The holiday resort of Nerja lies 55km east of Malaga airport and is the most easterly resort on Spain’s Costa del Sol before this Mediterranean coastline becomes known as the Costa Tropical. Although Nerja is no longer the quaint fishing village from which it developed, neither is it a high rise monstrosity like some of the resorts of the western Costa del Sol.
A major part of Nerja’s appeal to tourists is that it has maintained its white village charms and property development has been mainly low rise. Wandering through some of its charming streets and looking out to sea beyond the local fishing boats is a world apart from some of the better known resorts to the west of Malaga. With over 300 days of sunshine a year Nerja attracts year round tourism and is easily accessible in around 40 minutes by road from Malaga airport.
There’s plenty to do in and around Nerja although most days tend to be spent lounging around on one of its attractive beaches. Evenings often begin around the Balcón de Europa before visitors wander off to one of Nerja’s fine restaurants. If you need a change from the beach then a half day visit to the nearby Nerja Caves is highly recommended as is a trip up the mountain to the beautiful village of Frigiliana. Full day excursions can be arranged to the likes of the Alhambra Palace in Granada as well as the great Moorish cities of Cordoba and Seville.
Best Time to Visit Nerja
Weather in Nerja
Protected by the Sierra de Almijara mountains Nerja has its own micro-climate which includes approximately 320 days of sunshine per year – the best climate in Europe. It has a temperate climate which means that in winter the daytime temperatures rarely fall below 16ºC and in summer they do not reach the sweltering temperatures of inland Spain.
There is little rainfall but what there is tends to fall during the winter months of November, December and January. This does vary hugely from year to year and there have been some dry years recently. The good news is that even when it does rain you can be sure that the sun is never far away.
The weather in Nerja means that you can really enjoy the outdoor life both in summer and winter and there are tourists there all year round. Although it may not usually be hot enough in winter to swim in the sea or sunbathe you do get some days when it is.
Festivals in Nerja
Andalucía loves to celebrate its fiestas and Nerja is no exception. There are many celebrations throughout the year including San Isidro Labrador on May 15th, Virgen del Carmen on July 16th and the Feria de Nerja in October. Please refer to our Nerja Festivals page for a full listing of upcoming festivals.
Getting to Nerja from Malaga Airport
If you’re arriving at Malaga airport on a package holiday then your Nerja airport transfer will, no doubt, be included in the price you’ve already paid. However, many people book accommodation independently and make their own way to Nerja.
Buses from Malaga to Nerja
Public transport to Nerja from the airport is a real hassle, especially if you have young children and/or are carrying luggage. You need to take a bus or train into Malaga city from the airport then go to Malaga bus station. There are buses to Nerja approximately every hour throughout the day. The train only runs west from Malaga so no service exists. You can check bus timetables on the Alsa Bus Website.
Taxis and Private Transfers from Malaga Airport
Official taxis are always available as you walk outside the arrivals area but the 45 minute drive is likely to to be quite expensive (around €100 each way). A better option is to pre-book a Malaga to Nerja transfer and have a driver waiting for you in the arrivals lounge. Costs tend to be a little less than taxis but the service is pre-paid with no worries about what the final price is going to be on arrival in Nerja.
Rent a Car at Malaga Airport
An even better option is to rent a car at Malaga airport as a week’s rental is often cheaper than a single taxi journey from the airport to Nerja. After you’ve collected your luggage just follow the signs that take you down a floor BEFORE you go through the doors into the arrivals lounge. Here you deal with the rental formalities then you’ll be on your way in no time.
Not only does renting a car at the airport provide you with return airport transfers, it also proves very convenient for getting in and out of Nerja town centre if you’re staying on the outskirts. In addition there are some lovely excursions from Nerja including the short trip to the Nerja Caves or up the hill to Frigiliana.
Getting Around in Nerja
The focal point of Nerja is the Balcón de Europa which is a man-made promontory stretching from the centre of town out into sea which provides a stunning viewing point from where you can see along the coast in both directions and high into the Sierra de Almijara mountains inland. There’s a helpful tourist information office (Puerta del Mar, 2) just east of the Balcón de Europa.
Balcón de Europa
Although the Balcón de Europa appears to be a modern structure it actually has quite a history. Records show that in the 9th century it was home to a Moorish castle then a fortress was built there in 1487 which was destroyed by the French in the 18th century.In 1884 King Alfonso XII visited Nerja after the area had been devastated by an earthquake. He was responsible for naming it the Balcón de Europa. Today you can get your photo taken on the Balcón next to a statue of King Alfonso XII and the two iron cannons which provide a significant reminder of the Balcón de Europa’s strategic past.
The Balcón is always buzzing with activity as visitors wander to the farthest end to get panoramic views along the rocky coastline to the east beyond Maro. A fine time to visit and to get outstanding photos is in the early evening when the shadows on the Sierra de Almijara mountains provide a stunning backdrop to this pleasant resort. As the night goes on numerous street entertainers turn up on the Balcón including mime artists, singers and spray painters. The horse and carts are always waiting to take you on a short tour of Nerja from here.
East of the Balcón
Heading east from the Balcón de Europa, you’ll find an area of winding streets with a fine selection of restaurants and tapas bars as well as some interesting shops. This is the focus of much of Nerja’s nightlfe. Small hotels are scattered around this part of town including the Nerja Parador which has easy access to Burriana Beach. There are many apartments for rent from Burriana beach all the way up to the main road which goes out to the Nerja Caves.
Across this road is Capistrano Village which has almost developed into an independent village on the outskirts of town. It offers plenty residential properties for rent and there are regular buses into the centre of Nerja if you don’t fancy the 20 minute walk into town. If you rent a car you can drive into Nerja and park at the cheap and convenient parking which is located right next to the Balcón de Europa (look for the Parking sign pointing left about 100m after passing the Mercadona supermarket off c/San Miguel).
West of the Balcón
West of the Balcón de Europa is a completely different part of town which leads to some larger hotels down near Playa La Torrecilla. Here you’ll find more British pubs but it’s far from a ‘Little Britain’. On Tuesdays the Nerja market takes place in the streets that make up the far western part of town so be sure not to leave your hire car parked there on Monday night or it will have been towed away the next morning. The market attracts locals and tourists from miles around to its hundreds of varied stalls. If you’re not interested in markets then this could be a good day to take a half day excursion up the mountain to the beautiful village of Frigiliana or simply escape the busy streets at one of Nerja’s beaches.
At Plaza Cavana, just behind the church, there’s a mini-train (or “wally trolley” according to the locals) that takes a regular tour around Nerja. Alternatively, jump on one of the horse and carts which operate from the Balcón de Europa.
Where to Stay in Nerja
There is a fine selection of accommodation in Nerja including apartments and villas for rent, hotels and family run hostels. Many visitors book all inclusive packages through the big tour operators but there are more and more independent travellers these days who book their accommodation privately and simply pick up a hire car at Malaga Airport.
Hotels in Nerja
Hotel Balcón de Europa
Located right on Nerja’s Balcón de Europa this four star hotel is one of the town’s most desirable places to stay. Rooms at the front look right over the sea whilst side rooms overlook the Balcón itself. The hotel offers easy access to local beaches and has its own pool and restaurant. A cheaper option is the Hostal Marissal which adjoins the Balcón de Europa hotel offering modern rooms at a fraction of the price of its neighbour.
Hotel Villa Flamenca
Located in a quiet residential area about a 20 minute walk from the town centre and about 10 minutes from the beach. The bedrooms are spacious and comfortable and all have a Balcóny or terrace. There is a bar and restaurant in the hotel and there is live entertainment in the evenings. There is also a pool set in lovely gardens where you can relax. The staff are friendly and very helpful.
The Nerja Parador is a modern parador located on a cliff next to the sea and can be reached from Burriana beach by means of a lift. Set in lush, green gardens with a beautiful swimming pool it is in a perfect spot for exploring the region. The bedrooms have spacious terraces overlooking the gardens and the sea. In the restaurant visitors can try the some excellent regional dishes such as ‘fritura de pescaítos’ (small fried fish).
Hotel Toboso Chaparil
This hotel is located in the old part of town only a 5 minute walk from the famous Balcón de Europa. It has a roof top pool with sun terrace where there are fabulous views over the Sierra Almijara mountains and the sea. The bedrooms are spacious and the bathrooms enormous. There is a cafe with terrace and a restaurant in the hotel where visitors can sample typical local dishes.
This is a 3 star tourist complex consisting of 12 studios and 18 apartments which all have terraces overlooking the sea and the famous Balcón de Europa. It has a lovely terrace and bar overhanging the cliffs with fantastic sea views and a restaurant. There is also a garden and pool which can only be seen from the hotel Balcónies and an indoor pool and sauna for the colder months. It is located in the very centre of Nerja and only 50 metres from the beach.
The Capistrano Village consists of 1 to 4 bedroom apartments and villas each with their own garden or terrace. The “village” is set in beautiful surroundings with colourful gardens which are very well tended, various pools and small andalucian style streets to wander through. There is also a restaurant, two bars and a supermarket in the complex. It is located approximately 1 kilometre from the town but there is a regular bus service and the walk itself takes you through some interesting residential areas. (minimum stay 5 nights)
Holiday Rentals in Capistrano Village
To the east of Nerja on the old coast road heading towards Nerja Caves is Capistrano Village. This long established residential area includes properties rising high above the original holiday accommodation built down near the coast road. Capistrano Village is so similar to a traditional Andaluz village that a number of families have made it their full time home which has created a pleasant balance between locals and visitors.
In terms of available property for rent in Capistrano Village there’s a fine selection ranging from one bedroom maisonettes to three bedroom villas. Around Capistrano Village there are several swimming pools (with lifeguards) including some designed specifically for children. The garden areas throughout the village are beautifully maintained and all year round you’ll find flowers in bloom. There’s a small supermarket and a restaurant on site as well as a laundry, tennis courts and a travel agency. The Cave Bar near the entrance is a good spot to meet up with fellow holiday makers during their early evening ‘happy hour’.
The walk into town or to Burriana Beach takes around 20 minutes but the hike back up the hill can be a hassle so having a car is preferable. On the other hand you can jump on the bus which heads back and to to the centre of Nerja every hour.
A holiday at Capìstrano Village is ideal for families with young children and for mature couples looking for a peaceful break. Before confirming a reservation be sure to find out exactly where your property will be located as some holiday agents don’t make this clear. Capistrano Village is the original development near the entrance and next to the main road. San Juan de Capistrano is much higher up the hillside but it is more spacious with great views over Nerja and more bars and restaurants but you’ll want a car if you’re staying here.
Oasis de Capistrano is modelled on Capistrano Village and is equally beautiful. Whilst it does lie further out of town than the original development it has its own access down to Burriana Beach and bus services into Nerja are frequent. Capistrano Playa is a beautifully designed villa complex which is the closest to the sea with direct access to Burriana Beach.
Beaches in Nerja
Although scenic, Nerja beaches aren’t the most beautiful on the Costa del Sol as they’re composed of a fine grey sand rather than the golden sand you’ll find at the resorts to the west of Malaga. With summer temperatures into the 30ºC’s it’s wise to always wear flip flops as the heat of the sand can be unbearable. There are several nice beaches along the coast on either side of the Balcón de Europa which are well maintained and offer good facilities for holiday makers.
You can rent sun beds and shades on several of the beaches and you’re rarely far from bars and restaurants when the thirst becomes just too much. Pristine sand and water conditions have won Burriana Beach numerous awards and it’s a popular base for scuba divers.
Furthest east is Playa Burriana which serves visitors staying in apartments at Capistrano Playa all the way up the hill to Capistrano village itself. If you’re coming from the other side of town you can walk down to the beach at the side of the Balcón de Europa and follow the walkway for about 20 minutes or just head along c/Carabeo to the Parador hotel and drop down to Burriana beach there. There’s no shortage of bars along the Paseo de Burriana and a popular lunchtime option is a plate of paella cooked on an open fire. Ayo’s is the best known of the paella restaurants.
Heading west (towards town) from Burriana you can walk along Playas Carabeillo, Carabeo and Chorrillo all of which lie beneath the sheer rock face of Nerja without immediate access to facilities. Just minutes away, however, is Playa Calahonda which is a popular, sheltered beach just down from the eastern side of the Balcón de Europa. Here’s a good spot to rent a sun bed for the day and enjoy a fresh seafood lunch at the Papagayo restaurant. On the other side of the Balcón de Europa is Playa el Salón which tends to get very busy. Take the small alley next to the church to get there stopping off for a drink on the sun terrace at Cochran’s on your way down.
Further west and not accessible along the beach from Playa el Salón is Playas La Torrecilla and El Playazo which mainly cater for tourists staying in the hotels over in the west of town such as the Hotel Riu Monica and Perla Marina. You’ll need to walk through town to reach them. La Torrecilla is the pick of the two with El Playazo being quite pebbly with few facilities.
Nightlife in Nerja
Nerja nightlife is generally quite laid back and geared to families and mature couples rather than the 18-30 brigade. There’s a good selection of restaurants, many with fine terraces overlooking the sea, as well as stylish terrace bars. There are a good number of traditional tapas bars though you’ll need to wander off the main tourist routes to find some of them. Los Cuñaos (Herrera Oria 19) is one such place where you’ll really be rubbing shoulders with the locals in an authentic tapas bar.
A good place to start the evening is at the Balcón de Europa which is surrounded by café bars with terraces. From here you can head east towards c/Gloria where the Round Bar is a good spot for drinks and tapas on a tiny street surrounded by restaurants. Alternatively, head west to Cochranes Terrace (Calle Salón, 12) for a pre-dinner cocktail on their huge terrace. Plaza Tutti Frutti and Antonio Millón are the areas to head for if you’re looking for late night bars and disco pubs. For sports fans you’ll have no problem finding bars with large screens showing Skysports.
If you’re staying near Burriana Beach there’s a good selection of bars and restaurants running along Paseo de Burriana as well as numerous restaurants actually on the beach. If you’re in staying in Capistrano Village there is a bar and restaurant but you’ll more than likely head into the town centre or to the Burriana Beach area for the nightlife.
Every Wednesday and Friday you can catch a flamenco show at El Colono (c/Granada 6). The show begins at 9pm whilst the club opens for dinner at 7.30pm. It’s a good idea to reserve during the summer months. There’s also a great flamenco show in the intimate Andaluz surroundings of El Burro Blanco (c/Gloria 3). Shows take place at 10pm every night during peak season. Some hotels put on their own entertainment including flamenco throughout the year.
Restaurants in Nerja
There’s a surprisingly good selection of Nerja restaurants beyond what you might expect from a popular holiday resort. The place hasn’t been taken over by British pubs though you’ll be able to find your bangers and mash if you’re having withdrawal symptoms. On a recent visit there we went to Spanish, Mexican, Indian, Greek, Thai and Italian restaurants and we were only there for a week so prepare yourself for some fine dining.
Restaurants East of the Balcón de Europa
Just opposite the Balcón de Europa there’s a selection of standard cafés where you can get unremarkable snacks and simple meals. Turn right as you leave the Balcón and you’ll see Portofino (Calle Puerta del Mar, 4) which serves typical Mediterranean dishes on its ample sea terrace. Head further east and you’re within minutes of some fine Nerja restaurants. Take a right along Calle Hernando de Carabeo and head for the Michelin recommended Restaurante 34 (Calle Carabeo 34) which has a lovely terrace overlooking the sea. Along this street you’ll also find A Taste of India (Calle Carabeo, 51)which serves excellent Indian cuisine and the Antica Roma (Carabeo, 12) Italian restaurant which has a nice terrace with views over the Balcón de Europa.
Stroll along Calle Almirante Ferrandiz where the Post Office is located and you’ll find a few nice open terrace restaurants on what is a pedestrianised zone in the evening. El Pulgilla (Almirante Ferrándiz, 26) is a good choice for tapas. Just left after the Chinese restaurant and Hostal Miguel is Calle de la Gloria which is a tiny street packed with locals and tourists alike. Bar Redondo (Calle Gloria, 14) is a good place for a drink and they serve free tapas whilst nice restaurants include the Greek Restaurante Poseidón (Calle Gloria, 11), Restaurante Rincón del Sevillano (Calle Gloria, 14) with its roof terrace and El Burro Blanco Flamenco Bar (Calle Gloria, 14).
Located on the premises of the old Langhams restaurant, La Joya (Calle Los Huertos 54) is a popular spot with a wide and varied menu. Much further east on Playa de Burriana you’ll find a long line of ‘chiringuitos’ lining the beach many of which cook paella and barbecued fish on open fires. Highly recommended down this way is JJs Cafe del Mar (Camino de Burriana, 34).
Restaurants West of the Balcón de Europa
Just west of the Balcón de Europa take the alleyway next to the church which leads down to Playa del Salón. Here you’ll find Cochran’s Terrace (Calle Salón, 12) which serves an interesting selection of dishes on its huge terrace overlooking the sea. They also do a good pint of Guinness and have a large screen for showing sports events. Behind the church is Plaza Cavana which is a lovely square which is home to a number of attractive terrace bars and restaurants including Cafeteria Cavana which is one of Nerja’s oldest bars. Continue along Calle Diputacion Provincial for two minutes and you’ll arrive at El Refugio (Calle Diputacion Provincial 12) which probably serves the best steak in town.
Next to Plaza Cavana is Calle el Barrio which leads to a lively Mexican restaurant called Cielito Lindo (Calle el Barrio, 26) where a tequila slammer and a crash helmet are served at the end of your meal! Just opposite is an alley leading to Calle Malaga where you can stop for a cocktail at Hemingway’s (Calle Malaga 12) before dining at any number of excellent local restaurants. Restaurante LanSang (Calle Málaga, 12) is run by a charming man from Laos who serves up exquisite Thai and Lao cuisine. His neighbours are the Mediterranean restaurant, Naturale Cuisine, and the excellent Au Petit Paris which serves high quality French cuisine. All three have outdoor terraces.
There are hundreds of fine restaurants in Nerja and no doubt you’ll find your own particular favourites. These are just a few we’ve visited ourselves and are happy to recommend.
Excursions from Nerja
Nerja is a great base from which visitors can take any number of half-day and full-day excursions to attractions in the region. Of course, the main local attractions are the Caves of Nerja which lie just 4km east of town and the Moorish town of Frigiliana which is up a mountain, some 6km to the north. Visitors who want to travel further afield can take a full day excursion to the magnificent Alhambra Palace in Granada as well as visiting the great Moorish cities of Cordoba, Seville and Malaga. For more information on taking day trips from Nerja please refer to our Nerja Excursions page.