Located in Southeast Spain in Andalusia, the port city of Almeria will transport you to an artistic yet much simpler time. It is a place where centuries-old architecture coexists with modern industrial buildings, where there is the taste of the sea in the air and delicious tapas on menus. Almeria has undergone many devastating challenges, but even so, the city and its people have managed to rise, rebuild its economy, claim its history, and retake its glorious name.
When in town, whether it be to stay a few days or as a passing route to another destination, we recommend trying out the following activities in the city. Remember to take time to drink plenty of water and wear light and comfortable clothes while you enjoy the top 10 things to do in the sunny desert city of Almeria, Spain.
1. Tour Monuments
The Alcabaza of Almeria is a 10th-century magnificent fortress perched on a hill in western Almeria. It is Spain’s second-largest Muslim architecture, next only to the Alhambra in Granada. The entrance gate to the complex is on Calle Almanzor, and admission is free. Go through Puerta de la Justicia (Gate of Justice) and participate in a tour where you will learn about the Alcazaba’s impressive history and architectural design. You might even recognize some of its features, as the Alcazaba was a filming set in many popular shows such as Game of Thrones.
2. Visit Churches
Walk 10 minutes down from the Alcazaba and into the Plaza de la Catedral, where you will find the 16th century Almería Cathedral, a grand church-fortress with a distinctive Gothic-Renaissance style architecture. Attend a mass or tour the Cathedral (or both) during opening hours. In the same square and facing the Almeria Cathedral is the Episcopal el Palacio.
Other well-known churches in the area include Santiago Church on Calle de las Tiendas and the Temple of the Patrona in Plaza de la Virgen del Mar, known for its Baroque style décor, housing Our Lady of the Sea, the Patron of Almeria.
3. Explore Museums
There are many museums to explore in Almeria, whether you are a lover of history or the arts. The Museum of Almeria is perhaps the most important one for understanding the city and province. Located on Carretera de Ronda, it houses three floors of precious archaeological finds from the Neolithic, Roman, and Moorish Ages. Visit the Museo de Arte de Almeria, Andalusian Centre of Photography, Museo de la Guitarra, Casa del Cine, or the Heritage Interpretation Center for more insight into its history and its love for the arts.
4. Go to the Beach
Almeria lies along the Mediterranean Sea. That means that spending a day at the beach comes with the territory. Along the west coast are the Poniente beaches, some isolated and quiet, while others are bustling with life. The Playa de la Garrofa offers resorts and a camping site for those wanting to stay in the area. The beaches near the city center include San Miguel, Las Conchas, Zapillo, and Palmeral. To the east, going towards Cabo de Gata, there are the tourist favorites Playa las Salinas and Playa de Los Genoveses. Most of these beaches remain unspoiled and uncrowded, perfect for diving and kayaking.
5. Hike in the Desert
About 19 miles north of Almería lies the famous Tabernas Desert, the only desert in all of Europe, spanning 110 square miles of dry semi-arid land. This beloved film set of Spaghetti Western movies offers guided excursions to its ravines and canyons through signposted hiking trails, horseback, or 4×4 vehicles provided by locals. While you are at Tabernas, stop by old production sets depicting the Wild West, such as Fort Bravo and Oasys Mini Hollywood.
6. Take a Day Trip to Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park
About 23 miles east of Almeria city center, where the Sierra del Cabo de Gata mountain range meets the Mediterranean Sea, you will find the wonders of Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park. You can go swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, and birdwatching in this world-renowned nature reserve. Remember your camera to take pictures of the volcanic formations, flora and fauna, white sand beaches, lighthouses, scenic cliffside landscapes, and some beautiful villages of nearby towns.
7. Eat in the Best Restaurants
Dubbed as Spain’s gastronomical capital in 2019, Almeria boasts some of Andalusia’s best-tasting seafood dishes fresh from the Mediterranean. The Casa Puga on Calle Jovellanos is a popular spot that offers seafood specialties, drinks, and free tapas. For something other than seafood, try some Ibérico pork secreto, wagyu beef carpaccio, or a steak at Taberna Entrevinos on Calle Francisco García Góngora. Alternately you may want to try some exquisite Moroccan food and tea at Restaurante-Tetería Almedina on Calle Paz 2.
8. Take Beautiful Pictures
Almeria is full of things to see. You can visit squares such as Puerta de Purchena and Paseo de Almería and take pictures of people relaxing in the shade of the trees. You will want to take photos of the statues of historic figures adorning the area while you stroll through promenades overlooking the beach and capture the scenery. Other prized historical structures include the Butterfly House, Banesto Building, the air raid shelters and tunnels used during the civil war, and the greenhouses that make the agricultural economy of the entire province possible despite the arid temperature.
9. Visit the Shopping Districts
Whether it be to pick up souvenirs or do some serious shopping, Almeria’s shopping districts have you covered. In Paseo de Almería and Calle de las Tiendas, you’ll find streets lined with artisan and retailer shops, as well as bars and restaurants. For fresh produce, head straight to Mercado Central. Open-air markets are open every day and sell everything from novelty items to fresh fruits. There are also two major shopping centers, Mediterráneo and Torrecárdenas.
10. Witness the Festivities
Like the rest of Spain, Almeria celebrates Semana Santa (Holy Week), and it is always memorable. Almeria Carnival is very colorful and proudly shows the rich culture of Almeria through live and traditional performances throughout the celebration. There’s also Saint Joan’s Eve celebrated every June 21 to welcome the arrival of summer, where locals gather on the beaches, light big fires, and enjoy spectacular firework displays.
You can arrive at Almeria by train, ferry, car, or plane. Whichever you choose, remember the most important activity—enjoy your stay.