A brief guide to Nerja for first time visitors
A guide to Nerja
Much of Nerja’s charm comes from its narrow winding streets, whitewashed houses and gorgeous beaches. Often referred to as the jewel of the Costa del Sol, Nerja has remained one of the most popular destination on the coast.
Getting around for first-time visitor can be a little confusing. Driving is even more confusing because so many streets are one-way and several are pedestrianised so the first rule is dump the car. If you use the main car park (see map), take the south exit and you will find yourself on the Balcón de Europa, the heart of Nerja. This peninsula and the area behind it is a magnet for visitors and a great place to sit and watch the world go by.
Stand with your back to the sea and it’s shopping to your right up Calle Pintada and Calle Cristo (also known as Post Office Street). The biggest concentration of restaurants is also on Calle Cristo and off to the left on Calle Gloria. To your left from the Balcón you go past Plaza Cavana and along El Barrio to the left or Diputación to the right for more bars and restaurants.
Nerja’s busiest beach is Burriana to the east. Chances are you will have seen this beach in a travel or holiday programme back home, particularly Ayo’s where Ayo himself cooks an enormous paella over an open fire and seems to attract TV crews like flies. There is now such a wide choice of bars and restaurants there that Burriana has almost become a separate self-contained town. Coming back towards the Balcón, there are Playa Carabeo, Playa El Chorrillo and, next to the Balcón itself, Playa Calahonda on one side and Playa El Salón on the other. Further west are Playa La Torrecilla and Playa El Playazo, both of which can be reached down Avda. Castilla Pérez, one of Nerja’s busiest streets.
No visit to Nerja is complete without a trip to Frigiliana, some 5kms inland. This picturesque village is steeped in history and one of the best ways to learn more it is to take one of the official walking tours. There is also a tourist train which is a great way to see the sights and learn more about Frigiliana. Contact the tourist office for details on 95 253 4261 or visit turismofrigiliana.es
Night life in Nerja is on Antonio Millón and the adjacent Plaza Tutti Frutti which are wall-to-wall with bars, many of them with dancing. The area doesn’t come to life much before midnight and bars stay open until 3.30am Sunday to Thursday and 4.30 on Friday and Saturday (one hour less in winter). For live music check out both Buskers and Fitzgeralds- they are both on Antonio Millón. There are other bars which stay open later but then it’s mainly on to the discos.
There are many bars in central Nerja and on Burriana which show British football, rugby, cricket, horse racing and other sports. The Spanish Via Digital carries a Premiership game live every Saturday afternoon so you can watch even if you can’t understand the commentary (if Radio Five Live covers the same match, bars generally put that on to accompany the Spanish pictures).
The best way to sample Andalusian cuisine is by taking a tapas tour. It’s a very social way of eating and a great way to meet the locals.
Discovered in 1959, the Nerja caves are one of the biggest tourist attractions in Spain, visited by hundreds of thousands each year. One of the most beautiful cave complexes in Europe, look especially for the 32m high column in Cataclysm Hall which was formed by an estimated 1,000 billion drops of water. Recently opened are the adjoining Botanical Gardens, they cover 26,000 square metres on a site next to the entrance to the caves The garden is laid out in four zones, including traditional crops, vegetation linked to climate, vegetation linked to different soils and special collections, with a total of more than 200 species on display. One of the collections features rare and endangered species common to the area. Set around a central lake, the garden also includes a classroom for educational visits and workshops. It is open to the public every day except Sunday from 9.00am to 3.00pm. Admission is free.
One of the biggest tourist attractions in Spain, visited by hundreds of thousands each year.
The caves lie on the outskirts of Nerja near the village of Maro and are served by a regular bus service or not too far to walk if you’re fit and energetic. If you’re here in July, try to get tickets for the annual festival when famous national and international artists perform in this beautiful underground setting. Opening hours are 10.00-14.00 and 16.00-18.30 (20.00 in July/August). You can also visit the caves on the red train. It’s a tourist train that makes a tour of the most iconic places in the town. It has four stops: Caves of Nerja, Barco de Chanquete, (a replica of a boat made famous in Spain by ‘Verano Azul’, a children’s TV drama from the 60s), Museo of Nerja and Maro Plaza. A €15 ticket is valid all day, and you can get on and off the train as often as you like. It has an audioguide in Spanish and English which explains points of interest along its route. The price includes a visit to the Nerja Caves (it is essential to book a time when purchasing the ticket) and the Museum. Find out more about the Nerja Caves.
A great way to cool down on a hot summer’s day is to walk up the River Chillar in Nerja. A very popular walk in the summer months, especially at the weekends. There is plenty of shade and the water keeps you cool. The scenery is spectacular, there are natural pools, waterfalls and narrow gorges. A great day out and suitable for children too.