After visiting Menorca in August (the WORST month to go to a Spanish beach), I wanted to keep it simple the following year and find a location that was easy to get to and required very little effort on my part once I got there and with hopefully less crowded beaches. After some research, I settled on Nerja on Spain's Costa del Sol and booked an Airbnb room in a centrally-located flat with what turned out to be a lovely owner named Lupe. After taking a train from Madrid to Malaga and an easy bus ride to Nerja, I arrived and checked in to the apartment. Lupe was warm and inviting and although my Spanish sucked, we managed to communicate. Any time I'm in a new place, my first order of business is to get my bearings and likely have some adult beverages, so I set out to see what I could find.
A short walk from the apartment was the popular tourist spot of Balcon de Europa, which is a large balcony and former 9th century watchtower of an Arabic fortress with amazing views of the Mediterranean and the surrounding mountains. I was starving and settled on the Hotel Balcon de Europa for some fresh fish and white wine. While not the best food or service, the views were amazing and I got to enjoy the sweet sounds of a local guitar player.
After lunch, I did a bit of wandering around checking out the local restaurants and stores. One thing I noticed about Nerja was that it didn't seem to be full of Spanish people and was more full of British and Irish folks. Not that I minded, but it did mean that meal times...especially dinner...were way earlier than the typical Spanish meal times that I had gotten used to.
By nightfall, this was apparently the place to hang out
For dinner, I stumbled upon La Bottega and was immediately smitten. It's run by a Spanish/Italian couple who were the perfect hosts. I had initially only planned to stop in for a gin tonic, but ended up staying for dinner enjoying plenty of red wine, fried provolone and penne with prawns "pil pil."
After dinner, I was exhausted (either from the long day of travel or the red wine ;)) and decided to have an early night after a short walk on the beach.
I could totally live in this house by the ocean
Sunday was another lazy day with a noon wake up time...almost too late to get a typical Spanish breakfast of coffee and pan con tomato. I managed to find both in Plaza de Cavana and lingered for awhile before heading out to check out a new beach for the day.
On the way to Carabeillo beach
After spending a couple of hours in the Mediterranean sun, it was time for lunch. I went for one of the closest places to the beach (not always the wisest choice because they're often tourist traps) and tried Rincon del Sol. Apart from wine tasting, sitting by the ocean drinking wine/cocktails and eating seafood is one of my all-time favorite past times. I tried the tuna tataki, sea bream with coriander and mango (not normally my favorite spices) and plenty of white wine. All delicious with killer views.
Post lunch it was back to the beach to enjoy a good book and ending the night with Italian food at Davinci (I know, I know...I shouldn't be eating Italian food in Spain!). Monday was yet another lazy day of sleeping in...do you sense a theme while I'm on vacation? After a quick breakfast back at Balcon de Europa, I checked out more of the town before heading to the beach for the day.
After more beach time, I was ready for lunch and settled on Casa Fundada...a prime location right on the beach. After a tinto de verano, some white wine and prawns in a whiskey and brandy sauce with rice, I was stuffed and headed back to the beach to soak up the last bits of the afternoon sun while also encountering a Cristiano Ronaldo lookalike (Hala Madrid!).
For dinner, I decided to head back to La Bottega because if it ain't broke, don't fix it and I had a lovely experience there the first time The second time didn't disappoint with the same hospitality from the owners along with one of the best Caesar salads I've ever had along with a spinach and ricotta ravioli with a mousse of buffalo mozzarella and basil with cherry tomatoes and prawns. I didn't even care that I was literally the only person in the restaurant eating alone...a common thing when you're a solo traveler.
Dinner time views
I 100% wish I had this cat's life
On my last day in Nerja, I slept in and ended up going back to Playa Carabeillo. While I slept too late to snag a beach chair, it was still a beautiful beach and well worth a visit. Before heading back to Malaga to catch the train back to Madrid, I stopped for one last lazy lunch at Portofino of wine and crab ravioli with cherry tomato sauce.
I loved my time in Nerja. I didn't need a car, my Airbnb was centrally located for walking everywhere and Lupe was wonderful. I'm not sure what Nerja is like in the usual busy month of August, but I had a lovely time in July and would definitely recommend a visit.