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Travel: Tried & Tested

Thu 2 Jun, 2011
By Robert Ingham

Thoroughly jaded and in desperate need of a relaxing break away from the rat-race, we flew off to Nerja, nicknamed the Balcony of Europe

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Jet off to spectacular Nerja

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Looking for a week or two getaway? Somewhere peaceful, sunny, picturesque with friendly locals? Somewhere that won’t break the bank? You can’t go far wrong with a visit to Nerja in Costa del Sol.

Situated between Malaga and Benalmadena in southern Spain this is quite an idyllic place to visit and unwind.

And that’s exactly what the six of us decided to do. Thoroughly jaded and in desperate need of a relaxing break away from the rat-race, we flew off to Nerja, nicknamed the Balcony of Europe because of its sprawling views of the Mediterranean sea which heads down to the Strait of Gibraltar.

After a short 3 hour flight we landed at Malaga Airport and were met by the minibus driver we had organised beforehand through the owners of the villa we were staying at. One hour later we arrived at Villa Leones, in El Capistrano, paid the driver and settled in. The villa itself is wonderful. Newly decorated and with mod-cons like air-con, dishwasher, microwave, washing machine, iron, TV and stereo, it is cool whatever the weather and utterly charming. It boasts 2 twin-bedrooms, double sofa-bed, dining room, kitchen and lounge. Head out through one of the two French windows you are led to the stunning pool. At a constant 22-24 degrees, it is the perfect size to laze around, swim and generally have fun in. Go up the side stairs to the balcony with incredible views across Nerja town and the sea. Opposite the pool stands a studio with twin beds, its own bathroom and jacuzzi. Unfortunately, this wasn’t working when we got there but you can’t miss what you don’t have. Plus when it is hot, the last thing you want to do is get out of the pool.

The only downside to Villa Leones is the getting to the location by foot. Whilst it has the most spectacular vista it is also up a number of hills. If you like walking, like we did, you won’t mind it but you may want to think about hiring a car, especially if you plan to explore Costa del Sol. If, like us, you decide it is more of a relaxing holiday above anything else, there is a bus that takes you to the main road, and then it’s a short walk downhill to the Balcon de Europa. Make sure you check the timetable though as the last bus leaves from outside the supermarket at 20:15.

Great weather is pretty much guaranteed throughout the year, although Spain has had quite a bad deal this year so far and only 50% of our time there was glorious sunshine. The weekend we were leaving it was forecast to be beautiful for the entire following week. Typical. However, on the days it was gorgeous we headed to the biggest beach in Nerja or tanned by the pool. Remember the sun-cream as it gets HOT!

It must be said that there is not a great deal to do in Nerja, although the Nerja Caves are a must-see, so if you’re looking for a hectic, clubby environment this is not the place. However, the party does get started a coach ride away in Benalmadena, Torremolinos and Fuengirola. However, we did find the ONLY gay venue – “Bar Bogey”, run by a Spanish version of Bruce from Family Guy. All I can say is that two drinks may be all you need before you head to “Black & White”, the karaoke bar literally 20 metres away and whose barmaid, the fabulous Kaylee, serves her infamous Dr Pepper Shots. They are not to be missed.
Price-wise Nerja had mixed reviews in our group. Some thought it was expensive; others thought it was quite fair. I personally, all souvenirs aside, found it very reasonable. For example, one meal between 6 of us cost 100 euros – which included 3 courses and alcohol. You pay much more in London for that.

Back to the accommodation. The owners of the villa also have a smaller apartment right down by the beach, nestled into a large complex with perfect scenes of the Med from the balcony and a communal pool. It sleeps up to four and we plan to go back later this year to try that out. Watch this space for that review. Cost for accommodation ranges between 240-1250 euros a week all inclusive (minus food), depending on what time of year you go. Pictures and full cost breakdown can be found on their website – with the link below. Suffice to say that, between 6 of us, accommodation and flights came to £270 each. For a week that’s quite the deal.

I cannot recommend Villa Leones highly enough. Family run, but with no family in sight, this is the perfect place to visit and leave the daily grind behind.

Website, with contact details, can be found at


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