Almería is about to become hot property in the travel world. Much of the rest of Andalucia’s main cities like Malaga, Granada, Seville are already well known, but Almería has mostly flown under the radar so far. The national park of Cabo de Gata just outside the city gets it fair share of summer visitors, as well as the resort areas around the village of Mojacar further up the coast but many visitors usually fly into the airport and transfer straight out, missing the best things to do in Almería.
Table of Contents
- 1 Where is Almería?
- 2 Is Almería worth visiting?
- 3 1. Almería is the driest place in Europe
- 4 2. Almería is home to La Alcazaba
- 5 3. The Tabernas Desert is just north of Almería
- 6 4. Almería is a prime film destination
- 7 5. The beautiful beaches of Almería
- 8 6. Almería has a rich history
- 9 7. Almería has amazing tapas
- 10 8. It has a great nightlife
- 11 9. There’s plenty to do for adventure seekers
- 12 10. It’s more affordable than many other Andalucian cities
- 13 11. Beautiful scenery and views
- 14 How to get to Almería
- 15 Best time to visit Almeria
Where is Almería?
If you’re reading this wondering where this city actually is, then it’s in the southeast corner of Spain. Depsite visiting the south of Spain while I was living in the UK, I had never heard of it until I moved there to teach English! If you were to drive, Almería is just two hours from Malaga, two hours from Alicante and to hours from Granada.
As part of in the south, Almería is part of Andalucia, and you can enjoy the typical things associated with the province like the sun, siesta and sea here. So why should you visit Almería specifically?
Is Almería worth visiting?
100% yes! Almeria is worth visiting for several reasons. It’s less crowded than many of the other Andalucian cities, it has an interesting history you can still see today, and the food is amazing. But I’ll go into more detail about these things and so many more below with the 10 reasons you should visit Almeria!
1. Almería is the driest place in Europe
The city of Almería is located in Almería province, which is the driest place in Europe. It has Europe’s only true desert climate. That means lots of sunshine and hardly any rain! In the coastal areas, there can be as little as 156mm of rain per year.
When it rains in Almería it’s a big deal! People are so used to being outside all year round and many places to eat don’t even have an indoor area. No one quite knows what to do! If you’re looking for somewhere to visit in Spain in the wintertime, this is the place!
2. Almería is home to La Alcazaba
The Moorish Fortress in Almería is called La Alcazaba. It’s the second-largest Muslim fortress in Andalucia, after the Alhambra in Granada. The Alcazaba was a fortress, but it also contained squares, houses and a mosque, as well as extensive gardens. Today some of it is original, some rebuilt and some in ruins, and it’s fascinating to see all three stages.
The best part is entry to the Alcazaba is free for European citizens, and €1.50 for everyone else, although I always said I was from New Zealand and they just waved me on in!
3. The Tabernas Desert is just north of Almería
The Tabernas Desert is 30km north of Almeria, and is technically a semi-desert. It’s a protected wilderness area, home to plants that are failing to survive elsewhere, many lizards and birds, and even hedgehogs. The desert landscape contains stunning badlands, which is a dry terrain where soft rocks have eroded away, leaving mountains that rise steeply out of the ground surrounded by canyons and ravines.
Thanks to its unique climate and appearance it’s been used many times as a film location, and you can visit some of the old sets… but more on that next!
4. Almería is a prime film destination
Films and TV series have been made in Almería since the 1950s. In the 1960s when westerns were very popular, Hollywood decamped to Almería to film more movies for cheaper. Films like Laurence of Arabia, Cleopatra, and countless Clint Eastwood films were made around Almería. Just check out this list!
The Tabernas Desert was a popular filming spot, since it resembles areas in the southern USA and Mexico, and you can still visit some of the makeshift western towns that have been preserved there.
Added to that, in 1966 John Lennon was in Almería, filming How I Won the War. During his stay, he wrote and recorded the first demos of one of his most famous songs, Strawberry Fields Forever.
Through the 1980s Almería continued to be a hot film destination and was the scene for the filming of The Neverending Story, Never Say Never Again, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, just to name a few films.
More recently, Almería became just one of many Game of Thrones filming spots in Spain (Girona is another), with the Alcazaba, the Tabernas and Cabo de Gata all playing a part in bringing George R R Martin’s novels to life.
5. The beautiful beaches of Almería
You don’t need to go far to find the beach in Almería, with Zapillo beach being part of the city itself. The Paseo de Maritimo stretches parallel to the beach and provides a prime spot to enjoy a drink or meal directly across from the ocean.
Just to the east of the city is the beginning of Cabo de Gata, a natural park that boasts a unique coastline and stunning beaches. There’s isn’t a lot of vegetation, and the contrast of desert-like land next to the sea is beautiful.
6. Almería has a rich history
Almería has been home to many civilisations throughout history, from a Muslim populace who contributed the Alcazaba and other iconic landmarks to the city, to the Catholics who built the Cathedral that still stands today.
During the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s Almeria was the target of many bombings. The most well known is probably the Bombardment of Almeria, which was ordered by Hitler. He wanted to target Valencia, but fearing too much international retribution, bombed Almeria instead. Around 20 civilians were killed and 35 buildings destroyed.
In response to all of the bombings, air-raid tunnels and shelters were built underground. Entrances could be found in public places or through private houses. After the Spanish Civil War ended the tunnels were closed and largely forgotten about. In 2001 during road works in Puerta de Purchena they were rediscovered. You can now tour a small part of Los Refugios de Guerra Civil.
7. Almería has amazing tapas
Almeria was named the Gastronomic Capital of Spain for 2019, and I’m seriously not surprised. Whenever I talk to people about Almeria I always rave about the food and start listing off all my favourite places to eat.
Tapas are well known as a Spanish way of serving food and are especially seen as a typical food in Andalucia. You receive small portions of different things to eat when you order a drink.
While tapas or variations of them are available in many areas of Spain, they all do them a little differently, and in some places they even have different names. You may be offered something small like olives, ham or cheese, and sometimes the tapas increase in size and deliciousness the more drinks you order. Many places charge a small amount for different kinds of tapas.
Almeria is the dream place for tapas though, because they are free with any drink, and you can choose what you like from a menu!
The tapas in Almeria come in all shapes and sizes. There are the more traditional options like tortilla, carne con tomate, jamon, or potato, as well lots of seafood options, and also more gastro fusion tapas.
8. It has a great nightlife
For a smallish city, Almeria has great nightlife! Eating late is very Spanish, so you would usually go out around 8.30 at the earliest to eat a meal, have some drinks, and socialise. While many places will then stop serving food around midnight they will stay open later than that. For those interested, there’s also plenty of bars/clubs playing all sorts of different music!
There’s also a yearly festival called Noche en Blanco (White Night) where you can watch performances on stages around the city. At Christmas, you’ll find nativity scenes and concerts happening too. If you want to see an authentic Flamenco performance, then this is the place as well!
9. There’s plenty to do for adventure seekers
Almeria is a great destination for adventure seekers too! You can go diving, caving, and kayaking, all close to the city. There are walks that lead to beautiful waterfalls in the countryside, and across from the waterfront behind the old town of Almeria. You can even go horseriding in the Tabernas desert!
You’re also not far from the Sierra Nevada mountains where you can do winter sports in the colder months. Although Almeria is a great winter sun destination, it’s awesome to have this option close by too!
10. It’s more affordable than many other Andalucian cities
Many of the Andalucian cities popular with tourists have more premium prices for accommodation and food than Almeria. I was able to afford to live in Almeria on the salary of an English Language Assistant working part-time! The free tapas help of course…
11. Beautiful scenery and views
No matter what time of year you visit Almeria you’ll be treated to beautiful views and scenery. Look out over the city and the ocean from the heights of the Alcazaba or the San Cristobal Statue and Fortress Wall. Drive through the desert or to the many beaches along the coast. I once told a local I thought the landscape was beautiful and she told me it was just dry and brown, but there really is beauty in it!
How to get to Almería
Almería can be reached by basically every form of transport possible!
Alsa Buses come from all over Spain to Almería. Sometimes the buses stop in every small pueblo (village) imaginable, so make sure you check out the travel times and compare them all. Note that Alsa doesn’t often accept cards not from Spain (although I have managed with one before) so you may need to book through a third party like GoEuro or go to the bus station directly.
If the buses aren’t working for you or the route you’re looking at is too expensive then consider BlaBla Car. It’s basically a car-sharing service where you can advertise for a ride or for passengers. It’s a really common way to travel in Spain, and you pay a rate set by the driver through the website. It’s usually much faster than the bus!
Fly into Almería
Almería city has an international airport, and British Airways, Easyjet, and Jet2 all flying here! At the moment flights are more common between April and October, but given it’s almost November now and still near 30 degrees I can see that changing in the future. You can also fly on Vueling or Iberia from around Spain.
Ferry to Almería
As Almería is in on the coast in the south of Spain, you can get the ferry here from ports in Morocco, or from the Spanish city of Melilla. It also means you can travel to Almería and continue on there as well!
Best time to visit Almeria
Anytime! The hottest months are July, August and September, but I’d actually stay away from these times unless you really like the heat and book somewhere with air conditioning! The shoulder months to these are better, from April to June, as well as October and even November. But of course, December and January have their perks too and are generally still sunny!
So there you have it, 7 facts and 7 reasons why Almería is a place that you should visit. This hidden gem in the south-east of Spain has wormed its way into my heart, and I just know that if you visit Almería, you’ll love it too. So, have I convinced you?
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