If you have time to venture a bit further afield from Nerja, there are many picturesque villages and small towns to be found in the province of Malaga.
The province is studded with charming “pueblos blancos” (white villages) that can be visited by car in a number of delightful day trips.
About a 2 hour car journey from Nerja, Ronda is famous worldwide for its dramatic escarpments and views, and for the deep El Tajo gorge that carries the rio Guadalevín through its centre. Head for the 18th century Puente Nuevo ‘new’ bridge, which straddles the 100m chasm below, for its unparalleled views out over the Serranía de Ronda mountains. You should also take the path down into the gorge in order to see the bridge and town from below.
Ronda is also famous as the birthplace of modern bullfighting and its bullring is one of the oldest in Spain. Built entirely of stone and inaugurated in 1785, Ronda’s “Plaza de Toros” is younger and smaller than that at Sevilla, but it is considered the birthplace of modern bullfighting, breaking away from the prevailing Jerez ‘school’ of horseback bullfighting to found a style of bullfighting in which matadores stood their ground against the bull on foot.
Once a year it hosts the spectacular Feria Goyesca when a bullfight in honour of the legendary Pedro Romero (1754-1839) is held. Pedro Romero is said to have killed nearly 6,000 bulls here and at other corridas (bullfights). On this day the bullfighters and their assistants all wear costumes reminiscent of those worn by characters appearing in Goya’s paintings, whilst the ladies delight in showing themselves off in the most gorgeous dresses.
The rest of the year the bullring is now a museum, the “Museo Taurino”, and it contains many of the most important outfits and bullfighting regalia from the last two centuries, as well as an extensive collection of weapons used by the Real Maestranza during Spain’s many wars.
In addition to Ronda, the mountain range of the Serranía de Ronda is dotted with many hilltop whitewashed villages topped by Moorish castles.
To the north of Ronda are Arriate and Cuevas del Becerro, while south is the attractive Cortes de la Frontera, surrounded by cork groves, and the most famous place in the area, the delightful village of Gaucín. West of Ronda is Montejaque, perched on the mountainside overlooking the fertile olive groves below, and Benaoján, which is close to a famous cave, the Cueva de la Pileta, with some impressive prehistoric cave paintings and rock formations of stalagtites and stalagmites.
Off the well-beaten tourist track in the Genal valley, in the shadow of the Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park, is the village of Igualeja along with a string of hamlets, such as Pujerra, Júzcar, Cartajima, Alpandeire and Faraján. On the eastern side of the Sierra de las Nieves, and a gateway into the park, is Tolox, which boasts a well-known spa.
Júzcar is particularly worth a visit since it was transformed in 2011 into a Smurf village. Sony Pictures painted all the buildings in the village blue, as part of a campaign to promote the Smurfs movie. Afterwards Sony offered to repaint the town white, however the inhabitants voted to leave the buildings painted blue, as an estimated 80,000 tourists visited in the six months following the repainting. The town normally had seen just 300 tourists per year.
If you prefer not to travel as far as Ronda or Malaga then there are many other white villages, closer to Nerja, the closest of which, Frigiliana, is just 7km away. More information can be found on our Villages near Nerja page.