Once a small white washed fisherman village, Marbella is now one of the Mediterranean’s most popular destinations for travellers and one of the most cosmopolitan beach resorts in Spain.
Situated on the Costa del Sol, this chic and glamorous costal destination has an abundance of delicious restaurants, excellent golf courses, art galleries, shops and a stunning marina with lots of entertainment.
Southwest of Marbella on the coast is the famous marina Puerto Banús. Built in 1970 by José Banús, a local property developer, as a luxury marina and shopping complex around a costal village in the Mediterranean architectural style. Puerto Banús has since become one of the biggest entertainment centres in the Costa del Sol. The marina has high-end shopping malls, restaurants and bars.
Nearby to Marbella and Puerto Banús, in the surrounding region there are lots of interesting and beautiful places to visit, including the white village Mijas, the rock and monkeys in Gibraltar and Benahavis in the mountains. Marbella is on the coastal motorway N340, which provides easy access to these surrounding areas within a two-hour drive.
The best time to travel to Marbella and Puerto Banús depends of what kind of weather you most enjoy. During the Spring the days are clear, sunny and long with warm temperatures averaging around 22-26º C. The weather isn’t too warm or wet either. During the summer the weather is very hot and can soar to 40º C. The Autumn is mild with some heavy rain followed by sunshine. During the winter the weather is chilly but sunny.
Marbella and Puerto Banús have a microclimate and in general the weather on the Costa del Sol is sunny around 320 days a year. Marbella and Puerto Banús are very close to the African Coastline so it’s unsurprising that during the summer months the temperatures soar to 30ºC and to 40º C inland. During the winter months there are occasional bouts of rain, which don’t last for very long and there are lots of sunny days especially in January.
Fiesta de Los Reyes/ The Festival of the Three Magic Kings: Every year on January 5th the mythical Three Kings arrive in every village and town on floats and parade the streets and throw sweets into the crowds to celebrate when the Kings or Wise Men brought gifts to the Baby Jesus. Presents are given on Christmas Day but most are opened on the Epiphany.
Feria: Every village and town has its own patron saint and a weeklong celebration is held to pay honour to that saint. During the ferias the daytime is spent eating local food and drinking local wine and there are horse shows, dancing, street parties and bullfights. In the evenings the celebrations usually move on to a fairground a bit further out of the town, where there are rides, open-air buses and clubs that stay open until sunrise.
The Night of San Juan: On the 23rd June, a celebration is held on the beaches the whole way down the Costa del Sol to celebrate Saint John’s Day eve. There are barbecues, bonfires and lots of drinking and eating. At midnight people jump into the sea in all of their clothes to wash the faces and feet three times and make three wishes for a happy 12 months ahead.
The Festival International de Arte Marbella: This three day art festival, held around the 21st June each year, was founded in 2009 by a group of Spanish and International residents. Artists, from around the world, flock to Marbella to display their works of art at this festival.
The Virgen of El Carmen: On the evening of the 16th July thousands of people in every town follow the image of El Carmen as she is carried out into the sea to be cleansed. In the fishing villages and towns along the coast her effigy is paraded through the streets and taken around the bay of a flower adorned boat. There are brass bands, crowds cheering and lots of fireworks.
Ronda’s Goyesque Festival: This festival takes place during the first week of September. Everyone wears traditional costume and there is a procession of horse-drawn carriages that goes through the streets of Ronda. On the first Saturday of the month there is a bullfight, which is the fiesta’s main attraction.
Marbella Film Festival: The Marbella International Film Festival brings together artists and their films from all corners of the globe to display their talents to the commercial world.
The Fiesta de San Martin: On the 11th November Fiesta de San Martin marks the slaughtering of pigs in rural communities in preparation for drying the hams throughout the winter. During the fiesta there is lots of drinking in the local squares in the villages and towns.
New Years Eve: On New Years Eve in Marbella and Puerto Banús, everyone gathers in the local square or in front of the Town Hall to eat grapes in time with the chimes. There is usually lots of Cava flowing as well.
The Old Town and Orange Square: Marbella is a modern town however it is still full of history and its origins date back to 1600 BC. The old town is full of history and is made up of narrow winding streets with flower filled balconies. The historical old quarter has an Andalucían and Moorish mix with landmarks such as the Moorish Castle and Orange Square existing together in the same place.
The Golden Mile: This four-mile stretch of beach between Marbella and Puerto Banús is where some of the most impressive houses and hotels in the area are located, such as the Palace of King Fahd, Gran Meliá Don Pepe, the Hotel Marbella Club and the Puente Romano Hotel.
The Indoor Food Market: The Mercado Municipal is located at the top of the old town in Marbella and stocks the freshest fish in the area. The meat, vegetables and herbs are also great. The market is open Monday to Saturday.
Ronda: Head inland to the beautiful, white-walled city Ronda. This small city has three bridges that span the canyon, which are well known and the tallest one Puente Nuevo is 120ft above the canyon floor. Visit the Arabic baths, which date back to the 13th century and the Plaza de Toros bullring, which is one of the oldest working bullrings in Spain.
Golf: There are spectacular golf courses that were designed by Seve Ballesteros, Peter Alliss and Clive Clark. There are more than 40 courses to play on throughout the Costa del Sol.
Horseracing: Just 15 minutes from the centre of Marbella is the Hipodromo Mijas Costa, which is the recently built all weather racetrack. It has race meetings throughout the year including floodlit night racing during the summer on the weekends.
Shopping: Marbella and Puerto Banús are renowned for their luxury high-end designer shops. Most of the designer brands can be found in Marbella on Avenida Ricardo Soriano. Marbella Old Town has lots of great gift shops and La Cañada is the main out-of-town shopping centre, which has clothes and accessories shops, cinemas and restaurants. Puerto Banús has the biggest Corte Ingles department store, several shopping centres including Centro Plaza and there lots of designer shops in the marina area along Calle Ribera. These include Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Dior, Versace, Chloe, Hugo Boss, Carolina Herrera, Burberry and more.
Buenaventura: Set in the heart of Marbella’s old town in Plaza de la Iglesia stands Buenaventura. Chef Alexis Gonzalez runs this traditional restaurant, which faces onto a square with a beautiful 18th century church. Specialties include the venison steak with juniper sauce and white fish with ratatouille and a thick almond cream.
Plaza de la Iglesia de la Encarnación, Casco Antiguo, Marbella Centre, 29600. Tel: (+34) 952 858 069
Skina: This is one of the best restaurants in Marbella’s old town. This Michelin Star restaurant opened up in 2005 and serves stellar cuisine. The double chef kitchen led by Victor Trochi and Daniel Rosado offers a remarkable À la carte and tasting menu of Spanish and International cuisine. Menu recommendations include the fig martini with truffle shavings, scallops and beetroot cannelloni and Iberian pork with red butter ice cream.
Calle Aduar 12 Casco Antiguo Marbella 29601. Tel: (+34) 952 765 277
Dani Garcia: This is one of Marbella’s top restaurants and the flagship eatery of Puente Romano Beach Resort. There is a gastronomic dining room and lounge bar. Menu specialties include the traditional Andalucían recipes such as ajo-gazpacho, foie gras with caramelised apple and goat’s cheese and the lobster cannelloni.
Hotel Puente Romano, Bulevar Principe Alfonso von Hohenlohe, s/n, 29602 Marbella, Málaga. Tel: +34 952 76 42 52
Santiago: The owner Santiago Dominguez founded this fantastic fish and shellfish restaurant more that 50 years ago. This Mediterranean restaurant combines traditional with modern in its menu. Recommendations include the monkfish with glazed vegetables or hake cooked in cider with tapioca pearls.
Paseo Maritimo, (Frontline promenade), Marbella Centre, 29600. Tel: (+34) 952 770 078
El Rodeito: This traditional Castilian restaurant has been running since 1988 and is open 24 hours a day and never closes. The restaurant has two dining rooms and a summer terrace. The food is traditional Castilian cuisine and is cooked in a wooden fire closed oven. Recommendations include the Sautéed Chopped Spicy Sausage and the Grilled Bone Steak.
Carretera Cádiz, Km 173, 29600 Marbella, Málaga. Tel: (+34) 952810861.
Exchange rate: 0.72 Pound Sterling (GBP) to 1 Euro (May 2015)
Adapters: UK 3 pin adapter
Emergency Police, Ambulance and Fire Brigade number: 112
Tourist Office: Plaza De Antonio Banderas, Puerto Banús, Marbella, Málaga, 29660. Tel: +34 952 81 89 02.
Marbella Medical Services: Tel: +34 952 823 135.
Getting around Marbella and Puerto Banús: Having a car in Marbella and Puerto Banús is the best way for getting around. Hire a car at the airport or in Marbella or Puerto Banús. Click Car hire in Marbella and Puerto Banus for more information on hiring a car in Marbella and Puerto Banús.
Taxis: Taxis are available from Malaga Airport to Marbella. If travelling a longer distance agree the fare in advance. Official rates should be displayed inside any licensed taxi. You can book a taxi in advance with Marbella Taxis http://www.marbellataxis.com: Tel: +34 633 12 10 34.
By air: Malaga Airport (Aeropuerto Pablo Ruiz Picasso) is the closest airport to Marbella and Puerto Banús. Alternatively you can fly to Gibraltar Airport, which is a one and a half hour drive to Marbella and Puerto Banús.
By car: The main costal road N340, which is also known as the A7, connects the main towns on the coast around Marbella. Malaga is just a 30-minute drive along the N340 from Marbella. There is also the new, higher speed, toll fee road AP-7, which run parallel to the N340 and has less traffic.
By train: Trains run between Fuengirola and Malaga and this will be extended further down to Marbella in the near future.
Books set in the Marbella and Puerto Banús:
November Echo by James Houston Turner
Art in Marbella and Puerto Banús:
The Galeria Municipal de Exposiciones Marbella
Address: Plaza de José Palomo, Marbella, 29600, Costa del Sol, Spain. Tel: +34 95 2825035. Open hours: Monday to Friday - 11:00 to 14:00, 18:00 to 21:00.
Address: Riomar, Urbanización Rio Verde Playa, Marqués de Ivanrrey, Marbella, 29600, Costa del Sol, Spain. Tel: +34 95 2286705. Open hours: Monday to Friday - 11:00 to 14:00, 19:00 to 21:00.
Bonsai Museum (Museo del Bonsai)
Address: Parque Arroyo de la Represa, Avenida Arroyo de la Represa, Marbella, 29600, Costa del Sol, Spain. Tel: +34 95 286 29 26. Open hours: daily - 10:00 to 13:00, 16:00 to 19:00.
Contemporary Engraving Museum
Address: Hospital Bazán, Marbella, 29600, Costa del Sol, Spain. Tel: +34 95 2825035. Open hours: Monday to Friday, 10:00 to 14:00, 17:30 to 20:30; Sunday - 10:00 to 14:00.
Films set in Marbella and Puerto Banús:
Language: Spanish is the native language in Marbella and Puerto Banús, which is spoken with an Andalucían accent. The Andalucían’s famously drop the last consonant and often the s’ in words. English is also widely spoken.
Tipping: At a very good restaurant, leave a few Euros per person as a tip. It is not typical to tip for informal meals or drinks aside from leaving a bit of extra change.
Shopping: In Marbella and Puerto Banús, the shops are open in the morning and then they close for a few hours when everyone has lunch and a siesta. The shops open again at 6pm until 10pm, so the best time to do shopping is in the morning or evening. El Corte Inglés and the local corner shops stay open all day.
Meal times: The Marbella and Puerto Banús meal time clock is typically Mediterranean. Lunch is usually from 2pm and dinner is from 10pm. If you’re eating in restaurants, its better to try and fit in with the local clock as the atmosphere will be much more buzzing.
Siesta: At 2 o’clock the shops in Marbella and Puerto Banús close so the employees can go home for a few hours. The shops then re-open in the evening when it is cooler.
Flamenco: Experiencing this traditional Spanish dance and music tradition is a must when visiting Marbella and Puerto Banús. During the Ferias the women dress in colourful gypsy dress and couples dance sevillanas, which is a type of folk music and dance influenced by Flamenco.
Greetings: When meeting people on a social basis the local custom is to greet the person with two kisses, one on each cheek, even if it’s the first time you’ve met the person. Handshaking is not used socially.
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