The coastal town of Nerja is located 50 kilometres from Malaga, marking the eastern tip of the Costa del Sol. This location ultimately saved the town from the early tourism and high rise development experienced by western towns like Torremolinos. The result is a smaller mainly low rise community with much of its character preserved.
Nerja is flanked by the Sierra Almijara mountains, and looks out over a rocky coastline split by sandy coves. The countryside around it is pleasant and offers camping options, aswell as horse riding and cycling tours.
With its roots as a fishing village the old quarter of town has been well looked after over the years, and so remains relatively unchanged. Here visitors will find many criss crossed narrow streets, and whitewashed houses with wrought iron balconies and old fashioned doors/grilles. Town monuments include the 17th century Church of El Salvador, and the Gardens of Capistrano; a beautiful area descending to Burriana beach.
Unusually for an old Spanish town Nerja’s social centre is not its central plaza, but instead comes in the form of the Balcon de Europa (Balcony of Europe). This delightful promenade is perched atop a cliff looking out to sea; the balcony was built in 1487 on the site of a prominent Moorish castle. Well serviced by cafes and bars, this vantage point is an excellent place to come to admire the views of the outlaying land and the Mediterranean. The sea breeze ensures it is a little cooler than at street level, and ample palms give shade against the midday sun.
One of Nerja’s main attractions must be its caves, just 3 kilometres from the centre of town (buses run hourly). They were once inhabited by prehistoric man, and several important archealogical discoveries have been made here; some dating back over 20,000 years. Some of the caverns are huge; one has even been transformed into a concert hall in which the International Cave Festival is held.
Nerja’s coastline is more varied than on other parts of the Costa. Made up mainly of rocky cliffs it is split by a series of sandy coves. They are well maintained, clean, and serviced by chiringuitos (beach front cafes).
In recent times Nerja has attracted a lot of interest from residential tourists. This has led to continuing expansion of the town, and it now has a population of over 12,000. Most of the development has been low rise and in the form of villa style communities. It is mainly tasteful and in keeping with what came before.