Sitting at the foot of La Conche Mountain, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea the Andalucian town of Marbella attracts millions of tourists each year.
With a large international community Marbella is the first choice destination for many holidaymakers across Europe. With its Mediterranean climate, traditional food and Spanish culture the region is also popular with Spanish tourists from around the country.
The main pulling power of Marbella has to be its beaches. Miles and miles of sandy beaches line the Costa del Sol. On most of the beaches you will find traditional Spanish beach bars “chiringuitos” serving drinks and food – look out for the barbeque-boats; freshly caught sardines cooked over an open flame in a little sand filled boat.
However, Marbella has more to offer than the beaches. The “old town” is a very small, traditional part of Marbella. Small white homes line narrow streets. The aroma of incense and fresh coffee hangs in the air. Tourists take photographs of the old Spanish architecture. Take a day to wonder around the old town, have a coffee in Orange Square – relax.
All of the towns around Marbella have their own street market once a week. Marbella holds theirs on a Monday morning and this is a great place to pick up a bargain. Clothes, food, plants and more are always on display.
A short stroll from the old town and you’re in modern Marbella – high rise apartment blocks, row upon row of shops, bars, restaurants – everything the tourist needs. Shopping is always on the list for many tourists and Marbella has a great many shops. La Cañada is a huge shopping mall just behind Marbella town with over 150 shops on multiple levels. You are likely to find everything here from DIY to sporting goods. There is also a huge food quarter providing international cuisine from pizza to paella.
For the sailors amongst you there is Puerto de la Bajadilla – Marbella’s marina. Here you will find shops, restaurants and water-sports. You can hire jet-skis, learn to scuba-dive or take a leisurely snorkel with the fishes. The sea around Marbella gets quite warm around July and August and, with good visibility is very popular with water-sports enthusiasts.
Just down the road from Marbella is the, slightly more famous, Puerto Banus – another marina but with delusions of grandeur. Banus is popular with the elite, the jet-set of Marbella. Gucci, Armani and Boss shops line the marina with numerous bars and nightclubs to keep the port alive 24hrs a day. A very popular nightspot with the tourists – not so much with the locals – there is always somewhere open in the port. Bring your wallet though – nothing is cheap in Banus. Expect to pay 10€ for a vodka and coke (or similar) and around 5-8€ for a bottle of beer.
Getting to Marbella is easy with Malaga airport and Gibraltar both around 40 mins away. Once in Marbella there is a good bus service with regular pickups and numerous stops throughout the town. Marbella’s taxis are also well priced and reliable. All taxis in Spain must be registered and all have fixed prices (This is due to change with the introduction of meters to all taxis expected by the end of this year). If the vehicle doesn’t have a small plate on the front showing “SP” then it is not an official taxi – do not get in. There is no railway service in Marbella yet. In fact Marbella is the only town in Spain with a population over 100,000 that doesn’t have a train station. Plans are in place for a coastal line but this is many years away.
The economic crisis in Spain has made a difference to Marbella. It’s a good deal quieter than a few years back. Prices here are not as low as they used to be but are still considerably cheaper than the UK. Smokers will enjoy cigarettes at around 4€ per pack. Drinkers will be amazed at the choice of wine available and the gourmet fans will enjoy the selection of reasonably priced fresh meat and fish available.
If you’re looking for a winter getaway Marbella is a pretty good choice. Winter temperatures average around 10-20c, considerably warmer than UK winters. It’s not unusual to spend your New Years Day recovering on the beach. Marbella has one of the best year-round climates in the world thanks, in part, to the mountains that sit behind it, protecting the town from the cold north winds.