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Part of the province of Malaga and the autonomous community of Andalusia. Marbella is a popular resort city on the Costa Del Sol and is home to around 150,000 people, making it the 2nd largest city in Malaga and the 8th in Andalusia.
Marbella has a long and varied history with evidence of Roman settlement found in some ionic columns embedded into the Moorish town walls. After the industrial revolution it was known for its iron industry. During the Spanish Civil War, it suffered extreme anti-clerical violence and became a haven for Francoists.
In the early 20th Century, the first hotels were built in Marbella, capitalising on its wonderful climate and natural setting. By the mid-late 20th Century, it has been established as an upmarket destination with royalty and A-listers coming here. Nowadays, Marbella is associated with bling but still retains a certain appeal to visitors.
For information about gay rights in Spain, please visit our Gay Madrid City Guide page.
Marbella is a popular destination for people of all sexualities despite the fact it has a limited gay scene. There are a couple of bars specifically geared for gay clientele, but all bars are welcoming of LGBT visitors in Marbella. Torremolinos is not too far away and has well-established gay scene.
Marbella does not have an airport of its own and most visitors arrive by Malaga Airport (AGP) which is located around 50 km northeast of Marbella. It is Spain’s 4th busiest airport and is well-connected to destinations in Europe as well as Africa, the Middle East and North America.
From Malaga Airport you can take a modern and air-conditioned bus from outside the arrivals hall. They run every hour or so and leave promptly, so make sure you arrive on time. The journey takes around 40 minutes and will cost you around the €5 mark. Try and get a seat on the left of the bus as that will reward you with views of the coast.
A taxi grabbed from outside of arrivals will cost you around €70 and can be an expensive option depending on group size. You can save money by booking a lift in advance but make sure there are no hidden costs. Car hire can be found at Malaga Airport by carousels 28-31. The drive will take around 40 minutes depending on traffic.
Marbella is the largest city on the Iberian Peninsula without a train station. The nearest train station is in Fuengirola.
Puerto Banús and Puerto de la Bajadilla are popular locations for cruise ships however there are no scheduled ferry services.
The Old Town of Marbella is relatively compact and perfect to navigate on foot. Hotels can be situated further away from the action so you may need to take other modes of transport.
By public transport
CTSA-Portillo operate the public transport in Marbella, providing a comprehensive network of buses throughout the city. Services run day and night but do get extremely busy in the peak season. You can get to Fuengirola for €2 and it’s worth getting a bonobus card to save money on journeys. Make sure you have change.
Taxis can be hailed or ordered in advance throughout most of Marbella but it can be difficult to catch one in the bustling party season. The rates should be displayed on the windows and be sure to agree a fare if travelling any distance. Uber is available here.
For a list of recommended hotels in Marbella, please check out our recommended hotels in Marbella page.
The Golden Mile – actually a 4 mile strip where Marbella’s most luxurious residences and hotels can be found. Keep your eyes peeled for A-list celebrities.
The Old Town – despite the opulent modernity Marbella is known for, you will find well-preserved Moorish architecture and winding tree-lined streets to get lost in. There are many romantic restaurants here and is a great place to spend a night.
Puerto Banús – this marina to the south west of Marbella is a meeting spot for the international jet-set crowd. Here you will find luxury boutiques, fancy restaurants and Lamborghinis.
The Engraving Museum – if you decide you need a spot of culture, head to this museum to take in works by Dali, Miro and Picasso.
Golf – there are over 40 golf courses in the Costa Del Sol meaning you’re spoilt for choice (if that’s your thing).
Playa de la Bajadilla – a popular beach located next to the old fishing port. You’re close to a good selection of bars, restaurants and shops.
The Costa Del Sol isn’t called the coast of the sun for no reason, as the whole region experiences glorious sunshine and warm temperatures over the summer months. Winters can be wet but are significantly mild in comparison to northern Europe. Summers get extremely busy but early fall and spring are a pleasant temperature and less crowded.
There are a variety of festivals and events held in Marbella all year. In June, the city hosts the Marbella International Film Festival at various locations, attracting a jet-set crowd. In October, there is a week-long celebration of the patron saint San Pedro Alcantara which is extremely popular.
Spain is within the Schengen visa area. If travelling from outside Europe, check to see if you require a Schengen visa.
The currency in Spain is the Euro. Cash dispensers are widely available. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted. Photo ID may be required if paying by card in some shops.
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