11 Epic Places in Marbella That Only Locals Know About

The tree tops of Marbella, with La Concha mountain in the background; Hernán Piñera/flickr
The tree tops of Marbella, with La Concha mountain in the background; Hernán Piñera/flickr
Mark Nayler

Despite its deserved reputation as major tourist destination, Marbella still has its secrets: from rugged mountains to hidden corners of the old town, there is plenty for the off-piste traveller to explore. Read on for our choice of epic places in Marbella that only the locals know about.

Bajadilla Beach

Most visitors to Marbella stick to Playa de la Fontanilla, the city’s largest and most popular beach. But if you head a little further east, you’ll come to Playa de la Bajadilla, a smaller stretch of sand next to the fishing port. It’s still a popular beach, but at least it’s removed from the teeming tourist thoroughfare that is the Paseo Maritimo.

Fishing Quarter

Playa de la Bajadilla backs onto Marbella’s Barrio de Pescadores, or Fishing Neighbourhood, a compact quarter of whitewashed fisherman’s huts and no-frills tapas bars that is well worth exploring. Some of the city’s best seafood is served in the unassuming eateries here, and you’re unlikely to ecounter many tourists as you wander.

Puerto Playa Restaurant

For some of the freshest fish in Marbella, head to Puerto Playa Restaurant. Boasting an amazing location on Playa de la Bajadilla – there are tables out on the sand, metres from the water – this is one of the best seafood restaurants in town; yet because it’s a little way out of the centre, it’s not really on the tourist map. Sometimes, the sardines here are cooked on skewers – espetos – that are planted in the sand next to fires on the beach.
Restaurante Puerto Playa, Playa de la Bajadilla, Marbella, Spain, +34 952 86 00 11

1. Nagüeles Park

Park, Dog Park

Fish cooking over an open fire on the beach in Marbella
© gavilla/Pixabay
The Nagüeles National Park is further proof that off-piste exploring pays off in Marbella. Located five kilometres (three miles) from the city centre, this spacious area of greenery is one of the locals’ favourite spots for a day in the countryside: nestling in the foothills of the iconic Concha mountain, its excellent amenities include barbecues, picnic tables, and a canine playground.

2. Divina Pastora Market

Market, Spanish

The residential neighbourhood of Divina Pastora is less than a 10-minute walk from Marbella’s seafront, yet few visitors make it this far into the city. To take the pulse of this lively barrio‘s street life, head to its central market, where local women haggle over fish and meat for the week’s cooking, while their husbands catch up in the surrounding bars. It’s division of labour, Spanish-style.

3. Divina Pastora Church

Art Gallery, Market, Church, Market, Park

Opposite Divina Pastora’s covered market is the neighbourhood’s parish church. Its drab 1970s exterior looks anything but “epic”, and hardly invites you to enter, but when you do a de facto art gallery awaits you. Adorning the walls of the church’s nave are a series of beautiful paintings depicting the eight provinces of Andalusia, from Almería in the east to Huelva in the west.

Back to nature: a tree in the Nagüeles Natural Park, Marbella | © Leo Hidalgo/Flickr

Local tapas bars

If you want to hang out with the locals when in Marbella, forget the bars and restaurants along the Paseo Maritimo and head to the area around Avenida Miguel Cano. This area is home to a number of watering holes that are pretty much exclusively packed with locals for lunch and dinner: one of the best is Bar Guerola, which does a great set lunch menu for less than €15.

Bar Guerola, 4 Calle Padre Enrique Cantos, Marbella, Spain, +34 952 77 00 07

Sierra Blanca Mountains

Rising up behind Marbella’s northern suburbs, a few kilometres from the city centre, are the rugged and beautiful Sierra Blanca mountains. There is plenty of trekking to be enjoyed up there and, if you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you can summit La Concha mountain (the top of which resembles an open shell); at 1,125 metres, its peak offers stunning views out over the city towards Africa’s northern coast.

View from the peak of Marbella’s La Concha mountain

Miraflores neighbourhood

Fifty years ago, the neighbourhood of Miraflores didn’t exist: the patch of land it occupies north of the old town was given over to gardens, orchards, and fields. Now, though, it is a busy residential quarter that richly rewards off-plan meandering. An unbeatable barrio for fruit and veg stores, delicatessens, bakeries, and tapas bars in which few tourists are to be found.

4. Secret spots in the old town

In itself, Marbella’s enchanting old town is no secret: indeed, its central square, the Plaza de los Naranjos, is one of the city’s most-visited spots. But take a good few hours to explore this centuries-old barrio, and you will find hidden corners, secret alleyways, and beautiful buildings that are probably only known to the people lucky enough to live here.

Marbella’s old town is full of beautiful squares and buildings | © Nick Kenrick/Flickr

5. Parque de los Enamorados


If you’re after a little romantic seclusion in the city centre, head to the Parque de los Enamorados (“Lover’s Park”). Most visitors to Marbella stick to the Alameda and Constitution parks by the sea, so this attractive, well-maintained space is mainly for the locals. Surrounded by palm trees, its centrepiece is a series of raised fountains that are particularly attractive at night.

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,100 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article