Nerja, often referred to as the “Tourist Capital of La Axarquia,” is nestled along the eastern edge of the province, a mere 50 kilometers away from Malaga. Blessed with a temperate climate, Nerja welcomes visitors year-round. From the tranquility of the town, which carries the rich echoes of its Moorish heritage, to its vibrant array of entertainment options, and spanning over nine kilometers of pristine coastline – from the renowned Burriana Beach to the secluded, unspoiled coves of Los Acantilados de Maro – Nerja captivates the hearts of those in search of both sun-kissed serenity and a thriving artistic community.
Join us on this journey as we delve into the history of Nerja. Explore its captivating tourist attractions, and uncover its hidden gems. From must-visit locations to the vibrant festivities, tantalizing gastronomy, and practical travel tips. Here we will be your guide to experiencing the essence of Nerja in all its glory.
History of Nerja
The first inhabitants of Nerja date back to the Paleolithic and Bronze Ages, passing through the Epipaleolithic and Neolithic periods, with significant human remains belonging to the Cro-Magnon era.
During the period of Arab domination, Nerja was known as Narixa, which means “abundant source,” and it is the origin of its current name. It had its own fortress, located in the area now known as Pago del Castillo Alto.
In 1487, the Muslims of Vélez surrendered to the Catholic King, followed by the inhabitants of most of the Axarquía region. Among the places mentioned in the Christian Chronicles, Narija, our Nerja, is cited.
In the 16th century, after the rebellion of the Moors, a new fortress was built on the site occupied by the coastal tower of the Balcón de Europa. The population that had decided to leave its original location concentrated around it. In this century, the hermitage of Nuestra Señora de las Angustias was also constructed.
In 1884, a massive earthquake struck, and King Alfonso XII visited the affected area. After admiring the “battery promenade,” he officially named it the “Balcón de Europa” and granted the title of “Most Excellent” to the City Council.
The discovery of the Nerja Cave in 1959 marked a new beginning for Nerja. This discovery symbolized the start of significant tourist development that brought progress and prosperity, transforming the social life of Nerja.
As you amble through the streets and explore these historical sites, you’ll not only unearth Nerja’s past but also engage with its dynamic present. The town’s history forms the backdrop to its modern allure, making every stride a revelation and every corner a slice of living history.
While Nerja’s history provides a captivating backdrop, its modern allure lies in its array of enchanting tourist attractions. From pristine beaches to architectural marvels, and from immersive cultural experiences to breathtaking viewpoints. Let’s embark on a journey to discover the irresistible allure of Nerja’s tourist attractions, where every visit promises to be a memorable adventure.
Exploring Nerja’s Architectural Treasures
As you journey through Nerja’s captivating tourist attractions, don’t miss the chance to explore its remarkable monuments and architectural treasures:
- Balcón de Europa: Begin your adventure at the iconic Balcón de Europa, a breathtaking promenade that offers panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea. This is the heart of Nerja, where you can soak in the coastal beauty and savor the sea breeze. (Map)
- Old Town (Casco Antiguo): Lose yourself in the charming streets of Nerja’s old town. The Moorish influence is palpable in its whitewashed houses and narrow alleys. Don’t miss the Church of El Salvador, which bears the traces of an ancient mosque. (Map)
- Eagle Aqueduct (Acueducto del Águila): Explore the 19th-century engineering marvel, the Eagle Aqueduct, which once supplied water to the thriving sugar cane industry. It’s a testament to Nerja’s more recent history and offers a unique blend of functionality and aesthetics. (Map)
- El Salvador Church (Iglesia de El Salvador): Discover the rich history and architectural beauty of the El Salvador Church, known for its stunning Baroque façade. Step inside to admire the intricate details of this religious monument. (Map)
- Ermita de las Angustias: Visit the Ermita de las Angustias, a charming hermitage that stands as a testament to Nerja’s spiritual heritage. Its tranquil surroundings provide a peaceful escape from the bustling town. (Map)
- Nerja Museum (Museo de Nerja): Explore the town’s history in more depth at the Nerja Museum, located in a 17th-century sugar mill. Discover a diverse collection of artifacts and exhibits that showcase Nerja’s evolution over the centuries. (Map)
These are some of the standout monuments that Nerja has to offer, each contributing a unique piece to the town’s cultural mosaic. Whether you’re drawn to history, architecture, or spirituality, Nerja’s monuments have something to offer every curious traveler.
Nerja’s natural beauty is equally enticing, offering visitors the chance to immerse themselves in pristine landscapes and scenic wonders. Here are some of the top natural attractions that Nerja has to offer:
- Nerja Caves (Cuevas de Nerja): Venture beneath the surface to discover the Nerja Caves, a natural wonder adorned with stunning stalactites and stalagmites. These caves also provide a glimpse into the town’s Roman history, making them a fascinating blend of nature and archaeology. (Map)
- Burriana Beach: Enjoy the sun and sea at Burriana Beach, Nerja’s most famous stretch of sand. It’s perfect for swimming, water sports, and beachside dining. (Map)
- Cliffs of Maro – Cerro Gordo: Just a short drive from Nerja, you’ll find the stunning Cliffs of Maro – Cerro Gordo. This protected natural area is a paradise for nature enthusiasts. Explore its rugged cliffs, pristine coves, and crystal-clear waters. Hiking trails offer breathtaking views of the coastline and the opportunity to encounter diverse flora and fauna. (Map)
- Chillar River: For a unique adventure, hike along the Río Chillar. This river walk takes you through a picturesque gorge with crystal-clear waters. You can cool off by wading through the river and enjoy the tranquility of the surrounding nature. (Map)
- Natural Beaches: Explore secluded coves like Playa del Cañuelo or Playa de la Caleta de Maro, where you can relax in unspoiled settings and swim in pristine waters.
Whether you’re exploring the subterranean wonders of the Nerja Caves, basking in the sun at Burriana Beach, hiking in the Parque Natural de Maro – Cerro Gordo, strolling along Río Chillar, or discovering the natural beauty of Nerja’s hidden beaches, you’ll find that Nerja’s natural attractions offer a diverse range of experiences for nature lovers.
- Burriana Beach: It’s Nerja’s busiest beach, offering excellent amenities and a variety of water sports like jet skiing, kayaking, and more.
- Carabeillo Beach: Accessible via the “Mirador del Bendito” on Carabeo Street, this tranquil beach is surrounded by lush vegetation.
- Carabeo Beach: A small cove about 120 meters long, reachable on foot through a narrow alley on Carabeo Street, nestled between cliffs, offering shelter from the wind.
- Chorrillo Beach: Accessible via Calahonda and Carabeo beaches, this beach is favored by residents and tourists, particularly those interested in snorkeling.
- Calahonda Beach: Found to the left of the famous Balcón de Europa viewpoint, simply descend the stairs at the Calahonda gap to reach it.
- La Caletilla Beach: A small beach located next to the Balcón de Europa.
- El Salón Beach: Situated west of the Balcón de Europa, it’s a peaceful and family-friendly beach.
- La Torrecilla Beach: A popular beach with good amenities, including restaurants and nearby shops.
- El Chucho Beach: An urban beach with dark sand and calm waters.
- El Playazo Beach: Nerja’s longest beach, ideal for long coastal walks.
- Cala del Barranco de Maro: A beautiful cove with crystal-clear waters, perfect for snorkeling.
- La Caleta de Maro: A small and tranquil beach surrounded by tropical crops.
- Molino de Papel Beach: A pristine and quiet beach, part of the Maro-Cerro Gordo Cliffs Natural Park.
- Maro Beach: A picturesque beach surrounded by spectacular cliffs.
- Las Alberquillas Beach: A peaceful natural beach protected as part of the Maro-Cerro Gordo Cliffs Natural Park.
- Cala del Pino: A secluded small cove, perfect for those seeking a tranquil spot to relax.
- El Cañuelo Beach: The last beach before entering the province of Granada, known for its clear waters and natural beauty.
Fairs and festivals
Nerja comes alive with vibrant celebrations throughout the year, offering visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the town’s rich cultural traditions and festive spirit:
- Feria de Nerja: Held in October, it’s a week-long celebration with colorful processions, lively music, and traditional Andalusian dancing. Don’t miss the fairgrounds, where you can enjoy delicious food, carnival rides, and the famous “casetas” (festive tents).
- Semana Santa: Experience the solemn beauty of Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Nerja, typically held in late March or early April.
- Fiesta de San Isidro: This joyful event includes a procession, live music, and traditional Andalusian games. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see the local culture come alive in May.
- Night of San Juan: Welcome the summer solstice with the Night of St. John on June 23rd. Locals and visitors gather on the beaches to light bonfires, jump over the flames, and enjoy a festive atmosphere. It’s a magical night of music, dancing, and celebration.
- San Bernabe Pilgrimage: In June, join the Romería de San Bernabe, a pilgrimage to honor the town’s patron saint. Participants dress in traditional costumes and make their way to Maro, where a lively celebration takes place with music, dancing, and traditional food.
- Maro Fair: Experience the unique charm of Maro Fair, held in July. This traditional fair celebrates the culture and heritage of Maro with music, dance, and delicious local cuisine.
- Maroween (Halloween in Maro): In October, Maro comes alive with the spooktacular Maroween celebration. Experience Halloween with a Nerja twist, including costume parades, haunted houses, and eerie decorations that add a touch of frightful fun to the festivities.
These festivals are wonderful opportunities to connect with the local community, savor traditional cuisine, and experience the joyous atmosphere that defines Nerja’s festive spirit.
The cuisine of Nerja, a town in the province of Malaga, Spain, is a blend of Mediterranean flavors with a tropical touch1. Typical products in Nerja’s current gastronomy include fish and tropical fruits like avocado, custard apple, and mango2. With these ingredients, delightful dishes are prepared that reflect the rich culinary culture of the region.
Here is a list of some typical dishes from Nerja:
- Ajoblanco with Grapes: A cold soup made with bread, ground almonds, and other ingredients like oil or garlic, often served with grapes or melon.
- Emblanco de Pescado: A hot fish soup, usually made with hake, but you can also find it with monkfish, sea bream, grouper, or hake, often accompanied by potatoes and vegetables.
- Espetos de Sardines: Espetos is a typical dish along the entire Malaga coastline, involving skewering fish, usually sardines, on thin, long canes and then roasting them over a wood fire on the beach.
- Sweet Potatoes with Cane Honey: Sweet potatoes, also known as batatas, are prepared with cane honey from the nearby town of Frigiliana.
- Cabrito a la Nerjeña: Cabrito a la Nerjeña is Nerja’s signature dish, unique to the town as its name suggests. This dish is usually prepared with almonds, bread, garlic, paprika, and spicy pepper.
- Boquerones en Escabeche: Boquerones en escabeche is a classic dish made with marinated anchovies.
- Paprika with Fish and Clams: A delicious stew that combines paprika with seafood.
Local Holidays 15th May and 10 October the main fair in honour of the Virgen de las Angustias.
- Distance from Malaga Airport: 60km
- Town Hall: 952-548-410
- Local Police : 952-521-545
- Foreign Residents Department: 952-548-401
How to get
To get to Nerja from Malaga Airport by car, you can follow these directions:
- Head northwest on Av. del Comandante García Morato, s/n, 29004, Málaga.
- Time: 17 seconds (140 meters)
- Drive on A-7 and take exit 929 from A-7.
- Time: 44 minutes (69.8 km)
- Take Carr. de Almería/N-340 and MA-170 to your destination in Nerja.
- Time: 16 minutes (9.9 km)
Estimated Total Time: 1 hour (79.8 km)
This route is the quickest option considering the traffic conditions. If you need to rent a car, remember that we do not charge for cancellation and you do not have to pay online for Malaga car hire. Enjoy your journey to Nerja!
There are two local bus services linking the east and west sides of Nerja with the centre. Line 1 runs from 9am to 9pm and Line 2 operates in the morning only in winter.
If you want to take a bus we recommend to check information about Malaga bus station, from where you will have to take it. Consider taking a train to Malaga train station taking in consideration the timetables.