Five Things to See and Do in Almería, Spain
Almería is one of Spain’s best kept secrets. Unlike Málaga, Granada or Seville, Almería has remained mostly undiscovered by tourists. Here, you can enjoy the best things that Andalusia has to offer: the sun, the sea, the Moorish heritage, the tapas — without the bustling crowds. Plus, Almería has a few surprising secrets reserved for the connoisseurs. If you have a day or two to spend in town before your UpTrek art retreat in Spain, here are five unmissable things to see and do in Almería.
1. Visit the Alcazaba
Almería has been home to many civilizations throughout the centuries, including the Muslim people who ruled the area for almost eight centuries and made Almería their capital. They left behind the impressive fortress of Alcazaba — the second-largest Muslim citadel in Andalusia, after the Alhambra in Granada. Being a fortress originally intended to keep invaders and even pirates away, the Alcazaba is located on a hill overlooking the city of Almería and the Mediterranean Sea. To get to the top you’ll have to walk up the ancient stone steps to the entrance, but the gentle climb is worth it. The views from the citadel are stunning and the gardens are absolutely gorgeous.
Walk the ramparts of this impressive fortress and discover the Moorish culture and way of life in the 10th century. Explore the medieval towers, squares, houses, extensive gardens, and mosques. Today, some of the original buildings have been rebuilt while others remain in ruins, and they are all are fascinating to explore.
2. Explore the Tabernas Desert
A unique and unmissable experience when staying in Almería is taking a short 30-minute car ride to the Tabernas Desert — Europe’s only true desert area. The landscape in the desert is dotted with spectacular badlands, steep red and orange mountains surrounded by canyons and ravines. Because of its stunning appearance, the desert has been a well-known film location since the 1950s. Many films have been shot here, including the famous “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly“, “Laurence of Arabia“, and “Cleopatra“. Some of the movie sets used for western films have been preserved, and nowadays you can visit makeshift western towns. Step along the boardwalk, take pictures in the town square and see can-can dancers and cowboy stunt shows. You can live out your western fantasies in what is known as “Mini Hollywood“, just north of Almería, near the town of Tabernas.
3. Indulge in Delicious Tapas
In 2019, Almería was named the Gastronomic Capital of Spain, and for good reason. The city boasts many excellent restaurants and bars that serve everything from gourmet meals to delicious traditional tapas. Tapas are a well-known way of serving food in Spain, especially in Andalusia. When ordering any drink at the bar, you will receive a small portion of different delicious things to eat. And while in many places in Andalusia your order of tapas might cost you a little something alongside your drinks, in Almería they are completely free! Enjoy traditional morsels of tortilla, carne con tomate, omelet, cheese, jamón, or potato fritters. Often, you can also find seafood options such as delicious squid, octopus, and mussels with tomato sauce and garlic. One of the quintessential spots for getting your fix of traditional tapas is Casa Puga, the oldest bar in town dating from 1906. Located close to the cathedral, the bar has kept its authentic look with tiled walls, religious artwork, framed cartoons and photos, and Spanish cured ham hanging from the ceiling. Enjoy grilled prawns, salty hot pork on warm bread, grilled artichoke and many other delicious morsels, accompanied by a refreshing glass of cerveza — local Spanish beer. For more gastro-fusion tapas, head to La Paca Gastrobar or Tony García – Espacio Gastronómico — two of Almería’s most acclaimed gastropubs.
4. Shop in the City Center
If you’d like to unwind and treat yourself to something nice, take yourself out for a round of shopping and discover authentic Spanish marketplaces, boutique stores and staple Spanish brands. Stop by Mercado Central for a rich market experience. Sample some delicious treats, then head to nearby Paseo de Almería, the main commercial artery of the city. Walk down the street through the rows of artfully pruned ficus trees and shop for the latest trends in fashion and accessories. Enjoy unique pieces from cute boutique-shops and Spanish classics such as the Zara, Mango, Oysho, and Desigual brands. If all that high-street shopping got you tired, take a break at one of the lovely pavement cafés sprinkled between the shops. Savor your favorite coffee, watch the people passing by and indulge in the laid back Spanish way of life.
5. Head to the Beach
Going to the beach is always a good idea when you’re on vacation! In Almería, you can hit the beach year-round, since the city boasts some of the warmest temperatures and has the most sunny days in all of Spain. There are many very accessible beaches right in the city. You can find Playa de San Miguel at an easy 15-minute walk from the city center. Sunbathe to your heart’s desire and go for a swim or enjoy the view of the sea and pamper yourself with lunch or a cocktail at one of Paseo Marítimo‘s many bars and restaurants. The Paseo Marítimo is a promenade stretching parallel to Playa del Zapillo and it’s a prime spot for enjoying a drink and some delicious Spanish food directly across from the ocean. Take in the view of the beautiful Mediterranean Sea and get ready for your UpTrek art retreat in Spain!