It is the headquarters of the Association of Municipalities of the region; it is also the head of the judicial district that bears its name.
A protagonist in the early Spanish industrial revolution in the 19th century, Marbella has experienced continuous growth throughout the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, developing an economy based on the tourist offer aimed at visitors and temporary residents of medium and high purchasing power.
Tourism and main attractions
Old Town (Casco Antiguo)
The old town of Marbella includes the ancient city walls and the two historical suburbs of the city, the Barrio Alto, which extends north, and the Barrio Nuevo, located to the east. The ancient walled city retains nearly the same layout as in the 16th century. Here is the Plaza de los Naranjos, an example of Castilian Renaissance design, its plan laid out in the heart of Old Town after the Christian reconquest.
Around the square are arranged three remarkable buildings: the town hall, built in 1568 by the Catholic Monarchs in Renaissance style, the Mayor’s house, which combines Gothic and Renaissance elements in its façade, with a roof of Mudejar style and fresco murals inside, and the Chapel of Santiago, the oldest religious building in the city, built earlier than the square and not aligned with it, believed to date from the 15th century.
Historic extension (Ensanche histórico)
Between the old town and the sea in the area known as the “historic extension” (ensanche histórico), there is a small botanical garden on Paseo de la Alameda, and a garden with fountains and a collection of ten sculptures by Salvador Dalí on the Avenida del Mar, which connects the old town with the beach.
To the west of this road, passing the Faro de Marbella, is Constitution Park (Parque de la Constitución), which houses the auditorium of the same name and the Skol Apartments, designed in the Modernist style by the Spanish architect Manuel Jaén Albaitero.
Marbella’s Golden Mile
What is known as Marbella’s Golden Mile is actually a stretch of four miles or 6.4 km which begins at the western edge of Marbella city and stretches to Puerto Banús. The area is home to some of Marbella’s most luxurious villas and estates with views of mountain and sea, such as the Palace of King Fahd, as well as some landmark hotels, among them the Melia Don Pepe, the Hotel Marbella Club and the Hotel Puente Romano.
The area developed during the tourism boom of the 1960s, where may be found the ruins of the Roman villa by the Rio Verde, and El Ángel, where the land of the old forge works was converted to an agricultural colony, and the Botanical Gardens of El Ángel with gardens of three different styles, dating from the 8th century.
Nueva Andalucía is an area just west of Marbella and inland from the marina of Puerto Banús. Home to many golf courses, it is also known as Golf Valley. The bullring by Centro Plaza marks the entrance to Nueva Andalucia where the villas and apartments are based on traditional Andalusian architecture and design. Nueva Andalucia is a very popular residential area both due to tis three golf courses, but also due to an increasing number of restaurants and entertainment venues. The three golf courses in Nueva Andalucia are Los Naranjos Golf Club, Las Brisas Golf Club and Aloha Golf.
Contemporary Spanish Engraving Museum: created in 1992, contains a collection of prints by 20th century artists such as Picasso, Miró, Dalí, Tàpies, Chillida and the El Paso Group (Rafael Canogar, Manolo Millares, Antonio Saura, Pablo Serrano, et al.) amongst others, as well as an exhibition hall dedicated to teaching engraving techniques.
Museum Cortijo de Miraflores: in addition to the museum, the farm houses an exhibition hall and other cultural classrooms, amongst them the olive oil mill.
Bonsai Museum: opened in 1992, it has a collection of specimens on permanent display and others for sale, with an emphasis on its extensive collection of olive trees and examples of species such as Ginkgo, Oxicedro, Pentafila Pino, and zelcoba, also pines, oaks, and other species.
Ralli Museum, dedicated primarily to art in Latin America, it has sculptures by Dalí and Aristide Maillol and paintings by Dalí, Miró, Chagall, Henry Moore, amongst others.
Municipal Archaeological Collection: its collection consists of archaeological artefacts found in the municipality.
Mechanical Art Museum: a cultural centre located in the 19th-century Barriada del Ingenio, it contains sculptures made from second-hand car parts by Antonio Alonso.
The 27 kilometres of coastline within the limits of Marbella is divided into twenty-four beaches with different features; however, due to expansion of the municipality, they are all now semi-urban. They generally have moderate surf, golden or dark sand ranging through fine, medium or coarse in texture, and some gravel. The occupancy rate is usually high to midrange, especially during the summer months, when tourist arrivals are highest.
Amongst the various notable beaches are Artola beach, situated in the protected area of the Dunas de Artola, and Cabopino, one of the few nudist beaches in Marbella, near the port of Cabopino. The beaches of Venus and La Fontanilla are centrally located and very popular, and those of Puerto Banús and San Pedro Alcántara have been awarded the blue flag of the Foundation for Environmental Education for compliance with its standards of water quality, safety, general services and environmental management.
Gastronomy and restaurants
The traditional cuisine of Marbella is that of the Malagueño coast and is based on seafood. The most typical dish is fried fish, using anchovies, mackerel, mullet or squid, amongst others. Gazpacho and garlic soup are very typical. Bakeries sell oil cakes, wine donuts, borrachuelos (aniseed rolls fried with a little wine and dipped into syrup), torrijas (similar to French toast) and churros (fritters). In addition to the traditional native cuisine, there are many restaurants in Marbella that serve food of the international, nouvelle, or fusion cuisines.
There are 13 Michelin list restaurants in the city:
- Skina, Aduar 12, Marbella, 165 – 189 EUR • Modern cuisine (Two stars)
- Messina, Avenida Severo Ochoa 12, 50 – 93 EUR • Creative cuisine (One star)
- El Lago, Avenida Marco Polo, 64 – 90 EUR • Contemporary cuisine (One star)
- Maison Lu, Bulevar Príncipe Alfonso de Hohenlohe 269, 45 – 75 EUR • French cuisine
- Casa Eladio, Virgen de los Dolores 6, 33 – 70 EUR • Mediterranean Cuisine, Contemporary cuisine
- TA-KUMI, Gregorio Marañón 4, 30 – 115 EUR • Japanese cuisine
- Buenaventura, Plaza Iglesia de la Encarnación 5, 25 – 65 EUR • Traditional cuisine
- Kava, Avenida Antonio Belón 4, 55 – 85 EUR • Modern Cuisine, Fusion
- BiBo, Boulevard Príncipe Alfonso von Hohenlohe, 45 – 65 EUR • Modern cuisine
- Lobito de Mar, Carretera de Cádiz, 40 – 60 EUR • Traditional cuisine
- Back!, Pablo Casals 8, 50 – 80 EUR • Modern cuisine, Andalusian cuisine
- Boho Club, Urbanización Lomas de Rio Verde 144, 50 – 75 EUR • Modern cuisine, International cuisine
- Leña Marbella, Boulevard Príncipe Alfonso von Hohenlohe, 45 – 100 EUR • Meats and Grills
The start of the shopping experience – the Avenida Ricardo Soriano. This avenue is lined with the best shops and the really expensive and ultra exclusive brands.
If you are looking more for crafts and gift items, the Old Town is your next stop. It has a fine selection of craft stores, gift stores and art galleries. Here, you can buy beautiful handcrafted ceramics, religious items, souvenirs and so much more. You will surely enjoy exploring the narrow streets to see if there are delightful surprises (little boutiques) that are tucked away in the alleyways and narrow streets.
How to get to?
Marbella is the most populous municipality in the Iberian Peninsula without a railway station in its territory, and is the only Spanish city of over 100,000 inhabitants not served by rail.
Most intercity bus services are operated by CTSA-Portillo. They connect Marbella to other urban centres, such as Malaga and its airport, nearby towns in the interior (Ronda), the Campo, including Gibraltar (La Linea and Algeciras), some major cities in Andalusia (Almería, Cádiz, Córdoba, Jerez, Granada, Jaen, Seville, and Úbeda), and Mérida in Extremadura. The central bus station has connections to other domestic destinations, such as Madrid and Barcelona.
Main international airport is in Malaga, 50 min (60.7 km) via AP-7.
Area: 116 sq. km (municipality)
Coordinates: 36°30′41″N 4°53′00″W
Population: 147 633
Time: Central European UTC +1