Many people dream of escaping their cold Northern European climate and buying a lovely retirement or holiday home at the Costa del Sol. However, not everyone looks forward to driving in Spain – and with most UK pensions not stretching as far as they once did, owning and maintaining a car abroad may well be out of the question. A pedestrian’s life in Marbella doesn’t have to be dull, though. The city boasts many amenities and attractions that can easily be reached on foot or by using public transport.
Marbella’s main beach is a 28 km long strip of golden sand that runs alongside a palm-lined coastal road . One can start the healthy new lifestyle with a run at the beach, followed by a leisurely breakfast in the historic heart of Marbella, where many cafes dotted around the famous Orange Square (Plaza de los Naranjos) open early.
The square is lined by some beautiful 15th century buildings, boasting richly coloured and elaborately decorated facades. Casa Consistorial, or Marbella Town Hall, is one of the main tourist attractions, apart from people-watching and bright blue sunny skies, of course!
After breakfast, the stroll continues past white-washed houses, cosy little bars and restaurants and, by way of interesting craft and gift shops tucked away in secret courtyards one eventually reaches the Museo del Bonsai, which just happens to be the largest collection of bonsai trees outside of Japan, offering new homeowners in Marbella the chance to get some inspiration for their own patios and sun terraces.
Buying a property in Marbella, particularly in the east of the city, has become surprisingly affordable over the past few years. Luxury apartments in exclusive golf or seafront developments start at just EUR 250,000, while older or resale apartments can cost as little as EUR 100,000 – and they include a furniture package as well.
A property located in the luxurious Sierra Blanca development, which overlooks Marbella’s famous Golden Mile, will cost a lot more, but even here, bargain hunters looking for quality can find what they are looking for within a price range of EUR 500,000.
While some newly built golf apartments, town houses and villas a little further inland and away from the sea will usually have a starting price of around EUR 180,000, an evening stroll along the Golden Mile soon reveals that here the city’s richest people have their dwellings, many representing Hollywood style glamour.
Marbella is surrounded by verdant hills and not everyone feels they must have a sea view home in the sun. For hikers and every-day pedestrians there are plenty of reasonably priced properties further inland that offer amazing value for money.
The hills are criss-crossed by wonderful, short hiking trails leading through terraced vineyards, orange or lemon groves –m hiking trails just right for a day’s excursion that’s not too strenuous followed by a leisurely picnic. The scenery is truly spectacular and if the idea of carrying a backpack or picnic hamper is not appealing, there are several great restaurants dotted around the hills, where hungry hikers can find refreshments and great cuisine at a fair price.
For pedestrians with an aversion to rough terrain and exercise on an empty stomach, there’s always Marbella’s fabulous city centre, where a plethora of cultural and social distractions await. Marbella’s Museo del Grabado Español Contemporáneo houses works by world-class artists such as Picasso, Tapie and Miró. After a pleasurable couple of hours in the museum it is time to return home for a short siesta and a swim in the pool, before getting glamorous and in the mood to visit Puerto Banus. The Marina and harbour are a lively hub-bub of designer shops, chic fashion outlets, jewellery stores, galleries and cafes, bars and fine dining restaurants.
Here motorboats and gleaming white sailing yachts are moored cheek by jowl with enormous super-yachts of the seriously wealthy. Just going for a stroll and watching the interesting throng of people popping in and out of shops, sitting outside restaurants and bars or climbing aboard their shiny vessels can be entertainment for an evening that costs little but is part of every day life as a pedestrian in Marbella’s sunny climes.