A breath of fresh air in the caves of Nerja

Around fifty kilometres east of Malaga, the small town of Nerja stands on a cliff with sandy coves. The tourist capital of La Axarquía, it has a charm all of its own with its narrow streets and is almost an exception on this part of the coast, which has been largely disfigured by property speculation. But what really sets this little town apart are the magnificent Nerja caves, which are among the most impressive in Europe. The 4-kilometre-long caves are listed by the Spanish government as part of the country's historic heritage and as an asset of cultural interest. There are cave paintings that date back to Neanderthal times and, above all, the world's largest column (a combination of stalagmites and stalactites). It is over 30 metres high with a base of 13 metres. A natural wonder not to be missed in the Andalusian region.

Nerja cave, 50km east of Malaga © Anatolii Mikhailov / Shutterstock

- © Anatolii Mikhailov/Shutterstock

The story of a surprising discovery

Before diving into the depths of the Nerja caves, let's take a look at the history behind their unexpected discovery. The story goes back to 12 January 1959, when a group of five young Spaniards went looking for bats in the La Mina (The Mine) shaft and discovered a narrow chimney leading to an immense gallery. The gallery contained skeletons and ceramic bowls. This was the first gallery to be discovered, now known as the waterfall room. They returned the following days with a doctor and a photographer. The latter published his pictures in the Sur newspaper. Research and discoveries continued for many years, and the cave quickly gained national and international recognition.

Stalactites inside the Nerja cave © VLADJ55 / Shutterstock

- Copyright © 2014 VLADJ55/Shutterstock. No use without permission.

A colossal cave

As soon as you arrive at the car park, it's hard to imagine what lies beneath your feet. The galleries of the Nerja cave stretch for more than 4 kilometres, but only the first third can currently be visited. Numerous excavations and explorations are still being carried out in the parts that are not open to the public. Please note that the rooms with the cave paintings are not open to the general public. This is simply because of conservation issues to protect them from green disease (green spots forming on the paintings due to carbon dioxide from visitors breathing). This is the case of the famous Lascaux cave in France.

Huge hall in the Nerja caves © whpics / 123rf

The tour begins in the vestibule with the cave's three outer rooms. This is where prehistoric man lived, so he could take advantage of the natural light. Gradually we go deeper underground, arriving in the cot room that links the outer and inner chambers. We continue to progress underground, following a defined one-way route. As we go along, we discover several rooms, each more impressive than the last.

Geological formations in the Nerja cave

- Copyright © 2016 Sergey Dzyuba/Shutterstock. No use without permission.

The climax comes at the end of the caves in the Cataclysm Room. Here, a magical landscape unfolds before our eyes. A gigantic column 32m high rises up from the middle of the room. Listed in the Guinness Book of Records, it is the tallest column in the world. In this room, we also reach the lowest point in the cave, 31m below the current entrance.

The cataclysm room in the Nerja cave © Mobfigurz / Shutterstock

- Copyright © 2019 Mobfigurz/Shutterstock. No use without permission.

Practical info

⏰ Opening times

The site is open all year round, with the exception of 1 January and 15 May. Opening times vary according to the season. Between 23 June and 11 September, the cave is open from 9.30am to 7pm. The rest of the year, the cave is open from 9.30am to 3.30pm. You can get there up to an hour before closing time.

👛 Online rate

Full price: €13

Reduced ticket: 11 (children aged 6 to 12, over 65s, disabled people)

Free: children under 6 years old

Please note that these are the online prices. These timetabled tickets allow you to avoid queuing outside the cave. You can go directly to the cave, where you will pay a slightly higher ticket price (€14 for adults and €12 for children).

Good deal alert: every day, the site offers 60 free tickets for members of the European Union for visits at 9.30 am. Tickets are available online 48 hours in advance and go very quickly.

Caves of Nerja Malaga

Caves of Nerja

Admire the immense and remarkable rooms of the cave
£15 / person

A few tips for your visit

Practical information

  • Evening tours are also available
  • An audio guide is available as a free mobile application
  • Download the application beforehand as you won't have access to the network in the cave.
  • A tour lasts around 1h30
  • Concerts are also offered in the cave itself
  • The temperature is between 18 and 21 degrees all year round
  • The museum is accessible to PRMs

For more information, please visit thecave website.

🚌 Getting there

The Nerja cave is located just over 50km east of Málaga. With your private car, take the N295 exit on the A7. The cave is just a few minutes away. Pay parking (€2) is available on site. No means of transport? No problem, two buses leave Málaga for the cave. Tickets are available from the Alsa website and cost 5.20 euros.

What can you do in the area around the cave?

It's not just the caves that are worth seeing in Nerja, on the contrary. You can take advantage of the day to explore the surroundings of this magnificent town on the Andalusian coast, including the magnificent views from the Balcony of Europe, strolling through the narrow streets of Nerja, relaxing on the coves and beaches and discovering the Eagle Aqueduct. Not to be missed on an excursion to Nerja.

The Balcony of Europe © Dumitru Stetco

- Copyright © 2019 Dumitru Stetco/Shutterstock. No use without permission.

Where to sleep?

⭐ MB Boutique Hotel

MB boutique hotel © booking.com

Situated 200 metres from the beaches and a five-minute walk from the Balcon de l'Europe, the MB boutique is a great little luxury hotel. It is located in a very quiet area with parking spaces. The hotel offers its guests the 'chill out' terrace on the roof of the hotel to relax with jacuzzis and four-poster beds. It is open until 2am. This hotel is the perfect accommodation for a stay in Nerja.

MB Boutique Hotel Malaga

MB Boutique Hotel

Make the most of your stay in Narja by staying overnight at this beautiful 3-star hotel, which includes a terrace with jacuzzis.
9.1 Fabulous
£53 / night
by Faustine PEREZ
Need a hand? take a look at our guide
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