In the space of just 50 years, what was once a small fishing and farming village has been transformed into an international tourist hot-spot, popular with the rich and famous thanks to its world class restaurants, fashionable shops, luxury hotels, top-quality golf courses and one of the most glamorous marinas in the world.
The town started to take its current shape after the Spanish Civil War in the early-to-mid 20th century, but it was not until the mid-1940's that tourists started to arrive in large numbers, after entrepreneurs initiated the construction of hotels and apartment complexes.
Despite the tourist invasion, and behind all the glitz, Marbella’s Old Town has retained its charm. There is also a wealth of attractions in the surrounding region, including the picturesque ‘white village’ of Mijas, the mountains at Benahavis, and the island of Gibraltar with its famous rock and monkey-spotting.
The closest international airport to Marbella is Malaga Airport, which is 45km away, and is the major transport hub that serves the Costa del Sol. It connects to a vast number of cities across Europe and further afield.
A bus service operates from Malaga Airport to Marbella throughout the day, with a journey time of approximately 45 minutes.
Marbella is blessed with its own micro-climate, thanks to the high peaks of Sierra Blanca, which renders an average temperature of 19C throughout the year.
Summers are hot, with temperatures often climbing well above 30C and those who find this kind of heat uncomfortable may want to consider avoiding the peak months of July and August.
Winters are mild with relatively little precipitation, and it only rains occasionally from November through to March.
Puerto Banus is located just west of Marbella and is a highly exclusive marina. One of the most popular activies here is simply voyeurism - particularly of the luxury yacht-spotting and people-watching variety. There is also a wide choice of alfresco bars, piano clubs, discos and a casino for nightime fun, whilst during the day it is a window-shopper´s dream, with several of the world's renowned fashions houses featured here, in addition to small, shops and boutiques, as well as a Corte Inglais department store.
Aqualand is the largest water park on the Costa del Sol and is located close to the resort of Torremolinos, east of Marbella. This park has all the usual slides and rides, as well as rapids, a mini park for the kids, a surf beach with a wave machine, a tropical lagoon with calm water and a Jacuzzi.
Another popular waterpark is Mijas Aqua Park, located on the coast heading towards the resort of Fuengirola, also east of Marbella. Additional amenities and activities here include mini-golf and rock climbing, a games arcade and several restaurants and bars.
Nikki Beach is part of the luxury Beach Club franchise that can be found in other exclusive locations such as St Tropez, St Barths, Hollywood and Miami. As well as the finest food and an exclusive atmosphere, the club also offers a wide variety of watersports.
The Costa del Sol is also known as Costa del Golf, with over 60 golf courses along this stretch of coastline. Two of the most popular around Marbella are Valderrama and La Quinta, both of which attract the elite of the golf world.
Located within the grounds of the Andalucia Plaza Hotel, Casino Marbella is the main casino in the Marbella area. The Casino is open every day and makes for a great evening if you fancy a bit of a flutter, or prefer to watch others risking their euros.
For serious shoppers, head for Avenida Ricardo Soriano and Puerto Banus where you will find the most stylish boutiques. If you fancy being under one roof, try El Corte Ingles or La Canada where you will find everything you could ask for.