Is Marbella really all luxury? – A winter travel guide

A day in Marbella, Andalusia’s paradise!

This city on the Costa del Sol is known for its beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife. Worldwilde Marbella has a typical ”jet set” character, which makes it a popular tourist destination in Europe. We visited Marbella in January. Marbella in the low season is a totally different experience than in the high season, and in this travel guide we’ll share all our travel tips and experiences.

Summer or winter, Marbella is a destination where you can immerse yourself in luxury restaurants, marinas and beachclubs. But it has a lot more to offer! It also boats a historic old town with narrow streets and whitewashed buildings, where you can enjoy plenty of typical Spanish tapas and Sangria.

In the first week of January 2024 we travelled for 7 days through Andalusia. We rented a cosy little house close to Marbella, through, which was the perfect base for exploring the Andalusia region. In this blog we’ll also show you some places just outside of Marbella’s city centre. We think being able to explore the area around Marbella is definitely worth it. Personally, we always rent our rental cars via Sunny Cars.

Tip: Read more about our day trip to Cádiz & Gibraltar!

Artola Dunes & Cabopino Beach

We started our day early in the morning with a lovely beach walk at Cabopino Beach. This beach is part of the protected natural area of Dunas de Artola. Cabopino Beach is a long stretched beach, that can be reached through perfectly constructed boardwalk trails, surrounded by the beautiful dunes.
The weather was lovely, around 17 degrees and a clear blue sky. Perfect for a beachwalk in the winter, but just a little too cold to enjoy a dip in the sea. While we were enjoying our time, there were many dogs playing on the beach. I’m pretty sure, in summer, this is a perfect place to enjoy a beach day.

Parking is free and easy to acces.
Just a little side note, Cabopino Beach has officially some nudist-friendly areas, so keep this in mind in the busier months of the year.

Puerto Banús

We moved on to our next destination, the famous marina Puerto Banús. Known for its luxury yachts, designer boutiques, restaurants, bars, and vibrant nightlife. Eventhough we didn’t go there to spend big money, we really did enjoy our time in the marina. From Cabopino beach it was a 25-minute drive.
We parked our car on the side of the road at Avenida de las Naciones Unidas, where you can easily buy a parkingticket at a ticket machine.

A few minute walk brought us to the beautiful and slick promenade. In the summer months, the promenade is a parade for rich people with expensive cars. In the winter, it is more laidback. Take a stroll along the waterfront, admire the beautiful big yachts or drink a coffee at one of the restaurants.
Definitely a fun activity when in Marbella.

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Old Town Marbella

From the luxury in Puerto Banús we arrive in the historical city centre of Marbella. Also known as Casco Antiguo. This part of Marbella is the complete opposite experience. The charming and picturesque area located in the heart of Marbella is characterized by narrow cobblestone streets, whitewashed buildings adorned with colorful flower pots, and historic landmarks.

We parked our car at Parking Parquesol (Google Maps). We decided it was time for some lunch, and headed towards Plaza de los Naranjos. This characteristic square is also one of the highlights in the Old Town. At Plaza de los Naranjos, you will find several nice restaurants, cafes and shops. With the oranges hanging from the trees and the lovely January sun on your face, we couldn’t imagine a better spot for some typical Spanish tapas.

Typical Spanish tapas in the historical Old Town in Marbella, Spain

From Plaza de los Naranjos you can easily wander around the cosy streets, exploring the variety of shops selling handmade crafts, jewelry, and souvenirs.
After some time you will encounter other historic sites, such as the Church of the Encarnación and the 16th-century Marbella Castle. Which we think is nice to watch from the outside, but don’t expect to spend a lot of time visiting these landmarks.

Overall, the Old Town of Marbella offers a delightful blend of history, culture, and charm, making it a must-do activity for anyone who’s planning a trip to Marbella, and is looking for more then beaches and partying.

Puerto Deportivo de Marbella

Since the days are short in January, and it was not quite beachweather yet, we ended our day in Marbella’s Marina with a drink. Compared to Puerto Banús, Puerto Deportivo de Marbella provides a more tranquil atmosphere with several restaurants and bars along the coast.

Best beaches in Marbella

Eventhough we were not able to visit any beaches in the winter, we did some online research and made a top 3 beaches to visit in the Marbella area.

1. Playa de Bajadilla

With a 4.5 rating on Google, this beach needed to be in the recommondations of this travel guide. Located in the centre of Marbella, Playa de Bajadilla is known for its golden sand, clear blue waters, and stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.

It is an extensive sandy beach with plenty of amenities in the area. Sunbeds, reastaurants, beachbars and water sports activities can all be found here. It’s also next to the Promenade and Marbella Marina which makes it easy to combine your beach day with some other activities. Just be prepared that this is one of the busiest beaches in the high season.

+ Located in the city centre
+ Sandy extensive beach
+ Plenty of amenities

– Can be really busy

2. Playa del Real de Zaragoza

Another beach with a 4.5 rating on Google! Playa del Real de Zaragoza is a 15-minute drive away from the city centre, and is perfect for the people who enjoy a more secluded and serene setting compared to some of the busier beaches in Marbella. The beach is surrounded by dunes and natural vegetation, which is perfect for a naturelover.

There are some facilities and sunbeds can be rented, but you are also able to just relax on your towel in the sand.

+ Serene and secluded atmosphere
+ Surrounding nature
+ Sunbeds and drinks

– You need a car or other transportation to get here

3. Puerto Banús Beach

One thing Marbella is famous for, are the luxury beachclubs. It is impossible to recommend just one beachclub, since there so many in Marbella, and it all has to do with personal preference.

We did wanted to highlight Puerto Banús Beach for you. This beach has a 4.4 rating on Google and as it is located next to the famous, luxury marina, you can imagine the atmosphere and amenities are excellent here. It’s only a 10-minute drive which makes it easy to get there.

+ Excellent amenities
+ Calm water and golden sand
+ Luxury (if you like this ofcourse)

– Prices are less affordable
– You need a car or other transportation to get here

Video travel guide of Marbella

We absolutely enjoyed our time in Marbella. It was the perfect day to relax, enjoy the charming old town and have some great food.

If you would like to see more of our trip, feel free to watch our YouTube video about Marbella! Or subscribe to follow our travel adventures.

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