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Malaga worthy of layover when going from Ronda to Nerja?


We depart in a little over a week for a 2 week trip mostly to Andalucia. The hotels/transportation are 95% reserved with the exception being the lengthy transport from Ronda to Nerja. Malaga up to now has not been in our itinerary, but since we transfer there it seems we could, or should, plan on a few or several hours there before catching the bus to Nerja. If anything, the stop breaks up the long trip. So....

  • Is Malaga worthy of a layover, or is it better to have a little extra time in Ronda/Nerja? We do have 2 nights each booked in those towns.

  • Getting to Malaga, 2 hours on a train seems way better than 2+ hours on a bus. However, the train departs Ronda at ~ 0800. Pro is we would certainly have time for a Malaga layover...con is we need to rush our departure from Ronda. Is train the way to go?

  • Suggestions on things to do in Malaga and time required for this daytrip?

  • If we do the layover, this is the one connection I would prefer to just go to the bus station and buy a ticket to Nerja when ready to go, as opposed to buying a ticket in advance/on arrival and then having to be back at the station at X time. This would be Friday late afternoon/evening. Any concerns getting a seat on a bus if buying the ticket within an hour of departure?

Thanks in advance.

Posted by
3768 posts

Hi Brian, we have been to Ronda, Nerja and Malaga. Even though the train sounds like a better option, their buses are very nice. We took one from Sevilla to Ronda and one as part of the route from Ronda to Granada. So I would go with convenient times vs. train or bus decisions. We enjoy the places in the morning before tourist buses arrive, so I wouldn’t want to have to rush out of Ronda.

When you’re at Nerja, be sure to go to the beach that is on the east end of Nerja, Burriana Beach - much nicer beach!

We stayed overnight at Malaga, and it was nice to explore. We just explored the old town area. It wasn’t the day the museum was open so can’t comment on it.

Posted by
4368 posts

Malaga is great city with plenty to offer, far more than Nerja. Personally I would choose Malaga over Nerja given the choice but as your plans are already finalised I would recommend giving Malaga as much time as you can spare. I would also say that it has more to offer than Ronda. I've been to Ronda several times but two of those occasions were taking family to visit, a day or two is sufficient for Ronda.

The Alcazaba is probably the most famous site in Malaga and one that attracts the most visitors. How long you spend touring it comes down to how interested you are. I've observed many people simply climbing the stairs and walking the ramparts completely disinterested, they appear to be visiting just because they feel they have to whereas others are clearly interested in the history, architecture etc.

The cathedral is another big attraction along with Gibralfaro Castle. The Roman theatre is also fascinating but again, not everyone is interested in ancient sites. These are just four of the main sites in Malaga and it's very unlikely that you'll have time to fit them all in particularly as you'll want to take advantage of the wealth of excellent restaurants in the city.

I always drive in Spain so I can't advise on public transport.

Posted by
145 posts

I´ve always wondered what attracts visitors to Nerja, so touristy and with the caves so overcrowded. I have the same feeling, as a Basque, with Biarritz. Bayonne, just 5km away, is far more interesting. It may be a matter of being more popular in guidebooks?

Posted by
58 posts

Thanks for the advice. Sounds like we should definitely spend some time in Malaga (thoroughly enjoy everything mentioned).

As far as a comment on "why Nerja?"...yes, just going from Steve's recommendation.

Posted by
18889 posts

Rick can be a little slow to update his advice when a once-out-of-the-way spot becomes spoiled.

Posted by
370 posts

Málaga: As well as the Alcazaba there is a very good contemporary art museum and the Picasso birthplace museum, plus some very interesting old bodegas and bars. Málaga, from where Antonio Banderas hails, is a very underated city — and well worth a visit.

Posted by
58 posts

Looks like the last bus out of Malaga is 7 pm so we can have a full day. If anyone has a few late lunch recommendations that could fit well around seeing the sites, please share. Casual family run is our preference.

Re: Nerja losing its appeal, I felt the same about Lake Cómo when I visited ~ 2011. While working in Germany someone turned me on to Lake Garda, which I absolutely loved from 2-3 visits. I then finally visited Cómo and found it too busy, with boisterous drunk tourists, and overall lacked a good vibe. I kept thinking what am I missing and constantly compared it to Garda. But then, living in Europe I came across a lot of those experiences.

Posted by
425 posts

Hi Brian,
I am with JC on this one. I would choose Málaga over Nerja. I have been to Málaga twice and enjoyed it both times. I have passed thru Nerja and their seafront but did not stay overnight there. What might appeal to you are some of the quaint little white towns in the hills high above Nerja. Views from the hills are excellent. I visited tiny Canillas de Albaida with its pretty little town plaza. We went there by bus from Málaga. Tickets purchased at time of trip. (I have used buses for travel in Spain many times and have never bought a ticket in advance, just at time of service and luckily have never had a problem.). If you are pressed for time, or have no more than a one night layover, then just stay in Málaga. Top sites in Málaga include the Alcazaba and Roman Ampitheater, the Picasso Museum, strolls along the waterfront. Views from the Alcazaba looking out over the bullring, the waterfront and the city below are attractive. If you are staying two or three nights in Málaga then you could daytrip by bus to Nerja, if still interested in going there.

Posted by
582 posts

I have not been to Nerja or Ronda, but we did spend 2 nights in Malaga in 2017, and we absolutely loved it! I agree with the poster who said it is underrated. We loved climbing the hill to the Alcazaba! My husband and I spent almost a whole day at the Alcazaba and Castillo de Gibralfaro. The Alcazaba is a Moorish fortress on a hilltop. Along your walk, you will see towers, pathways, gateways, Roman columns, arches, and patios with fountains and a small Nasrid palace. There are beautiful lush gardens with exotic flowers! Not to mention the awesome views of the city, the port and the Mediterranean!

We also visited the Picasso Museum, walked along the seaside promenade, and visited the cathedral. We really loved the coastal ambience. And the city center is beautiful!