Perfect Weekend: 48 Hours in Marbella, SpainBy Angelica Malin
It’s easy to indulge in a form of inverted snobbery about Marbella. Too many beautiful rich people, too many Ferraris, too much bling. There’s a reason why it’s so popular with people who have money and that is, it’s a fantastic place to enjoy yourself, whatever your tastes. The weather is of course stunning, over three hundred and twenty days of sunshine every year and the twenty-seven kilometres of scrupulously maintained beaches, set against the backdrop of the Sierra Blanca Mountains, are a beach lover’s delight.
The city itself has to be one of the best maintained urban spaces on the planet, the work that continually goes into maintaining its appearance is astonishing. The heart of the city is the Moorish old town, the Casco Antiguo, centred around the fifteenth century Plaza de los Naranjos. To the west of Marbella stretches the golden mile of prestigious nightclubs which lead to the Puerto Banus Marina, with its luxury yachts, upmarket boutiques and bars.
Why not start your visit by disabusing yourself of your prejudices about Marbella? Marbella has a thriving arts scene and hosts its own Arts and Film festivals so make sure that you make time to visit at least one gallery during your stay. The Municipal Exposition Gallery is tucked away amid the winding lanes and whitewashes walls of the old quarter and contains a great range of pictures by Spanish and international artists. Casa Grande has an extensive collection of Byzantine art and Museum Ralli has works by Ernst, Miro and Dali, housed in a magnificent building.
There are twenty-three beaches within a twenty-kilometre radius of Marbella. Those closest to the city tend to be the busiest. If it’s a hip beach with chilled music and DJs that you’re after then go no further than Bounty Beach but if you are looking for something a little more exclusive then head out to Playa Nagueles. Or simply go where your fancy takes you, you’re unlikely to be disappointed.
As you would expect, there are many, many fine restaurants in Marbella. Among the most famous is Paco Jimenez, picturesquely situated on the Plaza de los Naranjos and offering top quality cuisine in an intimate and welcoming atmosphere. By way of contrast, the Restaurante Messina offers adventurous experimentation in a minimalist, open plan interior.
Just as there are many fine restaurants, then ditto nightlife so you may simply decide to go where the cool evening breeze takes you. If you are after a few drinks and some conversation then head to the bars in Puerto Deportivo, such as Lemmon and Sunset Marbella; if dancing til the early hours is more your thing then try the roof terrace at Pangea in Puerto Banus.
Where to stay and how to get around
There’s a huge range of accommodation in Marbella, to suit all tastes and budgets. You can easily compare hotels on Trivago or search for a villa or apartment on HomeAway. Booking your transfers in advance makes life so much less stressful but once you’re in Malaga you’ll find that public buses are regular, plentiful, air conditioned and cheap. You’ll also find plenty of taxis at very reasonable prices.