The best things to do or see in Marbella belong to an inexhaustible list of plans and activities that could keep you busy for a whole month in the entire region of the Costa del Sol in southern Andalusia. At the same time, a single day to get to know the city might seem insufficient when there are people who settle for a whole season in the area to enjoy the natural beauty of the region to the fullest.
However, by following the itinerary I have prepared for you, you will get to know most of the iconic attractions of the city. So I suggest you continue reading this compilation of plans so you can return home or head to the next destination of your trip knowing that you have seen some of the great attractions of the area.
Start your day having breakfast in the Plaza de los Naranjos
For nutritionists, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and there is no better place among the most iconic places in Marbella than the Plaza de los Naranjos to start a sightseeing tour of the city after having breakfast in the best Spanish Mediterranean style. There are different establishments in the area that are worth visiting, but Churrería Ramón is one of the most recommended by tourists and locals if it is a good place to eat in this square.
The rueda de churros is its dish par excellence and do not hesitate to accompany them with chocolate and coffee in case you want to enjoy some sweeter flavors. Or also with a fresh and abundant orange juice in case you want something a little more citric on your palate. The Cafeteria Los Naranjos with its large red awnings and typical Andalusian style white walls is another alternative if you are looking for a more diverse and extensive menu.
As for the square you should know that it is a space that was founded after the Christian reconquest in the late fifteenth century and is surrounded by Andalusian buildings such as the Town Hall and the Casa del Corregidor. Which are architectural jewels that you have to appreciate in your passage through the city. The Renaissance fountain in the center of the square is surrounded by centenary orange trees that give the name to this famous corner of Marbella.
Depending on your logistics this can be an ideal place to arrive with a private transfer from Malaga airport in case you do not want to go first through the hotel on the Costa del Sol where you are staying during this short visit. The truth is that arriving at the lobby and leaving your meager belongings on site could be a significant delay to start your sightseeing tour of Marbella.
Continue with a sightseeing walk of the historic center of Marbella
Being in the center of the historic center of Marbella after finishing breakfast in the Plaza de los Naranjos it becomes a priority that you continue touring the rest of the area so you can meet other of the most important precincts of the urban geography of this city. Keep in mind that most of this neighborhood has its origins in the late fifteenth century after the Christian reconquest of this section of the peninsula.
The streets Caballeros, Estación, Álamo, Soledad and Remedios are some of the most beautiful for the large number of Andalusian houses. They are distinguished by a pristine white color and are accompanied by the characteristic flowers that create the ideal setting for the whole area to be full of luxury stores, taverns, cafes and restaurants as well as local craft stores and art galleries.
Marbella Castle or what is left of it is a must-see site along with the Church of Our Lady of the Incarnation built over what was once an ancient mosque. Actually, the rest of the area is a site worth to be toured on your own terms and without exhausting yourself too much. You can't ignore the fact that the rest of the city has enough activities to keep you entertained for the rest of your day.
Keep in mind that the best tours of Marbella are an excellent way to take a guided and planned route in which you will learn all the details of the history of this site in a time frame of 2 or 3 hours. This is ideal so you don't get too tired and continue with the rest of the itinerary.
Take a walk through the Alameda Park and the Avenida del Mar
Crossing the Avenida Ramon y Cajal from Calle Africa in the south of the historic center you will get directly to the center of the Alameda Park. It is a small urban park with a large number of trees that create one of the most beautiful and special public spaces in Marbella. In fact, it is a small botanical garden with a very interesting diversity of flora, as its vegetation ranges from Canary palms to tropical flowers.
Its yellow and grayish tiled paths are an excellent place to have a photo session as a souvenir of your short walk through the most touristic city of the Andalusian Costa del Sol. At the same time, the beautiful and picturesque fountain located right in the center of the park is a historical treasure almost 250 years old.
From this same park you will have a direct access to the famous Avenida del Mar, which is an elegant boulevard built on a marble road that has several stores, restaurants and cafes at both ends of its length. For some people this space can be considered as a long rectangular square and one of its great attractions are the 10 sculptures of Salvador Dalí that are arranged in the center of the promenade.
This creates a kind of open-air museum completely free to admire some of the works of one of the most important artists of the twentieth century. Keep in mind that this part of the itinerary is one of the best things to see or do in Marbella with children, as it is presented as a break between other tourist activities that may not be so interesting for an infant. The park section is even more recommended for children, as they can play quietly in it as long as they respect their surroundings.
Go to Marbella Marina
Since the idea is that your Marbella sightseeing tour should have coherence so that you don't waste time going from one place to the other end of town and then back to the same point, then the next stop on your itinerary should be the Marbella marina. This is the oldest marina in town and today it has become a major tourist destination in the central section of Marbella's mile-long stretch.
The area is lined with restaurants, has a few clubs for boating and sport fishing fanatics, and touring the area is a perfect continuation of your sightseeing plans through what has become the center of Marbella. You could sit down to enjoy tapas in some of the luxurious taverns in the area or you could also walk along the neighboring beaches. Such as Playa de Venus or the well-known Playa del Porto.
Keep in mind that most of the boat trips along the coast of Marbella depart from this port because of its strategic location that makes it fully accessible to those staying in both the eastern and western end of the city. At the same time, it is important that when touring this marina you will only find sport boats such as small sailboats or boats of a few feet. But don't worry, as later in your itinerary you will be able to visit other interesting sites with luxury boats worthy of a spy movie.
Ride along the Paseo Marítimo to the Parque de la Constitución.
From Marbella's marina you can also start an early afternoon walk along the Duque de Ahumada Avenue. This stretches from Marbella for 7 kilometers to the famous and luxurious urbanization of Puerto Banus. However, it is totally foolish for you to set out to walk all this after you have spent the whole morning touring the old town.
So getting to the corner where the sculpture of Marino Amaya is located to start touring the neighboring Parque de la Constitución is an excellent idea to continue your sightseeing tour of the city.
Keep in mind that this is a space that has an auditorium, a park with children's attractions, a landscaped forest and a municipal dance center. All these details may seem irrelevant to you, since you will only be in the city for one day, but I am telling you about them so that you understand that it is one of the most important public spaces on the Costa del Sol.
At the same time, the walk along the Paseo Marítimo is a typical tourist activity in this city and in fact it is one of the best things to do in Marbella in winter. For it is a way to enjoy the beach without having to get into the sand and water at the time with the coldest ambient temperatures of the year.
Return to the old town for a good late afternoon paella
Being in the Parque de la Constitución it is very likely to work up an appetite for your whole group of companions, as by that point in the day it would have been a couple of hours since that time when you had breakfast in the gastronomic heart of the area, the historic center. It is therefore a good idea to return to that area with a walk along the Ricardo Soriano avenue or ask for a cab that for the short distance of less than a kilometer will not cost you more than 7 or 8 euros.
And is that when you return to the historic center you will find the possibility of enjoying some of the best paellas in the city, and even arguably throughout the Costa del Sol. Keep in mind that the gastronomic offer of the area is diverse and that means that the interpretations of what a paella has to be also changes from restaurant to restaurant. Some opt for being signature rice restaurants with innovative ingredients while others seek to pay genuine homage to the traditions of Andalusian paella.
El Estrecho bar and TierrAranda tavern are two well-known places located on San Lazaro street while El Cortijo restaurant on Remedios street and Patio de Mariscal are other highly recommended alternatives. I advise you to accompany your paella in the best style of Andalusian consumers, that is, with a refreshing sangria as the main drink.
Keep in mind that gastronomic exploration is one of the best things to do in Marbella no matter the time of year and no matter how big and limited the tourists' budget is. So on your next visit to the city it is an excellent idea to set out on a gastronomic tour of the city or to identify a couple of dishes you want to eat over a longer and more feasible period of time.
End the day with a night tour of Puerto Banús
As the idea is that the next day you can claim to know most of Marbella it becomes a necessity that you still have plans for after your lunch in the late afternoon. In that context there is no better place for you to catch the sunset than the privileged and exclusive area of Puerto Banus. This is a real estate development that since the 70's has become the destination of choice for the rich and famous on the Costa del Sol and today is the epicenter of nightlife and luxury consumption in the region.
To get to this community you will have to pay a cab, as it is located about 6 or 7 kilometers to the southwest from the historic center of Marbella. It is still a part of the city, but upon arrival it feels like a parallel universe because of the level of luxury and exclusivity that is perceived in the marina as its large and modern yachts or luxury stores like Louis Vuitton or Hermés.
You can enjoy the area taking a coffee while walking through the marina or while sitting on a terrace to appreciate the sunset. Despite being a destination for millionaires, it is now a tourist attraction for all types of consumers with significantly smaller pockets. This to the point that touring Puerto Banús is one of the best things to see or do in Marbella in summer. This regardless of where you stay and how much you intend to spend on your trip.
Don't hesitate to pop into a bar on Calle Ribera if you feel like it
Calle Ribera is the heart of luxury shopping in Puerto Banús, but at night it also becomes the epicenter of the nightlife in this town. Depending on who is accompanying you on your trip it is a good idea to take the opportunity to have a couple of drinks in some of the bars or nightclubs on this famous street. Which is among the most iconic when it comes to luxury tourism in the Spanish Mediterranean.
Keep in mind that in general partying is always one of the best things to do in Marbella at night and therefore you can not miss the opportunity to experience something of this style if you are someone who enjoys this type of activities. Just as long as you feel you will be able to deal with the hangover the next day, as you probably have a day trip organized from Marbella that will take you to your new tourist destination.
St. Patrick Pub, O'Grady's Irish Pub and Astral Bar are just some of the places you could visit if you are looking for a party plan while News Club, Gaucho de Banús and A1 Aretusa restaurant are good options if you are looking for a bit of a lively dinner with background music.