Marbella is a fantastic place in which to enjoy many of life’s greatest pleasures – mouth-watering food, beautiful scenery, excellent shopping and nightlife, and plenty of opportunities to indulge in quality relaxation. Still, though the gem of the Costa del Sol provides endless entertainment opportunities, you may relish the chance to explore beyond its borders. You can reach some of the most stunning spots in southern Spain with just a couple hours’ driving, as well as taking a trip beyond the Iberian Peninsula. If you’ve got some time to spare, why not go for a day trip for a change of pace? Autumn or winter is an ideal time to take a trip, as many of the places in southern Spain are uncomfortably warm in summer.
Clocking in at just under two and a half hours’ driving time from Marbella, Sevilla is the capital of Spain’s southern Andalusian region, as well as its biggest city. The city is famous for its charming streets, buzzy tapas bar scene and generous selection of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the most well-known of which is its enormous cathedral and La Giralda tower with sweeping views of the entire city. Don’t miss a stroll through the gardens of the Alcazar, nor a sunset-watching session at the Plaza de España. While at first glance, Sevilla might seem entirely traditional – flamenco and bullfighting still abound – the city has recently seen an uptick in the contemporary art scene, with corresponding increases in chic boutiques and trendy restaurants, such as the excellent Abantal and the newly-restored Lonja del Barranco market, which now hosts a gourmet food hall. You could also join the city’s hip young things near the Guadalquivir River at Petit Comite for a break from tapas.
For something a bit closer to Marbella, try going to scenic Ronda, which is about an hour’s drive away. Though it may not be far away in terms of kilometres, it’s a world apart with regards to the feel. Ronda is a small city, home to just under 40,000 people, and surrounded by rings of mountains. Around nearly every corner of its whitewashed walls you’ll get stunning glimpses of the rolling Andalusian hills dotted with olive trees. But the best viewpoint in the city is found at the Puente Nuevo, which spans the 100-metre-deep El Tajo gorge, through which trickles the Guadalevín River.
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Frigilana and Nerja
Double up on your day trip with an excursion to Frigilana and Nerja, which are roughly an hour and a half east of Marbella. As the two villages are just six kilometres apart from each other, it’s easy to visit both in a single day. Frigilana is regarded as the most beautiful of Spain’s emblematic ‘white villages,’ and its houses are often adorned with brightly- coloured flowers. Nearby Nerja sits right on the coast, and its Balcón de Europa viewpoint provides spectacular views of the Costa del Sol’s coastline and its crystal clear waters, jutting cliffs and sandy beaches.
Fancy a real change of pace? Then hop on a ferry to the northern Moroccan city of Tangier. The ferries run every day from nearby Tarifa, the haven for windsurfers and the laid-back lifestyle that’s just a few kilometres away from Marbella. On a clear day, you can see the tip of Morocco from the Spanish coastline, and the trip is only 32 kilometres. Though the cities are nearby, Tangier’s sights and sounds immerse you in a totally different experience. There’s plenty of great shopping to do here, including the souk around the Grand Socco square, and the Foundouk Chejra, the famous Weavers’ Market, where you can find intricate Moroccan rugs for sale. You can also visit the elaborate Dar el Makhzen palace. The city is safe, though you may want to hire a guide to show you around the labyrinthine streets of the medina. Don’t forget to enjoy a slow-cooked tagine, packed full of tantalising spices, as well as a glass of refreshing mint tea after your meal.
For more of what to do across Spain, visit our Destinations page.