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12 Best Things to Do in Nerja, Spain

12 Best Things to Do in Nerja, Spain

With all of the wonderful things to do in Nerja, you’ll no doubt be extending your stay in this little slice of Spanish paradise.

Backed by the Sierra Almijara, Nerja has maintained its resident charm even with the perpetual creep of tourism. Nerja’s historic center remains just that, a low-rise look into a delightful past. Most importantly, it’s devoid of major modern developments.

In this sense, Nerja is quickly immersive, drawing you in with its views from the Balcony of Europe and the sight of the cobalt-blue Mediterranean. Exploring the Old Town reveals older tales, delicious tapas and a social atmosphere.

Beyond, the town’s beautiful humanity makes way for a craggy coastline of epic cliffs that reveals cozy alcoves. While the rising mountains have become a home for vast caverns.

How to Get to Nerja

If you’re planning to fly into Nerja from around Spain or an international departure point, you will need to fly to Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport. Once you’ve collected your bags, you’ll have several options to choose from.

Trains and buses depart from the airport’s Terminal 3. There is an underground train station along with a bus stop. However, these take you directly to Malaga, where you’ll have to jump on an ALSA bus to make it to Nerja proper. Whichever way you choose, expect to pay slightly less than €10 and the journey to last around 2 hours.

For a more direct way to arrive in Nerja and begin your adventure, you can take a taxi. This will take about 45 minutes. However, the trip could run you roughly €55-70.

Lastly, there is the option to hire a car in Spain at the airport if you wish to have your own transport to, during, and from Nerja. Travelers should book ahead of time, especially during the summer high season.

We always use Discover Cars to book our car rentals in Spain. They have the best price comparison and top-notch customer service. Check prices on Discover Cars and don’t miss our guide to driving in Spain if you haven’t done it before.

Getting Around Nerja

The good news for penny pinchers is that once you arrive in Nerja, it’s easy to get around on foot. Not only does walking provide you with the ultimate in-town flexibility, but it won’t take too long to get from A to B. Especially in Nerja’s charming Old Town.

There is public transport in Nerja, called the Blue Bus or Urban Bus. Three lines take you throughout town and cost a measly €1 per ride. Taxis are also common, a 5km ride should cost around €10 or check our guide to ride-sharing apps like Uber in Spain.

For a touch of romanticism, it is possible to explore Nerja on a horse and carriage. The €30 ride is more expensive than other options, but the clip-clop of the horse’s hooves fits with the Old Town vibe.

While you won’t necessarily need a car to get around Nerja, there is added convenience. More so to reach nearby destinations, towns, and trailheads. There are a lot of nearby day trips which are harder to get to without a car.

cliffs with a road cutting through them along the coastline with small bays and beaches on them, one of the best things to do in nerja spain.

Explore the coastline around Nerja, it is one of the most magical in the Malaga region.

Where to Stay in Nerja

A brief walk from the Balcony of Europe, the aptly named Charming Hostel, places you in the heart of Nerja. All at a budget-friendly price. This accommodation comes with a nice, shared kitchen to cook up a feast while meeting travelers from around the world. Your room comes with a patio to relax before venturing right into the action. Book a stay at Charming Hostel here.

Hostal Alhambra is another great choice for travelers looking to save while in Nerja. This guesthouse provides more privacy while being 300m from Torrecilla Beach. Each room boasts an inviting terrace and modern amenities, including free Wi-Fi. While the highlights of Nerja’s Old Town begin from the property’s edge. Book a stay at Hostal Alhambra here.

Those looking for a bit more comfort will enjoy what MB Boutique Hotel has to offer. The hotel is boutique and modern in every way, inclusive of the touchscreen rain shower and international channels on the flatscreen TV. The rooftop terrace comes with two hot tubs and Balinese beds to chill out. Tutti Frutti Plaza is just around the corner. Book a stay at MB Boutique Hotel here.

Nerja VG Hostal Boutique comes with modern, clean, and soundproof rooms. There is onsite private parking for those with hire cars. Your room comes with a coffee machine and TV, while some have a private terrace. There is also a shared rooftop with tables and umbrellas that complement the outdoor pool. Book a stay at VG Hostal Boutique here.

You can take your Nerja experience up a notch by bringing all your friends and family to Casa Alba. The exquisite villa can sleep up to ten guests across four bedrooms. Close to Burriana Beach, guests will have all the luxuries to enjoy their stay from a sprawling terrace to barbecues and a fireplace. Book a stay at Casa Alba here.

Villa Manuel is a gorgeous alternative for luxury seekers. A brief walk from the coast, this villa comes with Mediterranean views, private parking along with a beautiful outdoor pool surrounded by gardens.

With three bedrooms, this home can sleep up to six guests who will want to make the most of the outdoor living space and BBQ facilities before heading into the Old Town. Book a stay at Villa Manuel here.

turquoise water with rocks and cliffs along the water.

The cliffs around Nerja are what make it such a breathtaking place to explore.

Things to Do in Nerja

These are some of the absolute best things to do in Nerja. Whether you prefer to relax on the beach or you want to hit the trails in search of adventure, there is a little something for everyone in this little slice of Andalusian paradise.

1. See the Balcony of Europe

There is no better introduction to Nerja than by standing on the Balcony of Europe. You’ll catch your first glimpse of the Balcon de Europa as you wander down a scenic, palm-fringed street. The sea breeze and views add a sense of vibrancy, something only enhanced by the street musicians, artists, and bustling cafes.

Throughout the day, and especially at sunset, you’ll find plenty of atmosphere and travelers looking to take in the epic views. It’s no surprise why once you stand on the balcony that hovers over the cliff’s edge.

The glistening Mediterranean spreads out before you and on either side, a beautiful, craggy coast expands like wings. Our tip? Skip the crowds and welcome the day here at sunrise.

2. Explore the Old Town

Once you’ve taken in the rising sun, take a few steps back and begin your explorations of Nerja’s Old Town. With ample ice cream joints and cafes, you can load up on some treats as you explore the many narrow alleys that harbor some of Nerja’s best views.

You’ll be happy to know that while Nerja might be popular for travelers, it hasn’t lost its sense of self.

The Old Town is the best place to experience Nerja’s Andalusian culture and architecture, with many whitewashed buildings holding pots of bougainvillea.

One of our favorite parts of the Old Town is the narrow, colorful street of Calle Tajillo. The passage lies beyond the sightly El Salvador Church and is laden with flowers, across wrought iron windows and along the cobblestones themselves. At the end lies a marvelous view overlooking the coast.

balcony of Europe is one of the best things to do in Nerja, you can look out over the coastline for epic views.

Enjoy the views from the Balcony of Europe, a viewpoint with some of the most stunning views in the region.

3. Venture into Cueva de Nerja

Culture and the sights are just part of the Nerja experience. In many ways, the town is a gateway to some of the best outdoor adventures along the Andalusian coast. The pinnacle of this is the Cueva de Nerja.

The impressive network of caves is covered from top to bottom in stalagmites and stalactites. The eerie, subterranean sensations immediately take hold as you explore caverns whose history can be traced beyond the Bronze Age and into prehistoric times.

The Nerja Caves run for some 5 kilometers (3 miles) underground. While you won’t go that far, it doesn’t take long to truly appreciate the size and scale of the caves. Vast karst chambers feel like Renaissance cathedrals with one home to a 32m (104ft) column, one of the largest of its kind on earth!

4. Laze on the sands of Burriana Beach

A big day in the caves calls for relaxation and rejuvenation. You can find just that on the welcoming sands of Burriana Beach. In a region of great beaches, Playa de Burriana stands out with its size, accessibility, and fun atmosphere.

In the summer, this is the place to swim. Under the heat of the Spanish sun, you can rest easy knowing lifeguards are looking on. Beyond that, kayaks, SUPs, and snorkeling gear allow you to explore further.

On the other side of the 800m beach, you’ll find a bustling promenade with all you need to keep your beach day rolling. Stop by Ayo Restaurant for some of Nerja’s best paella, cooked fresh over a wood fire.

beach with mountains in the background.

Exploring the beaches, particularly Burriana, is definitely one of the best things to do in Nerja!

5. Hike the Rio Chillar

We love a little balance during our travels, so it’s time to take a hike. The Rio Chillar promises to be quite different from your regular hikes. After all, you’ll be trading mountains for, yep, a river.

Best hiked during the summer months, the Rio Chillar will rise to around knee height. That makes aquatic hiking shoes like these your best option.

As you meander through the rolling river among the Sierras de Tejeda, you’ll venture into narrow ravines, past beautiful waterfalls and neighboring swim holes.

The entire journey is 8km (5 miles) each way. The great thing is, you can turn around whenever you like. Just make sure to get to at least the first ravine. It gives you a fulfilling experience while also being the most picturesque section.

6. Have a Night Out

As the sun goes down, Nerja slows to a stop. With eyes facing west, taking in the candy skies, we all stop for a few moments of quiet. But afterward, some go to their hotels and others want to continue the night. If you’re the latter, it’s time for a night out.

At the center of Nerja’s evening adventure lies the Tutti Frutti Plaza. As the name suggests, this is a colorful and fun place to be after dark.

Dim-lit cocktail bars bring in the conversationalists toasting to a day of sunbathing, kayaking, or cave exploring. Later, the clubs welcome those who simply want to dance into the early hours. The party here often rolls on until 4 am, so you’ll certainly get your fix.

7. Walk the Rainbow Steps

Hungover or not, it’s high time for our next adventure. Not far from the Balcony of Europe, along the promenade, the Rainbow Steps are one of the best spots for photography in Nerja.

Forget beach views and the Med for a second. These steps are utterly Instagrammable. The kaleidoscopic steps will soon find themselves at the heart of your Nerja photo album, with the swaying palms making for a delightful backdrop.

Afterward, swing by La Dorada. This is a lifesize replica of the boat at the center of the beloved Spanish show, Blue Summer. And, of course, another sweet photo opp.

boardwalk with palm trees lining it.

Wandering the waterfront around Nerja is perfect on a sunny day.

8. Rent a SUP or Kayak

Sculpted by the timeless artistry of the Mediterranean Sea, the Nerja Coast is an utter delight to explore. The cliffs, at all times rugged, impressive, and beautiful, boast neatly hidden beaches, sea caves, and coves.

Yes, you can sign up for a tour (we mention one below), but sometimes you just want to do things on your terms. From Burriana Beach, you can head to one of several kiosks along the way and rent a SUP or kayak for the day. From there, you can set out on your own journey.

With all the time in the world, bounce between the sand and sea as you discover all the coast has to offer. You can refresh yourself in the Med or under freshwater waterfalls whenever you get too hot.

small beach with hills on one side and lots of trees surrounding it, visiting this beach is one of the best things to do in Nerja.

Get a SUP or Kayak and really get to know the Nerja coast.

9. Visit the Aqueduct Eagle

Set between Nerja and nearby Maro, is the captivating 19th-century Aqueduct Eagle. Along the road (which also takes you to the Nerja Caves) there is an area from which you can admire the aqueduct in all its stunning beauty.

The four-level aquaduct is an Andalusian gem and once transported water from Nerja to one of Maro’s sugar refineries. That era has come and gone, although water still crosses to this day.

From the viewpoint, the enormous construction adds a human element to an otherwise eye-catching valley. Speaking of, there are some pathways beyond the viewpoint into the basin from which you can enjoy a unique perspective of the towering columns and arches.

10. Take a trip to Frigiliana

Just a half hour from Nerja, Frigiliana is an easy day trip. The town lies in the foothills of the Almijara mountains with its old streets harboring ties back to Moorish times.

Quaint, charming, and captivating, Frigiliana is one of Andalusia’s best examples of whitewashed architecture. Mixed in with the mountains beyond, they make for some amazing photos.

Importantly, Frigiliana is a place that remains closely tied to its heritage. That includes the cuisine and the arts. This is best exemplified by Barribarto, where great eye-catching alleys feature artisanal shops and homegrown eats. As it’s quite a hilly town, you can also expect a view.

If you don’t have a car, you can take the bus that departs each hour for around €1.20.

white houses along the hillside photographed at night.

Frigiliana is a fantastic day trip from Nerja and another stunning place to explore in southern Spain.

11. Explore the Cliffs of Maro-Cerro

Maybe you didn’t want to paddle by yourself, or maybe you just want to go back a second time. Either way, visitors must explore the implausible magnificence of the Cliffs of Maro-Cerro.

On this guided kayak tour, you’ll see the best of this coastline from the turquoise surface of the Mediterranean Sea. As you paddle past towering cliffs, your guide will help you discover some huddle gems.

Not only will you uncover some hidden beaches, but you will revel in the sheer size of the cliffs. You’ll also spot a 16th-century watch tower. Other stops along the journey include the chance to pop on some snorkel gear and discover the treasures below.

12. Summit El Cielo

First, you waded through a river. Then you sat at the base of the imposing cliffs surrounding Nerja’s coastline.

Now, to finish up your Nerja experience, let’s embark on a more traditional hike. El Cielo stands at over 1,500 meters and is the biggest peak in this corner of Spain.

Beginning near the Nerja Caves, the trek up El Cielo is not a simple stroll. The entire round-trip journey is roughly 20km (12 miles) and takes you to the ceiling of the Andalusian Coast where you can see much of the Costa del Sol.

For the most part, the hike is of medium difficulty. Around the 8km (5 mi) mark, the trail does become more steep. This is a common turnaround point for many, as there is a nice viewpoint. But if you’re up for it, 360-degree views await at the top.