like a cinema and bowling alley.

It’s not close to the coastline or the old town, so you will need a car or taxi to get there.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

14. Salvador Dalí Sculptures

things to do in marbella dali

The Salvador Dalí bronze Sculptures on public display at Avenida del Mar are emblematic of his imaginative and often whimsical approach to art.

It includes the works Perseus, Mercury, Man on a Dolphin, Cosmic Elephant, and two depicting his wife Gala.

Dali did not have a direct connection to Marbella but was a close friend of an aristocrat Don Jaime de Mora y Aragon, who was one of the best-known people during Marbella’s Golden Age (source).

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

15. Michelin Stars Restaurants

Marbella is home to several Michelin-starred restaurants, offering a blend of traditional Spanish flavors and innovative cuisine, often featuring locally sourced ingredients and creative presentations.

Each Michelin-starred establishment in Marbella is unique, with some focusing on contemporary interpretations of Mediterranean dishes, while others blend international influences with regional tastes.

The ambiance of these restaurants ranges from cozy and intimate to modern and luxurious, catering to a variety of dining preferences. The Michelin Guide recognizes these restaurants for their exceptional quality, service, and creativity, making them must-visit destinations for food enthusiasts exploring Marbella.

Special mention goes to a two star Michelin restaurant Skina, described as ‘Real gems are often hidden in unusual and rather obscure places, but rarely in such a tiny venue as this!’. The restaurant is on the outskirts of the old town and a tasting menu with three courses starts from 229 euros.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

16. Capilla de San Juan de Dios

The Capilla de San Juan de Dios is a pretty chapel renowned for its architectural and artistic value.

It is a place of tranquility and spiritual significance, nested in the narrow streets of the old town.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

17. Santo Cristo de la Vera Cruz

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

The Santo Cristo de la Vera Cruz church plays a central role in Marbella’s Holy Week celebrations, known as Semana Santa, a period marked by processions and religious fervor.

The church is on a really pretty square with a few restaurants and hotels.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

18. Book a Round at the Best Golf Courses

Marbella is renowned for its luxurious golf courses offering a blend of challenging layouts and stunning views.

Some notable ones include the Marbella Club Golf Resort, known for its exclusive ambiance and meticulously maintained greens.

Then there’s the Santa Clara Golf Marbella, popular for its friendly atmosphere and strategic course design.

Another highlight is the Aloha Golf Club, famed for its beautiful layout that integrates with the natural surroundings. These courses, among others in Marbella, provide an unforgettable golfing experience, combining sport with the scenic beauty of Spain’s Costa del Sol.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

19. Visit the Museum of Contemporary Spanish Engravings

The Museum of Contemporary Spanish Engravings is a notable cultural institution in the historic Bazán Hospital, a building that combines a traditional Spanish aesthetic with the sophistication of a modern art gallery.

This museum specializes in contemporary Spanish graphic art, featuring an impressive collection that includes works by renowned artists like Picasso, Miró, and Dalí.

Its exhibitions often focus on engravings, offering visitors a unique insight into this specific art form.

The museum not only showcases established artists but also promotes emerging talents in the field of contemporary engraving.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

20. Walk Around the Fishing Port

things to do in marbella fishing port

Take a stroll in the traditional marina where you can witness the daily routines of local fishermen, see a variety of boats, and enjoy fresh seafood.

The port’s authentic atmosphere is complemented by nearby restaurants and cafes, where the catch of the day is often a menu highlight.

It’s an ideal place for those looking to experience the traditional side of Marbella, away from the more tourist-centric areas.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

21. Check out the Fontanilla Spring

Fontanilla Spring is renowned for its crystal-clear waters, which have been a source of life and refreshment for the local community for centuries.

Nestled in the lush landscapes of Marbella, Fontanilla Spring is not just a natural wonder but also a piece of the town’s rich cultural heritage.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

22. Hiking La Concha

things to do in marbella la concha

La Concha is one of the best-known landmarks of Marbella, thanks to its breathtaking views and challenging hiking trails.

Rising approximately 1,200 meters above sea level, La Concha is part of the Sierra Blanca range.

Its name, translating to “The Shell,” is inspired by its unique shell-like shape. Hikers and nature enthusiasts flock to La Concha for its scenic routes, which offer panoramic views of the Costa del Sol, Gibraltar, and on clear days, even the Moroccan coast.

BONUS TIP: My mum did this hike and she said it’s not for the faint-hearted. There are steep drops without many guards on the sides, so please keep that in mind if you venture out there. There are also local guided hiking tours available in Marbella.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

23. Go Shopping to the Local Street Markets

Marbella offers a range of different street markets, the most popular ones are the Nueva Andalucía Street Market, Marbella Street Market, Organic Street Market, El Patio, La Virginia, and Puerto Banús International Exhibition of Traditional Crafts.

These markets feature a variety of products ranging from fashion items, antiques, organic foods, to artisan crafts.

Each market has its unique appeal, offering you a chance to explore the local culture and find distinct items.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

24. Book a Boat Trip

luxury yachts parked in Puerto Banus Marina, Marbella, Southern Spain
Luxury yachts in Puerto Banus Marina

One of the best places to explore the surroundings of Marbella is on a boat!

Both Marbella Marina (port) and Puerto Banus Marina offer a range of boat rental services and boat cruises to choose from.

You can book some of these in advance online, the most popular ones are a sailing cruise with dolphin watching and drinks, sailboat cruise with drinks or a catamaran cruise with dolphin watching.

BONUS TIP: If you’re booking dolphin watching trips, please keep your expectations low. The dolphins are not an everyday sight and if you see any claims that you’re guaranteed to see them, stay away from those companies. Your chances also depend on the time of the year.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

25. Enjoy a Meal at the Best Restaurants

things to do in marbella restaurants

Looking for good food? 

If your budget doesn’t stretch as far as Michelin star restaurants, you have still plenty to choose from.

Some of my favourite places are Taverna Casa Blanca near Alameda park – for tapas of all sorts, The Farm Restaurant in the old town for an authentic dining experience and Manuka on Paseo Maritimo for healthy and vegan food options.

BONUS TIP: What should you eat while in Marbella? The traditional Andalusian dishes like patatas bravas (fried potatoes), pil pil (prawns), espeto de sardinas (sardine skewers), Iberian ham, oxtail stew and Salmojero (cold soup like gazpacho).

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

26. Roman Villa

Villa Romana de Rio Verde, is a remarkable example of ancient Roman architecture discovered in the 1960s.

It dates back to the 1st-2nd century AD, showcasing the luxurious lifestyle of the Romans during that era. The villa is famed for its well-preserved mosaic floors, which are among the finest in Spain.

These mosaics depict various mythological scenes and geometric patterns, offering insights into Roman artistic skills and their storytelling methods.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

27. Book a Guided Tour

A woman walking through the streets of Marbella old town
Discovering the streets of Marbella old town is much more fun when part of a group – especially if there is food and wine involved!

There are lots of different guided tours available in Marbella.

You can choose a walking tour combined with tapas tasting, tapas and wine tasting tour (sounds like my cup of tea!) or even venture further out of the city by booking a tour of the famous Caminito del Rey.

One of the best ways to experience Marbella in a more authentic way and learn more about the local culture is by booking a tour with a local expert.

All of the tours above come with free cancellation and the option to book now and pay later.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

28. Parque de la Constitución

Parque de la Constitución in Marbella
Parque de la Constitución on a chilly winter morning.

Parque de la Constitución is a charming and tranquil oasis in the heart of the city, and one of my latest discoveries.

This beautifully landscaped park offers a peaceful retreat with its lush greenery, vibrant flowers, and shaded pathways. It’s a perfect spot for relaxation and leisurely strolls.

The park also features a small open-air auditorium which hosts various cultural events and performances, and a small playground if you travel with little people like I do.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

29. Ralli Museum Marbella

The Museo Ralli is a hidden gem for art enthusiasts, dedicated to Latin American and European contemporary art.

It’s notable for its impressive collection of works by renowned artists such as Dalí and Chagall.

The museum’s design and architecture are also remarkable, providing an elegant backdrop for the art.

With free admission, it offers a cultural respite and an opportunity to immerse oneself in the rich artistic heritage of the region.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

30. Take a Sunset Cruise

sunset on the beach in Marbella, Costa del Sol
Sunset on the beach in Marbella

Embark on a romantic sailing experience from Puerto Banús, with this sunset sailing cruise which you can book as either a private or group journey.

This cruise offers a chance to witness the stunning sunset and picturesque views of the coast, Africa, and Gibraltar.

During your sail, if the winds are calm, the motor will guide you along the coast to capture the best vistas. Enjoy the ambiance with a choice of local white wine, sparkling cava, or refreshing beer, complemented by olives and dried fruits.

Book your cruise here with free cancellation up to 24 hours before the trip.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

31. Walk the Golden Mile

a woman walking a dog on paseo maritimo in Marbella, Spain
Even dogs appreciate the views from Golden Mile!

Enjoy a stroll on the Golden Mile, stretching between Marbella and Puerto Banus.

As you walk, you can admire luxury villas, and stunning views and stop for a refreshment at the beachside bars. This stretch of the coastal promenade can be enjoyed also with a bike or an e-bike, you can find a local bike rental place here.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

32. Shop for Local Souvenirs

Marbella’s charming boutiques and markets are filled with unique items that make perfect mementos or gifts.

From handcrafted ceramics and traditional flamenco dresses to locally produced olive oil and artisanal sweets, Marbella’s souvenirs reflect the rich heritage and artistic flair of the region.

Whether strolling through the quaint streets of the Old Town or exploring the vibrant markets, you will find a variety of authentic and high-quality products to remember your trip by.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

33. Book a Yoga Class

Marbella is home to various yoga studios and retreat centers that cater to all levels, from beginners to advanced practitioners.

These venues often combine yoga with other wellness practices, such as meditation, mindfulness, and nutrition workshops, enhancing the overall experience.

Retreats in Marbella are particularly popular, providing immersive experiences in tranquil settings, often with stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

34. Cabopino Beach

cabopino beach near Marbella, spain
Running to the beach in Cabopino (it was winter, hence the coat)

Cabopino Beach is located outside of the city boards and offers a more tranquil experience.

It has soft, golden sands and clear, calm waters, making it ideal for swimming and sunbathing.

The beach is backed by a charming marina, Cabopino Port, which hosts a variety of restaurants and cafes. I had an amazing lunch in one of them and the marina is surprisingly peaceful and charming, compared to the main one in Marbella.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

35. Senda Litoral Dunas de Artola (Sand Dunes)

sand dunes at cabopino beach near Marbella, southern spain
Sand dunes at Cabopino beach near Marbella, Southern Spain

The Senda Litoral Dunas de Artola is a beautiful natural area a short drive away from Marbella.

This coastal path winds through a protected dune system, showcasing a diverse range of flora and fauna native to the region.

The pathway leads you through scenic landscapes, including stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a perfect spot for nature lovers, hikers, and those looking to experience the tranquility and beauty of Spain’s coastal environment.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

36. Visit the Grand Mosque of Marbella

Designed by the renowned architect Juan Mora Urbano, the mosque reflects Andalusian and Arabic styles, symbolizing the historical and cultural ties between Spain and the Arab world.

The mosque’s elegant design and serene atmosphere are enough to land it a permanent spot on the places to see list for Marbella. (see location on my map below)

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MARBELLA

37. Take a Break from Crowds at Parque de la Represa

Parque de la Represa is a peaceful oasis amidst the bustling city with lush greenery, tranquil ponds, and a variety of wildlife, creating a serene environment.

Ideal for families, the park has playgrounds for children and picturesque paths for leisurely walks. It also hosts the Bonsai Museum, showcasing a remarkable collection of bonsai trees.

Map for the Best Things to do in Marbella, Spain

Nearly all of the places of interest and some additional ones are marked on this map. You can open it in your google maps and have a quick view of all nearby attractions.

3 Things NOT to do in Marbella, Spain (Tourist Traps)

While it’s a great idea to have tips for what to do, mentioning the things you should avoid doing is equally important. Here are just a few.

1. Paella

You will see Paella on bleached-out photos of restaurants on the main strip.

For me, that’s usually a sign to avoid them.

Paella is a dish that originates in Valencia, and even though each region has its own take on it, you won’t get the real Paella experience of dining in Marbella. Most of what you get is just overpriced rice with a few pieces of meat or fish thrown on the top.

There are a few specialized restaurants that make this their star dish, but for most cases, you’re better off ordering something else from the menu.

2. Souvenirs from Illegal Vendors

If there is one thing that’s extremely annoying about staying on Costa del Sol, it’s the constant pestering by illegal vendors (manteros). They come up to you on the beach, in the restaurants, bars, they are everywhere.

They sell mostly counterfeit designer items like shoes, handbags, scarves or even belts.

There are many ethical issues about buying their goods, including taking away legal business from local people and also some connections have been established with organized crime networks.

3. Tourist Restaurants

Despite what many guides claim, just the fact that the restaurant has a menu translated into English doesn’t mean it’s a tourist trap.

If they want to stay in business, of course, they have to cater to the fact that not everyone who arrives in the country will speak the language.

Unfortunately in Southern Spain, eating where locals eat is not always a guarantee of quality establishment. 

I’ve had first-hand experience with that. I don’t know if my restaurant standards are so high, but deep-fried fish without seasoning, served with two pieces of undercooked veggies is not my idea of a quality meal.

Normally, I would spot a tourist trap and bad quality restaurant if they have a menu with 50 different dishes, ranging from Italian, and Spanish to Mexican flavours. Burgers, English breakfast, and other staples of the holiday meal plan are usually also good takeaways that the restaurant is catering mostly to tourists.

Practical Travel Tips for Visiting Marbella in 2024

The lighthouse in Marbella port, Southern Spain
The lighthouse in Marbella port

Airport Transport

If you want to avoid the long queues for taxi, especially in the summer months, I highly recommend booking your airport transfer in advance.

They will wait for you at the arrivals, help you with the luggage, and you don’t have to worry about any language barrier when giving them your accommodation details.

I have personal experience with Get Transfer, I have used them for longer and shorter trips, even business travel. They are a price comparison platform, so they source transport quotes from local companies, giving you the best chance to get the best price for your trip.

You can get a free no obligation quote by filling in your travel details here.

They will also ask you for flight details and in case of a delay, they will wait for you free of charge. If you travel with kids, they also have an option to book a child seat, so you don’t have to drag one with you.

Renting a Car in Marbella

I think renting a car for your trip to Marbella is a great idea. If you want to explore the rest of Southern Spain, a car will give you much more flexibility than using public transport.

In Marbella, it’s pretty limited since there is no train connection (the trains from the airport only to go Fuengirola where the network ends).

My recommendation is to use Discover Cars – instead of checking prices from 20 different companies, they do that job for you and source you the best price. They are an award-winning price comparison platform, with easy-to-use dashboard and no hidden fees policy.

Get a quote here and check different car options for your trip in advance.

Where to Stay in Marbella

Marbella offers a range of different accommodation options.

For luxury stays, the area around the Golden Mile and Puerto Banus is a good choice, with upscale hotels offering premium amenities.

BEST LUXURY HOTELS: Amare Beach Hotel (Adults Only), La Fonda Heritage Hotel (gorgeous place in the old town), Puente Romano Beach Resort (close to Puerto Banus, favourite of celebrities)

Mid-range options can be found the town center, providing easy access to Marbella’s attractions without breaking the bank.

BEST MID RANGE HOTELS: Eurostar Oasis Hotel (4 star), Linda Boutique Hotel (in old town), Ona Alanda Club (at the famous Nikki Beach)

If you’re on a tight budget, you might find good smaller hotels in the Old Town, where affordable hostels and guesthouses are nestled among charming streets.

BEST BUDGET HOTELS: Hotel Avenida 31, Hotel Central Boutique and Puerta de Aduares – these are all 2 star hotels.

What to Pack for Marbella

In the summer, that’s pretty easy, summer clothes, plenty of bathing suits and high-protection sun lotion.

In the winter and spring months, Marbella’s weather can be a little unpredictable, but it’s still much warmer compared to the rest of Europe. You should pack a mix of lighter and warmer layers, so you can dress up warmer, especially for early mornings and late evenings. Waterproof shoes are also a good idea.

Autumn is actually relatively mild and pleasant, so you will be fine with your summer clothes and a lighter jacket or sweater for the evening.

BONUS TIP: Check out my month-by-month guides for weather conditions here.

Frequent Questions: Best Things To Do in Marbella

Flower pots on the wall on a street in Marbella old town, southern spain
Pretty corners of Marbella old town.

Where is Marbella Located?

Marbella is located in the southern part of Spain, within the province of Málaga.

Nestled along the Costa del Sol, Marbella is a part of the Andalusia region, known for its stunning Mediterranean coastline.

What is the Nearest Airport for Marbella?

The nearest airport for Marbella is Malaga International Airport, or known under its official name as Malaga Costa del Sol Airport (AGP). The distance from the airport is about 50 km and the drive to Marbella will take approximately 40 mins.

How Do I Get to Marbella?

Getting to Marbella is pretty easy – you need to fly to Malaga-Costa del Sol Airport, the nearest major airport, and from there, you can reach Marbella by car, bus, or taxi.

You can find detailed transport directions from the airport in my transport guides – one for a bus journey and also some tips for taking a taxi. There are no direct train connections.

What is Marbella Best Known for?

Luxury shops in Puerto Banus, Marbella
Luxury shops in Puerto Banus, Marbella

Marbella is famous for its upscale resorts, golf courses, and marinas, such as the prestigious Puerto Banús, known for its designer shops, yachts, and vibrant nightlife.

The city’s charming Old Town, with its narrow streets and historical buildings, adds a cultural touch. Marbella also offers beautiful beaches, a rich culinary scene, and a blend of modern and Andalusian architecture, making it a popular destination for tourists seeking both relaxation and elegance.

Where Do the Celebs Hang out in Marbella?

The hotspot areas where celebrities often hang out include the luxurious Puerto Banús, known for its high-end boutiques, superyachts, and upscale restaurants.

Exclusive beach clubs like Nikki Beach and Ocean Club are also popular for their lavish parties and elegant ambiance.

Additionally, the Marbella Club and Puente Romano are prestigious resorts offering exquisite dining and leisure experiences, frequented by the rich and famous.

Where Do the Rich and Famous Go in Marbella?

Marbella’s allure lies in its exclusive clubs, high-end boutiques, and sumptuous villas.

Puerto Banús, the marina area, is particularly famous for its opulent yachts, designer shops, and upscale restaurants.

Celebrities often frequent its trendy beach clubs like Ocean Club and Nikki Beach, which are known for their lavish parties.

Why is Marbella so Expensive?

Marbella is known for its luxurious lifestyle and high living costs, which are attributed to several factors.

Firstly, Marbella boasts a desirable climate, picturesque beaches, and beautiful natural surroundings, making it a sought-after destination. The city’s real estate market reflects this demand, with high-end properties and developments.

Additionally, Marbella’s reputation as a playground for the wealthy attracts upscale restaurants, designer shopping, and premium leisure activities. This combination of a prime location, luxury amenities, and a prestigious image contributes to Marbella’s expensive nature.

Is Marbella Worth Visiting?

Pretty houses in Marbella old town
Pretty houses in Marbella old town

Marbella is worth a visit, even if you could only make it for a day trip.

Renowned for its beautiful beaches, charming Old Town, vibrant dining scene, luxury boutiques, art galleries, and lively nightlife, which all add to its allure.

For nature lovers, the Sierra Blanca mountains offer scenic hikes. Marbella strikes a perfect balance between relaxation and adventure, making it an ideal destination for a variety of travelers.

How Do I Spend a Day in Marbella?

Spending a day in Marbella is more than enough to discover everything it has to offer.

You can check my dedicated one-day itinerary which will guide you step by step through all the highlights of Marbella.

How Many Days is Enough in Marbella?

Determining the perfect length for a stay depends on what you want to experience.

A weekend is sufficient to explore the city’s historic Old Town, indulge in local cuisine, and enjoy a day at the beach.

However, if you want to fully immerse yourself in Marbella’s culture, including its art, history, and leisure activities, a stay of 2 to 3 days is recommended.

Key Takeaways

In this article, you have found 35 places of interest grouped by different categories, that offer a good variety of experiences, from outdoor activities, places for art lovers, beautiful places worthy of an Instagram shot, and other locations that will allow you to experience the local culture. 

On top of that, after reading this article you will have all the information you need to plan your trip to Marbella and enjoy your time in the city.

Thank you for reading!

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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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