Marbella, a palm-treed paradise on Spain’s Costa del Sol, is one of Europe’s favourite resort destinations. The city sits scenically below the Sierra Blanca Mountains, and is trimmed with twenty-seven kilometers of Mediterranean Sea. The weather here is generally sunny and warm, which makes it a popular place for holidays, honeymoons, golf and sailing, and some of the best sunbathing in Spain.
Winter may bring a rare chill to Marbella, but many days you can still stroll, or sit for tapas by the sea. On the waterfront promenade there are restaurants and tapa bars to choose from. Walk south along the sea, where there are several well-kept gardens, and scout out the resorts and their colourful landscapes. On a clear day you may catch a glimpse of Morocco across the water.
When the sun begins to set, you can wander back to the old, charming part of Marbella. In the Old City, narrow streets and placidas surround the 13th century castle. In this quarter you’ll find shops, restaurants, hostels and hotels, wine shops, bars and bakeries. For some of the best tapas in town, stop by the tapa bar at Marisqueria La Pesquera, and have a half-portion of whatever looks delicious in the window.
Because of its weather and allure, Marbella is popular with international expats, as well as the rich and famous. March to September is when the party scene is really going strong. Marbella clubs are amongst the best in Western Europe, and can get rather packed during the busy season. Ocean Club and Plaza Beach are good Marbella clubs during the day, while Nikki Beach and Pangea are popular at night.
Non-partiers can also find plenty to do around Marbella. There are world-class golf clubs, tennis centers, and day-spas in the area. Just five kilometers west of the Old City is the swanky Puerto Banus. This is a popular spot for the international yachting crowd, where you may see a display of some of the world’s incredible vessels. And because of the money that comes into Banus, it boasts an extravagant shopping scene. Shops at the port include boutiques by Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Burberry, Hermes, Dolce & Gabanna, and more. Puerto Banus is also home to many popular Marbella clubs.
For a fantastic day-trip from Marbella, you can make your way west to Gibraltar, which is a straight one-hour drive on the AP-7 highway. There you can stand upon the famous Rock of Gibraltar, watch the great cargo ships make their way into the harbor, and wander through the tunnels that were used by British troops. Three hours to the Northeast of Marbella is Grenada, where you can spend the day exploring the secrets of the Alhambra. This 14th Century Moorish palace is one of the wonders of the world, an architectural achievement comparable to the Great Pyramid in Egypt.
Marbella can be pricey when the high season comes around, but you can usually find a place to stay in any price range. While at some of the better resorts you may pay upwards of 300 euro a night, at the Hostal Del Pilar, in the heart of the Old City, you can negotiate a double room for less than 50 euros.
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