Holidays on a budget are always a challenge, but add in a few kids and that challenge starts to look impossible. The good news is that a budget family holiday is achievable, even in a major tourist destination like Marbella – provided you do your research.
This southern coastal Spanish town, known for its sprawling beachfront estates, luxury yachts, and sumptuous ‘Golden Mile’ proves to be surprisingly friendly to the family on a budget. You just have to know where to look! Our money-saving guide to Marbella can help you and your family navigate this popular destination, while ensuring that everyone still has a good time.
Recommended read: Six Top Marbella Attractions
Best Kid-Friendly Attractions
If you’re travelling with young children, you’ll probably be skipping the historic churches and lush golf courses (you’re best off hiring a babysitter if you and your spouse are interested in these kinds of activities). For family-friendly fun, we recommend the following locations and activities.
Beaches – Marbella is famous for its picture-perfect beaches, but most city guides don’t mention the fact that you can work on your tan, entertain your kids, and save money at the same time! Why bother with expensive amusement parks and zoos when your kids are perfectly happy playing in the sand with a plastic shovel and pail? For the best child-friendly beaches, we recommend Estrella del Mar or Pinomar.
Parks – Just a few minutes out of the town centre, you’ll find a welcome respite from the Andalusian sun at the Parque de la Constitución. One of the most visited parks in Marbella, this tropical paradise is packed with fragrant hibiscus, jasmine, and bougainvillea. There are play areas for the kids, so mom and dad can have a few moments of peace while the younger set play on the swings.
Selwo Marina – For a fun day trip, try Selwo Marina, in nearby Benalmádena. At this action-packed park you can interact with penguins, sea lions, dolphins, and many more feathered, furry, or flippered friends. Though the prices may look steep at face value (€19.50 for adults and €14.95 for children 3-10 years old), you can save a significant amount by buying online and/or getting a family pass.
Money-Saving Tips for Families
In addition to knowing which attractions to visit, there are a number of general tips that can save you some euros during your holiday.
Dining – For many families, mealtime can quickly suck up the cash on holiday. Keep your spending under control by skipping the hotel breakfast if it’s not included – you’re likely to find a less expensive (not to mention more authentic) meal at a local café. If you’re planning a day out at the beach, pick up some sandwiches or stuffed croissants from a local shop. There are many bars and restaurants near the beach, but you can bet you’ll be paying the Marbella mark-up at those places.
Recommended read: 2 Great Restaurants to Try in Marbella
You’ll probably notice the phrase menu del dia at several establishments. This ‘menu of the day’ is a set three-course meal that typically goes for ten euros or less. Also, don’t feel pressured to leave a big tip – most Spaniards round up the bill to the nearest five euros and leave it at that.
Keep in mind that Spaniards tend to dine much later than Brits – between 13:30 and 16:00 for lunch and 22:00 or later for dinner. If you want a livelier atmosphere (perhaps the kids are with a babysitter), by all means do as the Spanish do. But if you want to get your kids to bed at a reasonable hour, you might want to hit up the restaurants before peak time.
Transportation – The bus system around Marbella is convenient, plus you can get one-third off the price of your ticket by buying online. You should avoid taking taxis in Marbella as you’ll likely be charged a hefty mark-up, but if you do intend to take one, ask the driver what the fare will be before you set out. When travelling from the airport to your hotel and back, pre-book a Málaga airport transfer online to be guaranteed a speedy service at a fixed low price.
How to Get to Marbella
The quickest and cheapest way for you and your family to get to Marbella is to fly into Málaga airport with a budget airline. Monarch, Ryanair, and easyJet all offer nonstop flights from London airports to Málaga (about a three hour journey) for very reasonable prices. As always, it pays to book ahead.
Once you’ve touched down, your kids will probably be on the restless side. Rather than figure out public transport in a foreign language, look into our child-friendly Málaga airport transfers. Our shared shuttle bus services can get you and your family to your hotel for just £12.24pp. Alternatively, hire a private minivan and driver for just £13.33pp.
Where to Stay:
Pensión Juan – For comfortable, functional accommodation, Pensión Juan is just the ticket. Located in the heart of Marbella’s Old Town, this budget hotel has en-suite rooms perfect for families of four or five.
Pension Alicia – This family-run guesthouse will make you feel right at home with its cosy dining room and colourfully decorated bedrooms. The staff is extremely helpful in providing tourist information, so don’t hesitate to ask for advice or directions. Breakfast is included in the price at Pension Alicia, so eat hearty before you leave for the day!
Linda Marbella – This beautiful two-star hotel is set in a quiet flower-filled courtyard in Marbella’s Old Town, perfectly situated for accessing the beach, harbour, and many restaurants. Beautifully decorated in Mediterranean hues of blue and white, Linda Marbella offers simple elegance and unbeatable convenience.
About Shuttle Direct
For the most convenient, easy to book airport transfers throughout Europe and North Africa, Shuttle Direct’s fast and friendly service offers peace of mind and exceptional service. Book a shared or private transfer online before you leave home and our experienced drivers will meet you at the airport and transport you to and from your holiday accommodation without delay. Choose Shuttle Direct for the best airport transfers in the business.