Almeria is a province in southern Spain bordered by Granada, Murcia and the Mediterranean Sea. The capital city is Almeria. There is an international airport at Almeria and you also have Granada and Murcia airports close by.
The area is said to be the driest in Europe; the inland areas of the province experience some 3000 hours of sun each year; an area where no vegetation grows in desert-like landscape.
The coastline stretches for 214km, making up approximately 25% of the whole Andalusian coastline.
The name Almeria derives from the Arabic occupation, originally Al-Mariyya, meaning The Mirror, as it was compared to The Mirror of the Sea. The capital city of the same name, Almeria was an Arabic stronghold and the principal harbour in its domain. The Moorish castle of Alcazaba is the second largest of the Arabic fortresses in Andalusia, after the Alhambra in Granada.
Almeria city itself is a lively, modern commercial city; culturally it is very Spanish, with few foreigners residing in the centre. There is a ferry port – where you can take a trip over to North Africa, a sports marina and a working fishing port. A visit to the city is definitely worthwhile; it has a good selection of galleries, museums and shops, as well as lots of pretty squares along the main central avenue Las Ramblas.
Sitting next to the provinces capital is the modern tourist resort of Roquetas de Mar, a modern tourist destination, offering all of the facilities and attractions that you could wish for in a holiday destination.
Cabo de Gato
To the east of the city of Almeria we find the protected natural maritime park of Cabo de Gato – Nijar with its beautiful rugged and natural coastline. Much of this coast has restricted road access, so getting down to beach is usually on foot, but its worth it to experience some of the idyllic secluded bays with crystal clear waters, perfect for bathing and for scuba diving enthusiasts, untouched beaches and sand dunes, tiny fishing villages and sweeping headlands offering fabulous views to the Mediterranean sea and coastline.
The area is one of the most natural and ecologically rich coasts along the western Mediterranean and is perfect for hikers, nature lovers and bird watchers.
The little town of Nijar has a cottage industry of clay ceramic ware and is definitely worth a trip to pick up a unique holiday souvenir.
At the eastern end of Almeria you find the towns of Mojácar, Garrucha, Huercal Overa, Almerimar, Vera and Vera Playa. Here you find resorts that suit everyone taste, from Moorish historical villages, to traditional Spanish fishing ports, to the world’s best naturalist resort.
Almerimar boasts marinas, golf, hotels and many other resort facilities. The popular town of Mojacar clings to a rocky hillside and boasts some fabulous fine sandy beaches. Garrucha is a beautiful sailing and fishing village, where you can enjoy excellent blue flag beaches and outstanding seafood restaurants.
The historical village of Vera and its beach-side neighbour Vera Playa, offer a mix of village culture and beachside leisure. Vera Playa is a popular spot for naturists with its internationally renowned naturist resort. It also offers great facilities and activities such as water sports and golf.
Further west, you come to the old fishing town of Adra, in the area known as ‘El Poniente’. The city has some extremely interesting archaeological sites dating from the 8th century. An area of interest often missed by the crowds of tourist.
The beautiful Sierra Nevada National Park extends into the province of Almeria and is home to the Alpujarra Almeriense. A land of ancient white villages, protected and unspoilt forests, valleys and snow covered mountain peaks.
This is a land that the Moors, in their occupation, became extremely attached to; its understandable, the Alpujarras Almeriense is a beautiful and compelling part of southern Spain, far removed from the humdrum of the coastal region – although you are only an hours drive away.
The area are also provides an excellent backdrop for outdoor activities: skiing, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, horse riding, hiking and much more.
The province is probably most famous for being the location for many of the Spaghetti Western movies. The dry and arid landscapes of the Taberna desert – Europe’s only desert, which forms part of the National Park of Sierra Nevada – were perfect set locations for the films of Sergio Leone. David Lean also shot some scenes there in the Oscar winning film Lawrence of Arabia. In the village of Tabernas you can visit the ‘badlands of Almeria”, the film set locations which attract a modest number of tourists each year. It is also the site of the ruins of a Moorish castle and old church.
It’s also an area well known for its ‘troglodyte villages’, with houses fashioned out of caves of soft rock. There are many towns throughout the Almeria and Granada provinces that still have a population that live in cave homes.
Despite the arid climate of Almeria, it is a major agricultural area – where some 250 million kilos of flowers and crops are cultivated each year. You will note the miles upon miles of huge plastic greenhouses and sheet covered fields that protect the crops.
The province of Almeria is rich in fish and seafood dishes, squid red prawns and red mullet are common. It also has a strong Arabic/North African influence rooted from its strong Moorish history. Because of the strong agricultural industry in Almeria, fruit and vegetables are excellent quality; they produce the most amazing tomatoes. Typical dishes from the province include fish chowders and stew, Migas (fried bread with garlic and spicy sausage) and lots of grilled fish.
The province of Almeria enjoys a Mediterranean sub-tropical climate – warm and dry for most of the year, it claims to be the Andalusian region with the most hours of sun each year, over 3000!
The mild all year round climate, makes it the perfect destination for a holiday anytime of the year.