Along Spain’s Southern shore in the heart of Costa del Sol sits one of the most amazing beach towns in Europe. Nerja has always been a place we’ve enjoyed and is our go-to vacation spot when we need a few weeks to relax in the sun. Join us as we take you through all the best beaches, things to do, and places to eat and drink in beautiful Nerja Spain!
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How to Get to Nerja Spain
Nerja is located in Andalusia along Spain’s famous Costa del Sol. Its close proximity to both Malaga and Granada makes it a great beach destination from these cities.
The easiest route is to fly into Malaga and take the bus or private transfer to Nerja Spain. You can also rent a car easily from Malaga Airport and be at the beach in under an hour!
About Nerja Spain
Nerja is one of those places you dream about when you think of Spain. Cliffs tower over the sparkling sea, and the endless beaches hug the coastline.
Still, after reading about the best things to do in Nerja Spain, you’ll realize it’s not just a beach destination! There are some great cultural attractions, incredible local food, cafes, and a plethora of outdoor activities to enjoy.
Best Things to do in Nerja Spain
1. Tapa Hop Around Town
Let’s start out with one of the most obvious things to do in Nerja Spain… It’s tapa time! While this is a staple of many towns and cities in Spain, some beach towns seem to cater more to tourists and lose their authenticity.
Well, we can tell you from firsthand experience that is not the case in Nerja! Right outside the main square, you can find delicious local tapas. We tend to like the fresh seafood tapas being on the ocean, but as you’ll see there are great options in Nerja for everyone.
2. Swim at the Endless Beaches
Going to the beach is one of the best things to do in Nerja, and one of the main reasons why so many travelers visit Costa del Sol. What makes the Nerja beaches special is that they are all so unique from each other.
They range from long stretches of sand at Playa de Burriana to the stunning pebbly beach of Playa El Chucho. Most of the Nerja beaches are set underneath the cliffs from town, which present jaw-dropping scenery up and down the coastline. Oh, and did we mention the ocean is crystal clear?
3. Balcon de Europa
The undisputed town center of Nerja Spain is the Balcon de Europa. This landmark sticks out over the cliffs and gives travelers an amazing viewpoint of the mountains and coast.
We were impressed to find out that where the Balcon de Europa is positioned actually used to be a castle! You’ll also find the most prestigious hotel in town with the same name sitting next to it.
One of our favorite things to do in Nerja is grab a 2 euro ice cream at one of the storefronts in the plaza and watch the sunset over the ocean.
4. Nerja Spain Tuesday Market
Just a short 15 minute walk from the Balcon de Europa is the best market in Nerja Spain! Every Tuesday this one section of town fills with colorful stands and pop-up tents. Here you can find everything from clothes to jewelry, and plenty of souvenirs to bring home with you.
There is also a more local market held in the same spot every Sunday. However, this is more like a flea market and less suited for tourists visiting Nerja in Spain.
5. Treats at the Local Bakery
While bakeries are a staple of any Spanish town, Nerja has an abundance of great local options. When walking the streets you will smell the dough rising in the air which will no doubt draw you right in!
Our favorite bakery in Nerja is Panaderia Salvador. This spot is packed from open to close, full of hungry locals looking to grab their bread for the day. In addition to fresh bread, you’ll also find some delicious cakes and pastries at this lovely takeaway bakery.
6. Walk to Playa Burriana
One of the best things to do in Nerja is walk from the center of town to Burriana Beach! This fun 20 minute stroll will take you along the coast, through the back streets, and up over the hills. When you get your first glimpse of Playa Burriana you’ll be glad you made the trip!
Unlike the beaches closer to town under the cliffs, Playa Burriana is a long stretch of sand perfect for laying out in the Spanish sun. All along the beach there are great restaurants and fun water activities to enjoy.
7. Paella at Ayo Restaurant
Starting to plan out your time visiting Nerja in Spain? Well, there is no better place to eat in Playa Burriana than here! That’s because the legendary Ayo Restaurant serves up an all-you-can-eat Paella feast.
Starting early afternoon the tables fill up and so do the plates! The Paella is cooked in the open on massive steel pans, with rice, chicken, and seafood, making for a truly authentic Spanish experience.
When we lived in Nerja we would make it our Sunday tradition to walk to Playa Burriana specifically for this meal!
8. Take in the Cafe Culture
One thing you’ll notice right away in Nerja is that they love their cafe time. It’s common to see locals enjoying a cafe con leche and socializing at all times of the day… Even having coffee at night!
Many places have deals on their signs out front that include a coffee with a tostada, sweets, or orange juice. So grab a seat at a cafe when you see one. Here you can relax and enjoy some of the best coffee and pastries in Europe.
9. Visit the Museum of Nerja Spain
Ready to learn some amazing history about Nerja? The Nerja Museum takes you through Paleolithic times all the way up to the present day in this remarkable region of Spain. On our visit, we were in awe of the agricultural and strategic importance of Nerja’s place in history.
The many exhibits show everything from Nerja under Islamic occupation to the hunters and gatherers that lived in the Nerja caves. The Museum of Nerja is located in the Plaza de Espana which is just a 5 minute walk from the Balcon de Europa.
10. Train to the Nerja Caves
Speaking of caves… Did you know Nerja has one of the most well preserved in Europe?? Believe it or not, this massive cave was discovered only recently in 1959. It was actually found by a group of kids on a late-night search for bats! Since then, the cave has been excavated and open to the public.
Inside the caves, researchers have found paintings and evidence of human life from over 40,000 years ago. They even play host to special concerts, performances, and ballet!
One of the most fun parts about visiting the caves is you can take the tourist train there and back from town. As you can see, the train and cave tour is easily one of the best things to do in Nerja Spain.
Nerja Spain Tip: For 18 Euros you can get a ticket to the museum, train, and entrance to the Nerja caves! Buy these tickets directly at the Museum and do both activities on the same day.
11. Rent a Kayak or Paddleboard
If you’re looking for more things to do in Nerja outdoors then it’s time to get out on the ocean! Kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding are two popular activities that can be done right from Playa Burriana. Take a group tour to the sea caves along the coast, or rent one and cruise the water yourself.
12. Try a Plato del Dia in Nerja Spain
Still hungry after tapas and your trip to the cafe? Well, the best lunch deal around can be found at numerous restaurants in town. If you aren’t familiar, the Plato or “Menu del Dia” is a traditional Spanish lunch that comes with 3 courses and a drink.
This lunchtime specialty gives you a starter, main dish, and coffee/dessert for just 8-12 Euros. The only problem is you might need a siesta after this meal!
13. Sunset Drinks
Like much of Spain, this beach town has some incredible sunsets! One of our favorite things to do in Nerja Spain is grab a drink and watch as the colors change in the sky. Bamboo is a unique bar near Playa Torrecilla that has a fun vibe and tropical atmosphere.
For another option, Cochran’s Terrace is right around the corner from the Balcon de Europa. Here you’ll be sipping on drinks high up in the cliffs with an epic view! Wherever you go, be sure to get to these popular bars early for the best seat for sunset.
14. Stroll the Colorful Backstreets
One of our favorite things to do in Nerja Spain is to simply stroll the backstreets of this beautiful town. The colors and flowers pop out around every corner, and the unique architecture will have you snapping plenty of photos. We love walking through the winding streets of Nerja, finding a local cafe, and taking in all that Spain has to offer.
15. Day Trip From Nerja Spain
We hope you enjoyed reading about some of our favorite things to do in Nerja Spain. You should also know that Nerja is located in the perfect position to make day trips to several other awesome towns. So once you’re done soaking in the sun head to one of these other cool places in Andalusia!
Frigiliana: This one of a kind mountain village is tucked high in the mountains back from the ocean. Being just a 15 minute bus ride from Nerja makes it well worth the visit.
Torrox Costa: Another wonderful beach town along Costa del Sol. In the summer the crowds are large and bars and restaurants overflowing with people. While the winter season brings a more laid-back and relaxed vibe.
La Herradura: To the east of Nerja there is the small beach town of La Herradura. This little village is more rugged than some of its neighbors, but still fun to check out. The views are breathtaking and if you want to do some water sports you can head to Marina del Este.
Malaga & Granada: We would actually not recommend visiting these cities on a day trip, but know that it is possible… Especially if you have a car! Either way, Malaga & Granada are a must to be included in your Spain itinerary.
Have any questions about the best things to do in Nerja Spain? How about your own tips or recommendations for this beautiful town? Let us know in the comments below!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
Where To Stay In Nerja Spain
Ultra Luxury – Hotel Balcon de Europa – Enjoy a stay at the most prestigious and central hotel in all of Nerja! Sitting right on the famous Balcon de Europa, you’ll be blessed with beautiful sea views and close to all the best beaches.
Fun Vacation – MB Boutique Hotel – Located just steps from Torrecilla Beach, this incredible property is just what you need for a relaxing vacation. Enjoy the comforts of Southern Spain from your balcony with all the luxury amenities you love.
Boutique Hotel – La Puerta de Nerja Hostal – This gorgeous hotel in the heart of Nerja will be the perfect place to explore town from. You can even take in the views from the rooftop jacuzzi!
Hostel Stay – Charming Nerja Hostel – Charming Nerja Hostel is within walking distance to the Balcon Europa and has wonderful private rooms and dorms available.
For more places to stay in Nerja Spain you can explore the latest prices here!
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Spain Travel Planning
Flights: We always find the best flights using Skyscanner. Sometimes it’s cheaper to fly between cities in Spain than driving or taking the train!
Rental Car: We use Discover Cars to explore when traveling. Consider renting a car in one city and dropping it off in another for an epic Spain road trip!
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for thousands of activities around Spain. You can book a tour of the Madrid Royal Palace, skip the line and explore the Alhambra de Granada, or even jump on a Tenerife Dolphin cruise!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without protection! We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.