Spain’s Costa del Sol has long been a haven for those in search of sunshine, sunbeds and sangria. Its appeal doesn’t show any signs of slowing down and while the resorts of Benalmadena, Torremolinos and Fuengirola continue to pull in the tourists, Marbella (map) steals the crown for its sunshine chic. Here are our favourite reasons to visit Marbella:
1. The weather
Ok, for most northern Europeans wanting to escape the cold, getting a summer holiday location that guarantees wall-to-wall sunshine is often pretty much the only criteria. I appreciate that for other nations this is perhaps less of a concern (as you actually see the sun at home) however, we can all probably agree that sunshine breaks do need to contain a healthy dose of sun by definition. With 320 days of sunshine a year and temperatures in July and August averaging around 30 degrees Celsius, it’s got to be worth a gamble.
2. The beaches
Marbella has 27km of coastline and a total of 24 different beaches to take in. Many have been given Blue Flag status (an international award to signify top facilities, water quality and environmental management). To find them you should be aware that many are called by the name of the beach bar that is found there (rather than its ‘beach’ name), a great excuse to get yourself a cool drink to sip while you soak up the sun. The best beaches for doing just that are Chiringuito Red, Chiringuito Copacabana and Las Flores.
3. The beach parties
While you can happily chill out, soak up the rays or get stuck into the water sports by day, come nightfall and the opportunity to get your grove on at the beach makes this destination something special. With many beach bars continuing well into the night with music and seating opening onto the sand you can party well into the early hours with the sand between your toes. Top party beaches include Buddha Beach, Nikki Beach, Ocean Club, Suite del Mar, Plaza Beach and of course Sonora Beach in nearby Estepona.
4. The VIP experience
Marbella is dripping with celeb sightings and many have even bought property here (multi-millionaire music mogul Simon Cowell with his luxury villa is a fine example). Cristiano Ronaldo, Cheryl Cole, numerous soap and reality television stars have also been seen relaxing in the area – with Gary Lineker’s Bar (aptly named Linekers) a popular spot. Luxury hotels, über-chic bars and clubs and first rate restaurants all add a touch of sparkle to the resort earing its reputation as the Costa del Sols ‘bit-of-bling’. Fancy adding a touch of A-list to your stay? Head to Buddha Beach, Ocean Club, Suite del Mar or Kempinski Beach Club Resort to enjoy luxurious beach club service, fine dining and perhaps a celeb sighting or two…
5. The food
Spanish food is delicious. Fact. Whether you are looking for a hearty paella, freshly grilled fish of the day, a light gazpacho (tomato, cucumber and garlic based cold soup) or a plethora of tapas to nibble with a cool caña or tinto de verano in your hand Marbella comes up trumps. There are so many options to fill your belly but given you’re in Spain you should definitely make one of them local. Bodegas La Valencia offers up a fantastic selection of tapas and raciones (full sized meals) and are hard to beat for traditional Andalucían cuisine. If you do fancy something different though head to Ocean Club Marbella where the classical French dishes with a Mediterranean and Asian twist should sort you out…and if you’re feeling flash try and go when they are holding one of their champagne parties…
6. The golf
Golf is another of the Costa del Sol’s specialities and if you are partial to airing your clubs you’ll be spoilt for choice with courses in and around Marbella. Marbella Golf and Country Club, Los Naranjos Golf Club, Aloha Golf Club and Marbella Club Golf Resort are just some of the places you could tee up, many with great views of the sea. It’s also worth noting that some of these golf resorts house amazing restaurants and sometimes even spa’s and pampering facilities – perfect if you’re other half isn’t keen on building on that handicap.
7. The nightclubs
With its bling reputation it’s no surprise that Marbella is the place to party in the south of Spain and Marbella clubs have definitely got what it takes to compete on the world arena. ‘Dreamers’ is probably the most well-known in the area and is dubbed the ‘cathedral of house music’ on the Costa del Sol. With two floors, the main dance crowd shake their thing on the ground floor while VIP booths are scattered around. Big name DJ’s have played here with Roger Sanchez, Bob Sinclair and Laurent Wolf all seen spinning the decks. ‘Seven’ is another popular place to get your groove on – though it’s worth bearing in mind it is more costly and you’ll have to be smart to get in!
8. The accommodations
Holidays are a time to unwind, relax and most of all treat yourself. If you want to indulge your love of luxury hotels and beach-front property’s Marbella has a pretty impressive selection. With villas for rent and chic apartments to hire you’ll also be able to adapt your stay to your party’s needs (as staying bed and breakfast if you’re not intending to surface until lunchtime seems fairly pointless!) Of course if you want somewhere nice but don’t want to pay luxury prices you can find more mainstream options (like Gran Melia Don Pepe or AP2-044 Playas del Duque) which offer a great compromise between opulent and affordable.
9. The Bonsai Museum
I know it’s unlikely that you should even tire of relaxing with a cool drink while lying on a sandy beach overlooking the Mediterranean however, should the urge to see something new grab you I recommend you check out the bonsai museum. Housing one of the world’s best collections of bonsai’s you can catch a glimpse of some as old as 500. Opening hours are between 10.30 and 13.30 in the morning and 16.00 to 18.30 in the evening (staying open until 20.00 in the summer).
10. The region
Ok, so you can quite happily spend a week living it up in Marbella, soaking up its beaches, bars, golf and accommodation however, should you want to get out and explore there’s loads to tickle your fancy. While public transport in Andalucía is efficient (use the coaches which are air-conditioned, comfortable and run on time – timetables can be picked up from the coach stations) it’s probably worth hiring a car so as to be more flexible. Granada, Seville, Malaga, Mijas and Cordoba are all definitely well worth including on your stay and while I agree they do take a bit of time to travel to (Malaga and Mijas are by far the closest and make easy day trips) if you want to experience Andalucían city grandeur Seville and Granada are the ultimate players. Read about things to do in Seville.
So there you have it. Ten reasons to make Marbella this year’s new summer-sun getaway ¡Viva España!
Read other Velvet Escape posts on Spain:
- The treasures of Morella
- The historic architecture of Sevilla
- Ten things to do in Valencia
- Ten things to do in Barcelona
- The ultimate guide to Costa Brava