Is Almeria worth visiting? It sure is! This is a place where sun-bleached beaches on the tepid Alboran Sea meet the dusty sierras of southern Spain, where ancient Arabic relics reside next to luxurious coast hotels, and there’s always a vacation vibe in the air. It’s pretty darn hard NOT to fall in love with it.
Yep, despite not being quite as famous as the other regional hubs of Andalusia – Malaga, Alicante, Murcia – this city of just shy of 200,000 people still has plenty to impress. There are the aforementioned sands, historical monuments from the middle ages, access to the mountains, and a whole load more.
If you still need a little encouragement to get booking your stay it this sandy, salt-washed part of the home of flamenco and tapas, then read on. Here, we’ll answer is Almeria worth visiting by highlighting seven of the top draws in the town. Let’s get stuck in…
If we had to pick one reason why so many travelers flock to the southern city of Almeria each year, it would be the beaches. We’ll make it simple: They are SPECTACULAR. Some of the very best runs of sand in southern Spain make their home here, which is saying something because, well…because this is southern Spain!
The highlight for us is probably the Cabo de Gata-Níjar to the east of town. That’s now a designated nature park and it hosts rugged coves and wild beaches that are totally undeveloped (a rarity on the Med!). Check out Mónsul Beach at the region’s southern end to find a golden run that’s washed by endless waves and punctuated by a large rock stack. Then there’s Los Genoveses Beach, a rocky spread of inlets and coves that’s more like Croatia than Spain if you ask us.
For longer stretches of beachfront that are great for the family, there’s always the shoreline going west from Almeria. That brings you ever closer to the iconic Costa del Sol, but before that legendary region starts in earnest, you can find beautiful beaches like Playa de la Sirena Loca and Playa de Melicena, though you’ll probably need your own car to reach them.
Almeria is one of the most historical provincial capitals in all of Andalusia. Its heyday came back in the 9th century, when it was established as the principle port and power base of its own caliphate under the rule of Abd-ar-Rahman III. After its founding in 933, great city walls and keeps were added to the town to fend off pirates and Christian skirmishers, none more impressive than the Almeria Alcazaba…
Known as the Conjunto Monumental de la Alcazaba de Almeria, the complex crowns a bluff above the La Chanca neighborhood. It’s a symphony of crenulated walls and towers, complete with arabesque bathhouses and elaborate pleasure gardens enclosed within. A visit and tour of the whole place is a must for first-time travelers to the city.
The Alcazabais are just the start, though. You can get lost in the onetime medina that spreads below – it’s a maze-like neighborhood that’s been there over a millennium. To the north is the Barrio Alto, which took shape in the 12-14th centuries. That has narrow streets and big plazas, including the vast Plaza de Toros and its vintage bullring.
It’s no secret that the vast majority of travelers to Almeria will focus on the sands and the sea. However, look north, east, and west from the town and there’s a whole other natural wonderworld waiting to be discovered: The mountains.
Yep, sierras rise and fall like a halo around the historic city center. To the north, the Sierra Alhamilla reigns supreme. That’s a rustic dash of low-lying peaks with tussock meadows and dramatic lookout points like El Puntal. To the east, the Parque Natural del Cabo de Gata-Níjar takes over, offering lunar-like canyons that are fine territory for trail runners and hikers.
But the real piece de resistance of the Almeria highlands has to be the proximity of the Sierra Nevada. That iconic range stretches westwards into the Costa del Sol. It’s crowned off by Mulhacén, the tallest peak on the whole of the Iberian Peninsula, has endless rambling opportunities, and even rare Spanish ski fields during the colder months of the year. Be sure to pack the boots!
The onward travel options
A visit to Almeria will put you right at the heart of one of the most enthralling corners of Spain as a whole. We’ve already mentioned how you can breakaway to wonderful beach reserves and protected mountain ranges. Well, there are also charming pueblo bianco (white villages) and traditional Andalusian towns to see.
Head north up the A-92 motorway and you’ll breeze by brilliant Fiñana, a 13th-century village under the tops of the Sierra Nevada that’s complete with its own medieval mosque. The charming village of Abla is the same way. That one offers a vision of time-stood-still Spain, with echoing cobbled streets that open onto pint-sized plazas.
But it’s Granada that takes the biscuit for us. Less than two hours’ drive from Almeria itself, it’s one bucket-list-busting city. It’s home to the legendary Alhambra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s among the best-preserved examples of Mudejar architecture in the world. Plus, it has a gorgeous old town filled to bursting with tapas kitchens and cervezerias.
Don’t worry, you can still taste your way through all the iconic Spanish dishes that grace tapas bar menus around the world here. There are umpteen kitchens and cantinas in the Almeria old town that serve up paella with crispy bases and zingy patatas bravas with chili and coriander.
But there are also some foods that are unique to Almeria province, so many, in fact, that the town had the heritage behind it to be named Spain’s culinary capital back in 2019! They include:
- Gurullos pasta – This is a nod to the rustic, farming history of the Andalusian hills around Almeria. It’s a type of durum pasta that’s packed with chickpeas and spices and game meat (usually rabbit).
- Calamares en aceite – This is a slow-cooked squid that’s made in a mixture of Spanish olive oil, garlic, bay leaf, and lemon zest. The locals usually pair it with potatoes and olives, not to mention plenty of crispy white wine.
- Serón – Serón is actually a small village up in the hills near Almeria but it’s given its name to one of the region’s best-loved cheeses. It’s a goat cheese with a distinctly milky, full-bodied flavor.
Because it’s still off the beaten path
One of the things we love most about Almeria is the fact that it’s not one of the booming tourist towns that you get up and down this stretch of the south Spanish coast. Nope, this one’s a lived-in port town at heart and has the grit and energy to show for it. Even during the peak summer months, there’s not that overload of bikini-wearing beach goers you get in nearby Malaga or Alicante.
It’s also super-easy to escape the more-visited parts of old Alimera and hit the workaday areas of the city. Just hop over big Rambla boulevard and enter Nueva Almería. That’s got stylish coffee shops that host Spanish locals, jazz bars where you can listen to local bands, and parks that fill with picnickers when the sun shines (as it always does!).
Because it’s easier to reach than ever before
Is Almeria worth visiting because it’s easy to reach? Probably not for that reason alone but it hardly makes the place less attractive. Now with its own airport – Almería Airport (LEI) – and good links by rail and road to cities all across Spain and the Iberian Peninsula, there’s no reason to make the hassle of travel the reason not to head here this season.
Flights wise, you can pick from a whole load of seasonal low-cost links. There are direct connections to cities as varied as London and Luxembourg, Brussels and Birmingham, along with a few internal domestic flights that arrive from other cities in Spain. The airport is also a mere 9km from the heart of the town, so trading the arrivals hall for the beaches should be a cinch in a taxi.
For travelers who want to go by train, you can now head in from Granada on a daily service and from Madrid Atocha on a six-hour cross-country train. The arrival point is the Intermodal Bus and Train Station of Almeria on the eastern side of the city. There are also good road links from here to Malaga (two hours) and Granada (1.5 hours).
Is Almeria worth visiting? Our conclusion
Is Almeria worth visiting? You betcha’ bottom dollar it is! We have a real soft spot for this port town on the side of Spanish Andalusia. There are a few reasons for that, including the fact that it’s nowhere near as touristy as other resorts in the region. We also love how easy it is to escape to picture-perfect beaches, wild mountains like the Sierra Nevada, and charming white-painted villages in the hills. Oh, and then there’s the local cuisine, which is to die for!