Marbella: the perfect spot for a lazy, sun-soaked break in southern Spain. But what is there to do should the pull of the pool begin to wear thin?

From beautiful beaches and natural parks to dazzling white villages and grand, historic cities, there are plenty of great day trips from Marbella to keep you busy.

1. Caminito del Rey

Caminito del Rey

This incredible gorge-clinging walk offers some light exercise, incredible views and is a great day out for the whole family. Tickets need to be bought beforehand – book here.

Distance from Marbella by car: 1 hour 15 minutes

2. Ronda

Puente Nuevo bridge and the Ronda gorge

Head inland to the north west of Marbella and you come to a beautiful town perched on a gorge. This is Ronda. See the oldest bull ring, Moorish baths, a lovely old palace or two and, if you have time, whip round a quick wine tour.

Distance from Marbella by car: 1 hour 5 minutes

3. Gibraltar

Gibraltar

Crossing the border from Spain to the UK at Gibraltar is certainly a novelty. This slice of Britain in Spain is interesting enough, but scratch a little deeper and there’s a fascinating history to uncover, too.

Don’t miss the caves or the wild apes while you’re on what locals fondly call ‘The Rock’.

Distance from Marbella by car: 1 hour 5 minutes

4. Antequera

Antequera

Known as the ‘Town of Churches’, Antequera has more places of worship than any other town in Andalucia. The fortress at the top of the town (pictured) and cathedral are the highlights, but don’t miss the ancient dolmens on the edge of town, either. Eat at Arte de Cozina (Artedecozina.com) and you’ll have a thoroughly Andalucian day out.

Distance from Marbella by car: 1 hour 10 minutes

5. Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park

Horse riding in Sierra de las Nieves

With a mix of jaw-dropping 2000-metre peaks and labyrinths of caves, this natural park near Ronda is truly spectacular. There are plenty of opportunities to go trekking, caving, 4×4 touring, mountaineering, mountain biking or horse riding. Nearby villages El Burgo, Istán, Monda, Parauta, Tolox and Yunquera are all worth a visit, too.

Distance from Marbella by car: 1 hour 15 minutes

6. Los Alcornocales Natural Park

Rock pools at Los Alcornocales

Spanning Cadiz and Malaga provinces, Los Alcornocales is very different to the Sierra de las Nieves. Famed for its cork oak trees and humid conditions, it’s actually the rainiest place in southern Spain and so has a large network of rivers and streams. Organise a hike through this park with lunch in one of the area’s pretty, remote villages.

Distance from Marbella by car: 1 hour 25 minutes

7. Tangier

Tangier

Yes, Africa is a realistic day out from Marbella! You can charter a boat and travel to Tangier in Morocco for a day. On top of the fantastic boat ride across the Mediterranean, it’s wonderful for lunch and a spot of souk shopping. (Or see our trusted partner Toma & Coe’s Tangier trip, here.)

Distance from Marbella by car and boat: 3 hours

8. Rio Guadalmina

Walk at Rio Guadalmina

If you like a bit of adventure, walk the Guadalmina river and jump into rock pools, shower under waterfalls and hike through the gorgeous countryside. A guide can be arranged.

Distance from Marbella by car: 25 minutes

9. Casares

Casares

This picture-perfect whitewashed village makes for a lovely day out. Stroll about, take in the views and have a spot of traditional villagers’ lunch. A great contrast to the more sophisticated and cosmopolitan Marbella.

Distance from Marbella by car: 40 minutes

10. Setenil de las bodegas

Setenil de las bodegas

A trip to Andalucia is as much about hanging out in small towns and villages as ticking off the big historic sights in cities. Setenil de las Bodegas has an incredible street where the houses are built into and under an overhanging rock face (pictured above). An utterly unique place.

Distance from Marbella by car: 1 hour 20 minutes

nearby cities

Five of Andalucia’s finest cities are within easy reach of Marbella. Each has their own allure…

11. Malaga

Malaga

Malaga is a city with A LOT going on. With plenty of great restaurants, historic sights and art galleries to pop in and out of, there’s more than enough to keep you busy all day long. (For more information on Malaga, see our guide.)

Distance from Marbella by car: 55 minutes

12. Granada

Albayzin from the Alhambra, Granada

If there’s one thing you have to see above and beyond all others in Andalucia, it’s the Alhambra Palace.

A breathtakingly romantic 12th-century Moorish palace, it’s beautiful whether you’re inside, outside or looking onto it from the pretty Albayzin area of town (pictured). Make sure you buy tickets before you go. (See our guide to Granada here.)

Distance from Marbella by car: 2 hours

13. Jerez de la Frontera

Jerez de la Frontera, Wine tasting

A great day trip from Marbella is Jerez de la Frontera. A relativity small city, it’s perfect for strolling old streets lined with handsome palaces or lingering in lovely, historic squares. Don’t miss the Spanish Riding School (Realescuela.org) or one of the Sherry bodegas for a tour and a tasting.

Distance from Marbella by car: 1 hour 50 minutes

14. Cadiz

Cadiz Cathedral

Southern Spain’s longest continually inhabited city, Cadiz has great beaches and a lively but laidback vibe. Visit the cathedral, eat in the market and see the city from above via the ‘Camera Oscura’ (Torretavira.com).

Distance from Marbella by car: 2 hours

15. Cordoba

Cordoba

As the Alhambra is to Granada, so the Mezquita is to Cordoba. A cathedral inside a mosque, it’s a mesmerising building. There’s also a Roman Bridge, a beautiful 17th-century main square, the Plaza de la Corredera, and a network of narrow old streets to explore, too.

Distance from Marbella by car: 2 hours 10 minutes

 

So, that’s our pick of the best day trips from Marbella. You can plan your day yourself or get in touch with us and we can organise it all for you. One way or the other, though – happy exploring!

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a beautiful villa in Marbella to rent, check out our selection.


Ben Cooper

A head-over-heels hispanophile, Ben is a one-time travel editor at Rough Guides, DK Travel, ELLEuk and Red Online.

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