Marbella is more than a place, it’s a cultural icon – the summer playground of Europe’s rich and famous.The name translates into English as “Beautiful Sea,” but what makes Marbella so iconic is the year-round beautiful weather, beautiful landscape, beautiful villas, plus golf, shopping and restaurants.For a place that’s so key in contemporary popular culture, Marbella has a surprisingly long history, stretching back to Roman times, when it was known as Salduba (“Salt City”). Yet most of its fame and stature has come recently. As late as 1950, it was only a small, jasmine-scented village with only 1,000 inhabitants. This Old Town (Casco Antiguo) is extremely well preserved, including the town hall built in 1568, as well as several churches and chapels from the same period, along with the remains of a castle and walls from Moorish times.But that was then, and this is now. Whereabouts in modern-day Marbella are the best places to live? Here’s our guide to the best neighbourhoods this delightful, relaxed and sun-drenched spot has to offer.
1. The Golden Mile
La milla de oro is the epicentre of fashionable Marbella. The area actually stretches about 4 miles (6½ kilometres) along the coast between the Old Town and the harbour of Marbella and Puerto Banús. This is the most exclusive district on the entire Costa del Sol, with grand villas, high-end retail, opulent dining and chic nightlife. NagüelesDaytime activity clusters around the stunning Nagüeles beach, where those who want to see and be seen throng to the Marbella Club and Puente Romano beach clubs. It's an ideal location, handy for both Marbella and Puerto Banús, and right on the shore.
2. Nueva Andalucía/Puerto Banús
This is probably the most exciting neighbourhood in the Marbella area. Nueva Andalucia (New Andalusia) was the brainchild of José Banús, a property developer who had a vision to create a new and totally exclusive European resort, designed by Noldi Schreck, one of the key architects who developed Beverly Hills in Los Angeles.Puerto BanúsThe core of the area, Puerto Banús, opened in 1970 with a ceremony was attended by billionaire Aga Khan IV, director Roman Polanski, singer Julio Iglesias, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, and Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco. This star-studded launch set the tone for the area’s future. Nueva AndalucíaThese days, the glitzy Puerto Banús serves as the city centre and focus of the Nueva Andalucía neighbourhood. Celebrities and the ultra-rich focus on the port area, where it’s common to see stars shopping, dining and strolling, driving expensive cars and partying on yachts.Golf ValleyInland, it’s Golf Valley, with villas clustering around the Las Brisas, Aloha and Los Naranjos golf courses. Nueva Andalucía is also famous for its Saturday Artisan Market next to the bullring where you will find stalls selling anything and everything: spices, crafts, paintings, textiles, antiques and furniture. And if the shopping gets a bit all too much, the marketplace is surrounded by chilled-out cafés where you can sip a cortado and watch the world go by.
3. Sierra Blanca
If you fancy something a little more private and secluded, then Sierra Blanca is the place for you. Situated behind Marbella and the Golden Mile, it’s a tranquil, secure and safe neighbourhood that offers a respite from the hurly-burly and frenzy of coastal Marbella in high season, whilst being a few minutes’ drive from said hurly-burly and frenzy when you fancy dipping your toes in the scene.
4. La Zagaleta
If privacy and exclusivity are your bag, then La Zagaleta is the place for you. It’s a millionaires’ playground, beloved of superstars who want to take advantage of the discretion and privacy it has to offer. This ultra-luxury resort has some of the highest property prices in all of Spain, and its ample sporting and leisure facilities are restricted to residents only. If your dream is to rub shoulders with Rod Stewart or challenge Hugh Grant to a game of tennis, this is your spot – both own properties here.
5. San Pedro de Alcantara
If all the glitz and glamour are a bit much, there’s lovely, slightly more down-to-earth San Pedro de Alcantara, west of Puerto Banús. It’s a typical working Spanish town with an industrial heritage, including a former sugar mill which is now the Ingenio Cultural Centre. San Pedro de Alcantara isis a charming mix of narrow, cobbled streets lined with tapas bars and boutiques, and a delightful seaside promenade with beautiful sandy beach dotted with chiringuitos (beach bars). Its enchanting informality provides a counterpoint to the obligatory glamour of Marbella’s more upscale neighbourhoods. The adjacent area of La Guadalmina has possibly one of the best golf courses anywhere in the region – The Guadalmina Golf Club.
6. Los Monteros
To the east of Marbella is Los Monteros. The name means “the hunters,” and this is the place if you’re hunting for stunning beaches with natural dunes, great golf courses, access to the countryside and forests, as well as luxury homes. The neighbourhood is peaceful and exclusive, but only five minutes’ drive from Marbella centre. Los Monteros is an excellent spot to enjoy the best of both worlds – tranquility and excitement, relaxation and sociability.Marbella offers so many great neighbourhoods, and Pacaso offers a range of properties catering to a variety of tastes. Take a look for yourself and find a spot to match your dreams!