A Family Trip to Nerja: Spanish Summer Holiday {part 1}

We have been lucky enough to be able to do a fair bit of travelling this year, both individually and as a family.  Neil went to Barbados with a friend to watch cricket for 11 days in March; I went to Chicago for a 3-day photography conference in July; and we spent our annual week in Bude at Easter.  Despite these wonderful luxuries, the first half of the year was immensely difficult in numerous ways and we collectively decided that we all really needed a ‘proper’ holiday – somewhere hot and sunny, with a pool and the beach nearby, where we could essentially do absolutely nothing for a week.  I spent a fair bit of time in Nerja in Spain when I was younger as I had family who lived there and I’ve been desperate to take the girls and Neil to see it one day.  As a result, after not very much discussion at all, our family trip to Nerja was born.

It has been a long-running joke in my family that they like to go on holiday, whereas I like to travel.  More often than not, even with the very best of intentions to actually relax, I usually discover something cool to take them to see, or some interesting site to visit, or a view that can’t be missed, and we end up doing a lot more than they anticipate.  They are (mostly) good-natured about it, although as the girls have got older they are beginning to stand their ground a little more.

A Family Trip To Nerja

I stuck to my word this time though and our family trip to Nerja was exactly what everyone wanted and – ok, I’ll admit it – I probably needed.  We didn’t do anything at all beyond swim, eat ice cream and sleep.  It was lovely, even with all the usual challenges that travelling as a family of five entails.

Even though there isn’t heaps to actually write about, I wanted to document our holiday in images here so that we can look back on it in the years to come.  This blog post covers what little things we got up to for the first few days of our family trip to Nerja…

FRIDAY: Travel Day

Our journey to Spain was… eventful, to say the least.  We left plenty of time to get to the airport in the early hours of the morning but there were incredibly long queues to get through security so we ended up with no time to eat breakfast or even get a cup of tea.  We sat on a hot, stuffy, crowded transfer bus for ages, just waiting, before eventually being taken to the plane (which then took off later than scheduled).

Lola was nervous on the flight – her sensory struggles have increased since we last went abroad in 2019 – and she felt every single movement, adjustment in flight path, sensation and sound, bless her.  She gripped my hand tightly the whole way, turning worried eyes towards me every few minutes.  Mimi’s period unexpectedly started mid-flight.  And I fainted in my seat!  I’ve fainted plenty of times before and usually have a little bit of warning that it’s going to happen but this came out of nowhere and I frightened both Ella and Lola, who I was sat in between.  I woke up to the concerned faces of Neil and an air hostess peering down at me.  It was horrible because I couldn’t get any fresh air afterwards, it left me completely drained of energy and I still don’t know what triggered it.

Once we arrived in Malaga there was yet more waiting – this time for a transfer bus to take us to where we were picking up our hire car.  The final leg was an hour-long drive to our villa.  The girls were absolutely brilliant in the face of so many challenges – there was minimal complaining considering they hadn’t had any lunch and had been awake since 3.30am.  I’m very proud of them for handling it all so well.

Lola was nervous on the flight and gripped my hand tightly for the whole journey, bless her.

I booked our villa – Villa Dos Ardillas – through a company called Nerja Paradise Rentals.  It was fairly basic but it had everything we needed – including air conditioning in the bedrooms, comfy sofas and an excellent view – plus the added bonus of a pool table on the outdoor terrace!

We unpacked our suitcases from the car and pretty much jumped straight in the blissfully cool water of the swimming pool.

We jumped straight in the pool as soon as we arrived at our villa

By the time the evening arrived, everyone was utterly exhausted.  Despite this, at 9pm, just as the sun was starting to set, Lola begged to go to the beach.  Of course I agreed because, for me, holidays are for bending the rules and saying yes to things that would normally be out of the question and making as many memories as possible.

It was just her and I who ventured out in the end and it was an absolute joy to see her so happy and to be able to remind myself of all the little things that I love about Spain.

Things I love about Spain: Hand-painted street signs…

…brightly coloured bougainvillea draping itself over old doorways…

…heavenly scented jasmine…

…and all the tiles!

Once we reached the beach she was desperate to paddle. It turns out that she is a complete water baby and absolutely loved the sea, which was still deliciously warm even that late in the evening.  It was all I could do to stop her diving headfirst into the water.

The water was incredibly calm and peaceful and the sunset was beautiful.

Lola and I on our mini-adventure down at the beach

Barefoot on the beach


I woke early, as always, and watched the sunrise – one of my favourite things to do wherever I am in the world.  Our villa was perfectly positioned for it too.  Just look at that view!

Sunrise view from Villa Dos Ardillas

We decided to walk into Nerja town centre in the morning, opting to take the ‘long way around’ via the road so we could get our bearings.  Our mission? To go to the best place in town for an ice cream:  Valenciano’s.  Ella chose mint choc chip, Mimi tried Kinder Bueno and Lola defied her usual tradition of chocolate fudge brownie and went for bubblegum flavour instead.

We wandered down the Balcon de Europa and took in the sight of the impressive and ruggedly beautiful coastline of the Costa del Sol, stretching in both directions from the viewpoint.  It really is quite spectacular and one of my favourite places to go in Nerja.  We made our way back to our villa – along the beach this time – which was a much quicker route even with an impossibly steep hill to climb as the finale!

I loved this painted mural we stumbled across on our walk into town

Mint choc chip ice cream from Valenciano’s

Taking in the view from the Balcon de Europa

The walkway down to the beach from the town centre

Playa Calahonda (Calahonda Beach)

Nerja always looks so pretty!

We found this cute little lookout point and stayed there for a while, taking it all in

A lazy afternoon was very much called for, plus some time in the swimming pool of course.  I went in too and it was lovely – the water was warm from having the sun on it all day and it was just the right depth.

Lola and Ella cooling down by the pool

We ate dinner at home and then headed back down to the beach for an hour or so to swim.  This became a bit of a nightly ritual throughout the week.  Sometimes it was all of us, sometimes it was just Lola and I, and every single time I’m glad I said yes to it because those evenings were amongst my favourite parts of the holiday.

Making our way down the hill to the beach

One of my favourite photos from our holiday 🙂

Looking back at the beach (Playa Burriana) from the sea

Time to head back to the villa…

Washing the sand off our feet – it really tickled!

A moody sunset at the beach


With the mornings being ever-so-slightly cooler than the searing heat of the afternoons, we tried to get everyone up and out & about before lunchtime.  Some days were more successful than others!   Today we managed to walk into town (the shorter route, via the beach) for ice cream again – Kinder Bueno for Ella this time, bubblegum for Mimi and Lola returned to her faithful favourite of chocolate brownie.  We had a quick wander around some of the local shops and souvenir sellers too because a family trip to Nerja wouldn’t be complete without buying a new magnet for our fridge back home (I collect one from every place we visit).

I will never, ever get tired of views like this


I can never resist taking photos of windows – this one was a favourite.

We spent the afternoon alternating between playing in the swimming pool and having siestas, before heading back into Nerja in the evening to go out for dinner.

We opted for Restaurante Dona Lola, situated at the top of the Balcon de Europa, just around the corner from Valenciano’s ice cream parlour.  Neil and Lola both had pizza, Ella and Mimi chose pasta, and I had a veggie paella which was absolutely delicious.  We had cheesy garlic bread and spinach croquettes on the side plus a selection of puddings to finish off with – cheesecake, ice cream and chocolate sponge pudding.  The service was fantastic too – I can highly recommend it and we’ll definitely go back if/when we return to Nerja again one day.

Comfortably full, we walked down the Balcon to take in the view and then wandered back to our villa along the beach, with Lola swimming in the sea whilst the sun set as we went.

Walking along the beach at sunset

These two can fight like cat and dog but they can also be incredibly close and get on really well with each other. This evening was the latter and it was so lovely to see – a real moment I wanted to capture.


Part two of this blog post, covering the second half of our family trip to Nerja, will be coming soon!

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1 Comment

  • Reply December 18, 2022

    Maria Hughes

    Holiday looks fab! Been googling places for the last few weeks and was looking at Nerja as, like you, I also had family that way as a kid

    Haven’t been there in years yet soon as I saw the name Calahonda I knew it!

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