Over the last few decades Marbella has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a small fishing village and ever since the 1950s has become a place to visit for the rich and famous and Year after year it attracts millions of visitors and new residents each keen to experience the magic of Marbella.
Marbella is fresh yet classy, laid-back yet open-all-hours, and easily accessible yet a world away from the dreary grey of home. Marbella is an enigma. Marbella is Spain’s centrepiece destination and with easy flight connections has become one of Europe’s hottest tourist destinations. Marbella has so much to offer with its golden sandy beaches, stunning scenery, a buzzing social scene and of course its world famous Costa del Sol weather that boasts over 320 days of sunshine every year!
One of the most memorable ways to experience Marbella is to take an early morning or late evening stroll along its delightful Paseo Marítimo – a front line beach walk that takes in the entire length of the main town area, where palm trees guard beautiful terracotta villas, lavish hotels elegantly creep towards the beach and only impose in the most discreet manner, people of all ages stroll, run, skate, cycle and chatter their way along as charming cafes, traditional tapas bars and chilled-out chiringuitos serve all manner of delights for the hungry and the thirsty.
The slower pace of life can be strange until you adopt the ‘mañana’ attitude and the majority of independent shops close for a siesta between 2pm and 5pm and are closed on Saturday afternoons after 2pm and on Sundays. However, during the summer months many of the shops are open on Sundays including the shopping centre La Cañada and the El Corte Ingles department store
Marbella also has a renowned reputation for its amazing nightlife and no one parties quite like the Spanish with its abundance of late night bars and stunning restaurants for al fresco dining. Marbella has visitors all year round but its main holiday events are Semana Santa (Easter week) which sees local men (penetants) carrying large floats through the town centre depicting the passion of Christ, – fiesta de San Bernebe a weeklong celebration of the town’s patron saint St. Barnaby and of course the 3 Kings night when children line street to see the kings go by and to catch sweets before going home to open their presents.
Marbella has always had one of the most desired post codes in Spain. The Marbella area spans from Puerto Cabopino in the east to Guadalmina to the west and through good times and bad times there has always been a high demand for its stunning golf course developments and beach side properties with thousands of Europeans purchasing their dream holiday homes in the sun.
With the expansion of Malaga international airport and thousands of cheap flights Marbella is the perfect lifestyle location and ideal for rental investments, holiday homes and for expats looking to start a new life in a truly international community. Many of our clients have been holidaying here in Marbella throughout their working lifetime and decide to retire in the sun where the relaxed pace of life and safe environment is worlds away the hustle and bustle of what we are used too.
Eating and drinking
Marbella is synonymous with sun, sea, sand and of course a glamorous nightlife. There is something for every taste and pocket, literally every type of cuisine is catered for, ranging from local chiringitos serving delicious fresh fish, traditional bodegas offering irresistible tapas, cafes and restaurants, through to Michelin star restaurants.
Nightlife can be anything you desire; a few drinks in a local bar, fashionable beach clubs such as suite on the beach or hedonistic nightclubs such as Olivia Valare, where if you have to ask the price of a drink – you can’t afford it! Throughout the summer months the Starlite festival comes to town where you can sip Mojitos in a converted quarry now a trendy music auditorium in the hills behind Marbella and listen to popular artists performing opera to Rock and Roll!The local people don’t tend to eat until late in the summer but by ten o’clock the bars and restaurants are alive with laughter and delightful smells of beautiful foods filling the air.
If you are looking for shopping opportunities, Marbella has all the bases covered. If you like your shops under one roof, head to La Cañada shopping centre located above Marbella’s town centre, or El Corte Ingles department store in Puerto Banús where you can buy everything under the same roof.
Alternatively, one of the many attractions of Marbella’s old town are the traditional narrow winding streets lined with a surprising variety of independent shops, selling everything from fresh cakes and bread, leather goods, fashion, provisions and of course local souvenirs. If you are shopping for everyday groceries, you have a choice of supermarkets including the Spanish chains Mercadona and Supersol that sell everything from international and local products. If you have time you will also find delicious fruits and vegetables being sold in Marbella and san Pedro markets.
Let’s face it… Marbella beaches are the reason most people come to the Costa del Sol! And they are never disappointed by the Mediterranean sea and warm sun of Marbella. With 24 different beaches spread across 27 km of coastline, the city boasts numerous beaches that have received the prestigious Blue Flag Award over the years.
Beaches in San Pedro Alcantara – Family grade: 8.0
The beach itself is usually quiet all year round and has showers, public toilets (only open in summer), children’s playgrounds, kiosks, resturaunts, and excercise equipment all along the boardwalk. The beach is public and there is plenty of parking as well as lounge chairs available for rent. The beach is quite rocky in areas.
Beaches in Puerto Banus – Family grade: 9.0
This strip of beach one of the most popular on the coast. There are no rocks, the water is quite shallow and there are coves which prevent big waves so it is great for the little ones. Watch out for madusas in the warmer months. Go to Hollywood Beach for watersport equipment rental.
Beaches in West Marbella – Family grade: 7.0
Beaches in west Marbella include; Rio Verde, El Ancon, Nagueles, and Casablanca and run along the Marbella’s “Golden Mile”, which hosts some of Marbella’s most luxurious hotels. This golden sand beach is long and rock-free. There is a board walk separating the hotel lounges from the beach. There are nice reastaurants but no inexpensive chiringuitos in this area.
Beaches in Marbella Center – Family grade: 7.3
The beaches are quite wide, the sand is golden, and usually very clean. In general, this is a family friendly beach. The waves are not too strong, especially in El Faro which is partly isolated from the sea by a small bay area which makes it a good location for small children. These Marbella center beaches tend to be crowded with tourists due to their central location, and to the fact that there are many restaurants all along the ‘paseo maritimo’. Good parking in the central parking lot.
Beaches in East Marbella – Family grade: 9.5
Excellent sand quality, clear water, on no rocks. Very shallow waters and great for families. Many chiringitos along this stretch of the coast. Because these beaches are known to be some of the best in the area they do tend to get crowded in the summer, so if you plan to eat at the local chiringito, make reservations before you go.
Sports and outdoor activities
Sandwiched between the mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, Marbella benefits from a weather micro climate and its varied terrain makes it one of the best year round destinations for outdoor sports enthusiasts. Alongside the obvious water sports opportunities, such as kayaking, paddle surfing, windsurfing, swimming and sailing, intrepid explorers can traverse canyons, go climbing, abseiling, mountain hiking and some superb cycling tracks. There is also a number of well-appointed health and fitness clubs offering a wide range of classes, treatments and facilities. And for keen cyclists there are cycling clubs as well as 100s of kilometres of mountain bike trails.
Tennis is a popular pastime in Marbella and there are a number of tennis schools, including the Manolo Santana tennis club and the Puente Romano tennis club which also hosts celebrity tennis tournaments and doubles as a concert venue.
FACTS AND FIGURES
20 Golf courses in the municipality of Marbella
Golf is a major attraction on the Costa del Sol with over 60 courses in total with Marbella boasting 20 golf courses, most designed and endorsed by celebrity professionals. Needless to say, golf developments are extremely popular as they combine all of the amenities of Marbella with the added bonus of superb views and easy access to the green and the club house.
- Aloha Golf Club: 18-hole course in Nueva Andalucia
- Cabopino Golf Club18-hole course to the east of Marbella at Cabopino marina
- Green Life Golf: 9-hole course with great scenery in Elviria
- Guadalmina & Guadalmina north: 2 separate courses with a total of 36 holes
- La Dama de Noche: 9-hole floodlit course for day or night play
- La Quinta: 27 hole course in Nueva Andalucia
- Las Brisas Golf Club: 18-hole course in Nueva Andalucia
- La Zagaleta golf course: Exclusive 18-hole course in Benahavis
- Los Almendros Golf Club: 9-hole course in Benahavis
- Los Arqueros: Golf Club: 18-hole championship course in Nueva Andalucia
- Los Naranjos:An extremely popular 18-hole course in Nueva Andalucia
- Magna Marbella Golf: 18-hole course in Benahavis
- Marbella Club Golf Resort: Exclusive 18-hole course in Benahavis
- Monte Paraiso Golf:9-hole course at the heart of Marbella
- Rio Real Golf Club:Fairly demanding course located east of central Marbella
- Santa Clara Golf Club:18-hole course in Marbella
- Santa Maria Golf:18-hole course in Marbella
British education in Marbella is on the rise and more and more parents choose to move to the Costa del Sol, because of the international education options, weather, proximity to an international airport and the infrastructure the Costa del Sol has to offer. There are plenty of schools to choose from, including bilingual education, British curriculum, German curriculum, montessori method, Spanish education and more. There is not one best school, but rather a better school that suits your child’s needs. In order to figure this out, it is best to visit the schools you are interested in, decide on a curriculum, (i.e. English, Spanish, German…), take into account driving time and proximity to home, read parent reviews and, if appropriate, what kind of exams you prefer your child to take, such as the International Bacchelaureat (IB), Bachillerato or A Levels.
Choosing a school for your child is no easy task, so take a look at the list of Costa del Sol international schools below and click on one that interests you to find detailed information and reviews from other parents.
Private international schools in Marbella
Aloha College – Nueva Andalucía
Calpe – San Pedro de Alcantara
Laude – San Pedro de Alcantara
Swan international school – Marbella
The English international college – Marbella
Marbella is linked to the rest of coast by two major roads; the Costa del Sol toll road (AP-7) or the Autovia del Mediterraneo (CN-340A)
- 45 minutes’ drive from Malaga airport
- 60 minutes’ drive from Gibraltar airport
- 2.5 hours from Malaga to Madrid on the AVE train
Evidence of the first settlers dating back to the Palaeolithic Era has been found in Las Chapas (East Marbella), the Roman village of Rio Verde and bathhouses at Guadalmina. However, it is the Moors who left the most obvious traces of their occupation like the remains of the Marbella castle walls surrounding part of the Old Town which were once part of a 10th century fortress.
The Old Town is arguably the prettiest area of Marbella, with white washed streets and plazas lined with historic buildings and colourful flowers. Notable buildings include, the afore mentioned Church of Incarnation dating back to 1505 and later modernised in 17012 to provide the current elaborate façade