Nerja (pronounced like: N'air'-ca) is a seaside resort on the Costa del Sol, in the region of Andalucia of Spain. It is one of the few resort towns on Costa del Sol that isn't dominated by large ugly concrete hotels. It's in the attractive foothills of the Sierra Almijara mountains.
Don't be misled by the tourist brochure descriptions of Nerja as a fishing village. Tourism is this town's main industry and the few fishermen with their boats still to be seen along the beach provide a picturesque scene for visitors and a slim livelihood for local families. Until the last decade the town retained a strong Spanish identity, but the influx of northern European visitors and residents has eroded significantly the genuine charm of a truly Spanish working town.
Compared to many other Costa Del Sol destinations, especially to the west of Malaga, Nerja is not a very "touristy" town. It is a quiet town with a central historical area that still feels like a village, and the tourist mix is not exclusively northern European as many Spanish people use this resort for holidays, together with French and Italians. Unsurprisingly, the relative peacefulness of the town along with the absence of high rise developments along the coast or noisy nightclubs means many British people have retired here.
The town is built on a hillside with a not too steep gradient and the sprawling centre consists of an older part with white streets partly pedestrianized mainly to the east of the Balcon de Europa, the natural focus of the town and the venue for fiestas, but beyond the 17th-century church and the Plaza Cavana more modern development takes over and it is in these areas that the town seems like any other recently developed Spanish Costa resort.
There is no plane, boat or train service to Nerja - the nearest city you can access with these modes of transport is Malaga to the west. The train station in Malaga is across the street from the bus station, where you catch a bus to Nerja. The port in Malaga serves cruise ships from North Africa (alternatively, there is a seaport in Almeria to the east).
From Malaga Airport, which is served by flights from across Europe and America, you can drive along the A-7 E-15 motorway in the direction of Almeria and Motril, hire a taxi to Nerja (which will cost €78-100, or you can book a taxi with Nerja Taxis for around €69), or book your Malaga Airport transfers with Malaga Cabbie for €65, or you can take a bus to the Malaga bus station and transfer to a Nerja-bound bus there.
The bus stop in Nerja is on Avenida de Pescia, between a large roundabout and a bridge with blue railings. There's no facilities - it's just a ticket booth with benches, with taxis occasionally parking across the street. The stop is about a 10-minute walk inland from the Balcony of Europe and serves buses along the coast and to the major Andalusian cities. From Malaga there is non-stop service available and a trip will cost less than €5. There is also another bus stop a few miles outside Nerja proper serving the Nerja caves.
Nerja has buses to many other places in southern Spain, but some as few as one bus a day.
The A-7 E-15 motorway runs parallel to the coast, with Nerja about a 10-minute drive from the clearly marked freeway exit. Be aware that the long Torrox tunnel you will drive through has cameras at both ends to calculate your speed and fines for speeding are harsh.
Even in the winter months, street parking can be very difficult in the town's narrow and sometimes one-way streets, so use one of the two large central carparks instead - One is off Calle La Cruz, in the middle of town, which charges a reasonable rate per hour. The other is a larger car park off Prol Carabeo, a 5-minute walk from the town centre and the one most often used by locals but very expensive for visitors.
The town has a number of roundabouts. The Spanish are taught to drive around the outside of a roundabout, even when going all the way around, and have the right-of-way when they do so. This leads to them cutting across the path of tourists on the inside who think they have the right-of-way. Also many people tend to step out onto crossings without looking so always be prepared to stop at a crossing.
Distances to Nerja: Madrid 550 km, Almeria 170 km, Granada 105 km, Malaga 50 km.
Walking is the easiest way. The centre of Nerja is small enough to be able to walk around on foot though you will find yourself walking up or down a sometimes gradual, sometimes steep hill much of the time. As the town has no specific center, shops, banks, bars and eateries are scattered throughout the town.
There is a bus from the beach near the Monica hotel which takes you uphill as far as the Sol supermarket. Next stop is about a mile out of town, before returning on the same route. Another bus from the same stop takes you uphill then along the N340 and past where the Tuesday and Sunday market is held (it stops there on the way there and back so gets very crowded on market days). Do not get them mixed up.
- The Balcony of Europe (Balcón de Europa) is a reconstructed promenade built out onto a natural headland in the centre of town with spectacular views along the coast. It was constructed around 1487 in the place of a 9th-century castle. The balcony today is the main focus for the town, with a tree-lined paseo surrounded by cafes and ice cream shops and frequented by street performers and the occasional concert. Granted, for all the attention tourist guides give to this place there's not much to do except look up and down the coast, but the views are spectacular. Beneath the overlook, a glass-walled restaurant offers the chance to eat in a sit-down setting while taking in the scenery, but you can expect a high price tag for the privilege.
- El Salvador Church. Near the Balcony of Europe, facing the plaza just around the corner from the Balcony, is this attractive 17th-century church constructed in baroque-mudejar style.
- Nuestra Señora de las Angustias Hermitage. A 16th-century church with paintings by the Alonso Cano.
- 1 Caves of Nerja. The caves are not a suitable place if you have any walking difficulties as there are many stairs to go up and down. There are no ramps. Flash photography is not allowed in most of the caves. Price is €8.50. Parking is €1. There is a gift shop.
- El puente de Aguila (Eagle's bridge). A 19th-century aqueduct, similar to the ones built by the Romans. It was designed to bring water to the nearby village of Maro, one of the oldest settlements around the area. Visible on the way to the caves.
- The Rio Chillar Waterfall. A beautiful waterfall along the old river, near the Sunday Market.
- Beaches. There are thirteen kilometers of beaches in Nerja.
- Calahonda Beach (Playa Calahonda) (immediately east of the Balcony of Europe). A pebbly beach in the cliffs below the Balcony of Europe, with lots of little crags and crannies.
- Carabeo Beach (Playa Carabeo) (5-minute walk east of the Balcony of Europe). Another pebbly beach perched in a scenic alcove accessed by a steep stairway.
- Carabeillo Beach (Playa Carabeillo) (10 minute walk east of the Balcony of Europe). A sandier beach tucked under a cliff that marks the western end of the Burriana Beach.
- Burriana Beach (Playa Burriana) (10 minute walk east of the Balcony of Europe). Nerja's most renowned beach, awarded by the Blue Flag of the European Union. The sand of the Burriana beach is coarser than the other beaches, and some small areas are fenced off with recliners, where people pay to sit here.
- Del Salon Beach (Playa Del Salon) (immediately west of the Balcony of Europe). The sandiest (and thus most crowded) beach in Nerja.
- Torrecilla Beach (Playa Torrecilla) (10-minute walk west of the Balcony of Europe). A wide, sandy beach that's fairly popular, framed by the resort hotels facing the beach. A promenade runs the length of the beach, with many benches offering a chance to sit down and look over the beach or the small coves nearby.
- El Playazo (15 minute walk west of the Balcony of Europe). The most secluded beach in Nerja proper, this is the largest beach in town, at the west end of Nerja, offering plenty of wide-open space and views of the mountains over the adjacent agriculture fields.
- Jeep Tours in Nerja, Life Aventure SL, Calle Antonio Ferrandiz, no39 2-2, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A great way of exploring the Sierra Almijara discovering the flora and fauna and natural habitat.
- Painting course and workshops, Painting course in Spain, Nerja which will be held from November up to February. The course will be given by Guus van Lingen. This is the way to become a better painter. See painting-course-spain.com/ [dead link]
There is a shop amongst the shops facing the Burriana beach which has diving gear and tanks for hire and does courses on PADI diving.
There are a number of internet cafes around town, some of which will print off pages, including etickets if using Ryanair. Prices range from €1 (with a ticket allowing 10 or more hours over your stay) to €3.50 an hour, with most charging about €1.80. A fair number of bars, hotels and hostels (hostals) have free wifi. Like elsewhere in Spain, some bars also have large screen TVs showing football matches.
There is a carnival each year in February or March. The parade starts in the evening near the Hotel Jimasol and makes its way uphill then downhill by a different route. The local tourist office has full details.
There is also a local Feria celebration in October which goes on for about a week, day and night, well into the early hours of the morning. If you are staying anywhere near the celebrations, don't expect to get to sleep till the noise finally stops.
Nerja is set in the attractive foothills of the Sierra de Almijarra, and has plenty of good walking routes for all abilities nearby. However increasingly around town there is dog muck on the pavements from lazy dog owners who are legally obliged to pick it up in bags and dispose of it. This is despite an army of street cleaners out each morning who work to keep the streets tidy.
- Pick up the free Nerja walks guide book in the Tourist Information office near the Balcon de Europa. The book details a wide variety of walks in the area, with maps and directions for where to walk, and interesting facts about the places you pass.
- [formerly dead link] Senderismo de Nerja (Nerja walking club). For walking enthusiasts to explore the area in great company.
There are two water parks that are a reasonable journey from Nerja by car, public-bus or complimentary-bus
- Parque Acuático Aquatropic - Almuñécar
- Aquavelis - Torre del Mar
- Centro de Idiomas Quorum. Centre offering Spanish language courses to help you appreciate coming to Spain. The centre if accredited by the Cervantes Institute (a major accreditation for Spanish schools). The staff are very friendly and helpful and they know how to have a good time.
The maximum you can draw out from all of the town's ATMs on a non-Spanish credit or debit card per calendar week is €500.
There are markets on Sundays (Boot Market near the Almijara 11 area and Flaming Urbanisations) a good distance from the centre of town and Tuesdays at Chaparil. There is a Thursday fleamarket at the Boatyard.
As well as a wide assortment of small shops around town selling all sorts of items (do shop around), there are several Chinese bazaars which sell a huge selection of items fairly cheaply.
- Smiffs Bookstore, La Galeria, 10 Calle Almirante Ferrándiz, ☏ . The wryly named Smiffs Bookstore, hidden away down a small arcade near the Post Office or Correos, stocks a wide range of new English language bestsellers, local books, maps and guides, including many walking routes for the area. Secondhand books can be bought and exchanged at the Nerja Bookshop at number 32 on Calle Granada. Foreign newspapers, including the British press are sold in many places around town.
There are also foreign exchange bureaus around the lower part of town which give better rates than in Britain, with no commission. They change British pounds, Scandinavian currencies and American and Canadian dollars. Sometimes other currencies.
If staying at one of the many apartments in Nerja, there are a number of supermarkets: Mercadona, Sol, Mas, etc as well as mini-marts around town. Also a Lidl a little way along the Frigiliana road out of town. Supermarket hours are normally M-Sa 09:15 to 21:15. Although superficially there appear to be many foreign owned tourist restaurants, there are a significant number of Spanish-owned places since the town has a large Spanish population.
- Restaurante Oliva, Pintada, 7, ☏ . One of the best places to eat in Nerja. Great modern menu based on first quality products from the area.
- El Cietto Lindo, Calle El Barrio. Mexican food, including mixed fajitas which come on a large cast iron construction with hot plates for each ingredient. Intimidating food! Nice indoor garden and good selection of tequilas.Most people visit once and don't go back.
- Coach and Horses, Calle Cristo. Where some British holidaymakers come to enjoy real fish and chips, John Smiths Bitter and Coronation street. This place is also sometimes still known by its Spanish name, The Bodegon.
- El Gato Negro, Calle carabeo 23. Pizza and flamenco on Wednesdays. This puff-meister is gone bust. New pizza restaurant open now.
- Havelli, Dalle Almirante Ferrandiz, 44-49. Excellent Indian food and they now have a buffet version at Burriana Beach
- Marisqueria La Marina, Plaza la Marina (Calle Castilla Pérez). Located on a small square in the west of town, this informal seafood tapas bar has a few tables inside and a number more outside. The drinks are cheap, the language is Spanish and each drink comes with a tapa of seafood salad or a plate of gambas. It works, as you will be inevitably tempted to enjoy more fresh shellfish and seafood at a table outside. The service is a little rude and hectic in summer, but the prices are reasonable.
- Merendero Ayo, Burriana Beach. Good restaurant owned by the discoverer of the Nerja caves, and featured on television. Serves Spanish cuisine.
- Moreno, Burriana Beach. Good seafood and meat cooked on a BBQ.
- El Nino, Calle Almirante Ferrandiz, 83. Spanish cuisine that is very popular with the locals.
- Pata Negra, Plaza la Marina. Excellent Spanish cuisine, good tapas and a wine list from cheap and chearful, through good value to expensive tastes.
- Posada Ibérica Restaurant, Calle Nueva. Offers some of the best and most inexpensive food in Nerja. Run by an Argentinean couple that has maintained the Spanish flavour, the place is one of the most traditional you can find in Nerja. They occasionally have live music during the weekend.
- El Pulgilla, Calle Almirante Fernandez, 26. Amidst the bustle of shops and restaurants is a typical Spanish marisqueria (fish and shellfish tapas/restaurant), that is perhaps the one place that best sums up Nerja. The clientèle is usually at least 90% Spanish with the occasional adventurous holidaymaker. the drinks are cheap, the tapas are free and the seafood is excellent. There is a large open air terrace open during the summer.
- Restaurant 34, Calle Hernando de Carabeo, 34. International cuisine. Upmarket, and prices reflect this!
- Sollun Restaurant, Calle Cristo 53. The Chef, Juan Quintanilla, used to own a 1-star Michelin restaurant in Marbella. Great food and excellent wine.
- El Sotano Viejo, Calle Lose Heurtos. Run by local businessman Pepe Mesa, this is one of the finest affordable restaurants in town. Food served covers a variety of tastes, and many Spanish dishes are on the menu. The decor is of fine wood, and there are always plenty of wines and drinks on offer. Gambas Pil Pil is a speciality.
- Scarletta's, Calle Christo, 38, ☏ . International and American style cuisine of excellent quality at reasonable prices. Very pleasant open air roof terraces (advance reservations advised) and good service.
- Restaurante Califonia, Calle Christo, 32, ☏ . International style cuisine, with a touch of English home made cooking. Very nice and pleasant roof terrace. Food is excellent and staff very friendly. Worthwhile making a reservation.
- Cibeles, Calle Carabeo. Excellent cafe/restaurant with good value Spanish food. Open all day and evening with very friendly, longstanding staff and clientele.
- Meson Jose y Victoria, C/ Malaga S/N, ☏ . Excellent, fresh home cooked to order Spanish cuisine. Cooked by Jose & served by Victoria. Reasonably priced, great tasting food. Try the Caldo de pescado as it is excellent.
- Calle del Almirante Tons of bars, restaurants, souvenirs for anyone who can not speak Spanish. Most establishments are owned by UK ex-pats. A great place to catch a football match with a pint of Guinness or Newcastle.
- Tutti Fruti square is the main area where to spend the evenings (if you are under 35!) There are more than 10 bars, pubs, restaurants, etc., and are open everyday. Most bars get busy around 01:00, so don´t expect much action before that. Closing times vary from 04:00 in the winter to 07:00 during the summer.
- El Molino Bar is one of the most typical flamenco bars in Nerja. It is believed to be the oldest bar running in Nerja, and the building has been used for over 350 years (first as an olive oil mill, therefore the name). Live music played every night.
There is a large choice of hotels, apartments and hostels. Long rentals are advertised at many agencies around town, which take advantage of the very mild but sometimes a bit wet winters in Nerja. Some have satellite TV with British channels, but others are just Spanish TV. Some accommodation has free Wi-Fi.
- Hotel los Arcos, Calle Cartama N 1 Urbanizacion Nerja Golf, ☏ .
- Hotel Perla Marina, Calle Mérida, 7, ☏ .
- Hotel Toboso Chaparil, Calle Chaparil, 16, ☏ .
- Hotel Marina Turquesa, Calle Cártama, 2, ☏ .
- Hotel Pepe Mesa, Calle Huertos, 33, ☏ .
- Hotel Toboso Aparthotel, Paseo Balcón de Europa s/n 29780,Málaga Nerja, ☏ .
- Better Apartments Nerja, Calle San Pedro 16, ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Apartments with two terraces with sea view terrace with sea view. The sun terrace has a small pool. Perfect equipped for short or long vacation. Bright and large apartments. varies by season.
- Casa Charlotte (Nerja), C. San Pedro,16,29780 Nerja (near Chispa), ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Apartments with free internet, air conditiong, king size beds located in the historical center between hotel Parador and Bar Dolores El Chispa. The parterre apartment is accessible for wheelchair users. Exclusively for non-smokers and pets are not allowed. On the sun terrace there is a grill and a winter solarium with sea- and mountainview. depends season.
- Olée Holiday Rentals (Self Catering Apartments), N340 km286.1 (N340a), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. New luxury apartments with direct sea view. Frontline beach high quality holiday apartments with 1, 2 or 3 bedrooms. Units have dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, Wi-Fi, etc.
- Hostal Azahara, Avda. de Pescia No 1, Nerja, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a friendly and comfortable hostel with 13 bedrooms all ensuite with TV, fridge, tea and coffee making facilities. The Balcon De Europe is a 10-minute walk away and the center of nightlife is within walking distance.
- [formerly dead link] Hostal Bronce, Calle Bronce, 25 29780 Nerja, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Check-out: Doubles from €24 to €38 a night. In the old section of Nerja, the hostel was built in 2004, but maintains the traditional Andalusian manor style. The Hostel has 7 rooms, TV, ensuite bathrooms, sun terrace, and Jacuzzi. It is only 5 minutes from the beach and a short 2 minute walk from parking.
- Hostal Miguel, Calle Almirante Ferrandiz 31 29780 Nerja, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-out: by 10:00. An attractive hostel in Nerja and a 5-min walk from a free carpark. Run by a very friendly and helpful British couple who serve breakfast for guests on the rooftop terrace with great views over Nerja towards the Sierra Almijara and also out to sea. Doubles from €35 to €49 a night.
- Hotel Nerja Club & Spa (Nerja Club), Avenida de Pescia S/N, 29780, ☏ . Located in one of the quietest areas of Nerja, this hotel has 102 rooms, most with private terrace and all rooms with air conditioning, heating, bathroom, piped music, satellite TV, and telephone.
- Nerja Club Hotel, Ctra de Almeria , Km 2.92, Nerja, ☏ . A nice 102-room hotel. All rooms with private terrace, air conditioning, heating, bathroom, piped music, satellite TV, and telephone.
- Marinas de Nerja, Carretera N.340 Km 289,5, ☏ . Nice 206-room, four-star beach & spa aparthotel on the Nerja beachfront.
There is only one post office in town and expect to wait in a long queue there. Spanish title is Correos and it is at the Balcon de Europa end of Calle Almirante Ferrándiz. Hours are M-F 08:30-20:30, and Sa 09:30-13:00. There are a number of post boxes around town.
- Frigiliana - a white Andalucian village 8 km inland, the village itself is a labyrinth of charming narrow whitewashed streets with old Andalucian houses. Around the village are a series of tiled wall displays telling the story of the village during the Moorish occupation and the Reconquista (the expulsion of the moors from Spain).
- Granada - once one of the most important cities in Spain, and home of the world famous Alhambra.
- Malaga - home of Picasso
- Maro - charming neighbouring village with good beach
- Sierra Nevada - the tallest mountains in Spain.