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A guide to Marbella Neighbourhoods

Updated: Nov 25, 2023

Where to look, for buying or renting a property!


"I want to buy a property in Marbella"! How to find the best property in Marbella? Where is the best neighborhood to buy on the Costa del Sol? Insider tips about buying an apartment in Malaga province. What are the top 5 things to know before buying an apartment in Spain? Read these insider tips on how to pick the home you will buy in world famous Marbella beach resort.





People from all over the world agree: a second residence on the southernmost tip of Europe makes sense. An excellent and stable investment, that you can use for your own holidays and weekends! And that can eventually "pay for itself" if you rent it seasonally several months a year.


Already convinced that Marbella is the best place to buy your second home? Tap here to jump to our list of 7 questions to ask when buying an apartment in Marbella.



You've finally decided, it makes sense to buy a second home in the sun. So much better than a retirement fund, this is an investment you can use yourself for weekends and holidays. Maybe, you can even generate some cash by renting it, to cover the expenses and part of your mortgage payments!


Marbella particularly, and the Costa del Sol in general, are the best places in Spain to buy. The climate is gorgeous all year round, and you will find a vibrant expat community and lively activities, sports, and social events all year round! Marbella is always busy, restaurants and shops always open, you can use and rent your new property 12 months a year.


Here are some insights from a Marbella Airbnb host, with several properties on the Costa del Sol.



 

1. Why Marbella?




Reason #1 : Name Recognition, Worldwide!


Location Location Location! Everyone has heard of Marbella. The name evokes fun, beaches, jetset parties, chic beach clubs and luxury shopping. The resort attracts high-end guests seeking quality lodging and activities.

Why does it matter? First, people search for places they have heard of, "name recognition" is key in the age of Google searches and other real-estate platforms. You will rent your property easier, and sell it easier, on the global market if you are in Marbella. Second, since Marbella is so well known, it attracts high-income buyers and guests from all around the world. To keep their prestigious image, the city invests in cleanliness and security. The city has rules and discourages uncivil behaviour that you might encounter in other less exclusive resorts. All of this makes it the best place to invest your money in real estate.


Marbella is unique in attracting expats and visitors from all around the world. This makes the real-estate market especially resilient and profitable. Visitors and investors come from not only nearby, but all of Europe, Nordic countries, Middle East, North America, UK... When selling a property the pool of potential buyers is huge and worldwide. Same for short term rentals - you will tap into a pool of international clients and not depend on the situation in just one geographic area. Marbella is served by a great road network, the AP7 toll road and A7 highway, which take you to Malaga in 30 minutes or all the way to the Atlantic coast. And Marbella enjoys the service of the Malaga airport, third largest in Mainland Spain, for quick and easy travel to the area from everywhere in Europe and the world.

Reason #2: The weather

Marbella has a wonderful microclimate.

Marbella has the best climate in Europe with 330 days of sun per year. Enjoying a specific micro-climate thanks to it's location on the Mediterranean sea, close to the straight of Gibraltar but protected by hilly back-country, Marbella has pleasant temperatures all year round. Never too hot or too cold!


You can wear shorts and sandals in Marbella most times of the year. In winter the days are shorter but during daylight hours the sun appears every day and light, spring time clothing can be worn in the middle of winter.


Did you know that Marbella is cooler in summer than other areas? That is why families from Madrid and Sevilla love to come to the coast for their August holidays. Temperatures rarely go above 32° in Marbella.

Reason #3: The variety of experiences nearby


While Marbella is mostly known for the beach, club and restaurant scene, there are so many things to discover nearby. Shopping in whitewashed old town, or in modern shopping centers. Excursions to white villages, rivers and mountains just minutes drive from the town. Choice of lodging in golf courses, beaches, private communities.. Nature and culture, short day trips and excursions, the area is very rich in contrasts and surprises!




Reason #4: Winter Sun!


Year Round Activities


Unlike other Spanish seaside resorts, Marbella is busy all year round. Restaurants and shops are open, activities like outdoor yoga, tennis, padel and golf can be enjoyed 12 months a year. You will always find a community of expats looking for a game of golf, padel or tennis! In many Marbella neighborhoods (but not all!) restaurants are open all year round. Some of the fancy beach clubs close in winter months but life remains vibrant and exciting every month of the year.



(2) Where to buy or rent an apartment In Marbella


Congratulations, you have already found the best area in Europe to buy and apartment or plan your next holiday. But Marbella is a large and very varied township. Make sure you pick the area that is best for you! Whether it be for holiday or for a second home, Marbella offers lots of different experiences.



Contents:

  1. Marbella layout and basic geography

  2. Marbella neighborhoods or "distritos" and periphery areas

  3. Quiz - top questions to ask to find your dream property


 

1. Marbella layout and basic geography


Marbella is a large, rectangular shaped township spanning 30km of coast, including golf courses, recreational ports, town centers and gated beach communities. Due to high prices and low offer in Marbella proper, some peripheral towns are marketing themselves as good alternatives . Which zone is right for you?


Marbella is located:

  • in the Autonomous Community of Andalusia (autonomous, because it can decide on has it's own laws and fiscality to a certain extent),

  • In the province of Malaga (which spans from Nerja to Manilva)




Marbella has surprising diversity offering everything from golf resorts, gated beach communities with pools and tennis courts, city center apartments, sea views, mountain views, residential neighborhoods with millionnaire villas...


Marbella township benefits from world fame, and the prices are consequently high! Nothing beats owning property in this township for the proximity to activities, the vibrant expat community, the year-round animation. But many investors seek out the peripheral areas, to get more space per Euro spent: Estepona, Calahonda and Mijas are directly adjacent to Marbella and could be a good compromise. Further out, communities like Benalmadena or Fuengirola try to sell themselves as "close to Marbella", and many new developments are growing up along the highway. But if you want to enjoy Marbella we recommend buying closer in one of the directly adjacent localities.


2. Marbella Neighborhoods or "distritos"


Marbella encompasses a huge variety of terrain and all different kinds of properties.

Each neighborhood has its own personality!

Here is an overeview of where to go for what...



 

ELVIRIA or Marbella East is a highly popular area for families.

Keywords: Chiringuitos, beaches and golf, supermarkets and restaurants, tranquil, family oriented. Beautiful beaches and the most famous beach clubs and 5 star hotels: Nikki Beach, Marriott Beach Resort, Don Carlos Leisure Resort. The Elviria shopping center has multiple supermarkets and ethnic restaurants, the beaches have beautiful clubs and chiringuitos every 400 meters. Golf courses are friendly and more reasonably priced than those in the Aloha or Las Brisas area. Elviria is a 15 minute drive from center Marbella,


La MAIRENA is a large residential development area up in the hills 8km from Elviria, but in the township of OJEN. It is the home of the Hofsass tennis academy and German international school. La Mairena has more affordable housing, many apartments with mountain and sea views, but you have a windy mountain road to negotiate in order to get down to the coast, shops, and restaurants. There are no shops in the area and as far as we can determine only one restaurant at the tennis and padel club. Not fun if you've been out to dinner and had a few drinks!


ADVANTAGES


Beautiful beaches and golf courses

Prestigious neighborhoods like Marbesa, Hacienda Playa, Perla Blanca, Las Chapas to name a few.

Home to the best beach clubs and restaurants


INCONVENCIENCES


15 minute drive into downtown Marbella

Prices are high


 

CABOPINO is the easternmost tip with a pretty port and large wide beach.

Keywords: Port, beach, golf, Dunas de Artola, boardwalk


Cabopino has a pretty 9 hole golf course and a small and picturesque port. The port has a selection of nice restaurants with water views. The beaches are wide with golden sand and several beach clubs put out hundreds of sunbeds in the summer. Easy access to shopping centers along the highway. The highway runs close to the beachside community and you may hear some traffic noise. The "sendero litoral" boardwalk links Cabopino to La Cala de Mijas, and the Dunas de Artola are a lovely natural reserve with pretty boardwalk for your morning jog.


In the hills on the golf side many apartment buildings are being built, and Cabopino is one of the Marbella areas you will find a large offer of new apartments at more reasonable price. These They are on the golf side of the highway, very high density of lodging, parking will be difficult and you will need the car to go to the beach, to restaurants or shops.


ADVANTAGES


Dunas de artola boardwalk

Vast sandy beaches

Pretty port with restaurants


INCONVENIENCES


A7 highway noise on the beach side of the highway


New development around Cabopino golf: lots of ciment, high density of apartments and scarce parking, few shops and restaurants on the golf side of the highway




 

El Rosario and Los Monteros

These Marbella East communities have lovely chic neighborhoods on the beach and golf sides of the main road, and the two most active and easy to access tennis clubs on this side of town: Royal Tennis in El Rosario and Los Monteros Racket Club at Los Monteros hotel.


You will find a few nice chiringuitos such as Trocadero Arena and Luuma beach in this area, but less restaurant and shopping options on foot, than nearby Elviria


ADVANTAGES


Short uber ride to center Marbella

Well known and chic neighborhoods

Variety of active tennis clubs

Several nice chiringuitos


INCONVENIENCES


Price will be high!

Beach side = mostly villas with private gardens and no sea views

Beach side neighborhoods lack parking

Shopping/supermarket options are limited, you will need a car







 


Downtown Marbella = "Marbella Pueblo"


Nothing beats downtown Marbella, for the boardwalk "Paseo", the tapas bars and night life, the picturesque old town, port, and year-round animation! Marbella has big city amenities and expat community, but small town safety and general amazing lifestyle.

In Marbella, if your budget permits, you can find apartments with tropical gardens, pools, beach front and sea view - equivalent to the best beach neighborhoods outside of town - with central city locations so you can do everything on foot! This is of course out of the reach of most people's budget... so compromises might be necessary.


The most desirable part of downtown Marbella is from the Alameda park to the Don Pepe five star hotel, on the beach side of Soriano boulevard. This area encompasses "Fontanilla" avenue neighborhood, bursting with Michelin fork and star restaurants.. as well as the Constitution park and Avenida del Mar with it's outdoor Dali sculpture garden.


Town houses in the old town were in vogue several years ago. These whitewashed homes are in the middle of the most picturesque part of Marbella. Be aware however that there are inconveniences to this location: no access by car, noise all night long during warm weather months, and general lack of sunlight and windows except for perhaps a rooftop terrace, which will involve going up and down lots of stairs.


ADVANTAGES


Live without a car!

Activities, restaurants, shops

Excellent bus service to airport and other areas

Boardwalk "Paseo" for jogging, walking, dining!

Have it all - urban living, great beaches, big city restaurants an amenities with small town feel


INCONVENIENCES


Small, older apartments

Difficult to find: sea views, sunny terrace, enough space

Many buildings do not have pool or parking

Budget for "resort style" living in the center (tropical gardens,large pool with sunbeds,easy private parking space, access directly to the beach) is possible to find but exorbitant!




 

Golden Mile = "Milla de Oro"



You know you have made it in life if you can afford a place along the "Golden Mile".

When strolling on the Paseo, the sand turns a yellow hue near the Puento Romano hotel, and the apartment buildings and gardens are luxurious. The Golden Mile is the place to be within a place to be. The Soriano boulevard runs close to the beach in this area, so real estate on the beach side of the main road is at a premium. You will find the most luxurious 5 star lodging here, Marbella House hotel and Puente Romano with the chicest name brand and 5 star restaurants and exciting clubs.


ADVANTAGES


Luxury resort living

Short uber ride to center city and to Puerto Banus

High end communities

Chic beach clubs with live music and luxury services like La Milla, Trocadero, El Chiringuito...

Home to the most famous luxury hotels Puente Romano, Marbella Club, and Don Pepe


INCONVENIENCES


Exorbitant prices - per square meter + high monthly community costs

Busy Soriano boulevard is close to the beach, so beach neighborhoods are narrox

Some of the beaches have stones and are not pleasant for sunbathing

Shopping centers along Soriano boulevard are surprisingly unattractive

Difficult parking



 

NAGUELES


Up above the Golden Mile, near many International schools this area attracts expats with families for year-round living. Beautiful views of the mountain are a treat in this area. Lovely villas with private gardens and pools. The MOUNTAIN views here are just gorgeous, the area is mainly quiet and residential. ADVANTAGES


Many year-round neighbors

Larger property sizes: villas with gardens, less apartment blocks

Proximity to international schools

Residential feel, not "touristy"


INCONVENIENCES


Distance to the beach could be far!

The closest beaches are expensive, small and parking is difficult

Need to cross busy Soriano boulevard (and maybe A7 highway!) to get to the beach area

Relative lack of easy supermarkets or convenient shopping centers


 

PUERTO BANUS & Nueva Andalucia

Once past Marbella "Pueblo" city and old town, and through a tunnel under the local mountains, you will arrive at world famous PUERTO BANUS and the chic golf courses in the hills behind it, called "Nueva Andalucia". Nueva Andalucia has the best and most famous international schools, and most exclusive golf courses.


Puerto Banus has the major yacht port and is frequented by millionaires and wannabes, who enjoy shopping high-end couture along the waterside port next to the impressive boats and cars. Restaurants and night clubs abound and a large Corte Ingles offers anything you could want under the sun 7/7. Drive back from the coast into the hills and you will quickly come to one of the most luxurious golf clubs in the area - Aloha - and most prestigious private school with the same name. This is the area where you will find multi-million dollar houses with garden-of-eden private plots, hidden behind private gates.


If you like dressing up in high-end couture, fancy cars, spa services, chic restaurants to see and be seen.. this area is for you!

ADVANTAGES


Most famous area of Marbella

Word renowned yacht port

Designer boutiques

Most prestigious neighborhood, schools, golf courses

Amazing restaurants and beautiful people


INCONVENIENCES


Difficult access to the beach - parking is expensive

The type of tourist population in this area is not everyone's cup of tea

Combination of money and international tourism brings illicit activity to the area



 

San Pedro


San Pedro is a more authentic spanish-style village, still within the limits of Marbella township. Historically this is where the Spanish workers lived, while working on the coast. With a lovely church square, some nice pedestrian zones and an abundance of affordable restaurants, San Pedro is now attracting foreign investors and you'll hear more English spoken in the streets.


The problem with San Pedro is the highway that separates it from the beach side. The authorities have tried building a tunnel and making a pedestrian zone with parks, fountains and playgrounds, to connect San Pedro to the prime beach area. It almost works.. but somehow not quite.


We love going to San Pedro for authentic spanish food, or to visit some of the great breakfast places there!


Many new developments have sprouted up in the hills beyond San Pedro, in the El Madronal district. High density of population, lack of shops and amenities, and big traffic issue to get anywhere you must go down a saturated road and sit in traffic to access the A7 most of the year.




ADVANTAGES


Still part of Marbella, officially!

Lots of shops and restaurants

Many new developments with attractive apartments

Nice beach promenade and easy to access and park near the beach

Spanish prices (for services, shops, food, etc)



INCONVENIENCES


Lack of parking in the center

Industrial and unattractive outskirts (this is improving)

Highway separates town from beach

Traffic density around that stretch of the A7 and the San Pedro roundabout on the ISTAN road.




 

Peripheral Areas: ESTEPONA, CALAHONDA, MIJAS


These areas have lots of development, frequently using the Marbella name to sell properties further out. They are all pleasant and have lots of advantages! You'll get more square meters for your money, and also most likely a more modern development and recent home.


In Estepona, you can find affordable beachfront and seaview units, and/or be nearby on foot to the main town with shops and restaurants. Estepona has a lovely sea promenade, pretty old town with year-round flowers, and many beach developments to choose from, outside of the city center.


Mijas restaurants and services are 30% cheaper than Marbella versions. Calahonda is so close to Cabopino, and enjoys nice beaches and good shopping centers.


But in our opinion, only MARBELLA is MARBELLA!



 

(3) Top 7 Questions to Ask before buying or renting an apartment in Marbella

 

Here are the top criteria to add onto your checklist, for when buying a property on the Costa del Sol. We'll look into each of these criteria in detail in this section.

  • Sea View

  • Proximity to the beach

  • Outdoor space: sunny terrace

  • Parking

  • Pool

  • Walking distance to shops and restaurants

  • Location in Marbella itself or in a surrounding community




Question #1: Is there a sea view



The number one thing visitors and potential buyers want in a property is a sea view. Having a panoramic sea view will boost the value of the property by 30% or more. A sea view is essential for attracting year-round rental income, most visitors will prefer a similarly priced property with a view, to one that doesn't have the view. When you want to sell, the sea view will boost your property and facilitate the sell.

Sea views can be near, or far views. Up in the hills, in the golf courses, you can have beautiful panoramic sea views even in ground floor apartments. The best situation of course is to be close to the sea and have the view.... which usually means you are "Primera Linea" or "First Line Beach". Many properties, in the hills, have a far sea view. But properties close to the beach, must be first line to have the panoramic sea view. Logical! A far sea view can already be a good investment. A first line property, sure bet!

The accessory question is: is the sea-view permanent? Are there any plots of land in front? Or low-built houses that could be renovated and re-built to block the view? In new housing developments, builders are very good at marketing the units higher up the hill, selling them while they have a sea view, and then building the lower units afterwards. Also look at the trees and vegetation around your property. Trees are sacred in this area of Spain, you will not be able to cut them down! Are trees growing in front that might obstruct the view in the future? This apartment building had beautiful sea views when it was built, until the pine trees grew.





Question #2: How close is the beach?


Being close to the beach in Marbella, is like having a ski-in and ski-out property in the mountains. If you can easily walk to the beach, you will enjoy a better quality of life for multiple reasons! First, there are many restaurants on the beach, and so you can live in a quiet community but still be close to restaurants, beach clubs and bars. There are also usually many supermarkets and year-round shops in the beach-side communities. Second, direct walking access to the beach removes the need to get in the car and find parking when you get there. In summer months parking can be hard to find in the most popular beach areas. Third, how nice to be able to pop down for a swim in the sea or a jog in the sand and come back home without getting in the car.

The dividing lines are: the A7 highway for areas outside of Marbella city center. North of the A7 is the "golf course district", apartments are more affordable than south of the A7. Once you are south of the A7, the closer you can be to the sand, the better!

In center city Marbella, the dividing line is Boulevard Soriano. North of this line is the old town and Spanish districts of the city. South of Bd Soriano is considered the "beach district" . Prime area is from the Alameda park to the Don Pepe Melia hotel, especially the area around Avenida de la Fontanilla.






Question #3: Is there a sunny terrace?


Marbella and Costa del Sol evoke, for most people, outdoor living, sun from sunrise to sunset. Did you know, that a large number of properties in the area have *no outdoor space* or have outdoor space in the shade, with poor views, or overlooked by neighbors properties.


Having a sunny outdoor space could be, arguably the number one criteria. Personally, we would prefer a place further from the beach but with a sunny terrace. Each person must decide on her priorities! If you can't have a sea view (since we are south facing coast, sea view usually means sunny terrace)... the next best thing is bright sunlight on your terrace and in your apartement for most of the day.

hacienda playa fase 2 elviria marbesa sunset views
sunset views from Paradise Beach

Best and most valued: south and WEST facing. West facing means, sun for longer at the end of the day, when you are home from your activities and ready to enjoy your space. EAST facing apartments are less desired. No matter what your realtor tells you! East facing apartment have sun at breakfast but no sun in the afternoon and evening. SUNSET views are obviously a plus, and add to your personal enjoyment. So try to go for a WEST facing apartment with sunny outdoor space.


Question #4: Is there a parking space?


Apartments might come with no parking space, especially if you are purchasing in an older building and downtown.


Some properties may claim "free parking" but in fact, only have a very small number of parking spaces in a community lot, that will be constantly congested and therefore of no use. Make sure to visit the parking space and ask if it is a personal space, before making an offer!

Usually, the parking space is sold separately with a separate "catastral" or property number, so you can also sell it separately if you want.


Sometimes the space is too small to be useful, or too difficult to enter. Ideally you should do a trial run, enter the parking garage with a car and try it out.


If there is no parking space, have a look around for options: are there paying parking garages nearby, are there buildings that sell or rent parking spaces to neighbors? If not, and parking in the street is the only option, visit on busy times (high season, sunny weekends) to get a feel whether this will be a problem most of the year.


If the property is completely unaccessible by car (such as in the pedestrian streets of the old town), don't underestimate the inconvenience this will have on your lifestyle. It's very important to be able to stop nearby in the street and drop off supplies when necessary, not having this option will decrease your daily comfort and the value of the property.



Question #5 Is there a pool?


Having a pool is essential in Marbella. Without it, your property will be difficult to rent. People filter for the pool before looking at anything else! Things to check about the pool:

  • is it open all year?

  • does the community have to pay a lifeguard? (charges + pool only open restricted times)

  • is the pool heated?

  • does the pool get sun all afternoon?

  • does the pool area have nice sun chairs, is it pleasant to sit near the pool for the day?

We would not recommend buying a property without a pool in Marbella, even if you won't use it, the presence of a pool will ensure that you can rent it or sell it.



Question #6 What can you Walk to?


Living in the sun means, you'll want to be outdoors, walking, not driving everywhere!


If you find yourself up in the hills behind a golf course, you may need to take the car and get on the A7 highway for everything from picking up some eggs, to having a drink or going to the post office.


Always check if the local restaurants and shops are open all year round, or do they close for part of the year.



Question #7: Instead of Marbella, can I buy in Estepona, Mijas, Higueron or Fuengirola?


Since real estate in Marbella is at a premium, your realtor might try to propose a property in a neighboring township on the Costa del Sol. What are the main differences between the different areas?



The Costa del Sol stretches from Malaga to Manilva.. Do you really have to be in Marbella township? The price per square meter is more expensive in Marbella. Is it worth it? We think it's better to buy something smaller, in Marbella, than a larger property in a neighboring township. Estepona, to the west of Marbella is about 30 minutes further from the airport. The town has been dynamic about allowing building permits for new golf developments, and there are lots of properties available here. Estepona has been called "the new Marbella", and it could be a good compromise if you find a home that ticks all of your boxes. However, it will not have the same rental value or resale value as a property in one of the prestigious neighborhoods of Marbella itself. The center city of Estepona has a sea-wall boardwalk promenade and lots of nice tapas restaurants in the old town, prices for food are also cheaper than Marbella itself. The town is pretty and nice, and has more of a Spanish feel to it, less cosmopolitan than Marbella. Benhavis is a luxury golf destination and has the highest prices per square meter along the coast! It is 10 minutes from the Marbella beaches, along a beautiful river and in the hilly countryside. It is the home of one of the must luxurious 5 star hotels in the area. The village of Benhavis is full of gastronomic restaurants and a great destination for a hearty country lunch! The trouble with Benhavis is the access to the coast, boardwalk, old town and restaurants: you must pass through a few roundabouts near San Pedro that can get very congested especially in Summer. So if you live in Benhavis, you will find yourself staying in Benhavis. Although it is close to beaches and coastal attractions, there is an inevitable traffic jam on the way to the beach, that might get very tiring after a while. Mijas Cala attracts a lot of English families, the beach resort is squeezed in between the highway and the sea. A lovely boardwalk connects Mijas Cala to Cabopino, so you can walk or ride bikes all along the coast. There is a high density of lodging here and a serious shortage of parking! Mijas Pueblo is the white village on the hill, it is part of the same township, but far from the beach, and beautiful but not the beach-resort experience you will get from buying in Marbella. Fuengirola and Benalmadena are very large towns that have much lower prices for buying and renting. The hillside of Benalmadena, in the "Higueron" area along the highway, is being intensively developed and marketed as "Marbella" lifestyle properties. On a steep hillside, these places do have sea views from afar. But they are not walking distance from any amenities, beach, shops or restaurants. They advertise private pools and community gyms, access to the local hotel spa, to compensate for the difficult location.

 


Where to stay while house hunting?


Many people come to us off season, as a home base to house hunt in Marbella!


Our apartments have easy parking, are fully equipped and perfect for you to combine a property search with some relaxing moments in the sun.





Get in touch, we'll share our insider tips and help you plan a great property tour!









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