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que ver en nerja en un dia

Things to do in Nerja (Spain) in one day

Nerja is one of the most beautiful towns in Spain and perhaps, in the world. And I'm not saying this out of love for my land (since I'm from Málaga), but because it's often featured in numerous leading travel industry outlets. So you can see for yourself, in this post, I bring you the best things to do in Nerja for a day.

Visitors who go there every year (and there are more and more each year) say that it is a must-visit if you visit Spain. Personally, I had been there many times when I was a child, but it was only recently on a family visit that I got to know it in depth, and I have to say that I was positively surprised.

It is one of the incredibly unique "white villages" along the Andalusian coast! They are easily recognized due of their distinct brightness and scent. Even if you haven't been there in a long time (I've been three times a year and live in Madrid) they have a certain something that makes you want to go back.

The white villages, Nerja being one of its prime representatives, are captivating. If you're going to be in the area, you absolutely must dedicate at least a day to enjoy this place. We are truly fortunate to live in such a wonderful country with so much to offer.

Nerja is small, but it packs a lot of activities and attractions. I've created an agenda so that we may make the most of our day and avoid missing anything. This post is intended for those of you who are only going to be there for one day.

Table of contents

Nerja: white village of Malaga

Nerja is a quaint coastal town on the Malaga coast, the last one before entering the province of Granada, renowned nationally and internationally for various reasons. Its caves are a point of interest for spelunking enthusiasts and curious visitors alike. Maintaining an exceptional state of preservation, their sheer expanse renders them truly majestic.

Moreover, for those of us who are a bit older and grew up with Spanish Television, Nerja will always be in our memories as “Chanquete’s town” from the well-known series Verano Azul (Blue Summer).

Nerja offers unique attractions such the Balcón de Europa, a fortification dating back to the ninth century, stunning beaches that surround the town, and captivating cliffs of Catarriján and Maro.

In 2016, Nerja was voted as Spain’s most beautiful coastal town, and it now has over 200,000 annual visitors. For a little village on the southern edge of Spain, this is an astonishingly high figure. Why is Nerja such a charmer? Allow me to explain and assist you in organizing a full day of exploration of its streets, beaches, and hidden gems (literally, since its caves are a must-see in the daytime).

🎟️ If you don’t have much time in this beautiful Malaga town or simply want to learn more about its history and present, we recommend taking this private tour of Nerja (perfect for groups), so you can discover some of the best things to do in Nerja in a day.

Things to do in Nerja in a day

There’s so much to do in Nerja, but if you only have one day, it’s crucial to make a good selection and plan an itinerary in detail to not miss anything, cover everything, and, at the same time, enjoy the experience.

My goal with this post is to provide a sample of what a day in Nerja could be like… From there, everyone can plan their day based on their preferences, interests, and circumstances. The most important thing on a trip is always to have a good time.

THE MORNING:

To make the most of the day, it’s essential to start it early. If you aren’t too fatigued, I recommend waking up a bit earlier to have more time to do things (I have to say that I am a morning person and I like to get up early).

Breakfast in Nerja

8:00 A.M.

There’s no good morning (at least for me) if it doesn’t start with a delicious breakfast.

In Nerja, you won’t be short of cafes to enjoy this first meal, and in the south, we love a good coffee with a tomato and olive oil toast (with top-quality olive oil, local). . Of course, if the bread is a mollete, even better (mollete is a typical bread from Antequera, an inland town in Malaga) or, of course, a “pitufo” (a small bread roll).

Although Nerja has many establishments catering to foreigners, you’ll find very Andalusian cafes for your breakfast, such as La Nube Cafe Bar, with a pleasant terrace and a wide variety of breakfast options.

During breakfast, you can finish planning your itinerary of things to do in Nerja in a day.

Nerja Cave

Things to do in Nerja
Nerja Cave

9:30 A.M.

To avoid running out of time and also to enjoy the cave with fewer people, my recommendation is to start here. The Nerja Cave opens at 9:30 AM, and this time slot is usually the least busy.

Purchase the ticket through their website to avoid queues. On the site, there are different options, but undoubtedly, the “basic – general” ticket is the most suitable, as it allows you to visit the entire cave, download the audio guide to your mobile phone, and also includes entry to the Nerja Museum.

The Nerja Cave is a treasure beneath our surface that is a must-visit. With an extension of 4,823 meters, it is one of the caves with the greatest topographic development in Andalusia.

Located at 158 meters above sea level, it has three entrances – openings, two circular sinkholes, and next to one of them, the entrance door currently used for visits, discovered in 1960.

estalactita
Cave

The cave is breathtaking (speaking from experience). It’s a natural wonder filled with spectacular formations like stalactites and stalagmites. Declared a National Historic-Artistic Monument, it is the fourth most visited monument in Spain. Exploring it is a journey into the depths of the earth. You won’t cease to be amazed by the power of nature and its ability to create shapes and structures.

It houses the world’s largest stalactite, a column that measures 60 meters in height and 18 meters in diameter (listed in the Guinness World Records).

*Stalactite is the elongated cave formation that originates from the ceiling and descends downward (the stalagmite, on the other hand, emerges from the ground and “rises” vertically).

Nerja City Center

things to do in Nerja
Plaza de España

11:30 A.M.

After visiting the cave, which will definitely leave an impression, it’s a good time to stroll to the town center and wander through the streets. Be careful when leaving the cave; if it’s very sunny, your eyes may need a few minutes to readjust.

The town center is very nice. It’s a very charming little village with authentic Andalusian life. Its streets are filled with the typical white houses characteristic of southern Spanish architecture, and simply taking a stroll is a delight.

Town Hall

One of the most interesting spots is the Town Hall, a place to immerse yourself even more in the local culture. Here, you’ll find a very typical square dominated by the municipal building, where you can also enjoy a drink at one of its terraces or bars.

El Salvador Church

Next to the Town Hall and a short distance away is the most important church in town, El Salvador Church. It is located in a strategic point of the village between Plaza de Cavana, Balcon de Europa, the descent to Salon Beach, and next to the Cerote tree (much loved by the people of Nerja). It’s like the nucleus of Nerja, and everything seems to revolve around it at some point in the day.

It is a church, as it couldn’t be otherwise, white and whitewashed (painted with lime), capturing the shadow of the Cerote, shining with every ray of sun, bathed in the scent of sea salt.

El Salvador church nerja malaga
Source: Tuxyso / Wikipedia Commons

A church of regular dimensions that houses inside a mural dedicated to the Incarnation by Francisco Hernández, as well as the Bronze Christ by Aurelio Teno. This temple is also special because it is one of the few in Spain with a representation of the three Archangels (San Miguel is the patron saint of Nerja).

*The Church is usually open to the public from 10:30 AM to 8:00 PM, depending, of course, on scheduled worship services.

Enjoying the stroll through the center of Nerja, you’ll easily reach this point. I recommend entering the Church but also taking a walk and savoring how life unfolds around it.

Its construction dates back to the late 17th century, completed in 1697. Its current appearance is the result of its latest renovation in 1997, which maintained and respected its authentic academic Baroque style, notably present in its bell tower from 1724.

MIDDAY

Before lunch, and since you’re in the center, I recommend heading to La Dorada, Chanquete’s boat. This is the boat where the legendary Verano Azul series was filmed.

chanquete boat
Source: lavieenrose05 / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

For Spaniards of a certain age, it will always be in our memories, and if you have children, it can be very nice to tell them the story… Years ago, we also watched series, although we had to wait a week to see the next episode.

Lunchtime: El pescaito (seafood)

1:30 P.M.

With that, I’m sure the appetite has been sparked. Now is the time to make an interesting stop to enjoy what we do best in the south – seafood.

You won’t be short of restaurants in Nerja, but if you want to veer away from the touristy and foreign options, a bit of searching may be necessary. Of course, my recommendation is to savor the fish, which in Nerja is fresh, caught on the day, and most likely from the nearest port’s fish market.

As a typical dish from the Malaga coast, undoubtedly, “espetos de sardinas” are a must-try. They are something authentic and originated in Malaga (although they are now made in other places), and involve a boat with wood on the beach to grill sardines “skewered” on a cane. It takes special skill to know how to place the fish on the skewer, and a lot of skill and endurance to be in front of the fire on the beach in the middle of summer.

The flavor of the sardine, and, of any fish on the skewer, is unique… Don’t leave without trying it. Of course, you should also add a good portion (or several) of fried fish, which is fried like nowhere else in Malaga and its entire coast.

Some of the well-regarded seafood restaurants in Nerja include El Pulguilla or La Puntilla.

THE AFTERNOON – BEACH TIME

After lunch, it’s time to continue exploring the area. Perhaps a nap sounds tempting (it will also depend a lot on the temperature and the chosen time of the year for the trip), but if you want to do everything in a day, you can’t stop. Everyone can choose the pace they prefer.

Beaches of Nerja

3:30 P.M.

Personally, I consider this the best time to enjoy the beaches and explore the cliffs in the area. Once you’ve seen the highlights in the center and the town itself, the outskirts await.

Nerja is surrounded by very cool beaches, as it is a completely coastal area. The town is built along its coastline, and its essence is entirely maritime. From Nerja, heading towards Malaga and/or Granada, you’ll find the best beaches in the area. 

Nerja Beach
Carabao Beach
Nerja in 1 day
Calahonda Beach

The eastern area (towards Granada) is known as the Maro beaches. These are considered natural sites, so fishing is prohibited throughout their expanse. For diving enthusiasts like me, it’s a paradise due to its perfect balance between sea temperature and the rich flora and fauna that inhabit it.

I advise driving to the Torre de Maro to have a complete and elevated view of the entire landscape. It’s a very attractive and unique space located between Malaga and Granada, where

You can see the steep cliffs interspersed with small coves and picturesque beaches. All of this is sheltered by the mountains, with natural terraces used for planting and cultivation.

The beaches are difficult to access, and it is not allowed to descend by car. The option for those who want to enjoy an afternoon on the beach is to walk down (keep in mind you’ll have to climb back up, so don’t carry too many things) or join one of the numerous shuttles that make the journey.

*It is prohibited to overnight with caravans, motorhomes, and similar vehicles in all these areas.

This area, especially from Nerja to Granada, is rich in tropical cultivation. It’s not surprising to come across numerous plantations of avocado, mango, pineapple, or even papaya. If you find roadside stands, do buy them. The flavor is unique, and the price can be very different.

burriana beach
Burriana Beach

As for beaches to spend the afternoon, the offer is extensive. Burriana Beach is the most well-known and accessible in Nerja, and Salón Beach is right in the center of the town.

If you’re looking for something different and unique, it’s better to opt for Cantarriján Beach, Maro Beach, La Caleta (or Cala Chica), Molino de Papel (wild beach with no services), Las Alberquillas (semi-nude), Calas del Pino (naturist), or El Cañuelo (undoubtedly the best for enjoying the sunset).

NIGHTTIME:

After soaking up the sun, exploring the entire coastal area, and enjoying the breathtaking landscapes, it’s time to end the day in the best possible way, as we know how to do in the South: with a good dinner, a stroll, and an ice cream.

Visit Balcon de Europa, one of the best things to do in Nerja

Things to do in Nerja
Balcon de Europa
plaza balcon de europa
Plaza Balcon de Europa

8:00 P.M.

Nerja is great for strolling through the town center again and enjoying the sunset after taking a shower. I’ve saved it for now because I think now is the ideal time to approach the Balcón de Europa. The sunset here is fantastic, and you can overlook the entire coastline and the Malaga shoreline with an exceptional view.

Today, Balcon de Europa is a magnificent viewpoint, a tourist attraction in the town due to its fascinating view of the coast and a landmark of Nerja. Its name is attributed to King Alfonso XII, who visited the area as part of his inspection tour following the earthquake of 1885. Once there, he exclaimed in surprise, “This is the Balcón de Europa! (Balcony of Europe)” and since then, it has been known by that name.

Beyond this legend, and long before, the “viewpoint” was a crucial lookout point for the defense of the area against enemies from North Africa. With enormous cannons housed in the towers along the entire coast, it was known as the Paseo de la Batería. These cannons first served the French in their fight against pirates and later against the British who approached by sea.

The British, on May 20, 1882, devastated the battery with cannon fire, leaving only a few remnants of the cannons and rocks that still stand next to the Balcón de Europa.

The Balcon de Europa is fantastic for enjoying the sunset and taking a stroll. Afterwards, it’s time to conclude the visit to Nerja with a delicious dinner and an ice cream. During the evening stroll, you’ll come across numerous craft stalls and local artists. Undoubtedly, the best way to end a day in Nerja.

Where to stay in Nerja, Spain

where to stay in Nerja
Source: Booking

If you plan to visit Nerja in one day, you’ll have time to do and see “the most relevant.” Another very interesting option is to stay overnight here and head to another nearby destination the next day.

In Nerja, the highest-rated hotels are these (and also the most appealing):

Things to do near Nerja

things to do in Nerja
Nerja Cathedral

For the days before or after your visit to Nerja, there are other very interesting points around to explore. The area is exceptional, and personally, it’s my favorite in all of Spain (perhaps because I spent my childhood there).

  • La Herradura:

Just a few kilometers away and already entering the province of Granada is “my most special little town,” La Herradura, which boasts a pebble beach sheltered between Cerro Gordo and the Marina del Este sports port – Punta de la Mona. It is the preferred destination in the area for diving and a harbor with a unique charm.

Heading north and entering the inland part of the province of Málaga, undoubtedly, the must-visit in the area is the town of Frigiliana. If you go, you’ll want to stay. It is the quintessential, most typical, and picturesque Andalusian white village that exists. Famous for its narrow streets, it has a unique and charming atmosphere.

  • City of Malaga:

And if you’re willing to drive a bit more, but not too much, the center of Malaga is less than 40 minutes from Nerja. What to say about Malaga that is now more popular than ever and for good reason. In 2023, it was chosen as the second-best city in the world for remote work, and its climate, the care of its center, and the entire range of offerings have made it a strategic and enjoyable destination.

If you don’t have your own vehicle, you can take this half-day tour to Frigiliana.

  • Torrox:

Torrox is another of the most beautiful towns in Malaga, and you can visit it in the vicinity of Nerja. It is only 10 km away, and in addition to exploring its historic center, it is recommended to visit the Torrox Lighthouse and its beautiful coast. Don’t miss things to do in Torrox.

Map of things to do in Nerja

On the following map, I’ve marked all the places mentioned in this article, including tourist attractions as well as accommodations and restaurants.

That concludes this tour and itinerary of things to do in Nerja in one day. I hope to have covered the most important, representative, and enjoyable aspects. If you’ve already been, I hope this content helps you discover new points of interest. I’ll be reading your comments!

Check this Spain travel guide to keep organizing your trip!

Autora María Alcaraz
María Alcaraz
Collaborator on Come Ama Viaja

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