Marbella. There aren't many places offering year-round sunshine in Europe that, from beaches and golf to shopping and fine dining, tick as many of the luxury holiday boxes. Sounds tempting?…
The Costa del Sol is aptly named. ‘Sol’ because there are +300 days of the shiny stuff, and ‘Costa’ because like gin and tonic, Fred & Ginger and all other great double acts, you couldn’t very well have sunshine if you don’t also have a nice stretch of beach to bask on.
At the heart of this sun-soaked strip of sea and sand sits Marbella. While the province of Malaga isn’t short of a decent beach or two (as covered in a previous post of ours) there are more than 20 beaches in Marbella alone. So move over overcrowding – there’s always space to enjoy your own corner of the Med on one of this selection of best Marbella beaches.
Beaches to the East of Marbella
This beach to the east side of Marbella next to Los Monteros is great for families, as its shallow waters are ideal for children to splash around in. The beach itself a large, open affair, pebbly towards the edge of the sea. Sunbeds and wooden parasols can be rented. It has several great chiringuitos (beach bars or restaurants), where snacks, full meals and cocktails are served throughout the day. One of our favourite places to grab a bite to eat is Los Sardinales (Lossardinales.com) which serves a fantastic fish soup and catch of the day, or go upmarket to the swish La Cabane beach club, run by the hotel Los Monteros.
Playa Hermosa Marbella
Further down from Playa Alicate is Playa Hermosa and it lives up to its name as low-rise coastline building make it an attractively low-key place to sit back and relax. Karma Beach (Karmabeachmarbella.com) is a very agreeable restaurant and bar beach-side that adds a touch of comfort to a post-swim bite of lunch. The food is international, the cocktails are well mixed and the Champagne is on ice. The only way to truly enjoy this beach, though, is to hire a cabana bed with floaty curtains and soft cushions. And… relax.
This very popular beach is to the far east of Marbella. Its stellar reputation means that during July and August it can be difficult to park, but in our opinion it’s still well worth perserving with. Why? Let us count the ways: for starters, there are beautiful sand dunes (Las Dunas de Artola) to find a secluded spot and a smattering of large palms providing natural shade. But there are also great amenities: there are chiringuitos with sun loungers, parasols, showers and toilet facilities as well as pedalos, kayaks, jet-skis for hire and even dolphin-watching tours. For families, the restaurants on the beach are very child-friendly with microwave facilities and children’s menus. A true all-rounder.
Beaches to the West of Marbella
Its location (near The Marbella Club Hotel and Hotel Puente Romano) means that this beach is often home to the rich and famous in the area. There’s a choice of chiringuitos and restaurants on the beach (including Trocadero Playa Restaurant) so bring your best cover-up ensemble – designer sunnies, hat, the Melissa Odabash works. The backdrop is green, with palms and pine trees leading down to sand that’s golden and coarse (normal for this corner of the Med) and a picturesque wooden pier – it’s pretty as a picture.
El Faro Beach
El Faro Beach is a great option if you’re staying near the centre of Marbella and want to twin a spot of beach chillin’ with some shopping or sightseeing in the Old Town. There’s a full complement of amenities: toilets, showers, restaurants, bars, sunbeds and even a children’s play area. It’s a small beach with shallow waters – as it’s cocooned in by breakwaters – and because of this it gets busy during the summer. There are some great fish places with an authentic, local feel to dine in over siesta. The last word in elegant fine dining it ain’t, but we like it all the same.
Puerto Banus Beaches
Playa Nueva Andalucia, Playa de Levante and Playa del Rio Verde are the three beaches in Puerto Banus. These wide, clean beaches are just a very short saunter from the port of Puerto Banus. Here, if the fancy takes you (and we highly suggest it does), you can hire a yacht or go on a boat ride easily (chat to our concierge for ideas). There’s nothing like sunbathing, lunching or travelling to a beach club on a luxury yacht.
To the west of Puerto Banus, Playa Nueva Andalucia is an LVC favourite as there are a couple of beach clubs very nearby – Ocean Beach Club (Oceanclub.es) and La Sala Beach Club (Lasalabythesea.com). It’s not all ultra-glamorous beach clubs, though: if you’re an adrenaline junky or travelling with teenagers, Playa Nueva Andalucia is also home to Costa Waterpark which is basically an assault course on the sea. It’s great fun, if perhaps more than a little exhausting for anyone whose age extends into double digits.
We could go on and on, to be honest. The best way to find the right beach for you is to hire a bike (there are various locations to choose from in Puerto Banus or Marbella), take a ride along the promenade and judge for yourself.
Quite liking the sound of stretching out on one of these Marbella beaches this summer? Make sure you’ve got the accommodation to match – check out our collection of nearby luxury villas.
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Where is Marbella?First things first, though. Where is it? Marbella is in southern Spain - in the province of Malaga in the Andalucia region, to be exact - on a stretch of coast called the Costa del Sol. Here's a map of Marbella to help you get your bearings:
Where Do You Fly to?It depends on from where you're flying in. The nearest international airport to Marbella is Malaga. Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport (Aena.es) is 51km away and an easy 40-minute car/taxi ride. Virtually all the major airlines fly there direct from the UK and from across northern Europe. The next closest airport to Marbella is Gibraltar (Gibraltarairport.gi), which is just over an hour's drive away. British Airways, Easyjet and Monarch all fly direct from the UK to Gibraltar.
From the USIf you’re flying into Spain from the USA you'll probably have to travel to Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport (Aena.es). From there you'll have to either fly, take the fast speed AVE train (Renfe.com) or drive to Malaga and transfer from there to Marbella. The most convenient way to get to Marbella from Madrid is by the fast speed train taking just 2.5hrs or by flying taking only 1 hour and 15 mins.
how to get there from malaga airport
By CarThe best way to get from Malaga to Marbella is to drive. And if you're on holiday that probably means you're going to need to hire a car. As with almost all international airports, Malaga has a frankly baffling array of different car hire options to pick through. To avoid the scrum of the departures lounge, jump on the complimentary minibus to the offices of Niza, Helle Hollis or Enterprise situated a mere minute outside of the terminal. Inside the terminal you can find Sixt, Hertz and Europcar. If you're unsure of which company to use, click the following link. For a more luxury car hire service we'd recommend Sixt (Sixt.com). They're friendly, totally professional, trustworthy and have a range of high-end rental options, from BMWs, Audis and Porsches to Mercedes and Range Rovers - and even automatics. If you're travelling in a large group, they also have 8-12 seater self-drive minibuses available for hire. Of course if you're looking for ease, our Concierge can make the reservation for you to be dropped directly off at the villa. A car of your choice can be delivered to your villa. Once you've picked up your car/minibus hire, driving from Malaga airport to Marbella could hardly be easier. Directions from Malaga-Costa del Sol airport are as follows:
- Leave the airport and head southeast onto N-348
- At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit and stay on N-348
- Take the Torremolinos ramp to N-340/Cádiz
- Merge onto Avenida de Velázquez/N-340/MA-21
- Take the ramp to E-15/A-7/Benalmadena/Algeciras. Merge onto AP-7
- Pass Torremolinos, Benalmadena, Fuengirola
- Take exit 184 towards Marbella/Casco Antiguo/Avenida del Trapiche
By TaxiFor sheer ease, you can’t beat jumping in a taxi. A taxi rank is situated outside the arrivals sidewalk of Terminal T3, level 0. It's best to ask the driver, beforehand, how much a taxi is from Malaga to Marbella to ensure they don’t overcharge you. There are two transfer prices, and these are dependent on both times of the day and the day of the week. Transfer Price Band 1 is weekdays from 06.00 to 22.00 hrs. Transfer Price Band 2 is weekdays from 22.00 to 06.00 hrs, all day Saturdays, Sundays, public holidays, the August Feria and Holy Week. Band 2 transfer time is more expensive than Band 1. Alternatively, you can pre-order a taxi at Malaga Airport Taxi (Malagaairporttaxi.net) and get a price when booking. The transfer time from Malaga Airport to Marbella takes around an hour, in a taxi.
Other Ways to Get to Marbella
- By bus: It is possible to take a bus (Alsa.com) from Malaga airport to Marbella. But it's a whole lot less convenient than driving via hire car or private transfer.
- By train: There isn’t a train connection from Malaga airport to Marbella.
Distances - how far is marbella from...
- Malaga (city): 61km away and 46 minutes' drive.
- Granada: 187km and just over 2 hours' drive.
- Seville: 258km and 2 hours 45 minutes' drive.
- Gibraltar: 78km and 1 hour 2 minutes' drive.
- Madrid: 584 km and 5 hours 45 minutes' drive.
A Bit of HistoryThe land previously belonged to the Saudi businessman Adnan Khashoggi, who it is said, used the estate as his party house and hunting grounds. The property and land went up for sale and a group of Spanish property developers bought it and put plans together to create a playground for the rich and famous in Marbella. Each villa is unique, with their own styles depending on the specifications of the owner.
Location & Getting There
So where is La Zagaleta?The large estate sits in Malaga province in the south of Andalucia. It’s in the foothills of the Ronda Mountains just 25 minutes from Marbella, 18 minutes from Nuevo Andalucia and the nearest beach. It's 20 minutes from the village of Benahavis, 40 minutes from Sotogrande port, 50 minutes from Ronda, 55 minutes from Malaga airport and just over an hour from Gibraltar airport. La Zagaleta is very easily accessed by car or helicopter. There's heavy security surrounding the estate and entrance is on prior permission only.
What Else is in La Zagaleta?It’s worth noting that all the facilities in La Zagaleta are for exclusive use to villa owners only; they pay an enormous service charge to be allowed to use the facilities.
Golf CourseLa Zagaleta golf club is only open to villa owners and their guests. They have exclusive access to two of the Costa del Sol's best private golf courses, La Zagaleta and Los Barrancos. La Zagaleta golf course - known as the Old Course - is to championship standard with 18 holes, Par 72 over a distance of 4800 - 6000 yards. Designed by renowned golf architect Brad Benz in 1991 and redesigned by Marc Westenborg in 2016, it’s a rewarding course with fantastic views to the coast and flanked by mountains. The New Course, Los Barrancos, is very different to the Old Course. It’s a challenging 18-hole, Par 70 with lots of obstacles over a distance of 4356 – 5381 yards.
The ClubhousesThe hub of the estate is the spectacular Old Clubhouse, or La Zagaleta country club. Measuring 5,100m² it has an indoor/outdoor swimming pool, billiards, bowling alley, tennis courts, gourmet food supermarket, pro-golf shop and restaurants (see below). There's also a nightclub, bars and events space where there’s a full schedule of experiences and parties planned. The New Clubhouse is a thatched lakeside venue. A lot smaller than the Old Clubhouse, it's still just as popular with La Zagaleta residents for events or having a quick drink in the bar.
Horse RidingLa Zagaleta is home to some beautiful stables with indoor and outdoor schooling arenas. Horses can either be kept on a full livery basis, or horses and ponies can be hired for lessons or hacks. ‘The Riding Club’ equestrian centre has a team of instructors and well-schooled horses for all levels of rider including Arab, PRE and, for the children, Farabella horses and Welsh ponies.
RestaurantsWhy leave the comfort of a beautiful villa when you can enjoy a top-quality meal at home? At La Zagaleta there are Michelin starred chefs available for in-house dining throughout the estate. However, for owners the clubhouse has two restaurants: the formal dining Old Course Restaurant; and a terrace bar restaurant that's ideal for light bites and brunches.
Famous ResidentsThere is private security throughout the whole of La Zagaleta - so know one really know who lives or owns houses there. It’s a place where the super-rich and famous go to be away from the limelight. However, it is said that Hugh Grant, Rod Stewart and Vladimir Putin all have house in La Zagaleta.
What to Do NearbyWhen staying in La Zagaleta, the houses are so special that it’s sometimes difficult to tear yourself away from the estate. However, if you do want to see more of the area, here's our pick of easily accessible and great day trips:
- Ronda: historic, boutique wineries and ab-so-lutely beautiful.
- Benahavis village: a great option for restaurants; have a lunch or dinner in this pretty village.
- Granada: a romantic inland city and home to the Alhambra Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Malaga: the birthplace of Picasso with a fort, palace and Roman amphitheatre.
- Cordoba: historic city with a stunning mosque-church at its centre.
- Sevilla: one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
- Sotogrande: a lovely port, wake boarding lake and polo hub.