I never thought I would, one day, be writing about a trip to Marbella in the south of Spain. Even more unlikely, I never thought we would own a condo in the south of Spain!
For some time, my husband and I have been looking into investment/vacation properties in popular tourist destinations. And recently, on a side-excursion during one of his business trips, my husband came across a condo in Marbella that we decided to buy. He and our oldest traveled to Spain last fall to get the keys, and now we were all going there to visit as a family. As a result, this trip was two-fold. Not only was it an Easter break family vacation, but we also needed to get everything set up to rent out the condo.
As icing on the cake, our trip actually also included driving to Portugal and spending a few days there. Spain AND Portugal! Needless to say, considering this was the first time I have ever been to this part of the world, I felt incredibly lucky on all counts!
(Quick Note: Make sure you check out the other posts associated with this trip. If you’re looking for restaurants in Marbella, be sure to read Where To Eat In Marbella, Spain! For the Portugal portion of our trip, read A Day Out In The Algarve, Portugal and Where To Eat In The Algarve, Portugal.)
So, where exactly in the world is Marbella? Thank goodness for Google Maps. 😉
Marbella is where the marker shows on the map. From Hong Kong, we connected in Zurich, and landed in Malaga, which is about a 45 minute drive from Marbella. We rented a car so we could get around easily…not to mention we needed a car to drive to Portugal!
Since my husband has been to the Malaga/Marbella area before, he already knew what the area was like. It was nice to not be the one to organize all the details of the trip for once and simply follow along. I still did restaurant research (of course!), but we also went to all the restaurants he had visited before, and he already knew what sights to see and activities to do. Nevertheless, it was a very relaxing trip for me in more ways than one. What a welcome change!
We stayed at our condo in La Dama De Noche, less than 10km from the town centre of Marbella. La Dama De Noche is a 15 minute walk to the beach and Paseo Maritimo, and the very popular Puerto Banus area.
Puerto Banus has loads of restaurants, is next to a marina with huge yachts, and boasts a lively nightlife. It is also, apparently, where you might spot celebrities! (…if you’re into that sort of thing…which we’re not. And no, we didn’t see anyone famous!) It was great being able to walk to the area for dinner from the condo and avoid the headache of having to park since it can get quite crowded! We were there in spring so it wasn’t too bad. But apparently in the summer, Marbella is full with visitors and hotel occupancy is at 100%.
I guess if Marbella can boast over 320 days of sunshine a year, it makes sense that it is a prime vacation destination! They don’t call the area “Costa del Sol” (Sun Coast) for nothing!
This was the first time my younger son and I visited our condo, and it was great! It’s a 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo that can sleep 6 (with a sofa sleeper). A small but well-equipped kitchen was perfect for us to prepare breakfast everyday.
The condo has a large patio and we spent quite a bit of time enjoying it. The awnings provide perfect shade relief from the afternoon sun, allowing us to enjoy dinner out there one night (thanks to take-out! Read more about it in Where To Eat In Marbella, Spain!).
Having lunch on the patio was lovely, whether we sat at the table, or in the cozy sitting area at the end.
If you’re thinking about visiting Marbella and are looking for places to stay, take a look our condo to see if it is a fit for your plans!
Now that you’ve seen where we stayed, it’s time to see a bit of what Marbella has to offer!
One visible landmark in Marbella is La Concha, the highest mountain in Marbella that backdrops the city. My husband and oldest son hiked up to the peak once before, and while my son wanted to hike it again, my husband did not. 😉 It is an impressive looking mountain, with its unique shell-like shape (thus the name!) and deep grooves.
So Marbella has the mountains…
…and then there is the sea. The oh-so-beautiful Mediterranean Sea.
I loved seeing the big blue sea and the big blue sky and the long expansive beaches. The beauty of it all never ceased to amaze me. How could anyone ever get tired of seeing that?
And by the way, all the beaches are free for public access. When we were there in April, there weren’t many people on the beaches, probably because it wasn’t warm enough yet, and it wasn’t vacation season. I imagine in the summer, they are much more crowded.
Do you see that small land mass in the distance? It looks a bit like a crater? That’s the Rock of Gibraltar! I will be writing about that visit in another post!
Marbella also boasts the Paseo Maritimo, an seaside promenade that stretches for 6km from Puerto Banus on the west to Puerto Bajadilla in the east. The path has no vehicle access (except for service or emergency vehicles) and you see people walking, jogging, cycling, or putzing along on rented scooters.
And as I mentioned earlier, the condo is a 15-20 minute walk to Puerto Banus! While we did not walk the entire 6km stretch, we did walk a portion of the Paseo Maritimo and it was so nice. Needless to say, the views are amazing and I just couldn’t get enough of it.
As you get closer to the main part of town in Marbella, you are greeted by several restaurants, offering you sea views while you eat tapas. It is simply a beautiful area.
By the way, did I mention that not only was there sunshine and big blue skies, but it was dry? Heaven! It was so nice to enjoy beautiful weather without humidity!
From the Paseo Maritimo, you can walk inland and explore the many streets. There are many restaurants, sidewalk cafes, parks…
…and horse-drawn carriages you can hire for a ride around the town.
If you take a moment and look up (like I did), you realize that the streets are lined with orange trees. How wonderful is that?
Crossing the main road and heading further inland, you get into the Old Town of Marbella. I learned on this trip, that pretty much every major town has an “old town” section where pedestrians can walk without worry of being run over. Outdoor cafes and restaurant are plentiful and “old town” charm is everywhere you look.
And then there’s the shop with leg upon leg upon leg of Spanish jamon. These Spanish people are serious about their jamon! But then again, who can blame them? We did our share of eating it and it was mighty good. 🙂
Not exactly photo-worthy, but worth mentioning…Marbella has everything you need. There are large supermarkets with massive selections of food and household items. The supermarkets we went to even had whole aisles dedicated to gluten-free and health food! If, for some reason you need any home improvement items, there is Leroy Merlin, the European equivalent of Home Depot. There are malls with the usual big name stores, and then the small local shops. Marbella is also home to a number of golf courses, thus the name “Costa Del Golf” (Golf Coast). Amenities are easy to come by.
Looking for a break from the city to get into nature? Marbella has plenty of that to offer, too.
We went for a hike one day up the Cruz De Juanar Mountain, which is in the same Sierra Blanca mountain range as La Concha. Cruz De Juanar is about the same elevation as La Concha (1200-1300 m, or 3800-3900 ft), but the trail is not as difficult. Considering we are not super experienced hikers, and our youngest is 10, it was a wiser option for us.
The trails for getting to both La Concha and Cruz De Juanar overlap at the beginning until you get to a fork and sign marker indicating which path you can take. The beginning of the path is easy and pleasant, walking in the shade amongst the trees. It was very peaceful.
Eventually, the trail emerges from the trees and gets a little rockier and requires more effort.
And after lots of climbing, we reached the top.
Well, actually, this shot is taken just about 50 metres short of the peak. My 10-year old had had enough at this point and this was as far as he wanted to go. So I stayed with him while my husband and older son climbed the last bit and got these views…
After spending some time enjoying the views and having a quick snack, it was time to work our way back down the mountain…
The whole trek, round-trip, took about 2-3 hours. It was a great way to spend the morning, hiking and walking amongst the trees.
We spent a total of 9 days in Marbella (on either side of our jaunt to Portugal) and I loved it. There are several things I miss about being there…the Mediterranean Sea, the beaches, all the seaside restaurants and cafes, and the dry weather! I like how it is easy to get what you need, whether it’s gluten-free food or nail polish remover (yes, that would be me…). Most people speak English there, but it is still Spain! So we got to brush up on a bit of Spanish, which is always fun.
Marbella has a lot to offer and it is no wonder it is such a popular destination. You have the amenities and conveniences of a modern city combined with the charm of a European town. And don’t forget the beaches! It was one of the best trips I have ever taken and I can’t wait to return. I hope you get to visit Marbella one day and enjoy what the Costa del Sol has to offer.
(Post edited May 16th, 2017)