5 Things To Do in Marbella & Benalmádena

Marbella – the sunkissed Andalucian town famed for its luscious green golf courses, beautiful resorts and vibrant nightlife.

A short drive away (30-45 minutes on the scenic A7) is Benalmádena – with a spectacular coastline and marina that pull in tens of thousands of holidaymakers every year.

However, if you fancy a different style of travelling, these two towns equally have nothing short of amazing to offer.

1. Old Town, Marbella

5 Things To Do in Marbella & BenalmádenaForget your map. Take a stroll aimlessly along the streets of Marbella’s Old Town that oozes history and character. As you pass through Plaza de los Naranjos, stop for fresh churros served with an indulgent hot chocolate sauce at Churreria Ramón.

2. Parks, Marbella

5 Things To Do in Marbella & Benalmádena
Photo credit: Listen2Mama.

Cross the Avenida Ramon Y Cajal. Enter the tranquil Parque de Alameda, adorned with tiled mosaic benches and towering palm trees.

A little further down the road is a bigger park, called Parque de la Constitución. From here, you can easily hop over to the next street for a breezy seaside walk.

3. Old Town, Benalmádena

5 Things To Do in Marbella & BenalmádenaLike many pueblos in Andalucia, Benalmádena is a quaint little town lined with whitewashed houses on its steep and narrow streets.

Check out Iglesia de Santo Domingo de Guzmán, a local church that gives stunning view of the coast.

For a quick lunch, check out this little place opposite Restaurant El Muro on Calle Santo Domingo. Get four tapas and one drink for just €5.

4. Castillo Monumento Colomares, Benalmádena

5 Things To Do in Marbella & BenalmádenaThe Colomares Castle is a rather unique monument that honours the great traveller Christopher Columbus.

It took seven years to build and spans 1,500 square metres, featuring different elements that represent Columbus’s journeys and achievements.

The castle also houses the world’s smallest church in the world, as listed in the Guinness Book of Records. Read more about it here.

Opening Times

Winter
Daily: 10am–1:30pm, 4–6pm

Autumn & Spring
Daily: 10am–1:30pm, 4–7pm

Summer
Daily: 10am–1:30pm, 5–9pm

Entrance Fee: €2

Website here.

5. Theme Park & Cable Car Ride, Benalmádena

5 Things To Do in Marbella & Benalmádena
Photo credit: Teleférico Benalmádena.

If you are travelling with family or young children, Tivoli World and the nearby Teleférico Benalmádena, which runs cable car rides that offers panoramic views of Sierra Nevada and the coast, are perfect for a fun-filled day out.

Tivoli World
Opening Times: check website for latest schedule.

Entrance Fee: check website for different packages.

Website here.

Teleférico Benalmádena
Opening Times

April to June: 11am-7pm

Entrance Fee: from €11.90, check website for latest prices.

Website here.

More Spanish music to get in the travelling mood…

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A Relaxing Day Trip in Vejer de la Frontera

It was a cloudy morning when we hit the A7 and head towards the whitewashed town of Vejer de la Frontera.

After a quick lunch at Casino 51, we began exploring the former fortress town on foot, letting the cobbled streets guide us through its history and culture.

A Relaxing Day Trip in Vejer de la Frontera

Much of the castle wall and archways remain intact, so you can immerse in Vejer’s historical elegance while taking in its picturesque beauty from all angles.

Rising 190 metres above sea level, Vejer even offers lucky visitors a clear view of the Moroccan coast on a sunny day.

A Relaxing Day Trip in Vejer de la FronteraWe stumbled upon Casa del Mayorazgo, a private home of five families who share a tranquil courtyard that is decorated with beautiful flora and fauna arrangements.

Although it is not a public attraction, a tourist couple reassured us it is absolutely fine to enter the courtyard, climb the stairs and navigate through the washing lines to arrive at the rooftop – opening up to more scenic views of Vejer and overlooking Plaza de España.

Plaza de España (also known as Plaza de los Pescaítos) is a nice little plaza surrounded by restaurants and distinguished by a stunning mosaic fountain featuring four traditional ceramic Andalusian frogs.

A Relaxing Day Trip in Vejer de la Frontera

Continuing our relaxing stroll around town, we came across some pre-Bull Run festivities. We couldn’t return to witness this famous (and controversial) Spanish tradition the next day, but it was fascinating to see the whole town getting together, children pushing a fake bull up and down the steep and narrow streets, and people shielding their homes and shops with wooden boards in preparation for the Bull Run.

A Relaxing Day Trip in Vejer de la Frontera

As the crowd began to disperse, the clouds started to clear to reveal a blue-purple sky and an orange sun.

Driving back home on the A7, we dined at Seaside Grill by the motorway for an authentic seaside dinner and incredible atmosphere – a perfect end to a chilled and eye-opening day out in Vejer de la Frontera.

Check out this video of the Bull Run in Vejer!

An Unconventional Day Trip in Malaga

Malaga is so much more than a destination for beach holidays or drunken parties.

The history of this vibrant coastal spot dates back to over 3,000 years ago when the Phoenicians arrived and named it Malaca. Then came the Romans, the Moors and the Christians.

An Unconventional Day Trip in MalagaThough Malaga had brief moments of prosperity, it wasn’t until the 1960s when tourism made the popular Costa del Sol city what it is today.

Yet, beyond rows of international chain stores and restaurants serving everything from pizza to chow mein, Malaga still holds onto fragments of its past – tucked away in different corners of the city.

Museo de la Cofradia de los Estudiantes

This little museum caught my eyes even before the famous Alcazaba.

Translating into Museum Collection of the Guild of Students, it is the home of many relics, with the floats being the most impressive displays of all.

I was in awe of the sheer size of the thrones of the Christ and Virgin Mary, and their opulent silver and gold structures.

They hynoptise even the least religious person with the detailed wood carving, elaborate floral arrangement and embroidery work.

An Unconventional Day Trip in MalagaThis place was packed with tourists and locals when I visited, probably because it was during the Holy Week (Semana Santa). But make sure you go up to the second floor for a full view of the figures.

Opening Times

Monday to Friday
10.30am – 1.30pm & 5.30pm – 8.30pm

Entrance Fee: Free (donations welcome)

Website here.

Teatro Romano & La Alcazaba

The Roman Theatre is right opposite the museum. To its right, you’ll find an information centre where you can grab a map of the city and find out about Easter procession paths and their starting times.

Keep going right and a steep path will lead you all the way up to this Moorish landmark.

The walk takes some time between 30-45 minutes at a casual pace. Take your time. Soak in the stunning view over the Mediterranean Sea, the ports, the promenade and the magnificent bullring.

An Unconventional Day Trip in MalagaOpening Times

Summer
9am – 8pm

Winter
9am – 6pm

*Closed on January 1, February 28 and December 25

Entrance Fee: €2.20

Lunch

Malaga’s city centre is absolutely jam-packed with restaurant and bars, living up to its reputation as a tourist hub.

We sat down at AlCasaBar, not far from the ‘real’ Alcazaba and quietly tucked away on Calle Poza del Rey.

Freshen up with a Pina Colada lassi. Enjoy a variety of crepes cheekily named after Hollywood icons like James Dean and Angelina Jolie. Can’t decide? Just order 5 tapas for €10.

Website here.

Catedral

An Unconventional Day Trip in MalagaOne may say the impressive Seville Cathedral dwarfs all the other cathedrals in Spain. But this Renaissance landmark in Malaga still stands out for me, as an Andalucia first-timer.

The vast size and grandeur of these Spanish religious establishments continue to amaze me. The choir stalls are adorned with 42 carved wooden statues, that are the fine work of sculptor Pedro de Mena.

On each side is an 18th century organ with over 4,000 pipes, decorated with elaborate sculptures that exude majestic elegance through the use of gold and green palettes.

At the end of your visit, admire the exterior of this architectural masterpiece and you’ll see why the ‘La Manquita’ (one-armed), even with an incomplete second tower, can rival other Spanish cathedrals.

Opening Times

Monday to Friday
10am – 6pm

Saturday
10am – 5pm

*Closed on Sunday and holidays

Entrance Fee: €5

Website here.

Museo Interactivo de la Música

The nightlife in Malaga is matched only by its taste for art, culture and history.

Classical singers belt out an aria outside the cathedral, whilst bold and creative street art command your imagination.

There are countless museums dotted around the city, ready to invite visitors on a journey to discover the Spanish way of life – from flamenco and wine to contemporary art and religious paintings.

The Picasso museum is the most famous of them all. Centre Pompidou is the newest, having opened its doors since March 2015.

An Unconventional Day Trip in MalagaI chose the Interactive Museum of Music. Although this is partly because most of the other museums had already closed up, I absolutely enjoyed the tour and would recommend it anyone with some interest in music – or those who want to try their hands at various different instruments in the ‘red rooms’.

‘The Flamenco Seen by Chinese Eyes’ exhibition was a pleasant surprise. The Museum partnered up with Minzu University of China and the Museum of Flamenco Dance to showcase the beautiful result of a meaningful exchange between the two dynamic cultures.

Just take a look at this astonishing piece of paper cutting artwork that represents Flamenco through the eyes of a Chinese student.

An Unconventional Day Trip in Malaga

Opening Times

September 7 – June 24
Monday: 10am – 4pm
Tuesday to Sunday: 10am – 7pm

June 25 – September 6
Monday: 10.30am – 4pm
Tuesday to Sunday: 10.30am – 7.30pm

*Closed on January 1 & 6, and December 25

Entrance Fee: €4

Website here.

Dinner

After a long beautiful sunset walk along Plaza de la Marina, Paseo del Parque and feeling the tourists buzz at Muelle Uno, we dined at Taberna el Trillo – just off Calle Marqués de Larios where the procession would take place.

An Unconventional Day Trip in Malaga

Malaga hosts one of the biggest and most spectacular processions during Semana Santa, so make sure you don’t miss it. They go on for all night until early morning, so if you’re driving back in the evening, check for alternative routes as some roads may be blocked.

This charming and energetic tune by Ana Mena gets played on the Spanish radio a lot, and it’s one of those perfect feel good songs for a carefree drive through the scenic routes. Check it out!