Nerja is in Andalusia on Spain’s Costa del Sol, about forty minutes from Malaga Airport so any expectations were not too high. So it was a pleasant surprise to find a pretty little resort without too much development. Retaining some traditional Spanish charm, with winding narrow streets and people selling fruit and vegetables from their front doors.
The Balcony of Europe (Balcon de Europa) whilst maybe not as impressive as it sounds still affords a great view of the coast, and the surrounding hills. There is even restaurant underneath which provides a panoramic view whilst tucking into grilled sardines or paella.
The people are friendly and beaches are varied, pleasant and relatively clean, my favourite is predictably the best known; Playa Burriana. There are a few beachside restaurants and bars and an especially cool bar/coffee house, with a good selection of wines, tasty snacks and free wireless connection.
Thoughts for food/facilities
Nerja has plenty of places to eat and with great variety, from beachside taverns serving light lunches and some great restaurants serving fresh seafood dishes. I found a lovely little place with tables along the ‘promenade’ where the sardines and tapas were delicious, the wine acceptable and very good value. This became a regular haunt of mine; there is also a cove with a beachside restaurant which even has a traditional fisherman’s dwelling built into the surrounding rock!
As the town isn’t as developed as much of this area, it doesn’t have a huge shopping precinct, but it has a decent selection of shops, the majority of items likely to be required are easily available. There are a number of supermarkets selling a wide range of well what supermarkets sell! A few tourist shops, fashionable and casual clothes shops, places to buy souvenirs, and an extremely interesting little shop on one of the side streets selling Native American memorabilia.
There’s even a bookshop specialising in English language books, guidebooks and maps. There are a number of places offering internet access and I found a particularly good and helpful one near the Plaza Fabrica de los Cangrejos, just down from the town centre.
The lack of major development in the town also means that there is a scarcity of accommodation, and it is easy to understand that in peak season, maybe hard to come by, with a booking being needed well in advance! Hotel Club Nerja was my accommodation for the fortnight, it was clean, comfortable and friendly, had a bar and snack bar, who needs more?
In common with many resorts in Spain there is a fair bit of English influence with a number of ex-pats residing there and quite a few English owned bars, but not so many that you feel like it is merely a home from home.
My visit took place during early spring enjoying five days of great weather, before the rain from the UK caught me up. When it did though, boy did it catch up, three days with on and off storms, which was cool actually because storms are pretty cool. Being a well prepared traveller my waterproof jacket and umbrella are never far away even in Spain.
There are a few cool places to visit within a few miles of the town including the famous caves at Maro (Cueva de Nerja) which stretch for over five kilometres, were only discovered in 1959 and are a major Spanish attraction. There is also the lovely quaint village of Frigiliana, which plays host to the Festival of the Three Cultures (Festival de las Tres Culturas) in at the end of August each year. This celebrates the influence of Christian, Muslim and Jewish religions which co-exist in the area. Both of these are must visit attractions here.
Further afield there are some of the main towns/cities of the Costa del Sol and Andalusia. Granada which is the capital of Andalusia is cosmopolitan small city with no shortage of places to visit itself including of course the famous Alhambra. The Sierra Nevada are around an hour’s drive away and Granada can be visited on the way. The skiing was acceptable for a day, if not too demanding, but the resort Solymieve/Pradollano is not the prettiest and in summer must be incredibly ugly, but apparently it is closed then!
Spending only an afternoon in Granada which seemed a pleasant enough city, especially as most of the afternoon was spent in the Haagen Daz cafe chilling and watching the ummm world go by, and very attractive it is too!
Time spent with ice cream is seldom wasted
Of course I am a philistine……….. visiting lovely Granada, but not spending the afternoon queuing up for several hours to get into the Alhambra! It was a tough choice of course, but then again don’t claim to be a culture vulture and with only a few hours to spend in the region. When it came down to a choice between the Alhambra or Haagen Daz, well actually it was not that tough a choice and eventually all those pretty young ladies wandering aimlessly around the city centre won the day.
Besides it was a Sunday, the Alhambra was probably closed, sssh that is my excuse!
Nerja is a thoroughly pleasant place to visit, I arrived with a few preconceptions of what to expect and thankfully these were soon dispelled. The plan had been to use it as a base for skiing, but in the end spent much more time in the town and surrounding area than initially envisaged. It is ideal as a base for visiting the surrounding area and for some late season skiing again, and yet with a charm all of its own.
The images hopefully provide a feel for the place, excuse the quality, they were taken on a mobile phone. Bottom line; a great little place to visit, far from the typical image of the Costa Del Sol, but go quick before the developers move in!