Want a detailed itinerary for the most perfect beach day in Southern Spain? Look no further.
Nerja is the place to be!
Hey everyone, I’m back with a post dedicated to my favorite day in Spain thus far– a trip to the beautiful town of Nerja, located in the province of Málaga. As much as I’ve loved the city of Granada, I’m a true Californian at heart who’s been aching to go to the beach and see some natural beauty. Any of my friends will tell you the path to my heart is via kayak, and so I naturally began looking for the best (semi-local) spots to kayak in Southern Spain within the first week of my study abroad program. After hours upon hours of research with a few leads, I found the beautiful Playa de Burriana (Burriana beach) and ideas for other incredible things to do while in Nerja–and after proposing my beach day plan to my friends in my program, over half of them were sold! Here’s a step-by-step itinerary.
Unless you have the budget for a rental car (which you’ll probably pay between $100 -$150 for unless you have the useful skill of driving stick shift), the cheapest and easiest way to get to Nerja is by bus. The company you’ll want to use is called Alsa, and you can purchase tickets online at their website (you can change the default language at the top left of the website) for about 20-30€ round trip.
*Tip #1: If you’re on a strict budget like my friends and I were, you can purchase these tickets from the machines at the bus station without having to pay for extra fees, and they give discounts if your purchase more than one ticket at a time! You can save 5-10€ per ticket this way (which is a lot for a broke college student).
*Tip #2: The Nerja bus station is not really a station, it’s more like a bus stop. When I got there, it dropped us off near “Bar El 7.” Just remember that if you’re headed towards Málaga on your way back home, make sure you wait on the OPPOSITE side of the street for the bus on the way back.
Here’s another thing to keep in mind–depending on how much time you want to spend in Nerja, you may need to be flexible with what stations to depart from or avoid buying a roundtrip ticket. For example, I took a 7am bus from the Granada bus station to the Nerja bus station on the way there. On the way back though, I purchased a bus ticket from the Nerja station to the Málaga station, and Málaga station back to the Granada station. This gave me more than 2 extra hours in Nerja, without which I wouldn’t have been able to fit all of my planned activities in one day. Because the Málaga station is much busier than the Nerja station, more buses were departing from the Málaga station at later hours. This leads me to my third tip.
*Tip #3: If you’re taking more than one bus on the way to or from Nerja, avoid buying bus tickets with short layovers. Our bus from Nerja ended up being 10 minutes delayed and got stuck in an extra 20 minutes of traffic on the way to Málaga. Had we purchased the ticket with only a 10 minute layover from Málaga to Granada, we would have missed our bus!
*Tip #4: If you’re using a smartphone but don’t have data/wifi, learn how to download areas on google maps so you can navigate offline. Keep a PDF of the different addresses and places you want to go to while you’re in Nerja, and type them into your google maps search bar. Here’s a website that will explain how to do that.
Whew, now that transportation is done with, let’s get to the fun stuff. Just one more word of advice before I move on–bring plenty of healthy, nutritious snacks (a sandwich is a great idea for after lunch) and water/powerade with you for your trip!
What to do in Nerja
Part 1- Go on the Nerja/Maro Cliffs kayak tour through Educare Aventura
This is a must. I’m an avid kayaker and have had the opportunity to kayak in many a beautiful place for my ripe age of 23, but this tour tops my list as my favorite kayaking experience ever. For only 2o euros (trust me, that’s dirt cheap), you get a guide to take you on a 3 hour tour of the cliffs, where you get to see TWO seaside waterfalls and really cool sea caves and rock formations.
If you’re worried about skill level, don’t be! This tour is for people of all skill levels, and isn’t too strenuous at all–we saw plenty of young kids on this tour. Make sure you email them to set up a reservation just in case they get too busy the day you get there! You can visit their website for their contact information, location, and more information.
*Tip #1: I highly recommend going on the first 10am morning tour, since it’s not as hot, the wind/water conditions are calmer, and the beach and ocean is a lot less crowded. Going early will also give you time to see the other sites in Nerja. Also, bring a water bottle with you!
*Tip #2: If you make a reservation for 10 people like we did, there’s a 2 euro discount per person. Plus, you get to kayak with a group full of familiar friends!
*Tip #3: Try to bring a flash drive or SD card with you! I say this because the tour guide takes GoPro photos of you and the group, and if you don’t have an android phone (iPhones didn’t work with their computer for some reason) with enough space, you’ll have to purchase one from them, if they have some in stock.
Part 2- Treat yourself to lunch, and coffee/icecream
You’ll have worked up an appetite by the time you’re done kayaking! Here a few options for lunch:
~Chiringuito de Ayo (Tito Ayo); If you want to try good paella, here’s your chance! This is a huge, outdoor/beach side restaurant that’s right next to the Educare Aventura kayaking site and was recommended by a trusted local.
~El Pulguilla; Also recommended by a local, this is a good place to try fried fish dishes native to the area.
***If you need a pick-me-up before continuing to the next adventure, caffeine and/or sugar is a great idea***
~Albi Cafeteria; This was where I had my favorite cappuccino in Spain. The coffee was so good–strong but not bitter! My friends had their icecream and loved it as well. A plus about this place is its big, clean restroom and its wifi! It’s also a really short walk from the kayaking site.
Part 3- Choose your adventure: Rio Chillar or Cueva de Nerja (or just chill)
Can you tell which adventure I chose? You guessed it! Both Rio Chillar and Cueva de Nerja are really popular sites, so it’s a really hard choice when you’re short on time, but depending on your energy levels/mood either are great options. When you get back, you might have to quickly grab something small for dinner near the bus station, but if you have plenty of snacks you should be fine. Here’s some more info about the two:
This is basically a beautiful river walk that will take you through gorges, natural pools, and small waterfalls. I’ve never been on a walk or hike like this in my life! What’s really nice about the walk is that it’s not difficult because it’s flat the whole way, and there are plenty of families that go on this walk with their young children. The start of the trail is also really close (5-10 min walk) to the Nerja bus stop, which is super convenient! However, you will get wet (the water can get up to knee deep) since you’ll have to eventually start walking through the river itself. Just keep in mind, the river is most suitable for walking in the summer months. You can read this website and this website for more information. I have to reiterate, though: bring plenty of snacks! I didn’t have time to finish the entire Rio Chillar walk, but I was still able to see the gorges/ pools and get back with enough time to grab something small to eat across the street from the bus stop before heading home.
*Tip: If you go on this walk, make sure to wear good shoes–either tennis shoes or supportive sandals with an ankle strap, flip flops will not do! It’s also a good idea to have your phone protected by a waterproof pouch or something along those lines, just in case you were to fall!
Cueva de Nerja
This is one of the top attractions in Nerja, it’s a deep, underground cavern with natural rock and limestone formations. I’ve heard it’s stunning! Tickets are about 10 Euros, and they must be bought online and ahead of time at the attraction’s website. They give the last tour at 3pm, so make sure to get there on time! This place is less than 2.4 miles away from Burriana beach, and you can either take a cab or take a bus from the nerja bus station (the stop you have to get off at is called “Maro,” after which you walk 15 minutes to the entrance of the caves).
If you find yourself too tired after lunch or just want to stay on the beach to swim or sunbathe, this is definitely a great option depending on what you’re in the mood for. Always remember to listen to your body and determine for yourself what kind of pace you’ll enjoy the most.
That’s all, folks!
So that was my perfect, adventurous day in Nerja– a beautiful kayak tour that topped my list of favorite kayaking experiences, a big lunch followed by amazing coffee, and a walk through the gorgeous Rio Chillar. Surprisingly enough, though this may have seemed like a rushed day, I was able to take my time during lunch and my time at the cafe, and see everything I wanted to without too much stress before my 7pm bus back to Granada. Ideally, I would have loved to spend two days and one night Nerja to see all of the sights at an even more relaxed pace, but I only had one day to make it work. This brings me to my next point– this beach day, of course, is completely customizable depending on what you want to do! You can just choose one thing to do from this itinerary and still have a great day like I did. If you do happen to be in southern Spain though, please give Nerja a visit– you won’t regret it. Happy adventuring!