Famed for its glitz and glamour, many things to do in Marbella involve activities such as Michelin-star dining, celebrity spotting in Puerto Banús or sunning yourself at one of the beach clubs. But this high-end resort also has another side to it, one that you’d perhaps not discover as a regular tourist. Until you read this article.
In it, we’ve sourced ten unusual things to do in Marbella at different times of the year. Most are free or almost, and all guarantee an experience that you probably wouldn’t expect in the town.
See Marbella’s first luxury villa
The Romans were the first to discover the high-end potential in this part of the Costa del Sol and you can see an example of a mansion at Rio Verde Roman Villa. It dates back to the second century AD and contains some simply stunning mosaics. They depict motifs like flip-flops, dolphins and kitchen utensils.
Open Friday to Sunday 10.30am to 1.30pm. Free entry.
Are you a history buff? Then you’ll love our History & Heritage Costa del Sol Road Trips guide. Find out why here.
Discover the world of olive oil
The Cortijo Miraflores to the north of Marbella’s old quarter once housed an olive mill and is now a museum where you can see all the equipment. As well as the olive press and scales, the old farmhouse also houses a 17th-century fig press, one of the best preserved in southern Spain. While you’re there, tour the building and gardens.
Join or watch the Marbella Ironman
This annual event takes place in May (7 May 2023) and allows elite athletes to take in the best of this part of the Costa del Sol while they push themselves to the limit. If you’re super fit and love a challenge, we’d suggest you sign up, but most of us will be more than happy to cheer the superstars on as they swim, bike and run their way around Marbella.
Find out more about Marbella Ironman
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Visit tropical gardens
Our next suggestion for unusual things to do in Marbella goes horticultural. The resort’s almost perfect year-round climate is ideal for gardens and you’ll find lush greenery and plants everywhere you go. Some of the best tropical havens are in the gardens at Puente Romano Hotel between the beach and the main road. Simply cross the Roman bridge on the seafront promenade and make your way north.
Admire surrealist art
The Ralli Museum near Puerto Banús houses a unique collection of surrealist works by artists from South America and Spain. Dalí and Miró are just two of them. There are permanent exhibitions too. Open Tues-Sat 10am-3pm. Free entry. Find out more.
Try traditional pescaito
Small fish, fried to perfection, form the basis of one of the Costa del Sol’s signature dishes: pescaito or fritura malagueña. Try it at any of the beach restaurants in Marbella or head for one of the bars near the fishing port (La Bajadilla) for a more local experience.
Spot the holy niches
Marbella Old Town is dotted with 12 niches, embedded in the walls and dedicated to the Virgin Mary and saints. As you wander the maze of streets, alleys and squares, keep an eye open for them. One of the most iconic is Our Lady of Sorrows in Calle Virgen de los Dolores.
Walk the dunes
The Costa del Sol’s long coastline is mostly developed and it’s a challenge to find an unspoilt beach, but Marbella is home to one of the few. The Dunas de Artola, located to the east of the resort, is a protected dune area, fronted by one of the loveliest beaches on the Costa del Sol. The dunes have walkways that allow you to discover pristine nature while enjoying stunning views of the coastline.
Read our guide to the best beaches on the Costa del Sol
If you love fine wining and dining, Foodie Experience Costa del Sol Road Trips will allow you to plan the perfect holiday.
Discover Holy Week
We think watching the Holy Week processions counts as one of the more unusual things to do in Marbella because, whatever your beliefs, they are one of the most moving spectacles you’ll see anywhere. The processions parade images of Christ and the Virgin around the town and take place every evening from Palm Sunday to Good Friday.
On Avenida del Mar, an open-air museum dotted with his sculptures that line the avenue down to the seafront. As you’d expect, they’re weird and wonderful, but they make a great collection of unusual art in Marbella.
Want more Marbella?
All our Costa del Sol Road Trips include a night in Marbella and each guide suggests great things to do and enjoy during your stay. Take a look at our selection of guides and pick the theme that suits you.
Your perfect holiday on the Costa del Sol, for you, your people, your interests and in your time. And don’t forget, there are generous discounts if you buy more than one guide.