Top 5 Things To Do In Nerja, Spain

Top 5 Things To Do In Nerja, Spain

With its surprising sub-tropical climate, the beautiful coastal town of Nerja is home to miles of sandy beaches, top seafood, incredible ancient caves and what is proudly known as the Balcony of Europe!

Almost two years ago I went on a road trip around southern Spain visiting Madrid, Ronda and Seville. Fancying a bit of time at the Spanish seaside we decided upon Nerja. It looked pretty, had plenty of things to do and by all accounts, even in January would be reasonably warm. Tick!

Perfect seaside views in Nerja, Spain
Perfect seaside views in Nerja, Spain
Beautiful views in Nerja, Spain
Beautiful views in Nerja, Spain

While for me it didn’t have the Andalusian charm of the other cities, it did have a real Spanish seaside feel. You know, it felt fun! It had pretty beaches, great ice cream and nic-nacs galore. While there I was desperate to visit Nerja’s famous caves. Typically I arrived to find they’d just closed for the day.

So this time, not only was I keen to see some of what I’d seen before, I couldn’t wait to finally check out the caves. Interestingly, Nerja was placed firmly on the map in Spanish culture by the 80s TV series Verano Azul, which told the story of a group of kids on holiday in the town.

And what’s this? Our tour guide in Nerja was none other than Miguel Joven who played Tito in the series! Not only is he still a celebrity in the area (he was stopped numerous times by fans on our tour) but he’s also one of the most passionate guides I’ve met in a long time. Nerja means a lot to him, and he was keen to share some of that love with tourists visiting on holiday.

Our famous tour guide at the Nerja caves
Our famous tour guide Miguel at the Nerja caves

At around an hour’s drive, Nerja makes a great day trip from Malaga. To make the most of your trip, I’d recommend spending a few days in Malaga, before heading to explore RondaAntequera and Nerja.

Things To Do In Nerja

Visit the Cuevas de Nerja

Nerja’s caves are the 4th most visited natural monument in Spain and receive over 3,500 people a day in high season. With 800,000 years of history, it’s fascinating to delve inside the ancient lair of stalagmites and stalactites. They’re absolutely huge inside (approx. 5km!) yet only around a third of the caves are accessible. For me, this was a highlight of my visit to southern Spain, and I never expected them to be quite so impressive and well-preserved. Miguel was a great guide, and I’d definitely recommend booking a private tour if you get the chance. You can contact him here.

Nerja's caves, Spain
Nerja’s caves, Spain
Nerja's caves, Spain
Nerja’s caves, Spain
Nerja's caves, Spain
Nerja’s caves, Spain
Nerja's caves, Spain
Nerja’s caves, Spain

Relax on one of Nerja’s beaches  

There are 12 beaches within the region of Nerja, but the large sandy beach of Playa de Burriana is by far the most popular. For something extra special, head to Playa de Maro – often said to be one of Spain’s best beaches. If you hop in a kayak you can reach cliffs with beautiful waterfalls trickling down. Many people rave about the diving in this region too, as there are underwater caves and springs below ground!

Playa de Burriana, Nerja, Spain
Playa de Burriana, Nerja, Spain
Playa de Burriana, Nerja, Spain
Playa de Burriana, Nerja, Spain

Take in the views on the Balcón de Europa

The Balcony of Europe is a spectacular viewing platform, and the perfect place take in Nerja’s dramatic rocky coastline. It was built on the site of an old fortress that was destroyed in 1812 during the War of Independence. I’d recommend picking up an ice cream from a gelataria in the town, then wandering along the palm-lined broadwalk to the large circular plaza. Nothing like a delicious ice cream to make a beautiful view even more picturesque! 

The centre of the balcony of Europe in Nerja, Spain
The centre of the balcony of Europe in Nerja, Spain
Beautiful views in Nerja, Spain
Beautiful views in Nerja, Spain
Enjoying the view in Nerja, Spain
Enjoying the view in Nerja, Spain

Stop at the Acueducto del Águila

I found this bridge pretty much by chance on the way to Nerja’s caves. The Eagle Aquaduct, built in 1879, is a pretty spectacular sight, and well worth stopping for a quick photo.

Acueducto del Águila, Nerja, Spain
Acueducto del Águila, Nerja, Spain

Dine at one of Nerja’s top restaurants

Foodies rejoice – Nerja is home to around 300 restaurants! Being on the coast, it’s all about seafood. Head to Playa de Burriana and you’ll find plenty of restaurants right on the seafront. La Barca specialises in and barbecued fish, mussels and more. For paella head to Chiringuito de Ayo, which also featured on the 80s TV show Verano Azul. Or for super gourmet food, Oliva restaurant serves seasonal Mediterranean food with a twist, and always receives rave reviews. 

Giant paella at La Barca Restaurant, Nerja, Spain
Giant paella at La Barca Restaurant, Nerja, Spain
Frito misto at La Barca Restaurant, Nerja, Spain
Frito misto at La Barca Restaurant, Nerja, Spain
Fried fish by the sea at La Barca Restaurant, Nerja, Spain
Fried fish by the sea at La Barca Restaurant, Nerja, Spain

Thanks to Spain and the Costa Del Sol for inviting me to explore southern Spain. As always, all opinions are my own.

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  • I absolutely loved the Nerja Caves and I want to go back with Paul who has never seen them – such an amazing sight!

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

  • Sophie

    Ah this looks like so much fun!
    Sophie
    x

    • Thanks Sophie! It’s a fun seaside town, you’d love it I’m sure! Cx

  • Matthew_Sutton

    It’s a beautiful town. I would recommend the Rio Chillar walk, Summer is best for this, you will get wet feet, but it is so cooling, relaxing and peaceful.

    • Great tip – I haven’t heard about that but just googled it and WOW! Looks so amazing. I’d love to head back in the summer so hopefully I’ll get a chance! Cx