2024: Marbella’s award-winning year


It’s quite possible that Marbella’s Blue Flag beaches may have swayed this year’s vote for ‘European Best Destination’ award. With an average of 320 days of sunshine per year, and 27 kilometres of coastline, travellers are heavily swayed in Marbella’s favour.

Report by Sophie Gatward-Wicks

Playa de Levante, Puerto Banus

Marbella boasted two major achievements in the first half of the year. The first being the ‘European Best Destination’ award for 2024, and the second being the Andalusian municipality with the most Blue Flag beaches. Marbella received 11 awards in total, 9 for its beaches, and 2 distinctions for its ports, guaranteeing their quality and Marbella’s position at the head of the European destinations. In addition to these awards, Marbella also boasts 18 ‘Q’ certificates for Tourist Quality, the highest number out of all the municipalities in Spain.

The European Best Destinations (EBD) organisation consulted over 1 million travellers from 172 countries, who voted based on the best city breaks in Europe, the best nature getaways in Europe, the most beautiful sunny holidays in Europe, and the best cultural and gastronomic holidays, whether traveling as a couple, with family or alone, to discover the beauties and riches of Europe.

Marbella won the award with 149,192 votes against more than 500 other destinations, receiving the highest number of votes in the EBD’s 15-year history, beating Monaco (2nd place) and Malta (3rd place). 

Playa de Levante, Puerto Banus

The organisation stated: “Marbella is the most beautiful, sunniest, and exclusive of European destinations but also part of the best Golf Destinations in Europe and one of the best destinations for gourmets or shopping addicts. Marbella is the preferred 5-star destination for travellers in 2024.”

With an average of 320 days of sunshine per year, and 27 kilometres of coastline, it comes as no surprise that travellers are heavily swayed in Marbella’s favour due to its sun, sea and fabulous beaches. Other contenders in the EBD awards included Riga, the capital city of Latvia (6th place), which has only 3 Blue Flag beaches in comparison, and an average of 180 days of sunshine per year.

Wooden boat on the beach in Marbella

Awarded by the Association of Environmental and Consumer Education (ADEAC) and the European Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), the 2024 Blue Flag beaches in Marbella are:

· Fontanilla

· Nagüeles

· Casablanca

· El Cable

· El Faro

· Puerto Banús-Levante

· San Pedro Alcántara (Guadalmina)

· Venús-Bajadilla

· Cabopino

A total of 9 distinctions were given, with 2 additional accolades for the ports:

· Puerto Deportivo Virgen del Carmen de Marbella

· Puerto José Banús

Marbella beach

The criteria involves assessments of the environmental information, environmental management and safety, services and water quality. To receive a Blue Flag, the beach must fully comply with the water quality sampling and frequency requirements of the Blue Flag programme, which involves water quality analysis and the complete absence of any industrial wastewater or sewage-related discharges.

The Blue Flag is a world-renowned award, headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, and is a high standard symbol of environmental protection. Though the programme is not only focused on the cleanliness, maintenance and accessibility of the beaches, its focus is also on education and sustainability, being an environmental awareness initiative. The programme states:

“Central to the ideals of the Blue Flag programme is the aim of connecting the public with their surroundings and encouraging them to learn more about their environment. As such, environmental education activities must be offered and promoted in addition to a permanent display of information relevant to the site in terms of biodiversity, ecosystems and environmental phenomena.”

“We educate to protect. To protect not just our environment but the people who live in it, the communities who depend on it, the businesses who profit from it and the ecosystems which rely on it!”

Aerial photo of Puerto Banus

In addition to these awards, Marbella also boasts 18 ‘Q’ certificates for Tourist Quality, the highest number out of all the municipalities in Spain. This accreditation is a renowned Spanish seal aimed at the certification of tourist services, granted by the Institute for Spanish quality tourism and sustainability: Instituto para la Calidad Turistica Española y la Sostenibilidad (ICTE).

The Q certificate brings prestige, uniqueness, reliability and accuracy to the tourism establishments that have obtained it, as well as promotion through the Secretary of State for Tourism and the regional governments in Spain. Its aim is to ensure visitors throughout Spain receive the best possible experience, and Marbella, again, has come out on top!

Marbella Beach