Nerja is a charming coastal town to the east of Malaga which has a very different coastline to Marbella. Nerja’s coast is full of little coves, inlets and beaches with small pebbles. This makes for wonderful clear water, perfect for snorkelling and great places to explore by boat or kayak. Nerja is a great excursion from Marbella, as it’s under an hour and a half away by car and has a very different feel. It also has an amazing system of caves which are definitely worth a visit.
Nerja has a lovely Old Town full of little shops, cafes, bars and restaurants and is definitely a town for walking. Leave the car and stroll along to admire the breath taking views from the Balcon de Europa and then head into the town and enjoy exploring the pretty little streets. It has a lovely atmosphere and is very well set up for tourists, with lots of winding streets, pretty squares and lots of great places to rest weary feet.
Insider’s Tip – We love Bar Redondo on Calle de la Gloria! It is a great tapas bar where you receive a free, delicious tapas with every drink from a huge choice of specials. It’s really busy, buzzing with life and great value for money.
There are lovely beaches everywhere in Nerja and the water is crystal clear, so don’t forget your snorkel. You really are spoilt for choice as there are so many of them, but access can be tricky because of the cliffs and rugged coastline. They are worth the effort though and although they are mainly pebbles rather than sand, we think they are some of the best on the Costa del Sol for beauty and snorkelling.
The closest beach to the centre and the easiest to access is the little La Caletilla just to the west of the Balcon de Europa. Calahonda, Chorillo and Carabeo beaches are also all very close to Nerja’s centre and the Balcon de Europa, this time to the east. They are very small as well, but have access via a footpath from Nerja. It is only a short walk, but not easy if you have a pram, or limited mobility.
The main town beach is Burriana Beach, a long, wide stretch of pebble and sand with a long seaside promenade lined with bars, restaurants and shops. It is a real family friendly beach, with playgrounds, shops to buy buckets and spades and lilos, plus kiosks to get an ice cream. There are also plenty of places which hire out kayaks and pedalos, so the kids definitely won’t get bored.
Insider’s Tip – Although we said Nerja is a good place to walk, this beach is not that easy to get to by foot from the centre of town. It’s a long way and not very direct because of the jagged coastline. If you have kids or a lot of stuff, it’s better to drive, get the bus, or a taxi.
The most special beach is Playa de Maro, a stunning beach about a ten-minute drive from Nerja. It is regularly voted one of the best beaches in Spain, as it is secluded and in a protected area tucked into the cliffs, with amazing snorkelling. There isn’t much there, but you can get a sun lounger if you get there early enough and there’s a great little restaurant which does fantastic fish and seafood.
Insider’s Tip – Invest in some beach shoes so you can explore the beaches and rocks, as it’s quite hard on your feet. Head away from the chiringuito along to some rocks jutting out in the sea and on the right is a magical little cave which you can explore, with fresh water coming down through the cliffs, it’s beautiful.
The Nerja Caves
These caves are spectacular and stretch almost five kilometres. There are three galleries with different halls, all of which are beautifully lit and have amazing stalagmites and stalactites. The Nerja Caves boast the world’s largest stalagmite, which is 32 meters high! There are walkways around these halls, which are easy to navigate. If you are visiting in June, look out for the concerts that take place inside the cave’s halls, they are fabulous. There are important cave paintings in the caves, but unfortunately they are not accessible for visitors, head to the Nerja museum in the centre of town to find out about them. Find out more on the Nerja Caves website
Insider’s Tip – You are not allowed in with flip-flops and you also can’t take pushchairs or prams, so visitors with young children will have to carry them. While in the area check out the newly opened botanical gardens to see the 200 species of plants and enjoy the 1.6 kilometre walking route.
Get Active in Nerja
Nerja is a great place to get active! Highlights include stunning walks along the Rio Chillar riverbed with beautiful scenery and a chance to visit a gorge and waterfalls. You can do this without a guide, but make sure you have shoes that can get wet and be prepared to walk in water.
If you want to take this to the next level, try canyoning, where you explore the waterfalls, cliffs and rapids, hiking, climbing, swimming and sometimes abseiling. This is for people with a good fitness level and head for heights, but it’s a great way to experience the natural beauty of Nerja.
Take to the sea in a kayak for a wonderful tour of the rock formations, caves and coastline of Nerja. The most common route is from Burriana beach over to Maro. You have a guide and a kayak which can take two adults and a child and will explore the stunning coastline for around 2 hours. Beware, you need to be strong and fit to do this and it is a slog back to the start, but it is an amazing experience. If that sounds too much like hard work, just take a kayak out for an hour and explore.
We definitely recommend taking a trip to Nerja if you’re staying in one of our vacation rentals in Marbella. You can hire a car and drive there very easily, or we can organise a private tour where including transport and a guide to take you around the best places in Nerja.
A trip to Nerja truly is a wonderful addition to any Marbella holiday.