Ben revs it up.
The gorgeous streets.
A touch of Spain. How could you resist going to Marbella, with its glitzy cafe-lined streets, shopping and glamour? And don't forget to take lots of cash.
Marbella is popular year round – in summer for its water activities and in winter for its golf. The resort attracts everyone from the rich and famous to backpackers. It boasts 320 sunny days each year, 27 kms of sandy beaches and is a paradise for golfers with 40 clubs to choose from. While known for its lavish lifestyle, the old Marbella city is full of history, found on every street corner where monuments bear witness to every civilisation which has occupied it.
Thousands of years before Christ there were human settlements on the Sierra Blanca Mountain in Marbella, proven by object and human remains uncovered from the Paleolithic and Neolithic ages. Recent discoveries show that in the 7th century BC there were Phoenician and Punic settlements in the area.
Roman evidence is seen in the Rio Verde Roman Villa, the Guadalmina Thermal Baths and other discoveries in the old town. From Visigoth times there is the Vega de Mar Paleo-Christian Basilica, a singular construction with double apse, with only one similar in the whole of Spain.
The old part of town is well worth exploring - its beautifully preserved streets are Moorish, the 16th century town hall and tourist office are in Orange Square, there are plenty of cafes to choose from and the shopping is excellent. The Casco Antiguo is a maze of cobbled alleys, ancient whitewashed buildings and modern boutiques.
The Costa del Sol, which takes about 300kms of the coast and includes the provinces of Granada, Malaga and Cadiz, and Marbella has 22kms of beach of its own. The area boasts around 300 days of sunshine a year.
Accommodation ranges from plush five-star hotels such as the Puente Romano in the heart of the Golden Mile that is Marbella, to camping for as little as $30 a night.
Just west of Marbella is Puerto Banus which buzzes with bars, clubs, discos, cafes, restaurants and more shopping, and the harbour is full of luxury yachts from all around the world.
The south of Spain has two coasts - Costas del Sol and de la Luz. The Costa del Sol is more touristy - it has lots of resorts, marinas and golf courses while Costa de la Luz is more open with
vineyards, farms and, the locals say, the better beaches.
The mountain chain, which in places reaches the shoreline, protects the beaches from the northern winds. There is a series of large beaches, coves hidden among cliffs, sports harbours and fishing grounds. The climate is mild with a light rainfall, and the vegetation is semi-tropical, with palms, cypress, oleander and hibiscus in profusion.