nerja : andalusia : spain

nerja : andalusia : spain

We’ve not visited Nerja for a while, but when we still lived in Didsbury, we did visit often. We were very lucky that we had a friend with a family apartment there, and so if there was availability, we could make a booking and do a quick getaway from Manchester. We tended to visit in the spring and autumn, as we found it to be much less crowded and temperatures were much better for exploring the region of Andalusia. When we go abroad, we’re not keen on two weeks on a sunbed. Although we do relax, we also like to get to know places, and Nerja is a great base for getting out and about. From here, we’ve explored Almeria, Granada, the Sierra Nevada, Malaga, Seville, Cadiz and Tarifa. All not to be missed.

But, we’ve also made sure we’ve explored Nerja and got to know it well. And, the more we’ve got to know it, the more we’ve really grown to like it. Initially, we thought it would largely be an ex-pat community, and so not somewhere we’d keep going back to. It obviously does have a large Brit community, but it’s also much loved by Scandinavians, Dutch and Germans – if licence plates are anything to go by – bringing a much more cross-cultural feel. And whilst there are bars by the beach, showing football and serving all day breakfasts and Sunday roasts, these don’t dominate. If you want this you can have it, but there’s also so, so much more. And that’s what we like about Nerja. It’s easy if you want it to be, but if you want to absorb a bit more of Spain, you can do that too.

There are lots of urbanisations, up on the surrounding hills – typical modern, white washed town houses, with balconies and roof terraces if you are high enough. And, because they are built on hills, most aren’t overlooked and all will have some kind of a view of the sea, even if you need to stand on your tip toes and squint. But, from wherever you are if you are up here, it’s only a shortish walk down to the beach and the old town. There are buses, and if you take the car, plenty of car parks. The old town, with its large plaza, winding cobbled streets, white washed buildings and the famous Balcon de Europa, is very, very beautiful.

Balcon de Europa

Balcón de Europa is a beautiful pedetrianized balcony, from where you can look over the Mediterranean sea, and is one of the most popular places in Andalucía. It has spectacular panoramic views of the Sierra Almijara mountain range and the coast with its beautiful beaches, sandy coves and rocky outcrops.

Beach Life

The main beach in Nerja seems to be Burriana. It’s extensive and is large enough to accommodate lots of people without the feeling of being hemmed in. Multiple bars, restaurants, shops (selling everything you could need for a day at the beach as well as many, many clothing stores) and estate agencies, line the road along the beach. And, on the beach, there are even more bars and restaurants. Our favourite part of Burriana is to the far right as you look in from the sea. The bars are a bit more chilled and laid back, and the restaurants not lined with staff trying to persuade you to come in. The kind of places where if you do come in, great. If not, you’ll probably come in, on your next visit. The final bar is definitely our preferred one – very Moroccan in feel, with big sofas, lanterns, throws and a feeling of space. The added advantage is that just in front, but far enough away to stop you feeling over-crowded, are super comfy sun loungers and big cabana beds, with billowing curtains. Maybe because this is right at the end of the beach, and so not in the melee of volleyball nets and water sport hire cabins, it always seems quite empty when we go. Perfect!

It’s definitely not always sunshine on Burriana Beach – we have experienced torrential rain and flooding, too…

There is another beach – Calahonda –  underneath Balcon de Europa, which is very pretty, although more of a large cove than a beach.

Nerja Old Town

Like all Andalucian towns and villages, white is the predominant colour for buildings, with the odd pop of colour here and there. And, like all Andalucian towns and villages, once off the main plaza. the streets wind up and around and down, making them a pleasure to explore, especially when it’s cooler. As Nerja is quite large, there are a lot of shops and restaurants, so if you want retail therapy followed by a slap up meal, it’s the place for you.

 

 

ayo : burriana beach : nerja

ayo : burriana beach : nerja

A chiringuito is usually a bar or a restaurant on a beach – and one of the most famous ones in Nerja, is called Ayo. Like most chiringuitos, outdoors, it is a simple construction with a partly roofed wooden terrace. On the menu, you will find tapas, fried and grilled food and paella – the paella being the star of the show. However, the fresh fish and seafood are also highly recommended. Located right on Burriana Beach, is not just a restaurant. It’s a theatrical experience – and we recommend you go early if you want to get a seat, because it is amazingly popular, almost from the minute it opens. For more than fifty years, this chiringuito has been famous for its paellas, cooked on open wooden fires. The owner, Francisco Ortega Olalla ‘Ayo’, is an almost legendary character in Nerja – as is his family run beachfront restaurant.

The great thing about Ayo is that it’s a paella buffet. You only pay once for the paella you have ordered and you can use your plate as often as you like to get another serving from the chef. Just right for those with a big appetite! The paella fires get stoked up at about noon.

Recommended to us by a friend, we’ve been every time we’ve visted Nerja. It’s completely laid back, in that you can stay as long as you wish, but there’s a real hustle and bustle as dishes are served and people go backwards and forwards to the paella pans for fill ups. It’s also in the perfect place if you fancy lunch on the beach – you can leave all of your belongings on your sunbeds, if you can see them, and have a leisurely time, under the vines, whilst the sun is at its most intense.