We have put together the best guide to Marbella

One of the most exclusive destinations in the world, Marbella is home to the rich and famous, with A-list celebrities and even royalty from all over the world living and holidaying in the resort. 

If you're looking to treat yourself for a luxurious getaway, Nikki Beach Club just 15 minutes from Marbella town centre at Elviria and Puro Beach Club are two of the most prestigious venues. Offering gastronomic delights such as fresh sushi and lobster, with champagne and cocktails almost an essential, you can relax in some of the most sumptuous surroundings possible. And if you want to work off some of those irresistible calories, a dip in the sapphire-blue swimming pool or a session in the spa and yoga facilities will soon have you feeling refreshed and invigorated. 

marbella beach scene

Relax and unwind at Nikki Beach

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The Buddha Beach Club is another infamous venue, with a stunning circular pool at its centre. Renowned for its adult-themed fun, the Buddha is the place to come for sexy delights amongst celebrities and well-known entertainers for the crowds.

But Marbella's charm lies in the fact that despite its exclusive facilities and expensive places to stay, there are also plenty of opportunities to holiday in the resort even if you don't have millions of pounds in the bank.

If you want to know all about Marbella and Puerto Banus, the harbour region, read the guide below. 

The history of the region

Although Marbella is now a vibrant and bustling community with lots of places to go it wasn't always the same tourist hotspot that it is today. 

Take a bike tour around the city and you can discover its hidden past and where you can still find glimpses of its ancient history. There's lots of different bike tours available where friendly guides will give you all the facts about Marbella that you could ever wish to know, as well as take you to some of the lesser known places to see.

You don't need to be physically fit to go on a bike tour around the city and it's suitable for children as well. A bike is one of the best ways to experience the history of Marbella, allowing you to stop and take a closer look at the many architectural delights and Roman ruins that you'll find, particularly in the old town. 

There's evidence that the town was inhabited as far back as the 5th or 6th century, and at one point was ruled by the Romans, who named it Salduba - the City of Salt. However, their reign didn't last for long and it was later claimed by Arabs who called it Marbal-la, very similar to the modern-day moniker. 

After the Spanish reclaimed Marbella for their own, the town was primarily an agricultural and fishing area, with some mining industry processing iron ore from the nearby mountains.

It wasn't until the arrival of Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe in the 1950s, which bought up large estates with his uncle, and proceeded to develop the land that it started to become a draw for travellers and tourists. 

Marbella is now a thriving area offering not just a playground for the rich and famous but immaculate beaches and plenty of places for families to enjoy visiting during a holiday.

Puerto Banus

Just outside the main area of Marbella lies the region known as Puerto Banus, a development based around a luxurious marina. 

Created in the 1970s, it was originally pencilled in for modern-looking skyscrapers and apartment blocks for the wealthy, but the architect managed to convince the developers that it would be far more effective if it were styled as a traditional Andalucía village. A little further outside Marbella centre is San Pedro de Alcantara another area which is styled in a similarly authentic manner.

sea view at marbella

Approaching Puerto Banus

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Scrapping the previous plans and opting for a traditional look was a stroke of genius as Puerto Banus now has the friendly, relaxed and traditional feel of a typical Andalucía province, but with the opulence, luxury and exclusivity of a VIP resort. 

Puerto Banus boasts independent boutiques and top designer names such as Louis Vuitton and it's not uncommon to see celebrities or royalty from around the world strolling around the shops and bars. 

Marbella has a fabulous nightlife with bars, pubs, clubs and casinos offering all kinds of entertainment. But if you want the VIP treatment, head over to Puerto Banus and you can party in style.

Look out to the marina and you'll see a whole host of expensive yachts bobbing gently in the marina, with magnums of champagne cooling awaiting their owner's return. It's just a short distance from the decks of these floating palaces to some of the best venues in town.

Marbella is famous for its yachts, and no place more so than Puerto Banus. Take a stroll along the coastal boardwalk during the day and whenever you visit, there will be no shortage of expensive yachts anchored. Some yachts are so big they can't even fit into the harbour; Russian oligarch Roman Abramovitch famously had to drop anchor further out to sea because his yacht couldn't squeeze into the bay.

yachts in the bay

If you love yachts and boating Marbella will be a great place for you

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If you don't have a yacht of your own but are keen to experience the thrill of being on the water, you can charter a yacht for the afternoon, the whole day or even longer. You don't need to know how to sail as a skipper is included in the price. 

Although Puerto Banus has the reputation for being the quarter packed full of the most millionaires, the whole of the surrounding area sees affluent individuals mixing freely with visitors and holidaymakers in one of the most relaxed communities in the world. 

Food and drink

Marbella isn't famous particularly for any one type of food or drink which is distinct from the rest of Spain, but rather takes influences from several different regions. 

Although Puerto Banus is famous for having some of the most exquisite restaurants, there are plenty of other delicious places to eat.

Marbella itself has a whole host of top restaurants but if you want a real treat pick a fish dish. 

marbella fish

Fish dishes are in abundance in Marbella

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Being so close to the ocean means that the fish is freshly caught and on your plate very quickly after leaving the sea, resulting in moist dishes which are full of flavour. 

In fact, if Marbella were said to have any kind of speciality at all, it would be seafood and there's many national dishes, such as paella, which are given a regional twist by the inclusion of a greater proportion of seafood.

Tapas is of course a popular dish, as it is elsewhere in Spain and you'll find a range of tapas bars  in Marbella which are frequented by both locals and visitors. Tapas is popular not just because the dishes are so delicious but because it's a particularly sociable way to eat, a very important feature in Spanish meals. 

It isn't exclusively Spanish food that you'll find in Marbella however, an array of international cuisine including Indian and Italian food can easily be found. 

The beach bars in Marbella, known as chiringuitos, are a well-established type of venue and offer far more than the snacks and finger food that you may expect. Salted fish is a speciality and other seafood such as lemon skewered sardines, or even baby octopus can be found on the menu. 

Of course, you don't need to eat out in Marbella to enjoy the food from the region. There are lots of markets which don't just offer the opportunity to purchase handcrafted goods and souvenirs, but also some of the tastiest, fresh local produce, particularly fruit, veg, meat and fish. Why not put together a picnic and venture off to explore for the day?

What to do in Marbella

The balmy and tropical temperatures in Marbella means there's plenty of activities to try and places to visit.

If you want to see some of the surrounding area, there's lots of alternative locations which can be reached comfortably, such as Morocco, Gibraltar and Seville. 

The Mediterranean Sea which laps on the shores of Marbella joins the Atlantic just a short distance out, which makes the waters particularly good for scuba diving. The combinations of fish here where the two oceans meet can't be found anywhere else because they inhabit their separate habitats and don't normally mingle. Eels, crab and octopus can easily be found at many of the dive sites which are very accessible even for novice divers (once they're completed their basic training). 

cruise liner in the sea

Swimming in the sea at Marbella is popular

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If you don't fancy plunging below the surface, there's lots of other water sports you could try, with everything from kite surfing to kayaking on offer. 

Once you've dried off, you could take in a round or two of golf; Marbella has the greatest concentration of golf clubs in the whole of Spain.

There's a myriads of zoos and animal parks in and around the region too. As well as regular zoos, there's some which specialist in unusual animals such as crocodiles and wolves, and sanctuaries for wild animals who have been abused and mistreated. 

If you time your visit to Marbella right, you could coincide with one of the major festivals in the region which transform the streets and offer opportunities to mix with even more well-known celebrities. 

The month-long Starlite Festival which takes place every year in the summer and the Marbella International Film Festival, which lasts for five days at the start of October are two fabulous occasions. With a myriad of film showing, art exhibitions, concerts and other performances, visiting Marbella during either event could open up even more opportunities than before. 

Take a look before you visit

There's no doubt that Marbella is the perfect holiday destination or even better, for a longer stay! - Whether you are looking for a lively party or a family break. Take a look at some of the images from Flickr and you will see just what you could be missing. 

From the iconic lighthouse standing guard over the rocks at El Faro beach to the mountains in the distance, Marbella is a naturally picturesque location which won't fail to delight and entertain. 

Image Credits: Pablo Monteagudo, Coda, Olli365, Chris Gold NY and 360 Espana