Marbella is more than just a Spanish holiday destination on the Mediterranean Sea, it is a concept of luxury, glamour and lifestyle – a vision of California on the sunny edge of Europe. It’s this principle of cosmopolitan freedom and well-being that has formed the basis for the town’s enduring appeal among people from across Europe and beyond.
Marbella occupies perhaps the best section of the Costa del Sol’s coastal strip, which extends between the Mediterranean Sea and the mountain ranges rising up a few kilometres inland. It is this topographical setting that gives the whole region a blessed microclimate made up of gentle winters and warm, long summers; but within this area, Marbella is particularly privileged.
Rainfall is seasonal and infrequent here, but somehow Marbella is like a lush, natural garden where vegetation grows fast and well. It is for this reason also that golf courses thrive in this environment, and while the coastline is the domain of beachside promenades, resort hotels, luxury apartments and villas, verdant fairways follow the gentle roll of the terrain inland, flanked by country clubs and leafy residential areas such as Nueva Andalucía, Guadalmina and Los Monteros.
By the time they reach the lower slopes of mountain ranges such as the Sierra Bermeja and Sierra Blanca, the golf courses occupy rounded green valleys bordered by luxurious homes in what are five-star deluxe gated communities such as Sierra Blanca. In a town such as Marbella, known for its spectacular sea, golf and mountain views, this is perhaps the most impressive vantage point of all, with stunning vistas down to the coast, the sea, Gibraltar and the North African shoreline.
Marbella is centrally located on the Costa del Sol, which means it is just over half an hour to the international airports at Málaga and Gibraltar, with high-speed AVE train connections from Málaga to major cities across Spain and beyond to France and the rest of Europe. The flying time to most main European destinations is 2½ hours and the high-speed train will take you to Madrid Central Station in roughly the same time.
Town and suburbs
The actual town of Marbella forms the basis for the much larger area that now carries its name. Originally a village of fishermen and farmers, it was ‘discovered’ in the late 1940s by Spanish aristocrats such as Ricardo Soriano and of course Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe, the creator of the legendary Marbella Club Hotel – and the man who put this beautiful spot on the map and made it internationally famous.
The great stars, royals, aristocrats and tycoons of the 1950s and 1960s all fell in love with Marbella, acquiring holiday properties here or even making Marbella their year-round home. The allure continued to grow with the years, as sheikhs and those successful enough to allow it visited or lived here. Each decade saw an evolution of this exciting town with its can-do attitude and international population, spreading outwards from the historic old town and the palm-lined boulevard that is the Golden Mile.
This stylish avenue connects Marbella town with Puerto Banús, the jet-set marina inaugurated in 1970. Today, Marbella can be divided into distinct areas, occupying over 40 kilometres of coastline and extending into the foothills of mighty mountain ranges.
Learn more about Marbella areas
The Golden Mile
Having developed around the success of the legendary Marbella Club and Puente Romano hotels, Marbella’s Golden Mile is one of the prime millionaire’s rows on the Mediterranean, offering a chance to enjoy a privileged, unique lifestyle with all imaginable amenities of the iconic hotels, including elegant beach clubs and Michelin star restaurants like Bibo, Lobito del Mar and Leña from Dani García. With demand for homes on the Golden Mile far outstripping supply, as well as the desirability of luxury villas, exclusive apartment communities and beachside mansions, confirm this area to be the location for the most desirable homes in Marbella.
The downtown area of central Marbella is compact but large enough to offer a city feel – although a rather relaxed one set within a beautiful seaside location. At its heart is the Ricardo Soriano Avenue that runs straight through the middle, with apartments, squares, restaurants, cafés and shops extending on the beachside, and suburban apartments as well as a very pretty historic quarter located within the partially intact medieval town walls.
There is evidence of settlement in this region since before Phoenician and Roman times, but the historic Marbella we see today dates mostly to the Moorish and Baroque eras, with grand old churches, classical town houses set ensconced within the fortified town walls, and atmospheric little squares now lined mostly with eateries, tapas bars and boutiques. It is a pedestrian zone full of charm in all seasons, and one of the true jewels of this region.
Parks and esplanades lead down to the beach area, where a coastal pathway extends all the way from the fishing harbour on the east side of Marbella via the town’s marina to Puerto Banús and on to San Pedro Alcántara’s beaches. All along the way you will find beach clubs, fish restaurants, easy-going chiringuito bars, as well as water sports facilities and scenic vantage points. Among the top venues here are:
- Playa Padre beach club
- Trocadero Playa
- The restaurants and bars at the Marbella marina and Old Town
Marbella West is the area of beachside and golf-side suburbs and resort areas that extends from the famous Golden Mile west to encompass luxurious leafy surroundings in the following main areas:
Here you will find beautiful properties lining golf courses close to shops, restaurants, cafés, schools, tennis clubs, spas, beaches and many other leisure and professional amenities.
This famous yacht harbour designed in the style of a Mediterranean village has grown into a resort area situated between Marbella centre and the lively little town of San Pedro Alcántara. Besides the marina, with its super-yachts, nightclubs, boutiques, jewellers, restaurants, cocktail bars and cafés, there is also a large El Corte Inglés department store where you can literally find almost everything you could wish for.
There is also a cinema, tennis club and lots of retail and leisure facilities, including large sandy beaches dotted with fish restaurants, chiringuito beach bars and trendy beach clubs, including the glamorous Ocean Club.
Nueva Andalucía is a new highly sought-after area north of Puerto Banús, offering luxurious villas and apartments, most of which feature spectacular sea and mountain views. The area is perfect for golfers because of the four top golf courses that are right on your doorstep, including Las Brisas, Los Naranjos, Aloha Golf and La Dama de Noche. The choice of restaurants in Nueva Andalucía is amazing, both in terms of quality and variety: offering Asian, Indian, Japanese, Italian, European and African cuisine, as well as other establishments serving healthy, Andalusian, traditional Spanish and tapas, evening meals, lunch etc…the list is endless. Some of the top ranked restaurants in Marbella are located in Nueva Andalucía including Magna Café, Vovem Asador, Taj Mahal Marbella, La Fontina and La Sala, etc…far too many to know them all!
San Pedro Alcántara
Founded as an agricultural colony in the 1860s, San Pedro is now a lively little town with a distinctly Andalusian feel. Where fields of sugarcane one stood and cattle grazed near the beach, luxury residential areas, resort hotels and golf courses now dot the landscape. The most prominent suburb in this western part of Marbella’s municipal area is Guadalmina, which is dissected by the coastal road into inland Guadalmina Alta and beachside Guadalmina Baja.
Both are highly desirable, with Guadalmina Alta following the famous North Course near a cable-ski lake and Guadalmina Baja offering the peace and calm of large villas lining leafy residential streets that also trace the contours of its links golf club. The area also features exclusive venues such as the El Ancla beach club, as well as a popular seaside promenade lined with stylish fish restaurants and chiringuitos.
Head east of town centre and you realise there is a whole lot of Marbella – stretching all the way to the charming little marina of Cabopino and its protected Artola natural beach reserve. The sandy dunes and characteristic woods of coastal pine mark the borderline between the municipalities of Marbella and Mijas, but between this point and Marbella town there is over 20 kilometres of wonderful sandy beaches, with elegant residential zones in-between.
The east side of Marbella is up and coming as it offers space, excellent leisure facilities, the best beaches on the Costa del Sol and amazing views, not to mention many of the new high-quality property developments on the coast.
The main suburbs on the east side of Marbella are:
Río Real • Bahía de Marbella • Los Monteros • Santa Clara • El Rosario • Marbesa • Elviria • Elviria Hills • Las Chapas
Each of these areas has a setting, ambience and list of amenities that give it a unique character, but together they include a wide range of diverse golf courses, tennis clubs, spa resort hotels, shopping and dining amenities, international schools, clinics, business and co-working centres, gyms and of course properties and beaches.
The Marbella Rugby Club is located in Bahía de Marbella, the main Costa del Sol hospital on the inland side of Los Monteros, and there are English, German and Spanish private schools in the area too. It is also home to top beach venues such as Trocadero Arena, La Cabane, Bono Beach and Nikki Beach – all of which have a different ambience and offering.
Benahavís is one of the wealthiest municipalities in Spain, covers an area of almost 150km2 and is well known for its ample offer of renowned golf courses and surrounding unspoiled nature with numerous mountain ranges, river valleys and woods, making it one of the most beautiful places on the Costa del Sol. Benahavís is highly sought after for its exclusive residences, a large number of high-end developments and very low build density.
Life in Marbella is focused above all on the sea and the many leisure opportunities it offers, but the interior is equally as beautiful and accessible. Travel a few short kilometres inland and you come to unexpected pleasures such as the natural warm baths and Roman ruins at Hedionda a short distance west of Estepona, rock pools close to Estepona, lush green valleys, imposing mountain ranges, wooded hillsides and fantastic hiking and horse-riding trails that offer fantastic sea and mountain views. Perhaps the best view of all can be enjoyed from the top of Marbella’s iconic La Concha Mountain.
Golf Clubs in Marbella
Marbella is the most popular golf destination in Spain with its numerous and famous golf courses where many international tournaments have taken place. Some people refer to the Costa del Sol as the Costa del Golf due to the quantity and quality of its golf courses. Some of the most famous clubs include:
- Aloha Golf Club
- Atalaya Golf Course
- Cabopino Golf Club
- El Higueral Golf
- El Paraiso Golf Club
- Greenlife Golf Club
- La Quinta Golf & Country Club
- La Zagaleta Golf & Country Club
- Las Brisas Real Club
- Los Arqueros Golf & Country Club
- Los Flamingos Golf
- Los Naranjos Golf Club
- Magna Marbella
- Marbella Club Golf
- Marbella Golf Country Club
- Real Club de Golf Guadalmina
- Rio Real Golf Club
- San Pedro Golf Club
- Santa Clara Golf
- Santa Maria Golf & Country Club
Marbella Property Market
The property market in Marbella is characterised by luxury private villas and exclusive gated communities of apartments set within landscaped gardens and often including amenities such as swimming pools, indoor heated pools and spas, gyms, sundecks and sometimes even reception and concierge services. The top location remains frontline beach Marbella, followed by frontline golf, country clubs and peaceful residential areas, including even country locations on the edge of the Marbella municipality.
Marbella’s main top residential zones:
The best address of all, especially on the beachside, where some of the finest villas and apartment complexes in the region can be found. Prices range from around €1 million to beyond €30 million for private beachfront villas, and square metre values here can exceed €20,000/m2 due to the fact that there is more demand than supply.
Marbella Club and Puente Romano
These legendary twin hotels together form a luxurious resort encompassing beach clubs, restaurants, spa, a renowned tennis club and exclusive private properties situated right by the beach and surrounded by gorgeous European and Asian-inspired gardens. This is the spot where demand is strongest and square metre prices highest.
This largely gated villa community on the foothills of La Concha Mountain enjoys fantastic sea views and a country club feel combined with being five minutes from downtown Marbella, Puerto Banús and the beaches of the Golden Mile. Though there are also select apartment and townhouse complexes here, Sierra Blanca and the suburbs that flank it – Rocío de Nagüeles and the gated Cáscada de Camoján – are known above all for beautiful private villas ranging from around €1 million to grand estates of above €20 million.
The ultimate location if you want to be close to all shopping, dining, beach and nightlife amenities, Puerto Banús is above all an apartment and penthouse market dominated by luxurious gated beachside complexes set within their own lush gardens. The views are stunning here and prices range upwards of €1 million. Apartments and penthouses are also highly prized for their prime location and luxury amenities.
The largest suburb of Marbella, it occupies an entire valley area ringed by hills, with three main courses at the heart of its Golf Valley – Las Brisas, Los Naranjos and Aloha. Though it is close to Puerto Banús and Marbella town, Nueva Andalucía has a spacious residential feel, and is therefore popular with families. There is a good mix of apartments, townhouses and villas, with a lot of excellent new properties with prices ranging from around €500,000 to €15 million or more.
Split by the coastal road, this is a peaceful suburb dominated by its Northern and Southern golf courses. Guadalmina Alta – located on the inland side – features apartments, villas, and townhouses in the price range of €300,000 up to €10 million, while beachside Guadalmina Baja is the more hotly desired area, known above all for its elegant villas on large level plots. Here prices vary between €500,000 to over €20 million.
The eastern zone begins at Río Real and continues to Elviria and Las Chapas. Villas dominate both in the beachside and hill club areas, though there is also an excellent selection of townhouses and especially apartments, with many attractive modern homes to choose from. The most exclusive suburbs in Marbella East are Los Monteros, Elviria and Las Chapas, but overall, the price range is from €200,000 to over €20 million, depending on location, views, property size, quality and on-site amenities.
Though they fall outside of Marbella’s municipal area, some residential country clubs, such as La Zagaleta, Los Arqueros, El Madroñal and La Quinta, are so integral to the Marbella property market that they deserve mention too. Each of these areas is very different in its offering and price range – €200,000 to €30 million – but they share a hill terrain setting with fantastic coastal views and are often accompanied by golf courses and/or country club facilities.
The area that is best for you depends on your personal tastes, needs, lifestyle and budget.
Contact Engel & Völkers Marbella for any questions and further information about Marbella and its surroundings. We have the biggest portfolio of luxury villas, penthouses & apartments, frontline beach properties, frontline golf villas, apartments & penthouses and amazing new developments with panoramic sea and golf views.
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