Go to the flagship destination of the Costa del Sol! Marbella is to Spain what Saint Tropez is to France: a former typical village, which has retained its charm despite the rapid development of tourism facilities and its 'jet-set' image.
The charming streets of old Marbella, nestled in the heart of the city, make you quickly forget the concrete buildings, the traffic and the hustle and bustle of the Costa del Sol. This former Arab district is a maze of narrow and twisted streets, where you can happily lose yourself while exploring. The famous Plaza de los Naranjos is the hub of old Marbella where it is a real pleasure to sit on the café terraces in the shade of blossoming orange trees. On your way, stop off at the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnacion; at the Museum of Spanish Contemporary Etching; at the Bonzai Museum and at the Virgin on the Balcony, which is surrounded by bougainvillea.
As for the coastline, the long beaches are dotted with luxury hotels and some of the best restaurants in Spain, also some of the most overcrowded! As for water sports, 'Funny Beach' is is a club not to be missed, offering a complete range of water and land sports.
Marbella is not only about beaches however, it is also known for its golf courses (there are a dozen of them!) The San Pedro de Alcantara is particularly popular with the English and every year the golf valley attracts golf professionals and enthusiasts from all over the world. Only four miles from Marbella, Puerto Banus is a marina which is frequented by a number of local celebrities and it boasts almost a thousand sailboats and yachts, each one more luxurious than the next. Along the marina you will find a multitude of restaurants, bars, antique dealers and luxury shops, which are often open all night during the high season.
It is also possible to opt for more remote sightseeing trips from Marbella. The most curious tourists and British crown devotees go to admire the legendary rock of Gibraltar. Finally, many travel agencies offer tours across the Mediterranean Sea to Morocco, Ceuta and Melilla.
Among the famous golf courses of Marbella, the green at San Pedro de Alcantara is particularly popular with English tourists. As for water sports, there's no lack of activities; from sailing and water skiing to canoeing, diving, and deep sea fishing it's all there, any takers?
A few miles from the coast, up in the hills, do not forget to visit the charming traditional villages of Mijas and Ojen in the Sierra Blanca and Istan (Blanca and Istan Mountains). If you're seeking spectacular views, go for a stroll in the Sierra Bermeja along the Pico de Las Reales route which offers a magnificent view of the entire coast; you can even see Africa!
A tour of Andalusia is not complete without a visit to some of the most beautiful areas in the region such as Seville, Cordoba, Granada and Ronda. The road winding through the white villages is also dazzling, if you plan such a trip you must take good sun protection as the sun really beats down in that part of Spain; inland, far from the coastal breeze.
Of course it is wonderful to be in an exotic setting, sampling Andalusian specialties by the water's edge with your toes in the sand, but be aware that the restaurants on the seafront are usually more expensive and serve mediochre food compared to the smaller restaurants nestled in the hills of the city. Do not hesitate take a detour and drop in one evening!
In addition to tapas and traditional dishes, sopas, which are hot or cold soups, can be found on every menu. You will also find many restaurants serving fish and seafood specialities, with cuttlefish, squid (fried or in a salad) and mullet in particular. The raw vegetable dishes are very good too. In short, you have a lot of choice.
Among the local handicrafts you will find pottery, carpentry, marble statuettes, wrought iron, cushions and wallpaper.
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