Nestled cosily between the Sierra de Almijara mountains and sea Nerja boasts a fantastic sheltered location and enjoys a temperate climate and very little rain all year round. Many consider January a perfect time to visit Nerja: not only will you enjoy a reprieve from the harsh winter of home, but you'll also avoid sweltering crowds and have the chance to exploit all the winter activities of the nearby mountainous region. At this time of year, you can go skiing in the morning and enjoy a spot of beach-side sunbathing in the afternoon. A winter break in Spain doesn't get better than that!
January may be the coldest month of the year, yet the average daily temperature is still a very pleasant 13°C. On the hottest days, towards the end of the month, you'll enjoy temps as high as 17°C and an average sea temperature of 16°C, making swimming and relaxing on the beach very much possible and pleasurable. The January average monthly temperature in the first two weeks can drop to a chilli 9°C in the evenings, although this usually lasts for only a week or so.
Although January sees an average rainfall of 80mm and around 13 rainy days, showers are short lived and usually don't last for more than two or three consecutive days, gifting you still plenty of sunny days during your stay. In fact, even during this winter period, you'll still enjoy an average of 7 hours of sunshine every single day.
Where to stay
The most popular accommodation choice during the winter months is a fully-serviced villa or apartment. This way one has a much wider range of things to do should one suffer a particularly rainy day during a stay in Nerja. The added bonus of self-catering also offers the chance of spending hours on end shopping, preparing and savouring sumptuous home-made meals made with fresh local produce. Most homeowners will offer very hearty discounts for longer winter stays, making this a very affordable alternative to hotels. Do ensure that your holiday letting has central heating as the nights can be particularly cold at this time of year and many homes in Nerja are not too well insulated.
January is a great time to book hillside properties which boast fantastic coastal views, as the need to have an absolute beach-front location becomes perhaps less imperative.
A great option for winter is the newly renovated Apartamentos Verano Azul. This peaceful residential block is situated only a 15 minute walk away from Nerja's town centre and offers all the brilliant amenities you'll need, including a fully kitted kitchen, WiFi, heating, freeview TV and more. The highlight here would have to be the oversized south-facing balconies which gift you oodles of sunshine and fantastic views. Options range from one bedroom studios to family size apartments which can sleep up to four people.
For those who prefer to stay a little closer to the action, we'd recommend the Edificio Bahia 31 apartment, which is favoured by families and anyone with mobility issues. You'll find restaurants, shops and bars right outside your front door, an especially lovely kitchen with all the mod-cons you'd expect and simply superb mountain views. Enjoying a delicious breakfast out in the balcony, on a sunny January morning, is just one of the many perks of this place. This particular apartment boasts two bedrooms and can sleep up to four people.
Eating & drinking out
Visiting Nerja in January will certainly not dampen your chances for a delectable gastronomic splurging. Thanks to its popularity as an all-year destination, the town doesn't really close down for the winter, so your options for great dining and wining will still be plentiful.
Tapas runs are undoubtedly one of the most popular ways to 'eat one's way through Nerja' and this is not only true for budget-conscious visitors. The mouth-watering bite-size morsels of local specialties, served as a complimentary accompaniment to a drink, make for a superb way of tasting the local cuisine. The best tapas bars in Nerja are cunningly hidden among the town's side streets, so use this useful Tapas Trails guide to discover them at leisure. You may be surprised to learn that the tapas scene in Nerja is as bustling as ever, even in January, so take this as an optimal chance to wine, dine and mingle with locals even in the height of winter.
Although some of the most popular tourist haunts take a much-needed break in winter, there are still plenty of places to enjoy a more multi-cultural dining experience as well.
Vitaliano Italian Restaurant on Plaza los Cangrejos remains a clear favourite with pizza-loving, returning visitors and is particularly popular with families due to the care given even to the tiniest of guests. Restaurant Asiatico Yuan is a relative newcomer to the Nerja dining scene yet has already been touted as Costa del Sol's best Asian restaurant. Popular with locals as well as visitors, this stylish joint offers a gourmet experience and excellent local produce fused with Asiatic spices.
Things to do
Although January may not be the best year to lounge in the sun for days on end, the town and surrounding area still offer plenty of relaxing and invigorating activities for people of all ages.
Golf aficionados can spend a leisurely day hitting the greens at the Anoreta Golf Club, merely 30kms west of Nerja. The club is revered for its pristine greens, stunning views and superlative restaurant. Visit in the mid-afternoon and you'll enjoy a sterling sunset amid beautiful landscapes.
If you prefer a more active day out in Nerja, then you shouldn't go past booking a skiing day out with Ski & Sea, a highly reputable local company which offers unbeatable winter deals on adrenalin pumping day trips to the nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains. Not only will Ski & Sea include pick up and drop off from your Nerja accommodation and kit you out with all the bits and bobs you'll need, but they'll also cater for non-skiing companions by offering a cable car ride to a mountain top where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Costa del Sol.
Take advantage of a rainy day in Nerja to discover the interesting winter programme offered by the town's cultural centre. The Centro Cultural Villa de Nerja organises regular exhibitions, lectures, classical concerts and film nights and provides a cultural alternative for those looking for a more comprehensive vacation. Don't forget to also pay a visit to the Church of El Salvador, a splendid 400-year-old abbey admired for its striking beauty and home to an array of fascinating religious relics.
One of the best things about visiting Nerja in January is that the cooler temps make sightseeing an absolute delight something which can be arduous to do when the summer heat is at its peak.
Don't miss the chance to visit historic Frigiliana, a picture-perfect gem of a town only 7kms inland from Nerja. The whitewashed centre is simply divine on a sunny day, and the maze of cobblestone alleys and charming arts and craft stores, makes it an enchanting place in which to while away an entire day. Frigiliana boasts an extensive collection of plaques explaining the town's trials and tribulations through the centuries, so you'll have the chance to window shop and learn more of the area's history along the way. If your Spanish is a little rusty, visit the Visitor's Information Centre as soon as you arrive and pick up an English brochure.
Of course, no holiday in Nerja would be complete without a side trip to nearby Malaga, considered one of the world's oldest cities. Its reputation may date back almost 3,000 years, yet nowadays the city is mostly cherished for being the birthplace of famed artist Pablo Picasso. Unsurprisingly, Malaga is home to a plethora of attractions involving history, culture and, of course, the arts. Don't miss the archaeological ruins which adorn Malaga's historic centre, climb to the top of awe-inspiring Alcazaba Fortress for mesmerizing views of the coast and be overawed by the spellbinding beauty of the Malaga Cathedral.