You don’t need to be staying at a fancy hotel to grab a spot on the sands in Marbella. There are beaches on tap – 23, to be precise. And a load of them fly the prestigious Blue Flag for quality. The best bit? They’re all free, so the only thing you’ll need to shell out for is a sunbed and umbrella. Try heading for the so-called Golden Mile, which got its name for the luxe villas that are sprinkled along its four-mile stretch. Here, you can take your pick of the treasure-tinted beaches. Take Nagüeles Beach, for example – it’s a one-kilometre-long belt, where the watersport fans almost outnumber the sunbathers. For a beach club vibe without the hefty price tag, opt for Bounty Beach. It’s named after the bar on its sands, which provides a chill-out soundtrack for sleepy sunbathers.
If you want to grab a slice of the beach club action, pick wisely. You’ve probably heard of big-hitters like Nikki Beach and Ocean Club, but their prices aren’t for the faint-hearted. A small bed at one of these clubs could set you back over €100. If there are even more of you, you’re looking at over €1,000. But there are options for those with tighter purse strings. Plaza Beach, located in the heart of Puerto Banús, is great for budget-friendly sunbathing, with beds starting at a more modest €20. Plus, it’s still got the celeb-worthy credentials, with its hot tubs and DJs. And the cast of TOWIE have given the place their seal of approval, too.
A night on the tiles in Marbella doesn’t have to cost a fortune. All you need to do is sort your strategy. Puerto Banús is the place to head for a big night out. It’s high on the glitz factor, with a mix of swanky cocktail bars and superclubs. Entry can cost around €20 to €30, but most clubs offer discounted – or even free – entry if you come early enough. Tibu is free before midnight, while super-classy Pangea has packages that include entry and a couple of drinks for under €20. Then there are the bars like Linekers and News Café, where entry’s free all night. The latter also boasts a rooftop terrace overlooking the harbour.
If you want to eat for less in Marbella, you need to steer yourself away from the seafront and Puerto Banús. Follow the trail of locals to the old town, where cosy tapas bars serve up cheap-and-cheerful dishes. Restaurants like La Taberna del Pintxo have a slightly different approach to ordering. Waiters wander around, armed with a couple of dishes, and diners simply grab what they want. The price of each meal is determined by a cocktail stick – they range from around €1.25 to €2.15. So, you can tuck in to mushroom tart, Spanish tortilla and croquettes for under a tenner. There are also bars specialising in pinchos – snack-sized bits of bread topped with an assortment of ingredients, like sausage and brie. You can pick these up from most bars, and they usually won’t cost much more than a euro.
You don’t have to visit a gallery in Marbella to admire some art. In fact, a stroll down the street is all it takes. The Avenida del Mar has a string of weird-and-wonderful Dali sculptures on display. Plus, you can visit the Ralli Museum, just outside of Puerto Banús, for free. It’s got one of the biggest collections of Latin American Art in Europe, including works by Dalí and Miró. Marbella’s old town was made for sightseeing on a shoestring, as well. Check into the Monarque El Rodeo and you’ll be just 10 minutes’ walk from its narrow streets and café-filled plazas. Orange Square – or Plaza de los Naranjos – is the area’s main hub. As the name suggests, it’s lined with orange trees, as well as open-air restaurants and the oldest church in town. On the outskirts of town, you’ve also got a basilica and some 3rd-century Roman baths – both of which are completely free to visit. Over in Puerto Banús, it doesn’t cost a thing to window-shop. You can ogle at Dior, Versace and Louis Vuitton or wander down to the marina to check out the multimillion-pound yachts and sports cars.
You’ll find the Senator Marbella Spa along the Golden Mile, so you’re just five minutes’ stroll from the beach.
Exploring Marbella is easy from the Monarque Sultan Aparthotel, thanks to its central location. Plus, each room comes with a kitchenette.
You’ll get more than your money’s worth at the Gran Hotel Guadalpin Banus – including a Champagne bar, a beachfront pool and an Oriental-style spa.
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