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Marbella is in the Andalucia region of Spain in the Malaga province. It has a very attractive old town and long sandy beaches and is one of the most popular destinations on the Costa del Sol.
Spain This Way comment: Marbella is our favourite resort on the Costa del Sol because the narrow streets and pretty squares of the old town are such a pleasure to explore.
Marbella is a stylish resort which has been in favour with the rich and famous since 1960. In recent years it is enjoying another return to fashion and is sought out for the chic boutiques and stylish bars and restaurants that abound.
The old town of Marbella retains much of its original Moorish charm and some of the original surrounding walls. At the heart of the old town is the lovely main square, the Plaza de los Naranjos or 'Orange Square', which is home to the 16th century Town Hall. The orange-tree filled square is surrounded by beautiful white-painted buildings with terraccotta roofs.
Around the square is a warren of old streets where old fashioned bars sit next to trendy boutiques. This is also a great area for finding a restaurant with something to suit all budgets. Marbella has developed something of a gastronomic reputation and caters for vegan and vegetarian visitors and its restaurants range from Michelin starred restaurants to the popular chiringuitos on the edge of the beach.
Marbella was once a Moorish enclave and you can see the remains of the Moorish castle that once defended Marbella from invadors.
The old town is set back slightly from the beaches and newer developments which have a cosmopolitan feel and a vibrant buzz throughout the year. The main beaches near to the centre of Marbella are the Venus Beach, La Fontanilla beach and Badajilla beach.
Along the coast Marbella is full of clubs and chic restaurants and expensive hotels. These continue along to the rather exclusive suburb of Puerto Banus. This is where the rich and famous will be staying and its attractive marina is very popular with the yachting crowd.
Puerto Banos was designed in 1970 by José Banos and was designed to look something like a traditional Spanish fishing village that has been discovered and developed. Whilst somewhat ostentatious is is beautiful well worth a visit. If you arrive in the summer it's the perfect place for a spot of people-watching and many tv and film stars holiday here.
Between Marbella and Puerto Banus is a 4km stretch known as the Golden Mile because of the luxury houses and villas to be found here, including the Palaace of King Fahd.
Whilst in Marbella be sure to visit Avenida del Mar, an outdoor sculpture park including sculptures from Salvador Dali. All along the avenue are plenty of bars and restaurants allowing you to sit and soak up the sun whilst enjoying the sculptures. This sea-side promenade is one of the best on the Costa del Sol.
Marbella is also great for various different sea activities and for golfers there are a dozen excellent golf courses.
Where to visit nearby?
Torremolinos is a resort with a reputation for a hectic nightlife in the summer. It has largely outgrown its slightly sleezy reputation and has developed into an attractive resort with lots of facilities and entertainments and, of course, long sandy beaches.
Estepona is a big resort which has a much more traditional Spanish flavour than many of the other resorts of its size.
Photos of Marbella
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Map of Marbella and places to visit
Marbella places to visit
See more places nearby in the Andalucia guide