Accommodation: Hotel Fuerte
Currency: Euro €
I think it’s clear from my blog that I have always preferred an active and culturally stimulating take on holidays. As a result, it may strike a few people as odd that I have just returned from a week in Marbella. I’ve always considered Marbella to be the kind of place which has nothing much to offer apart from alcohol, beaches and night clubs. That said, Marbella is a resort town and so perhaps it was unfair of me to judge it so harshly.
Nevertheless, resorts and clubs aren’t really my scene and so if you’re looking for a guide of things to do in Marbella without a bikini or a DJ in sight, you’re in the right place!
The old quarter of Marbella (Casco Antiguo) is far calmer than the rest of Marbella. Cobbled streets, white washed walls and climbing plants all make for a very quaint, rustic and distinctly Mediterranean atmosphere. It’s the perfect place to visit quirky shops and buy unique souvenirs from your trip.
While walking through the winding pathways of the Old Town, you’re bound to find yourself in one of the most well-known spots in Marbella; Plaza de los Naranjos (Orange Square). This square is characterised by the orange trees around its perimeter and is home to a number of important buildings, such as the Town Hall and the Magistrate’s House.
In one corner in particular, you will find Ermita de Santiago, the oldest religious building in Marbella. This small chapel was built in the 15th Century and at Christmas it is transformed into one of the biggest and most detailed nativity scenes you’ll ever see. This chapel is well worth a visit.
Beaches and Ports
Parque de la Alameda is a park in central Marbella, populated with magnificent tropical plants and furnished with typically Andalusian tilework. It’s a great place to cool down from the heat of the street and as you walk through, you will eventually find yourself on Avenida del Mar. This is an avenue leading towards the sea and is lined with sculptures based on the work of Salvador Dali. It creates an amazing transition space from the cool, subtropical atmosphere of the park to the panoramic views of the ocean.
The beach is always more pleasant to me when there is no one else there, and in December you’ll feel very relaxed and solitary walking along the unblemished sand with an ice cream in hand.
Finally if you’re interested in being bougie AF, Puerto Banus offers high class shopping, yachts, luxury cars and classy restaurants with a beautiful marina view. It is known for being one of the biggest commercial centres in the Costa del Sol and attracts over 5 million visitors a year.
Food and Drink
Eating the local cuisine is such a major part of any holiday that it would be remiss of me not to mention a few of my favourite places.
The seafront is a great place to gain easy access to any number of different restaurants. Walking east, you will come across a Spanish restaurant offering an enormous variety of tapas, seafood and pinchos. It was here that I sampled the local paella, which was brimming with mussels, squid and prawns and felt like a real treat on a sunny winter’s day.
The tapas included everything you would expect and more, but the highlight for me was the fried calamari.
I eat a lot of fish when I’m at home in the UK, so I was keen to try something that was a little more unusual. La Pesquera is a fish restaurant in the Old Town and it was here that I was able to try a swordfish steak (white fish but with the texture of a tuna steak!) and their signature fish stew which was absolutely delicious.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth and fancy a local speciality, there are a number of churrerias selling freshly made churros and hot chocolate. I’m almost certain that I had churros every single day that I was in Spain, but my favourite churro proprietor had to be the one next to Ermita de Santiago in Orange Square, called Churreria Ramon. The owner even let me in to his kitchen to watch how the churros were made! Hot, deep fried dough dusted in cinnamon sugar and dunked in melted chocolate is probably the closest thing to heaven on earth.
Finally, if you’re not really sure what you would like to eat just head back to Puerto Banus where you’ll find every kind of restaurant you could possibly want. I would recommend Picasso’s for pizza (thanks to Brontë for the top tip!).
If you’re anything like me, all of the above could be covered in one busy day. So if you’re not one to lounge by the pool drinking cocktails, my best advice for visiting Marbella would be to leave Marbella. It is a great midpoint for making day trips to Granada, Cordoba, Ronda, Gibraltar and Seville, but make sure you check for tour details well in advance; at certain times of the year (such as just before Christmas) you’ll find it difficult to organise much.
While I did enjoy my stay in Marbella because I was in good company, I don’t think I will be returning any time soon. Despite this, the trip has definitely whet my appetite for further Spanish exploration in future.
Keep your eyes peeled for my Ronda and Cordoba day trip posts coming soon!
Thanks for reading,
~ Plane Emoji