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Marbella On a Budget

Aug 18, 2007
With 26kms of sandy beaches, the majestic Sierra Blanca mountains and 300 days of sunshine a year, its not hard to see why Marbella is one of the most popular vacation spots in Europe. Plenty of the rich and the famous own property here. Sean Connery, Antonio Banderas, the King of Saudi Arabia and the Beckhams to name but a few. Not only is Marbella a naturally spectacular location, its a feast for the eyes in the way of flashy yachts, fast cars and multi-million dollar mansions.

But fear not if that kind of lifestyle is a little out of your league! The best of Marbella extends far beyond the golf courses and Ferraris. It still retains much of its Spanish seaside charm, and the best parts of this celebrity playground dont come with an exorbitant price tag, if you know where to look...

A walk around the old part of town will cost you nothing, and at the same time bring you closer to Marbellas past. Archaeologists have found remnants of Phoenician and Roman settlers who lived there before Moorish conquerors ruled during the 10th Century. But the charming old Spanish villas and cobble stoned streets are what make the historic Quarter of Marbella quaint and charming. Whitewashed buildings, colourful bougainvilleas and decorative windows can be enjoyed as you amble along, window shopping or enjoying some Spanish tapas at one of the many bars in this area.

A must see in the heart of the old town is the Plaza de Los Narranjos. As well as home to many of Marbellas historic buildings, cafes bars and restaurants, its a great place to relax in the shade of the plazas orange trees and enjoy a coffee, watching life go by.

Also in the old town are famous sights including the Murellas del Castillo, the city walls built in the 10th Century to fortify Marbella against invasion, the Church of Santa Maria and the Old Governors House, many of which cost very little or are free to enter.

Two of the Coastas best museums are located in Marbella. The Bonsai museum is built around a small lake with turtles. At only 2 Euro it is an inexpensive and relaxing way to spend the afternoon admiring these miniature works of living art, some more than 500 years old.

The Museo del Grabado Espanol is home to an excellent collection of engraved art, with works by the famous Picasso and Miro amongst them. Those interested in Spanish art are also sure to enjoy the old Bazan Hospital, now an art gallery and excellent library on Spanish graphic art.

If you find yourself tired from all that walking around, a visit to one of Marbellas many parks is the perfect break from sight seeing. Constitution Park, built in the 1950's features a small observatory, childrens playground and outdoor auditorium where there are concerts and festivals held during the summer.

Alameda park is famous for its shady trees and colourful gardens, the perfect spot for a siesta in the afternoon. You can enjoy relaxing in the shade or admire the replica Dali sculptures hidden around the park.

If youre on a tight budget, skip the theme parks and fancy water sports and hit the beach! With 26 kms to choose from you are sure to find the perfect place to relax in the sun for a lazy afternoon, or enjoy a refreshing dip in the Mediterranean Sea. Be sure to include a long stroll and an ice cream along el Paseo Maritimo, a pedestrian path that stretches on for 6kms, best enjoyed at sunset.

The beaches of Marbella are only a small part of this areas natural beauty. Outside the town, there are plenty of walking and bike trails to enjoy. Hiking highlights in the area include La Concha Mountain and La Sierra de las Nievas. Far from the tourist trail, you can enjoy the spectacular Spanish countryside and maybe even stumble along a traditional whitewashed village, where you can enjoy some tapas and brush up your Spanish with a chat with the friendly locals.

A visit to Marbella would not be complete without a visit to the nearby San Pedro de Alcantara, just 10kms from Marbella. Its home to one of last remaining villages that is largely untouched by modern development. There are no beachside mansions here. Instead, you can enjoy a walk around the old town or its fabulous beach which is usually a lot less crowded than those in Marbella.

If you can get there on a Thursday you will also get to enjoy the weekly village market, with fresh produce and plenty of goods to keep bargain hunters happy. A meal at one of the many beachhside restaurants in San Pedro is the perfect way to sample some of the best seafood in Spain.

Those who havent had their fill of history yet can visit the Villa Romana de Rio Verde and the Roman baths, a site which historians have dated back to the first century. You can walk around the internal courtyard of the villa with Romanesque columns and smaller internal rooms.

Nearby is the Basilica Vega Del mar, one of the most important historical sites in Spain. The site includes a necropolis dating back to the Paleo-Christian era. These three sites are free to visit on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, with a free guided tour at noon.

So you dont own one of the mansions on the Golden Mile, but you need somewhere to stay? Marbellas best option for budget accommodation is to rent an apartment. If you are a couple or a group, not only is apartment rental the most economical choice, but you can stay in a private residential area, away from the rest of the tourists in town. Hit the Internet for the best accommodation bargains on the Costa Del Sol.

So there you have it. History, culture and sunshine on a shoestring. Marbella may be the preferred destination of the rich and famous, but theres plenty to enjoy, no matter what your budget.
About the Author
Gaizka Pujana is the co-owner of Barcelona Homes, S.L. which is a company
specialized in providing short term tenancy solutions in Seville and Barcelona through its
web pages Barcelona apartment
costa del sol apartments
Apartment rental costa del sol
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