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Once a small fishing village, Marbella in southern Spain is now a glamorous playground for the rich and famous. Its 27km stretch of golden coastline and enchanting Old Town have been favourites of the European aristocracy since the 1960s. Visitors can grab a sun lounger on the foreshore and soak up the Spanish sunshine, or munch on some pescaditos (fried fish) in the Plaza de Los Naranjos, where Andalusian houses date back to the late 15th century.
Experience a slice of traditional life in an old-school, Andalusian-style Marbella hostel, which holds a shaded internal courtyard lined with colourful tiles and wrought-iron furniture. Other hostels in Marbella have sun-drenched roof terraces, which provide sweeping views over the Old Town, the sparkling ocean or the rugged Sierra Blanca mountains. Most Marbella hostels come with free Wi-Fi, as well as easy access to the beach. Bunk beds, doubles and suites for larger groups are all available, with air con providing some respite from the heat.
Marbella's Old Town (Casco Antiguo) is a maze of narrow streets lined with picturesque whitewashed houses, many of which have flower-filled windows and balconies. Within it are two historic neighbourhoods, Barrio Alto and Barrio Nuevo, which are dotted with numerous stylish boutiques and cafés. The Puerto Banús marina is located 4km west of the city centre. This is the more upmarket end of the coastal town, with plenty of bars, clubs and casinos to entertain A-list visitors.
Down by the seafront is the Paseo Marítimo boulevard, which stretches over 6km from Marina La Bajadilla in the east to Puerto Banús in the west. You can continue walking up Avenida del Mar with its series of 10 bronze Dali sculptures, all the way to Parque de Alameda in the Old Town. Back on the beach, you'll find a number of chiringuitos (casual bars) serving up cold beers and cocktails, as well as windsurfing boards and jet skis available for hire.
Marbella is highly walkable, but traditional horse-drawn carriages can also be rented around the parks and the port. Local buses connect to the areas surrounding the centre, such as Puerto Banús and San Pedro. These usually start from Marbella Bus Station on Avenida del Trapiche. As the city does not have its own airport or mainline train station, the closest major transport hub is Malaga, which can be easily reached by bus. From there, you can hop on a train to other parts of Spain, such as Madrid and Barcelona.