One of Europe’s best-known and most glamorous destinations, Marbella has an excellent year-round climate, well-developed tourism infrastructure and a much in-demand property market, both for purchase and rental, holiday homes and permanent residences.
The municipality of Marbella is home to nearly 150,000 people, centred in and around the coastal towns of San Pedro de Alcántara and Marbella itself, as well as in the areas of Nueva Andalucía and Las Chapas.
Lying to the east of Estepona and west of Mijas, and bordering the inland villages of Benahavís, Istán, and Ojén, Marbella covers an area of close to 117 square kilometres, including 29 kilometres of Mediterranean coastline, and reaches an altitude of more than 1,200 metres at the summit of La Concha, its iconic peak.
The city of Marbella is 57 kilometres from the provincial capital, Málaga, and is connected via the A7 highway and AP7 toll road. Malaga’s Pablo Ruíz Picasso International Airport (AGP) is just 45 kilometres away.
The town has two distinct areas: the historic old town (casco antiguo) – with Roman, Moorish, and Christian architectural elements, whitewashed and cobbled streets and beautiful squares such as the Plaza de los Naranjos: It is home to a wonderful collection of local museums, trendy eateries and boutiques.
The modern extension (ensanche) of the town has developed since the 1960s, and stretches down to the sea, via the botanical gardens in the Alameda and sculpture-lined Avenida del Mar, as well as along the coast on both sides.
The Golden Mile
Marbella’s exclusive Golden Mile is actually 6.4 kilometres (4 miles) long, starting at the western boundary of the town and running along the coast to Puerto Banús. Home to many of Marbella’s most famous residents and truly stunning penthouses, villas and beachside mansions, it is also the site of landmark hotels like the Meliá Don Pepe and Puente Romano.
Development began in the 1950s when Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe established the Marbella Club here, and today it remains the most sought-after address among most affluent of buyers. The social scene revolves around the chic beach clubs and fine-dining restaurants of the Golden Mile, along with big-name boutiques stocked with the latest fashion. The property selection ranges from apartments and townhouses in pueblo communities near the beach to contemporary and classically designed mansions in premium areas like Sierra Blanca and Cascada de Camoján where, if you need to ask the price, you probably can’t afford it.
Located west of the Rio Verde River and south of Nueva Andalucía, Puerto Banús is a luxury recreation of a Mediterranean coastal village centred around its celebrated marina. The playground of the rich and famous, it is filled with private yachts, expensive supercars and beautiful people who spend their time in its upscale boutiques, international restaurants and lively bars and clubs, making this the ideal place to see and be seen. The area’s housing stock is mostly made up of apartments, ranging in size from pieds à terre to sizeable duplex penthouses, in low-rise, compact developments. Many enjoy panoramic views over the marina, while a few high-end seafront villas line the beach to the west. Prices range here from 250,000€ upwards into to the millions.
Popularly known as the Golf Valley, Nueva Andalucía is an attractive residential area set around golf courses in a broad, verdant valley. At the heart of its Golf Valley are three championship golf courses: Las Brisas, Los Naranjos, and Aloha, with the Manolo Santana Racquet Club nearby. The area is also well served with other amenities, such as the Centro Plaza shopping and leisure complex, Casino Marbella and up-market selection of smaller shops, restaurants, bars and hotels. The properties available for rent and sale in Nueva Andalucía include many frontline golf villas and a good selection of apartments and townhouses, starting at less than 250,000€ to single-family villas in high-end developments with front-line golf and Mediterranean views.
San Pedro de Alcántara
Surrounded by the mountains of the Sierra Blanca to the east, Sierra Real to the north, and Sierra Bermeja to the west, San Pedro lays within a valley that runs from the toll highway to the sea, ten kilometres from Marbella. With a population of 35,000 and a quieter, more relaxed feel than its neighbour, San Pedro town is divided into two distinct areas: the historic centre, full of local shops, tapas bars, and pretty squares, and the more modern district extending from the coastal A7 road and popular boulevard park to the beach. It is an upcoming area on the Costa del Sol, with a growing number of trendy modern restaurants, a five-kilometre seaside promenade with sandy beaches, parks, beach clubs and racquet clubs. Properties here start from 200,000€ for apartments with pools and gardens near the golf courses of Guadalmina Alta to spacious beachfront estates.
Situated just west of San Pedro, the elegant villa suburb of Guadalmina Baja is bordered by the Arroyo del Chopo to the east and the Rio Guadalmina to the west. Guadalmina Baja reaches inland from the sea past the N340 road, surrounded by the fairways of Guadalmina Golf Club, home to the Costa del Sol’s second oldest course. Originally developed in the late 1950s, the area grew up around the four-star Hotel Guadalmina Spa and Golf Resort and is known for its quiet sense of luxury. Though it doesn’t always feel like it, Guadalmina Baja is a beachside residential area whose wide, peaceful streets are lined above all with spacious villas, though there is also a choice of high-end apartments and townhouses in gated communities. Prices start from around 400,000€ and rise into the millions for imposing seafront mansions on large plots with direct beach access.
Stretching 12 kilometres from the town’s eastern boundary, from the Rio Real area, with its three golf courses – Rio Real, Santa Clara and the Marbella Golf and Country Club – to the pretty marina of Cabopino, Marbella East is more spacious and less developed than its western counterpart. All the same, it boasts a number of high-end villa urbanisations such as Los Monteros, Las Chapas, and Marbesa. The area is also home to some of Marbella’s best beaches, with plenty of chiringuito beach bars and beach clubs to choose from and wonderful views back across the bay to Marbella. The property selection includes everything from apartments in Los Altos de Marbella to building plots in Elviria and El Rosario, with prices from 200,000€ to huge seafront residences in Los Monteros with multi-million-euro price tags.
Originally published in December 2000, updated by Adam Neale July 2018