Secrets of Almería: delving into the soul of a Spanish coastal treasure
Written by Joe Sledge
On 29 May 2024

Whether you are an adventurer seeking outdoor thrills or a traveller searching for relaxation and culture, Almería promises an unforgettable experience. We will explore the many facets of this enchanting destination through the people who know and love it the most.

Welcome to Almería, a hidden gem on Spain’s south-eastern coast where its tremendous desert landscapes meet the azure waters of the Mediterranean. Known for its stunning natural beauty, Almería boasts diverse attractions, from the famously cinematic deserts of Tabernas to the unspoiled beaches of Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park – a biosphere reserve. This region offers a rich tapestry of cultural influences, evident in its ancient fortresses, charming whitewashed villages and vibrant festivals.


Judy and Bryan Drew are a British couple who have lived in the region part-time for 16 years. They gave us their best travel tips and told us about how they fell in love with Almería in the first place.

Judy and Bryan


“We fell for the area’s wide diversity—miles of fabulous beaches, a seaside town and surrounding authentic Spanish villages, a historical city, lots of local markets and mountains across the region.”


Compared to many other Spanish coastal regions, Almeria’s culture is untarnished by the mass tourism seen in areas like Marbella, further down the southern coast. Almería offers a sophisticated and authentic take on Spanish holidaying while having the perks of bustling street markets, enchanting festivals and stunning beaches to entertain anyone. Almería can cater to all types of visitors. Judy and Bryan provided their best tips for travellers of all interests.


Historical points of interest


“The Alcazaba of Almería is a must-see. It is a great glimpse into the city’s Moorish history. The fortress was built in the 10th century, allowing visitors to explore its enclosures and take in the view of Almería and the Mediterranean. The City Cathedral is another great point of interest.

“It was built as a fortress to protect against pirate attacks. You are able to visit the chapels and see the amazing decorated ceilings. The Spanish Civil War Tunnels are another fascinating feature of Almería’s past. They were designed to protect civilians from bombings and lie almost 5 kilometres below the city. Visitors can tour the tunnels and exhibitions, which provide great insight into the city during the Spanish Civil War” say Judy and Bryan.


Almería also boasts plenty of things to see and do on the streets with food markets, festivals and communal tapas to experience.


“There is the Paseo de Almería shopping area, which is the main place for high-end boutiques, retail chains, and charming local stores. With cafés, tapas bars and restaurants all along the street, it is a worthwhile trip for visitors who want to experience some retail therapy while getting a taste of local cuisine.

“The numerous large markets across the region are always well-attended, and the days of each market are well-publicised. Most sell everything from food to clothes and plants,” they told me.

Significance in the film industry


Almería’s unique landscapes have played a starring role in the history of Spaghetti Westerns, earning the region a place in cinematic history. During the 1960s and 1970s, directors like Sergio Leone were drawn to the arid, rugged terrain of the Tabernas Desert which closely resembled the American Wild West. Iconic films such as “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” “A Fistful of Dollars” and “For a Few Dollars More” were shot here, featuring legendary actor Clint Eastwood.


Visitors today can explore this film legacy by visiting ‘Mini Hollywood’, a theme park that preserves many of the original structures used in these movies. The area also hosts annual film festivals celebrating its cinematic heritage, making Almería a must-visit for film enthusiasts and history buffs.

Bullfighting


Bullfighting is significant in Almería’s cultural heritage, reflecting Spain’s long-standing tradition of this controversial yet iconic spectacle. The city’s historic bullring, Plaza de Toros de Almería, opened in 1888, is testament to this enduring pastime.

Over the decades, it has hosted numerous bullfights, attracting famous matadors and large crowds, especially during the annual Feria de Almería in late August. This festival, one of the city’s most important cultural events, features a series of bullfights that draw locals and tourists.

While opinions on bullfighting are divided, the Plaza de Toros remains a key cultural landmark, offering guided tours that provide insight into the history, art and tradition of bullfighting in Almería.


“We were given two tickets to attend a new matador graduation ceremony at the Roquetas Bull Ring. Although watching bullfighting is becoming less acceptable, it remains part of Spanish heritage and tradition. It was an exciting experience sitting amongst the predominantly Spanish crowd on the steps of the open amphitheatre-type venue.”

Travel information


Almería’s point of difference compared to other visited destinations is that it offers all the thrills and spills that traditional tourism destinations provide at a reasonable price, and in a way that is authentic to Spanish culture.


Its small yet efficient airport connects flights to major Spanish cities such as Madrid and Barcelona. In addition, many UK airlines fly to Almería from various UK airports, including London Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham.


The weather from January to April is more prone to rain than the rest of the year, with temperatures averaging around 16°C. July and August can be very hot (28°C average), with September to December usually warm and pleasant.

Overall, the second half of the year is the most reliable weather-wise.
Driving is relatively easy, with generally well-maintained roads traversing the picturesque deserted landscapes. There is typically a lack of congestion throughout the region. In the city centre it is inevitably busier.


Judy and Bryan say: “To anyone considering visiting Almería, it is one of the most spectacular places we have ever been to. We took a leap when we bought the property, and it was the best decision we ever made.

“It’s not just a holiday home; it is our second home now. Whether sitting down with the locals and sharing tapas or visiting the wonderful beaches of Roquetas or Genoveses, there is always something to do or a place to relax.”

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