Located on the coast, about 60 km east of Malaga, the sleepy fishing town of Nerja has become a popular destination for holiday-makers on the Costa del Sol. Although its most famous attraction is the Bálcon de Europa, a promontory offering impressive views up and down the coast, the town also features quaint back streets to explore as well as some excellent beaches. The Nerja Caves, a few kilometres out of town, feature the world’s largest known stalactite.
It is easy to reach Nerja from both Malaga city and Malaga airport. Here are the travel options:
The cheapest way of travelling from Malaga to Nerja is by bus. Most buses leave from the main bus station in Malaga city, located about 1 km southeast of the city centre, right next to the train station. There are many departures throughout the day. There are also some departures from the port area.
Buses are run by ALSA, one of the two main bus companies in Spain. Buses are air-conditioned and comfortable, and the service is reliable and generally on time.
There is no direct bus service to Nerja from Malaga airport. To take the bus from Malaga to Nerja, it is necessary first to transfer from the airport to Malaga city bus station, either by bus or train.
- ALSA bus tickets can be bought at the station or online. A one-way ticket currently costs around USD 5.50, return around USD 10*.
- The train from the airport to the station is the quickest and easiest option, taking around 15 mins. Trains depart every 30 minutes.
- There are daily departures from Malaga to Nerja, roughly every hour or so, starting at around 7:00 and finishing at around 23:00. Slightly fewer buses run on Saturdays and fewer still on Sundays and public holidays.
- Journey time from Malaga to Nerja is about 1 hour 25 mins, stopping at towns along the way. Some buses are direct (with no stops) and take around 1 hour.
A convenient option for travel from Malaga airport direct to Nerja is a pre-booked taxi. Several reputable companies exist, offering competitive rates. Well-regarded companies include Nerja Taxis, Solhop and Malaga Cabbie. They all offer good levels of service at very reasonable prices.
The advantage of this option is that a driver will be waiting to meet you at the airport and there will be no hanging around. You will not need to pass through Malaga city and your driver will take you directly to your accommodation in Nerja.
- If you plan to take a taxi from Malaga airport to Nerja, it is highly advisable to book in advance. With pre-booked vehicles, prices for a 4-person car start at around USD 65 – 70, whereas the fare for a regular taxi at the airport is around USD 100 – 120*, depending on the day and time.
- Booking in advance should also ensure you have a driver who speaks English. If you take a taxi from the taxi rank, the driver may only speak Spanish.
- For larger groups, most private transfer companies can provide people carriers (5 – 7 passengers) and minibuses (8 – 19 passengers).
- For those not transferring to Nerja directly from the airport, the same companies also offer transfers from Malaga city for similar prices.
Hiring a self-drive car offers extra mobility and the freedom to explore the Costa del Sol at your own pace. Established international companies are represented at the airport, as well as many local companies.
While international companies charge higher rates, some of the local companies advertise rates that seem too good to be true — which often they are. There are various ways companies attempt to bump up the price.
- The minimum age to rent a car in Spain is 21. Remember, they drive on the right and you need to show your physical driving licence.
- A common trick is that the details of the insurance policy are not made clear until the customer picks up the car.
- Exceptions to the policy are then revealed, and the customer is pressured into paying extra for more insurance. Be clear about the details of the insurance policy before choosing a company.
- Be clear about the fuel policy before agreeing to rent a car. Some less reputable companies may provide the car with a full tank and then charge ‘premium’ rates for the fuel, much more than you would pay at a gas station. You also forfeit fuel left in the tank when you return it.
- There are over 100 car rental companies in Malaga but only about a dozen represented within the airport. Choosing a company with a desk at the airport might seem like a good option but often there are long queues. Some companies bring the car to the carpark while others transfer you free of charge to offices nearby. This can actually save you time waiting in line at the airport.
- With so many options, the best advice is to research thoroughly before choosing a company. Well-regarded companies include Malagacar and Centauro Rent a Car.
- Car hire can also be arranged in Malaga city.
- To drive to Nerja from the airport, follow the M23. After you join the M20, follow the A7 towards Nerja. Take exit 292. Driving time is about an hour.
For those hoping to see Nerja from elsewhere in Malaga province, the easiest option is to join an organized day tour. The majority of these tours include a stop at the picturesque town of Frigiliana, a trip to Nerja Caves and free time in Nerja itself. Tours include transport and entrance fees, as well as a knowledgeable guide who can explain the significance of everything you see. Joining a tour takes the hassle out of organizing the trip independently.
Prices are around USD 35 – 45*. A standard tour departs in the morning and heads to Frigiliana, where participants have around an hour and a half to explore the narrow streets of whitewashed buildings. Many tours include a visit to the old Moorish fortress which has now been converted into a molasses factory. Next stop is the Nerja Caves, followed by a visit to the town of Nerja itself. After seeing the Bálcon de Europa and spending some time exploring the town, the tour returns by mid-afternoon.
There are several simple transfer options from Malaga to Nerja and from Nerja to Malaga to suit any budget. Nerja is a pretty town with plenty of charm and, at only an hour from Malaga, well worth the trip.
Like Nerja, there are many other fabulous destinations that Malaga is a gateway to. To find out more, check out other amazing day trips from Malaga.
Note: Prices are as of March 2018.