Almería is a traditional tourist destination in the Spanish Andalusia region, famous for gorgeous beaches, warm weather, and good flight connections to most major airports in Britain. Though you will find the classic tourist assets – white sandy beaches, a steady supply of Guinness, and friendly locals – there is no reason to shun Almería as a tourist trap. The number cultural and historical sites is great and there is lots of genuine travel experience to be had away from the football crowd on the beach. You can book a car hire and travel around the surrounding countryside.
Whilst moving through the city there might be a touch of exotic you cannot quite point your finger at. This is the strong North-African influence the town seems to have, originating in the Moorish domination of the town for hundreds of years. Almería has its origins in the Alcazaba fortification built to support the Moorish emirate on the Iberian Peninsula. And even though the city and its 165,000 inhabitants have long since turned Spanish – and therefore mostly Roman Catholic – the Moorish influences are still evident in elements of the cityscape and culture. Look for characteristic ornaments on facades and African touches on restaurant menus.
A good starting point for walking expeditions through the city is the harbour, a typically Mediterranean marina framed by small restaurants and pubs. Having snacked on local delicacies you should hit the main sights. The most important is the central cathedral, dating back to the 16th century. The most picturesque spot in town might well be Puerta de Purchena, a central square extremely popular among locals on their lunch break and tourists seeking some shade from the burning midday sun. Shade is also to be found inside the Iglesia de Santiago, a renaissance church, as well as the archaeological museum (Museo Arquelógico), illustrating the town’s early history with Phoenician, Greek, and Moorish displays.
As nice and atmospheric as the city is, do not forget to explore the surrounding countryside in your car hire as well. Several mountain ranges are within reach, putting you close to mountain biking slopes and hiking trails. Outdoor fans are generally enchanted by Parque Natural Cabo de Gata-Nijar, an unhospitable-seeming landscape characterised by rocky desert and rugged cliffs formed in volcanic explosions a very long time ago. Another great day trip destination is Los Millares, excavations of an ancient Copper Age settlement just 20 km outside Almería.
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