Experience the best of the Nerja Caves
One of our favorite things to do when friends come to town is to visit the Nerja Caves! They are always a HIT (even with the kids) and often, the place our guests enjoyed seeing the most. The Nerja Caves are... in a word... spectacular!
Just the size of the inner chambers will blow you away. The tour will take you along a winding path through this mysterious and dimly lit labyrinth of stalactites, stalagmites, rocky columns and rimstone until you come across the world’s longest stalactite with a height of 33 meters. It is in Cataclysm Hall and recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records.
A trip to the Nerja Caves will take you about 2 hours, but is it worth it? Absolutely!
Continue reading to find out everything you need to know about this incredible archaeological discovery...
Visit the Nerja Caves!
** Guided Walks Take You Deep into the Nerja Caves
➜ Where are the Nerja Caves?You will find the Nerja Caves just 8 km east of the village of Nerja in the smaller municipality of Maro. It lies just minutes from the Mediterranean coastline along the sunny Costa del Sol. These caves are one of the largest found in Andalucia... and even Europe for that matter.
|Nerja||➜||Nerja Caves||5 min (3 km)|
|La Herradura||➜||Nerja Caves||17 min (16 km)|
|Málaga||➜||Nerja Caves||47 min (59 km)|
|Marbella||➜||Nerja Caves||1 hr 17 min (120 km)|
|Granada||➜||Nerja Caves||59 min (92 km)|
Phone: 952 529 520
➜ What Makes the Nerja Caves So Special?
|Site of Cultural Interest:||
The caves were designated as a site of Historical and Natural Interest in 2006 due to the archaeological remains that have
been found, such as cave paintings, human skeletons, and massive stalactite and stalagmite formations.
It is also a proposed site of Spanish Geological Interest of International Importance (a Global Geosite) by the Geological and Mining Institute of Spain.
|Guinness World Record:||
The Nerja caves were added to the Guinness Book of World Records in 1989 because of the widest naturally formed column
in the world that sits at its center. It measures 32m in height and is 13x7m at its base, formed by the joining of a super
stalactite and a stalagmite.
|The Music and Dance Festival:||
The Nerja Caves also hosts the world-renowned International Festival of Music and Dance. When the caves first opened
to the public in 1960, they held a ballet, "Le Tour de Paris" in collaboration with the Symphonic Orchestra
of Malaga. It was such a success that the event has been held every year since.
Stalactites grow down from the cave ceiling, while stalagmites grow up from the cave floor. It's easy to remember which is which: Stalactites have a "T" for top and stalagmites have a "G" for ground.
➜ How Big are the Nerja Caves?The Nerja Caves are located 158 meters above sea level. They are 4,823 meters high with a total surface area of 35,484 m².
There are three entrances. Two are circular depressions possibly caused by the collapse of an underground cavern. And the third was created in 1960 after the cave's discovery. The newly created entrance is the one used today for visitors.
Note: Just to the left of the main entrance (and up the hill) you can still see the first entrance (or hole) where the caves were first discovered.
➜ How long is the tour of the Nerja Caves?The actual tour of the caves is brief. It will take most people about 50-minutes to walk all the way through and back to the top.
A short film, lasting about 5-10 minutes, is optional before you start. It explains the history of the caves and how they were discovered.
If you drive to the caves and park there you can get through the entire tour in about an hour. There is also a small gift shop to peruse once you're done.
Note: If you are planning to take the Nerja train, give yourself an additional 1.5 hours. The trip can take about 35-40 minutes each way, depending on traffic.
➜ The History of the Nerja CavesThe Discovery
What is amazing to me is the fact that something so huge and awe-inspiring can be hidden right beneath our feet for so long... it makes you wonder how many more of these huge chambers lie quietly just below the surface... waiting to be discovered...
This was the case with the Nerja Caves. They have existed for millions of years but were unknown to us until January 12, 1959, when a group of school-aged boys from Nerja and the surrounding villages brought these dark caverns... into the light.
Out one evening, around dusk, this group of boys ventured into the woods determined to catch some bats. Flocks of bats had recently been seen flying out of a large and well-known pit called "La Mina".
As they climbed down into the pit, in search of bats, they noticed a warm current of air flowing out between the rocks. With flashlight in hand, they further investigated to find a small crevice that had been blocked by two fallen stalactites.
Breaking apart the rock, the next day, they were then able to climb down into the cavern. They carefully looked around and made their way to a larger gallery where they found two ceramic bowls and some skeletons lying nearby. Terrified by this discovery, they ran home to tell their family and friends about what they had just unearthed.
Soon after, photos of the newly discovered Nerja Caves were published in Spain's prominent 'Sur' newspaper and the caves became an international story...
** Nerja Caves - Skeleton from the Caves - Now in Nerja Museum
How old are the Nerja Caves? Scientists believe that the caves were formed around 5 million years ago as water entered and began to dissolve the granite. Earthquakes and other land movement created pathways for the water to move and form the stalactites and stalagmites we see today.
It is known that the caves have been inhabited for 25,000 years but some studies even suggest that humans have been using these caves for as long as 40,000 years.
|25,000 BC ➜ until the Bronze Age||
Skeletal remains and cave paintings have been discovered here showing that the caves were inhabited from the Paleolithic
and Post-Paleolithic time-periods.
|25,000 BC ➜ 21,000 BC||
Small groups were using the Nerja Caves seasonally. During the absent periods,
wild dogs and hyenas possibly inhabited the caves.
|21,000 BC ➜ 10,000 BC||
The human population increased during this time and larger groups were living in the caves year-round. Based on cave
paintings we know that the population survived by hunting and gathering.
|10,000 BC ➜ 5,000 BC||
Hunting practices continued to evolve with more species being consumed, including wild goat, rabbit,
fish, and marine mammals. Tools were crafted from animal / fish bones and shells.
|4,500 BC ➜ 4,000||
Domesticated animals were now being housed outside the cave that were used for farming and the production of pottery.
|3,800 BC ➜||
Textiles and more advanced styles of pottery were being produced and parts of the cave were being used as a
** Nerja Caves - Relics Found from Prehistoric Times
Because of the monumental importance of the Nerja Caves in learning more about the history of humankind and its evolvement, new studies and research are ongoing...
- The current entrance to the caves was discovered in 1960.
- In 1969 a narrow passage was found in the Cataclysm room leading to the discovery of the "High Galleries" (these areas are still closed to the public).
- Remains of "seal paintings" were found in 2012 that date back 42,000 years (the oldest in the history of humanity).
- In 2017 a new study lowered the "seal paintings" age to between 20,000 and 18,000 years.
New discoveries are constantly being made which you can learn more about in the Nerja Museum.
Nerja Caves ➜ The Three Main GalleriesEach of the galleries below has a number of halls, most are open to the public but two are not as excavations are currently taking place throughout the caves.
|➜ The Tourist Galleries
These are open to the public and part of the public tour.
** Nerja Caves - Nativity and Phantom Halls
| ➜ The High Galleries
These galleries are not open to the public to preserve the 600 cave paintings of 'seals and goats' from the Paleolithic age. One of the goat paintings is used for the Nerja Caves logo.
| ➜ The New Galleries
These galleries are not open to the public and tourist access is restricted to specialized caving "speleothem tourism".
** Nerja Caves - Dimly Lit Path through the Caves
Nerja Caves ➜ HoursThe Nerja Caves are open every day (363 days a year) except January 1st (New Year's Day) and May 15th (Celebration of San Isidro).
9:00 am until 4:30 pm (daily)
Final Entry: 3:30 pm
|Special Hours: Easter
From Palm Sunday to Resurrection Day (Sunday)
9:00 am until 7:00 pm
Final Entry: 6:00 pm
|Special Hours: Summer
From June 23rd to September 11th
9:00 am until 7:00 pm
Final Entry: 6:00 pm
Nerja Caves ➜ Prices
|Nerja Caves Visit
Includes: Nerja Caves, Nerja Museum, and Audio Guide
|Night Visit with MIGUEL JOVEN "TITO"||
|Nerja Caves Visit + Train
Includes: Nerja Caves, Nerja Museum, Round-trip Nerja Train Ticket, and Audio Guide
* Find more detailed pricing here.
*No changes or refunds are accepted! If you are not 100% sure about when you can go, you can buy a refundable ticket here.
Nerja Caves ➜ Where to Buy Tickets & FREE Tickets?Find information on Where to Buy tickets and how to get a FREE ticket here.
** Nerja Caves - World Record Stalactites
Nerja Caves ➜ Ticket PackagesThere are several packages available for the Nerja Caves that include the Nerja Museum and the Nerja Train.
Nerja Caves ➜ Available ToursIf you are thinking about visiting Nerja just for the day there are several tour options available to you that include a visit to the Nerja Caves and the neighboring village of Frigiliana.
You will find more information about these Nerja / Nerja Caves tours here.
➜ How do you get to the Nerja Caves?
|To the Nerja Caves ➜ by Car
|To the Nerja Caves ➜ by Bus
Buses leave hourly to Nerja and the Nerja Caves. They are relatively cheap and usually quite large and comfortable. For bus tickets to the Nerja Caves see below.
|To the Nerja Caves ➜ by Taxi
There are three taxi stations in Nerja or you can call Radio Taxi, the official taxi service (952 520 537). The price by taxi to the Nerja Caves is about €10.00.
|To the Nerja Caves ➜ by Train
One of the best ways to get from Nerja to the Nerja Caves is by taking the Tourist Train. Packages are available that include the caves, museum, and a round-trip ticket on the train. You will also be shown many of Nerja's top sites along the way.
|To the Nerja Caves ➜ by Foot
Yes! It is possible to walk to the Nerja Caves from the center of Nerja and there is a sidewalk the entire way! However, keep in mind that the distance is 3.5 km and it will take you at least 45-minutes each way.
** Nerja Caves History
Nerja Caves ➜ How Much is Parking?The parking area at the Nerja Caves has recently undergone renovations. It's a large lot capable of fitting 300 cars and the walk to the entrance is 1-2 minutes.
The price for parking is €2.00 per day and you will pay as you exit by dropping two one-euro coins into the machine.
There is also a dirt lot just outside of the official parking area that is free. If you arrive early, you may find parking there. It will be a 4-5-minute walk to the entrance.
Nerja Caves ➜ Where to StayNerja is a top holiday destination along the sunny Costa del Sol. If you're thinking about staying for the night... or longer... you might find these articles helpful.
Nerja Caves ➜ What Should We Wear?Is it cold inside the Nerja Caves? Yes! Well, cool, not cold. The caves are kept at a constant temperature of 19ºC. We recommend wearing a light sweater or jacket to keep warm.
You should also wear comfortable non-slip shoes. You will be doing a lot of walking and the cave floors are uneven in parts. Access with flip-flops is prohibited.
Nerja Caves ➜ How Many Steps Are There?A walk through the cave will take you about 45-minutes and there are a total of 458 steps along the way with many steep climbs and steep descents. If you are a person with limited mobility, a heart condition, or claustrophobia the caves are not recommended for you.
Nerja Caves ➜ What is the Best Time to VisitEarly in the morning is best (from 10:00 am to 11:30 am), the caves are less crowded. And during the summer, the cool temperatures are a welcomed reprieve from the immense heat!
Nerja Caves ➜ Can you Visit at Night?Yes! There is a tour available at night that is very popular, it is called 'A Night Visit with Miguel Joven'. He is one of the actors from the very famous Spanish TV series 'Verano Azul' that took place in the area around Nerja. You can find out more about this tour on the Nerja Cave Packages page.
Nerja Caves ➜ Do Groups Need a Reservation?Yes, all groups (20 people or more) must book in advance. Reservations can be requested through firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 952 529 520 (from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday).
Nerja Caves ➜ Is the Audio Guide Free?Yes! The audio guide is included with your ticket. You can download the guide here. It is offered in 15 languages: Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Norwegian, Russian, Korean, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese and Japanese.
There is also a children's version in Spanish and English.
Nerja Caves ➜ Are Dogs Allowed?No, no pets are allowed inside the Nerja Caves except guide dogs.
Nerja Caves ➜ Where Can We Eat?After your visit, grab a bite to eat in the restaurant just in front of the Nerja Caves entrance. It's a simple cafeteria that sometimes offers a small buffet. The terrace in the front has nice views of the town of Maro and the sea in the distance.
If you prefer to bring your own lunch, there are picnic tables in the woods behind the caves. It's a very pleasant area with winding paths, gardens, and even a children's playground.
If you prefer to wait until you get back into Nerja, check out our TOP 20 Nerja Restaurants...
Nerja Caves ➜ Things to do NearbyIf you have some extra time after your visit there are two lovely nature walks nearby that you might enjoy (and two more options for eating).
- The Nerja-Almijara Cave Trail:
This route starts behind the caves and leads to the natural park. Follow the signs through the garden and you will find a gravel path that goes all the way to 'El Cielo' (The sky walk (9km, 5-6 hours). About 1-hour in you will come across a small recreational area with picnic tables and surrounded by the fresh air of the Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama. It's the perfect place to enjoy lunch with family.
- The San Isidro Hermitage Trail:
The other walk starts in the upper area of the Nerja Cave gardens. It will take you through the mountains and botanical gardens across a footbridge leading to the village of Maro. From there you will cross the village and end in front of the Hermitage of San Isidro (mid-nineteenth century church). There is a small plaza in front of the church with a cafe and views of the sea. Another nice spot for lunch.
Nerja Caves ➜ Available Services
- There is a locker room to store anything you can't take inside (backpacks, suitcases, baby strollers...)
- Restaurant / Cafeteria
- Gift Store
- Photo Service (for souvenir photos)
- Picnic Area and Children's Playground
- Lovely Gardens and Trails
- Tourist Train
Nerja Caves ➜ Follow the RulesFollow the rules below to stay safe (and out of trouble) while visiting the Nerja Caves.
- The cave is dimly lit. Please walk with extreme caution.
- Access with children under 6 years of age is under the strict responsibility of their guardians.
- No baby carriages or wheelchairs.
- No touching the rock formations.
- No food or drink inside the cave.
- Photography WITHOUT flash is allowed.
- No tripods, selfie sticks, laser pointers or flashlights.
- Pets are not allowed (except guide dogs).
This is everything you need to know for an enjoyable trip to the Nerja Caves. We hope you have a wonderful visit and if you have any other questions, you can contact us here. ENJOY!!