A mixture of old and new, Nerja is a beautiful and popular seaside resort town on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain. This typical Andalusian white village is nestled on an attractive, rocky coastline – with several excellent beaches – and hugged by the scenic Sierra Almijara Mountains.
However, there is much more to this lovely destination than just sea, sand and scenery. The following are just seven of the things to do in Nerja, making it the ideal location for your next Spanish holiday.
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1. Nerja Historic Centre
Nerja’s Historic Centre offers several narrow and charming streets, winding through the town and lined by attractive white, traditional Andalusian buildings. Unlike the more modern, resort areas of Nerja, the historic centre feels like a village in itself, with the well-kept homes, blossoming geraniums and bougainvillea lining the streets. Many of these streets have been pedestrianized, making for a pleasant and enjoyable stroll, especially to the east of the iconic Balcón de Europa. While the original village of Nerja was built on a hillside, the gradient of the streets is still pleasant for a stroll in the sunshine.
In the historic centre, you can visit the town’s 17th century El Salvador church or the Nuestra Señora de las Angustias Hermitage, dating back to the 16th century, with attractive paintings by the artist Alonso Cano. After your walk, enjoy a rest in one of the pretty plazas or stop for a refreshing cup of coffee in one of the many bars along your way. Sample the local tapas for a varied light meal in one of the many traditional tapas bars.
El Salvador Church
Website:El Salvador Church
2. Balcón de Europa
Located in the historic centre is the Balcón de Europa, or Balcony of Europe. This fascinating spot is the focal point of Nerja and a great viewpoint over the sea and surrounding scenery. Built on a rocky promontory above the beach, the viewpoint was originally a fortress, built to keep out British pirates. It now welcomes visitors to the town, offering magnificent views, excellent restaurants and more. The location is used during the year to host various fiestas and concerts and many of the traditional processions through Nerja either start or end at the Balcón de Europa.
The Balcón de Europa was apparently named by King Alfonso XIII and a life-sized statue of the king can be seen overlooking the view. Nowadays this is a notable spot for the modern art of taking “selfies” and family holiday groups, as are the cannons, still standing on guard on the promontory.
The surrounding streets have many restaurants, cafés and ice cream outlets, making it a popular area in the summer months. Evenings at the Balcón de Europa see musicians plying their trade for a few euros, while the bars and restaurants offer a chance to enjoy a good meal or have a few welcome drinks after a hard day of sightseeing.
Balcón de Europa
Address: Paseo Balcón de Europa, 1, 29780 Nerja, Spain
3. Nerja Beaches
Nerja offers an amazing array of wonderful beaches, nestled among rocky outcrops, with crystal clear waters and all the necessary visitor amenities. Each has at least one good restaurant or chiringuito, as well as toilet facilities, showers and kiosks. Some are relatively straight beaches, while others are in charming coves, hugged by the cliffs.
The most popular beach for families is Burriana Beach, which tends to be busy in the summer months, due to its children’s play area. There are pedalos on hire as well as sun beds with parasols and the beach is of a Blue Flag status. Next in line are three smaller beaches, located just to the east of the Balcón de Europa. Calahonda Beach, Chorillo Beach and Carabeo beach are probably not the best for families, as they are only accessible via a footpath down the cliff. However, all three are wonderfully scenic and offer a variety of chiringuitos, as well as parasols and sunbeds. There is a wide selection of other beaches on the outskirts of Nerja and a little further down the coast, all definitely well worth exploring.
4. Nerja Caves (Cuevas de Nerja)
The Cuevas de Nerja is a fascinating historic site to visit. The caves consist of a series of huge caverns which stretch for around five kilometres (three miles), with fascinating stalagmites and stalactites making unusual shapes and forms, in beautiful colours. In fact, the caves contain the largest stalagmite in the world, at 32 metres (105 feet) high.
Visitors can visit three galleries - the Show Gallery, the Upper Gallery and the New Gallery, each containing several halls. Of particular interest are the Upper and New galleries, as they contain several prehistoric cave paintings. To protect the paintings, these are viewable only in special groups.
The Nerja Museum, located in the Plaza de España in the town centre, has a series of information panels and also several historic objects found in the caves.
Cuevas de Nerja
Address: The Nerja Caves, Ctra de Maro, Nerja, Spain
Price: from 7 EUR / 7.50 USD
Opening Hours: Winter: 9am – 3pm (closes at 4pm) with entry every 30 minutes. Summer: 9am – 5:30pm (closes at 6pm) with entry every 30 minutes.
Duration: Around 2 hours required.
Website: Cuevas de Nerja
5. Water sports in Nerja
Nerja has plenty to offer fans of adventure and water sports, with everything from a gentle boat trip to view the dolphins, to more exciting and daring activities. Go snorkeling to see the world beneath the Mediterranean Sea, or try water skiing, wake or knee boarding. Head up into the sky while parasailing. There are also pedalos on hire at some beaches as well as more exciting inflatable rides, kayaks, boat charters and more.
Opening Hours: 10am - dusk.
Duration: Around 3 hours required.
Website: Sharky’s Watersports
Water Sport Nerja
Address: Playa Burriana en Nerja (Málaga), Spain
Duration: Around 3 hours required.
Website: Water Sport Nerja
6. Río Chillar (Chillar River)
The Río Chillar or Chillar River, in English, makes for a very pleasant and cooling day out, right in the heart of nature. This gorgeous location is easy to reach from Nerja town centre, on foot from just behind the bus station in Calle de Pescia.
The walk is ideal for the whole family and takes you through the Sierras de Tejeda and the Alhama Natural Park, with loads of shade, as well as crystal clear water, to keep you cool in even the hottest months. There are several large river pools along the way, where both adults and children can have fun splashing around, along with a series of attractive waterfalls. It is recommended to wear some old and comfortable shoes, as you may find you have to walk in the water along some stretches of the river. Take a picnic to enjoy in the shade of one of the many trees along your route.
Sierras de Tejeda and the Alhama Natural Park
7. Puente del Aguila Aqueduct (Eagle Aqueduct)
The Eagle Aqueduct is easily one of the most photographed locations in Nerja, located just a ten-minute walk from the eastern side of town. The aqueduct was originally built in the 16th century, to supply water to a sugar mill close by. While that factory was closed many years ago, the aqueduct is still in use today for crop irrigation in the area. Built in the Mudejar style, the attractive aqueduct was restored a few years ago, after suffering much damage during the Spanish Civil War. There is an inscription on the central part of the aqueduct which reads: “Pura y Limpia Concepción” (Pure and Clean Conception).
Talking of water, it is a good idea to carry a bottle with you on your walk, as there are no services close by.
Puente del Aguila Aqueduct
Website:Puente del Aguila Aqueduct
All this and more in Nerja, on the Costa del Sol
This is just a brief introduction into the many attractions of this lovely Andalusian town. Enjoy your visit to Nerja!