Marbella is an enchanting town located in the popular Costa del Sol, in Southern Spain. There’s no doubt why many tourists keep coming back to Marbella – whether it’s for its beautiful old town, delicious tapas, luxury shopping or nightlife.
The main mistake that some travellers make is to only go party in Marbella and have a taste of Puerto Banus. However, there is much more than Nikki Beach in Marbella.
In this blog, I’m going to tell you the best activities you can do in Marbella from a local perspective.
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Best Things to Do In Marbella, Spain
Explore Marbella Old Town
Marbella Old Town is one of the most beautiful old towns in Costa del Sol – whitewashed buildings, cobblestone streets, orange trees, bougainvillaeas flowers hanging down from houses and blue plant pots with bright flowers.
It’s a picturesque place no matter which path you take. Many of these little streets are connected to Plaza de Los Naranjos, a lively square with restaurants and bars.
In the old town, you’ll also find many boutique and independent shops that are perfect to buy something unique or a souvenir.
As you walk through the old town, you’ll encounter many photography spots that you won’t resist taking pictures of. You can spend hours just wandering around and taking photos.
Visiting Marbella Old Town is one of the best things to do in Marbella.
The most beautiful streets in Marbella Old Town
If you’re looking for pretty streets to take photos of, you want to check these four:
- Calle Carmen
- Calle Nueva
- Calle Gloria
- Calle Caballeros
These streets are the most instagrammable spots in Marbella, and there’s no doubt why many tourists, travellers, and bloggers stop by.
Visit La Encarnación church
Not far from Plaza de los Naranjos, it’s Plaza de la Iglesia, a charming square with a fountain that has a cross, palm trees, a statue and La Encarnación church on the side.
If you appreciate the outside of this beautiful church, then you’ll love the inside with its religious statues and little coloured-painted windows near the roof.
The church opening times vary from summer to the rest of the year. You can check the exact times in this link.
Take a photo of Marbella castle walls
Marbella Castle is a historic landmark located in the Old Town. The castle was built in the 11th century and it shows the Moorish influences in the town.
Before visiting Marbella, I was expecting to see a castle, however, nowadays you’ll only find the restored remaining walls of what used to be Marbella Castle.
Although you can’t do much more than take photos of it, it’s still nice to see it.
Window shopping at Puerto Banús
Marbella’s most worldwide famous port, Puerto Banus, is a must-see during your time in Marbella. The port is well-known for its expensive yachts, cars, shops and restaurants. Although it isn’t a budget-friendly place, it’s a nice place to see the sunset and have a taste of this luxurious area in Marbella.
Relax at Alameda Park
If there’s at least one park you must visit in Marbella is Alameda Park. A three minute walk from Marbella Old Town, the park is an escape from the lively atmosphere to a relaxing place.
When you walk from Alameda Park, it gives you the feeling of walking in a small jungle. There are many species of plants and tall trees that keep you in the shade. It’s the sort of place you want to go to in the summer when it’s really hot.
The shade from the plants and trees makes the place cool. On top of this, other reasons to visit this lovely park are the impressive fountain in the centre of the park, which has become a popular photo spot, and its benches made with beautiful tiles.
Eat tapas at La Lonja
When visiting Marbella, eating tapas is a top activity to do in the town. There are endless options, however, if you want delicious and authentic tapas, La Lonja is your best choice.
The restaurant is located in Avenida Antonio Belón, a couple of minutes walk from Avenida del Mar. They offer traditional fresh fried fish and seafood as well as other smaller dishes such as gambas al pil-pil, croquetas, berenjenas con miel de caña, etc.
If you prefer a food tour, then you want to check this tapas and wine tour where you’ll be taken to two traditional tapas restaurants in the old town. You’ll enjoy the Andalusian flavours and learn more about Marbella too.
Spend a day on one of Marbella beaches
Marbella and its surroundings have lovely beaches to spend a half or full day.
If you’re looking for the most accessible from Marbella’s Old Town, you want to go to Playa Venus. It’s a small beach with plenty of activities to do in case you’d rather be doing something different than sunbathing. There are water sports activities, restaurants and shops nearby.
At the same time, it’s a great beach to watch the beautiful sunset.
For anyone that prefers a tranquil and less crowded beach in Marbella, El Alicate is your best option. This beach also offers golden sand and crystal blue waters, which makes it a very special beach.
Other beaches in Marbella you want to check
- Bounty Beach – best for a great atmosphere.
- Playa Real de Zaragoza – best for good chiringuitos.
- Nikki Beach – best for parties.
- Cabopino – best for immersing yourself in nature. Las Dunas de Artola natural park is next to the beach.
Related blog post: 19 Beautiful and Secret Beaches in Malaga and Costa del Sol
Do a water sport activity
Whether you love paddle boarding, kayaking or canoeing, you’ll find plenty of classes and tours across Marbella’s coast.
Paddleboarding has become more and more popular in Costa del Sol, and you can find very good tours and classes where you’ll learn stand-up paddleboarding. It’s a great watersport for all ages, and it gives you the chance to see Marbella from another perspective.
One of the most magical times to do paddling is at sunset.
📌 Check out this 2 hour kayak tour to explore the coast.
Do some shopping at La Cañada
La Cañada is the best shopping centre in Marbella and Costa del Sol. If you’re looking for something, it’s very likely you’ll find it at La Cañada. The shopping centre has over 250 stores and plenty of car parking spaces too.
Here you can find national as well as international brands – some of these brands are Zara, Quicksilver, Levi’s and Superdry. In addition to all the stores, if you’re after food, the shopping centre has a good variety of restaurants and fast food options too.
The best way to get to La Cañada is by car, take AP-7 and exit 186 towards A-355 / Ojen / Marbella (East). Alternatively, you can get a bus to La Cañada from the Marbella bus station.
Walk through Avenida del Mar
This avenue used to be part of the popular Alameda Park, but this changed in the 80s when they started building underground car parking. From the 90s onwards, the avenue changed to what it’s now.
It’s a great place to wander around and contemplate the different bronze sculptures by the artist Salvador Dalí.
From Avenida del Mar, you can go down to the beach and continue a relaxing walk along the promenade.
Marbella is a golf paradise as it offers golf courses for all ages and levels. Some of the best golf courses in Marbella include:
Go to Marbella street market
Do you love street markets? Marbella has a street market that takes place every Monday in Las Albarizas, Calle Platino, from 9 am to 2 pm.
The street market has over 350 stalls and sells anything from clothes to fruits and vegetables and flowers.
Stroll through Represa Park
Parque de la Represa is a beautiful urban park that used to divide the historic centre of the new district conjoined by the Malaga bridge. Inside this park, you can also find the stream of the Dam.
It’s lovely strolling through this park as you find many trees and plants from all over the world. In Represa Park you could find the Bonsai Museum, however, it’s permanently closed now.
Contemplate the Roman Villa ruins
Villa Roman de Rio Verde is a villa complex situated a few meters away from Rio Verde in Marbella, between Puerto Banus and Marbella.
This archaeological site is known for its stunning well-preserved mosaic floors – including the famous mosaic of Medusa.
If you’re into Roman times and history, you definitely can’t miss this place.
Take a photo of Santo Cristo de la Vera Cruz Church
If you stroll through Marbella Old Town, you’ll eventually find Santo Cristo de la Vera Cruz Church. The church is located in Barrio Alto which is still part of the old town.
The chapel of this church was built in the 15th century and expanded in the 18th century. Not only does the church look beautiful, but the square in which you find the church too.
Book a free tour in Marbella
Anyone who loves learning about a place from a local’s perspective or someone who has living in Marbella for a while can book a free walking tour in Marbella.
You can find several free tours online, and they’ll mostly show you around the Old Town and a few spots that only locals know.
Enjoy an ice cream or smoothie at Purolatte
Summers in Marbella are hot, and there’s not a better way to cool down than having a handmade ice cream or refreshing smoothie at Purolatte.
This ice cream shop has many delicious ice cream flavours – from cookies and tiramisu to mango, fresh smoothies, crepes, waffles and other sweet treats.
Go on a day trip
Marbella has enchanting places, however, if you’re staying for a longer period of time, you can make the most of your time in Southern Spain by visiting other incredible places and going on a road trip.
Here’s a shortlist of the best day trips from Marbella.
Best day trips from Marbella
Marbella to Malaga day trip
Marbella is within a short distance from Malaga and, therefore, a great day trip. If you travel by car, it takes you about 1 hour or 45 minutes if you take the toll. However, if you don’t have a car, you can also get to Malaga by coach, Avanza buses are comfortable, affordable and quick.
The city offers a wide variety of cultural and entertaining activities that you can easily do in a day.
A must-see attraction is La Alcazaba de Málaga, this fortress-palace takes you back to the Moorish times in Andalusia. Next to La Alcazaba you can visit the Roman Theatre, and at the top of the hill is Gibralfaro viewpoint and Castle.
Apart from these beautiful historical buildings, other activities that you must include on your list are eating tapas at El Pimpi, walking through Muelle Uno, visiting the cathedral and enjoying the sunset in a rooftop bar such as La Terraza de Valeria.
📌Related post: 17 Best Free Things to do in Malaga You Can’t Miss
Marbella to Ronda day trip
This charming town, located at the top of a mountain, is known for being the birthplace of bullfighting. You’ve probably seen pictures of this town before, especially of its epic New Bridge, Puente Nuevo.
Ronda offers many activities to do in a day – bird watching, visiting the Arabic Baths, strolling through the old and new town, exploring the Moorish Palace (La Casa del Rey Moro), and walking in El Tajo amongst other activities.
To get from Marbella to Ronda, you can drive about an hour via A-397, or take an Avanza bus from Marbella bus station which can take up to two hours.
Alternatively, Get Your Guide offers a great full-day tour to Ronda and Setenil de las Bodegas.
I went on this trip and it was totally worth it! We were given 1 hour to explore Setenil de las Bodegas and after that, we spent most of the time in Ronda where we enjoyed a guided tour of the old town.
After the guided tour and a glass of wine in a lovely restaurant that overlooks the bridge, we were given 3 hours to explore Ronda on our own.
It’s a good day trip if you don’t have much time on Costa del Sol and don’t want to miss the opportunity to see these incredible towns.
The main downside of the tour is that 1 hour isn’t enough to explore Setenil. Especially if you want to take photos, enjoy a meal or take it easy.
Marbella to Gibraltar day trip
A one hour drive from Marbella, Gibraltar is a unique destination to visit – its location, nature and fauna as well as multicultural influences. The country is about 6.8 km², but despite being small there are many things you can do in Gibraltar in a day.
Gibraltar’s most popular attraction is the Rock of Gibraltar, located in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve home to the cheeky macaques and St Michael´s Cave. It’s an incredible place to visit as you can also contemplate outstanding views of Gibraltar, Africa and Spain.
Other activities you can do in Gibraltar include exploring Catalan Bay – a colourful area with a beautiful sandy beach, shopping on Main Street, visiting the Moorish Castle and relaxing at Gibraltar Botanic Gardens.
Setenil de las Bodegas
If you love visiting whitewashed villages, Setenil de las Bodegas in Cadiz province must be on your list. This village is an hour and 25 minutes drive from Marbella, but you can also find tours from Costa del Sol to Setenil.
What makes this place unique and attracts many tourists is that houses are inside caves, carved into the cliffs.
Some of the best things you can do in Setenil include wandering its streets, visiting the Arab Castle, enjoying the views from different points across Setenil, visiting the churches, and of course, tasting the local food.
📌There are plenty of things to do in Costa del Sol. If you want to explore other towns near Marbella, have a look at this Costa del Sol itinerary.
How to get to Marbella
If you’re flying to Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport (AGP), the easiest way to travel to Marbella is to rent a car – this way you can have more freedom to visit other beautiful places in the Costa del Sol – or get Avanza bus to Marbella just outside the arrivals doors at the airport.
If you decide to travel by car from the airport to Marbella, be aware that there are two routes – one that goes all the way through the coast (the scenic route) or the toll route that takes you to Marbella in less time.
Where to stay in Marbella
Linda Boutique Hotel
Looking for a central hotel in Marbella? Linda Boutique Hotel is at the heart of Marbella’s Old Town.
Not only is the location excellent, but the hotel facilities and rooms will surprise you too!
All the rooms include a beautiful and modern design, comfortable king-size beds, free WiFi, a tea and coffee maker and an ensuite bathroom.
The hotel also offers a delicious complimentary breakfast at their Lobby Café. They serve a good range of savoury and sweet breakfasts – yoghurt, granola, croissant, eggs, etc.
One of the best things about this hotel is its rooftop terrace where you can enjoy a drink while watching the sunset on a summer evening.
The Pearl – Luxury B&B
If you’re looking for a quiet and relaxing stay in Marbella, you’ll love this boutique bed and breakfast.
The Pearl is beautifully decorated with unique pieces of contemporary work from around the world. It has cosy facilities such as a communal swimming pool with a terrace and Andalusian-style patios.
All of their rooms are well-equipped with comfortable queen or king-size beds, smart TV and WiFi and ensuite bathrooms with all the essentials.
However, if you want the ultimate experience at the Pearl, The Pearl Room is the one for you. It has a balcony that overlooks the swimming pool, an incredible bathtub where you can relax and enjoy a view of the gardens and a comfortable four-pole canopy king-size bed.
In conclusion, there are plenty of things to do in Marbella. In addition to this, Marbella in comparison to Malaga is a better beach holiday destination because of better beaches and more water activities to do.
It’s a great destination to spend and enjoy the summer, but because of its mild temperature all year round, you’ll have a good time in Marbella regardless of the time of the year.
If you have any questions or want any advice on visiting Marbella or any other Costa del Sol towns, reach me on my email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram. I’m always happy to help.
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Top things to check before visiting Marbella and Costa del Sol
- Discover all the amazing things you can do in Malaga for free in this guide.
- Have a look at this Malaga food guide to indulge yourself in eating the best typical food in the area.
- Are you looking for the best accommodation in Costa del Sol? Check this guide to discover hotels for all budgets.
- Book travel insurance for your trip, this is a must for any trip!
Frequently asked questions about Marbella
Is Marbella worth visiting?
Yes, Marbella is definitely a place you don’t want to miss in Costa del Sol. Not only is it a great place to spend your holidays, but also to live. The town has numerous things to do – such as exploring the beautiful old town, visiting Puerto Banus, and playing golf. – and the temperatures are mild most part of the year.
Is Marbella a party place?
Marbella has a big reputation for luxurious parties and nightlife. The most popular places for parties in Marbella are Puerto Banus and the Golden Mile. However, you can also find quieter areas in the town.
Is Marbella Spain expensive?
Although Marbella is more expensive than other Costa del Sol towns, if you plan your holiday well, you’ll be able to find affordable places to eat and stay. For example, you want to avoid eating out and staying in Puerto Banus and staying a little further than these main tourist areas.