This is an article about Nerja, an authentic gem in the Andalusian Mediterranean coast you should not miss in a visit to Spain.
We were already on the road for many days, and unfortunately, the time came to turn into home-direction, and from Sevilla to decide which road we are taking to head back to Catalunya, and in the end to Barcelona city. Since the majority of the trip we spent in-land, I really wanted to choose a different road and drive back on the coast with possible stopovers in beautiful pueblos on the coastline, and luckily I was able to convince Dani on that.
When I was a kid, with my family we visited the Costa del Sol, and I remembered how much I loved Nerja, and since Dani has never been there, I wanted to show him this picturesque town. So finally the roles changed, and funny enough I became the tour guide and he the first-time visitor. 😎
With many memories in my mind, we were getting closer and closer to Nerja on the A7 highway, until the last roundabout, from where you need to turn down and you can have the amazing view on Nerja town down in the valley. The surrounding streets seemed more packed, with more stores, newly built neighborhoods, and tourist facilities, versus the last time (24 years ago) when I was there for the first time.
I had never been before that trip to Nerja. Obviously, a mistake that I had the chance to fix. But Nerja is a reference for locals, even for me, especially for those ones, who were just kids during the ’80s. Nerja has been always an example of a touristic town that has kept its own character and identity, even dealing with seasonal tourism. It used to be a popular destination for Spanish families who lived inland, mainly in Madrid and surroundings, to spend summer vacations. There, their kids made random friends and joined local groups of kids to play and have fun on the beach. So did their parents. Spain that time was a new country, where a lot of people were the first or second generation in big cities like Barcelona or Madrid, due to a very huge internal migration from the countryside during the ’60s. According to that, there were mainly two options to spend holidays: either in the villages where those families came from in order to visit relatives or along the cool beach renting or even buying new apartments, which construction was over-spoiling the Spanish coast. Of course, a third option was traveling by car around Europe, that my family combined with those more popular two options, but that meant really to be outsiders.
I needed to realize that Nerja actually became a big holiday, resort town during the years. Many tourists everywhere, newly built apartment buildings, hotels, bars, and restaurants all around, but luckily still all organized with a style, that didn’t ruin much the beauty of this place.
After enjoying an ice cream in front of the old church (Iglesia El Salvador) on the main square – where we had many dinners back then, 24 years ago with my family – we decided to go for our well-deserved beaching session with crossing the old quarter of the town.
The old quarter luckily is still virtually unchanged with narrow, winding streets and whitewashed houses. But we need to admit that the deep Andalusian culture that the town exudes, perfect climate and cosmopolitan atmosphere, undoubtedly have made Nerja one of the most attractive holiday hotspots during the years.
And Nerja has been tattooed in the collective imagination because of a very popular series from the ’80s about those relationships between real locals and local tourists in Nerja. That series was called “Verano Azul” and everyone who is more than 30 years old in Spain has watched at least once completely. Probably is the most screened Spanish series on public TV ever, 37 times so far. So you can imagine that every year in summer it was there on TV. Probably was not a top series comparing with today HBO productions but you could empathize with the description of the social matters and the quotidian life of the characters. The speculation process among the coast buildings, the threatened local identities, the future of some jobs in danger, like fishermen or artisans, the right of having fun on the coast for the city working class… and a bit of teenage romanticism and the needed drama portion.
Nerja now is for sure as white and blue as it was some years ago. There are nevertheless more tourists around and plenty of new bars. But on the beach, there are still some fishermen barracks standing, and the narrow bright streets are still there, waiting to be discovered again and again. If you want a well-balanced option in terms of quality, services, and authenticity on the southern Spanish coast, definitely Nerja is one of your best choices. Let me explain why with an example. We got enough sun and water after swimming and playing as small ferries back and forth under the sun, so we decided to go for a drink and sit down for a while. We spotted an upper terrace with views and we got in. We could choose the table we wanted according to the views. The atmosphere was nice, some laughs, some small talks around. The menu showed reasonable prices and an old-school dressed up waiter brought fast two glasses of draft cool beer at the perfect temperature, while the see was rumoring in front of us.
After our visit to Nerja, we decided to explore the surroundings as well a bit. If you go back to the same roundabout where you left the highway, you can choose to go up into the mountain direction, where there are some other beautifully preserved and picturesque whitewashed Pueblos Blancos (white villages). One such is called Frigiliana, built on a mountainside, approximately 6 km from Nerja.
Frigiliana, besides is indeed beautiful, is the place from where you can enjoy the best panoramic views to the Mediterranean and the “Jewel of the Costa del Sol”, how Nerja is often referred to. 🤩