Located in the province of Málaga on Spain’s Costa del Sol, Nerja is known for its long stretches of powdery sand beaches. In fact, there are close to 10 kilometers of beach in Nerja, with 12 distinct beaches to comb, but this is only a small part of what makes this town so appealing. It is also home to one of the biggest unexplored cave systems in Europe, and has architecture (and a history) influenced heavily by both Muslim and Roman culture.
And still, that’s not all! Here’s a look at just a few of the interesting things you can do in Nerja, one of our favorite cities in Spain.
What Is the Best Time to Visit Nerja, Spain?
One of the great things about Nerja is that there isn’t just one “best” time to visit. If you want to avoid crowds and enjoy cooler, milder temperatures, then the autumn and winter months might be best for you. If, instead, you want to enjoy some fun in the sun on one of Nerja’s many beaches, the summer months are the better choice.
The only month it may be best to avoid is November, which often sees steady rainfall for multiple days.
Our Favorite Things to Do in Nerja, Spain
Visit the Museum
One of the best things you can do when visiting a new place is to explore its history. In Nerja, you can go all the way back to Paleolithic times via the artifacts at the Museo de Nerja, a museum that focuses exclusively on the natural and cultural heritage of the area. Pieces from nearly every historical period are on display so that visitors can see how modern-day Nerja came to be. Classified as a “living museum,” Museo de Nerja also recreates moments from the past via models and other means, giving visitors the feeling that they are truly immersed in the events of the past.
Stand on the Balcony of Europe
You cannot find a better place to take a photo in Nerja than the Balcony of Europe. This is the most-visited and most-photographed place in the whole city, thanks to its incredible views. Situated on top of a cliff between the El Salón and Calahonda beaches, this spot gives you views of the beaches and the Mediterranean Sea below that you will never forget.
Eat Tropical Fruit (and Everything Else!)
At first glance, one might recognize the influence of Mediterranean cuisine in Nerja, but this town puts its own twist on it by adding tropical fruit to many dishes one would never expect to see them in. Typical fruits of the region include mango, avocado, papaya, and custard apple, and one of its signature dishes is a gazpacho-like soup called ajoblanco, made with vegetables, olive oil, garlic, and grapes. Sampling the different culinary experiences is definitely one of the best things to do in Spain, so be sure to have it on your bucket list!
Some of the Best Attractions in Nerja, Spain
Cueva de Nerja
Cueva de Nerja is the city’s main attraction and one that can’t be missed. It is a system of caves that stretches over 4,823 meters, a third of which is open for tourists to explore. Its cave formations are amazing in and of themselves, but there is more to this cave than meets the eye. It is a highly archeologically significant cave, because it contains remains of human occupation that are over 30,000 years old. Artifacts range from the Upper Paleolithic period to the Neolithic period, and still today one can see evidence of both living spaces and burial grounds for humans that date back 25,000 years.
Burriana Beach or, as it’s known locally, Playa Burriana, is the most-visited beach in Nerja, and for good reason. Sunbathers and beachcombers will find this a great place to spend an afternoon, but it also has lots of activities for those who don’t like to sit still. Beachgoers can rent paddleboats, kayaks, or banana boats, or go jet-skiing on the water. You can also go deep-sea diving near the cliffs, where you can come face to face with underwater wildlife. Or, if that’s a bit too adventurous for you, you can just take a long walk along the promenade, sampling the local fried fish and checking out the souvenirs.
Rio Chillar, or The Chillar River, is a popular hiking destination because the trails nearby take you through the Almijara, Tejeda, and Alhama Nature Reserves. The river spills out into natural pools, and leads you to a beautiful natural waterfall. If you choose to hike the Rio Chillar trail, though, be prepared to get wet! This medium-difficulty walk takes you through a lot of areas that are wet all year round, so proper, non-slip footwear is a must.
Other Sights Worth a Visit in Nerja, Spain
Nerja has so many sights to see that it is tough to fit them into one post! But visitors should also make time for Acueducto Del Aguila, an imposing aqueduct with four levels of arches that makes for a great photo, as well as Playa Papagayo, a beach with an unforgettable view of blue water and the coastline.
Regardless of whether it’s the caves, the river, the museums, or the beaches that speak to you, there is certainly something for everyone in Nerja. Just be sure to bring the proper shoes for your adventure!