Nerja (Málaga, Andalucía)
Transport Options to Arrive: Car or bus
As with many smaller towns along the coast, arriving by car will give you much more flexibility and less stress as it can be a pain trying to coordinate bus schedules if you are hoping to hit both the caves and town center. Large parking lots are available near the caves and town center so that is not a problem.
Pro-Tip: Regardless of how you arrive in Nerja, rest assured that there are plenty of options for those looking to make it out to the caves. For example, the tourist train, which costs 15€, makes a stop, the local bus costs 1€, but leaves only about once an hour, or you could even take to the journey by foot if you’re up for a 90 minute walk.
Recommended time of year to visit: As a beach town, Nerja is obviously the most desirable in the summer but also the most popular at this time. Try to balance the best of both worlds by hitting this pueblo at the bookends of summer when the weather will likely be just as good, but with fewer tourists—May and October are generally still lovely.
Fun Fact: Nerja is one of the most well-known and loved white villages along Spain’s Costa del Sol coast here in Andalucía, but that’s not all it has to offer. For a truly unique experience, you can attend the Festival Cueva de Nerja, which is an international music and dance festival hosted each summer in the caves of Nerja! Just think about those acoustics…
Top Three Must-sees:
1. Las Cuevas: The caves of Nerja are actually located about 5 kilometers outside of the town center but they are definitely worth a visit! Discovered by locals in 1959, the caves are thought to be 5 million years old, home to the world’s largest stalagmite, and even paleolithic paintings. You can only enter with a guide, but 10€ for a two-hour tour of something so unique is not a bad deal!
2. El Balcon de Europa: Often considered the center of Nerja, this lookout point over the water provides beautiful views of the sea, beach, and town. You’ll want to enjoy the winding roads full of cafes, shops, and restaurants in the center of Nerja but be sure to stop off to take in this ‘balcony’ (probably at multiple times throughout the day to catch the best light for each angle).
3. The beach: I’m not gonna lie, the main reason I’ve gone to Nerja is for the beaches! Surrounded by both people-packed and much less private options, this town is home to some of the prettiest beaches and softest sand in the area. Whether you hit the sand immediately and stick to Burriana—the main-but-most-touristy beach—or adventure further away, you’ll have a lovely, relaxing time taking in the sun and sea.
One thing to eat: Paella on the beach
As a touristy town, Nerja has plenty of delicious food and a wide variety of inexpensive, international options (not always so common outside of major cities) that you are sure to enjoy. Still, I find the best food experience to be the paella, made fresh on the beach everyday! My personal favorite is at Chringuito Ayo where you can get all-you-can-eat paella for 7.50€ and enjoy it in a fast-paced but casual environment that is always full of Spaniards. We can argue about whether it is truly paella or just arroz, but either way it’s a fun and filling experience!