The City of fortresses, tapas, and spaghetti westerns
The name Almería comes from the Arabic word Al-Mariyat meaning the mirror of the sea. Just south of Granada, set among the Sierra de Gador Mountain Range, Almería Bay welcomes you to romance and mysteries. Almería’s plazas framed with palms and historic churches are just the beginning of uncovering the secrets of this once over-looked destination in the heart of Spain’s Costa del Sol. Did someone say tapas and fortresses? Yes, please. But there’s so much more. Visitors will discover some of the most breathtaking coastlines in Spain with sweeping vistas from pristine beaches beside tranquil aquamarine waters to a seemingly never-ending landscape of cliffs and coves. Here are our picks for the most romantic, adventurous 24-hours in this often over-looked port.
Begin at the beginning
Once upon a time, the Arabs in Spain began construction of the Morrish Alcazaba Fortress in 955 A.D., one of the largest citadels in the country. Completed centuries later by the King of Almería, you will feel like royalty while enjoying breathtaking panoramic views of the city from the top of the castle walls.
During the 11th century, Almería had its heyday becoming the most international port in Al-Ándalus, the Arabic name given to parts of the Iberian Peninsula ruled by the Moors. Part of The Silk Road, history buffs will enjoy the fact that Almería became well-known for its silk industry from thread made by silkworms in the Alpujarra, along with olive oil, ceramics, and gold coins. You can imagine the splendor of the fortress at Alcazaba of Almería during the height of its power. Don’t miss touring the archaeological museum and cave dwellings that frame the Old Gypsy Quarter’s hillsides.
Visitors to the fortress will enjoy a gorgeous view of the cathedral in the heart of Old Town. Reminiscent of a Presidio rather than a church, its towers and cannons will impress the romantic at heart with its treasure trove of art and stories of foiling pirate attacks.
Fashionistas in the family will enjoy a morning of shopping Calle de las Tiendas, meaning street of stores, located on one of Almería’s most charming Caminos. Calle de las Tiendas opens up to winding side streets where you’ll enjoy discovering Plaza Flores, Tores Siloy, and Plaza San Pedro, lined with a raised promenade and beautiful church. If you just can’t get enough, head over to Nijar, just a 45-minute drive from town, famous for its artisanal crafts. A stroll in quaint Nijar finds you discovering delicious selections of handcrafted items including pottery, linens, and jarapas, traditional Spanish woven rugs.
A mid-day meal
You will discover a culinary adventure unlike any other among the best of Almería’s tapas restaurants. Deals abound here with gourmet tapas offered free with each beer and wine purchased. You’ll never want to go home after exploring the 20 bodegas in the province of Almería. If tapas and wine aren’t your things, take the hour scenic drive down the coast to Garrucha Town, the seafood capital of Almería’s Costa del Sol and enjoy the fresh catch of local fishermen. We also recommend tasting Alpujarras cheese, which is made from the milk of the White Andalusian domesticated goat. This cheese has a strong flavor, it has a lacteal base, slightly salty and a little peppery.
Golfers will love one of the most stunning venues for a morning or afternoon affordable round of golf on the Costa Del Sol’s many manicured golf courses. Or perhaps you’d rather spend a day hiking in the Sierra Cabrera Mountains. Turn a great trip into an unforgettable one while admiring the natural beauty of flora and fauna here set against a dramatic backdrop of otherworldly geological formations including steep peaks and deep gorges that will leave you breathless. Wild thyme and lavender are only a few species that have survived the arid region’s winds and heat. Foodies will love the olives, almonds, and figs of the region.
Cowboys in Spain? You got it, partner. Movie buffs will enjoy the film tour of Almería which has been used as the setting for Oscar winners like Lawrence of Arabia, Patton, as well as commercial blockbusters like Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, and The Magnificent Seven. Celebrities like Clint Eastwood, Brigitte Bardot, Anthony Quinn, Orson Wells, Sean Connery, and Raquel Welch have graced the storied setting here. The locations commonly used in the heyday of filming have become a theme park called Mini Hollywood, which also has a nearby zoo and aquatic park. If you want to extend your Hollywood tour of the region and get away from it all, take the 45-minute drive outside of Almería to visit Agua Amarga’s hidden paradise in Cabo de Gata, the setting for the film Sexy Beast.
Peace and pleasure on the playa
Almería enjoys its status as the warmest province in Andalucía. Enjoy a lazy, wonderful afternoon in the Spanish sun at Mojacar’s storied white sand beaches in a region which has paid particular attention to the balance between tourism and preservation, only an hour out of Almería. The beachfront provides a healthy blend of bars, shopping, and markets along with the activities you love like sailing, fishing, jet-skiing, and scuba.
Or head over to Vera Playa, a four-mile paradise of clean, sandy beaches and azure waters that ups the fun factor with an adventurous open-air water park. This beach paradise in Andalucia, a region which boasts year-round sunshine and little rain, also lies only an hour away from Almería filled with natural beauty and lively nightlife.
Happily Ever After
Take a delightful evening stroll through the historic squares and plethora of bars and restaurants in the city’s Old Town. There isn’t a more spectacular sight than the old casbah lit up in golden light under a star-filled sky in the arms of the one you love. Enjoy the flavor of late-night Spanish hospitality as you discover the region’s delicacies including tapas and paella. Or enjoy a stroll in Mojacar Pueblo’s whitewashed hilltop village and get pleasantly lost among its cobblestone streets, secret walkways and rooftop terraces.
The Best Way To See Almeria
Experience Andalusia, a region which hugs the southern coast of Spain and embraces cultural influences from both sides of the strait of Gibraltar; Europe and Africa on a pristine Windstar cruise. Three itineraries visiting Almeria, Spain:
Star Collector: Enchantment Of The Western Med, 15 days voyage Lisbon to Rome on either Star Pride or Wind Surf.
When visiting Almeria on Windstar cruise, you will enjoy a walking tour of this ancient city called Almeria City Tour & Tapas. Your tour of the city will be on foot, as motor coaches are not permitted in the Old Town. You will begin your tour on the Paseo de Almeria, the most central street of the city. You will enjoy a tapas tasting before visiting the Alcazaba Palace of the Moorish Kings, which houses collections of Phoenician, Roman, and Moorish artifacts. Your next stop will be at the Cathedral, a lovely Gothic building with Renaissance facades, constructed with an incompatible dual purpose – a place of worship and a bastion of defense against Berber pirates. Other points of interest you will see along your walk are the 17th-century Convent of Las Puras, the Episcopal Palace, the Cervantes Theater, and the Mercantile Center. You will have free time for shopping at the end of the walking tour.
Picturesque Mojacar is a sunny mountain village that still retains the traditional whitewashed walls of yesteryear. Windstar Cruises offers a fantastic tour to Mojacar Mountain Village. Your round-trip journey to this lofty settlement features travels along two completely different routes, past ever-changing countryside and striking coastal views. You will pass through mountainous landscapes and the golden Tabernas Desert to arrive at Mojacar, with its flat-roofed houses and whitewashed walls crowd together, perched high above the Mediterranean. Your 2-hour stay provides you with ample opportunity to wander the maze of winding streets, browse through the inviting shops, visit the fortified church, and to revel in the splendid views. Your return journey is through the Sierra Cabrera Natural Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
If you prefer, opt for a beautiful drive through the Andalusian countryside to Granada and the magnificent UNESCO site, the Alhambra Palace. Built in the 14th century, this breathtaking example of Moorish architecture combines intricate mosaics and stone-cast latticework in a tapestry of grace and sophistication unparalleled in western civilization. Or take an optional excursion into nature at one of three UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.