Why Sunny Nerja, Spain makes a great base in Andalucia

Why Nerja, Spain makes a great base in Andalucia

Nerja, Spain is a fantastic place to base when visiting the the southern region of Spain known as Andalucia.  Lining the southern coast of Spain, the Costa Del Sol, or sun coast, has sun, sea, mountains, whitewashed villages, and many things to see and do.  We based here when we visited Andalucia and the town of Nerja captured our hearts.

Nerja is one of the many seaside towns that dot the Costa del Sol of Spain.  So why is Nerja one of the best places to base when visiting this area?  For starters, Nerja has many options for short-term rentals, a walkable village, a lively old town, and its perfect perch by the sea.  It is close to Frigiliana which has won awards for being the “prettiest white village in Spain”.  Nerja is also close to several larger Andalucian cities:

  • Malaga – 1 hour
  • Granada – 1 hour
  • Ronda – 2 hours
  • Cordoba – 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Gibraltar – 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Tarifa – 2 hours 45 minutes (from here you can catch a ferry to Morocco)

Nerja’s location on Spain’s southern coast

When We Went

Early April 2023, our spring break.  Temperatures were  in the 70s-80s which was really enjoyable.  The sea was still a bit cool for swimming, but that didn’t stop our teen from jumping in 😉

How We Did It & Where We Stayed

We flew in and out of Malaga, the gateway city to Spain’s Costa del Sol.  We rented a vehicle and the drive to Nerja took about 45 minutes.  For us, having a rental vehicle was necessary for our trip.  We did a few day trips as well as drove to the grocery store.  

We rented a great Airbnb, a 3-story villa, complete with private pool.  The views from the roof deck were incredible!

Great Things to do in Nerja

Balcon de Europa

One of the top things to do in Nerja is visit the Balcon de Europa.  This palm tree lined promenade perched high above the sea offers great views of Nerja and beyond in all directions.  

The promenade on the Balcon de Europa

This site was a strategic defense location before it was a place for peaceful strolls.  In the 9th century, the Moors had a watchtower here where they kept a lookout for pirates in the sea.  

A devastating earthquake hit the region in 1884.  King Alfonso XII paid a visit to Nerja and declared the old watch tower area the “Balcon de Europa” (the balcony of Europe).  From that point on the name stuck and a statue commemorates him on the Balcon de Europa to this day.

View of Nerja from the Balcon de Europa

Old Town and Tapas

Lively Old Town was one of our favorite parts of staying in Nerja.  The cobblestoned alleyways are filled with restaurants, bars, and shops. 

We liked strolling here in the evenings, enjoying a drink, and indulging in tapas – a must in Spain!

Tapas are small bites that usually come free with the purchase of a drink.  Your best strategy is to get a small drink – think a small glass of beer or wine as one tapas will come free with it.  You can get more small drinks as the night goes on and with it, more tapas!  Of course you can order extra tapas as well.  Many are shareable and it is a lot of fun to try many different small bites!


Nerja is home to several beaches, the largest being Burriana Beach.  It has many amenities with plentiful restaurants, cafes, and shops lining the beachside promenade.

In the summer, the heat here is intense so Nerja’s beachside location is perfect.  Lounge chairs and umbrellas are placed throughout the beach and are great for relaxing in the shade.  Burriana Beach is a great place for walking, biking, and even playing volleyball as permanent nets are set up.

Burriana Beach

There are many other beaches in Nerja, besides the most popular, Burriana.  Another notable one is Calahonda, located to the left of Balcon de Europa.  Fishing boats still come in and out of this beach and the fisherman’s cottage remains here, tucked into a massive rock.

Calahonda Beach

Day Trip to Frigiliana

At only four miles from Nerja, a day trip to Frigiliana is a must.  It has been named Spain’s prettiest white village and for good reason. 

The village is whitewashed with vividly colored doors, complete with bright bougainvillea spilling out of planters throughout.  There are great restaurants, an amazing view from the top of the village, a church to visit, and lovely shops and galleries.  Visiting Frigiliana is definitely a must if staying in Nerja.

Spain’s “Prettiest White Village”, Frigiliana

Cuevas de Nerja

The Nerja Caves are formed in the hills of Maro and feature the world’s widest naturally formed column.  Besides formations, one can see cave paintings that date back to 25,000 – 3,600 B.C.  

Paella at Chiringuito Ayo

Trying paella in Spain is a must, but Chiringuito Ayo (Ayo’s Beach Bar) is extra special.  Ayo is one of the young boys who rediscovered the Nerja Caves in the 1950s.  His paella restaurant, which is located on Burriana Beach, is an institution.  He is still there to this day and Mike had a brief chat with him!

Paella at Ayo’s Place

So what is paella?  A large, cast iron pan of rice, chicken, seafood, and a mixture of spices is cooked over a wood burning fire.  We found it yummy and filling!

Nerja makes a great base in Spain’s southernmost region, Andalucia.  With the modern amenities in the town coupled with an old village vibe, it is one of the best places to stay on Spain’s Costa del Sol.

Read more!

We have a full itinerary for one week in the Andalucia region of Spain, One Week in Spain’s Andalucia.  We share all the great things to see and do in the area with one week!

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