10 must-see places in Marbella
The history of this former fishing village began in the late 50’s when it started to grow and became a summer residence for many famous and rich people from all over the world, thanks to its fantastic climate all year round (more than 300 days of sunshine) and its great leisure offer.
Although all the city’s attractions can be visited in a morning, we recommend spending a full day to enjoy its idyllic beaches and visit the luxurious Puerto Banús.
1. Avenida del Mar
One of the best things to do in Marbella is to arrive early in the morning and leave your car in the underground car park on the Avenida del Mar and start your visit from there.
This short avenue, which connects the Alameda Park with the Paseo Marítimo, is captivating because of the ten bronze sculptures designed by the brilliant artist Salvador Dalí, which turn it into a small open-air museum.
2. Beaches of Marbella
Once you reach the end of the Avenida del Mar you will come across the endless Paseo Marítimo and the Playa de la Venus, one of the busiest and one of the most beautiful places to see in Marbella.
Although Marbella has 23 beaches along its 27 kilometres of coastline, among the closest to the city centre are Nagüelles, located next to the Marbella Club, in the heart of the Golden Mile, and Bounty, perfect for relaxing while listening to chill out music in one of its beach bars or lying under the shade of a palm tree.
If you are going with children, we recommend La Bajadilla beach, with calm, shallow waters, which also has all the services and several places to have a drink or a bite to eat.
3. Alameda Park
After taking a refreshing dip and taking a photo of the famous lighthouse on the Paseo Marítimo, you can go to the Alameda Park, another of the must-visit places in Marbella.
This park, located at the entrance to the old town, is dominated by a large circular fountain surrounded by beautiful Andalusian tiled benches and a variety of trees that provide shade and tranquillity for locals and tourists alike.
4. Plaza de los Naranjos, one of the places to see in Marbella.
Walking up Calle Valdés from the Alameda you will come to the Plaza de los Naranjos, the nerve centre of the old town and one of the most beautiful places to see in Marbella.
Built after the Christian reconquest in 1485, this square is surrounded by white Andalusian-style houses and several historic buildings such as the Casa Consistorial, the Casa del Corregidor and the Ermita de Santiago, the oldest religious temple in the city.
The centre of the square is occupied by a beautiful Renaissance fountain and numerous orange trees that give colour and name to this beautiful square, as well as several terraces where you can have a drink while watching the daily hustle and bustle of tourists.
5. Marbella Old Town
Getting lost in the narrow streets of the old town, with its Moorish layout and Andalusian architecture, and discovering all its magical corners, is another of the best things to do in Marbella.
Along the route through streets such as Caballeros, Remedios, Estación, Alamo and Soledad, among many others, you will fall in love with its pristine white houses, the balconies full of flowers and the occasional bougainvillea, the local craft shops, the typical taverns where you can have a drink and a tapa and the places to try some of the region’s specialities such as El Patio de Mariscal and El Cortijo, two of the most highly recommended restaurants to eat in Marbella.
6. Ancha Street
Another of our favourite places to see in Marbella is the Calle Ancha, which ends in the beautiful Plaza de Santo Cristo, presided over by the Ermita del Santo Cristo de la Vera Cruz (Chapel of the Holy Christ of the True Cross).
This stately 19th century street, which linked the historic centre with the northern area, is characterised by its noble houses with large balconies and coats of arms sculpted on their façades and balconies full of flowers.
Once you reach the Plaza de Santo Cristo you will see a 15th century hermitage, a beautiful fountain in the centre and possibly the best flamenco tablao in the city, the house of Ana María los Chatos.
7. Walls of Marbella
From the Plaza del Santo Cristo you can walk down the Calle Ancha again and cross the narrow Calle Principe until you reach the area of Calle Arte y Salinas, where you will find the Walls of the old Alcazaba, another of the most interesting places to visit in Marbella.
Built between the 11th and 12th centuries, during the reign of Abderraman III, the ruins of this castle are the most important remnant of Muslim civilisation still preserved in the city and are impressive for their imposing walls and defensive towers.
At the end of Calle Salinas is the interesting Museum of Contemporary Spanish Engraving, housed in a beautiful 16th century Renaissance building with more than 4,000 works.
8. Church of Santa María de la Encarnación
After visiting the Museo del Grabado you can walk along Calle Viento until you reach the church of Santa María de la Encarnación, another of the most beautiful places to see in Marbella.
This temple, built at the beginning of the 17th century, stands out for its façade with a magnificent rococo-style red stone façade and a tower over 50 metres high, while inside it houses the magnificent Sol Mayor organ and a Baroque-style altarpiece.
On leaving the church you can take a stroll through the narrow streets around it, such as Calle Soledad, Alderete, Caridad and Misericordia, ending at the Chapel of San Juan de Dios, a charming temple that was part of the old Royal Hospital, built by the Catholic Monarchs after the capture of the city.
9. Visit Puerto Banús, one of the things to do in Marbella.
Another of the best things to do in Marbella is to go by car or bus to Puerto Banús, located 6 kilometres from the centre and one of the most exclusive areas in Europe.
In this glamorous marina with a certain resemblance to Saint Tropez, you’ll see luxurious yachts of several metres in length, high-end cars, exclusive boutiques and lively nightclubs.
As well as a stroll along the harbour to the Mirador del Muelle de Honor, you can take a swim at the beach of Puerto Banús and go to the Lighthouse, from where you will have excellent views of the peak of La Concha.
10. Excursions from Marbella
Once you have completed your list of must-see places to visit in Marbella, you can take a trip to one of the nearby wonders. Among the most recommended by travellers are:
Artola Dunes: located 15 kilometres from the centre, this mobile dune system is home to a beautiful unspoilt beach and the Torre Ladrones, of Roman origin.
Colomares Castle: a fairytale castle located in Benalmádena and built to pay homage to Christopher Columbus and the Discovery of America.
Tangier: this northern Moroccan city is enchanting for its fantastic Medina and the architecture of the Kasbah. You can book a boat trip with an English-speaking guide here.
Ronda and Setenil de las Bodegas: two of the most beautiful villages in Andalusia that you can visit in just one day by booking this excursion.
Malaga: completing this list of places to see in Malaga you will discover one of the cities with the best quality of life in Spain.