In this work, hydrophobic silica aerogels were synthesized using sol-gel method and drying at ambient pressure. The surface morphology, pore size, and the presence of functional groups on the surface of the nanoparticles were analyzed using FE-SEM, TGA, FT-IR, and EDX, respectively. After calcination at 500 °C, the hydrophilic property of the adsorbents was evaluated by water contact angle measurements. The calcinated silica aerogels were used for adsorption of nitrate from aqueous solution in both batch and continuous processes. In the batch process, the effect of initial nitrate concentration, contact time, pH level, and adsorbent dosage were investigated. Results showed that the nitrate removal percentage increased with the decrement of the pH level and the initial nitrate concentration. On the other hand, increasing the contact time and the adsorbent dosage resulted in higher removal percentage. Accordingly, process optimization resulted in a nitrate removal of 92.2 %. Furthermore, it was found that the equilibrium results were in agreement with the Langmuir isotherm model better than with the Freundlich model and also the adsorption kinetics followed the pseudo-second-order model. In the continuous process, the effects of the input flow rate, the bed height, and the initial nitrate concentration were investigated.