The Marbella municipality occupies a strip of land that extends along 44 kilometres of coastline. Due to the proximity of the mountains to the coast, the city has a large gap between its north and south sides, thus providing views of the sea and mountain vistas from almost every part of the city. The coastline is heavily urbanised; most of the land not built up with golf courses has been developed with small residential areas. Marbella is bordered on the north by the municipalities of Istán and Ojén, on the northwest by Benahavís, on the west by Estepona and on the northeast by Mijas. The Mediterranean Sea lies to the south.
What is known as Marbella's Golden Mile is actually a stretch of 6.4 km which begins at the western edge of Marbella city and stretches to Puerto Banús. The area is home to some of Marbella's most luxurious villas and estates with views of mountain and sea, such as the Palace of King Fahd, as well as some landmark hotels, among them the Melie Don Pepe, the hotel Marbella Club and the Hotel Puente Romano. The area developed during the tourism boom of the 1960s, where may be found the ruins of the Roman villa by the Rio Verde,and El Angel, where the land of old forge works was converted to an arficultural colony, and the Botanical Gardens of El Angel with gardens of three different styles, dating from the 18th century.
The Golden Mile is divided into two parts by a motorway that runs through it. Along the motorway are strings of business centres, five-star hotels, golf course and other services. The beachside of the motorway is fully developed, while the mountain side is still undergoing development.
The Golden Mile should not be confused with the New Golden Mile which is a marketing name given to the area between San Pedro del Alcantara and Estepona.
The 27 km of coastline within the limits of Marbella is divided into 24 beaches with different features; however, due to expansion of the municipality, they are all now semi-urban. They generally have moderate surf, golden or dark sand ranging through fine, medium or coarse in texture, and some gravel. The occupancy rate is usually high to midrange, especially during the summer months, when tourist arrivals are highest. Amongst the various notable beaches are Artola beach, situated in the protected area of the Dunas de Artola, and Cabopino, one of the few nudist beaches in Marbella, near the port of Cabopino. The beaches of Venus and La Fontanilla are centrally located and very popular, and those of Puerto Banús and San Pedro Alcántara have been awarded the blue flag of the Foundation for Environmental Education for compliance with its standards of water quality, safety, general services and environmental management.