For an exciting day out that the entire family can enjoy a visit to the Cuevas de Nerja has to be on everyone must see and do list while holidaying on the Costa del Sol.
Stretching for almost 5-kilometres the Nerja Caves are a series of underground caverns that contain the largest stalagmite in the world, a towering 32-metre high column with a 13 by 7-metre base.
Not only import geographically, the Nerja Caves also contain a look back in history to prehistoric man as is evident in the wall art found in one of the caves hidden chambers and while it is not open to the public for conservation reasons photos of the wall art can be seen in the Nerja Museum.
Lost for thousands of years the Nerja Caves were discovered on January 12th 1959 when a group of adventurous boys from Maro decided to go out hunting for bats near a pothole known as “La Mina.”
After spending the night observing a large number of bats entering and leaving the hole in the ground, the boys made a pact to return the next day with tools to help them dislodge rocks and limestone deposits that were blocking the entrance to the pothole.
Once the obstacles were removed the boys were able to lower themselves into what was a giant cavern full of unusual rock formations, skeletal remains and ceramic pottery.
Full of excitement about their discovery the boys rushed home to tell family, friends and teachers what they had found in the sinkhole.
News of the “Cueva de las Maravillas”(Cave of Wonders) soon spread after Malaga’s “Sur” newspaper published photographs of the discovery in 1960, following which the caves became known as the “Cuevas de Nerja”(Nerja Caves).
Today the caves of Nerja are open to the public year round and are only closed on January 1st ( New Year’s Day) and May 15th for the San Isidro fiesta.
During the winter the Nerja Caves are open from 09:30 – 15:30 (Closes at 16:00) with an entry every 30 minutes.
During the summer the Nerja Caves are open from 09:30 – 18:00 (Closes at 18:30) with an entry every 30 minutes.
To visit the caves without a guided talk you are first presented with an audio-visual presentation that describes the caves in detail so you understand the history of the Nerja Caves and their importance both geographically and culturally. You are then free to enter the caves and visit the different chambers while listening to an audio guided tour that lasts around 45 minutes. Languages for the self-guided tour includes Spanish, English, German, French, Italian and Russian.
Children aged 6 years to 12 years: 9.75€
Children under 6 years: Free
Adults: 15.00€ (at the Caves) 13.75€ (online)
Children 6-12 years: 13.00€ (at the Caves) 11.75€ (online)
Children 0-6 years: Free
Besides the self-guided and guided tours above the Cuevas de Nerja also offer exclusive special tours such as:
The Secrets of the Caves
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays 17:00 (July & August 18:30)
The Discovery Tour
Saturdays 17:00, (July & August 18:30). This tour does not include a visit to tourist galleries and is not recommended for children under 10 years-years-old.
This tour recreates how the boys from Maro found the caves and includes visits to areas not normally open to the public.
Saturdays 18:00 (July & August 19:30)
With only a torch to guide your way, you will experience the same sensations as the original discoverers of the Nerja Caves as you move around in total darkness.
Adults: 18.00€ (at the Caves) 16.75€ (online)
Children aged 6 to 12 years: 16.00€ (at the Caves) 14.75€ (online)
Children under 6 years: Free
Since the Nerja Caves (Cuevas de Nerja) first opened to the public summer concerts have been held to take advantage of the natural acoustics and have attracted musical stars from around the world that include: Rostropovich, Sir Yehudi Menuhin, Maya Pilsetkaya, Montserrat Caballé, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and José Carreras.
Tips for visiting the Nerja Caves
Shoes & Clothing
First and foremost, be sure to wear sensible, comfortable shoes as the interior of the caves can be wet in places and being a cave it’s dark, so you cannot always see where you are stepping despite the lighting. Forget about how hot it is on the surface as it can be chilly underground and especially so during the winter. In the summer bring a lightweight jacket or sweatshirt you can take off should you get hot while walking through the caverns.
Take your time
If you are a ‘man on a mission’ you can probably complete the entire tour in around 20 minutes, but if you do you can miss so much! Take your time and marvel at how it has taken millions of years to create the spectacle you are now seeing.
Time your visit
Don’t get there bang on opening time so that you thinking that you (along with all the other early risers) won’t have to wait in line. Instead, purchase your ticket online and time your visit for either 30 minutes after the Nerja caves open or 90 minutes before they close. Also with the caves being open on a Sunday, it’s a great place to visit while many other attractions are closed. Also if you have the misfortune of being on holiday during less than perfect weather the caves are a perfect way to escape the rain.
Stalagmite or Stalactite?
With both of these rock formations sounding so similar, it’s easy to forget which one hangs from the roof and which one grows from the floor. An easy way to remember is that a stalactite has a “T” at the end and that “T” stands for Top! Stalagmite has an “M” in the middle and that the “M” stands for mound!
Visit the Google Play Store and download the free app which provides all kinds of helpful information about the Cuevas de Nerja and is available in four languages. There is also information about the opening hours, ticket prices and useful links to make your visit all that more enjoyable.
Getting to the Nerja Caves
Getting to the Nerja Caves from the town of Nerja is very easy. Just drive along the old N-340 coastal road in the direction of Maro and at the second roundabout take the first exit which will take you to the entrance of the cave.
Buses between the Nerja Caves and Nerja run throughout the day with a one-way ticket costing 1.16€.
If you feel energetic or want to combine a visit to the caves with a scenic hike that includes a deserted sugar cane factory and the remains of an old Roman road, it’s an easy 5.2-kilometre walk that is only slightly uphill and only steep for the last 100 metres. Wear a hat, sunscreen, take plenty of water and avoid the heat of midday and you should be fine.
Not really a train in the true sense the Cueva Tren is a vehicle made to look like a train that pulls trolleys along the road from the Nerja Museum to the Cuevas de Nerja.
The hop-on/hop-off train makes 4 stops at the museum, Parque Verano Azul, Maro Square and the Cuevas de Nerja.
Tickets are good for all day and include a visit to the museum and the caves with a price of 15€ for adults and 8€ for children between the ages of 6 and 12.
Children under 6 years: Free