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 flown mostly under the radar so far. While the coast of Cabo de Gata just outside the city gets it fair share of summer visitors, they usually fly in and transfer straight out, missing the best things to do in Almería.
Table of Contents
- 1 Where is Almería?
- 2 1. Almería is the driest place in Europe
- 3 2. Almería is home to La Alcazaba
- 4 3. The Tabernas Desert just north of Almería
- 5 4. Almería is a prime film destination
- 6 5. The beautiful beaches of Almería
- 7 6. Almería has a rich history
- 8 7. Almería has amazing tapas
- 9 How to get to Almería
- 10 Blabla Car
- 11 Fly into Almería
- 12 Ferry to Almería
Where is Almería?
If you’re reading this wondering where this city you’ve ever even heard of is, then it’s in Spain. The southeast corner of Spain to be exact. As part of in the south, Almería has a lot of Andalucían influence, and you can enjoy sun, siesta and sea here. If you were to drive, Almería is just two hours from Malaga, two hours from Alicante and to hours from Granada.
Next year another international airline will start flying here, and it can only get busier. So why should you visit Almería?
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 everyone is always surprised, and no one quite knows what to do!
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. 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. Entry to the Alcazaba is usually free.
3. The Tabernas Desert 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 dry terrain where soft rocks have eroded away. This leaves mountains that ride steeply out of the ground with many canyons and ravines. It has to be seen!
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 for 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 now visit some of the film set makeshift western towns that have been preserved there.
Also, 50 years ago this year John Lennon was in Almería, filming How I Won the War, and 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 destine, and was the scene for the filming of The Neverending Story, Never Say Never Again, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, plus tons of other films.
More recently, Almería became just one of many Game of Thrones filming spots, 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 along 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 stunning coastline, unlike many others. There’s isn’t a lot of vegetation, and the contrast of desert-like land next to the sea is something else.
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.
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
Tapas are well known as a Spanish way of serving food, where you receive small portions with a drink order. Every place in Spain does tapas a little differently, and in some places they even have different names. Sometimes you are given something small like olives, ham or cheese, or sometimes the tapas increase in size and deliciousness the more drinks you order, or you pay 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 the 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.
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 it’s way into my heart, and I just know that if you visit Almería, you’ll love it too.
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 has an international airport, and by next year British Airways, Easyjet, Thomas Cook Airlines, Monarch and Jet2 will all be 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. You can also fly on Vuelling 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!
So, have I convinced you?
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