A winter wonderland

LAST UPDATED: 13 Nov, 2009 @ 13:57
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A winter wonderland

Hostelbookers explains why winter budget travellers head for Marbella and Puerto Banus

FEW people think of a holiday on the Costa del Sol in the winter.

But through the winter months, the weather stays warm with an average temperature of 19 degrees, and beaches are practically empty.

In spite of the mega-yachts and palatial villas, Marbella is not just for the jet-set, and there is plenty to tempt the budget traveller.

It is also a great time to find cheaper rooms in the more expensive, upmarket resorts.

On top of this, despite the rising cost of the Euro, cheap flights still make the Med a budget traveller’s dream. Why travel further for winter sun when you could be on the beach in a few hours?

There are some authentically Spanish and stylish places to stay on the Costa del Sol. It’s the home of flamenco and bullfights, and inland, you’ll find rolling sierras and snow-topped mountains.

The capital, Granada, has picturesque Moorish palaces and the buzzing city of Sevilla is within easy reach.

For a chic beach break head to Marbella and Puerto Banus. In spite of the mega-yachts and palatial villas, Marbella is not just for the jet-set, and there is plenty to tempt the budget traveller.

Marbella has a quaint historic zone with excellent boutiques and charming tapas bars.

The Plaza de los Naranjos is the perfect place to watch the well-heeled stroll by, and the marina is home to great fish restaurants.

The main beaches, Playa de Venus and Playa de la Fontanilla boast well-maintained sands and an array of water-sports.

There are also a surprising number of affordable places to stay in Marbella as the tourist population drops in low season, meaning more availability and lower prices.

Here, website Hostelbookers.com picks out a trio of top budget picks and its top eight for places to visit.

Hostel Del Pilar
In the heart of the Old Town, this hostel is only a few minutes walk from the beach. There’s a roof terrace for sunbathing, a large bar and a lounge with a pool table and log fire.

Hostal Berlin
One of the top-rated hostels in Marbella, the Hostal Berlin has clean, comfortable rooms and a friendly atmosphere.

Hotel Lima
This small and friendly hotel is just 150 metres from the beach and five minutes from the Old Town and Puerto Banus. The rooms are spacious, recently renovated and all private with TVs.

Top eight things to do in Marbella and Puerto Banus:

1. Wander around the old town: Marbella’s Spanish Old Quarter, the Casco Antiguo, is a tangle of cobbled streets, with hidden boutiques and traditional tapas bars. Don’t miss the 9th century walls of the Arab Medina, the 15th century Santiago Chapel and the 16th century Bazan Palace

2. Go to the market: For a bit of bargain hunting, Marbella has its own street market every Monday from 9am to 2pm at the ‘Recinto Ferial’. Stock up on local food, flowers, clothes and shoes

3. Puerto Banus: Mingle with the jet-set at this luxury marina and shopping complex! Behind the harbour you’ll find stylish boutiques, bars and clubs. Check out the Salvador Dali-designed Rhino statue

4. Get Arty: Marbella can hardly compete with Barcelona or Madrid for culture, but there’s a number of art galleries worth checking out. La Casa Grande? gallery has an impressive collection of Byzantine art, Galería Municipal de Exposiciones shows work of established and up-and-coming artists and the Museo del Grabado Español Contemporáneo has works like Picasso and Miró

5. Go to a Theme Park: Families will love the two theme parks close to Marbella. The popular ‘Funny Beach’ is a giant play park right in the heart of town with everything from trampolines to water-skiing. The tamer ‘Prado World’ has a water park, shooting gallery and mini-golf course

6. Feel the Flamenco: Andalucia is the home of Flamenco and you can get your feet stamping and clack those maracas with a live show at Flamenco Ana Maria, in Plaza Santo Cristo, or at Donde Maria Sala Flamenca in calle Vicente Blasco Ibañez

7. Walk on the Wild Side: The child-friendly fun continues with the Crocodile Park, just 30 minutes from Marbella. The park has a fearsome selection of the snap-happy creatures – some weigh in at around 450 kilos!

8. Bonsai bliss: Parque Arroyo de la Represa is a peaceful park of woodland and green open spaces, with two huge football pitches if you fancy something energetic. It’s also home to the Museo del Bonsai – a whole museum dedicated to those miniature Japanese trees!

Visit www.hostelbookers.com for more information

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