Málaga and Marbella are two seaside cities on southern Spain’s tourist-centric Costa del Sol, the sun-drenched coastal stretch of the Andalusia region. Many who are staying in Málaga—home to Roman remains, Arab palaces, and a rich, artistic culture—at least make a day trip south to the luxurious hamlet of Marbella. They're about 47 kilometers (29 miles) apart and the easiest way to travel between the two is by driving; however, you can also take a train or bus.
|Bus||1 hour, 10 minutes||starting at $8||Taking public transportation|
|Train + Bus||2 hours||starting at $6.50||Budget traveling|
|Car||45 minutes||60 kilometers (37 miles)||Sightseeing and exploring the area|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Málaga to Marbella?
The cheapest way to get to Marbella from Málaga is to first take the Cercanias Madrid commuter train from María Zambrano railway station to Fuengirola, the halfway point between the two, then take a bus (Movelia, Avanza Grupo, or ALSA) from there. The transfer is necessary because Marbella doesn't actually have a train station. While this option is the cheapest—with the train ticket costing about $3 and the bus tickets starting at $3.50—it can take a couple hours including the transfer. Taking the bus the whole way, alternatively, takes about an hour, 10 minutes. To see timetables for the train, visit the RENFE website. Train and bus tickets can be purchased from the station.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Málaga to Marbella?
The fastest way to travel down the Costa del Sol is to drive yourself or to use a ridesharing app like Uber. There are a few different routes that connect Málaga and Marbella with the shortest being Autopista AP-7 (a toll road), which can be accessed via the Ma-20 from Málaga. This route is about 60 kilometers (37 miles) long and takes about 45 minutes.
Alternatively, on heavy traffic days—or to avoid the $8 toll ($5 in the winter)—many will head inland to the A-355 and A-357. Keep in mind that parking is limited along this busy coast. You should also know what to expect when driving in Spain if you're not accustomed to the road rules. These factors might just make taking public transportation look like the better choice.
Is There a Bus That Goes From Málaga to Marbella?
Taking the bus directly from Málaga to Marbella is an easy and cheap way to get between the two via public transit. The ride takes about an hour and 10 minutes and costs about $8. Avanza Grupo buses depart from the Málaga bus station every 30 minutes and Interbus departs hourly. The Marbella bus station is about a mile from the historic district. You can view bus schedules on the services' individual websites.
When Is the Best Time to Travel to Marbella?
The best time to travel to Marbella and the Costa del Sol in general is during the months of September and October, when the summer tourism dies down but the sunshine and warm temperatures remain. Spring is also quieter than summer. Anywhere on the coast is going to be crowded from mid-July to mid-September, so you should definitely try to plan your trip during the week to avoid the Saturday rush.
What’s the Most Scenic Route to Marbella?
If you plan to drive, you'll be met with breathtaking views of the sea along the coastal route or tranquil countryside scenery on the inland roads. It's basically a win-win; however, if driving along the water's edge will put you in good spirits, then take the A-7, which borders the Mediterranean most of the way. Be prepared for traffic, stoplights, and distracted drivers on this route. Going this way will take you an extra 20 minutes, altogether requiring just over an hour to cover the distance (not including the pit stops you're bound to make).
What Is There to Do in Marbella?
Marbella belongs to the famous Andalusia region, home to seven UNESCO World Heritage sites and some of the most scenic rural communities in Spain. The coastal city has a significant archaeological heritage, several museums, performance spaces, and a cultural calendar with events ranging from reggae concerts and opera performances to food festivals.
Stopping by Puerto Banús, a marina that doubles as a luxury shopping center, for dinner or a mosey around is a must. To get a taste of what shopping was like during the 15th century, head to Plaza de los Naranjos, the centerpiece of Marbella's historic district, dating back to 1485. Beach goers can sunbathe at Paseo Marítimo or Cabopino Beach and history buffs can get their fill of Roman ruins from Sohail Castle, 23 minutes away.