Where to visit in Nerja... Balcón de Europa El Salvador church Nerja Museum Old town centre Ermita Angustias Mirador del Benito
So many great places to visit!
There are just so many must-see places to visit in Nerja, apart from the ten great beaches (see our Nerja beach guide) which for many are enough to justify coming back year after year! [Photo below of Nerja with mountains behind, by Mary-Ann Murphy].
There’s the famous Balcón de Europa, where many an hour can be whiled away relaxing on one of the benches that line it, looking out at the magnificent coastline, just as King Alfonso VII did when he first nicknamed it ‘the balcony of Europe’.
Then there’s the park with its children’s play area, the El Salvador and the Ermita Angustias churches, the fascinating Nerja museum, the many interesting sculptures around, the charming old town centre, and the several pretty fountain and flower filled plazas with their great selection of bars, cafes and restaurants.
There are others visits further afield like the awe inspiring Caves of Nerja, and the huge National Park with its panoramic views of both mountains and the glistening Mediterranean sea.
So, because there are so many attractions for you to visit, we’ve had to dedicate two pages to them all! At the bottom of this page you will find links to the second page.
As ever, if you’ve visited any of these places, don’t forget you’re invited to leave a comment describing your experience, (note that a Facebook account is necessary).
The Balcon de Europa
The Balcon de Europa is a spectacular viewpoint in the centre of Nerja, situated on top of a rocky promontory with stunning views of the coastline and the Mediterranean sea. It was the site of a castle for a thousand years – from a 9th century Moorish fortress to a fortified tower destroyed in the early 19th century.
With its well maintained flower borders, the avenue has plenty of shady benches where you can sit and and watch the world go by. In the evening it comes alive with street entertainers and musicians as well as local artists and craftsmen. [Photo left by Paco Haro Ramirez].
The Balcón is such an emblematic part of Nerja, we’ve dedicated a page to it…
El Salvador Church
Anyone visiting Nerja cannot miss the lovely Church of El Salvador. Situated right next to the Balcón de Europa the 17th century church is well worth a visit. Fashioned in a style which is a mixture of Moorish and Baroque art, the church was originally built in 1505 on the orders of Queen Juana, (daughter of Ferdinand and Isabel, the monarchs that headed the Catholic Reconquest of the country). Built on the site of an old guard tower, the existing structure we see today dates from a rebuilding in 1697, with an extension dating from 1776, and was fully restored in 1997.
The church has a layout of a three-naved cross, separated by pillars. It has a large central vaulted wooden ceiling. The interior is noted for its decorative 18th century fresco paintings in the Evangeline nave belonging to the School of Granada. There is also a more contemporary mural of the Annunciation, painted by local artist Francisco Hernández. The exterior of the church features a four sided bell tower, originally built in 1724 but later reformed.
It is quite unique in having chapels devoted to Raphael, Gabriel, and Michael: the three archangels, the last one being the patron saint of Nerja.It is said that there is a secret passage from the interior of the church to the fortress on the Balcón Europa, that was used in times of emergency, such as during wars.
Given its location next to the Balcón de Europa, the church is very popular with Spanish families for holding weddings. However, during the last few years it has also become popular with foreign couples for weddings or blessings.
Standing at the front of the church is a huge Norfolk Island Pine which was brought back from South America at the beginning of the 20th century. [Photo right: El Salvador Church illuminated at night – by Paco Haro Ramirez].
The Nerja museum
The Museo de Nerja (Nerja Museum) has been based on the Plaza de España since 2011, and is becoming more popular with visitors each year. During the summer of 2017 it had over 26,000 visitors.
One recent development which has increased the number of visitors, is having the museum as a stopping place for the tourist ‘train’ (the ‘Cueva Tren’), which can be quite a treat if you have kids. It is a hop-on/hop-off vehicle and has four stops: Nerja Caves, Maro Square, Parque Verano Azul, and the Nerja Museum. The ticket is valid all day and includes entry into the Museum and the Nerja Caves. You can get on and off the train as many times as desired in their operating hours. The journey time between Nerja and Maro is about 10 to 15 minutes.
The museum offers visitors an interactive and audiovisual tour of the history of Nerja. It covers the history of the area from prehistoric settlers in the Caves of Nerja (from which some of its exhibits have come), to the development of the tourist town during the last century.
The museum has three floors and amongst its exhibits are utensils used by early inhabitants, and the skeleton of a young woman who lived in the caves some 18,000 years ago.
The museum is in a corner of the Plaza de España, (the building with the triangular roof).
Open daily 10:00 to 14:00 and 16:00 to 18:30 (except July and August when open till 20.00). It is only closed on January 1st and May 15th.
Museum only: 4 euros (2 euros for children 6-12 years old, and under 6’s go free). Concessionary rate for OAP’s – 2 euros
Nerja Museum + Nerja Caves visit combined: Adults: €12.00; children aged 6 years to 12 years: €8; Children under 6 years: FREE
Nerja Museum + Nerja Caves + ‘Cueva Tren’: €15.00
[On Mondays it is free for European Union residents (bring ID for proof)].
For more info on tickets, prices and up to date exhibition dates visit Museo de Nerja page on the official Caves of Nerja website here.
Nerja old town centre
Just off the Balcón de Europa, heading north towards Calle Pintada, Calle Almirante Ferrándiz and Calle Gloria or Calle Carabeo, is probably the most popular area for tourists to explore, Nerja’s old town centre.
It’s a great place for shopping – whether you are looking new clothes, books (in English) or holiday souvenirs or presents. With narrow shady streets there is a great collection of interesting shops, selling locally produced crafts and goods as well as a selection of fashion boutiques.
During the long summer evenings this area also comes alive with a large variety of bars and restaurants offering al-fresco dining along the pedestrianised streets; from traditional Spanish to European, Indian or Chinese, and of course British fare. In fact – probably because of the many British residential tourists here – some of the well established Indian restaurants in Nerja, such as the Haveli and Taste of India, have to be recommended.
Definitely worth a visit is the Ermita de Ntra. Sra. de las Angustias, near to the taxi rank on Plaza Ermita, and just in front of the Sala Mercado hall.
Completed in 1720, this small building has some interesting trompe l’oeil style frescoes of the four Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, (photo, right).
Remember to check out the Sala Mercado exhibition hall next door to the church which sometimes offers some interesting exhibitions of local artists and craftsmen.
Mirador del Bendito
The Mirador del Bendito is a spectacular viewpoint in Nerja’s old town centre.
Situated on Prolongacion Hernán de Carabeo, it has a lovely view looking down onto the Carabeillo beach. However, the steps are quite steep down to the beach, so not for anyone with mobility problems.
There are some shady pergolas and seating there, and so offers a pleasant place to sit and enjoy the view.
Plenty of cafes and bars in the immediate vicinity. A great place to relax after a Nerja shopping spree!
While Nerja’s most famous pedestrianized area surrounded by bars, cafes and restaurants, is undoubtedly around the Balcón de Europa (see above), there are plenty of plazas in town which are well worth checking out. In fact its pretty fountain and flower filled squares are the heart of Nerja.
During the day they are great places to hang out for breakfast or coffee, lunch or your evening meal, and some offer other attractions like the Plaza de Espanã where Nerja’s museum is located. Then from evening time the plazas really come alive when they become the centres of Nerja’s nightlife scene, often with open-air entertainment and not just at fiesta times.
- Map to places to visit -
On the map below you will find all the places to visit on this page, as well as some of the others on the More attractions in Nerja page. Click on the map icons, or on the boxes underneath to get driving directions.
Further attractions in and around Nerja
Some might say we’ve saved the best to last! There are still some great places left to visit in Nerja; some are in town – like the many great beaches, the fascinating sculptures, the old towers, and the park with its children’s play area – and others are further afield like the awe inspiring Caves of Nerja and the huge National Park where you’ll enjoy panoramic views of mountains and the glistening Mediterranean sea.
So, because there are so many other attractions for you to visit, we’ve a dedicated page for them all. Clicking on any of the ‘view’ links below will take you there.