Marbella’s modern-day reputation is one of high-glamour, high-gloss and high-energy but there’s a quieter, more historic side to the region that offers a taste of authentic Spain and life beyond the party scene.
From canyoning in the Guadalmina river to exploring one of the country’s oldest towns, these are some of the best ways to discover its unsung heroes as we explore the undiscovered Marbella.
THE PACKING EDIT
Go River Canyoning
Lovers of the great outdoors will be in their element canyoning down the Guadalmina river. A 3-hour experience starts at the quaint but reputable village of Benahavis which is just a 20-minute drive from Marbella. Immersive, scenic views define the excursion and the route leads to hidden reservoirs lined with rocks of varying heights. Here, adrenaline junkies can leap into deep, azure-blue waters to cool off and enjoy the landscape from up high.
Walk the Kings Little Pathway
King’s Little Pathway (Caminito del Rey) in Málaga was first built at the beginning of the 20th century and it’s suspended 100m above a deep ravine. 3km long and recently refurbished, it’s one for the walking-enthusiast’s bucket list. Along with its rich history, it also offers unique views of the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes nature reserve in which it’s located. It’s just an hour’s drive away from Marbella but feels like a visit to another world and another time.
Taste the Region’s Home-Grown Wines
Spain is loved for its wine and while it’s undeniably enjoyable to sample it by the shores in Marbella, a visit to a local vineyard will allow those interested to delve deeper into what makes it special. Journey with Puente Romano’s head sommelier to the countryside – specifically Cortijo de Aguilares vineyard – and discover why the hotel’s drinks’ menu is so focused on its produce. Enjoy an afternoon sampling of the expert’s favourites while wandering the vines and learn about its history, the farming process and what makes the earth here so fruitful.
Discover Ronda’s History
Located an hour’s drive inland from Marbella, the historic town of Ronda offers an insight into Spain before the tourists came – it’s one of the country’s oldest towns. Bustling with life, its streets are lined with one-off boutiques, family-owned restaurants and love-worn architecture. The entire town shuts down at siesta time – a tradition that’s often forgotten but one that adds to its nostalgic charm.
Hike to the Top of La Concha
There’s no better way to see the true beauty of the Costa del Sol than by hiking to the top of La Concha. The starting point sets the tone: the pretty town of Istán is brimming with white stone buildings topped with terracotta tiles that look like something off of a postcard. The hike spans around 11km but the views from the mountain’s peak are worth the effort. From here (1,200 meters above sea level), Gibraltar and North Africa are within sight as well as the country’s own beautiful coastline.
Stargaze in the Spanish Countryside
Night owls should make stargazing in the countryside a priority – it’s vast skies and unpolluted air result in a clear view that inspires a sense of awe and an appreciation for the world beyond what we know. Journey from Marbella to the hills with one of Puente Romano’s experienced guides who will point-out key sightings and offer an insight into the wonders of outer space.