Ultimate Marbella Guide : Luxury Secrets Costa del Sol revealed

Welcome to Cilo Marbella, the luxury boutique real estate agency of Marbella.  Are you looking for things to do in Marbella next summer? Are you visiting the Costa del Sol for the first time? We invite you to discover the best-hidden luxury leisure secrets of Marbella…and other important hotspots on the Costa del Sol.  Welcome to the Ultimate Marbella Guide!

What can you expect?

  1. Area guide
    – Estepona
    – Benahavis
    – San Pedro de Alcantara
    – Nueva Andalucia
    – Puerto Banus
    – Marbella
    – Mijas Costa
  2. Water fun
  3. Costa del golf
  4. Equestrian
  5. Luxury Beach clubs in Marbella
  6. Luxurious Nightlife
  7. Wellness
  8. Culture
  9. Food
  10. Shopping
  11. Pump up the adrenaline
  12. Bonus tip: Sierra Nevada and stay in El Lodge



Unlike some resort towns on the Costa del Sol, Estepona has remained true to its fishing village roots and has retained its typical Andalusian atmosphere. Once a small fishing and farming village it is now a bustling community and tourist destination located West of San Pedro in the direction of Algeciras.

Although very popular with visitors, it has managed to retain much of its local Spanish charm. The municipality stretches for more than 21km along the Mediterranean Sea and includes some of the best and quietest beaches on the Costa del Sol. Estepona also boasts spectacular scenery, including the Los Reales mountains to the north. The highest resort peak is at 1449m above sea level, one of the highest in the province. These mountains are home to the extremely rare Pinsapo pine tree.

Estepona town has had an expansion in recent years. It is now high on the list of the most beautiful resorts on this side of the Costa del Sol. Many streets are for pedestrians only and are flanked by whitewashed houses decorated with colourful geraniums. The beach promenade stretches for several kilometres.

→ MUST GO: Healthouse Las Dunas, New Golden Mile

The Health & Spa Center of Healthhouse Las Dunas is known to provide the latest in exclusive treatments designed to enhance your sense of well-being – leaving you feeling renewed and refreshed. It is a premier Naturhouse medical spa designed to make you look and feel more beautiful and – more important: Healthy & Happy! Every treatment is performed by an extensively trained professional and supervised by our medical team and our nutrition experts. A must-visit for luxury spa lovers!

las dunas health and spa


Benahavis is one of the richest municipalities in Spain. It owes this to a large number of high-quality luxury developments around the village. Golf resorts such as La Quinta and Los Arqueros belong to Benahavis, as does La Zagaleta, an exclusive gated estate where some of the most exclusive properties in Spain and even Europe can be found.

The municipality stretches over a large area of about 150km2, from the coastal area to the mountains between Marbella and Estepona. It differs from the other Costa del Sol resorts due to the fact that it’s a more quiet and traditional mountain village which has retained its Andalusian feel.

Although the village is small, the municipality itself is very large. It includes numerous mountain ranges, river valleys and forests, making it one of the most beautiful places on the Costa del Sol. Home to many golf courses and exclusive properties, and its natural environment combined with very low-density construction, makes Benahavis very popular for buying property on the Costa del Sol, especially among foreigners looking for an oasis of peace, luxury and quiet within easy reach of Marbella.

→ MUST GO: play golf at Los Arqueros Golf & Country Club or visit the luxury residential resort of La Zagaleta.

San Pedro de Alcantara

San Pedro de Alcantara is a tourist place, once known for its sugar cane, now mainly for its long golden beaches. San Pedro de Alcántara is in an ideal location, because of its close proximity (10 km) to Marbella and Puerto Banus (a few minutes), but less crowded. From San Pedro de Alcantara you are only a few minutes’ drive from the Sierra Ronda. An exciting drive of 50 km through and along rocky landscapes, forests, ravines and remote villages brings you to the beautiful old town of Ronda, known for its spectacular location. In the old town, with traditional Spanish atmosphere, is a beautiful square, narrow streets, terraces, bars and small shops. There are still beautifully restored buildings and a 6th Visigoth basilica.

A pleasant walk is from the town centre to the kilometres of the beautiful beach of Playa de San Pedro de Alcantara and promenade (Paseo Maritimo). Along the promenade a number of hotels, apartment complexes, many terraces and restaurants.

Don’t forget to visit Bora Bora. It was one of the first established (luxury) modern tropical beach clubs on the coast, with an excellent restaurant (Prince William and Harry came to Bora Bora beach in 1997 to ride the jet skis!).

→ MUST GO:  go to Bora Bora Beach club

Nueva Andalucia

Nueva Andalucia is a newly built area immediately north from Puerto Banus, consisting of luxurious villas and apartments set amidst splendid gardens and trees, that has become a highly sought-after spot for house buyers.

This former small fishing village was completely renovated in 1963 by the famous project developer José Banús and it was later renamed Nueva Andalucía or New Andalusia. The project was intended as a residential area for citizens who were not as wealthy as the sultans, kings and celebrities who had already settled in the Milla de Oro.

Above all Nueva Andalucía is mainly known as Golf Valley, as you will find 4 golf courses in the area, which makes this area the highest concentration of golf courses per inhabitant. The area is perfect for golfers because of the four top golf courses that are in the close proximity including Las Brisas, Los Naranjos, Aloha Golf and La Dama de Noche. Nueva Andalucia has a perfect balance, set far enough back from the bustle of Puerto Banus to feel peaceful amidst the Sierra de Ronda mountain range and close enough to walk into the port as and when necessary.

→ MUST GO:  go here to golf at LA QUINTA GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB
→ MUST GO FOODIES: Restaurant Breathe, La Sala and Aquamist (nightclub)

Puerto Banus

Puerto Banús, located about 7 kilometres from the centre of Marbella, was developed by José Banús in the late 1960s. He was looking for something that would allow Marbella to develop economically and touristically. He came up with the look and feel of Puerto Banús: a beautiful Andalusian white village with a luxury marina in front of it. The opening in the ’70s was widely celebrated, with guests including the current king of Spain and Hugh Hefner.

Since then Puerto Banús has grown into one of Spain’s most famous marinas. Today, Puerto Banùs is visited by five million tourists every year. They can buy luxury items in the streets around the port in the shops of expensive brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Dior and Dolce & Gabbana and stroll along the Boulevard de la Fama.

Puerto Banùs is an absolute must!

→ MUST GO: go shopping at the Louis Vuitton store or rent a yacht in the marina. Learn more: https://www.cilomarbella.com/luxury-getaway-puerto-banus/


Marbella is the most famous seaside resort on the Costa del Sol and has a reputation as one of the most glamorous holiday destinations in Southern Europe. Discovered by the world’s jet-set in the 60’s, Marbella stands for luxury and high-quality experiences – that is why some of Europe’s highest quality properties can be found here, as well as first-class golf courses and some of the world’s best beach clubs.

The city of Marbella has been one of the most popular tourist destinations in southern Spain for many decades. This is mainly due to the excellent climate that prevails there throughout the year and the many beautiful hotels and accommodations that can be found there. Marbella is known for its excellent golf courses and there are no less than ten in the immediate vicinity of the city. The main attraction of Marbella remains, of course, the promenade where most of the restaurants and shops can be found.

Unlike many other seaside resorts in Spain, Marbella did not originate from a sleepy fishing village that later became a famous seaside resort, but was already a well-known place in Roman times, even though Marbella was known as Salduba at the time. The current name Marbella owes the city to the Moorish domination.

In the immediate vicinity of Marbella, there are quite a few golf courses. Some of them are right next to the city but most of them are in the hill around Marbella. The highest-rated courses in the Marbella area are Marbella Club Golf Resort, Flamingos Golf Club and Marbella Golf and Country Club. However, there is one thing the different courses all have and that is challenging holes. The hilly landscape of Marbella provides the necessary challenge while playing golf.

→ MUST GO: go enjoy the day & night at Nikki Beach

Mijas Costa

Mijas Costa is located in the center of the Costa del Sol in southern Spain and stretches for 12 kilometres along the Mediterranean coast from Cabo Pino in Marbella in the west to Fuengirola in the east.

Mijas Costa is one of the largest resorts on the Costa del Sol and is home to some of the most popular locations to buy property in southern Spain. It consists of the following developments: Calahonda, Riviera del Sol, Miraflores, La Cala de Mijas, El Chaparral and Las Farola.

Mijas Costa is part of the municipality of Mijas, one of the largest in the province. Mijas Costa stretches over a distance of 12km along the coast between Marbella and Fuengirola.

→ MUST GO: play golf at La Cala Golf.
Visit the traditional old town of Mijas Pueblo.


2. Water Fun

Marbella boat parties

Marbella boat parties are the best you will ever experience. Turn up the tempo on dreamy summer days with beautiful people, flowing drinks, glittering waters and a gentle breeze, then party into the night back on dry land. The world’s best DJs provide the soundtrack to a day of debauchery, where you’ll find a fully stocked bar and an electric atmosphere.


To see Marbella from a totally different and radical point of view, why don’t you try this exciting option: riding a jet ski. Discover the exciting feeling of driving a jet ski at high speeds.


Or do you prefer a little more active? Water skiing is done especially during the summer months in Marbella when the temperature rises well above 25 degrees. There are several providers that offer boats and equipment along Costa del Sol.


3. Golf

Did you know that there are more golf courses in Marbella per inhabitant than anywhere else in the world? That’s why some refer to the Costa del Sol as the Golf Valley.

Golf is a sport that enables you to spend an enjoyable day surrounded by nature and peace and quiet. Playing golf on the Costa del Sol is synonymous with hitting the ball on a golf course designed by the best professionals, going from hole to hole with the sea as a backdrop and enjoying a game in a climate with enviable year-round temperatures. Few places in the world can offer similar conditions. We put together a small list for you with the creme de la creme of golf courses on the Costa Del Sol.

Los Naranjos

Los Naranjos Golf course is definitely a championship course. With large, curvy greens, wide paths and water in the play at several holes, the design is a true challenge for all handicap levels. With greens in perfect condition and continuous improvements to the playing terrain, Los Naranjos is one of the most outstanding courses on the Costa del Sol.

La Quinta Golf & Club

La Quinta Golf & Club is an amazing golf course that adapts to all levels of the game. La Quinta Golf Club has 27 holes divided into three rounds and nine holes, which form part of the natural surroundings of the zone, from where you can see the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains.

La Cala Mijas

La Cala in Mijas is one of Europe’s largest golf courses. Golfers from all over the world are attracted by its size, the quality of its facilities and the private location. It even consists of three 18-hole golf courses.

4. Equestrian

Well, maybe golf isn’t your thing. Maybe you are more of a horse lover. In that case, there are some amazing opportunities for you on the Costa del Sol as well.

Watch a game of polo

What do you think of watching an exciting game of Polo at the Santa Maria Polo Club in Sotogrande? The Santa Maria Polo Club in Sotogrande is a famed location on the polo high goal tournament circuit.
The famous grounds of Sotogrande have been dubbed the ‘Wimbledon of Polo Pitches’, they are renowned as the best in the world. This is partly due to their location; flanked on various sides by a tropical nursery, the Guadiaro River, extensive blue skies, sun and distant mountains.

Ride a horse at the Santa Maria Equestrian Club

If you are not so much the competitive type you can also just go riding at the Santa Maria Equestrian Club. Santa Maria Equestrian Club is a new equestrian centre born with a vocation of exclusivity, excellence and service, providing facilities that meet the most demanding standards of sporting and functional quality.

Go for a horse ride at the beach

Have you always dreamed of riding a horse along the ocean at sunset? Take your chance and go for a lovely horse ride on the beach.

5. Luxury Beach clubs in Marbella

Ocean Club

Do you like Champagne? Actually, it doesn’t really matter if you do. If you don’t, you could still go to the Ocean Club Champagne party and spray your friends with a 6 litres size Moët from your VIP location. When the sun sets and the day seems to come to an end, the party just begins at Ocean Club, one of the best beach clubs in Marbella. This club is famous for its opening and closing parties with live acts, fireworks and other forms of entertainment. During the summer, many people visit Ocean Club to enjoy the best champagne and pool parties. Did you know that champagne parties originated at the Ocean Club?

Nikki beach

The beach club that basically started it all, Nikki Beach is still the venue that sets the standards.The legendary Nikki Beach in Marbella represents everything cool and glamorous about beachside chilling.  This is where Marbella’s exclusive crowd can be found and is universally known for their fun vibes and good food. It has been a fixture on the Marbella scene for two decades. And what’s not to like?You can spend the whole day there or just rock up for the evening’s entertainment. When the club gets started it fills out all the areas, with live music, soulful house and creatively clad Nikki Beach dancers whipping the place up into a hedonistic frenzy. It’s the beach club to be seen at, and with 1000’s of young and beautiful people filling the place over the course of an evening, it pays to dress to impress.

Finca Cortesin

The beach club of Finca Cortesin is one of the classiest ones around, so we couldn’t leave it out of this list. It’s an elegant and sophisticated affair where you relax immediately upon arrival, want for nothing and feel thoroughly loved throughout your stay and leave feeling utterly serene. The tasteful seating and sunbeds are either clustered around the infinity pool or facing out to sea on this attractive, and less developed stretch of coast. The restaurant serves up casual seafood and rice dishes, but to Finca Cortesin’s five-star standard.

6. Luxurious Nightlife

Olivia Valere

If you are more into ‘the real thing’, and want to spend the night with some real Hollywood stars, Olivia Valere is what you’re looking for. Olivia Valère is the epitome of glamorous and luxurious club experience in Marbella. You’ll party in a spectacular setting of outdoor arenas in a replica of the Alhambra and the Mezquita. So it’s no wonder celebrities enjoy being captured on camera at this club. Olivia Valère is the perfect place in Marbella to have a drink and dance in front of the high society.


TIBU is right in the centre of the luxurious Puerto Banús. Inside, the dancers occupy podiums while DJs mix a funky rhythm. The drinks are reasonably priced despite being an exclusive spot and usually has a young and fashion-loving audience. The elegant and secluded VIP areas are perfect for escaping the bustle of the dance floor and relaxing with friends or someone special.


Festivities under the stars with a view over the harbour. Pangea is a rooftop club where the international jet-set likes to stay. The club has a very luxurious atmosphere with leather lounge sofas and surprising lighting. Especially when the temperature rises to a high level, this club is, of course, ideal, dancing in the open air brings sufficient cooling!

If you love Moët this is the place to be. Pangea even organises parties in cooperation with this brand!

7. Wellness

Finca Cortesin Spa

The spa of Finca Cortesin in Casares is phenomenal and the place to completely unwind. The space is large and full of natural light. This spa is amazing for Couples and people needing to get away from it all for total relaxation. Oh, and ageing rock superstars, too – Axel Rose is known to spend weeks here…we guess it is his Paradise City!

Healthouse Las Dunas Estepona

Take time out to focus entirely on yourself at Healthouse Las Dunas. This palatial spa resort has wellbeing at its core, welcoming guests seeking detox from day-to-day life – or just some Mediterranean sun-soaked relaxation. All in a classic Andalusian setting, with off-white buildings, lush gardens and sea views.

Villa Padierna Wellness

Villa Padierna Wellness is the only wellness on the Costa del Sol with an aromatic spa circuit and provides a wonderful place to recharge, detoxify and relax.
The aromatic thermal circuit is astonishingly impressive and includes a number of steam rooms, saunas and hot and cold pools.

8. Culture


Mijas, a traditional white village at the foot of the Sierra de Mijas, was declared of historical and artistic importance in 1969. This is not so much because of its art and history, but because of the essence of its typical atmosphere and charisma, which gives the village an unmistakable artistic value with remains, reminiscent of its Muslim past. The historical centre is not limited to places such as the chapel of the Virgen de la Peña, the remains of the city walls with the remains of the old castle and the parish church, but also the Santa Ana district in the other part of the village.


Ronda is described as one of the most beautiful in Andalusia and even in Spain. Ronda is completely whitewashed and has some beautiful examples of typical Andalusian architecture. The city lies high above the River Guadalevin Gorge and has beautiful views of the fertile landscape and the incomparable mountains, including peaks at almost 2,000 meters altitude.

The city is divided into two sections: Ronda la Vieja (Old Ronda) is the name given to the area south of the famous Puente Nuevo bridge, built-in 1755 across the gorge; and Ronda la Nueva (New Ronda), which covers the rest of the town. Ronda la Vieja lives up to its name. You’ll find some of Ronda’s oldest monuments, as well as the Arab Baths and the Water Mine. There are many beautiful mansions with elegant terraces, delicately wrought iron window grilles and beautiful porticoes. Some have impressive views over the riverbanks and mountains.

You will also find the Ronda Bullring, one of the oldest in Spain and also a bullfighting museum. The main shops and restaurants in Ronda can be found in this part of town, as well as the train and bus stations.

Granada: Alhambra

The Alhambra in Granada is the most renowned monument in southern Spain and, according to some, even in Europe. In 2015, more than 2.5 million visitors enjoyed its impressive palaces and breathtaking views of the city of Granada. In fact, the Alhambra is located on the top of a hill in the centre of the city, allowing visitors to view districts such as Sacromonte and Albaicín from above, as well as the rest of the city stretching southwards.

Thanks to its thousand-year-old history, the Alhambra offers its visitors many different impressions. The huge complex has been inspired over time by Muslim, Christian and Gypsy cultures and this diversity makes it one of the most beloved and fascinating attractions.


9. Food

Dani Garcia

A must visit when in Marbella are the two restaurants of Dani García. We are of course talking about the impressive fine dining establishment Lobito del Mar of chef Dani García. The menu is heavily influenced by Andalusian cuisine and famously flavorful and prepared in innovative ways. Prepare yourself for mouthwatering dishes and an absolute unique ambience. If you feel like eating tapas, In brasserie BiBo, Dani Garcia brings together dishes that his gastronomic memory has been accumulating during trips inside and outside of Spain.


Skina is an intimate and lovely restaurant which currently holds two Michelin stars. You can find the restaurant in the Old Quarter of Marbella.
Fresh seafood is the emphasis, combined with a lovely wine from the restaurant’s impressive wine list.

Hills Café

Hills Café & Restaurant, the secret spot in Benahavis, offers lifestyle dining with a view!

When looking for a relaxed vibe, but with serious food, look no further than the Hills Café of the Benahavis Hills Country Club. The head chef Jean Francois Job brings an enormous Michelin Starred experience to the table and this is expressed in the surprising dishes, which differ from day-to-day. The restaurant is blessed with a gorgeous terrace where you can enjoy the magnificent sunset and the twinkling lights of the costa and even Africa at times…

10. Shopping

Marbella is a shopper’s paradise. With an incredibly high density of luxury shops per square metre, the marina of Puerto Banus offers one of the best luxury shopping experiences in southern Europe. Strolling along the port, you can find all the most prestigious world-class luxury brands from Christian Dior to Versace and Louis Vuitton to Cartier.

We highlighted some of the best stores for you.


11. Pump up the adrenaline

Are you more of an adrenaline lover? Why don’t you try one of these activities?

Helicopter flight Marbella

Everything looks better from the sky in a helicopter. Since its creation, HeliairMarbella is offering unforgettable moments through their amazing helicopter rides Combining the thrill of flying with the different kinds of scenery in the South of Spain these helicopter rides are unforgettable moments. The colours, brightness and contrast of the green fields opposite the sea are of astonishing beauty. Another possibility is to use the helicopter flight for property viewing. This will give you a different perspective on the area.

Ascari Circuit

If horses won’t do it for you, how about some petrol? If you love the sound of a good engine and your passion is fast cars, there’s nothing like the Ascari circuit in Marbella. If you become a member of the Ascari Club, you could even park your car(s) in their high-security garage to then test its limits in the track whenever you feel like it. If you prefer driving their Academy cars, you could see how it feels to be at the Wheel of a their Lotus Elise, their BMW M6, their Porsche GT3 or the Ascari KZ1, a car designed by Ascari himself. Tempting, huh?

11. Bonus tip:

Go skiing in the Sierra Nevada and stay in El Lodge

One of the great things about living in the Costa Del Sol is the ability to go skiing in the winter and spring months. After the Alps, the Sierra Nevada is the highest mountain range in Europe with peaks of up to 3.5 thousand meters. A large part of it has been declared a protected nature reserve by UNESCO, but you can ski on the glacier for a large part of the year.

ski sierra nevada

When looking for a wonderful place to stay, go check out El Lodge. Perched at more than 2,000 metres above sea level in the Sierra Nevada National Park, El Lodge has quickly turned into a sumptuous, cosy staple for both seasoned ski-goers and those looking to cuddle up fireside with the perfect après-ski scene. Its playful décor, ski-in/out deck and outdoor open-air heated pool make it the go-to refuge at just 45 minutes from Granada, a two-hour picturesque drive from the beaches of Marbella.

Cilo Marbella is an exclusive boutique agency specialising in the sale and rental of luxury residential property in the Marbella region of Spain.

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