Nerja: land of beauty and magic

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I saved the best for last and decided to head out to Nerja on my last day in Spain in June. I had heard about Nerja from friends, and everyone always agreed on how beautiful it was, so I was pretty excited to check it out for myself. Located 56 km to the east of Málaga, it is the perfect day trip from the big Andalusian coastal city. However, if you are looking for a nice, smaller (less touristy) charming beach town on the coast of southern Spain, then Nerja is definitely for you!

After the devastation Marbella wreaked on my poor wallet, I decided to breakfast at the Málaga train station before leaving. I also brought a bocadillo with me for lunch on the beach! Budget traveling at it’s finest! The ride out there along the coast was gorgeous! We kept passing quaint little public beaches with a restaurant with only a few people on them; I wish I had a car so I could explore them all. Once again as I walked out the bus station in Nerja, I had to ask for directions trying to find the city center. These beach tourist towns are definitely NOT catered towards budget travelers; i.e. people who travel by public transportation and by their own two feet; there were no signs anywhere! But as I arrived at the old part of the city at a big terrace overlooking the beaches and cliffs, it was ALL worth it!! There are no two ways about it; Nerja is pretty honking AWESOME!!!

I walk down to the beach, and this is what I see. WOW!

Now don’t get me wrong, there are still quite a lot of tourists, the difference being there are a lot of Spanish tourists who come here in the summer, and it way less overdeveloped than the beach towns to the west of Málaga. It has a small city center with old, white buildings and plenty of shops, restaurants, cafes and gelato shops!! Dulce de leche? Yes please! Bikini diet be damned! The town is set up on cliffs that plunge straight down with some pebble beaches interspersed among them. This is great because it means you get great views of the town, cliffs and water from them, and you get nice views of the town on the cliffs from the beaches. In fact, it is nicknamed the balcón de Europa (the balcony of Europe) by King Alfonso XII because of the incredible viewpoints.

BAM! Welcome to Nerja!!

Yeah the water is actually that color!

View from the Balcón de Europa


Excellent snorkeling spots!

Soggy, sunburnt me and the Balcón de Europa

Now let me get to the beaches! Nerja has hands down some of the prettiest, nicest beaches I have been to in Andalucía and in Spain. Each beach is a little inlet between the rocky cliffs and they are white sand until you get close to the water, where they turn into little pebbles. I actually prefer these gray pebble beaches because it meant that I didn’t get sand everywhere. I plonked my stuff down near the the rocky outcrops on the Playa Carabeo, the biggest of the beaches. There weren’t too many people there, though I can imagine it must get a lot more crowded in July and August when more people go on holiday. The water was crystal clear, cerulean turquoise blue, my favorite color. It looked like a swimming pool. It was the perfect temperature, and you could swim 50 feet out and still see the bottom! It looked so fake. I was SO bummed I didn’t have goggles and a snorkel with me! I spent most of the day on the beach, swimming as often as I wanted, watching crazy kids do flips and jumps off the rocks, and rereading Harry Potter 7. It was heavenly.

Needless to say, at the end of the day, it was a struggle to leave this paradise. I can honestly say, Nerja has some of the prettiest beaches in Spain (and I have been to a lot of Spanish beaches). The town has a vibe that I really enjoyed, laid-back and not too touristy, with very few high rise buildings, and the beaches were to die for! Nerja was magical and beautiful, and it still felt accessible to travelers like me. I will definitely be coming back soon (with goggles).

Have you ever been to Nerja or any beaches on the Costa del Sol or in Spain? What’s your favorite beach?

The Playa de Carabeo, the beach where I hung out.

View from my towel

Not too shabby!

****I should also add that Nerja is really famous for a huge series of caves and caverns that were inhabited since ancient times located near the town. The Caves of Nerja are a huge tourist attraction that I think most Spaniards go to on a field trip at one point or another (there are tons of buses that run between Nerja and the Caves daily); but with such a beautiful beach and fine weather, I decided to save it for another time.

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10 Comments on “Nerja: land of beauty and magic

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  1. My favourite beach in Spain, hands down, was Las Islas Cies. It’s a nature preserve off the coast of Vigo. They only let in like 2000 pl a day or something. You have to take a ferry. And you can even camp there if u want! If you get a chance next year, GO. You won’t regret it.

    Love your blog btw!


  2. Gracias Casey! What a wonderful thing to say 🙂 Keep coming every year, that is my tentative plan at least haha! How is Spanish teacher training going? Where are you? Boston? I’ll be in Logroño next year! Wahoo yay for the great north!

  3. AH Liz you just keep inspiring me to return to Spain every year for the rest of my life!!!!!! Can’t wait to put my Spanish teacher training to good use….once it starts, that is!!! Glad you’re having so much fun, I am SO. JEALOUS!

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