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  • Writer's pictureKrista the Explorer

12 Incredible Things To Do in Nerja

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The seaside town of Nerja is one of the most popular tourist destinations near Málaga and can be found on the eastern tip of the Costa del Sol. Although many people visit for the incredible beaches in Nerja, the town has a lot more to offer and is the perfect option for a day trip from Málaga or even Granada. If you visit in the off season chances are the water will be a little too cold to swim in, but that gives you the perfect opportunity to explore Nerja’s old town and its main attractions.

The history of Nerja is quite complex. What was once a fishing village during the period of Moorish rule in southern Spain eventually turned into a thriving textile production base by the 15th century. The area went through a period of decline until the founding of the impressive Nerja Caves in 1956 which are now one of the most visited tourist attractions in Spain. While the caves are a must-see, there are many other interesting things to do in Nerja too.

1. Playa Calahonda

Small sandy beach located at the base of cliffs in Nerja.
Playa Calahonda

There are a lot of beaches in Nerja to choose from, but one of my favourite options is Playa Calahonda. This unique beach sits directly beneath the old town and is very small compared to others in the area. You’ll usually find small fishing boats sitting in the sand and in the summertime there are sunbeds to rent. I visited Nerja in February so the beach was relatively quiet which was a nice change.

2. Balcón de Europa

Small glass balcony and restaurants on seafront in Nerja.
Balcón de Europa

Balcón de Europa is one of the top things to see in Nerja and sits just above Playa Calahonda. The balcony provides visitors with a beautiful view of the Mediterranean Sea and you’ll often find artists and street performers around here too. Due to its popularity the Balcony of Europe can get extremely busy so if you’re visiting Nerja in the busier seasons you’ll want to arrive as early as possible to enjoy it without the crowds.

3. Iglesia El Salvador

A small white painted church in a plaza in Nerja.
Iglesia El Salvador

A short walk from the Balcony of Europe will bring you to Iglesia El Salvador. This 17th century church is located in Plaza de Cavana and is a very popular attraction in Nerja to visit and take a photo with. When I visited the Nerja Carnival was taking place in front of it and it’s not uncommon to see weddings taking place here either.

4. Walk around the old town

Tall white building at the entrance to a small plaza.
Old town of Nerja

Nerja’s old town is beautiful to walk around at any time of the year but in the spring and summertime you’ll be greeted with colourful flowers adorning the walls of the whitewashed buildings which adds an additional touch of charm to the streets. Many of the top things to do in Nerja, besides visiting the beaches, are located in the old town and luckily it’s relatively flat compared to other villages so it’s very walkable.

5. Plaza de España

A large open plaza surrounded by cream coloured buildings.
Plaza de España

While you’re walking around the old town don’t forget to visit Plaza de España. This large plaza is frequently used for celebrations and markets, and is also home to the Nerja History Museum. If you’re looking for parking in Nerja I would recommend the underground parking lot located directly beneath Plaza de España which is reasonably priced and conveniently located.

6. Fuente de Europa

A sculpture made up of stones from different EU states.
Fuente de Europa

Along the coastline of Nerja lies a unique attraction known as Fuente de Europa. This fountain was erected as a symbol of Spain’s membership with the European Union and is made up of various stones from different members of the EU, as well as one from Spain. The fountain was recently moved from a park to the waterfront so you’ll find it easily enough if you’re walking along the waterfront.

7. Rainbow Steps

Steps near a beach in Nerja painted in rainbow colours.
Rainbow Steps

One of the best things to do in Nerja if you’re visiting the coastal town on a budget is to take a photo at the Rainbow Steps. These steps offer access to Playa Torrecilla and are close to some of the best places to eat in Nerja along the waterfront. You may have to wait a while for the steps to clear of people but the photo is worth it.

8. Mirador de la Torrecilla

A viewpoint in Nerja looking back at the beach and town.
Mirador de la Torrecilla

If you’re only planning a day trip to Nerja then I would recommend taking a walk along the coast until you reach Mirador de la Torrecilla. This viewpoint offers a great angle of Playa Torrecilla and is also where you’ll find Atalaya de la Torrecilla - the ruins of an historic watchtower. This watchtower isn’t one of the main things to see in Nerja but it’s worth taking a look at if you’re visiting the viewpoint.

9. Fábrica San José

Tall brick chimney next to white buildings of a factory.
Fábrica San José

A bit of a hidden gem in Nerja is Fábrica San José. Built in 1870, this building quickly became one of the most important sugar factories in town and only ceased operations in 1968. Today it’s used as a school but much of its main features, such as the tall chimney, have been kept in place. For those of you planning to visit Frigiliana from Nerja, the hillside town has the only cane molasses factory still in operation in Europe.

10. Barco de Chanquete

White and blue painted boat used in a TV show.
Barco de Chanquete

One of the top things to do in Nerja is to visit the Barco de Chanquete. This full scale replica fishing boat, named La Dorada, became famous in the 1980’s when it featured in a hit TV series called Verano Azul. The show aired in various countries around the world so it’s a very popular tourist attraction in Nerja for a wide variety of people. It’s located only a short walk from the centre of the old town too!

11. Cueva de Nerja

Large cave complex with walkways built in for visitors.
Cueva de Nerja

The famous Nerja Caves are a must-see for anyone visiting Nerja for the first time. They’re located a short drive from the town centre and are very close to Playa de Maro which I would highly recommend going to if you have the time and want to do some kayaking. The caves themselves were uncovered in 1959 by locals looking for bats and today they are some of the most important caves globally and are home to the oldest piece of art too.

Entry isn’t cheap at €14 per person but visiting Cueva de Nerja is something that should be done at least once. It will take no more than an hour to explore the various caves that are open to the public and there is plenty of parking available on-site.

12. Acueducto del Águila

Aqueduct painted in red and yellow crossing a gorge.
Acueducto del Águila

Before leaving Nerja don’t forget to take a look at the impressive Acueducto del Águila. The Eagle Aqueduct has been in use since the 19th century and was originally constructed to carry water from Nerja to a nearby sugar refinery. You’ll most likely need a car to access the viewpoint which is located at the side of the N-340 road leading to Maro but it’s a very unique place to visit near Nerja and you won’t see another piece of architecture like it.

Nerja is a fantastic coastal town to visit along the Costa del Sol and is a popular base for many tourists. There are plenty of day trips from Nerja to go on besides Frigiliana such as Málaga, Marbella, and even Granada if you want to head inland. And with quite a few things to do in Nerja and the surrounding area you’ll thoroughly enjoy exploring all that Nerja has to offer visitors.

If you have any questions about visiting Nerja, where to stay in Nerja, or want advice on day trips to go on please get in touch using the comments section below, by email, or through Instagram where you can also find more travel tips and ideas about where to visit in southern Spain.


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