Marbella is bursting with beauty. Heidi Fuller-Love spills the secrets
of its parks, gardens, coastline, mountains and hiking trails.
With dozens of parks and gardens – and the spectacularly beautiful Paseo Maritimo walkway, which runs for more than four miles along Marbella’s beach-studded coastline – this jetsetter-loved Costa del Sol city is also a haven for nature lovers.
A favourite with locals – who come here to chat to one another as they sit on one of the stylish ceramic-studded benches – Alameda Park at the city’s core is an exotic wonderland of broad-leaved banana palms, rare ficus trees and other tropical plants, surrounding its Virgen del Rocío fountain. This is the oldest park and could be called the “historic green zone” of the town, a space in which throughout centuries past generations from Marbella sought recreation and rest.
Closer to Marbella’s café-lined old port, the peaceful Parque de la Constitución has a children’s playground with swings and slides and a small astronomical observatory, making it ideal for families. Kids will also love feeding the ducks and turtles in Arroyo de la Represa, a peaceful park with two large ponds flanked by the crumbled ruins of the city’s Moorish castle.
Nature-lovers have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the Sierra Blanca mountain range, refuge and reserve of the agile Spanish Ibex and plant paradise, where one can admire magnificent specimens of Spanish fir. This mountain range, as well as favouring the climactic conditions of the town, is undoubtedly the most outstanding element of the Marbella landscape, with the towering peaks of La Concha (1,215m) and Juanar (1,184 m) – the latter in the land of the neighbouring town of Ojén. Walkers can trek from Marbella to Juanar or, for more experienced hikers, from Marbella to La Concha, passing through Puerto Rico, or take an excursion to the area known as Los Monjes.
Other nature reserves within easy reach of the city include the vast forests of Vigil de Quiñones Park, the Pinar de Nagüeles reserve at the foot of the Sierra Blanca mountain range and the Los Tres Jardines Park and botanical gardens near San Pedro de Alcántara.
Water lovers will also want to visit Xarblanca, a recreational area complete with duck-filled ponds in the Sierra Blanca foothills, or the Lago de Los Tortugas – a pretty lake named for the turtles that can be spotted bobbing on its mirror green surface. The lake is just five minutes’ drive from Puerto Banús. For coastal views mixed with history, drive 15 minutes east of the city centre and discover Torre Ladrones (Thieves Tower, pictured below), part of Andalusia’s coastal fortification line. Visit the Natural Monument of the Artola Dunes, testament to what this area of coast used to be like.
Back in town you’ll want to spend some time browsing the shops along the Avenida del Mar while admiring the unique collection of replica sculptures designed by world-renowned surrealist artist Salvador Dali. This beautiful avenue surrounded by fountains and landscaped gardens leads to Marbella’s Paseo Maritimo – the jewel in the city’s natural crown.
An endless seaside promenade linking Puerto Banús’ glittering yacht-lined harbour with sturdy fishing boats bobbing in Marina La Bajadilla. Marbella’s Paseo Maritimo is a paradise for pedestrians, who can stroll the marble-lined pavements teeming with seaside restaurants marisquerias, tapas bars, beach clubs and exclusive designer boutiques, without worrying about cars.
It takes around two hours to saunter the length of this glorious palm-tree-shaded pathway. In Marbella East you will find the paceful beach El Cable, a glorious strip of golden sand backed by sand dunes and named for a cable car that once operated here; and beaches of fine sand such as the Pinillo beach, Los Monteros beach, El Alicate Beach, Real de Zaragoza Beach and Las Chapas beach.
In the so-called Golden Mile, you’ll find some of the city’s most luxurious villas, this pretty paseo is also fronted by some of the city’s most exclusive strips of sand.
Backdropped by the mountains of the Sierra Blanca, the coastal city of Marbella has it all: sun, sea, sand, historic remains, delicious Andalucian fare, accommodation to suit all budgets and many sporting delights. As our guide, produced in association with the Tourism Department of the Marbella City Council, proves: Marbella is one of Spain’s most beloved cities, with good reason. Read the ABTA Magazine Guide to Marbella in full here.