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Marbella, located in the south of Spain on the ‘Sun Coast’, is the gem of the Costa del Sol. Its name gives it away as a gateway to beautiful sandy beaches and Mediterranean summers which see tourists flock here year after year. The town itself has plenty of appeal, with heritage dating back to the Moorish influence that once dominated the region of Andalusia, where Marbella lies. Also high in popularity is the Puerto Banus luxury resort, a playground of the rich and famous. Driving around Marbella is a breeze, and the coastal motorway makes exploring all the beaches of the area possible while the arterial highway is a gateway to the open country.
Who to Book With
Marbella has long since been used to receiving a high number of tourists, and as a result there are several car hire agencies to choose from. You’ll find them mostly in the city centre and around Puerto Banus. Top companies Budget, Europcar and Hertz operate in Marbella, although you’ll find plenty more firms, including specialist luxury rentals. It is recommended you browse your choices and book online beforehand.
Best Time to Go
The high season in Marbella is the European summer, although due to several second home owners frequenting the area, Marbella is a year-round holiday destination. Prices go up during the high season, yet there is a good buzz about the place at this time of year. Otherwise, to beat the crowds you could visit during the spring or autumn.
Need to Know Essentials
To pick up your rental car, you must provide the following documents:
- A valid European driving licence or an International Driving Permit
- A certified photographic ID, such as your passport
- Payment details from when you made the booking
- Booking confirmation, such as a reference number
Marbella is a thin and wide city that stretches along the coast. To make driving easy, just head north out of town to connect with the AP7 motorway, a road which runs all the way from France to Gibraltar, more or less hugging the coast the entire distance. Driving time is made shorter using this road; for example, you can get to the city of Malaga in under 45 minutes, although a toll is payable on many sections of the motorway.
Driving around the town itself is fairly straightforward, apart from driving in the old town centre, where you could get caught out with the one-way system on the antiquated narrow streets. To get to further destinations west, including Puerto Banus in just 10 minutes, you could take Avenida Ricardo Soriano. There are several signed parking spots off this route.
While the old town of Marbella is walkable, to get around the rest of Marbella and the region you must rely on the bus network as there are no other options apart from taxis. Taxis run on a meter and are an expensive way to get around, so for this reason you may wish to opt for a rental car, which will also give you added flexibility.
There is a regional rail line which connects the town of Fuengirola with the bigger city of Malaga. It is due to be extended to Marbella but has not reached the resort yet, so you will need to get to Fuengirola by bus, a journey of about 30 minutes. Malaga is connected with other destinations in Spain via high-speed express services.
Marbella has a simplified urban bus network that is handy for getting around the main parts of town. You can see the route map here. Fares are reasonable, at about £0.85 for a single journey. The buses are operated by Avanza and connect with other routes all the way to Malaga, including a route to the airport.
Taxis are available around Marbella and can take you to Malaga, although they are an expensive way to travel. All taxis run on a meter and you can expect a fare of around £60 for a 40-minute journey. You can get taxis from cab ranks in the centre of Marbella. Otherwise, call Viaja En Taxi on +34 678 48 75 48.
Marbella is located at a central location on the famous Costa del Sol. It is easy to discover more of the coast by heading east or west along the motorway. Yet, to appreciate more of the appeal of the region, you can head inland to the protected nature areas of Andalusia and sample the honest beauty of the place. There are several areas which are accessible as a daytrip from Marbella.
Gibraltar - This is the place to enjoy a proper cup of tea during your visit to the Iberian peninsula. The famous rock at the end of Spain is still a British territory. Gibraltar is just an hour’s drive west on the AP7 motorway. Take your passport since Gibraltar does not fall under the Schengen Agreement.
Sierra de las Nieves - This is accessible via a fantastical circular route that takes in the sheer beauty of the Andalucian countryside. Head to Ronda then El Burgo and Coin before completing the loop to Marbella. You will pass the protected nature park, which you can roam into as a side trip. In the winter, you’ll see snow up here.
Sierra de Grazalema - This is another wonderful nature area close to Marbella. Pack a picnic as you head high into the limestone peaks and stop at the Embalse de Los Hurones lake to break up your journey via the junction town of El Bosque.