The jewel of the Costa del Sol, Marbella is the most glamorous tourist destination on this Mediterranean coastline, with an array of traditional Andalucian bars, restaurants and designer boutiques.
Marbella established itself as a destination for the international jet-set at the beginning of the 1950s. Since then, the rich and famous from around the world have flocked to Marbella.
As for entertainment, Marbella has it all. There are parks and gardens to relax in, every water sport imaginable, golf, horse riding, hiking, sailing and cycling. And when the sun goes down, prepare to party! There are clubs, casinos and cinemas to keep you entertained till dawn.
Marbella’s old town
The pedestrianised historic Casco Antiguo (old town), with its narrow winding cobbled streets, flower-filled balconies and whitewashed houses is partly surrounded by the ruins of old Arab walls. It is made up of church squares, historic buildings, fountains and quaint shops and boutiques.
One of the prettiest places in the old town is the famous Plaza Naranjos (Orange Square) which is located just off the main street. The square dates back to 1485 and is dominated by three buildings of historic interest.
The church of St Mary was built in 1618 and restored after the Spanish Civil War of 1939, the old Governor’s House dating back to 1552 and the 16th century Town hall located at the north corner of Plaza Naranjos. It was a prison during the 19th century but has now been preserved in its old form.
The plaza, with its tall trees and exotic tropical plants, is lined with small shops, art galleries, bars and bistros and is a hub of activity day and night. Explore the surrounding narrow streets where homes and shops intermingle to create the atmosphere of a small village with hidden away bars and restaurants down the narrow streets. There are numerous excellent restaurants and cafes to choose from with sidewalk tables where you can sit back, relax, and watch the world go by.
The Golden Mile
The famed golden mile of Marbella consists of the 5km coastal stretch west of the main town towards Puerto banus, where the Marbella Club pioneered the jet-set scene in the late 1940s and early 1950s. It all started in 1946 when Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe and his father visited Marbella with the idea of buying some land.
Prince Alfonso de Hohenlohe chose a Finca on the outskirts of the small fishing village called Marbella as his holiday estate in 1947 and purchased Finca Santa Margarita as a family residence. As the number of visitors to the ‘Finca’ steadily grew, so did the property, and eventually, the Prince was able to make his dream come true, transforming his private residence into an exclusive club.
The Hotel has been a meeting place for the international jet-set: aristocrats, business leaders and famous figures from all over the world. In the old days Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant and Laurence Olivier would dine at the club. From that point on, the Marbella Club Hotel Golf Resort and Spa has come to be recognized as one of the most prestigious establishments in the hotel world. It is now considered one of the most luxurious hotels in the area.
The golden mile now contains some of the most expensive properties in Europe and is known for its luxurious lifestyle. Situated in between the Marbella main city and Puerto Banus, the entire area offers magnificent views of mountains and sea. The picturesque beauty and the business interest of the region have been constantly attracting real-estate investors to acquire a piece of land and develop it into a villa or hotel for high-profit business interests.
Puerto Banus was developed at the beginning of the 1970s by the local property developer Jose Banus. The focal point of Puerto Banus is the marina that berths 915 boats, including those of the King of Saudi Arabia and several of the world’s wealthiest individuals. The marina is home to large expensive yachts and smaller pleasure craft alike, Shaf – King Fahd’s boat is moored near the old tower and is a well known point of reference.
Apart from drinking coffee in one of the many bars and restaurants that line the marina and soaking up the ambience from a nearby cafe, watching the coming and going of the rich and famous, the most popular pastime in Puerto Banus is probably shopping where designer names are plentiful.
Take a romantic stroll along the most exclusive harbours in Marbella and enjoy the exclusive shopping in boutiques such as Jimmy Choo, Versace, Christian Dior, Gucci, Fendi and Louis Vuitton.
This stretch is where Marbella’s wealth is most in evidence – Bentleys and Ferraris cruise the quayside and the seriously rich dine in fabulous restaurants. It’s a playground for the wealthy and the place to see and be seen.
Puerto Banus is synonymous with wealth, fashion, glitz and glamorous parties. Its reputation is high-class and high-price-tag. It is one of the most fashionable areas in Marbella.
The port has grown considerably over the years and now includes a casino, commercial shopping centre, El Corte Ingles department store, marine observatory and a multi cinema. The atmosphere transforms at night with people filling the streets. Enjoy a meal at one of the various restaurants before hitting the alfresco bars, piano bars, discos and nightclubs which are open until dawn.