Before this trip I’d only ever flown in and out of Almería airport on my way to Mojacar, Spain. I’d never stopped in the city, so I was excited to spend 48 hours in Almería. Its position in the South East of Spain, close to Northern Africa, and its Moorish history, have had a strong influence in terms of food, culture, architecture and more. So I was looking forward to experiencing a slightly different side to a Spanish city. There are plenty of things to do in this Andalusian city, but here’s what I recommend squeezing into 48 hours.
How to Spend 48 Hours in Almería City, Spain
The focal point of Almería is the Alcazaba. This 10th century fortress is free to visit for citizens of EU countries. It’s about a 10 minute walk from the main street of Almería (Passeo de Almería) but it’s uphill, so will take some people longer. Inside the fortress there are beautiful courtyards and gardens. There are plenty of great look out points with sweeping views across the city. When I visited there was a bit of work going on with scaffolding up etc so it probably wasn’t at its best, but it was still a lovely experience. If you want to get out of the sun there are underground rooms to explore. Make sure to bring a bottle of water with you as there is no shop inside.
Visit AIRE Thermal Baths
This was one of the best things I did during my time in Almería. I booked the 1.5 hour pass to the baths and thermal suite on the AIRE website before I arrived. It cost €34.00. The baths themselves are absolutely beautiful. It is underground and is decorated in a rustic Moroccon/Arab style with exposed brick and lanterns everywhere. It’s dark and atmospheric and they only allow a small number of people in at a time so it’s never over crowded. There’s a saltwater floating pool, temperate, hot and cold water baths, a steam room and a large jacuzzi pool. There’s also free iced water and sweet tea and a relaxation area. I spent about an hour in there, most of which was in the steam room and the saltwater pool. I felt like I was floating when I left. You can pay extra for a massage, a wine bath or other treatments if you’re feeling indulgent.
Visit the Beach (Playa del Zapillo)
A trip to Spain wouldn’t be complete without visiting a beach, so make sure to spend an hour or two at Playa del Zapillo. The promenade is lined with palm trees stretching to the skies and is paved with tiles in a variety of patterns. The sand is soft and the beach is long. There are plenty of shops and restaurants along the beach if you need to get out of the sun. You’ll see locals walking their dogs (there are A LOT of dogs in Almería) and families rinsing their feet under the beach showers.
Visit the Cathedral
The Cathedral of the Incarnation of Almería is a beautiful old building. It was built in 1524 and is mainly in the Gothic and Renaissance styles. It’s a sort of cathedral and fortress hybrid so there’s plenty to learn about this fascinating building. Admission is €5 and includes an audio guide in English. It takes about 30 mins to an hour to wander around and take it all in. There’s a small shop at the end for you to pick up a few evangelical souvenirs. The plaza outside the cathedral is full of high palm trees and is particularly beautiful at Christmas. You’ll also find places to eat around the plaza. Even if you don’t decide to go in, it’s a stunning building to look at from the outside.
The Sight-Seeing Train
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DISFRUTA EN FAMILIA ESTA NAVIDAD POR LAS CALLES DE ALMERÍA Súbete al tren 🚂 #Navidad2018 #Almeria ~PLAZA DE LA CATEDRAL~ 📍Almería 📸Foto: @surbusalmeria #Almeriaciudad #CascoAntiguo #CatedralDeAlmeria #plazadelacatedral #destinoAlmeria #Almeria2019 #Andalucia #España #Europa #Puentedediciembre
When I was first planning my visit to Almería I Googled sight-seeing buses, but there were none in existence. What they do have is a little tourist train. It takes you on a 55 minute sight-seeing tour through the city hitting all the main spots (Mercado Central, Cathedral, Alcazaba etc). It departs from Emilio Pérez Square (Plaza Circular), located at the bottom of the main street, Passeo de Almería. Tickets cost €3 per person. It’s a great way to see the city without getting any blisters and certainly helps to fit in as much as possible into 48 hours in Almería.
Filming Locations at Tabernas Desert
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ALMERÍA 🏜 DE CINE ¿Sabíais que ya disponemos de nuestro propio emoticono en Whastapp? Pues si… ¡¡Almería 🏜 tiene este emoticono!! ~DESIERTO DE TABERNAS~ 📍Tabernas,Almería. 📸Foto: @paulamendezsusi #Almeriaciudad #TexasHollywood #Tabernas #Almeria #DesiertodeTabernas #Almeriadecine #DesiertodeEuropa #Viveandalucia #Andalucia #España #Europa
OK, so this isn’t EXACTLY in Almería city, but about 30 miles north of the city you’ll find the Tabernas Desert. This is basically the Hollywood of Spain. Tonnes of Spaghetti Westerns and other movies were filmed in the desert. For example, classics such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Conan the Barbarian . There are three main studios that you can visit -Texas Hollywood, Mini Hollywood and Western Leone. They all have different attractions, sets and shows so do your research before you decide. Make sure to check out my complete guide to filming locations in Almería before you visit.
Cabo de Gata
This natural park is full of rocky coves and white sand beaches. It has one of the driest climates in Europe as well as some of the oldest and most unique geological features. There are islands, volcanic cliffs, reefs and more to be explored. You can visit small fishing villages, like Las Negras, or take boat trips to explore the coast. It’s a great area for diving, kayaking, hiking and horse-riding. One of the most impressive thins about Cabo de Gata is being able to see wild flamingos on the salt flats (or salinas). The villages in the area have quite a hippy vibe and are not too touristy. You may even accidentally stumble onto a nudist beach. The Cabo de Gata light house is a beautiful spot to visit at sunset. If you are planning to visit make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks with you as shops are few and far between outside the fishing villages.
Where to Stay in Almería
I stayed in the NH Ciudad de Almería hotel opposite the train/bus station. I chose this hotel because I have previously stayed in NH hotels in Madrid and Amsterdam and really enjoyed them. NH is a Spanish hotel chain, so it’s a bit more authentic than other chain hotels. Also, the price was incredibly reasonable at about €60/night. It also didn’t hurt that every day they had jellies, sweets and flavoured water available at reception.
Location-wise this hotel is best for younger more mobile people. It’s about a 10 minute walk to the heart of the city from the hotel, a 25 minute walk to the Alcazaba and a 15 minute walk to the beach. It didn’t both me, but if you weren’t into walking it could be a problem. However, there is a taxi rank just across the road from the hotel, outside the train station, so that’s very convenient.
The rooms are spacious and modern with air conditioning and free wifi. There’s also a fridge in room with a mini bar. There’s a restaurant on site and room service is available. The breakfast buffet is decent with plenty of Spanish specialties and hot options.
One of my favourite things about the hotel is that you can pay for late check out and it’s very reasonable – €15 to 2pm, €20 to 4pm, €30 to 6pm. Very handy if you have a later flight.
Getting to Almería
I flew from London Gatwick with Easyjet. The flight is about 3hrs long. Getting from the airport to the city center is pretty easy. I got the number 30 bus from the airport to the city which cost €1.05. It takes about 30 minutes. On the way back from the city I was feeling lazy so I got a taxi. It took around 10 -15 minutes and cost about €14. If there’s a few of you it’s definitely worth getting a taxi. Renting a car is also a great option if you like to be a bit more independent when you travel and don’t mind driving on the right side of the road. Also it will make seeing Cabo de Gata and the Tabernas Desert a lot easier.
When to Visit Almería
Almería city is not yet a huge tourist destination, so it’s never going to be the same kind of crazy busy as other Spanish cities like Barcelona. Therefore, visiting during the high season summer months won’t be as awful as other places. BUT the flights will be full and cost a lot more. So shoulder season or off season is always best in my opinion. Of course, if you’re after the hot heat, June to September are the hottest months with temperatures often reaching 30 degrees Celsius. But the winter months are by no means cold. November temperatures can still be in the 20s and Dec-March are still in the high teens. Hotel prices are much cheaper in the off season too. Christmas in Almería city is also fantastic. There are several festivals held in the city throughout the year. St. John’s Night on the 21st of June is a huge celebration and a great time to visit Almería. Basically Almería has something for everyone at any time of the year.
If you have any questions about Almería, let me know in the comments and I’ll try to answer them for you!
**This trip was sponsored by the UK Spanish Tourism Board.
However, all opinions are, as always, my own**
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