Is Marbella Worth Visiting? Expert Guide By a Local [2024]

Is Marbella Worth Visiting? Expert Guide By a Local [2024]

Is Marbella worth visiting?

If you’re looking for a short answer, YES it is!

How do I know?

I have been living on Costa del Sol in Southern Spain since 2020, right next to Marbella.

As a local, I visit Marbella a few times each year so I’m very familiar with what it has to offer and how it compares to other destinations in Southern Spain.

If you’re looking for travel advice from a local expert, you’re in safe hands.

This complete Marbella travel guide will give you all the answers you need before booking your trip.

Let’s dive in!

the streets of old town Marbella in Southern Spain
PS: You may find some affiliate articles in this post. That’s a good thing! They help me make a small commission that supports my site. So thank you if you’re using them! (disclosure)

Is Marbella Worth Visiting? What You Need to Know

Yes, Marbella is certainly worth visiting.

With English widely spoken in the city, and being only an hour’s drive from Malaga Airport, Marbella is a great destination option in Southern Spain, with flights from many UK airports.

Having earned a bit of a reputation as the playground of the rich and famous, and a problematic past, Marbella is a multi-faced destination that attracts all sorts of travelers.

Marbella is very different from most of the destinations on Costa del Sol – you will notice the difference immediately.

It’s much more classy and feels more luxurious compared to the run-down resort towns of Costa del Sol and it tends to attract a younger crowd. If you have money and you want to show off, Marbella is the place to be.

That’s not all though, don’t let that be the only picture you have of Marbella.

If you fancy something a bit more cozy and authentic, you can visit the old town and get lost in narrow cobbled streets filled with tapas bars, boutique shops, dine under the fragrant smell of orange trees at Plaza de los Naranjos, and admire cute traditional houses. Other parts of the city are still very much a working town and less flashy.

Marbella has many faces and it’s certainly a great destination, whether you’re visiting as a solo traveler, as a family or as a couple.

Below I share the main reasons for choosing Marbella for your trip and also a detailed guide for the best times to visit.


7 Reasons Why Marbella is Worth Visiting

Pretty flowers in the cobblestone streets of Marbella old town
Pretty flowers in the cobblestone streets of Marbella old town

Of course, there are more than seven, but let’s stick to the main ones!

1. Guaranteed Sunshine All Year

With over 320 days of sunshine per year, Marbella is one of the warmest and sunniest places in Europe.

Indeed, even in the middle of the winter, you can expect plenty of sunny days with the occasional shower in between.

I have included weather condition details for winter and autumn further down the article.

2. Best Beaches

As a coastal destination, Marbella offers a variety of different beach options, whether you like an urban beach or something a bit more remote and private.

Here is a complete list of Marbella’s beaches with a description for each.

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.

3. Authentic Pueblo Blanco Feel

orange trees and church in Marbella old town, Southern Spain
Blooming orange trees on a small square in Marbella’s old town

In Marbella, you’re getting the best of both worlds – a modern cosmopolitan city, but also an authentic old town that still very much retained the charm of ‘pueblo blanco’ – the white-washed towns Andalucia is famous for.

Yes, the narrow streets get busy in the main season, and you might have to wait around to find a table at a restaurant in the old town.

But, if you visit early in the mornings, or outside of the main season, you can soak in the atmosphere and admire all the beautiful corners of Casco Antigo.

BONUS TIP: One of the more authentic and unique restaurants in Marbella old town is The Farm. A little hidden gem with locally sourced food, in beautiful setting,s and even live Flamenco performances at the weekend.

4. Perfect Location for Day Trips

Marbella is a great location for exploring the rest of Southern Spain, whether you’re planning a day trip to the famous hilltown village of Ronda, Setenil de las Bodegas, or exploring other more exotic destinations like Gibraltar or even Morrocco (you can do a day trip to Morroco from Marbella even with a local tour company).

The famous Alhambra in Granada is also a day drive away,

Marbella is connected with the rest of the destinations on Costa del Sol with A-7 and AP-7 (toll road) highways, so it’s pretty fast and easy to reach bigger cities or smaller authentic villages.

If you don’t fancy driving around, Marbella has a big bus station located North of the town with a great connection further down South but also inland of Southern Spain.

BONUS TIP: Gibraltar is one of the most popular day trip destinations, but it’s a little annoying to get there by car (you have to park at La Linea de la Conception or wait in long lines to pass the border control). It’s easier to book a bus tour with a local company that includes tickets to the Nature Reserve (with the monkeys!!).

5. Excellent Culinary Experiences

people having drinks at Taverna Casa Blanca in Marbella, Southern Spain
Me and my son waiting for our tapas feast at Taverna Casa Blanca (it’s right next to Alameda Park).

If you want to sample the best of Andalusian food, Marbella is a great location to introduce your taste buds to a world of tapas.

BONUS TIP: Gibraltar is one of the most popular day trip destinations, but it’s a little annyoing to get there with the car (you have to park at La Linea de la Conception or wait in long lines to pass the border control). It’s easier to book a bus tour with a local company that includes tickets to the Nature Reserve (with the monkeys!!).

Whether you’re booking a tapas or wine tasting tour, or visiting some of the Michelin-star restaurants, you’re in for a treat when it comes to culinary experiences.

The food scene in Marbella is a little more polished, with a higher concentration of posh restaurants and fine dining opportunities compared to the rest of Costa del Sol.

Don’t worry though, there are still plenty of low key good-value places to try (scattered among tourist traps).

BONUS TIP: Combine the best of both worlds by booking a local expert tour that will guide you through the hidden gems of the old town and finishes off with a tapas tasting at a local restaurant! You can book the tour with free cancellation and pay later option here.

6. Excellent Location & Connections

The distance between Malaga Airport and Marbella is only 50km, so you can get to the city from the airport in under one hour, via a fast highway.

From Marbella, you have easy access to a variety of luxury hotels, golf resorts, and outdoor activities like hiking or water sports, but also fast and easy connections to the bigger cities in Andalusia.

Even though Marbella doesn’t have a train station, there are really good bus connections to Malaga, directly to Malaga Airport, but also more out-of-reach destinations like Ronda, Gibraltar or Seville.

From Marbella, you can get to Seville, the capital of Andalusia, in 2 hrs 45 mins by car, visit the Garden of Costa del Sol – Estepona in just 30 minutes drive, or visit other Costa del Sol resort towns without getting into a car. Fuengirola, Benalmadena and Torremolinos are all available within an easy bus journey.

7. Playground of the Rich and Famous

shopping street in Puerto Banus
Your average shopping street in Puerto Banus

As I mentioned earlier, Marbella has a bit of a reputation for being the playground of the rich and famous. As soon as you step into Puerto Banus, you can see why.

Puerto Banus is one of the most famous districts of Marbella, that’s located outside of the city borders, connected to the center with Golden Mile (a stretch of the coastal promenade with the most expensive property on Costa del Sol).

In Puerto Banus, wealthy yacht owners hop off to do their luxury shopping, and luxury cars are an everyday sight. It’s great for people watching, and parties (if you can afford it!).

Marbella has some of the most expensive and exclusive resorts on Costa del Sol, along with premium prices for properties.


Best Time to Visit Marbella

  • For guaranteed sunshine – summer and autumn
  • For party animals – summer
  • For budget travelers – spring and winter
  • For milder weather conditions – winter
  • For outdoor activities – winter

Is Marbella Worth Visiting in the Winter?

The coastal promenade of Marbella (Paseo Maritimo) in December
The coastal promenade with palm trees in Marbella (Paseo Maritimo) in December – yes winter on Costa del Sol is pretty sunny!

Yes, Marbella is worth visiting in the winter months because it offers amazing weather conditions, with plenty of sunshine and a minimum of rainy days.

While the availability of hotels and accommodation options is not as great as in the summer, you’re likely to get a deal on most of the places that would be out of your budget otherwise.

January and February tend to be the most rainy months of the year, with weather conditions changing quickly. December on the other hand has unique opportunities to explore local events like Spanish Christmas and nativity scenes.

Here are the average weather conditions in Marbella in winter:

Weather Aspect December January February
Average High Temp. (°F / °C) 63.0°F / 17.2°C 63°F / 17.2°C 64°F / 17.8°C
Average Low Temp. (°F / °C) 46°F / 7.8°C 46°F / 7.8°C 47°F / 8.3°C
Mean Temp. (°F / °C) 54°F / 12.2°C 54°F / 12.2°C 55°F / 12.8°C
Average Sea Temp. (°F / °C) 63.0°F / 17.2°C 60.9°F / 16.1°C 61.5°F / 16.4°C
Average Rainfall (inches) 2.8″ 1.62″ 1.22″

Is Marbella Worth Visiting in the Summer?

old town Marbella in the summer months
Visit the old town in the morning in the summer months and you will have it all to yourself!

Yes, Marbella is worth visiting in the summer months, but only if you don’t mind crowds and high temperatures. Summer is the prime season in Marbella, with prices at their peak and it gets pretty busy and crowded.

If you want a guaranteed sunshine destination with luxury services, then Marbella in summer is a great choice!

Here are the average weather conditions in Marbella in summer:

Weather Aspect June July August
Average High Temp. (°F / °C) 79.3°F / 26.3°C 84.2°F / 29°C 84.7°F / 29.3°C
Average Low Temp. (°F / °C) 62.1°F / 16.7°C 69.3°F / 20.7°C 71°F / 21.8°C
Average Sea Temp. (°C) 20°C 22°C 23°C
Average Rainfall (mm) 3mm 1mm 5mm
Average Rainfall Days 2.3 days 1.8 days 3.3 days

Is Marbella Worth Visiting in Spring?

a woman walking on a street in Marbella in spring, Southern Spain
Spring walks in Marbella, winter clothing optional.

Yes, Marbella is worth visiting in spring, but you need to take into account the quickly changing weather conditions and be prepared with some rainy day activities.

Spring usually offers the lowest prices all around, and even though not all hotels and restaurants will be open, there is still plenty to choose from.

The rainfall in spring is normally scattered throughout the months, and extended periods of uninterrupted rainy days are not very common.

Here are the average weather conditions in Marbella in spring:

Weather Aspect March April May
Average High Temp. (°F / °C) 58.6°F / 14.8°C 64.9°F / 18.3°C 78.1°F / 25.6°C
Average Low Temp. (°F / °C) 48°F / 8.9°C 52.7°F / 11.5°C 63.9°F / 17.7°C
Average Sea Temp. (°C) 15°C 16°C 20°C
Average Rainfall (mm) 47mm 36mm 13mm
Average Rainfall Days 11.8 days 10.3 days 5.2 days

Is Marbella Worth Visiting in Autumn?

autumn sunset in Marbella, Costa del Sol
Autumn sunsets at the beach

Yes, Marbella is worth visiting in the autumn (fall) and may be the best time to book your trip.

Autumn on Costa del Sol offers wonderful weather conditions with pleasant sea temperatures and very little rain compared to the rest of Europe.

September, October and even November offer perfect weather conditions and fewer crowds compared to the summer months.

Here are the average weather conditions in Marbella in autumn:

Weather Aspect September October November
Average High Temp. (°F / °C) 84.1°F / 29°C 78°F / 25.8°C 71.5°F / 21.9°C
Average Low Temp. (°F / °C) 70.2°F / 21.2°C 66.4°F / 19.1°C 59.9°F / 15.5°C
Average Sea Temp. (°C) 23°C 22°C 18°C
Average Rainfall (mm) 16mm 57mm 41mm
Average Rainfall Days 6.1 days 8.6 days 7.1 days

Best Things to Do Marbella in 2024

The gorgeous fountain at Alameda Park, Marbella
The gorgeous fountain at Alameda Park, near old town Marbella

Marbella is a little weird when it comes to tourist attractions or historical sites, as it doesn’t have any to speak of, at least in the traditional sense.

If you’re into monuments and museums, you may have to take a day trip to Malaga where you have more options to choose from.

Here is a shorter version of my original list of things to do in Marbella, Spain:

  • get lost in the cobblestone streets of the charming old town
  • book a walking tour of Marbella Old Town
  • visit the flashy district of Puerto Banus
  • treat yourself to some retail therapy at the local mall
  • visit the beautiful church Iglesia de la Encarnación
  • book a canyoning tour of Guadalmina
  • check the Salvador Dali artwork at Avenida del Mar
  • wander through the lush jungle at Alameda Park
  • enjoy the Mediterranean Sea with some water sports
  • spend a day at the exclusive clubs by the sea
  • watch a sunset at the beach
  • prepare a beach picnic (one of my favourite ways to enjoy the beach)
  • book a sailing and dolphin watching cruise
  • visit the Marina in Marbella
  • get familiar with the local cuisine and try the best restaurants in Marbella
  • take a walk on the coastal promenade
  • book a sunset cruise with drinks from Puerto Banus
  • check out local events like Feria de San Bernabé (9 – 15 June 2024)

Transport: Getting To Marbella

Lamborghini parked in the marina in Puerto Banus, Marbella, Spain
The preferred method of transport in Marbella – a Lamborghini!

Which Airport for Marbella?

The closest airport to Marbella is Malaga International Airport (see map for location).

The official name is Malaga Costa del Sol Airport and the airport code is AGP.

From the UK, you can get a direct flight to Malaga from London, Southampton, Glasgow, Manchester, Norwich, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Bristol and others. For a full list and airlines check this article.

The journey from Malaga airport to Marbella takes just under an hour, around 45 minutes depending on the traffic. If you need to get to Puerto Banus, the journey is a little longer, but you can take a relatively cheap taxi or rent a car directly from the airport.

How Far is Marbella from Malaga Airport?

The distance between Malaga airport and Marbella is approximately 50 kilometers.

How to Get from Malaga Airport to Marbella?

You have a few transport options: a taxi, a car, or a bus (you can’t get here by train yet, but they are proposing the construction of a new train line!)

A train connection is only available up to Fuengirola, and from there you would have to take a connecting bus which takes considerably longer.

1. Malaga Airport to Marbella by Car

Drive via the AP-7 or A-7 highway towards Marbella, the journey should take between 45 – 50 minutes depending on the traffic.

BONUS TIP: If you’re not sure what car rental company to use to get the best price, you can check Discover Cars. They are an award-winning car rental comparison platform that sources prices from local companies, giving you the best options to find the right car rental for your trip.

The highways on Costa del Sol are in very good condition but can get pretty busy around peak times – 9 am when Spaniards go to work, and around 2 pm when they return home for siesta.

The view from the highway is pretty amazing – you have sea views all the way from Malaga to Marbella.

The AP-7 is a toll road, it costs under 10 euros to use it, and it is normally less busy and a little faster than the A-7.

The A-7 is used by the local bus connections too, so you might see a bus pulling out to a bus stop directly on the highway. I have used this bus myself and I’m always amazed that they do stop directly on the highway. Keep your distance from them when you see them on the road.

2. Malaga Airport to Marbella by Taxi

If you need to get to Marbella from Malaga airport by taxi, it will cost around 60 euros for a way trip, depending on the season.

There is a taxi rank directly at the arrivals, you just turn right as you exit and walk to the end.

In the summer months when more flights are arriving, you may have to wait a long time to get a taxi. It’s much better to book your airport transport in advance.

BONUS TIP: Book your airport transport in advance – Get Transfer is a company I use regularly. They are a price comparison platform, so they source price quotes from local companies giving you the cheapest options available for your trip. You can also book extras like child seats, so you don’t have to drag one with you, and I even use them for business trips.

3. Malaga Airport to Marbella by Bus

There is a regular bus connection directly to Marbella, with the journey taking approximately 40 minutes. The bus stop is marked with signs as you enter the arrivals hall.

There are up to 20 buses each day in the main season, the earliest one leaving around 9 pm and the last one after 10 pm.

There are several bus lines you can use to get to Marbella: Avanza L-607 towards Marbella, Avanza L-614 towards Estepona, Avanza L-613 towards Estepona, and Avanza L-606 towards La Linea.

Bus tickets cost around 7 euros one way and can be bought directly from the bus driver. Your luggage is stored in the bus luggage compartment free of charge unless you travel with excess luggage. They do not require you to have a child seat for the bus.


Marbella: Frequent Questions

The luxury marina in Puerto Banus, Marbella
The luxury marina in Puerto Banus, Marbella

Where is Marbella?

Marbella is located in the south of Spain, in the autonomous region of Andalusia. It belongs to the regional district of Malaga, and the closest airport to Marbella is the one in Malaga.

The exact location of Marbella is on the map below.

What Region is Marbella in?

Marbella belongs to the autonomous region of Andalusia.

Is Marbella Worth Visiting with Kids?

a child enjoying the water features in Avenida del Mar, Marbella
Water and cars, what more could you wish for?

Yes, Marbella is worth visiting with kids, although it has relatively limited options for child-friendly activities. You will be fine if you find a hotel that caters better to kids, like one with a water park.

If your kids love spending time by the sea and don’t need any amusement parks, they will be more than happy in Marbella.

My son loves visiting Puerto Banus and spotting luxury cars – it’s fun even for adults!

Is Marbella Worth Visiting for Solo Travelers?

Yes, Marbella is worth visiting for solo travelers, whether you’re considering coming for a day trip or staying longer.

How Many Days Do I Need to Explore Marbella?

I think you can comfortably see most of what Marbella has to offer in one full day.

Anything beyond that is good for a beach holiday too, and to explore areas around Marbella.

What is Marbella Like?

a woman walking next to a walk decorated with flower pots in Marbella, Southern Spain
One of the most photographed streets in Marbella.

Marbella has a few distinct parts, each of which feels like a different city.

There is the old town where you get to experience traditional village life, although now much more glamorous with cool boutiques, trendy bars, local restaurants, and pretty decorated streets at every corner.

Downtown Marbella is very much a tourist destination, with beach clubs and beach bars, restaurants by the promenade, and lots of tourist services (including boat trips from the marina). In

Further down the Golden Mile (an affluent part of the coastline with multi-million dollar villas), you will find Puerto Banus. Home to the wealthy, and a place to spot huge yachts and luxury cars.

Marbella gets very busy and super crowded in the summer months, you can see it most in the coastal parts and in the old town.

If you want to enjoy the city in peace, try to visit in the shoulder seasons (April, May, and September to November).

Is Marbella Expensive?

Yes, Marbella is much more expensive compared to the rest of the coast in Southern Spain. There are a lot of luxury exclusive resorts, boutique hotels, and also expensive restaurants. Real estate is some of the most expensive in Costa del Sol.

If you’re staying away from Puerto Banus and the Golden Mile, you most likely won’t notice too much of a difference compared to other cities. But if you’re on a tight budget, Marbella might not be the option for you and you should consider towns like Torremolinos or Benalmadena which offer more budget options to choose from.

Here is a comparison of how the average costs in Marbella compare with bigger Spanish cities:

City Accommodation Food and Drink
Marbella £60 – £350 per night £30 – £100 per day
Seville £45 – £220 per night £20 – £75 per day
Valencia £40 – £200 per night £15 – £70 per day

Is Marbella Safe?

Ok, this is a little tricky one to answer honestly.

You will find conflicting advice on this topic and you may have seen plenty of news articles about the things happening in Marbella. No, it’s not about a tourist encountering whales or sharks, but about Marbella’s position as the ‘united nations of crime‘.

Here is the deal: there is plenty of well-documented evidence that Marbella has become the center of organized crime on Costa del Sol. I won’t go into the details in this article (will leave that for a dedicated post), but the bottom line is: unless you live in Marbella as a long-term resident, you’re very unlikely to come face to face with any trouble.

Yes, drugs are an issue and you should beware of pickpockets, but other than that, if you’re staying in a coastal resort for a short holiday, you won’t have a first-hand experience with the dark side of the city.

How do I know this? I have friends who lived in Marbella for several years and I’ve heard all the scary stories. I have also visited Marbella on many occasions and never saw any trouble first-hand.

Don’t let the bad reputation put you off from booking your dream holiday.

Is One Day Enough to Explore Marbella?

One day in Marbella is plenty of time to explore what it has to offer. If you’re considering visiting the city for a day, instead of making it your permanent base, I think that’s a great idea!

Where to Eat in Marbella?

Patatas bravas (fried potatoes) in Taverna Casa Blanca, Marbella
Patatas bravas (fried potatoes) in Taverna Casa Blanca

Marbella has a variety of restaurants to choose from – tourist traps, fine dining establishments, basic eateries, and everything in between.

Over the years of staying in Marbella and eating my way around the town, I have a few firm favourites that I keep returning to. These are Taverna Casa Blanca (very popular with locals too for tapas), Manuka Health Foods (beautiful location by the sea and excellent healthy options), and the Farm Restaurant in the old town.

Keep an eye on the restaurant category as I keep adding new ones that pass my taste bud test =)

How Hot is Marbella?

How hot is Marbella in January? Between 17°C – 8°C
How hot is Marbella in February? Between 18°C – 8°C
How hot is Marbella in March? Between 15°C – 19°C
How hot is Marbella in April? Varies but around the low twenties
How hot is Marbella in May? Between 15°C – 25°C
How hot is Marbella in June? Averaging between 18°C – 28°C
How hot is Marbella in July? Between 20°C – 33°C
How hot is Marbella in August? Between 25°C – 35°C
How hot is Marbella in September? Between 25°C – 30°C
How hot is Marbella in October? Between 20°C – 25°C
How hot is Marbella in November? Between 18°C – 25°C
How hot is Marbella in December? Between 15°C – 20°C

Common Misspellings For Marbella

  • Marbellaa
  • Marbells
  • Marbrlla
  • Matbella
  • Marbwlla

Key Takeaways

Marbella is a sunny destination on Costa del Sol that’s certainly worth visiting. Be it for a day, or an extended holiday, it’s a wonderful location that caters well especially for the upmarket and luxury travelers.

Even though it doesn’t have any dedicated historic sights or attractions, it’s a wonderful location for exploring the rest of Southern Spain.

If you have any other questions before booking your trip, feel free to drop a comment below and I will be happy to help.

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Southern Spain Travel Tips

Find Best Hotels

Find Hotels

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

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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.

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

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Hi, I'm Lucia

At Viva La Vita, I will help you to discover Southern Spain like a local!

I've been living on Costa del Sol since 2020, and fill these pages with first-hand insights, personal experience and practical tips that will help you plan a wonderful trip to Spain.

Make yourself at home and find the best places to explore in Andalusia and beyond.

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