12 Things You Can’t Miss in Nerja, Spain (2024)

written by local expert Jane Elmets

Jane always knew she wasn't destined for a desk job... She has travelled all over the world and is passionate about noodles, sloths and her hiking boots! When she isn't busy adventuring around the world, you can find her reviewing travel gear and dishing out travel tips to all the places she's visited.

Looking for things to do in Nerja? In this article, I’m going to share with you a few of my favorite things to do in this wonderful town. I spent a few months living here and loved every second of it which is why I can’t wait to share my top tips for this town.

Once a sleepy fishing village, Nerja, Spain has slowly grown into a resort town full of typical Spanish houses, shops and authentic restaurants surrounded by mountains, sandy beaches, and cliffside coves.

It’s easy to see why this whitewashed coastal town is so captivating and draws people in time and time again!

If you’re taking a visit to Costa del Sol any time soon, a stop in Nerja comes highly recommended. Here are our top things to do to show you how much Nerja has to offer.

White houses sitting on green hills over ocean in Spain

Nerja Things to Do Highlights

If you’re looking for tips on the best of the best in Nerja, here are the must-do highlights that we recommend seeing/ doing! Most of these are tours led by locals which is a great way to really get to know the place.

  • Hiking and Snorkeling– This local led tour is one of the best things to do in Nerja as it takes you to most beautiful parts of the Cliffs of Maro-Cerro Gordo National Park. We highly recommend doing this tour.
  • Semi-Private Tour Frigiliana- Want to see the beautiful white-washed buildings of this beautiful town? Go on a semi-private tour which includes lunch
  • Caminito Del Rey Day Trip– See the best of the Gaitanes Gorge in this stunning day. trip from Nerja!

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How to Get to Nerja

Wondering how to get to Nerja, Spain? Here are a few options. The easiest way to get to Nerja is to travel from Malaga, which is easily accessible from pretty much anywhere in Spain. From Malaga, Nerja is around 50km away. Listed below are the best options:

Malaga to Nerja by bus

Once in Malaga, the least expensive way to get to Nerja is by bus. Hop on the ALSA bus from Maria Zambrano Station and you’ll reach Nerja in an hour and a half without any stops. Plus, the cost of a ticket ranges from €5-8! After the bus drops you in Nerja, it’s just a quick 10-minute walk to the center

Malaga to Nerja by Taxi / private car

You can also take a taxi to Nerja from Malaga but the ride doesn’t come cheap. You can also opt to hire a car which we recommend!

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Best Things to Do in Nerja, Spain

Nerja is one of the best places along the coast for nature-focused, blood-pumping activities. But beyond all of the adventures to be had, Nerja is still filled with history, beaches, and other charming Spanish accents to make for the ideal holiday destination.

Here are 12 things to do for the best time in Nerja.

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1. Explore Nerja Caves

Imagine you’re out with friends looking for bats one evening when you stumble upon deserted caves spanning for meters and meters underground. This is exactly what happened in 1959 when the Nerja Caves were rediscovered.

The Nerja Caves are one of the main attractions in the area, and for good reason. These massive underground caverns were first used by early civilizations and Neanderthals until the Bronze Age, so they hold as many hidden treasures as they do secrets.

Take a tour of the caves where you’ll be led through chamber after chamber, seeing magnificent rock formations and remains that were discovered when the caves were brought to official attention.

The Nerja Caves are also famous for housing the largest column in the world, at 32 meters high! If you’re coming from Malaga, this Nerja Cave tour including a skip-the-line ticket is worth looking into.

large calcite formations in cave in nerja spain

2. Eat Paella at Playa de Burriana

If you’re headed to Nerja for the beach, Playa de Burriana never disappoints. We think it’s one of the best beaches in Spain!

It’s the largest beach in the area and during the summer months, the water is full of blow-up slides and inflatable castles for kids’ enjoyment. There are also plenty of lifeguards on duty and facilities on the beach to make for the most comfortable day possible.

Besides lounging on the sandy shores, there’s a lovely promenade just behind the beach full of bars and small eateries for a quick bite.

One thing that can’t be missed while at Playa de Burriana is a heaping serving of paella from Ayos. This beachside eatery has been around since 1969, and is open every day of the year. The paella is always prepared fresh and it’s made over a wood fire for the ultimate smokey flavor.

Seriously, paella at Ayos is a must! If the place is packed, we also loved Chiringuito Mauri which also serves fresh Paella and grilled seafood! If you want more of a local experience, check out this seafood tour taking you to Nerja’s best-kept seafood restaurants.

Chiringuito Mauri nerja
Our seafood lunch at Chiringuito Mauri, Nerja

3. Take a Dip at Marro Beach

Looking to escape the family vacation crowd? Head to Marro Beach for a quieter day.

Considered one of the best beaches in Andalusia and in the whole of Spain, here you’ll find crystal clear waters, gorgeous rock formations, and even a waterfall or two to really round things out!

Maro Beach is just a few quick kilometers from the center of Nerja, and you’re sure to have a stunning time!

The best way to see the real beauty of this place is by going on a boat trip around the cliffs of Marro Cerro Gordo where you can swim and snorkel in the insanely clear waters. Alternatively you can also

Insider Tip: If Playa de Maro is too crowded, head to the nearby La Caleta de Maro for the ultimate hidden getaway.

4. River Walk-Up Rio Chillar

When you think of hiking, obviously mountains and trails come to mind, but here in Nerja, you can actually hike a river!

The Rio Chillar river walk is one of the best summer activities in Nerja. It attracts crowds from far and wide, and it’s totally worth it once you’re traversing knee-deep in river waters to a far away point.

On this wet trek, you’ll make your way through the Sierras de Tejeda and the Alhama Natural Park, where you’ll be able to immerse yourself in stunning nature and awesome landscapes that are sure to wow.

Take a break and hang out in one of the many pools or lounge around under the shade of a tall tree if you’re getting too warm. Whatever you do, be sure to wear your water shoes to stay comfy!

Rio Chillar is super easy to reach from Nerja’s town center so you don’t have to worry about spending a full day traveling or finding accommodation. But if you’re looking for hassle-free transportation and a guided trek, consider taking this tour that takes all the stress out of planning a day on the Rio Chillar!

river water running over and in between rocks

5. Hike Up El Cielo

If you prefer solid trails rather than wading through rivers, then take a hike up El Cielo, the tallest coastal mountain in this area of Spain!

The peak sits at 1,508 meters, making for a whopping day of hiking, but it’s absolutely breathtaking when you reach the top! Take in views of the surrounding mountains, countryside and the wide, open ocean sitting below you.

If you hike to the top on a particularly clear day, you can actually see the entire Costa del Sol. It is a stunning sight, sure to be imprinted in your mind forever.

This isn’t an easy hike by any means but is certainly one for the adventurous. If you’re looking to get the blood pumping during a Nerja holiday, this is the spot for you!

6. Head to the Eagle Aqueduct

While Nerja is known for some of the most stunning nature in all of Spain, it also holds a deep history that has plenty to offer to those who are interested.

The Acueducto del Aguila, or the Eagle Aqueduct, sits just outside of Nerja and makes a fun afternoon activity if you want to get out of the city for a bit. The Aqueduct was constructed in the 1800s at the peak of the industrial revolution but is still fully functional today.

This is a great place to get a little taste of history, and it’s also a recognized Site of Special Cultural Interest by the Andalusian government. Just be sure to bring lots of water with you because there’s no place to fill up bottles while visiting.

large aqueduct in nerja spain

7. Stroll Along Balcon de Europa

Considered the focal point of Nerja, you’re bound to end up at the Balcon de Europa at one point or another. Wandering around here is one of our favorite things to do in Nerja.

During the day, you can find people strolling along and taking in the sea views and beachy breeze. But at night, this walking street really comes alive. Take in the sights and sounds of artists, musicians, and people galore, and marinate in the smells wafting into the street from the many restaurants.

You can always find something going on along the Balcon de Europa, which is why it draws in so many people. Besides the daily happenings, this is also the site for festivals, concerts, and celebrations throughout the year.

Insider Tip: If you’re visiting Nerja at the end of the year, head to Balcon de Europa for a splendid New Year’s celebration with fireworks, music and, of course, plenty of dancing.

Editor of this blog enjoying the views in Nerja
Founder of this blog looking out at the cliffs of Nerja

8. Wander around Nerja’s Historic Center

It wouldn’t be a true Spanish city without a historic center full of narrow streets, old buildings, and a church or cathedral (or two).

Nerja’s historic center does not deviate from the norm and creates a village-like atmosphere along the pedestrian cobblestone streets. This is a great way to escape the resort feeling the rest of Nerja has and get back to good old-fashioned Spanish roots.

There are plenty of restaurants and coffee shops in the historic center if you need to rest your feet for a bit. But if you’re up for some walking, then it’s worth wandering around.

There are landmarks like the El Salvador Church, which dates back to the 17th century, and the Nuestra Senora de las Angustias Hermitage, which is from the 16th century and filled with gorgeous paintings by Alonso Cano.

No matter where you end up in the historic center, you can’t go wrong!

woman walking between white walls and patterns in nerja spain

9. Dance the Night Away at Tutti Fruitti Plaza

The center of Nerja’s nightlife sits right in Tutti Fruitti Plaza. Just like its name, this area is super fun and full of surprises.

Spend your night dancing into the wee hours of the morning at one of the many cocktail bars or clubs, or bring the party to the street with music flowing outside from all of the different venues!

You can generally find things going on here until 4am, making it the best place to party in town.

10. Kayak or Paddleboard the Nerja Coast

The Nerja Coast is full of coves, sea caves, and hidden beaches that are only accessible by boat. Take matters (and exploring) into your own hands by renting a kayak or paddleboard and taking it to the sea!

Set off from Burriana Beach and spend the day discovering hidden waterfalls and paddling through narrow gorges. When the sun gets to be too much, hop into the clear blue water for a dip before continuing on your adventure.

This tour takes you on a 2 and a half-hour of the best caves and waterfalls in the area so you don’t have to waste time trying to find them yourself!

Alternatively, you also have this SUP tour taking you around the stunning cliffs of Marro Cerro Gordo where you can paddle and snorkel.

cliffs over the coast of nerja spain

11. Snorkel or Dive the Nerja Waters

Since the water is so clear and blue in Nerja, it makes for the perfect snorkeling and diving destination!

The abundance of marine life under the surface never disappoints and you’ll love swimming around these warm waters exploring all that lives below. There are plenty of places to rent equipment, but it’s always best to travel with your own if you plan on spending a lot of time snorkeling or diving.

Read More: Best Snorkeling Gear

12. Make Your Way to Frigiliana

Finally, if you’re staying in Nerja, it’s totally worth it to take a day trip to nearby Frigiliana. Less than a 30-minute drive away, this gorgeous town is the perfect place for stunning photos and a day of wandering.

In fact, Frigiliana was actually named one of the prettiest villages in all of Spain!

Here you’ll find whitewashed houses, creating an atmosphere that rivals the Greek coast, and plenty of flowers everywhere you look. The streets are paved with cobblestones, and there are terraces tucked away in every corner. It doesn’t get any more picture-perfect than this place!

After seeing all that there is to do here, you can see that Nerja is a perfect mix of nature and everything else. It has an entire town waiting to be explored as well as a coastal area that specializes in clear waters and relaxing beaches.

Whether you want to hike up mountains, paddle through wavy seas, or simply stroll along picture-perfect streets, Nerja is the place to be.

white washed buildings with blue doors and plants in spain

Where to Stay in Nerja

There are a ton of great places to stay in Nerja, giving you the perfect seaside vacation. Here are some of our top picks for the best hotels.

Travel Must: We love renting cars whenever we travel — it just gives you so much freedom to explore at your own pace. Click here to compare car rental prices. You’ll be surprised at how affordable it is!

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