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Marbella best spas

Seven of the Most Indulgent Spas in Marbella

To spa before the holiday or to spa during? That is the question.

While prepping for holidays it’s tempting to have a session or two to get your body smooth, relaxed, beach ready and primed for the perfect tan. But the LVC answer has always been before AND during. And with the summer just around the corner, we’ve whipped up a wonderfully indulgent pick of the best of what’s on offer near Marbella.

Women being massaged

Firstly, you should know that when we spa, we absolutely do not mess around. We have very high standards. The overall experience is the key: our criteria includes everything from expecting a beautiful spa area, relaxing mood and serene facilities, seamless service, divine products, world-class expertise and intelligent spa treatments. We’re wanting a holistic approach with perfect relaxation areas that invigorate the senses, recharges the energy levels and balances mind and body.

So here’s our pick of the best spas near Marbella that fit the bill…

Saltwater indoor pool at Thalasso Spa

Marbella Club Thalasso Spa

Address: Bulevar Principe Alfonso von Hohenlohe, 29600 Marbella.

What: Thalassotherapy (the use of seawater, sea products, and shore climate in treatments). We’re all about bathing in the goodness of seaweed at the minute and love the way Thalasso Spa uses what Marbella has in abundance with its coastal location. There’s also a seawater pool, hammam steam baths and wood-burning Finnish sauna.

Products: Babor, Marjana Cosmetiques, Thalio, Natura Bissé.

We love: The Intensive body treatments which include body wraps and a specific-to-your-needs massage.

Point of difference: Med view seawater indoor pool – seriously, it’s wonderful.

Who’s it for: Single girls’ spa day treat, couples, star-spotters.

More information: Marbellaclub.com or ask our Concierge to book your dream treatment.

Pool at Six Senses Spa Marbella 

Six Senses Spa at Puente Romano Beach Resort

Address: Bulevar Principe Alfonso von Hohenlohe, s/n, 29602 Marbella, Malaga.

What: Facials, massages, hammam, manicures and pedicures, hydrotherapy pool, cold plunge pool, experience showers, herbal steam room and a sauna set in a beautiful facility.

Products: QMS Medicosmetics and The Organic Pharmacy (We know! We love The Organic Pharmacy, too).

We love: Vitamin C and Papaya Enzyme Peel 50 minute Facial. You’ll feel like you have new skin and fine lines diminished.

Point of difference: Signature Senses Facial by QMS Medicosmetics has been developed exclusively for Puento Romano Six Senses Spa.

Who’s it for: Everyone. This is one of our all-time favourite spas in Marbella. It has a wonderfully calming feel and is great for groups, frazzled mothers and couples.

More information: Sixsenses.com os ask our Concierge for further details and reservations.

 Finca-Cortesin-Thai-Massage

Finca Cortesin Spa

Address: Calle Casares, 2, 29690 Casares, Malaga.

What: A huge area full of natural light to spa in. Heated saltwater pool, saunas, Turkish baths, showers, relaxation lounge, Japanese bath (water maintained at a constant 10ºC) and a -12º snow cabin.

Products: Biologique Recherche.

Point of difference: Thai massages and a very attentive team to serve you. They’ll supply reading material, delicious tea or thirst-quenching drinks before you’ve even thought about wanting them.

Who’s it for: Couples and people needing to get away from it all for total relaxation. Oh, and ageing rock superstars, too – Axel Rose is known to spend weeks there.

More information: Fincacortesin.com or again, our Concierge has direct contacts with the spa to ensure the best slots.

Treatment Room at Kempinski Spa Marbella

Kempinski Spa at Hotel Bahia

Address: Kempinski Hotel Bahia, Carretera de Cadiz, Km 159, 29680 Estepona, Malaga.

What: Indoor relaxation pool, Finnish sauna, steam room, ice fountain, heated benches and a relaxation area.

We love: Their treatments and specially created spa menu for men – so many spas overlook the men. Our favourite is the Niance Men Revitalize facial.

Products: Niance and Thémaé.

Point of difference: Quartz Sand bath spa table (the only one in Spain). Try it, it’s dreamy.

Who’s it for: People who might want a quick spa circuit and treatment or who like to spa-light. This Marbella spa is easy come easy go and very accessible.

More information: Kempinski.com or get in touch with our Concierge to assist.

 Dipping pool at Healthhouse La Dunas Spa

Healthouse Las Dunas

Address: Urbanizacion Boladilla Baja, Crta. Cadiz km 163500, 29689, Estepona, Marbella.

What: A real focus on healthy lifestyle with treatments using mainly aromatherapy and hydrotherapy. There is a designated swimming lane, sensation path, vitality pool with jacuzzi, warm cave, cold cave, salt cabin, caldarium, snow cabin, sauna, steam bath and flotarium.

We love: Their Spa & Yoga sunset sessions with a 1 hour yoga class and 30 minute massage as well as access to the whole spa – an ideal treat.

Products: Algologie.

Point of difference: This is a wellness facility with luxurious surroundings; it particularly focuses on weight loss.

More information: Healthouse-naturhouse.com or contact our Concierge as the first step to feeling wonderful!

Dipping Pool At Villa Padierna Spa

Villa Padierna Thermae Spa

Address: Urb. Los Flamingos Golf, Ctra. de Cadiz, Km. 166. 29679 Marbella – This one is perfectly located for our Los Flamingos villas

What: Elegant Romanesque-inspired spa facilities with luxurious surroundings. Four steam rooms with different essential aromas and temperatures (one with sea salt, one Greek sauna, two Finnish saunas), a very atmospheric dynamic swimming pool, a flotarium and a Laconium as well as a treatment room with oxygen bubbles (yes, the ultimate treatment room).

We love: The facials,. Choose from a personalised treatment, the Michelle Obama or Sophia Loren. Well it if works for them…

Products: Piroche Cosmétiques, Carita, Micro Puncture Lab©.

Point of difference: The Roman plunge pool is pure elegance. This luxurious spa is the best for celebrity spotting, too.

More information: Villapadiernawellness.com or contact our Concierge who looks after our guests just next door.

Outside The Barbers Shop in Puerto Banus

The Barber Club Marbella

Address: Boulevar Principe Alfonso, 015, 29601, Puerto Banus, Marbella

What: A men’s barbers, coffee lounge and spa treatment club. Modern, fashionable and cutting edge, this place offers men’s facials, tanning, massages and grooming.

We love: That men are taking care of themselves – swoon.

Products: Penhaligon’s, Uppercut, Creed.

Point of difference: It’s all about the men and that’s unique in Marbella.

More information: Thebarberclubmarbella.com.

Want to wrap a trip to one of our favourite Marbella spas up into the perfect pamper day? Check out our essential guide to Marbella shopping.

To make sure your stay in southern Spain is as healthy and relaxing as possible, why not consider one of our retreat villas?

Blog Marbella Shopping Essentials

The Insiders Guide to Marbella Shopping

Marbella and shopping. Did two things ever sit together so naturally? It’s all in the heritage: the area was born out of the golden age of wealthy jet setters in the 50s. And there’s one thing the glamorous jet set of yesteryear (and present day, for that matter) know how to do – and that is spend it.

While just up the road, Puerto Banus is door-to-door designer boutiques, Marbella’s offering is slightly more varied and you have to work a little harder to find its most inviting independent shops.

To give you a bit of a helping hand, we’ve picked out a handful of the very best in our guide to Marbella shopping.

The Best of the Boutiques

My Dreamy Shoes 

Calle Nueva, 4

my dreamy shoes marbella

Dreamy by name, dreamy by nature. This small shoe shop in Marbella has a great selection of shoes for women and children, from wedges and espadrilles to boots and heels. If you want something a bit unusual in the way of footwear you’ll find it here.

Liz Cole Couture/The Hat Shop 

Calle Panaderia, 4

Liz Cole’s studio is just off Plaza de los Naranjos, tucked away down a narrow street. She sources the most divine collection of kimonos, as well as making made-to-measure clothing out of handmade silk. She can design and make anything you want, from 40s-inspired shirt dresses to 50s full skirts as well as modern shift dresses. A dress takes about two months from design, to fitting to the finished article – so plan your trip well.

Atelier Marbella Crea 

Avenida Miguel Cano 6 / Local 2 Bajo

atelier marbella

Need a hat for the wedding season or ladies’ day at Ascot? Let’s face it, buying a hat off the peg to go with an outfit never looks quite right – you nearly always have to get one made that matches the colour or style of your outfit. Fortunately, your ideas are in safe hands with Atelier as they are a long-established milliners (and school) in Marbella.

D.Oliva 

Calle Nueva, 9

DOliva gourmet wine shop Marbella

D.Oliva only stock the very finest produce from Andalucia – Owner David personally selects his wine from local vineyards and sells this alongside a mind-blowing choice and flavours of Spanish olive oil – try it with fresh pan de pueblo in the shop, or you can even book a full blown wine and food pairing (book it as part of an Old Town Marbella Tapas Tour with our colleagues at Toma Tours). It’s a great place to drop in to if you’re a food-lover.

Twist Boutique 

Centro Comercial La Colonia (San Pedro de Alcantara)

twist boutique marbella

Twist makes the cut for the LVC Marbella shopping edit as it stocks small brands that are casual, easy to wear and stylish. Don’t let the slightly dated shop fit and merchandising put you off as the collections are handpicked by the owner. It also stocks Hudson jeans and Ugg footwear.

Nina B 

Centro Comercial Centro Plaza, Avenida Manolete, 1, Local 39-40 (Nueva Andalucia)

A carefully selected range of clothing and accessories from largely Swedish designers fill this boutique in Nueva Andalucia. A range of unusual and sensibly priced brands such as Filippa K, Caterina Lucchi, Sixty Days and TCN make it well worth a visit.

Gunnels Fashion 

Centro Comercial Centro Plaza, Avenida Manolete, Local 18-19 (Nueva Andalucia)

gunnels fashion nueva andalucia

Born out of the need for unique, original pieces of clothing and accessories, Gunnels is a boho-chic, pretty, breath of fresh air. The owner is Swedish and is famed for her clogs (yes you heard correctly, clogs – just try them and you’ll see where we’re coming from). We love this boutique and always pop in when we’re in Nueva Andalucia.

Berdaguer 

Calle de Ramiro Campos Turmo, 10

Not forgetting the men, of course… Berdaguer is one of the more traditional, high-quality men’s clothing shops in Marbella. Stocking branded names such as Hackett, Burberry and Church’s, this boutique deals in classic clothing and a variety of accessories that would keep any man happy.

The Best of Vintage

These two vintage shops stock quality pieces from recognised names so it’s always worth popping in for that vintage Luis Vuitton backpack, Chloé silk dress or YSL circa 1984 belt you’ve always wanted.

Chic Vintage 

Calle de Enrique del Castillo, 1

chic vintage marbella

This little shop is filled from top to bottom with all sorts of vintage clothing and accessories. Be prepared to rummage, but there are gems to be found.

Ruz Vintage 

Avenida Ricarco Soriano, 21

Only stocking luxury brands, Ruz vintage has a great collection of clothes and accessories including a good selection of silk scarfs in perfect condition.

The Best Shopping Centre

Set back off the Carretera de Ojén and surrounded by palms, La Cañada makes for a great option if you’re wanting an afternoon away from the beach or the pool. There are a few designer names knocking about, but it’s largely the best of the Spanish high street that fills the space.

Adolfo Dominguez

Classic styles in good quality fabrics fill Adolfo Dominquez stores. Its collections are forever favourites that won’t go out of fashion. Think a sea of tan, creams, navy, black and a nod to fashionable colours. They stock men’s and women’s clothing, accessories, costume jewellery and sunglasses. 

Bimba y Lola

We love Bimba y Lola. Expect fresh designs that go from edgy, to classics with a twist. A relatively small collection is served up every season featuring bold colours, tailored trousers and dresses with shoes, bags and jewellery to compliment.

Purificacion Garcia

Men’s and women’s mid-range designer shop Purificacion Garcia always delights with flattering cuts, inventive designs and forever pieces.

If you’re after a suitably glamorous base camp for your Marbella shopping trip, check out our collection of luxury villas.

Mountain Views from La Zagaleta

Seven of the Best Costa del Sol Golf Courses

With more than 50 courses in just a shade over 100km, not for nothing is the coastline west of Malaga known as the ‘Costa del Golf’.

A golf holiday here offers something for all abilities, too, from gentle municipal hacks to tournament courses for seasoned scratch handicappers.

So without any further ado, here’s the LVC pick of a few of the best Costa del Sol golf courses…

Marbella Golf & Country Club, Benahavis

sea views marbella club

We begin appropriately enough, at the beginning, with the grande dame of Costa del Sol golf courses: Marbella Golf & Country Club. It may not be the oldest course in the region (that honour goes to the Malaga Parador which dates back to the 20s), but founded in 1954 and part of the resort of the same name, it very definitely leads the way in the old-fashioned glamour stakes.

And the course? Designed by Dave Thomas, set back a little from the coast to the north of Benahavis, its gently undulating fairways wind their way between well-placed water features upwards towards the mountains.

Stunning setting aside, the course is both in consistently great nick and challenging, with a mix of elevated tees keeping even low-handicap players guessing for distance and club selection. A major selling point of Marbella Club is the gap between tee times (a generous 12 minutes minimum) which means that the tension when you shank one into the rough is slightly reduced. A class act.

The 19th hole: Tie in tee times to coincide with an evening table booked at Juan Galvez’s The Grill, the hotel’s fabulous (and heavily meat-centric) restaurant.

Address: Carretera Benahavis, Km 3.7, 29679, Malaga; Tel: +34 952 88 06 08; Marbellaclubgolf.com.

La Quinta Golf & Country Club, Nueva Andalucia

5th hole la quinta marbella

La Quinta ticks a lot of boxes. A mature and well-kept course that was designed by Spanish pros Antonio Garrido and Manuel Piñero, it perhaps plays a little easier than some of the others on this list. That’s not to say it’s not a high quality course – nor that it doesn’t have its challenges in the form of some tricky fairways and cavernous bunkers – merely that it’s suitable for mid-handicappers.

The course is made of three nine-hole loops – San Pedro, Ronda and Guadaiza – which can be mixed and matched as you see fit. As a result, along with a scenic driving range, it makes for a good warm-up round at the start of your golf holiday. 

The 19th hole: Soothe stiff backs with a post-round soak, steam and massage in the hammam-inspired La Quinta Spa.

Address: Avenida Tomas Pascual, s/n, 29660 Marbella, Malaga; Tel: +34 952 76 23 90; Laquintagolf.com.

Finca Cortesin, Casares

finca cortesin clubhouse

A fairly new addition towards the western end of the Costa del Sol in Casares, Finca Cortesin is a sophisticated luxury resort that mixes indulgence with style and taste throughout.

Two things stand out about the golfing here, though: first of all, despite only having been built in 2006, it’s a mature course with fairways lined with lots of old cork and olive trees and some spectacular scenery; secondly, at nearly 7,000m it’s an absolutely monster. Weak drivers need not apply.

The 19th hole: play an early morning’s round and spend the afternoon stretched out by the pool, before heading down to their beach club for sundowners.

Address: Carretera de Casares, s/n, 29690 Casares, Malaga; Tel: +34 952 93 78 00; Fincacortesin.com.

La Zagaleta, Benahavis

la zagaleta fairway

Winding its way up into hills and woodland above Marbella, La Zagaleta country club has two courses, La Zagaleta and Los Barrancos. Both are amongst the very prettiest of this very pretty bunch, with many holes snaking their way through tree-lined valleys criss-crossed with occasional streams. This is the real joy of playing here: not only does nature start as soon as the fairway stops on many holes, but at almost no point do fairways run alongside one another. They feel like golf courses that are integrated into the surrounding natural landscapes rather than imposed on it.

There’s just one potential hitch: it’s a members’ only affair. So unless you’re fortunate enough to have friend who’s in the club you won’t be getting in.

The 19th hole: forget about that disappointing scorecard by heading for the clubhouse’s bowling alley, exclusive for residents of La Zagaleta with prior arrangement (check out our villas in La Zagaleta).

Address: Carretera Ronda Km 38.5, Benahavis, Malaga, 29679; Tel: +34 952 85 54 50; Lazagaleta.com.

Real Club Valderrama, Sotogrande

valderrama water hazard

Valderrama Golf Course has in the past picked up the accolade of the best golf course in mainland Europe. The list of competitions it’s held over the years is a long one taking in the Andalucia Masters, the Volvo Masters and the first Ryder Cup to be played on European soil. Suffice to say that, whichever way you come at it, it’s one of the best places to play golf in Spain for the serious golfer.

And the emphasis here is very much on Serious with a capital ‘S’. The greens are lightning fast, the fairways at times breathtakingly tight, and the rough unforgiving. But the thing that sets Valderrama apart is the fact that there’s not a single dull hole – whether they’re winding their way through the cork woods, both visually and in terms of the challenge they throw up, each offers something slightly different, right up to the famous 17th with its death or glory tee-off.

The 19th hole: start by booking an afternoon tee time. Then, at the end of your round, step off the 18th green, walk to the clubhouse, order yourself a glass of fine champagne and watch as the shadows lengthen over the fairways. Drink it all in. You’re surrounded by a piece of golfing heritage.

Address: Avenida de los Cortijos, s/n, 11310 Sotogrande, Cadiz; +34 956 79 12 00; Valderrama.com.

For accommodation that is as equally refined, choose Villa El Chorrito Sotogrande neighbouring Valderrama golf club.

Los Flamingos, Benahavis

views los flamingos golf benahavis1

Los Flamingos is Malaga golf ground zero. Right in the heart of the action, and part of the exclusive Villa Padierna resort complex, there are three courses sitting side by side: Alferini, Tramores and Los Flamingos.

Of the three, Alferini is the trickiest – long with punitive rough and countless challenging approach shots. Tramores is a short, friendly warm-up course (an extended pitch and putt, if you like) that’s ideal for grooving your swing. Los Flamingos, though, is probably the most inviting for the average golfer. Designed by Antonio Garcia Garrido, it’s a mix of gently rolling parkland and hillier holes. After a tight front nine, the back nine opens up a bit making for a very pleasant day of golf in the Andalucian sunshine.

The 19th hole: while it’s nowhere near as relaxing as a cold beer or two back in the clubhouse, the Michael Campbell Golf Academy is a great place to hit the driving range, take a lesson (private and group tuition is available) and iron out any kinks in your swing.

Address: Villa Padierna Golf Club, Urbanizacion Los Flamingos Golf, Carretera de Cadiz, Km. 166. 29679 Marbella, Malaga; Tel. +34 952 889 157; Villapadiernagolfclub.com.

Choose one of our Los Flamingos Golf villas for a convenient stay that’s also within easy reach of the coast’s restaurants and bars.

Los Naranjos, Marbella

9th hole los naranjos

This Robert Trent Jones Sr-designed course celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2017. Like the other courses he turned his expert hand to on the Costa del Sol, Valderrama, Sotogrande and Las Brisas, it’s as pleasant to play as it is to look at. Aesthetically, the 9th is a particular highlight: having successfully navigated a lovely right to left dogleg, you can lean on your putter and admire beautiful views of La Concha.

In terms of difficulty, it’s something of a course of two halves, with the back nine a more leisurely walk in the park(land) after the challenging terrain – plus tricksy water features and bunkers – of the front nine. It sits firmly in the mid-range end of the spectrum, though, and for higher handicappers is nowhere near such a daunting day out as some of the championship courses on this list.

The 19th hole: the club is Swedish-owned and there’s been great excitement about the appointment of a Scandinavian chef to head up the recently refurbished restaurant in the clubhouse. Locals have been booking the morning tee times to align their rounds with a spot of lunch.

Address: Plaza de Cibeles, s/n, 29660 Marbella, Malaga; Tel. +34 952 81 24 28; Losnaranjos.com.

Costa del Sol Golf Holiday Need-to-Knows

When’s the best time of year to play? With over +300 days of sunshine per year, it’s never exactly a bad time for a Costa del Sol golf holiday. Autumn and Spring, though, are perhaps the most popular seasons as the temperatures are pleasant, without ever hitting the scorching summer highs. 

How much are green fees on the Costa del Sol? It very much depends. At the upper end, the green fees at Valderrama won’t leave you with much change from €400, whereas a round of golf at Los Flamingos or Los Naranjos might set you back somewhere in the region of €70-80 in low season.

How do I find the best Costa del Sol golf deals? Whether it’s making sure you get the most favourable tee times or booking you the best caddy, the LVC concierge team are on hand. Ask and you shall receive.

Like our pick of the best golf courses on the Costa del Sol, and now looking for a suitably indulgent place to stay? Check out our collection of luxury golf villas.

After something a little less energetic from your holiday? Stretch out on one of our pick of the best Marbella beaches instead.

Things to Do in Granada in a Day

When visiting Granada, the Alhambra palace is always going to be high on any visitor’s itinerary. With its intricate carvings, magical gardens and marvellous views of the city you’ll need at least two or three hours to take in this breathtaking monument. Make sure you book well in advance (Alhambra-patronato.es) to avoid disappointment.

Ideally, any visitor should really allow at least three days to properly explore the city, but if you’re only visiting on a whistle-stop tour, here are a few unmissable things to do in Granada in a day…

One: Walk from Plaza Nueva to Sacromonte

granada, sacromonte, alhambra

Granada seen from The Sacromonte Barrio (Source: FlickrCC SnippyHollow)

A stroll from the city’s central and crowded Plaza Nueva up to the iconic gypsy barrio, Sacromonte, is the best way to discover Granada’s historic area either before or after you’ve seen the Alhambra. Along the way, you’ll find plenty of interesting sites such as El Bañuelo – a free to visit, Arab bathhouse dating from the 11th century – and Paseo de los Tristes, probably the city’s most popular spot to grab a coffee or a tapas and admire the view of orange trees and Alhambra towers looming above.

Once you’ve reached the top of Cuesta de Chapí­z – a steep hill that will leave you gasping for breath – take a left past Jardines de Zorraya (a well-known Flamenco venue) and carry on until you reach Plaza Larga. This is a bustling square filled with fruit markets, timeworn cafes and nattering old Spanish ladies. Pure Granada.

From Plaza Larga take the right turn up Calle Agua del Albayzin, which will take you the rest of the way to Sacromonte. A great place to stop and admire the view is Sacromonte’s tiny Chiringuito, which offers cheap beer and soft drinks. With the Alhambra perched on one side of the valley and the Albayzin tumbling down the other, there really is no better view in town.

Two: Explore the City Centre

cathedral, granada

The Cathedral of Granada (Source: FlickrCC maveric2003)

Back in the city centre, if there’s time, head to the Corral del Carbon (Alhambra.info). This building dates back to around 1336, when it was used as an inn for merchants of the silk trade, but over the years has had many uses. There would probably have been hundreds of these buildings in Spain but, sadly, very few still stand today. For this reason it has great historic significance and is an excellent example of a Moorish-dating construction in superb condition.

Those with an interest in Royal Spanish history would enjoy a visit to the Capilla Real, where the Catholic Kings Isabel and Ferdinand are buried. The mighty Cathedral also forms part of the sample complex and can be visited alongside the Royal Chapel.

ferdniand, isabel, reyes catolicos, granada, capilla real, royal chapel

Catholic King & Queen Ferdinand and Isabel at The Royal Chapel (Source: FlickrCC z_wenjie)

Close to the Cathedral, Plaza Bib Rambla was once the entrance to the city of Granada. Still an important place for festivities and markets, this picturesque square is a great place to stop off for a cool beer or a coffee in the heat of the day. The nearby streets of the Alcaiceria where silver and exotic silks were once traded still have the feel of a Moroccan souk today.

Three: Grab a Tapa

tapas bar, calle navas, granada

A Busy Tapas bar on Calle Navas, Granada (Source: FlickrCC daquellamanera)

Come lunchtime you’ll want to make the most of Granada’s tapas scene, famed for its agreeable pricing structure; that’s to say, tapas come for free with any alcoholic or soft drink. One of the best spots to find a wide selection of tapas bars is Calle Navas, just up from the Town Hall. The street is quite narrow and some of the outdoor furniture virtually blocks your path as you weave your way through the standard bundle of bodies. The atmosphere is electric and the food made fresh.

Four: Explore the Albayzin

albayzin, albaicin, granada

The Albayzin Barrio, Granada (Source: FlickrCC julianrdc)

Also not to be missed are the Arab tea shops and hookah bars along Caldereria Nueva, close to Calle Elvira. This is in the lower part of the Albayzin and is an emblematic part of Granada.

If you continue up Caldereria Nueva and follow the cobbled path that leads upwards at the top, you will eventually arrive at el Mirador de San Nicolas, easily the city’s most popular viewpoint since it is directly opposite the Alhambra behind which the Sierra Nevada mountains are visible. The view is best on a clear winter’s day, when the mountains, underneath a bright blue sky, are covered in snow.

Five: Dine in Style

For something completely different and indicative of Granada’s modern-day attractions, the Panoramic 360º (Panoramic360.es) revolving restaurant is worth splurging on if you still have time at the end of your day. It is the only one of its kind in Spain, and can be found on the outskirts of the city past the Palacio de Congresos. This unique setting offers diners views of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the Alhambra, Albayzin and Sacromonte barrio, as well as a panoramic view over the city of Granada itself.

Planning a daytrip to Seville, too? Have a read of our post on ‘Seeing the Best of Seville in a Day‘ to get some ideas.

cycling, mountain biking, andalucia, costa del sol

Top Activity Holidays in Andalucia

As Europe’s most popular holiday destination, Andalucia is not in the business of disappointing its visitors – no matter what interests they might have. Most would immediately associate Andalucia with week-long, sun-drenched escapes spent lazing on the beach or by the pool, but a week’s holiday doesn’t necessarily have to include such slothful yet satisfying pastimes.

Thanks to the diverse landscape and 800km-long coastline that southern Spain boasts, the range of thrilling activities on offer is broader than just about anywhere in Europe. That’s right: even adrenaline junkies can be guaranteed of the perfect getaway. From kite-surfing and jet-skiing to quad-biking and snowboarding, there are plenty of white-knuckle activities to get stuck into, if you dare!

Kite-surfing

Kitesurfing in Spain

Kitesurfing in Spain (Source: Kitesurf Tour Europe)

Possibly now even more popular than surfing, kite-surfing certainly guarantees thrill-seekers an experience they won’t quickly forget. After learning to fly the kite (harder than you might think), learners strap into the kite-surfboard and ride the waves to their pumping heart’s content. Quite a bit of upper body strength is needed to be able to hold on for longer than a few minutes, but with enough practice anyone old enough to do it can succeed.

Where? Estepona

Who? Freedom Kite School – Kitesurfestepona.com.

Contact: info@kitesurfestepona.com

Jet-skiing

jet-skiing in spain

If you love a good buzz but would rather have an engine do all the hard work for you, then jet-skiing is definitely worth considering. As you might expect there are the usual and obligatory safety measures to complete (and fully understand) before you are permitted to hop on this high-speed joy-wagon, but when the moment comes there’s no hanging around, as you’re propelled forwards at break-neck speeds into the tide.

It’s a bumpy ride, but well worth picking up a few bruises for.

Where? Marbella

Who? Marbella Jet Ski – Marbellajetski.com.

Contact: Daniel@marbellajetski.com

Rock-climbing

Rock-climbing in El Chorro

Rock-climbing in El Chorro (Source: Jerome Bon)

With so many mountains to climb it’s no wonder Andalucia is regarded the world over as a rock-climber’s paradise. Beach-goers may not be as enthusiastic but anyone looking for a little excitement away from the waves might want to consider an afternoon scrambling up the side of a large cliff or rock either in the Malaga or Granada province of the region.

Be sure to have fun and give it your all if you go rock-climbing but if you’re even slightly squeamish when it comes to heights, just remember: Don’t. Look. Down.

Where? El Chorro

Who? Rockbusters – Rockbusters.net.

Contact: info@rockbusters.net

Mountain-biking

cycling, mountain biking, andalucia, costa del sol

Mountain-biking in Andalucia (Source: Juan Pablo Olmo)

Andalucia has a well-deserved reputation for having some of the best mountain-biking trails in all of Europe, from technical and bumpy downhills to tame cross-country routes. Thanks to the abundance of sunshine the region receives, conditions are nearly always perfect for some biking, no matter what time of year.

The terrain is perfect for hairy off-road excursions, which will leave you breathless and with adrenaline flowing through your veins, not to mention a wide grin from ear to ear. Just bear in mind the aches and pains that’ll hit you the next day.

Where? Serrania de Ronda, Sierra de Nieves and Grazalema Natural Park

Who? Andalucian Cycling Experience – Andaluciancyclingexperience.com.

Contact: +34 677 028 469

Quad-biking

quad-bikin, quad bike

Source: “Polaris Scrambler” with Wikimedia Commons license.

For a truly alternative driving experience, waste no time in climbing aboard a hulking quad bike and letting rip in the Andalucian countryside. Beginners and advanced riders alike can be guaranteed of a fantastic day out thanks to the endless scenes of breath-taking beauty and wealth of terrains suited to all levels.

It may be a little unnerving to begin with, but as soon as you find the rhythm and get used to the roar of the engine beneath you, you’ll fly like the wind…

Where? Sierra de Las Nieves, Marbella

Who? Quad Mountain Adventures – Quad-mountain-adventures.com.

Contact: info@Quad-Mountain-Adventures.com

Skiing & Snowboarding

Sierra Nevada, Andalucia (Source: Melissa Ramirez [CC BY-SA 3.0 es], via Wikimedia Commons)If you’re holidaying in Spain during winter and willing to make the 2-3 hour trip across the region to the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada, you can spend the day either skiing or snowboarding at the impressive, 100km2 boasting Sierra Nevada ski resort. There are pistes suited to all levels – from greens right through to blacks – a snow park, halfpipe, boardercross and of course plenty of cosy restaurants to settle down in if you’re only there to watch!

The views on a clear day are unsurpassable, and it is even possible to see the peaks of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains towering on the other side of the Mediterranean.

Where? Sierra Nevada, Granada

Who? Sierra Nevada Ski Resort – Sierranevada.es.

If you’re looking for an activity suitable for all the family – the very young and elderly included – then take a look at our post on family-friendly things to do on the Costa del Sol.

Alternatively, if you want someone else to take care of the organising, leaving you more time for having fun, then get in touch with our concierge manager at concierge@theluxuryvilla.co.

Spanish Villa for Christmas

Our Best Luxury Villas to Spend a Spanish Christmas & New Year

As temperatures begin to cool and shorts and bikinis are tossed to the backs of wardrobes, here at The Luxury Villa Collection we understand the anguish of coming to terms with the summer’s end. But you needn’t worry; there is a way to effectively remedy those summer blues, and that is to simply plan another holiday.

The sun-soaked Costa del Sol is ideal for a Christmas break to escape from the depressing perma-gloom of chillier climes. While beaches are probably out – for all but the hardiest of bathers, at least – December temperatures can still nudge the early 20s. And besides, cultural traditions are very much in, with the dazzling Malaga Christmas Lights display, the spectacular Reyes Magos parade and a heart-warming festive mood in the air right the way through the Christmas period.

Some of our best villas are available for rent over the festive period. Here are several that we’ve picked out for that indulgent Christmas break…

For the Ultimate in Style and Convenience

Villa Malibu, Los Monteros Beach, Marbella (£9,200 per week; sleeps 12)

Tropical Poolside Lounge at Villa Malibu

With easy access to Malaga airport and all the festive fun in Marbella (just a five-minute drive way), Villa Malibu could hardly be more convenient. Facilities-wise, it boasts an ultra-modern, brand new gourmet kitchen (ideal for preparing a truly decadent Christmas dinner), an international TV and surround sound system, a home cinema to watch your favourite Christmas movies and a whirlpool to slip into with a cheeky bottle of bubbles.

Find out more about Villa Malibu and book.

Villa Diamante, Los Flamingos Marbella (£6,250 per week; sleeps 12)

Home cinema at Villa Diamante

Cinema with DVD and Apple TV in Villa Diamante

With a home cinema hooked up to Netflix and Apple TV, pool and table tennis tables and a heated swimming pool, Villa Diamante makes for a perfect cool-weather villa for a winter escape. The villa also neighbours Los Flamingos Golf and the Spa at Villa Padierna (Villapadiernapalacehotel.com), for a spot of festive pampering (or a much-needed New Year detox!)

Find out more about Villa Diamante and book.

Villa Roma, Los Flamingos Marbella (£7,500 per week; sleeps 10)

Villa Roma Marbella

Villa Roma at dusk

Another gorgeous property with a home cinema, Apple TV with surround sound, a family friendly dining-living room and TV lounge for a home-from-home Christmas day experience – the elegant Villa Roma has the same key features and location benefits as Villa Diamante (see above). It also comes with a sauna, and a small cocktail bar with LED lighting in the sound-proofed cinema room, perfect for New Year’s Eve parties.

Find out more about Villa Roma and book.

Group Villas for a Spanish Christmas and New Year

Hacienda Madronal I, El Madronal Marbella (£9,950 per week; sleeps 20)

Villa Madroñal 1 breakfast terrace

Taking breakfast on the terrace at Hacienda Madronal 1

This remarkable villa is surrounded by spectacular scenery in the hills above Marbella. There are 9/10 bedrooms so it’s perfect for bringing the whole family over for a luxurious Christmas break (with staff on hand to assist). With a spacious living room, traditional open fires, wooden beams, a woodland setting, crisp New Year/Christmas Day walks, a heated pool and a Jacuzzi, Hacienda Madronal I provides all the Christmassy home comforts you could ask for while still retaining a definite Spanish feel.

Find out more about Hacienda Madroñal I and book.

Hacienda Madronal 2, El Madronal Marbella (£6,800 per week; sleeps 13)

Luxury private villa in El Madroñal

Andalucian mansion owned by A-list celebrities in El Madronal II

Previously home to a Hollywood actress and a world-famous rock star, this sumptuous property has an unparalleled way of charming its guests. The design and décor oozes Spanish history, with an Andaluz-style kitchen, typical whitewashed, pillared arches and an Andalucian patio with a fountain at its heart. The dining room is perfect for family Christmas dinners and there is a grand fireplace around which traditional board games can be enjoyed after dinner. To top it off, Hacienda Madronal II is surrounded by woodland and acres of beautiful gardens.

Find out more about Hacienda Madronal II and book.

For Supreme Luxury

Villa Las Artes, Marbella (£34,000 per week; sleeps 10)

Villa Las Artes Marbella stylish living

For a very special family Christmas/New Year’s break, this jaw-dropping villa has it all. Just a few of its highlights include a brand-new high-tech kitchen, a home cinema system, an antique slate bed snooker table, a pre-stocked bodega (tasting sessions available), an indoor pool and sauna, an outdoor soft saltwater infinity pool lounge with an open fire, and a waterfront location. All the necessary ingredients to ring in the New Year in style, in other words.

Find out more about Villas Las Artes and book.

Villa Vivaldi, La Zagaleta, Benahavis (£18,250 per week, sleeps 14)

La Zagaleta luxury Marbella villa evening

Villa Vivaldi at dusk

There’s nowhere quite as luxurious and exclusive as La Zagaleta in Benahavis, a magnificent private country estate with a bird’s-eye view over Marbella and the Costa del Sol. So if celebrating in style is your thing, then this is as good as it gets!

Villa Vivaldi mixes the best of Classical Spain with the modern home comforts and designer finish you would expect in a villa of this calibre; fine works of art, a refined sense of style and sophistication, with a super-modern 2 bedroom guest apartment to house your dearest friends who may want to come along and enjoy the fun! There’s a complete Hollywood-style movie theatre and a Gentleman’s Club in the basement, with a full size antique slate-bed snooker table and stylish bar (We’re sure the ladies would be allowed in too!), and your live-in housekeepers will be there to assist with anything you may need.

Find out more about Villa Vivaldi and book

Like our pick of luxury Spanish villas for a Christmas break? Pair it with a festive table at one of our favourite restaurants in Marbella.

Costa del Sol family days out

Top Family-Friendly Things to Do on the Costa del Sol

The Costa del Sol is a land where summers seem to go on forever. There’s always a school holiday just around the corner for most of us, and if you’re determined to spend it in a sun-soaked holiday hurrah then there’s nowhere better than the southern Spanish coast for a complete package of great weather, gorgeous food, low-cost flights and plenty of things with which to keep the whole brood occupied.

So if you’re looking for a stylish and lavish getaway that’s also fun for all the family, check out a few of our suggestions for the best things to do on the Costa del Sol with children…

Adventure Sports & Excursions

el caminito del rey, andalucia, malaga, spain

El Caminito del Rey (Source: Fotagrafí­a Viajera/Travel)

You don’t have to be adrenaline-fuelled extreme sports fans to go off and have a proper adventure on the Costa del Sol. There are plenty of exciting yet totally safe activities for everyone to enjoy. Canyoning and off-roading on quad bikes or mountain bikes, for example, are very popular guide-led extreme sports in Malaga province, and could be perfect for families with older children. Safety standards are high and necessary precautions always taken.

Alternatively, if adrenaline sports are a bit too much, there are many walks and hikes in the area, including the gravity-defying and recently reopened Caminito del Rey in El Chorro (Caminitodelrey.info), which is now not only safe and suitable for all ages but free of charge to enter during its promotional period.

But the adventures don’t stop there. Offshore, there are dolphins and whales to be spotted on daily maritime excursions (like those run by Firmm.org). Which child (large or small) wouldn’t enjoy that?

Cooking Workshops & Tapas Tours

rolling dough, cooking

(Source: Ginny)

The Mediterranean diet is famously healthy and delicious. And nowhere is this truer than on the Costa del Sol, where the perfect climate allows vegetables to grow in abundance and all sorts of fish to flock to its warm waters. Fantastic restaurants abound, as do bespoke cookery courses, such as Annie B’s Kitchen (Anniebspain.com). Based a little further up the southern Spanish coastline in beautiful Vejer de la Frontera, Annie offers family packages that involve shopping for fresh ingredients, chopping, preparing, cooking and, of course, devouring the mouth-watering end product. Fine wine (for parents) and tapas tours are also available.

Nature Reserves & Biospheres

el torcal, andalucia, spain

Rock formations of El Torcal – Image Credit: Jebulon [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Venture inland slightly and you’ll soon become lost (only slightly) within the mountain ranges of Malaga province. There are several popular spots for walking, wildlife and birdwatching where the terrain is flat and unchallenging.

Guadalhorce Nature Reserve (Andalucia.com) is one such example. To the west of Malaga, the area is made up of ancient wetlands and lagoons teeming with wildlife such as flamingos and turtles. You can reach it either by driving or taking the No.10 bus to the small town of Guadalmar. It’s a great way to escape the city crowds and enjoy some peace and quiet in a beautiful and natural environment.

Another popular site is the prehistoric El Torcal Natural Reserve (Torcaldeantequera.com), where kids go wild for the bizarre rock formations and the possibility – however minute – of actually discovering dinosaur fossils. There are three routes that you can follow – red, yellow or green – though the red route is restricted in order to protect flora and fauna. The green route is the easiest but the yellow, which is only slightly steeper/rockier, is more spectacular. The area can be found to the north of Malaga city, along Villanueva de la Concepcion.

Theme Parks & Water Parks

Baby elephant at Selwo

Fun for all the family at Selwo

Given its popularity as a family holiday destination, the Costa del Sol inevitably has more than its fair share of amusement parks. And while they can be busy places, they also guarantee a fun day out for the family, particularly in shoulder season when queues are shorter. From adventure theme parks to zoos (Bioparcfuengirola.es) and safaris like Selwo* (Selwo.es) and Lobopark (Lobopark.com) up in Antequera, there are plenty of options to choose from.

(*If your family’s got a member with a really wild streak, they’ll love the newest addition to the LVC collection, Villa Kenia, which is just next door to Selwo.)

Tivoli World (Tivoli.es) is perhaps the largest of the region’s theme parks and, with its count of over 300 rides and attractions, is undoubtedly one of the best things to do on the Costa del Sol with kids. Recently, ‘Tivoliandia’ was added to the park, which offers rides better suited for little ones and the elderly.

Unsurprisingly, there are rather a lot of water parks on the Costa del Sol, and they fill up daily during the summer. Outside of the height of summer prices can drop and they are much quieter as Spanish families tend not to bother with beaches and water parks in ‘cold’ months. Over in Torremolinos Aqualand (Aqualand.es) has the most extensive selection of slides to choose from.

Like this pick of things to do with children, and thinking about a family holiday on the Costa del Sol? Take a look at our collection of family villas.

Nine of the Best Restaurants in Marbella

It’s probably fair to say that Spain’s foodie credentials need little introduction. However, we know what it’s like to try and distinguish the good from the, well, not so good on holiday.

So to help you sort the wheat from the chaff, here’s a Luxury Villa Collection edit of the very best Marbella restaurants that our Concierge would be happy to book for you.  Whether you love the informal sharing of a plate of Jamon Iberico or some El Buli-esque molecular gastronomy, there should be something here that gets your taste buds tingling…

Best for Special Occasions

Paco Jimenez

View of Plaza de los Naranjos from Paco Jimenez

View of Plaza de los Naranjos from Paco Jimenez

This small restaurant is dripping with authentic Andaluz atmosphere. Although the address is Plaza de los Naranjos – the historic main square slap-bang in the middle of Marbella’s old town – the dining room is romantic, traditional and unassuming. If you want bling and glitz then this isn’t the place for you. However, if it’s an intimate meal you’re after then it certainly hits the spot. The food is uncomplicated but delicious with sensible portions and a good wine menu. The restaurant is on the second floor of an old central patio-ed style Andalucian building. (There’s a rather good art gallery below, actually.) Be warned, though – there’s only a brace of tables for two on the balcony overlooking the square, so book early if you’re planning a special meal a deux surrounded by the intoxicating smell of orange blossom.

Address: Plaza de los Naranjos, 10, 29601 Marbella, Malaga. Pacojimenezmarbella.com.

Best Traditional Tapas

Taberna la Niña del Pisto

taberna nina del pisto, marbella

Taberna La Niña Del Pisto

This tapas bar serves up a wide range of deliciously simple, home-spun classics from the province of Cordoba. Expect all the traditional dishes that Spanish food fans have come to know and love – salmorejo (a thick, cold soup served with jamon and boiled egg), berenjenas con miel (lightly fried aubergine drizzled with honey), snails in a spicy sauce, local cured cheese and bull’s tail stew. A must for anyone looking to adhere to a strict ‘carbs in Marbs’ policy.

Address: Calle de San Lazaro, 2, 29601 Marbella, Malaga.

Bar El Estrecho

This Marbella dining stalwart was founded in 1954 and is still family run to this day. It lives up to its name – ‘estrecho’ meaning narrow – and the space on offer can be at something of a premium on weekends, particularly. You can stand at the bar, or if you prefer a table for your assortment of mouth-watering tapas and a seat for you, too, then there’s a very informal dining area. This is more towards the spit and sawdust end of the Marbella restaurant spectrum than the gourmet, but it makes for an authentic and fun pit-stop in the historic old town. There are no surprises on the food front but a good selection of the likes of croquettes, seafood (think fresh clams, prawns, and octopus) and pork dishes.

Address: Calle de San Lazaro, 12, 29601 Marbella, Malaga. Barelestrecho.es.

Best Gourmet

Local boy Dani Garcia has two eateries in Marbella – the eponymous Dani Garcia and BiBo. The restaurants sit next to each other, and offer cuisine to delight the eye and tackle even the most discerning of taste buds, serving up Michelin-starred food which is innovative and intense at times but most definitely Spanish.

Dani Garcia – Cocina Contradicion

meat dish dani garcia marbella

Fine Dining at Dani Garcia

The food is theatrical, the service is first-class and the prices are to match. The restaurant offers a 19 course (we kid you not) tasting menu at €168, a short version at €75 and a full a la carte selection (where you can select half-portions). Molecular gastronomy is the name of the game here, for the most part, created before your eyes in the open kitchen. This allows Garcia to go wild with both the flavours and the presentation, and every plate on our last visit was met with a ‘Wow’ and a ‘Oooh’. Simply sensational.

Address: Hotel Puente Romano, Bulevar Principe Alfonso von Hohenlohe, s/n, 29602 Marbella, Malaga. Grupodanigarcia.com.

BiBo

For a quicker or lighter bite, BiBo is ideal. It’s a buzzy and bustling but relaxed bistro with four different areas: the terrace, Grandma’s table, the Raw and Oyster Bar and the Cocktail bar. While the food’s invariably delicious, the haute-ness has been dialled down a notch or two compared to sister joint Dani Garcia. There’s a choice of stone-baked pizzas, burgers (Garcia’s bull burger is a signature dish that has been copied all over Spain), stuffed whole chickens to share and sushi, along with tapas, steak and fried fish dishes. To cap it all off, the cocktails are quite simply the best in Marbella.

Address: Hotel Puente Romano, 29602 Marbella, Malaga. Bibodanigarcia.com.

Best for Kids

It’s worth pointing out at this point that the Spanish love children and in the vast majority of establishments won’t even blink at the sight (and sound) of a large, unruly brood crossing the threshold. However, a restaurant being supremely relaxed about it is one thing; offering high-chairs, children’s menus and changing facilities is something completely different.

The Funky Forest

funky forest, marbella

The Funky Forest

This has made the LVC cut of best Marbella restaurants because the concept is one of the most family-friendly in Andalucia- namely, ‘A place to play, create, stimulate, share and enjoy.’ The Funky Forest is based outside the centre of Estepona (just up the road from Marbella) and offers everything a parent would ever want in a restaurant. It offers cooking, music, recycling, language, theatre and dance classes for children. As well as being situated in a pine forest it has a great faux grass area for safe, playful tumbles with a swing and even a bouncy castle. The food is child-led so it’s more of a lunch spot for the adults to take a breather while the kids have fun playing with the resident rabbits and all the other children.

Address: Avenida de Bel-Air, 29688, Malaga. Funkyforest.es.

Early Bites 

The Spanish eat late. There’s no getting around it. If you haven’t been able to quite slip into the rhythm of Spanish dining times then here’s the best place to get some early dinner… 

Beckitt’s Bar & Restaurant

beckitts marbella

Table for Two at Beckitt’s Restaurant

Earlier seatings aside, if you’re also longing for something home-from-home then Beckitt’s is almost certainly the best restaurant in Marbella. Situated on a corner with terrace tables it offers an early bird menu (before 8pm) at €25 per head. It’s famed for its steaks and its rib-eye, Angus fillets of beef are consistently top quality. It gets lively at the weekends with live music so if you’re wanting a quiet, romantic meal perhaps try one of our others. It’s great for a boisterous family meal, though, and can accommodate large groups.

Address: C/ Camilo José Cela, 4, 29602 Marbella, Malaga. Beckettsmarbella.com.

Best of the Rest

Skina

Despite its generally low-key vibe and unpretentious dining room Skina is an excellent restaurant. No bravado, no tricks, just the best produce cooked perfectly plate after plate. Barcelona born chef Jaume Puigdengolas keeps the menu enticing with new creations, so even regulars will never get bored. Booking is essential as the dining room is limited. The sommelier has selected local wines that are from small bodegas as well as the larger, better known winemakers. One of our favourites, Bodegas Bentomiz, is among their chosen wines.

Closed Sunday & Monday
Address: C/Aduar 12, Casco Antiguo, Marbella. Phone: +34 952 765 277, Restauranteskina.com

Restaurante Messina

The modern and contemporary dining room is comfortable and doesn’t interfere with the food. It might lack a bit of atmosphere if it’s quiet but more often than not it’s full with happy diners. We loved that the sommelier, who is truly passionate about Spanish wine, would recommend local wines when appropriate too. The food is excellent and easily Michelin Star-worthy. The kid with creamy Payoyo cheese is melt-in-the-mouth delicious.

Address: Av. Severo Ochoa, 12, 29603, Marbella. Phone: +34 952 86 48 95. Restaurantemessina.com

This is by no means an exhaustive list of great places to eat – there are so many other mouth-watering options for you to discover in and around the town, just ask our Concierge for ideas and assistance with reserving the best tables. Aproveche!

Appetite whetted? Try them all out from the comfort of one of our nearby luxury Marbella villas.

For more of the best dining on the Costa del Sol, check out our pick of top places to eat in Malaga.

Best Beaches in Malaga

In recent years, Malaga has grown into a chic, contemporary and culturally vibrant hub where there’s always something going on. From the Picasso and Thyssen museums to the graffiti-adorned Soho District there’s so much to see in the way of stunning, intelligent art. Music-wise, top bands and artists regularly put on sell-out shows across the city. What’s more, the eating and drinking scene in Malaga is as enjoyable and unpretentious as any you’re likely to find in Andalucia, with as much emphasis placed on tradition as there is on innovation.

But Malaga’s charms certainly don’t begin and end with the city itself. Stretching away in both directions are some of the finest strips of sand to be found anywhere in southern Spain. And with this in mind, we’ve put together our pick of a few of the best Malaga beaches, broken down into six different categories. Some are within walking distance of the city itself; others are further along the Costa del Sol. All are absolutely fantastic.

Beaches for the Stressed & Overworked

maro beach, playa, malaga

Maro Beach (Source)

It almost goes without saying that it’s hard not to relax on a beach when you’re used to the daily grind back home. There are, as ever, though some beaches that are particularly suited to unwinding. Playa del Campo de Golf, on the outskirts of Malaga city, is a good bet if you’re looking to flit between quiet sunbathing and a round or two of golf on the neighbouring Parador Hotel’s golf course (Golfenparadores.es).

However, if you really want to drift off into a world of your own, the most idyllic spots tend to be beaches near Malaga like Maro or El Cañuelo, to the east of the city on the way to Nerja, where you’ll find little else other than the soothing sound of waves to disturb your gentle dozing.

El Cristo in Estepona, to the west, also offers a perfect package of peace, tranquillity, beautiful surroundings and some superb snorkelling opportunities.

Beaches for Surfers

kitesurfing, malaga

Kitesurfing in Malaga (Source)

Thanks to the strong levante and poniente winds that periodically lick the south coast of Spain, surfing, kitesurfing and other water sports have become very popular in Malaga province. A couple of the best spots include Benalmadena, a few kilometres to the west of Malaga, El Castillo, just below the castle of Fuengirola, and El Chaparral, between Fuengirola and Marbella, where the swells reach perfect size for beginner-intermediate surfers on a windy day.

Surfing equipment is usually available for hire or purchase at reasonable prices from local surfing businesses (Yumping.com), and lessons are offered too.

Beaches for Explorers

baños del carmen, malaga, beach, playa

Baños del Carmen, by Tyk [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Occasionally, sunbathing may get boring and cold water or choppy waves may make swimming seem off-putting. In such cases, it’s nice to be able to wander off and look for something else to do. Baños del Carmen offers this alternative, since it’s home to Malaga’s first ever public and mixed bathing spa, El Balneario Nuestra Señora del Carmen (Wikipedia.org). The historical landmark, which opened all the way back in 1918, has survived years of redevelopment planning (just) and makes a peaceful seaside setting even more appealing.

If underwater exploration is more your thing, you can go scuba diving in numerous locations along the Costa del Sol, such as Torremolinos and Benalmadena to the west, La Cala del Moral to the east and Nerja further to the east. There are diving schools in these areas that offer exciting courses and opportunities to explore the coast’s coral reefs and wrecks.

Beaches for Kids

If you’re travelling as a family then you’ll doubtless want to make sure that your kids are kept entertained for as long as possible as you relax. Several Malaga beaches, such as Playa de San Andres, Pedregalejo and La Malagueta boast children’s play areas that can keep the little ones busy for hours.

What’s more, the safety measures in place across all of Malaga’s city beaches are reassuringly rigorous and up-to-date. La Malagueta is the first beach in the world to use the ‘orange point’ lifesaving device (Sos-orange.com), which is essentially a rope powered by an electric motor that is used to haul people (not necessarily kids, of course) back to safety if they swim themselves into trouble.

Further afield, again in Nerja to the east of the city, you can rent kayaks from Burriana Beach and paddle down to Maro, passing caves and waterfalls as you go.

Beaches for Naturists

cala del pino, beach, playa, malaga

Cala del Pino (Source)

While most will prefer the crotch-covered safety of popular beaches, others may be happy to to let it all hang out on one of the coastline’s selection of nudist beaches, which, naturally (pardon the pun), are fewer in number.

Malaga city’s only nudist beach is Guadalmar, which can be found by the mouth of the Guadalhorce river in the San Julian neighbourhood. Further west is Benalnatura, a quiet corner of Benalmadena sandwiched between two apartment blocks and hidden among palm trees. The facilities are rather good, with showers, toilets, a barbecue area and even a chiringuito (beach restaurant) that only serves naked patrons. The beach is clean and well looked after by a devoted nudist association.

Going east, beyond Nerja and Maro, is Cala del Pino, a tiny and well-hidden strip of sand reached via a steep path among jagged rocks (it is advised not to be naked at this time) from the coastal A-road. When there’s no wind to disturb the normally crystal-clear water, snorkelling conditions are perfect, with many brightly coloured fish and underwater rock formations to swim amongst. However, word of secluded idyllic beaches gets around, and this treasured stretch has begun to fill up fast in the summer months.

Beaches for Partygoers

nikki beach, marbella, beach club, playa

Nikki Beach, Marbella (Source)

The Costa del Sol is well known for its bouncing nightlife, and its beaches have a big part to play in that. La Malagueta – Malaga city’s largest and busiest beach – not only offers an ample selection of buzzing bars and clubs but also hosts the closing ceremonies of the annual feria during the first two weeks of August. Things get incredibly noisy, colourful and generally pretty chaotic but for keen partygoers it’s a must to put in the diary.

For wild shenanigans elsewhere, you could spend the afternoon knocking back mojitos in chiringuitos in Las Acacias, or jump in a taxi and head for Marbella’s famous Nikki Beach Club (Nikkibeach.com). The private parties held at this beach club are famously stylish and full of wild, carnival-inspired entertainment, which for many can be the highlight of a holiday.

 

Like our pick of a few of the best beaches in Malaga and looking for a fabulous place to stay in the area? Check out our collection of luxury Malaga villas to rent.

luxury villa el madronal, benahavis

El Madronal: Marbella’s Secret Hideaway

Marbella’s well known for attracting A-list celebrities and VIPs, and the paparazzi are often out in force snapping shots of the latest famous arrival. Getting away from the paparazzi in the resort itself can be challenge, but there is somewhere you can stay in complete privacy and still enjoy all that Marbella and Puerto Banus have to offer.

El Madronal Marbella

Sublime setting for Villa Cezanne

This peace and quiet can be found in an idyllic country retreat in the foothills of the Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park, yet just a short drive from Marbella and the coast. It might be close in distance but this tranquil refuge is a world away from the glitz and glamour in bustling Puerto Banus. Here, you’ll find yourself in the heart of typically Mediterranean landscape with the Mediterranean and Strait of Gibraltar stretching beneath you.

El Madronal gated development sits above the Guadaiza River valley on the mountain side forested with pines, cork oaks and aromatic shrubs. Carpetted in wild flowers in spring and in a riot of colour in autumn , it’s home to a long list of fauna – wild boars, deer and mountain goats – as well as numerous species of birds.

This natural paradise rubs shoulders with neighbouring La Zagaleta, one of the richest postcodes in Spain, and has been earmarked by the rich and famous as somewhere to get away from prying eyes (and the cameras) since the 1950’s when the first millionaires built their exclusive retreats here. The development has been designed to provide space and privacy. Plots are at least 2,600 square metres so there’s plenty of scope for spacious houses and large gardens. All come with sweeping views – on clear days, you can see the different peaks that make up the Rif Mountains in Morocco on the other side of the Mediterranean.

El Madronal villa

The Peaceful Surroundings of El Madronal

Luxury is key to describing homes in El Madronal – alongside spacious living go sumptuous furnishings and fittings, infinity pools, manicured gardens, state of the art technology, staff accommodation and room for several cars. All within natural surroundings where the silence is only broken by birdsong.

High security on the complex translates into total privacy. Numerous high-profile politicians, executives and businesspeople have escaped from their daily grind here for a welcome break. And plenty of celebrities have taken holidays in El Madronal far from the long lenses of the paparazzi. But discretion is absolute so you never know who’s staying until they’re long gone – as fans of One Direction has just discovered.

Celebrity homes on the development include the estate belonging to the film star Madeleine Carroll, known as the ‘iceberg maiden’ and star of Hitchcock’s ’39 Steps’. Her magnificent El Madronal home was one of the first to be built and she spent her retirement here. You can get a taste of a Hollywood retreat by renting the large country mansion, Hacienda Madronal 2.

Luxury private villa Hacienda Madronal 2 in Marbella

Luxury Andalucian Hacienda Owned by A-list celebrities in El Madronal

El Madronal was also home to El Cortijo recording studio where singers and musicians have taken inspiration from the tranquil surroundings to compose and produce. Icelandic star Bjork composed her iconic track ‘So Broken’ here in 1997; Cher, Roxette and Mariah Carey stayed while they worked on albums as did the Swedish group The Cardigans.

As well as relaxing and soaking up the panoramic views from your terrace and pool, you may want to explore some of Andalucia during your stay at El Madronal. The bright lights of Marbella and Puerto Banus are, of course, just a short drive away as are some world-class golf courses and sandy beaches. But venture a little further afield and you can sample some of the very best Andalucia has to offer.

Continue up the mountain road and you’ll find yourself in Ronda – one of southern Spain’s most stunning white towns with its plunging river gorge, typical Andalucian architecture and monuments such as the Arab Baths and one of the oldest bullrings in Spain. Be sure to try some of the local Ronda wine at the excellent restaurants and tapas bars in the town or visit one of the vineyards.

Ronda, Idylicc place to visit during Andalucia holidays

Stunning Ronda, just half an hour from El Madronal

The vibrant city of Malaga is also just a short drive away with plenty of things to do and see including the Moorish fortress, Baroque cathedral and art museums including the Picasso Museum. Leave some time for shopping – don’t miss the local produce at the Atarazanas market – and go then for a leisurely lunch at one of the many fine restaurants in the old quarter and on Muelle Uno in the port where you’ll find Juan Carlos Garcí­a’s Michelin-starred restaurant.

With its unique location and magnificent properties, El Madronal allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds on holiday – you can relax in total peace and quiet or pop out to nearby resorts and tourist attractions. And as one of the most private places in Spain, no one need ever know you’re there.

For places to stay in and around El Madronal please take a look at our collection below, or contact us today for an availability check and quotation.

 

Villa Azure luxury villa Zagaleta Marbella
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Villa Azure

Villa Azure is a stylish contemporary 5/6 bedroom luxury villa for rent in La Zagaleta with concierge, indoor pool and panoramic views above Marbella.
Casa Alegre, Benahavis
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Casa Alegre

Casa Alegre is the epitome of rural Andalusian elegance, a Benahavis luxury country villa full of handmade luxuries and one-of-a-kind antiques in a tasteful mountain home by the river. 5 Bedrooms sleeping 10. Prices from £4,950 to £8,950 per week, staffed property.
The Retreat modern luxury villa Ronda
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The Retreat

A stylish Spanish Cortijo with endless panoramas, scenic countryside, luxury amenities, character antiques and five-star service. Plenty of space for large families, destination weddings or events. 6+1 bedrooms sleeping 14. Prices from £6,000 to £9,600 per week, fully staffed.
Villa Cezanne Benahavis Marbella luxury villa
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Villa Cezanne

Villa Cezanne is a picture-perfect modern villa, with breath-taking Mediterranean panoramas, 4 bedrooms, 3 living rooms, office, bodega and games room, sleeping 11. Prices from £6,400 to £9,950 per week.
Finca La Buena Benahavis Luxury Villa
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Finca La Buena

Set on 600 wooded acres in Benahavis near Marbella, Finca La Buena is a traditional Spanish manor farmhouse steeped in class and elegance, worthy of the Aristocracy, and yet welcoming and homely. 10 Bedrooms sleeping 19+3. Prices from £20,500 to £26,700 per week, fully staffed.
Villa Vivaldi La Zagaleta luxury villa
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Villa Vivaldi

Villa Vivaldi is serenely removed from the hustle of Puerto Banus, offering a luxury villa rental in exclusive La Zagaleta. This classical yet modern 7-bedroom villa blends fine art, elegant style and refined luxuries with incomparable Mediterranean vistas.
luxury castle rental villa Marbella
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Hacienda de Madronal 2

Hacienda Madronal 2 is a 7 bedroom luxury estate set in private woodland, once owned by a Hollywood actress and a Rock Star. The Hacienda sits in the beautiful Madroñal area to the north of Marbella, with stunning views of the coastline and wooded hilltops. Located just an hour from Malaga and 45 minutes from the stunning hilltop town of Ronda. 7 bedrooms sleep 13, with prices from £4,350 to £9,400 per week.
wedding villa venue marbella
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Hacienda de Madronal 1

Hacienda Madronal 1 is a 9/10 bedroom luxury estate set in private woodland in the beautiful Madronal area to the north of Marbella, with stunning views of the coastline it is the perfect location for Spanish weddings and family gatherings. Located just an hour from Malaga and 45 minutes from stunning hilltop town of Ronda. Sleeps 18-20 guests. From £6,000 to £12,500 per week, staffed villa.
Luxury 7 bedroom villa near Marbella
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The Madronal Collection, Villa 2

7 Bedroom Luxury Madroñal Villa With Indoor Pool & Self Contained Apartment. Sleeps 18. From £8,365 to £23,075 per week.