It used to be one of the best kept secrets of Andalucia but not any more as discerning tourists venture further along the coast, past the long urban sprawl to the easternmost part of Malaga province and the town of Nerja. The mountains here are the initial attraction, sweeping down to the shore and forming majestic cliffs amongst which nestle breath-taking coves and beaches. But there is more than beauty here and the visitor who stays long enough and wanders from the popular areas will encounter a richer cultural experience and some extraordinary gastronomic delights. Nerja is a small working town retaining much of it’s old Spanish charm and Moorish influence with small winding traffic-free streets at the centre leading to a picturesque square and cliff top viewpoint over-looking the Mediterranean known as the Balcon de Europa (Balcony of Europe). Here the visitor can truly relax by taking a leisurely stroll along the palm lined esplanade or sit at the many cafes, people watching and listening to different buskers offering music ranging from traditional Spanish guitar to popular or classical music.
Depending on whether you enjoy an energetic or more sedentary lifestyle, Nerja offers many clubs some of which range from walking and swimming to yoga, boules or bridge. The Nerja Book Centre is famous for swapping thousand of second hand books and has been featured on BBC and recommended in numerous guides. The Culture Centre has a varied programme of events including a cine club for English speaking people and its resident arts club provides regular lectures. On Tuesday mornings the atmosphere of a busy Spanish market is replicated just outside the centre and on Sunday mornings the international car boot sale provides an opportunity to rummage new and not so new items. Church services cater for most main religions and are held regularly with amazing traditional Easter and Christmas processions circling the town.
The surrounding mountains protect the town from cold north winds. Guaranteed sun means alfresco eating even throughout winter. Wandering uphill away from the beaches along Calle Pintada and Calle Granada is like stepping into another much older world. Here Moorish influence has blended with traditional Spanish architecture in creating shady courtyards complete with painted tiles, intricate carvings and water features. Nerja is famous for offering quality, generously sized tapas served with excellent wines made from locally grown grapes. For those wishing for a more substantial meal there is a variety of choice in the old town with restaurants such as Bar El Pulguilla and Restaurante Pacomari specializing in fresh seafood. An extensive selection of international cuisine including Italian, Indian and Chinese is available around the Balcon and along the Carabeo area which meanders down to the large sandy Burriana beach and even here on the seafront grilled sardines on skewers are popular. With so much to do and see in this small town, it is no wonder the secret is out and each year more and more visitors discover its charms and many keep returning.
Perched on the edge of the Alboran Sea, Nerja qualifies as part of the LetsGoNorth meets LetsGoSouth project as the town is on the Senda Litoral, the route from Manilva to Nerja, and which is a “parallel” with the North Highland Way which extends along the north coast of Scotland from John o Groats to Cape Wrath. The Senda Litoral is 180kms and the North Highland Way is 180 miles… somewhat of a coincidence with the numbers if not the distance!
Andalusia is much more than the touristic cliché of sun, sangría, toreros and beaches. Beyond this stereotypical image of Andalusia there is a whole deeply rooted culture full of history, arts, traditions, flavours, colours and sensations to discover… are you ready to take the chance?
Nerja is the hidden gem in Costa del Sol. In the far east tip of Malaga Coast, located between the high sierras and the Mediterranean Sea. It is full of picturesque spots and charming locations which make it a preferred destination for discerning travellers. Besides the good tourist infrastructure, the town of Nerja still preserves the essence of this old maritime and agricultural village, and its streets and
buildings are impregnated with the remains of a surprising history that
connects this town, along the centuries, with silk farms, stories of Muslim pirates, the discovery of America, and a prosperous industry extinguished after the arrival of mass tourism.