Marbella is a fairly small – albeit popular –town in the Malaga province of Spain. If you’re just stopping by for a day or two, that’s plenty of time to see a good bit of city center and the coast. But a longer stay is warranted if you’re looking for a relaxing time on the beach. Whether you’re staying a few days or a few weeks, these are the things to do in Marbella when you’re not frolicking in the ocean.
The Marbella Promenade is a stunning 7.5 mile seaside walk that takes you past shops, bars, restaurants, and is dotted by breezy beaches of the sandy and rocky variety. Even if you’re not the beach type, who doesn’t love sitting down against a backdrop of palm trees and waves crashing against the shore with a nice cocktail? Of course, all these places are touristy and tapas will be a little pricey compared to the rest of the city, but the sunset views will probably be worth it.
Along the promenade you’ll find some local sights including the Faro de Marbella, the 1st Century Puente Romano, the Marbella Marina, and close to hundreds of bars and lounges where you can get your beach party on. The boardwalk is also an amazing stop if you happen to be in the market for fake luxury bags.
Marbella Old Town
If quaint little streets full of traditional tapas bars and picturesque alleys are more your scene, then head over to Old Town. This may as well be an entirely different city, with tiny cobbled streets replacing the broad marble walkway of the shore. The center of Old Town features an open square called the Plaza de los Naranjos, which is named as such for the orange trees that surround its perimeter. Just a few steps from the square, you’ll find the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Encarnacion, which is in a former mosque. Another historical landmark in Old Town is the Muralla de Marbella, the remains of a 10th century Moorish fortification. Just temper your expectations with that one. It’s not exactly a fort you can walk around in, it’s more like a series of walls that you can walk around.
Of course, some of the best food in the city can be found here, so it’s a good area to sit outside and people watch while you enjoy some Andalusian delicacies. In addition to endless rows of traditional tabernas and tapas bars, you’ll probably stumble upon at least a few of the city’s capillas, which are mini chapels where locals sometimes stop by to pray. All of these make the old town neighborhood charming and interesting to just wander around in.
Though Marbella isn’t exactly known for its art museums, you can see Salvador Dali sculptures out in the open air, which is pretty cool. The Spanish surrealist’s sculptures are featured prominently in the center of the Avenida del Mar, which connects the coast to Old Town. Local artists showcase their works along the boulevard as well, so maybe you can take home an artsy souvenir of your own.
Marbella’s beauty isn’t just reflected in its coastline and historic old town, but also many of the city’s parks. Some of the parks worth passing through to get a little peace and quiet away from the bustle of the boardwalk are Parque de la Alameda and Parque de la Constitucion. Parque de La Alameda features a historic fountain that lights up at night along with gorgeous tiled benches. Nearby you’ll find the quiet and shady Parque de la Constitucion, where you might stop by for some solace from the sun or for a refreshing drink at the café. If you happen to be nearby, Parque de la Represa is also a nice walk, featuring some ponds and views of the surrounding Sierra Blanca mountain range.
Of course, if you’re in Marbella, the majority of your time is best spent at the beach. The southern coast, or Costa del Sol, has some of the largest stretches of beach and warmest weather year round in all of Europe. And Marbella has seemingly endless miles of sand stretching in every direction. The individual local beaches are all easily accessible from various points in the Marbella Promenade, though it’s often impossible to tell where one beach ends and the other begins. Most of the beaches near city center including Playa del Faro, Playa de la Fontanilla, and Playa de Venus have lounge chairs and umbrellas available to rent as well as public toilets and chiringuitos (beach bars).
Regardless of where you choose to plant our beach towel, head over to the stone pier or the crescent beach just east of it to get the most spectacular view of the sunset at the end of the day.