Top 10 Things to Do in Marbella Spain

Marbella is a luxurious resort town located on the sparkling Costa del Sol in the south of Spain. With its brilliant sunshine, sandy Mediterranean beaches, and historic old town, it’s easy to see why Marbella has been a beloved getaway for the rich and famous for decades. But you don’t have to be a celebrity to enjoy the best of what this glamorous seaside retreat has to offer. From exploring Marbella’s Andalucían old quarter to indulging in tapas to teeing off on world-class golf courses, here are the top things to do in Marbella.

Things to Do in Marbella: Plaza de los Naranjos

Best Things to Do in Marbella Spain

Explore the Old Town of Marbella

One of the highlights of a visit to Marbella is wandering around the winding cobblestone streets of the city’s casco antiguo, or old town. This photogenic historic centre dates back to the 16th century and abounds with traditional whitewashed houses, fragrant orange trees, and flower-adorned plazas where you can stop for a glass of Rioja at an alfresco cafe.

Don’t miss landmarks like the Renaissance-era Plaza de los Naranjos with its beautiful Baroque fountain and former town hall, now an interpretive centre. The 16th century Iglesia Mayor de la Encarnación, with its imposing bell tower and intricate carved doorway, is another must-see in the old town. Art lovers should seek out the quirky Salvador Dali sculptures near the Avenida del Mar beachfront promenade.

Visit Puerto Banus

Around a half hour walk or short drive west from downtown Marbella is Puerto Banus, an ultra-glitzy playground for the international jet set. Originally a modest fishing village, Puerto Banus was transformed in the 1970s into a glamorous marina and shopping complex where some of the world’s most spectacular yachts and luxury vehicles can be spotted.

Visit Puerto Banus

Even if you’re not looking to join the spectacle of conspicuous consumption, Puerto Banus makes for an entertaining spot for upscale window shopping and people watching from a cafe terrace. Its scenic marina is lined with bars and nightclubs that attract a fashionable party crowd when the sun goes down. The El Corte Ingles department store complex at Puerto Banus is one of the Costa del Sol’s top shopping destinations.

Spend a Day at One of Marbella’s Beach Clubs

Marbella’s famous beach clubs offer the perfect setting for a relaxing day. Stake out your spot on Playa de Nagüeles or one of Marbella’s other sandy stretches, and avail yourself of amenities like sunbed rental, drink service and on-site restaurants at upscale beach clubs and chiringuitos like Ocean Club Marbella, Nikki Beach Club and Amàre Beach Club Marbella.

Take a Stroll Along Avenida del Mar

Running parallel to Marbella’s wide sandy beaches, the Avenida del Mar is a scenic promenade perfect for a leisurely stroll or bike ride. Stretching for nearly 5km along the coastline, this picturesque paseo offers spectacular views of the Mediterranean, with the looming La Concha mountain as a dramatic backdrop.

Walk Along Marbella's Promenade

Spend a morning or late afternoon ambling along the palm tree-lined pathway, stopping to admire the quirky Salvador Dali sculptures and elegant fountains interspersed throughout. The Avenida del Mar is also lined with restaurants and beach clubs where you can stop for a refreshing sangria or plate of fresh seafood while soaking in the view. Be sure to wander down to the iconic Playa de la Venus beach to view the gorgeous sculptures depicting Venus emerging from the waves.

Enjoy the Tapas Bars of Marbella

One of the great pleasures of visiting Marbella is indulging in Spain’s tapas culture. These small shareable plates, typically paired with beer, wine or cocktails, offer the perfect excuse to graze your way through a selection of regional specialties at Marbella’s best tapas bars and bodegas.

For an authentic local experience, grab a stool at one of the classic ventas in Marbella’s charming old town. These no-frills establishments have been serving up house specialties like sizzling gambas al ajillo (shrimp in garlic and chili oil) and crispy croquetas de jamón to loyal maños for generations. Plaza de los Naranjos is another popular tapas area that brings crowds to popular spots like Arco Tapas Bar and Mia Café.

A local seafood favourite which you must try are the fresh sardines cooked on a skewer over an open fire. Numerous ‘chiringuitos’ along the beach serve this speciality during the summer months.

Sardines on a skewer

Play a Round of Golf

With its sunny subtropical Mediterranean climate and varied scenic terrain, the Marbella area is one of the best places in Europe for a golf getaway. The region is home to dozens of top-notch golf courses, many designed by legendary names like Robert Trent Jones and Seve Ballesteros.

Play Golf in Marbella

Some of the most acclaimed greens can be found at prestigious clubs like Finca Cortesin Golf Club which hosted the 2023 Solheim Cup and Las Brisas Golf Club, which has hosted the World Golf Championships iand the Spanish Open. The historic Marbella Club Golf Resort offers a classic parkland-style course and an idyllic setting beside the beach. La Quinta Golf & Country Club boasts three championship courses winding through the hills just north of Marbella.

Take a Day Trip to Ronda

For a rewarding day trip from Marbella, point your rental car into the rugged Andalucían hills towards the historic city of Ronda, about an hour and twenty minutes inland. Straddling a deep river gorge crossed by an incredible stone bridge, Ronda is celebrated for both its dramatic topography and wealth of well-preserved architecture from its Moorish and Renaissance periods.

Take a Day Trip to Ronda

Don’t miss the 18th century Puente Nuevo bridge for its unbeatable viewpoint over the El Tajo gorge. The city’s oldest neighborhood, La Ciudad, contains sights like the Baños Arabes (Arab baths) and Santa Maria la Mayor church. You can also tour the Plaza de Toros, one of Spain’s oldest and most storied bullfighting rings. After taking in Ronda’s highlights, stop in at a venerable family-owned winery like Descalzos Viejos for a tasting of classic Andalucían wines.

Explore the Sierra Bermeja Mountains

For an invigorating outdoor excursion, head inland from the coast to the rugged Sierra Bermeja Mountains just northwest of Marbella. This spectacular range is one of the great natural playgrounds of Andalucía, with soaring rocky peaks, deep gorges, and lush forests of stone pine and Spanish fir trees.

Avid hikers can tackle challenging trails like the nine-mile round-trip trek to the 1480 metre summit of Los Reales, the highest point in the Sierra Bermeja, which rewards with breathtaking panoramic views. For a more relaxed immersion in nature, follow one of the shorter circular routes like the Cedro Trail through the lush cork oak groves near the mountain town of Istán. After working up a sweat on the trails, refresh with a dip in the natural pools and waterfalls of the Rio Guadalmina or Guadalmansa River.

Take a Day Trip to Gibraltar

Just a short 56km drive from Marbella brings you to the unique British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea. Despite its tiny size of just 6.7 square km, “The Rock” is jam-packed with fascinating attractions and cultures waiting to be explored.

Take a Day Trip to the Rock of Gibraltar

Start your visit by joining one of the guided tours to the Rock’s historic Upper Rock Nature Reserve, home to the famous Barbary macaques monkeys as well as incredible viewpoints like the WWII-era Windsor Suspension Bridge.

After marvelling at the massive limestone ridge and strategic fortifications of the Gibraltar Rock, head into the lively downtown area to experience its very British atmosphere of pubs, fish and chips shops, and iconic red telephone booths—all with a distinctly Spanish flair. Browse the duty-free stores for deals on spirits, tobacco, and luxury goods before heading back to Marbella.

Explore Malaga City and More of Andalucía

Just 40 miles west of Marbella, the dynamic city of Malaga makes an easy and rewarding day trip or homebase for further adventures along the Costa del Sol and into Andalucía. Get your fix of historic sights and art museums in Malaga’s revitalized city centre, or venture into the nearby pueblos blancos (white villages) of the Serrania de Ronda mountain range. Other classic Andalucían destinations like Granada, Cordoba and Seville are within driving distance for overnight trips.

FAQs About Marbella

When is the Best Time to Visit Marbella?

Due to being protected by the Sierra Blanca mountains Marbella has its very own micro-climate which results in about 320 days of sunshine annually – the most in Europe. In winter the day time temperatures rarely fall below 15ºC and in summer they reach about 30ºC or higher in the afternoons. In the summer months there is very little if any rain.

It does tend to rain in winter but it rarely lasts longer than a few days and then the sun come out again. If you prefer to avoid the crowds of tourists that descend during school summer holidays then May, June and September are the perfect months to visit the resort and you may find the temperatures more comfortable too.