25 Must-See Attractions in Marbella

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Mark Nayler

There is something for everyone in Marbella, from beaches and parks to beautiful old buildings and a world-class nightlife. Read on for our pick of the 20 must-visit attractions and things to do in this fashionable city.

1. Old Town

Architectural Landmark

El pico La Concha desde los altos de Marbella Club Hotel
Francisco Rodríguez / Unsplash

One of Andalusia’s best-kept secrets is Marbella’s beautiful old town, or casco antiguo. A tightly-packed cluster of flower-filled streets, romantic squares, and elegant townhouses, it is just as beguiling as the oldest parts of Granada, Córdoba, and Seville. The best way to experience it is to get lost, which is not hard.

2. Puerto Banús

Natural Feature

A flashy marina located eight kilometres (five miles) to the west of Marbella, Puerto Banús is nowadays one of the Costa del Sol’s most famous destinations. So if you have the time while in Marbella, go and see if you think it’s deserving of its fame (or notoriety). Three words give you an idea of what it’s about: yachts, Ferraris, and boutiques.

3. Culinary Scene


Sourdough Baguettes, Marbella, Spain
Anastasia gezalova / Unsplash

Four of southern Spain’s 25 Michelin-starred restaurants are in Marbella, a city that’s quickly establishing itself as one of Spain’s top culinary destinations. Also impressive is the sheer variety of cuisine found here, as well as the quality of the city’s many seafood restaurants, some of which still cook fish over open fires and barbecues on the beaches.

4. Guadalmina River

Natural Feature

Canyoning excursions are a great way to explore the Sierra de las Nieves, a protected mountain range covered in forests, caves and ravines just behind Marbella. Guided outings of varying durations and difficulty levels start from and finish in Benahavís (a 25-minute drive inland from Marbella) and feature cliff jumping, waterfall abseiling, river wading, rappelling and natural water sliding. You’ll need to bring closed-toe shoes that you don’t mind getting wet, a towel and some dry clothes to change into.

5. Nightlife


Bartender making a cocktail in Marbella, Spain
Chino Rocha / Unsplash

Not for nothing is Marbella known the world over for the quality of its nightlife. The sleek bars in its modern town centre (around Avenida Miguel Cano), the celebrity-packed joints along the Golden Mile (in between Marbella and Puerto Banús) and the glitzy nightclubs of Puerto Banús are a party-goers heaven.

Fontanilla Beach

Playa de la Fontanilla is Marbella’s main beach and stretches along the southern side of the city. It has all the amenities you’d expect from a popular city beach: rentable sun loungers, showers, watersports, and of course a promenade lined with bars and restaurants offering everything from Indian food to tapas.

Bajadilla Beach

A little further to the east from Fontanilla beach, in Marbella’s old fishing quarter, is Playa de la Bajadilla. This is a much smaller, curved stretch of sand that is very crowded in summer beacuse of its calm waters. One of the city’s best seafood restaurants, Puerto Playa, has tables out on Bajadilla’s beach.

Plaza de los Naranjos

Marabella’s casco antiguo’s central square is the Plaza de los Naranjos (Oranges Square), to which all of its narrow cobbled streets eventually seem to lead. Filled with the orange trees that are one of Andalusia’s trademarks, its tapas bars and restaurants have sunny terraces on which to relax with a cold caña (small beer).


Marbella’s casco antiguo is not all about centuries-old buildings and quaint, narrow streets. It is also home to one of southern Spain’s most chic shopping scenes, boasting as it does an array of classy boutiques. These make for some great window shopping and, if you’ve a flexible budget, provide plenty of oportunity to treat yourself to something new.

Divina Pastora

Divina Pastora is a lively residential neighbourhood in central Marbella (east of the Represa Park) which is well worth exploring. Locals chatter at the street fruit and veg stalls or over coffee in the no-frills bars after shopping at the barrio’s market. The local church also houses paintings that depict the different provinces of Andalusia.

Plaza Santo Cristo

Another of the old town’s most attractive squares is Plaza Santo Cristo, where you’ll find two of the happiest buildings in Marbella: the bright yellow Ana Maria flamenco bar, and the smart maroon of the former café next to it. To your left as you look at them is the 16th century Santo Cristo hermitage.


Located to the north of Marbella’s casco antiguo, Miraflores is another of the city’s working, residential neighbourhoods. It has a friendly, local ambience all of its own, and is also home to the Miraflores Cultural Centre, where you’ll find small but intriguing olive oil and archeaological museums.

Salvador Dalí Sculptures

It might surprise you to learn that Marbella boasts a world-class collection of Salvador Dalí sculptures. Ten of the Catalonian surrealist’s bronze works are spread out along the Avenida del Mar, a wide boulevard that leads down to the seafront promenade, and are free to view.

Contemporary Engravings Museum

The only museum of its kind in Spain, the Museo del Grabado Español Contemporaneo is housed in an elegant 16th century building that was once a hospital. The history of Spanish engraving and graphic art is explored throughout its permanent collection, and works by Dalí and Joan Miró are also showcased.

Alameda Park

The romantic and tropical-feeling Parque de Alameda lies just behind the Paseo Maritimo in the modern city centre. Its central throroughfare is lined with attractive tiled benches and a beautiful 17th century fountain serves as its centrepiece. An eco foods market is held here on the first Saturday of the month.

Nagüeles Park

For a barbecue in the country, head to the spacious Nagüeles National Park. Situated just five kilometres (three miles) north of Marbella, in the foothills of the Sierra Blanca mountains, it has a spacious recreational area equipped with several barbeques and picnic tables, as well as a play and training area for dogs.

Constitution Park

Parque de la Constitución is the largest green space in central Marbella. Its shady pathways provide respite from the sun in spring and summer months, during which seasons concerts are staged in the park’s auditorium. A café with outside seating provides the perfect spot for an icecream or cold drink.

Castle Walls

The only giveaways of Marbella’s long history to be found in the city centre (on the lower western side of Represa Park) are the battered walls and watchtowers that once protected a 9th century fort. They were built in the 10th and 11th centuries, during the city’s period under Moorish rule, and are all that remain of the original structure.

Marbella Market

For a real insight into the city’s local street life, head to the Mercado de Marbella, its central food market. You’ll find everything here: cheese and wine, fresh meat, fruit and vegetables, hanging cured hams and bunches of dried peppers. And, of course, groups of locals gossiping loudly as they shop.

Divina Pastora Market

You’ll find plenty of tourists wandering around Marbella’s main food market (see above), but they’re few and far between in the barrio of Divina Pastora. The latter’s central hub is its colourful and chaotic food market, where you can buy fish caught that very morning in addition to, well, anything else you might want.

Playa de San Pedro de Alcántara

For a more relaxed beach experience than is often possible on the crowded sands of Marbella itself, head to San Pedro de Alcántara, a low-key town 11km (7m) to the west. Its Blue Flag beach is over 1km (0.6mi) long and 35m (115ft) wide and backs onto a palm-shaded promenade lined with chiringuitos (bars serving tapas) and fish restaurants. In between the bars and the sand is a cycling and walking track known as the Senda Litoral de Málaga, which connects with Marbella to the east and Estepona to the west.

Castillo Sohail

Located on a hilltop just outside Fuengirola, a 25-minute drive east of Marbella, the Castillo Sohail is a Medieval fortress constructed on the site of Roman and Phoenician ruins. As well as being one of the major historical attractions in Costa del Sol, it’s also the venue for events such as the Medieval Market in September – a colourful week of falconry displays, archery, juggling and even some “dragon hunting” – and an Oktoberfest-inspired beer festival, usually held at the end of August.

Bar El Estrecho

Squeeze down Calle San Lázaro in Marbella’s Old Town, and you’ll soon reach the aptly named Narrow Bar. In a long, thin saloon, or standing around barrels out in the equally narrow alley, sample classic regional tapas such as ensalada malagueña (a summery salad with cod, olives and oranges), boquerones (anchovies), calamares (deep-fried squid) and carrillada (pork cheek braised in a red wine sauce). Best accompanied with manzanilla (dry sherry) or cañas (small draft beers).

Saturday Street Market in Puerto Banús

Located 8km (5m) west of Marbella, Puerto Banús is a port community packed with designer shops, immigrants (mainly from the UK) and gleaming yachts. Every Saturday morning, the main boulevard running down from the disused bullring to the waterfront hosts one of the largest flea markets in Costa del Sol, where you can barter for everything, from antiques and vintage clothing to fruit and spices. It’s essential to arrive early, especially during summer, when most stores start packing up at about 1pm.

Ralli Museum

Situated on the Golden Mile promenade, the Ralli Museum houses one of the most important collections of Latin American art in Europe. The permanent exhibits explore varieties of surrealism and graphic and figurative art in contemporary Latin America and feature pieces by Mexican sculptors Geradro Quiroz and Mario Aguirre Roa. Alongside these, another fixed exhibit looks at surrealism as interpreted by European artists such as Marc Chagall, Salvador Dalí and Francis Bacon.

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