Marbella can be classed as two things, Marbella as a town and Marbella as a practical province. Or put another way, Marbella within a good walking distance and Marbella that requires a car or public transport. As a town and encompassing the sub-conscious of someones likely opinion who has not been here, it is usually of ritz and glitz from the early 60's to the late 70's; movie stars and pop singers plus royalty stayed here and most in the still famous Marbella Club Hotel. Be very careful if you want to actually be in Marbella as the vast number of hotels could be as far as 15 miles away!

The beaches in Marbella have soft golden sand and if you do not mind a 5 minute walk you will find a spot where you have lots of your own space, but still close to a beach bar (chiringuito). The locals know where to go, you can be a 5 minute drive out of Marbella, you can park for free within 200 yards of the beach and also have cheap supermarkets on your door so you are not penalised by tourist prices for drinks and snacks.  

Marbella itself has a wonderful promenade (Paseo) with lots of bars and restaurants along it and some great Chiringitos (beach bars) where you can order a beer and literally be 10 feet from the sea. Old Town Marbella (Casco Antiquo) is a photographers heaven with winding streets, ancient buildings and churches all clustered around Orange Square (Plaza de Naranjos) which has an amazing atmosphere day or night. There are some other minor highlights such as Avenida el Mar with some famous statuesque architecture and there is Marbella Port (Puerto Deportivo) which is currently under redevelopment (Nov 09) and there are some cool bars where you can have a drink or eat overlooking the boats. A little tip; most people driving out of Malaga in their hire car drive into the first port in Marbella being Puerto Pesquera being the fishing port with not a lot to see (unless you are a trawlerman!).

If you are taking younger ones with you that also need activity, Marbella must be considered purely a base. There is plenty to do within an hours drive; Selwo Wildlife Park, Water Parks around Fuengirola and Torremelinos,  Sea Life in Benalmadina which has a fantastic port, and as a"one off" experience you can go to Gibraltar and take the cable car to see and feed the monkeys. For the very adventurous you can do an exhausting day trip to Africa to Morocco and to the city of Tangiers which has cleaned up a lot over the last few years.

Going one step outside of the heart of Marbella, the best way to go is west and the Golden Mile! Living right on the beach, it is a 20 minute walk along the paseo to Marbella and 40 minutes to Puerto Banus. Puerto Banus has to be visited with a good percentage of your budget reserved for a cocktail (about 11 euros) at   . Puerto Banus has little historical feeling but the front line port with all of its multi-multi million euro yachts is a wonder. I usually have a guess at how many Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Bentleys I am going to see; one boat in Puerto Banus would buy the whole of all the boats on Marbella port! The rest of Puerto Banus is very "concrete",  and is not worth more then a quick walk so you are not taking my word for it.

Outer Marbella consists of lots of other towns; San Pedro is on the west border and then there are lots of modern towns to the east stretching as far as Elviria; most ot which could be good bases and have good facilities, the best being Cabopino with a lovely harbour with snug bars and restaurants (although pricey).