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Marbella: Travel Notes

Lurking behind the cliché of Marbella as the centre of glitz, glam and celebrity wannabes, is a city surrounded by spectacular landscapes. Laughing stock of the media over the last few years, there is nothing more gutsy than to fight against a well-worn stereotype. “‘Look at your watch’, I tell my friends when they arrive. Twenty minutes later they find themselves in a place they would never have imagined,” explains Julio Leal, guitar player from the band Los Elementos. Featuring mountains, lakes and some of the best food in the area, this guide will take your preconceptions and turn them firmly on their head.

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By:  Irene Ríos
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Eat Drink Live music Sleep Shop Sports and spas Museums and galleries Theatre and dance Cinema Transport Green zones Wireless Escapes


EventsFind out what’s on! Check out our events guide for Andalusia.
Esencial: forget the politics and live the city without prejudice
The weather:

Marbella is usually identified with the glamour of Miami and Punta del Este, but this seaside resort has another, more genuine and unpublicised side. While great weather is almost guaranteed all year round, bring or rent a car in order to escape to the best beaches and into mountains.

The perfect way to start your day is to get up early and visit the Refugio del Juanar (just 20 minutes away by car) and choose one of several hikes. The best ends at the Cross of Juanar and takes about 4 hours there and back. There is also an easier and shorter walk to a lookout point that only takes an hour. The Sierra Blanca Mountains that protect Marbella from the elements offer up a great view of the city set against the Mediterranean Sea. While the idiot box is only interested in second-rate socialites, this is one sure way to put the natural beauty of Marbella into perspective.

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Another pleasant stroll takes you along the paseo marítimo, a boardwalk that follows the coastline of Marbella, from the centre to Puerto Banús. Here you can check out the yachts (if that’s what you’re into) and witness how the glamour of another era is fighting to survive. In reality, the only real reason to come to the port is because it is the point of departure to go on an assortment of adventures, including kayaking on the Istan lake. One of Marbella’s best kept secrets, this is your chance to escape and float in the silent waters of the Lago de la Concepción (Ticket to Ride, Avda. Naciones Unidas, C.C. Cristamar Local B61, 952905082, 609517517, reservation required). If you prefer salty water, the best beaches in the area are outside of the city centre, between Los Monteros Beach and Cabopino. Our favourite beach bar (and most affordable) is Copacabana (Urb. Playa del Arenal, Costabella, salida El Rosario. 952837555).

When you’ve had enough sun, the old town is great for escaping into the shade for an afternoon. Take a walk through narrow streets with remnants of Marbella’s Moorish history to the Plaza de los Naranjos and the walls of the ancient Moorish fortress, known as the muralla de la Alcazaba. Don’t miss the Museum of Contemporary Spanish Printmaking (Hospital Bazán, s/n, 952765741). The museum includes several fantastic prints by Picasso and Miró, and organizes a programme of interesting workshops. For some shopping, you’ll find shops with an artisan vibe on Calle del Peral. Otherwise, you should find everything you need by strolling along Ricardo Soriano, the main artery of the city.

Residents of Marbella gripe about the lack of a thriving cultural scene. The nuclei for alternative events can be found at Black Box Theatre (C/ Notario Luis Oliver, 6, 952779172,, the Fnac Forum (Fnac La Cañada. C.C. La Cañada. Autovía 340, salida Ojén, 952899300, and Cinema Club Luis Buñuel (I.E.S Rio Verde, C/ Notario Luis Oliver, 952774638). The thriving proliferation of restaurants goes some way to make up for this weakness. Marbella offers the broadest selection of international menus on the coast of Malaga. It’s no accident that three of the Michelin Stars awarded in Andalusia were awarded to restaurants in the area. Calima Restaurant (H. Gran Meliá Don Pepe, Avda. José Meliá, s/n, 952764252,, Skina (C/ Aduar, 12, 952765277, and El Lago (Greenlife Golf, Urb. Elviria Hills. Avda. Las Cumbres, s/n, 952832371, RESTAURANTEELLAGO.COM) are three options you should try if you want to immerse yourself in haute cuisine. If not, the choices on offer will make sure you never go hungry: Andalusian, Mediterranean, Basque, Lebanese, Indian, Thai, Japanese, Argentinean… the choice is endless.

If what you’re looking for is seafood, just make your way to the Puerto Pesquero. While all of the restaurants serve great food, you won’t be disappointed with the Hogar del Pescador (C/ Guadalete, Puerto Pesquero, 952867529). Tapas lovers will also find something to eat in the old town. Locals love El Estrecho (C/ San Lázaro), while the Taberna Casa Curro has recently become a favourite (C/ Pantaleón, 7, Our recommendations? Restaurante Gaspar (C/ Notario Luis Oliver, 1, 952779098) for delicious homemade food, and Restaurant La Virginia (La Virginia Urbanization, 9527711519), Belgian influences in a tranquil and unrivalled location. La Virginia is an urbanization that reminds locals of times gone by and leaves visitors enchanted.

In summer there is a tenfold increase in the amount of leisure options on offer. Every year new bars and clubs open up and become the talk of the town. There are choices for all tastes. The old town has several bars and terraces for those of you looking for something a little more low-key: Lolita (C/ Del Peral, 679999705, and Town House (C/ Alano, 1, 952861182) to name a couple. Live music can be found at Premiere Club (Plaza de los Olivos, 2, 649995277, that often has surprisingly good live gigs. If you have a little money to burn, Nikki Beach (Playa Hotel Don Carlos, CN-340, 952836239, and Suite Del Mar (Hotel Puente Romano, Carretera De Cádiz KM. 177, 952820900) are where to go to hang out with the beautiful people. Just watch out when it comes to flirting. The oldest profession in the world appears to be thriving. If you’re more into salsa, the Ranchón Cubano (CN-340, Residencia Tiempo Libre Exit, Elviria) is the place to be. You’ll soon find your hips swinging to the music and a mojito in hand as the waves sing in the background.


Tertulia recommends


Early morning coffee
Panadería Gaspar
C/ Antiguo Puente Málaga, 1

Menu of the day
Hermanos Navarro
Avenida Severo Ochoa, 31

Working lunch with colleagues
La Navilla
C.C. Plaza del Mar
Camilo José Cela, 9

Cheap and cheerful
La Red
Playa La Fontanilla, 6

Cheap and cheerful
Urb. Playa del Arenal

Home cooked meal
Restaurante Gaspar
C/ Notario Luis Oliver, 19

Classic tapas
El Estrecho
C/ San Lázaro

Classic tapas
Taberna Casa Curro
C/ Pantaleón, 7

Eat your greens!
Terra Sana
Avd. Principe de Hohenlohe
Edf. Milla de Oro, Local 5-7

Need to impress
H. Gran Meliá Don Pepe
Avda. José Meliá, s/n

Hogar del Pescador
C/ Guadalete
Puerto Pesquero

Carnivore's paradise
Sidrería Usategui
Urb. El Mirador. Edf. El Palomar

Carnivore's paradise
Querencia, 25 €
C/ Virgen de los Dolores, 3
Casco Antiguo

High cuisine
C/ Aduar, 12

A trip to Italy
Italian Kitchen
Avda. Ricardo Soriano, 45, local 5

Something different
Marie's Deli (Lebanese)
Urb. Carolina Park, Local 2, Urb. Carolina Park, Local, 2

Something different
Taj Mahal (Indian)
Av Principe Alfonso Hohenlohe, km. 179

Treat yourself
Restaurante La Virginia
Plaza de Antonio el Jardinero, 3
Urbanización La Virginia

Something sweet
C/ Alonso de Bazán, 3


A few pints
Tierra Aranda
C/ San Lázaro, 1

For a cosy chat
The Town House
C/ Alano, 1

Cocktail bar
La Prainha
Puerto Deportivo, s/n

Cocktail bar
Avda. Duque de Ahumada
Paseo Marítimo

Cocktail bar
Terra Sana @ iLounge
Avda. José Antonio Belón, s/n

Cocktail bar
Gauguin Café
Avenida de la Fontanilla, 7

For a cosy chat
C/ Del Peral

Everyone is talking about it
Premiere Club
Plaza de los Olivos, 2

Everyone is talking about it
Terra Blues
Muelle Ribera Local 116
Puerto Banus

To be seen
Nikki Beach
Playa Hotel Don Carlos CN-340

To be seen
Avda. del Mar, 31

Live music
Ranchón Cubano
CN-340, (Salida Residencia Tiempo Libre)
Elviria, Marbella

Pub theatre
Black Box Teatro
C/ Notario Luis Oliver, 6

Ctra. de Río Verde, Km. 0,5
Puerto Banús

Last round
Locos Bar
Puerto Deportivo, 41

 Live music

Great live music
Premiere Club
Plaza de los Olivos, 2

Locos Bar
Puerto Deportivo, 41

A little of everything
Black Box Teatro
C/ Notario Luis Oliver, 6

Música Con Encanto


Business trip
Nh Marbella, 170 €
CN-340. km. 178. Avda. Conde Rudi
Dependable Chain
Gran Meliá Don Pepe, 320 €
Avda. José Meliá s/n
Cosy and central
La Villa Marbella, 115-229 €
C/ Principe, 10
Great atmosphere
Hotel Claude Marbella, 250 - 280 €
C/ San Francisco, 5
Hotel El Fuerte, 250 €
Avda. El Fuerte, s/n

Hotel Sultán Club, 208 €
Avenida Arturo Rubenstein, s/n

Marbella Club Hotel Golf Resort & Spa, 620 €
CN-340. km. 178.
Boulevard Príncipe Alfonso de Hohenlohe

Hotel Puente Romano, 520 €
CN-340A, Km.177,6

Gran Hotel Guadalpín Marbella, 280 €
CN-340. km. 179.
Boulevard Principe Alfonso de Hohenlohe

Cheap and cheerful
The Town House, 130 €
C/Alderete, 7.
Plaza Tetuán

Cheap and cheerful
Pensión El Castillo, 50 €
Plaza San Bernabé, 2
Hidden away
Marianne Nilsen
Urb. La Virginia
Plaza de la Primavera, 3
952765018, 629379974,

Hidden away
Hotel Los Jarales
Ctra. Marbella-Istán, Km.14
Istán, Marbella

Youth Hostel
Albergue Juvenil de Marbella (en obras)
Avda. del Trapiche, 2
Camping Marbella Playa
CN-340, km. 192,8


Native products
Sunny Shop
C/ Mendoza, 4
For the home
C.C. Guadalmina, local 35
San Pedro Alcántara

For the home
C/ Nueva, 9

Getting ready for feria
Avenida Mercado, s/n
Something for yourself
C/ Víctor de la Serna, 12

Something for yourself
The Hat Shop
C/ Panadería, 4

Something for yourself
Muelle Benabola y Muelle Ribera
Puerto Banús
Music store
Fnac La Cañada
Fnac La Cañada. C.C. La Cañada. Autovía 340, salida Ojén

Street market
Mercado Central
Avda. del Mercado, s/n

Local produce
Vinacoteca La Cartuja
Plaza Gómez Agüera, 7

Home Sweet Home
DM Properties
Avda Ricardo Soriano 72 B1

C/ Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, s/n
Sweet treats
C/ Alonso de Bazán, 3
Something original
Cerámica G. Vega
Avda. Gustavo Adolfo Bequer, 54


La Concha

At 1,215 metres, la Concha is one of the peaks of the Sierra de las Nieves Mountains and protects the city of Marbella at its feet. The paths that weave their way up its sides are ideal for seeing Marbella and the Mediterranean Sea from another perspective. They say that marine fossils have been found at the summit, which explains the name (La Concha means shell).

El Puerto Deportivo

377 berths in the centre of the city. This leisure port features a Moorish style building and separates the Playa del Faro (beach of the lighthouse) from Playa de la Venus (the beach of Venus). Far less glamorous than Puerto Banús, but much more friendly, you’ll find several bars and restaurants ideal for a rest from the beach or a long day’s work.

El Puerto Pesquero

The fisherman’s port is the best place to eat fish in Marbella. To the east, several fishermen’s houses and their restaurantes look out to the sea. You won’t find any swanky yachts here, only small fishing boats that bring in their catch every morning.

Muralla del Castillo

In the heart of the old town, the remains of the castle walls date back to the 10th century. Abderramán III ordered the castle built to defend Marbella from possible attacks from Africa. Today you’ll find the remains of this fortress located between the Plaza de los Naranjos and the Encarnación Church.

Puerto Banús

Known for the glitz and glam that characterised Marbella in the sixties, seventies and eighties, this is where to park your yacht if you want to be seen. Arab sheikhs, American actors and the Spanish jet set used to spend their time there in its heyday. Now a glorified shopping mall and stag weekend destination, it somehow maintains its position as one of the most visited locations on the Costa del Sol.

Plaza de los Naranjos

No matter the season, this small plaza in the centre of the old town is always full of people. During the orange season the trees are resplendent and at night the smell of jasmine fills the area.

 Sports and spas

Getting sweaty
O2 Wellness Plaza del Mar
C.C. Plaza del Mar
C/ Camilo José Cela, s/n
Escuela Internacional de Yoga
Avda. Ricardo Soriano 36, Edificio María III, Planta 2, Oficina 208

Magna Pilates
Magna Marbella Golf Casa Club
C/ Calderon de la Barca, s/n
Nueva Andalucía, Marbella

Spa Hotel GUadalpin
Blvd. Príncipe Alfonso de Hohenlohe
Be adventurous
Ticket to Ride
Avda. Naciones Unidades, Cristamar, local B-61
Puerto Banús

Be adventurous
Active Scuba Divers
Puerto Deportivo
Be adventurous
Equitación Los Caireles
Urb. Hacienda Cortés Finca El Almendral
Tras el Arco de Marbella

Team sports
Estadio Municipal de Marbella
C/ Travesía Huerta de los Cristales, s/n
Sports center
Complejo Polideportivo Antonio Serrano Lima
C/ Vicente Blasco Ibañez
952 77 15 55,
El Casco
A-7 (CN-340A), km. 188,5 Urb. El Rosario

Aloha Golf Club
Urbanización Aloha
Nueva Andalucía

 Museums and galleries

Museo del Grabado Español Contemporáneo
Hospital Bazán, s/n

Museo Ralli
Urb. Coral Beach CN-340 Km 176
Puerto Banús

Museo Cortijo Miraflores
Avda. José Luis Morales y Marín, s/n

Colección Municipal de Arqueología
Plaza Altamirano, s/n

Natural history
Museo del Bonsái
Parque Arroyo la Represa, s/n

 Theatre and dance

Cutting edge
Black Box Teatro
C/ Notario Luis Oliver, 6

A little of everything
Teatro Ciudad de Marbella
Plaza Ramón Martínez, s/n


Cinesa La Cañada
C.C. La Cañada
Ctra Circunvalación. Salida Ojén
902333231 ,
Cinema club
Cine Club Buñuel
I.E.S Rio Verde
C/ Notario Luis Oliver

In the center
Cine Sur Plaza del Mar
C.C. Plaza del Mar
Paseo Marítimo

Out of town
Gran Marbella
Paseo de Ribera
Puerto Banús


Car rental
Niza Cars
C/ Camilo José Cela, 3
Apartamentos Puerta Azul, E

Avda. Ricardo Soriano, 76

Water Sports
Funny Beach
Ctra.N-340, Km.184

By bus
Estación de Autobuses de Marbella
Avda. del Trapiche, s/n

Taxi Sol

 Green zones

La Alameda

A green gateway that leads down to the sea in the centre of Marbella. An avenue of tall trees and marble floors that take you to the Avenida del Mar, where you can see the now mythical statues by Dalí.

El Paseo Marítimo

8 km of boardwalk from the fisherman’s port to Puerto Banús along which you’ll see the trees and gardens of some of the more famous homes and hotels of Marbella.

Parque de la Constitución

Not only a park, the Parque de la Constitución also contains an amphitheatre that houses concerts and shows in the summer. A popular destination for parents with kids, pets are not allowed and the park is closed at night.

Pinar de Nagüeles

To the northwest of the city, at the foot of the Sierra Blanca Mountains, part of this pine forest is open to the public for barbecues and for kids. Behind it you’ll find what’s left of the original landscape with paths leading up into the mountains.


Fnac La Cañada
Request password
Fnac La Cañada. C.C. La Cañada. Autovía 340, salida Ojén

Heladería El Piave
Request password
C/ Nuestra Señora de Gracia, 28

Terra Sana @ iLounge
Open access
Avda. José Antonio Belón, s/n


Aside from visiting the white villages of Ojén and Monda, the classic escape is to drive to Ronda, a small town about 45 minutes away. The famous gorge is only one of several options for a quick get away from the coast. A great place to stay is the comfortable, intimate and central A la vera de los baños (C/ San Miguel, s/n, 952879143, Innumerable artists have fallen in love with Ronda’s streets, contrasts and food. The landscape is breathtaking. A great hike is from Benaoján to Jimera de Libar.

Gaucín is a village crowned with a castle, panoramic views and spectacular hikes surrounded by cork and oak trees. The best walks are pretty hidden, so we recommend you hire a guide to help you discover them (Adventure Bugs, Casares, 952894308, Before reaching Gaucín, the white village of Casares is worth a visit.

Less than an hour away, the city of Malaga has the best cultural offering and is worth the trip. The stars of the show include the Picasso Museum (Palacio de Buenavista, C/ San Agustín, 8, 952127600,, the CAC Málaga (C/ Alemania, s/n, 952120055, and Cervantes Theatre (C/ Ramos Marín, s/n, 952212993, Other highlights include the Gibralfaro Castle (C/ Camino Gibralfaro, 11, 952122020,, the run down English Cemetery (Avda. Pries, 1) and exotic la Concepción Gardens (C/ Camino Jardín Botánico, 3, 952250745, You should definitely take a walk through the old town and savour the feeling of an up and coming capital city.

In August, locals escape the influx of tourists and make their way to the beaches out east. Ninety minutes away, Tarifa is a paradise for kite surfers and windsurfers, while Bolonia Beach is a breath of fresh air. Located next to the Roman ruins of Baelo Claudia, Restaurant Otero serves delicious food as the sun sets behind the giant white sand dune.


Useful contacts

Town Hall
Plaza de los Naranjos, s/n

Autovía A-7 Km. 187

Plaza de Leganitos, 5

Emergency Medical Attention


Post office
C/ Jacinto Benavente, 14

Local police

Ecologists in Action

24-hour pharmacy
Avda. Ricardo Soriano, 4

Getting there?

By air
Aeropuerto de Málaga
Avenida García Morato, s/n
952048804, 952048844, 952048771,

By train
Estación de tren María Zambrano (RENFE/AVE)
Explanada de la Estación, s/n

By boat
Edificio Capitanía
Paseo marítimo, s/n
Puerto Deportivo

By bus
Estación de Autobuses de Marbella
Avda. del Trapiche, s/n

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These books related to Marbella: Travel Notes may interest you.



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El 27 May 2009 a las 7:43 AM, Sergio Gonzalez dijo...

Enhorabuena por el articulo.

Justo lo que necesita Marbella y muchas ciudades de la Costa… quitarse “la caspa” para descubrir lo que sigue estando debajo… una maravilla.

Seguid con el buen trabajo.

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El 27 May 2009 a las 9:09 AM, Fernando dijo...

Vaya repaso que le habeis dado, por arriba y por abajo, a toda Marbella. Lo mejor es que coincido con casi todo lo que decis!

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El 27 May 2009 a las 11:45 AM, virucayebra dijo...

Me encanta que se tenga la capacidad de descubrir y admirar lo bello. Sólo quisiera que no se hable de “caspa”, ese es un témino utilizado por la TV Basura, y que no define a Marbella,sólo a la gentuza que por desgracia a esquilmado esta ciudad,
a pesar de todo lo que se ha hablado de Marbella, tenemos un ciudad como pocas en España, la vegetación, la montaña, la luz, el paseo marítimo, el casco antiguo, incluso las urbanizaciones son únicas e incomparables. Marbella es un producto único, no seamos tan estupidos de limpiar el suelo con mas exquisita de las esencias…

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El 27 May 2009 a las 12:16 PM, virucayebra dijo...

Se me olvidaba decir que la oferta cultural es buena, pero creo que se divulga poco: Amigos de la Musica cada mes un concierto de nivel, Teatro Municipal con ciclo de ópera financiado por la Fundación Banús, confrencias de primer nivel del Club Internacional, el Foro 7, el Ateneo, Fundación Jale, La Casa de Europa, El Cortijo Miraflores. El que tenga interés por la cultura cada día tiene en Marbella una actividad, los que dicen que no hay oferta cultural son los que jamás ves en ningún acontecimiento de esta índole.




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