I’m sure you’re no stranger to the name of Marbella. It’s been a favourite amongst tourists flocking to the Costa del Sol for decades, and its popularity is showing no signs of waning. But if you’re worried that it’s all upmarket shops and nightlife and is all designed for the super-rich, then we’re here to reassure you that there’s something for everyone. There are all kinds of things to do in Marbella, as well as its obvious attractions, which make it the perfect destination for a summer getaway.
You can spend a few days enjoying the best beaches in Marbella, and then mix things up by discovering the local culture and history, all fuelled by meals at some of the best Marbella restaurants.
When the sun goes down, you can choose between relaxed evenings sipping a cocktail and enjoying the sea breeze and hopping between the best clubs in Marbella. Or both.
Are you ready for a holiday in the sun that you won’t forget in a hurry?
Read on for our guide to what to do in Marbella.
Explore the old town of Marbella
Anyone planning beach holidays in Marbella should kick off their holiday by getting their bearings, and discovering the heart of this famous beach resort.
The old town or the old quarter is quite the contrast to the modern high rise, and the business of the beach resort areas. It’s a charming maze of streets, with whitewashed buildings adorned with flowerpots.
Let yourself got lost here and you’ll soon emerge onto one of the many little squares, perfect for enjoying a meal, a drink or some traditional tapas.
Once you’re feeling fortified with a stomach full of tapas, there are two main things to see in Marbella, when you’re in the old town.
One is the Iglesia Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación, Marbella’s largest church, which was, as is the case with most churches in Andalusia, once a mosque. The 33-metre high church tower was once a minaret.
The other is the Ermita de Santiago, the oldest church in Marbella, dating back to the Christian reconquest of the area. It, too, was a mosque before that time.
And, whilst you’re exploring the old town in Marbella, don’t forget to pay a visit to the charming Alameda park. And, if you’re looking for something a little quieter, pay the Parque de los Enamorados (Lovers’ Park) a visit.
Cultural things to do in Marbella
There are plenty of options for anyone looking to break up the sun, sea, and sand with a few cultural things to do in Marbella.
There’s the Museum of Contemporary Spanish Engravings, which is set in a beautiful, 16th-century Moorish-style palace. Then, there are two sites where you can see evidence of the Roman occupation of the area, the ruins of the city of Cilniana, which you can see part of close to the mouth of the Río Verde, and the Vega del Mar Basilica.
Enjoy the best beaches around Marbella
Let’s be honest, the main reason you’re visiting Marbella is the Mediterranean. And there’s no shortage of beaches in the area, and no shortage of water-related things to do in Marbella. If you’re there during high season and want a slightly less crowded beach than Playa de la Fontanilla, then head a little further east to Playa de la Bajadilla.
One of the best restaurants in Marbella for fish can be found on this beach, in the form of Puerto Playa Restaurant. You can eat some of the best seafood here, right on the sand, and you’ll probably be surrounded by locals as well as tourists.
In Marbella, beach activities like jet skiing, parasailing and wakeboarding are all super popular.
And, if you want to get out to sea in a slightly more leisurely manner, then there are all kinds of day trips from Marbella you can take on luxury yachts, to get a taste of the lifestyle of the super-rich that dock in Marbella on their summer jaunts. If there are a few of you, it’s surprisingly reasonable to charter a yacht for a day.
Once you’ve explored the best beaches near Marbella, there’s plenty more to explore just a little further afield along the coast, perfect if you have a rental car. Estepona and San Roque are both good options, but if you’re looking for peace and tranquillity, try Cala Sardina.
Places to go in Puerto Banús
When making your list of thingd to do in Marbella, you can’t miss out the neighbouring town of Puerto Banús, which is where all the superyachts dock. A highlight is the Saturday morning street market, a great way to kick off your day.
You can then wander down to the harbour to admire the yachts, enjoy some time on the beach, and treat yourself to a cocktail at one of the many glamorous bars here.
Immerse yourself in the famous Marbella nightlife
You can’t come to Marbella without enjoying a night out on the town. Spend your day resting on the beach, then kick your evening off at one of the many cocktail bars with sea views, the perfect spot to watch the sun go down.
Head back to rinse off all the sand and get ready, go for dinner or a few tapas, and then to a bar, getting geared up for when the party really starts, which is around 1 am at the earliest. There’s no shortage of incredible clubs and bars in Marbella to choose from that will have you partying until the sun comes up.