Girl looking at the sea from Balcón de Europa in Nerja
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Is Nerja Worth Visiting? – 12 Best Things to do in Nerja

Nerja is a beautiful traditional Andalusian white town with an incredible crystal clear sea located in the province of Malaga, Southern Spain.

Being born and raised in Malaga, I’ve explored many places in Costa del Sol, but I can tell you that Nerja is one of those that makes you want to go back again and again, and there’s no doubt why it is one of the most visited towns in Costa del Sol.

Its charming people, white buildings, coastal views and fresh fish are a couple of the highlights of Nerja.

The most popular spot in Nerja is the famous Balcon de Europa, however, there are many more things to do in Nerja and its surroundings.

The town has become more and more visited, but at the end of the day, Costa Del Sol relies on tourism. It’s the main sector in the province.

Although it can get busy, especially during the summer holiday season – July and August, you can still enjoy Nerja if you know when to go. 

If you’re ready to discover unmissable places to visit in Nerja, keep reading this travel guide.

Nerja things to do

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Best Things to do in Nerja, Spain

Nerja Attractions You Can’t Miss

Nerja Caves

Is Nerja Worth Visiting? - 12 Best Things to do in Nerja Is Nerja Worth Visiting? - 12 Best Things to do in Nerja

Nerja Caves are one of the most popular attractions in Costa del Sol. They are located in Maro, a district of Nerja, at the top of the town, so the best way to get there is by car. 

Apparently, the caves were discovered in 1959 by a group of young people who were walking searching for bats at night. However, they had no idea of what discovery they had made.

Nowadays, Nerja Caves have been considered one of the best in Spain! You’ll be amazed by rock formations, including the largest stalactite in the world, and over 500 paintings that date from the Upper Palaeolithic. 

Inside there are three different galleries, but only the public gallery is open to tourists. 

As you can imagine, they get very busy during the summer months, so booking your ticket in advance will save you queuing (just remember to select your time slot). Also, the best time to go is as they open the doors at 9:30 am.

When I visited the caves in Nerja, I thought that it was quite small, but I spent approximately 1 hour there, and I loved it. But I advise you to take a small cardigan as it’s a bit wet and chilly inside.

📍 Address: Carr. de Bajada a Playa de Maro, 29787, Málaga, Spain

Balcón de Europa

This is one of the most beautiful spots in Costa del Sol, and my favourite as well. 

Balcon de Europa is a round balcony on a cliff overlooking the transparent turquoise sea. Not only will you be amazed by the sea but the panoramic views of other points of the Costa del Sol. 

In the past, the balcony was part of the watchtower of an Arabic fortress, however, today it is a viewpoint close to a good range of cafes, restaurants, hotels and independent small shops where you can buy many handmade accessories (leather bags, ceramics, etc.) and souvenirs.

Although it has become a tourist spot, there’s nothing better than watching the sunset from the balcony. I love the combination of clear water with the warm colours of the sunset. It’s a romantic place and you’ll come across some brides taking pictures there as the local church is just a two-minute walk.

balcon de europa beach

If you’re after a delicious meal with breathtaking views in Balcon de Europa, Rey Alfonso is your go-to. They offer fresh local seafood as well as traditional meals such as paella, and even regional meals like pipirrana malagueña (a salad that includes tomatoes, peppers, onion and octopus or prawns).

Overall, visiting Balcon de Europa is one of the best things to do in Nerja, there is no visit to Nerja without admiring the views from this place.

📍 Address: Balcón de Europa, 29780 Nerja, Málaga, Spain

Playa el Salón

Playa el Salón is a dark sand beach on the right-hand side of Balcon de Europa. You can access it only by foot – walk down the steep hill and you’ll be in no time on this beautiful beach.

I love the fact that there aren’t many chiringuitos (beach bars) around because it means that it’s more natural and raw. So, if you want to grab some food or drinks, you need to go all the way up to Calle Salón.

Although it’s an amazing beach, if you aren’t a big fan of crowds, it isn’t probably the best beach to visit in the summer months. The beach gets full in the early mornings until late afternoon evenings.

If you’re after local and authentic experiences, you can’t miss Fiesta Blanca, a party celebrated every 14th of August on this beach. Locals dress in white and are ready to have a good night with plenty of entertainment and concerts.

📍 Address: Playa El Salón, 29780 Nerja, Málaga, Spain

Nerja Town Centre

a street in the old town of nerja spain
leather bags in a shop in nerja

Wandering around Nerja Historic Centre is truly an experience – its beautiful Andalusian whitewashed buildings, balconies decorated with bright flowers that stand out in the white walls and its pebble streets make it a unique and picturesque place to stroll through.

The area is also home to many independent shops that sell handmade ceramic and leather products as well as bars and restaurants where you can have some delicious tapas.

In Nerja Town Centre, you’ll also find a few monuments and attractions that are worth seeing such as El Salvador Church and the Museum of the village of Nerja.

📍 Address: 29780 Nerja, Málaga, Spain

El Salvador Church 

Parroquia El Salvador is just a step away from Balcón de Europa. It’s a beautiful white church with a baroque neoclassical style.

Part of this church was built in 1697, however, the bell tower was added later in 1724. Like many old buildings, the church was last restored in 1997.

One of the main reasons why this church is popular is the fact that it’s the only church in the world that includes representations of all three archangels.

However, St Michael (San Miguel in Spanish) is the archangel that holds more significance in Nerja as it’s considered the town’s patron (el patrón del pueblo). 

el salvador church in nerja spain

From all the times I’ve been to Nerja, there were weddings or other religious events going on. Not only is it a popular church for locals to get married, but it attracts many foreign couples who end up saying “yes” in this church.

As you walk around Balcon de Europa, you can hear the chime which happens every hour too.

📍 Address: Pl. de Cavana, 13, 29780 Nerja, Málaga, Spain

Playa Burriana

Playa la Calahonda is Nerja’s beach next to Balcon de Europa and although it’s beautiful, it gets busy very quickly during the summer (especially at weekends as locals go to the beach early to get their spot and spend the day). Also, it’s very small.

Located one kilometre from Nerja, Playa Burriana is wider and it’s actually considered the best beach in the town. Its clear water and golden sand, make it the go-to beach for locals and tourists. 

Near this beach, you can find Ayo, a popular restaurant that is well-known for its wood-fired paella.

📍 Address: Cam. de Burriana, s/n, 29780 Nerja, Málaga, Spain

Chanquete’s boat from the Verano Azul TV series

This boat is a replica boat of the Verano Azul Spanish TV series that was filmed in Nerja in 1981. The series was based on a group of children who were on a summer holiday in Nerja. The episodes show the adventures and fun experiences of these kids. 

The series became very popular in Spain and therefore it was aired in other countries like Portugal, France and even Latin America.

Nowadays, this is a tourist attraction where not only Spanish tourists but international tourists stop to take a picture of La Dorada boat.

things to do in Nerja like visiting la dorada boat

📍 Address: C. Antonio Ferrandis Chanquete, s/n, 29780 Nerja, Málaga, Spain

Nerja Museum

If you love learning about history and culture, you must visit Nerja Museum located in Plaza de España only a few steps from Balcon de Europa. 

The museum shows you the rich local history from prehistory to today. Not only do you discover more about the cultural heritage of Nerja and the Axarquia region, but you learn how Nerja caves were discovered, what interesting objects were found and much more.

The archaeological section is indeed one of my favourites as you see old ceramics and utensils found in the caves. You can also have a look at the skeleton of a young woman who used to live in the caves many years ago.

nerja museum

📍 Address: Plaza de España, 4, 29780 Nerja, Málaga, Spain

Eagle Aqueduct

“Acueducto del Aguila” (The Eagle Aqueduct) is a picturesque aqueduct located just 3 kilometres outside Nerja in the countryside.

The aqueduct used to be a supplier of water for a sugar factory known as Fabrica San Joaquin de Maro (San Joaquin Sugar Mill). The region of the Axarquía was popular for sugar cane plantations in the XVI century.

Is Nerja Worth Visiting? - 12 Best Things to do in Nerja Is Nerja Worth Visiting? - 12 Best Things to do in Nerja

The factory closed a long time ago and nowadays is used for local communal irrigation.

However, it has recently become a popular spot for photographers due to the beautiful architecture. 

📍 Address: Barranco de la Coladilla, s/n, 29787 Nerja, Málaga, Spain

Playa de Maro

At only 14 minutes drive from Nerja centre, Maro beach is definitely the best beach in Nerja. On this hidden beach, you can do anything from scuba diving in Nerja’s crystal clear water to exploring the beautiful surroundings.

The beach is surrounded by pure nature – plenty of vegetation and rocky cliffs, however, the most beautiful thing about this beach is the turquoise clean and clear sea.

You know it’s a must-see beach in Nerja when you get in the water and you can see what’s under the water – coral reefs and fishes that hide between the rocks.

It’s the perfect spot to relax, but if you fancy some water adventure, you won’t be disappointed. There are two main water activities you can do in Maro: kayaking and snorkelling.

You better book these activities in advance as I have tried to book kayaking with my family and they didn’t have many dates available. Locals love this hidden beach!

Girl on Malaga beach

🛶 Have a fun day in Nerja by going on this sea kayak tour where you’ll discover beautiful small caves, cliffs and bays.

📍 Address: Playa de Maro, 29780 Maro, Málaga, Spain

Río Chillar

If you want a change from the coast, walking up the Rio Chillar is definitely a great day out.

One of the top activities for locals during the summer is walking up rivers – it’s adventurous, and fun and it keeps you cool from the high temperatures.

As you can imagine, it does get busy, especially during weekends (remember most locals don’t work on Sundays). Therefore, I highly recommend visiting it early morning or during the week.

Whenever you choose to go, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it, but if you’re wondering what sort of things you should take with you, some essentials are:

  • Old pair of trainers (they’ll get wet)
  • Water
  • Sun cream
  • And of course snacks!

📍 Address: 29780 Nerja, Málaga, Spain

Aquavelis

22 minutes drive from Nerja, Aquavelis guarantees a fun half or full day out with friends or family. Going to a waterpark is definitely one of the best things to do in Costa del Sol during the summer season.

Aquavelis has some incredible water attractions like the Kamikaze, a slide that goes 80 meters down at a very high speed, the multi-racer in which you can compete with your family or friends, and the wave pool.

TIP: If you want to avoid crowds, visit the waterpark at the beginning or at the end of the summer season (June or September).     

📍 Address: C. Ruta del Pomelo, s/n, 29740 Vélez-Málaga, Málaga, Spain

How to get to Nerja from Malaga

nerja balcon de europa view

By aeroplane 

The nearest airport is Aeropuerto de Málaga (Málaga’s airport) which is about 65 kilometres from Nerja. It’s one of the biggest airports in Spain, so it’s likely there’s a route from your country, especially if you live in Europe.

By bus

If you’re flying to Malaga, there isn’t a bus from the airport that goes to Nerja. Therefore, you can take tren de cercanías (underground train service) to María Zambrano and then go to the coach station next to it. From the coach station, you can get a direct bus to Nerja.

By taxi

I wouldn’t recommend taking a taxi to Nerja as it can be very expensive (over 60 euros), but if you don’t mind paying for this, it’s a quick and direct option to get to Nerja.

By car

I’d say renting a car is the best option. There are many car rental places to choose from near the airport.

Having a car will definitely help you if you would love to explore other towns at your own pace. Although public transport is quite good, coach and train times aren’t always the best.

Also, you can’t access more remote places by bus/coach/train.

Where to stay in Nerja – The best hotels in Nerja

Hotel Balcón de Europa (****)

hotel balcon de europa in nerja

This hotel is one of the best places to stay in Nerja. For me, it’s all about location when booking accommodation, and this hotel is built into the Balcon de Europa rock face. 

They have a range of different rooms but all of them are beautifully decorated. But if you’re after a luxurious experience, staying in the Junior Suite Deluxe is your option. You have breathtaking views from a cosy balcony and a hydromassage bathtub in the bathroom. 

The views are incredible, you have direct access to Caletilla Beach as well as you’re surrounded by many restaurants and bars to choose from if you don’t want to eat in their restaurants.

In addition to all of this, there’s also an outdoor swimming pool with sunbeds looking at the beautiful sea.

The average rate for Balcón de Europa is £135 per night.

Apartamentos Balcón de Europa (***)

If you prefer to stay in a quieter area and you love feeling at home, these apartments are certainly for you.

The apartments have all the things you need – a full kitchen that includes a washing machine, a lovely living room with a flat-screen TV, a  modern decorated bedroom with a double bed and bathroom.

At the top of the apartments, you’ll find an outdoor swimming pool with a view of the town and sunbeds.

The average rate for Apartamentos Balcón de Europa is £94 per night.

Day trips from Nerja

Although you have read how many incredible things you can do without leaving Nerja if you do have time, here are some places you need to add to your list.

Málaga 

You can’t leave Costa del Sol without visiting my beautiful hometown. The capital has plenty of activities to do, however, you can see the main attractions in one day as they are in the city centre where everything is connected.

Here are some top activities you can do in a day or two in Malaga:

alcazaba de malaga, spain

Frigiliana

Frigiliana is a nearby quaint town only 6 kilometres from Nerja. It’s very well-known for its old quarter and narrow white streets decorated with beautiful ceramic mosaics and beautiful flowers and plants.

It’s considered the prettiest village in Andalucia by the Spanish tourism board, and you’ll agree as soon as you visit the town.

Frigiliana is the perfect day trip in which you can enjoy authentic local experiences. Here are some recommendations on things to do in Frigiliana:

  • Go up to Casa del Apero, a beautiful building next to the tourist office, local library and archaeological museum.
  • Do some shopping in the unique boutique shops that sell local crafts, delicacies and clothes.
  • Explore the remains of the old Moorish castle.
  • Visit Callejón del Peñón for the best panoramic view of the town.
  • Eat at La Venta de Frigiliana to enjoy authentic local food and a view.
a view of the town of frigiliana in spain

Granada

Outside Costa del Sol, Granada is a great city to visit, and it isn’t very far from Nerja – approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes by car.

Granada is well-known for the Alhambra, a stunning palace and fortress at the top of the city. Nowadays, it’s one of the most visited places in Spain and it’s considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It’s divided into different sections: Generalife, Alcazaba, Charles V Palace and Nasrid Palace. All of them have something special, but one of the most photographed spots is the Palace of the Lions inside Nasrid Place which has an impressive architecture.

In Alhambra, you can easily spend 3 or 4 hours considering you’re likely to wait to get in some of the buildings.

The Alhambra is a very famous attraction in Andalucia, and if you really want to visit it, make sure to book your tickets in advance.

alhambra granada

Apart from the Alhambra, Granada is the best place to eat tapas in Andalucia. The city has a good variety of bars and restaurants that are ideal for foodies. 

If you’re after traditional local food you must try habas con jamón (beans with cured ham) remojón granaino (orange salad with spring onions, hard-boiled egg, olives and codfish) and piononos (a juicy sponge cake with toasted cream on top).

TIP: Don’t miss out on the opportunity to try piononos. You can find delicious piononos in Ysla. They’re the best I’ve ever tried!


I hope I have inspired you to visit Nerja and other towns in Costa del Sol by reading this travel guide. As you’ve seen, there are plenty of things to do in Costa del Sol, so if you plan to stay over a week, this Costa del Sol itinerary will help you plan and make the most of your trips.

However, if you’re staying in Malaga and considering a day trip to Nerja but have limited time, have a look at this half-day trip from Malaga to Nerja and Frigiliana.

I hope you have a great time in Nerja, and if you have any questions send them to me at cristina@mylittleworldoftravelling.com or reach me on Instagram at @creina.diary.

Enjoy your holidays in Nerja!

Cristina x

P.S. Liked this post? Save it for your Nerja holidays 🙂 

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Things to do before visiting Nerja

Frequently asked questions about Nerja

Can you get a train from Malaga airport to Nerja?

There isn’t a train that goes from Malaga airport to Nerja. However, you can get a train from Malaga airport to Malaga María Zambrano train station, and then go to the bus station, which is about three minutes walk, to get a bus to Nerja.

Is Nerja touristy?

There are more touristy towns in Costa del Sol than Nerja (for example, Benalmadena or Marbella). But, having said that, Nerja is still touristy. It attracts many national and international tourists and it’s home to many expats.

What are the beaches like in Nerja?

Nerja has some of the best beaches in Costa del Sol. Its clear water and beautiful rock formations make you feel like in paradise. 

The only downside of some Nerja beaches is that they’re very rocky so you must take slip-on water shoes to avoid injuries or discomfort when walking on the shore.

Does Nerja have an old town?

Yes, Nerja has a beautiful whitewashed Old town with lively squares where you can enjoy tapas and relax, pebble streets and many independent shops to buy souvenirs or treat yourself.

Is Nerja worth visiting?

Absolutely! Nerja is one of the most beautiful towns in Costa del Sol. Not only has must-visit beaches with crystal clear waters but impressive attractions like Balcón de Europa viewpoint and Nerja Caves.

In addition to this, if you love visiting off-the-beaten-track destinations, Nerja is surrounded by places that aren’t touristy and many people don’t know about it.

What are the best places for day trips in Nerja?

Best day trips in Nerja include the famous whitewashed village of Frigiliana, the historical Moorish city of Granada and, of course, Malaga.

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19 Comments

  1. Had never heard of Nerja, although it looks lovely. We managed to get to Sevilla and Granada just before the world turned upside down! I have to say Granda must be one of my favourite places in Spain outside the Basque Country, absolutely fell in love with it!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I’m happy to hear you managed to go to Sevilla and Granada this year. Granada is one of my favourite places too 🙂 It is such a charming city.

  2. Constance Ray says:

    Thank you for your detailed post! Sounds like a wonderful place to visit whenever I make it to Spain.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thanks, Constance. I hope you go sometime 🙂

  3. Love this! We’ve definitely heard of Grenada but never Nerja. Adding to our bucket list!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Amazing! I am sure you’ll love it 🙂

  4. Great post! I visited Nerja a few weeks ago and didn’t have time to see much. Saving this post for when I go again!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thank you, Krista 🙂 I hope you can visit some of these places next time you go.

  5. I’ve never heard of this place, but it looks so beautiful. It kind of gives me Greece vibes. I’m definitely adding this to my bucket list.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I’ve never been to Greece, but I totally get what you mean 🙂 I hope you visit it one day!

  6. Catherine says:

    I love visiting places that aren’t the typical tourist “must-do” locations; it looks like Nerja, Spain is one of those towns. The clear blue sea is stunning — I can imagine myself spending all day at the beach!

  7. I really want to go to Nerja next time I am in Spain. It looks so beautiful and I didn’t realize there is so much to do. 🙂 Beautiful photos Cristina!

  8. Wow I have never heard of Nerja but now it is on my list. I especially want to check out the caves!

  9. Beautiful photos and a great guide to explore by.

  10. This is an awesome itinerary!! I love the Andalusia region and will definitely be adding Nerja to my list for places to check out when I return!

  11. Hi, we will be visiting Southern Spain later this summer with three kids (10, 7, and 4). We will stay in Sevilla and I’m debating if Nejra or Benalmadena is a better city for us to use as our base. We will need a day to relax at the beach, but defiantly will take a day trip to Granada. I would like some place where we could possibly go on a hike or other outdoor activities that don’t involve museums and/or churches. I’ve read that Benalmadena is more touristy and for a younger (party) crowd. What are your thoughts?! Thanks.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Hi Lesley! If you’re planning to visit Granada, Nerja is closer to Granada than Benalmadena. Nerja has stunning beaches and there are many hiking trails you could do. However, Benalmadena has more activities for kids – visiting Selwo Marina, Sealife or the butterfly park, going on the cable car to Calamorro Mount, and spending time in La Paloma Park. On top of this, there are nice beaches that have good facilities and watersport activities, and if your kids like waterparks, go to Aqualand in Torremolinos (not far from Benalmadena).

  12. This is such a great blog – live in UK and looking for quaint villages to visit ! Thanks for your time in writing this !

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thank you! I am happy to hear that you’ve enjoyed reading my article 🙂

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