Marbella is a seaside resort city in the province of Málaga in Spain. Along the Costa del Sol is a lively 27-kilometre stretch of picture-perfect beaches, Michelin-starred restaurants and charming villas.
To the west of Marbella’s main town centre is the Golden Mile, known for its luxurious estates, VIP nightclubs and beach bars, and extravagant yachts docked at the exclusive Puerto Banus marina.
Although Marbella is notorious as a party getaway for the rich and elite, there’s far more than meets the eye in this Andalusian paradise. There’s a cultural side that anyone can enjoy exploring, and the dreamy sunsets by the shore create an opportunity for romance.
Curious about the diverse range of activities on offer here? Here are 23 things to do in Marbella, Spain, including some lesser-known attractions and sights.
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Want to get a glimpse of luxury early on in your trip? Make your way to Puerto Banus, the most glamorous marina in all of Spain. This swanky area a few kilometres east of Marbella’s Old Town draws comparisons to the French Riviera. You won’t walk a metre without spotting yet another lavish yacht, expensive sports car, or fancy boutique shopfront.
Puerto Banus is also great for getting a taste of the cosmopolitan Marbella nightlife. Visit the Havana Hemingway hookah bar, sip a special concoction at the Astral Cocktail Bar, and sing the night away at Crystal’s Karaoke. Most bars and clubs typically kick things off at around 9 or 10 o’clock, though you can always begin with a casual drink at dinnertime!
Avenida del Mar
Avenida del Mar is a short street in Marbella’s centre that is also an open-air museum. This pedestrian avenue is lined with palm trees, hedges and fountains, though the main focus is the Salvador Dali sculptures. 10 of his incredible creations cast in bronze are on display here.
Don’t be one of the many other tourists passing by without realizing the significance of these sculptures! They are a real treat to see, as Avenida del Mar is one of only a few places in the world where you can view Dali’s work for free.
Playa de Cabopino is one of the most relaxed Marbella beaches. Thanks to its location about 13 kilometres east of the city’s central area, the shoreline is never too busy and there’s always a good chance of finding a peaceful spot to yourself. The fine golden sands stretch for 1.5 kilometres, bordering the Artola Dunes on one side and Puerto de Cabopino on the other.
Hire a pedalo or a jet ski, embark on a dolphin-watching outing, or chill out at the many bars and chiringuitos nearby. Andy’s Beach Bar is a favourite, offering sun beds and shades, live music, cold drinks, and a delicious menu for lunch or dinner.
Every amenity is catered for here, so you can show up to Cabopino without needing to worry you’ve forgotten something! It’s easy to get here too, as there are frequent buses from central Marbella as well as ample parking spaces.
Amare Beach Club
Another unbeatable seaside hangout is Amare Beach Club in the heart of Marbella. As one of the city’s top beach bars, there is an atmosphere of elegance with a cosy feel at the same time. Book a table, order the Andalusian-style paella or tapas, and sip a cocktail overlooking the water.
This one-of-a-kind space is not to be missed during your trip, whether you stop by for a quick lunch or stay the night at the hotel. On that topic, the Amare Beach Hotel is an incredible option in Marbella for couples seeking both fun and relaxation. You and your partner can spoil yourselves with a couples treatment at the spa before an evening of entertainment at one of the hotel’s many themed parties and live music shows.
Iglesia de la Encarnación (aka the Church of the Incarnation) is a magnificent Renaissance and Baroque church in the middle of the Old Town.
Interestingly, the structure was a former mosque that was readapted for Christian use after the city was taken back from the Moors. If you pay close attention to the church’s facade, you can still see the Moorish origins. After the 15th century, the minaret became a tower and the floor plan was altered to a typical basilica layout with three naves. In the 18th century, the interiors were adorned with Rococo-style decorations.
The church is free to enter and walk through, although occasionally you’ll come across a wedding being held inside.
Marbella’s main park in the city centre is the gorgeous Alameda Park. A large 18th-century stone fountain, the Fuente de la Virgen del Rocio, is surrounded by fascinating Azulejo-tiled benches, wide pathways and tropical botanic garden beds.
It’s a beautiful oasis to stroll through with a takeaway cup of coffee, particularly during the warmer days when you’re seeking some shade. If you’re interested, there are signs in English for you to learn about the diverse flora and fauna found here.
Dunas de Artola
Don’t miss the fascinating sand dunes at Playa de Artola, walking distance from Cabopino. The dunes are protected as a natural monument, meaning construction by the beach is prohibited. This makes Artola the only untouched beach in Marbella, as well as the cleanest.
If you want to escape the loud music and noise from the busy beach clubs, you’ll only hear the crashing of waves here. However, one thing to know in advance is that Artola Beach is a popular spot for nudists. So, don’t be too surprised if you come across a few people missing their bathers!
Museo del Grabado Español Contemporáneo
The Museum of Contemporary Spanish Engraving is a unique cultural institution to explore. This is the only museum of its kind in Spain, with a collection of over 4,000 engravings, lithographs, etchings and other Spanish graphic design pieces. You’ll see works by famous artists like Dali, Chillida, Miro, Picasso and Goya on display.
Set inside a 16th-century Moorish palace, the astonishing building housing the artworks is another reason to come here. The museum is open between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. from Tuesday to Friday and until 2 p.m. on Monday and Saturday.
Hotel Fuerte Marbella
Yet another thing Marbella is known for is its abundance of golf courses. Apparently, there are over 60 along the Costa Del Sol alone! Hotel Fuerte Marbella is close to many of the best, making it an ideal place to stay for golf enthusiasts. In fact, many prestigious first-class golf clubs, like Santa Clara Golf and the Los Naranjos Golf Club, are only a few minutes away by car. The staff will be more than happy to help you plan your perfect golfing holiday.
Though the hotel is only a five-minute walk from the centre of town, it is secluded by 4,000 square metres of luscious green gardens. Each double room provides stunning sea views and all the modern amenities you can think of. Taste some appetising Mediterranean dishes at the hotel’s beachside restaurants and bars while listening to live music, then move on to the luxurious pool area to unwind.
Plaza de los Naranjos
Right in the middle of Marbella’s Old Town is a charming and historic square called Plaza de los Naranjos, or Orange Square in English. The plaza was created in the late 15th century as an urban hub after the city was reconquered from the Moors. It is named for its charming Andalusian orange trees planted throughout the area.
The square is bordered by rows of white Andalusian Renaissance houses, as well as three main historic buildings: the Casa del Corregidor, the Casa Consistorial, and the Ermita de Santiago.
While there, indulge in some churros at Churrería Ramón. Of course, you can also sit down underneath one of the vibrant orange umbrellas to enjoy a cool drink and people watch for a while.
Arco Tapas Bar
One of the best tapas bars in the city is the Arco Tapas Bar. From 7:30 p.m. until midnight every evening (except Sunday) you can stop by Arco in the Old Town. Unlike many eateries that are only open for dinner, you can enjoy lunch at Arco between 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m as well. Order from a range of meats, seafood, cheeses, pate and even vegetarian options.
The best part about Arco is that you can choose the environment you prefer by booking ahead. Get warm and cosy inside, or enjoy your tapas and sangria outside amongst the hustle and bustle. Regardless, you’re sure to agree that the food, service and atmosphere here are second to none.
A Tapas Tour
Can’t get enough of those tapas? Luckily, you can join an entire tour dedicated to sampling the best that Marbella has to offer. Over three hours, an engaging guide from Taste Marbella will show you the best hidden tapas bars, taverns and bodegas that only the locals know about.
Yet, this tour is about far more than food. As you wander from place to place, you’ll learn about the city’s history and architecture as well, including the origins of tapas. If you want to get to know the real Marbella away from the glitz and glamour while tasting some incredible local cuisine, you need to book this tour!
Ermita de Santiago
A small and delightful church worth stopping for a quick look at is Ermita de Santiago. This 15th-century Catholic church is one of the oldest religious structures in the city and still features Islamic tiles from the Moorish occupation of Spain.
The church is situated right by Plaza de los Naranjos, so you won’t need to go out of your way to find it.
Marbella’s main boardwalk, Paseo Maritimo, is superb for a leisurely stroll or bicycle ride, particularly during sunset. Look out across the calm ocean waves, gaze up at the tall, shady palm trees, and enjoy the gentle sea breeze. If you really feel active, you can even walk the 7.5 kilometres to Puerto Banus!
Muralla del Castillo de Marbella
The Muralla del Castillo is a historic fort dating back to the 11th century. Although it seems like the type of attraction you’d have to go out of your way to find, it’s actually only a few moments away from Orange Square.
The remains of the former Moorish castle have been incorporated into the city and surrounded by more modern buildings. These ruins add some additional charm to the area and are worth taking notice of while thinking about the city’s long and complex history.
Nueva Andalucía Artisan Market
The city’s best flea market is the Nueva Andalucia Artisan Market, held every Saturday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Over 120 colourful stalls set up along Avenida Pilar Calvo sell a variety of clothing, jewellery and souvenirs at reasonable prices.
Even if you’re not looking to purchase anything, browsing the market is always an enjoyable Saturday morning activity.
Parque de la Constitución
One of Marbella’s most cherished parks is the Parque de la Constitución. Initially the garden of a private residence, the city park was created in the 1950s close to the centre of town. It includes a cafe with peaceful shaded seating underneath the tall palm trees. The magnificent Andalusian amphitheatre on the grounds is used for outdoor concerts and plays during the summer.
This is a wonderful, peaceful spot to chill and hang out if you’re visiting Marbella during the summer and want to evade the persistent sun (as well as the hoards of fellow tourists).
Museo Ralli, Marbella
This museum in Marbella is one of five Ralli Museums in the world dedicated to promoting and discussing contemporary Latin American and European works of art. It is truly a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by anyone with an interest in modern art.
Housing some of the most important collections in Europe, you’ll see paintings by Wifredo Lam, César López Claro, Giorgio de Chirico, Leopoldo Torres-Agüero and Herman Braun-Vega. The Seoane collection featuring vibrant and captivating portraits is on display until May of 2021.
You can find the museum just off the National Highway where central Marbella meets Puerto Banus. It’s open between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday with no entrance fee to worry about.
King Abdul Aziz Mosque
The King Abdul Aziz Mosque, also known as the Marbella Mosque, is an incredible piece of architecture. While you may assume that it was a lone survivor from the Moorish occupation, it was actually built in 1981, making it one of the first modern mosques built in Spain.
While the cloud-white structure is noticeably Arabic, there are also elements of Andalusian-style architecture. It’s surrounded by tranquil gardens with a modest yet serene water feature at the entrance, creating an environment of peace and spirituality for the Muslim residents coming here to pray. All visitors are welcome, even those who simply want to have a look around at the fascinating building.
Within the luxurious Nueva Andalucía estate at the foothills of La Concha Mountain is the idyllic Turtle Lake. As the name suggests, there are some cute turtles swimming in the clear waters.
There are picnic tables right by the lake if you want to bring a packed lunch and enjoy the serenity of the area. There’s a playground for children too, so if you’re travelling with kids, it’s definitely a spot for the whole family to chill out at.
Feel like doing some shopping? Parque Comercial La Cañada is your go-to destination. This trendy shopping mall is full of top fashion retailers, from Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger to Zara and Bershka. You’ll also find shops selling cosmetics, electronics, jewellery, shoes, glasses and more. Whatever you need, you’ll likely find it at La Cañada.
Stock up on some of your favourite foods from home, pick up anything you forgot to pack, or splurge on a stylish new outfit! Maybe you’re in Marbella for an event and need to pick out something nice. In this case, a personal shopper can help you find a beautiful dress or suit to match your style.
Mirador de Juanar
If you are in the mood for a quick hike while in the area, you’re sure to love the short trek to El Juanar. This mountain shared with the neighbouring town of Ojen offers breathtaking views from the Mirador de Juanar lookout spot. The well-marked path from the main road in Ojen is partially shaded, though you should still bring a hat and make sure you’re wearing sunscreen.
Eco Reserva Ojen
Experience some incredible wildlife only 10 minutes from Marbella. Rather than visiting a zoo, spend some time at the Ecological Reserve of Ojén, a natural wildlife shelter that supports conservation and environmental awareness. Get up close and observe mountain goats, deer, wild boar and mouflons, a subspecies of wild sheep.
Your entry fee goes back to the animals, supporting the well-being of those at risk and helping to maintain their habitat. Reserve a visit in advance via email or a phone call.
Recommended tours in Marbella
- Caminito del Rey private half-day trip from Malaga or Marbella
- Original Marbella Tapas Adventure!
- Ronda Private Wine Tour and Tapas from Marbella
- Private 4WD Tour – Abeto del Sur – Caminito del Rey – 4 to 7 pax – Ardales
- Marbella small group walking Tour
- Buggy Experience – Marbella
- Mijas Village Private Day Tour
- Full-Day Tour of Caminito del Rey from Costa del Sol
- Private Full-Day Gibraltar Tour from Marbella or Malaga
- Guided Tour of the Alhambra from Malaga and Costa del Sol
- Tangier, Morocco Day Trip from Costa del Sol
- Marbella Gourmet Tapas Tour – Do Eat Better Experience
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