A jewel of southern Spain
Teetering on the rocks on the southern tip of Andalusia – about 40 minutes from Malàga – is Nerja, AKA the jewel of the Costa del Sol. You’re in classic Costa territory here, with sandy beaches and an all-night bar scene. There’s tumultuous history to explore, too – the centrepiece is the Balcon de Europa, a viewing platform that was once part of a battle-torn castle. No wonder King Alfonso XII made Nerja his holiday home back in the 1880s.
Blue Flag beaches
Nerja has got 10 beaches woven into a 16-kilometre rocky coastline. They’ve all got the same mix of dark sand and shingle. Playa Burriana is the most popular, a Blue Flag stretch 10 minutes’ walk from town, accessed from a paved promenade. The beach is really flat, shelving into gentle waves, with snack bars and seaside shops running the length of it. Dinky 300-metre Torrecilla – another Blue Flag winner – is known as the town’s second beach. It still packs in toilets, showers and lifeguards, though.
Nightlife at Plaza Tutti Frutti
Plaza Tutti Frutti is a big, closed-off square in the centre of town that’s lined with 25 bars and clubs. It’s sleepy during the day, but after midnight the square fills up with dressed-to-the-nines revellers dancing to dance, pop, and Balearic beats through to 5 or 6am.
Daytrips to Granada and the Alhambra
It’s an hour and 45 minutes’ mountain drive to Grenada and the Alhambra Palace. In town, the cobbled streets of the Old Quarter are lined with craft shops and little cafés. At the Science Museum there’s giant chess to play, and a 50-metre-high observation tower to climb. From here you can catch the 30-minute bus from Plaza Nueva to the Alhambra – an enormous 10th-century Berber palace that’s still more or less intact.