The Best Day Trips from Marbella Recommended by a Local

A village with white houses nestled on the side of a mountain. All the houses are white and have orange rooftops. The village is surrounded by forests and mountain peaks.

Marbella is one of the most popular destinations on Costa del Sol. But there are only so many things to do here. Once you have explored them all, it’s time to take a day trip from Marbella to one of the whitewashed villages surrounding the resort, another coastal town, a heritage city, or even cross the Med and pop into Morocco for the day.

In this article I want to give you my personal recommendations on the best day trips from Marbella. As a local I have explored all these places many times. I will only recommend you destinations that are within a maximum of 2 hours away from Marbella. There is no point to try and go to Granada or Sevilla for the day, when the driving time is over 2 hours. So I will keep it local, but interesting.

The Best Day Trips from Marbella

A photo of a village from above. The houses are white and have orange rooftops. There is a lot of vegetation around. In the background there is a large water reservoir, which is half empty. The sky is blue, without any clouds.

I have compiled a selection of destinations for every member of the family. No matter if you are travelling to Marbella with your friends, your family, solo or with your children, you will find on my list a place that will be perfect for you.

Whilst there is public transport on Costa del Sol, some Marbella day trip destinations recommended below are best reached by car. I will detail under each suggestion how to reach it, when the public transport is great, and when it isn’t.

It is very easy to hire a car on Costa del Sol. I highly recommend booking a car through Holiday Extras because they show the exact fee. If you have already been to Spain and tried to hire a car, you have probably noticed the unreal 2 euros/day offers – which are indeed unreal because they don’t exist. Once you book the car, when you try to pick it up you will be hit with extra insurance that will bring the price more to 30 euros/day. This is why I recommend Holiday Extras. You see the exact price and can sort out the comprehensive insurance through them as well. I never had a bad experience booking through them, and I’ve hired a lot of cars during my travels. Click here for more details.

Mijas Pueblo

I am sitting down at a table with a red cover, which has two beers on it. Behind me, there is a wall decorated with blue flowerpots. I am wearing a red dress and smiling at the camera.

Distance: 35 kilometres (29 minutes)

How to get here: The easiest way to get to Mijas Pueblo is to drive. If you are using public transport, take the L-304 bus to Fuengirola, and from there the M-122 to Mijas Pueblo. The total travel time by public transport is just over one hour.

Where to park: Click here

More details: The best things to do in Mijas Pueblo

Mijas Pueblo is my happy place. It’s just up the road from where I live and I am a regular visitor. It’s the place I usually go for good food, tranquil atmosphere, or a cheeky hike in the mountains. Mijas Pueblo makes a wonderful day trip from Marbella, with all the many things there are to do here.

Firstly, the village is extremely charming. It is nestled on the side of a mountain, and has gorgeous views over the coast and the sea, especially at sunset.

For such a small place, Mijas has plenty of unique museums. Check out the miniature museum, where you can see paintings on rice grains, the ethnographic museum where you can find out all about the mole of Mijas Pueblo, or the wine museum, where you can enjoy a glass or two.

If you are visiting Mijas Pueblo with kids, don’t miss the Mayan Monkeys chocolate workshop. You can learn by visiting their small museum and then craft your own chocolate bar in their laboratory. This is a very popular activity, so make sure to book in advance if you want to take part.


The main square in the old town of Estepona, with a fountain surrounded by red flowers. The fountain is round and has two levels.

Distance: 33 kilometres (25 minutes)

How to get here: Estepona is very well connected to Marbella by public transport. The L-79 bus connects the two cities in just over an hour. This is a local bus, therefore it stops everywhere, which is why it takes longer than driving. The bus runs every half an hour.

Where to park: Click here

Estepona makes one of the easiest day trips from Marbella. This enchanting whitewashed village sits along the Andalucian coastline, and has20 kilometres of pristine beaches and hidden coves, with golden sands where you can unwind and soak up the sun.

The town itself is very picturesque, with pretty houses decorated with flowers, narrow cobblestone paved streets, and two curious routes: the poets and the sculptures. The first one presents 40 poems belonging to famous writers on display throughout the town. On the second route, there are 30 different sculptures to be discovered on the town’s streets and more or less hidden corners.

The heart of Estepona lies within Plaza de las Flores, a pretty square decorated with red, pink and white flowers.

If you are travelling with children, you must check out the Selwo Aventura safari park. Here you can see animals roaming around in vast spaces and take part in educational experiences and feeding demonstrations.


The marina in Benalmadena, with a lot of expensive yachts docked along the shores.

Distance: 43 kilometres (25 minutes)

How to get here: Benalmadena is very well connected to Marbella by bus. The fastest route is the L-302 bus, connecting the two towns in less than one hour.

Where to park: Click here

Benalmadena is a great destination for a day trip from Marbella, especially if you are travelling with your family and children. There are many things to do in Benalmadena that will charm the little ones.

Benalmadena is home to SeaWorld, a large walk-through aquarium with 30 tanks in 9 different rooms. The interesting fact about this aquarium is that you walk through it, inside a glass tube. Instead of watching the marine creatures from one side, it’s a 3D experience, with sharks, turtles, and all sorts of tropical fish swimming all around you.

Another great place to visit in Benalmadena is the Colomares Castle. This enchanting place is so unique, looking like a sand castle coming to life. Next to the castle there is the Butterfly park, as well as the giant Stupa.

From Benalmadena you can also embark on a journey on the cable car, up the mountain, to either hike or see birds of prey demonstrations.


The beach in Fuengirola just after sunrise. There is nobody around, and the light is very warm.

Distance: 32 kilometres (25 minutes)

How to get here: The L-304 bus connects Marbella to Fuengirola in 45 minutes.

Where to park: Click here

More details: The best things to do in Fuengirola

Fuengirola is a great destination on Costa del Sol, sought after for the Aquapark but also for the BioParc. Because Fuengirola is a city and not a resort, there are plenty to explore here, from the Sohail Castle to the Finca del Secretario archaeological site. Besides beaches and a nice promenade, Fuengirola has an English cinema at the mall, two large shopping centres, as well as a great restaurant scene.

The Aquapark is a great destination for families who want to have fun, featuring a wave pool, plenty of slides, a play area for children, as well as food and drinks options.

The BioParc is famous all over Costa del Sol for their animal conservation programs. They are recreating native environments for the animals they home, from Madagascar, South East Asia, Equatorial Africa and some of the Indo Pacific islands. It’s a great educational place to visit with children.


A view over Malaga from the top of the Gibralfaro Castle walls. The city is on the right hand side and the sea with the harbour on the left. There is a ferry in the harbour.

Distance: 60 kilometres (45 minutes)

How to get here: getting to Malaga from Marbella is very easy. Click here to read my bus guide from Marbella to Malaga. The fast bus L-307 takes 45 minutes from Marbella to Malaga.

Where to park: Click here

More details: How to spend a day in Malaga

Malaga is always a great choice for a day trip from Marbella. There are so many things to see in Malaga, you won’t get bored. First, start with a visit to the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro castle. Beware though, as the walk up is quite steep. If you visit in summer, make sure to bring plenty of water with you. Don’t miss the Roman Theatre on your way back, which is free to visit.

Another great attraction to visit in Malaga is the Picasso Museum and the Picasso Memorial House. These are some of the most important museums in Malaga, highlighting the life and work of the famous Spanish artist.

A great tip I have for you is to have lunch in Atrazanes market. The place simply comes to life during lunchtime. Grab a spot at one of the fish bars in the market and order any of the delicacies on the menu: boquerones, octopus, gambas pil pil, rosada a la plancha, all washed down with a cold beer or a glass of house wine. Enjoy the food and just observe the market. It’s wonderful!


A view of Casares from the side. You can see how the town, which is completely white, is built uphill. The castle is on the top.

Distance: 46 kilometres (41 minutes)

How to get here: There is a direct bus that connects Marbella with Casares, but it’s not regular. When it runs, the L-77 only runs once a day, so it’s very important to catch it back, at 4pm. It leaves from Marbella from the El Bingo stop at 12PM. For convenience, it’s better to fork a taxi if it’s more of you, or hire a car.

Where to park: Click here

Casares makes a great day trip from Marbella, if you want to explore the nearby mountains. The village is very pretty, built on the side of a mountain, surrounded by greenery. The white houses look like dominos climbing up to the mountaintop Arab castle, which dominates the scenery. Casares it’s special, without a doubt. And I know there are many white villages in Andalucia, but Casares is indeed one of the most beautiful because of its stunning location.

An interesting place in Casares is the Roman Sulphur baths of Hedionda site. The legend says that Julius Cesar himself has bathed here, and cured a skin infection.

Whilst during the weekend this is a very popular place with locals, for picnics, during the week the chances of seeing other visitors here is very small.


A view of Juzcar and its blue houses.

Distance: 60 kilometres (1 hour)

How to get here: There are no direct buses that go directly from Marbella to Juzcar. The cheapest way would be to get the L-304 bus to Benahavís and from here flagdown a taxi. However, the bus only runs twice a day, so you will need to coordinate. The alternative is to hire a car and drive there.

Where to park: Click here

Juzcar is known as the Smurf village, because all the houses here are painted blue. Located in Valle del Genal in the Serrania de Ronda, Juzcar became famous all over the world in 2011, after the village was used to promote the premier of the Smurfs 3D movie. The locals were convinced to have their entire village painted in blue, including the church, the city hall, and the cemetery, and it stayed like that. This created a buzz, and the number of tourists has started to grow every year, with people wanting to see this strange village. The Smurfs movie has put Juzcar on the tourist map.

If you thought that the only attraction in Juzcar are the blue houses, you would be wrong. In fact, the village has an adventure route with a zip line, obstacle jumps and wall climbing. So, if you’re looking for an adventure, consider Jucar as the perfect destination for a day trip from Marbella.

Setenil de las Bodegas

Outdoor terraces and restaurants with tables and chairs under a massive boulder, covering the street. The terraces are filled with people. On the left hand side of the photo there is a river.

Distance: 78 km (1 hour and 20 minutes)

How to get here: Unfortunately there is no direct public bus from Marbella to Setenil de las Bodegas. The best way to get from Marbella to Setenil is by car or through an organised tour. You can check out such a tour by clicking here.

Where to Park: Click here

More details: Things to do in Setenil de las Bodegas

Setenil de las Bodegas is a village like no other. Whilst all the other whitewashed villages of Andalucia have been built on cliffs or mountain tops, to protect them from the intruders approaching on land, Setenil has been built inside a canyon. Many of the houses here have been built directly into the rocks, dug inside caves.

For me, Setenil is a fascinating place. I still remember the first time I visited, and stopped at the top of the road, uphill, to see the canyon beneath my feet. It was truly breathtaking.  

There are a few things to do in Setenil de las Bodegas, besides walking underneath large boulders that cover the streets. Check out the old castle, which only has one tower left (out of the original 100), and don’t miss trying out the local asparagus revueltos or the sweet potato with honey at one of the cave restaurants along Calle Cuevas del Sol, at a table straight under the rocks.


A panoramic view of Olvera on a cloudy day, with low clouds. The castle tower is on the left and the village is below it.

Distance: 94 kilometres (1 hour and a half)

How to get here: The easiest way to get to Olvera is by car. There is a public bus, but you will have to first get to Malaga, and then catch the bus to Olvera from there. The total travel time would be 3 hours, which is not great for a day trip. If you opt for a private tour to Setenil de las Bodegas, you should be able to include Olvera on the itinerary as well. Click here for more details.

Where to park: Click here (plenty of free parking spaces on this road)

More details: Things to do in Olvera

Olvera makes for another great day trip from Marbella. This beautiful white washed town is still quite off the beaten path of Andalucia, so you can enjoy it without the crowds, especially if you visit in summer.

I stumbled upon Olvera whilst I was visiting Setenil de las Bodegas. I saw the impressive church in the distance, and decided to drive here to check it out. And I was not disappointed. The church I saw is the Parish Church of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación which dates back to the 16 century and dominates the skyline of the town. It is even larger than the 12th century Arab castle, which is overlooking the white houses from a rock above them. Here you can also visit the old women prison, which is now the tourism office of Olvera.  


I am sitting on a rock, looking towards the almost perfect Roman arch in Acinipo. I am wearing a black tshirt and black jeans. My hair is red and long.

Distance: 81 kilometres (1 hour and 20 minutes)

How to get here: There is no public transport to Acinipo. There aren’t even any tours to take you here. The best way to get here is by hiring a car.

Where to park: Click here

More details: A guide to the Roman ruins of Acinipo

Acinipo is my little secret I’m sharing with you. If you want to explore a unique archaeological site, you must come to Acinipo for a day trip from Marbella. I never understood why this beautiful place is not advertised more, and why it doesn’t have more tourists, as it is a true gem.

Acinipo was first built in the 9th century BC but didn’t flourish until the 5th century BC. Once the Romans arrived in the area, they developed and transformed it into one of the most strategic points between Sevilla, Cordoba, and the coast. Acinipo became extremely wealthy through trade, and kept its importance until the 2nd century, when nearby Ronda was built.

Today, on the site you can see the ruins of the prehistoric houses but also some very well preserved archaeological discoveries of Roman villas. The main attraction in Acinipo is the Roman amphitheatre from the 1st century AD which still stands! It had a capacity of 2000 people, which was almost half of the current population of the city.

The entrance to Acinipo is free of charge, but make sure to check the schedule before you go by clicking here, as they don’t open every day.


I am standing on top of an old wall, looking towards Ronda. I am wearing blue shorts and a white tshirt. Ronda is all white, behind me.

Distance: 63 kilometres (1 hour)

How to get here: Ronda is very well connected to Marbella. You can either drive here, or take the direct bus, which takes just over an hour to reach Ronda. You can also choose an organised tour, by clicking here.  

Where to park: Click here

More details: How to take day trip from Marbella to Ronda

Ronda is one of the best day trips from Marbella. There are so many things to do here, starting with gazing at the beautiful view down the Tajo gorge, and crossing the impressive Ponte Nuevo. 


I am sitting on a rock, with the back at the camera, looking towards the windsufers. I am wearing a grey jacket, blue jeans, and a blue backpack on my back. In front of me the sea has different shades of blue. At the far end, there is a mountain. The beach is on the right hand side.

Distance: 103 kilometres (1 hour and 15 minutes)

How to get here: The L-530 direct bus connects Marbella to Tarifa in one hour and 45 minutes. There are only three daily connections.  

Where to park: Click here

More details: How to spend one day in Tarifa  

Tarifa is a great destination for a day trip from Marbella if you are interested in water sports. Tarifa is known as one of the windiest places in Spain, which makes it a great place to learn how to surf, kite surf or windsurf. There are plenty of water sports schools in Tarifa where you can book a lesson to see if these sports are for you, or to hire a board and have fun on the water.

Tarifa is also a wonderful small town. The historical centre is enclosed inside massive defence walls. Inside, you will find narrow alleyways, beautiful white buildings decorated with colourful pots of flowers, the Cathedral, as well as many boutique shops and plenty of tapas bars. What I really love about Tarifa is that no chain brand has managed to get inside the historical centre, so shopping here is supporting the local community.  


A view of Nerja and Balcon de Europa from some rocks on the beach. The sea has a beautiful turquoise colour and what looks like an almost velvety texture. Behind the town you can see tall mountains. The sky is blue, without any clouds.

Distance: 127 kilometres (1 hour and 30 minutes)

How to get here: the best way to get to Nerja is by driving. You can take a bus as well, but you will have to change in Malaga. The buses from Malaga run every hour.

Where to park: Click here

More details: The best things to do in Nerja

Nerja is a wonderful town at the edge of Costa del Sol. I like it very much because it is much quieter than the cities on the west side of Malaga. Nerja is famous for its high quality sandy beaches, which win awards year after year.

In Nerja you can also visit the famous Cueva de Nerja, the most popular attraction in town. The access to the cave is made only with a guide, so it’s good to get here early as it can get busy during summer. The cave is 5 kilometres long (you don’t visit all of it though, so no worries about walking that much) and has some impressive stalagmites and stalactites inside. The most amazing place inside the cave is the natural amphitheatre, where sometimes concerts are held.

Caminito del Rey

The walkaway at Caminito del Rey, on the side of the mountain. There are a few people walking on it, all wearing blue hard hats.

Distance: 72 kilometres (1 hour)

How to get here: There aren’t any direct buses to Caminito del Rey. The easiest way to get here is either by hiring a car, or by going on an organised tour. I highly recommend the later option because they will sort out the tickets for you as well. Only a limited number of tickets are sold each day for Caminito del Rey, and if you want to do it, you must book ahead. Click here for more details.

Where to park: Click here

More details: Everything you need to know about hiking Caminito del Rey

Caminito del Rey was once known as one of the most dangerous hikes in the world. I think we’ve all seen that heart stopping video circulating online about 15 years ago, with a man stepping on half broken pieces of wood, with no safety, at over 100 metres high. Things have changed since then, and now Caminito del Rey has been restored to be one of the safest but most spectacular hikes in the world.

If you love adrenaline, then this is a perfect day trip from Marbella. Caminito del Rey is located next to El Chorro lakes, where locals go in summer to enjoy a cooler dip in the water. If you drive to El Chorro, you will follow the road parallel to the hike, and you can see how high the walkaway goes. It’s pretty impressive. When you get on the trail you are getting a hard hat, which you have to wear at all times. The entire experience is adrenaline inducing and, as someone who is afraid of heights, I can only wish you good luck in conquering this trail.


I am posing from one of the towers of the castle in Antequera. I am wearing a blue tshirt and have a blue backpack on my back. On the left hand side you can see the city of Antequera with its white houses.

Distance: 105 kilometres (1 hour and 10 minutes)

How to get here: To get to Antequera by public transport, you will have to first take a bus to Malaga, and then change for the train. The total travel time should be less than two hours.

Where to park: Click here

More details: The best things to do in Antequera

Antequera is a lovely town, with very few tourists around. On top of the whitewashed town there is the Alcazaba, with its towers that look over Antequera. Here you can take photos pretending you are a princess just like Rapunzel, trapped in the tower. Or a prince, and why not.

Just outside the Alcazaba you will find the Royal Collegiate of Santa Maria, an imposing building known as the first Renaissance church to be built in Andalusia.

Once you have finished exploring the city, go for a short hike in the Torcal de Antequera. This unique rock formation is what Antequera is best known for. The landscape inside the Torcal de Antequera is unique, with limestone formations that were firstly created by the sea and then by the wind, millions of years ago.

Sierra de Las Nieves

A beautiful mountain landscape, with a road on the side, below from where the photo was taken.

Distance: 57 kilometres (one hour)

How to get here: the only way to get here is by hiring a car. You can book a guided tour if you want to hike, and that includes transport and hotel pick up and drop off. Click here for details.

If you’d like to spend a day in nature, consider visiting the Sierra de las Nieves natural park. Driving through the windy roads, through pine forests, reaching bare peaks, is an experience in itself. The Sierra de las Nieves is a haven of natural beauty.

As a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Sierra de las Nieves is home to a diverse selection of flora and fauna. This rich biodiversity includes rare species like the Pinsapo pine trees, a relic from the Ice Age, the native cork oak, and the elusive Iberian ibex, adding to the region’s ecological importance.

There are plenty of hiking trails dotted around Sierra de las Nieves natural park. They are very well marked and maintained. The Sierra de las Nieves is also designated as a Starlight Reserve, ensuring minimal light pollution and providing a perfect setting for stargazing.


Distance: 80 kilometres (1 hour)

The top of the rock in Gibraltar, with its skywalk half-way up. One side of the rock is covered by vegetation whilst the other one is empty.

How to get here: there are plenty of daily buses that connect Marbella with La Linea – the city where the border with Gibraltar is. L-610 and L-611 both go in the same direction and stop at La Linea. You can also book a tour with door to door transfers. Click here for details.

Where to park: Click here

More details: How to take a day trip to Gibraltar from Marbella

Gibraltar makes a great day trip from Marbella, if you want to experience a little bit of England in Spain. The main attractions in Gibraltar are the Rock, which has five main points of interest: the Pillars of Hercules, St Michael’s Cave, Apes Den, the Great Siege Tunnels and the Sky Walk. You can visit them on an organised tour.

When I visited Gibraltar, the cable car wasn’t working due to high winds or maintenance, I can’t remember exactly. For £25 however I was able to see all the attractions by booking on the spot a seat in one of the minibuses heading up the rock.

Other things to do in Gibraltar include checking out the Moorish castle, seeing the Trinity Lighthouse at Europa Point, and shopping on the main street. Shopping, because there is no tax in Gibraltar, meaning that alcohol and cigarettes (if you smoke) are very cheap. There is also a Morrison’s here, if you miss the taste from home. This is where I come shopping before Christmas, as they have turkeys.


An alley in the kasbah of Tangier. The houses are white and have large brown doors. There are carpets hung on the exterior walls.

Distance: 103 kilometres

More details: How to take a day trip from Marbella to Tangier

How to get here: You will first need to get to Tarifa, and then hop on the regular ferry to Tangier. The total travel time is less than two hours if you’re driving, more if you are using the public transport to get to Tarifa. However, due to only one bus in the morning between Marbella and Tarifa, the easiest way however is to go on an organised tour to Tangier, which provides transport and hotel pick ups. Click here for details.

This year I stepped foot for the first time in Morocco, in Tangier. I didn’t really know what to expect at first. But now, I can tell you that if you want to taste a little bit of exotic, you should go to Tangier on a day trip from Marbella.

The ferry leaves from Tarifa, and takes less than an hour to cross to Morocco. Tangier is a beautiful mix of modern and Arabic, with plenty of Spanish influences. When I visited Kasbah, I thought I could easily be in a whitewashed village in Andalucia. However, the souk, the spices smell through the air, and the buzz on the streets reminded me otherwise.

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