The most popular and well-known destination on Spain's Costa del Sol, Marbella is famous for its 300-plus days of sunshine per year and its miles of beautiful sandy beaches. The area has been a popular tourist destination since the early 1950s and is still known as a "playground for the rich", given its popularity with international "jet-setters" and celebrities alike.
Located right on the coast and protected by the Sierra Blanca mountains and the iconic La Concha peak, Marbella enjoys a "micro-climate" that gives it its beautiful warm weather, with an average annual temperature of around 19 degrees. Temperatures typically reach the 30s during the summer months, when tourism is at its peak.
The area boasts a huge variety of cultures and traditions thanks to the thousands of foreigners who reside on the coast or who own second homes, making it one of Spain’s most cosmopolitan cities. It is also extremely popular with the rich and famous, and homeowners in Marbella include George Clooney, Antonio Banderas, Vladimir Putin and Rod Stewart. Famed for its laid-back lifestyle, as of 2014, the population of Marbella stands at just over 148,000.
Given the large number of foreigners who call Marbella home, the city boasts a diverse, multi-cultural lifestyle.
The Moorish past is evident mainly around the Old Town, with the Murallas del Castillo (Moorish Castle Walls) being a popular tourist attraction. The Old Town has typically Spanish narrow cobbled streets, flower filled plazas and a vast selection of quaint shops and art galleries selling curiosities and unique handcrafted items. One of the prettiest spots is the fabled orange tree-filled Plaza de los Naranjos, which is located just off the main street and is home to a 16th-century town hall.
While the influx of international influence is evident in much of the areas infrastructure, Marbella retains much of Andalucías rich culture, and flamenco music and dance, as well as bullfighting, still form part of the local traditions. The biggest festival held each year in Marbella is the Feria de San Bernabe in June, a week long party celebrating the city’s patron saint. Similarly, Easter week is another important date on the cultural calendar and features religious processions through the town.
The arts are represented by places such as the Museo del Grabado Español Contemporaneo featuring works by famous Spanish artists such as Picasso and Miro, and in the centre of Marbella is a marble park that is home to a number of sculptures by Salvador Dalí.
The "Golden Mile" and nearby Puerto Banús are world-famous for nightclubs, bars and restaurants, as well as luxury villas and top-class yachts. Marbella's gastronomic scene is second to none, offering a wide variety of cuisines including Argentinean, Chinese, Scandinavian, British and Japanese, among many other eateries such as vegetarian and vegan cafes, beachfront chiringuitos, and Michelin-starred restaurants including Spanish cooking star Dani Garcia's - a feast for foodies!
Marbella enjoys an impressive infrastructure and is serviced mainly by Malaga Airport which receives flights from over 120 worldwide destinations or Gibraltar Airport flying to and from the UK.
The motorway system links Marbella easily with the rest of Spain. Local buses travel to all areas of the city and the main bus terminal links Marbella to the rest of the country.
Nearby Málaga is home to high-speed trains that travel to cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and Cordoba.
Marbella currently has four marinas and a fifth impressive luxury marina is due to begin construction in early 2015.
The European Health Insurance Card is available to all citizens of the European Union and will give you access to health care during your stay. You will be able to receive medical treatment in Marbella just as any other resident. To get hold of one of these health cards, you must contact your local health authorities, the only requirement being that you are insured by a social security system in your own country.
Once you become a resident in Spain or contribute to the Spanish social security system, you will be entitled to free healthcare through the network of Centros de Salud and hospitals.
Compared to other countries, Spanish Private Health Insurance is also available at very reasonable rates.
Spanish Public and Private health care is reliable and enjoys an excellent reputation. You will find a large number of both public and private health care facilities in and around Marbella, including the Costa del Sol Hospital, USP Marbella and Marbella High Care International.
Spain has one of the best education systems in Europe, and as well as the numerous Spanish public schools in Marbella, there are a number of private international schools where subjects are taught mainly in English.
Included among these are Swans School International and the English International College. The private Marbella University opened its doors in 2009, and Marbella International University Centre opened in September 2013. The American College of Marbella also offers courses accredited by US universities.
Special thank you to Ayuntamiento de Marbella for providing the photography used on this page.