Meliá Marbella Banús
100 (2016 reviews)/
100 (2016 reviews)/
100 (22 reviews)/
100 (1356 reviews)/
100 (23 reviews)/
100 (1972 reviews)/
100 (957 reviews)/
Nestled between the scenic Sierra Blanca mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, Marbella enjoys some of the sunniest weather on Spain’s Costa del Sol. Although this upmarket resort city’s enviable microclimate and handy location within 40 minutes’ drive of Málaga Airport don’t come cheap, it retains an enduring appeal thanks to its attractive old town, popular beaches, international restaurants, golf courses, swanky boutiques and marinas harbouring luxury yachts. Whether you want to enjoy this sun-soaked playground of the rich and famous at a swish all inclusive resort or seek out less expensive hotels in the wider municipality, Marbella won’t disappoint.
Nowhere is Marbella’s classy and flashy reputation more evident than in the so-called Golden Mile. Starting at the western fringes of the city centre, this prime patch of coastal real estate actually stretches for about four miles towards the south-west. It’s a collage of upscale hotels, fancy restaurants serving cuisine from around the world, luxury villas, private estates and glitzy clubs. Here, it’s easy to see why Marbella has maintained its popularity since the days when it was a Spanish stopover for the international jet set. Nowadays, visitors might find themselves rubbing shoulders with famous actors, rock stars, aristocrats, royalty and reality television personalities.
People-watchers and shopaholics with deep pockets alike won’t want to ignore Puerto Banús at the western end of the Golden Mile. Strung around a marina where luxury yachts are moored, this leisure complex is a beacon of bling that has become a major tourist destination in its own right since its inception in 1970. Visitors can expect to see snazzy supercars, fancy restaurants, swish shopping malls and beautiful people sporting designer clothes at every turn.
On average, the sun shines for nearly 3,000 hours a year in Marbella. So, it’s little wonder that this seaside resort in Andalusia is perfect for outdoor activities. There are 24 beaches to choose from along 17 miles of coastline, and most are sandy. However, finding a space to unfurl your towel can be trickier during high season when Marbella’s population swells to include not only second homeowners from Spain and abroad, but also an influx of holidaymakers. The centrally located Venus and Fontanilla beaches just off the palm tree-lined promenade are among the most popular. Those at Puerto Banús and San Pedro Alcántara have won awards for their good water quality, while Artola beach is located within a protected sand dune landscape to the east of Marbella. Adventurous beachgoers can also try their hand at kite-surfing and various water sports. For diners, there are many open-air beachside restaurants known as chiringuitos, serving international favourites or Andalusian dishes like fried fish, cold and refreshing gazpacho soup and sweet treats like churros finger donuts dipped in chocolate.
If you’re in Marbella to practice your swing, you can choose an upscale resort hotel with its own golf course. Alternatively, there are many courses situated along the A-7 motorway corridor, which serves the city. Meanwhile, walkers and birdwatchers can explore the beautiful Sierra Blanca mountain range, which overlooks Marbella from the north. Easily reached by road from the city centre, this mountain range is characterized by its exposed, limestone slopes plus rare plants and animals. Standing 1,275 metres tall, its highest peak is Pico del Lastonar.
There’s more to Marbella than burning a hole in your wallet and lazing in the sun at exclusive beach resorts or around the pool at your hotel. The city also has a long history plus a wealth of museums to discover. Phoenicians, Romans and Moors all made Marbella their home down the centuries, and the region was one of the last to be reconquered from its North African rulers by the Catholic Kings in the late 15th century when Spain became unified. The pretty old town, or casco antiguo in Spanish, boasts a well-maintained labyrinth of narrow streets lined with many whitewashed houses sporting beautiful floral displays. At its heart lies the Plaza de los Naranjos square dating from 1485. Around this pedestrianized square dotted with orange trees are many bars and eateries plus historic buildings like the Ermita de Santiago, which contains a chapel partly decorated with Islamic tiles and is Marbella’s oldest religious site. A stone’s throw away is the Plaza de la Iglesia where remaining sections of Marbella’s Moorish walls are found.
Art lovers visiting the old town will be sure to enjoy the Museo del Grabado Español. This small museum just off the Plaza de la Iglesia displays works by some of the greatest Spanish painters, including Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró and Salvador Dalí, whose sculptures are also on show in the botanical gardens along the Avenida del Mar, which connects the old town with the seafront. Near Puerto Banús is the Ralli Museum, which houses as private collection of primarily Latin American art. It also features sculptures and paintings by Dalí, Miró, Marc Chagall and Henry Moore.