Almería, located in the Autonomous Community of Andalusia on the Costa del Sol in Southern Spain, stands out for its unique landscapes while still embracing the distinct Andalusian charm.
With over 200 kilometers of pristine beaches, a captivating desert, Hollywood-famous settings, natural parks, and enticing theme parks, Almería offers a diverse range of experiences.
All of this is complemented by the region’s renowned cuisine and the warm hospitality typical of Southern Spain.
If you’re wondering about the top places to visit in Almeria, you’ve come to the right place! Discover the main attractions that should be on your Almeria itinerary.
This article is based on my three-day journey, providing an introductory glimpse into this captivating region.
Almería boasts numerous other points of interest worth exploring, and I’ve included a section dedicated to these attractions, along with recommendations for dining, accommodation, and other relevant travel information.
Prepare for an enriching adventure with a plethora of activities and sights to explore in this stunning part of Southern Spain.
10 incredible experiences in Almería, Spain for families (and beyond!)
1. Step into a Cowboy Movie at Oasys Mini Hollywood
A day of family fun at a theme park is an experience cherished by many. But what if this theme park is located in the Tabernas Desert, the only desert (or semi-desert) in Europe? Are you up for the adventure?
Oasys Mini Hollywood offers a day of entertainment for both kids and adults, set against the backdrop of a location featured in numerous cowboy films. In fact, it’s renowned as the theme park of the Old American West!
While only one original building remains, everything else has been constructed as film sets and later repurposed for this amusement park.
Visitors can enjoy live shows like the Show del Oeste, the Baile del Cancán, and a parrot show, all designed to delight tourists.
Guided tours, lasting 45 minutes, offer various routes, including a glimpse of the zoo’s animal areas and a tour of film sets.
For those seeking relaxation, there’s a swimming pool available for a refreshing dip (admission is included, so don’t forget your swimwear and towel).
Additionally, a variety of dining options are at your disposal, including Chiringuito África (offering burgers, pizzas, hot dogs, and more), the Arizona Restaurant with a buffet service, and even a cafeteria and ice cream parlor.
2. Embark on a Buggy Adventure in the Tabernas Desert
The Tabernas Desert is a truly unique destination. As the only desert (or semi-desert) in Europe, it boasts natural landscapes with breathtaking sandstone formations, an oasis with flowing water, and abandoned Hollywood film sets seamlessly integrated into the scenery.
Exploring the Tabernas Desert on a buggy tour turned out to be an unexpectedly thrilling experience. It all began with a safety briefing and the distribution of essential gear, including helmets, goggles, and bandanas to shield us from the dust.
Only those with a valid driver’s license were allowed to take the wheel, and personal belongings like backpacks and hats were securely stored at the office.
And so, our adventure began. We set off in single file, two people per buggy, navigating steep descents, crossing a riverbed (though it was dry at the time), meandering through lush palm groves, and traversing arid but stunning terrain.
But it wasn’t just about driving; we made several stops along the way. We stumbled upon a hidden oasis nestled in the heart of the desert, stumbled upon a seemingly deserted village that turned out to be an abandoned film set, and at the Sierra Alhamilla resort, we witnessed hot spring water bubbling up from the earth.
All in all, it was an unforgettable afternoon, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to families and adventure seekers alike.
I took the tour with Desert Buggy, and the entire experience was impeccably organized. Our guide struck the perfect balance between adventure and safety, the route was well-planned, and everyone had a blast.
3. Explore the Filming Locations of Iconic Movies and TV Series
Did you know that Almería has served as the backdrop for over 100 films?
In the 1950s, Hollywood recognized that this region offered a diverse range of natural settings, including pristine beaches, sprawling deserts, majestic mountains, and ancient cities, all within easy reach. Almería boasted an abundance of sunny days, making it an attractive and cost-effective destination for film crews.
Local residents found work as extras in renowned films like “Exodus: Gods and Kings” and “Cleopatra,” and the region’s infrastructure developed to accommodate the influx of filmmakers with substantial budgets.
Almería played host to some of Hollywood’s most prominent figures, including Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, Elizabeth Taylor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Henry Fonda, and Terence Young. They filmed in various locations across the region, elevating this unassuming Andalusian city, traditionally reliant on agriculture, to international fame.
Now, with this brief historical context, let’s explore some of the most famous films and TV series shot in Almería.
In the Tabernas Desert, classic Westerns like “A Fistful of Dollars,” “A Few Dollars More,” “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” “Once Upon a Time in the West,” and “Red Sun” came to life.
For those less inclined toward cowboy flicks, you might recall blockbusters such as “Cleopatra,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” “Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome,” and “Conan the Barbarian.”
Monsul Beach gained fame as the location for the climactic scene in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” where Harrison Ford and Sean Connery ingeniously bring down a plane using an umbrella to scare birds away. The birds then collide with the aircraft.
Interestingly, remnants of the plastic birds used in the filming can still be found on the slopes near Monsul Beach.
4. Explore the Historic Center of Almería, Spain
Almería once stood as a pivotal commercial port within the Caliphate of Córdoba, and its rich historic center bears testament to this era. Here, a magnificent cathedral and the formidable Alcazaba fortress reign supreme.
The Alcazaba de Almería has gained recognition as the backdrop for significant cinematic scenes, featuring prominently in the film “Wonder Woman 1984” and the iconic TV series “Game of Thrones.”
As you journey toward Almería Cathedral, meander through winding streets adorned with vibrant houses and quintessential Andalusian squares.
Take a closer look at these houses, and you’ll uncover intriguing details—a date etched onto a wall, flower-filled vases gracing a balcony, and unique blinds designed to keep the relentless heat at bay.
Upon arriving at the cathedral, you’ll notice that its architecture resembles that of a fortress more than a traditional place of worship. This design choice was necessitated by the constant threat of pirate raids by Berber corsairs, making robust defenses imperative.
To safeguard the local populace, formidable walls, watchtowers, and battlements were erected, providing steadfast protection against such attacks.
5. Uncover the Rich History of Al-Andalus at the Alcazaba of Almería
In the year 955, under the rule of Abd al-Rahman III, the caliph of Córdoba, a castle was commissioned for construction atop the remnants of an ancient fortress situated on Mount Layhan.
This monumental project was realized during the reign of Caliph Al-Mansur.
The Alcazaba of Almería, an Arab palace with exquisite gardens and the remnants of once-palatial structures, including the Caliphal Cisterns and a Mudéjar hermitage, stands as a testament to its storied past.
It’s no surprise that this fortress is considered one of Southern Spain’s foremost castles.
In fact, the Alcazaba of Almería holds the distinction of being the largest castle in Spain and was designated a Monumental Complex in 1989, alongside its beautiful gardens and regal edifices.
Within the fortress’s expansive grounds, a multitude of treasures awaits exploration. Highlights include the Hayrán Walls, adjacent to which lies the Saharan Fauna Rescue Center, the meticulously landscaped gardens adorned with ornate staircases and elegant fountains, the evocative ruins of the troop baths, and the enchanting Mudéjar hermitage, among other delights.
A beloved spot within the Alcazaba is the Plaza de Armas, situated in the section of the castle erected during the reign of the Catholic Monarchs. Here, you’ll encounter the Keep, the Wind Wheel, and the Powder Wheel, each accompanied by its respective cannons.
From this vantage point, a panoramic view unfolds before you, encompassing the historic center of Almería, enclosed by imposing walls, as well as the bustling port and the enigmatic troglodyte dwellings. In the distance, the rugged beauty of the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park completes the picturesque vista.
With so much to discover within the Alcazaba of Almería, it’s advisable to set aside three to four hours for a comprehensive exploration of this captivating historical site.
6. Explore the Cave Houses of Almería (Troglodyte Houses)
Throughout its history, Almería has witnessed periods of both harmony and conflict among its inhabitants.
During a particular era, Muslims who hadn’t converted to Christianity were expelled from the city and subsequently carved out dwellings beyond the city’s protective walls.
This marked the birth of the cave houses of Almería, also known as troglodyte houses, which can be found in the La Chanca neighborhood.
These remarkable dwellings were hewn into the soft sandstone rock and continue to serve various purposes today, primarily as cellars and storage spaces.
If you prefer not to visit in person, you can still admire the troglodyte houses from the viewpoint located at the Plaza de Armas of the Alcazaba.
7. Explore John Lennon’s Almería Connection: Where “Strawberry Fields Forever” Was Born
In the autumn of 1966, the legendary John Lennon spent six transformative weeks in Almería. His purpose? Filming “How I Won the War,” a movie where he portrayed the character Musketeer Gripweed.
During his stay, Almería left an indelible mark on Lennon. It was here that he made the iconic decision to cut his hair, and the dusty Almerían backdrop inspired him to don his trademark round glasses.
Lennon rented a charming house with iron gates known as Villa Santa Isabel. Surrounded by fields reminiscent of the Strawberry Fields near his childhood home, he found the muse for one of his greatest creations— the iconic song “Strawberry Fields Forever.”
Today, you can pay homage to this musical genius at the John Lennon monument, located on a park bench in Plaza Flores, just across from the AC Hotel by Marriott Almeria.
8. Experience a One-of-a-Kind Cocktail: El Americano
In Almería, an “Americano” is not just a person from North America; it’s a unique and delightful beverage.
El Americano is a famous pink cocktail served exclusively at Kiosco Amalia.
This special concoction includes cola, sugar, lemon, hot milk, and a dash of ground cinnamon, resulting in a warm and energizing drink that you won’t find anywhere else.
Legend has it that in the 1970s, an American actor requested this unusual combination, and the cafe owner decided to add it to the menu.
Locals soon discovered the invigorating qualities of this distinctive drink, leading to its popularity.
You can savor El Americano at Kiosco Amalia, located in Plaza Manuel Pérez García in Almería. Just keep in mind that they are closed on Mondays.
9. Exploring Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park by 4×4
Located just 37 km from Almería, the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park is the largest protected area in the Mediterranean. Its stunning features include breathtaking cliffs, hidden coves, and some of Almería’s most renowned beaches.
You’ll find here the iconic Praia de Mónsul and Praia dos Genoveses, both immensely popular among visitors.
I embarked on an exciting 4×4 tour of Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park with Rolling Almería. This tour allowed me to experience the park comprehensively within a short timeframe.
Our 4×4 adventure commenced with a brief overview of the sights we would encounter on our journey to Playazo de Rodalquilar.
As we traversed the landscape, we passed by historical sites such as the ruins of Torre de los Alumbres and an ancient well nestled beside an oasis.
During this tour, we learned about the fascinating history of the Rodalquilar Gold Mines.
One of the highlights was Playazo de Rodalquilar, a paradisiacal beach with golden sands set against the backdrop of deep blue seas and illuminated cliffs.
For those seeking further exploration, a hike to Hoya de Rodalquilar reveals hidden coves and offers an up-close look at fossilized dunes.
Our journey also included a stop at the Amatista viewpoint (Viewpoint of La Amatista), where we could marvel at the park’s rugged beauty. Be mindful of the strong winds at this location, ensuring that you don’t lose your balance or your hats.
On the way to Playa de Mónsul, where we had ample time to explore and admire the sand dunes, we made a brief detour through San José for some photo opportunities.
Overall, the 4×4 tour provided a fantastic way to experience the natural wonders of Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park.
10. Exploring Hidden Paradise: Secluded Beaches in Cabo de Gata-Níjar
While I’ve already mentioned some stunning beaches in the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park, these are no longer hidden gems and are well-frequented by tourists.
Yet, the park boasts approximately 50 km of coastline, and it’s entirely possible to uncover untouched, lesser-known beaches that aren’t featured in your typical online itineraries.
I won’t reveal these secret beach locations outright; instead, I’ll share how to embark on your quest to find them.
The key is to take the path less traveled on foot. You see, these hidden gems are accessible solely by foot, and many aren’t even listed on GPS maps.
If you’re willing to dedicate some time to Almería and venture off the beaten path, you’ll be rewarded with the discovery of these secluded coastal treasures. Trust me; it’s an adventure well worth the effort.
Beyond the Must-See: More Tips for Your 2023 Almería Adventure
Now that you’re familiar with the top attractions to explore in Almería, let’s dive into a list of other intriguing destinations that you might consider adding to your itinerary.
I must admit, I didn’t have the chance to personally visit these places during my trip due to time constraints. Nevertheless, these recommendations emerged from conversations with our knowledgeable guide and fellow travelers along the journey.
- Step Back in Time: Explore the Civil War shelters in Almería’s city center.
- Seaside Serenity: Experience the charm of Roquetas del Mar with a stay at one of its lovely resorts.
- Unearth History: Dedicate a few hours to the Almeria Archaeological Museum.
- Castle in the Sky: Venture to the Serra María-Los Vélez Natural Park and explore its ancient castle.
- Summit Adventures: Discover mainland Spain’s highest peaks at the Sierra Nevada National Park.
- Nature’s Trails: Embark on hiking adventures in the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park.
- Glimpse into the Past: Take a journey to the Rodalquilar Gold Mines.
These are just a few additional gems awaiting your exploration in Almería. Tailor your journey to your interests, and you’re sure to uncover more unforgettable experiences in this beautiful region.
Typical Andalusian Delights: Dining Experiences in Almería
Almería is a gastronomic paradise waiting to be explored!
The region boasts a delectable array of dishes, predominantly featuring fresh fish, succulent seafood, and an abundance of locally grown vegetables. With the Mediterranean Sea nearby and fertile land at its disposal, Almería ensures a feast for the senses.
A culinary star exclusive to the region is the RAF tomato (Fusarium Resistant), known for its exquisite flavor and slightly higher price tag (approximately €10-15/kg). When it comes to appetizers, expect a delightful assortment of cheeses, savory sausages, dried fruits, olives, and olive oil for dipping your bread.
As for main courses, the options vary depending on the restaurant. However, you can typically indulge in grilled fish, tender octopus, charcoal-grilled meats, and a variety of mouthwatering paellas gracing the menus.
When it comes to dining establishments, don’t miss the buffet restaurant at Oasys Mini Hollywood, offering a diverse selection and catering to those seeking a quick, satisfying meal.
If you find yourself in the Cabo de Gata-Nijár Natural Park, particularly at the San José marina, seize the opportunity to visit 4 nudos restaurant. The octopus broth rice is a culinary masterpiece that will leave a lasting impression.
During my time in Almería, I had the pleasure of dining at two exceptional restaurants: Tony Garcia and Cuatro Hojas Gastrobar, both highly esteemed and led by renowned chefs.
While these establishments may not be your everyday dining options due to their higher prices, they promise an extraordinary gastronomic journey that is truly worth the indulgence.
Tony García Gastronomic Space: A Culinary Marvel
Tony García Espacio Gastronómico is a culinary gem in Almería, dedicated to delivering delightful surprises to its visitors. And let me tell you, it accomplishes this mission with absolute perfection!
As you step inside, your eyes are immediately drawn to a vibrant display of fresh produce at the colorful counter—tomatoes, peppers, courgettes, and aubergines, all boasting their vivid hues, sparking your appetite.
Upon being seated, you’ll find a selection of wine bottles ready to accompany your dinner, as well as plates adorned with finely sliced sausages and freshly baked bread.
As conversation flows, cheese, marmalade, and nuts make their way to the table, prompting knowing smiles and toasts among diners as they savor these delectable starters.
What follows is a culinary tsunami, bold and utterly delicious. A fish and avocado carpaccio infused with oriental aromas delights the palate, while a succulent cut of meat, complemented by mushrooms and enveloped in a delicate sauce, showcases the culinary mastery of the kitchen.
To conclude this divine meal, a light dessert adorned with a fresh raspberry graces the table, bringing a sweet finish to the feast, even if we’re not in the region known for red fruits.
Each dish is a work of art, meticulously crafted and almost too beautiful to disrupt. However, the allure of these delectable creations proves irresistible, and in the end, the plates are left empty.
This is an experience fit for the gods, and the best part is that it’s accessible to everyone in Almería. So, savor every moment, and be sure to check out the mouthwatering photos of this unforgettable dinner on Instagram.
Cuatro Hojas by Juanjo Carabajal: A Gastronomic Revelation
I must confess, I have officially surrendered to the culinary charms of Almería, and Cuatro Hojas Restaurant (by Juanjo Carabajal) is one of the culinary masterminds responsible for this delightful surrender.
Our sumptuous meal kicked off with a velvety salmorejo, where the tomato’s natural sweetness danced harmoniously with the salty grace of the ham—a truly exceptional introduction to the culinary journey that awaited us.
Next up, we savored tender, artichokes stuffed to perfection, their petals disappearing in no time.
Then, there was the charred hake, its deep ebony hue derived from the luscious cuttlefish ink, all elegantly served atop a vibrant sea of green.
A well-seasoned shredded meat tortilla transported my taste buds to the flavors of Mexico, while a delightful sweet and sour pork toast played a tantalizing game with my senses.
To culminate this extraordinary dining experience, a dessert masterpiece took center stage. Its symphony of flavors and contrasting textures—hot and cold, crunchy and soft, solid and liquid—left an indelible mark, a fitting conclusion to an unforgettable culinary adventure.
In summary, Cuatro Hojas by Juanjo Carabajal offers a sensory journey that should not be missed when visiting Almería!
Accommodation Options in Almeria: Finding The Best Hotels
During my stay in Almeria, I had the pleasure of experiencing the modern comforts of the Elba Almeria Business & Convention Hotel, a distinguished four-star establishment conveniently situated opposite the Centro Comercial Mediterráneo.
The hotel boasts comfortable rooms, attentive staff, and a breakfast spread brimming with variety. It comes highly recommended for your stay in Almería.
Should none of these options align with your preferences, simply follow the link below to discover a wide array of accommodation choices in Almería, including local lodgings and apartments.
Where is Almería, Spain, and how to get there?
Almería, is situated along the Costa del Sol in the Andalusian region.
Located in the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula, Almería is renowned for its stunning landscapes, rich history, and Mediterranean charm.
Getting to Almería is a breeze, thanks to the well-connected transportation network.
The city boasts its own airport, Almería Airport, which is conveniently situated just about 9 kilometers from the city center.
This airport serves as a gateway for both domestic and international travelers, offering an array of flight options.
From here, you can easily access the heart of Almería by various means of transportation, including taxis, airport shuttles, and rental cars.
For those traveling by train, Almería is well-connected to major Spanish cities, making it a convenient destination to reach via rail. The Almería Railway Station is a key hub for train services in the region.
Alternatively, if you prefer a scenic journey, consider arriving by bus. Almería boasts a modern bus station with regular services connecting it to neighboring towns and cities.
Whether you arrive by air, rail, or bus, you’ll find yourself immersed in the captivating world of Almería, with its Mediterranean allure, historical treasures, and breathtaking landscapes waiting to be explored.
Final Travel Tips for Almería, Spain
Almería is a fantastic region, yet, for some reason, it remains largely undiscovered by most tourist. It’s truly a shame because I thoroughly enjoyed every minute I spent there, and I’m confident that my children would have loved it just as much.
It’s one of those hidden gems that we should share with friends who appreciate nature and seek to escape the crowds of mass tourism.
And, of course, if you have friends who are avid film enthusiasts, Almería is a must-visit destination that you absolutely need to recommend to them!
Our guide during the three-day trip was María Ángeles Cuena (+34 609 283 219, firstname.lastname@example.org).
She was not only incredibly friendly but also possessed an extraordinary knowledge of the region. While originally from Northern Spain, she has called Almería home for over 25 years.
She offers guided tours of Almería, including visits to the civil war refuges, the Alcazaba, and the Cathedral. So, if you’re looking for an enriching and informative tour, don’t hesitate to get in touch with her.
I had the opportunity to visit Almería during a Famtrip, thanks to an invitation from Costa Del Sol, while attending TBEX Europe Marbella.
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