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A Spanish St Tropez, Marbella has it all: beautiful beaches, fantastic bars and some seriously swanky boutiques. It’s not hard to see why it’s regarded as one of Europe’s top beach destinations, and over the past 60 years (the first dedicated beach hotel opened in 1943), it’s transformed into a family-friendly paradise which combines the best bits of Europe’s chicest beach resorts with oodles of old-school glamour.
Located on one of the sunniest stretches of Spain's Mediterranean coastline, the town is perfectly situated for exploring the surrounding villages, as well as the region’s luxurious resorts, beautiful forests (including the famously fragrant El Juanar forest, to the north) and sandy coves. It’s also a quick 45 minutes to get from Marbella to Malaga International Airport (AGP).
Fancy splashing some cash? Head to the Puerto Banus marina, with its neat rows of beachfront boutiques, including Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana and Jimmy Choo. This is where you’ll find some of the region’s best restaurants, whether it’s the Oak Garden and Grill, with its delicious seafood platters and enormous steaks (we recommend the Galician fillet) or D-Wine, with its Bible-like menu of over 5,000 wines. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Puerto Banus is also a brilliant people-watching spot, and despite the super yacht-packed harbour and endless designer boutiques, you don’t need to be a billionaire to enjoy it. Restaurants such as the Hard Rock Café and the Pasta Factory (nab a spot on the latter’s roof terrace if you can) are both incredibly affordable and family-friendly.
At the end of the evening, burn off your paella-related indulgences by hitting the dancefloor at one of Marbella’s fantastic clubs, many of which line the famous Golden Mile, winding between Marbella and Puerto Banus. You’ll find everything from sophisticated cocktail lounges like the Living Room to fun, cheap bars and legendary venues such as La Sala, famous for its live music and neon-hued cocktails.
What's cheaper, an all-inclusive holiday or a self-catering break? There's more to it than you think. See which board type will save you more money on your next trip away.Read moreabout All-inclusive vs self-catering: The great holiday dilemma
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