Almeria, one of the eight capitals of Andalucia, is on the southern coast of Spain and a wonderful place for a city holiday. It’s a fascinating city, full of ancient buildings going back to the 11th century, winding streets, teeny poky little shops, traditional food markets, museums, quaint cafes and stylish restaurants. There are many places to visit on a day trip to Almeria, but these are the places not to miss.
The Alcazaba is an 11th century Arab fort, which sits up behind the town in the foothills of the mountain range behind Almeria. It’s about a 15 minute walk uphill through winding streets to get to The Alcazaba, but well worth it for the amazing view alone.
From the outside of the fort, you can see around the bay and out into the incredibly blue ocean. When you go into the fort, which is even higher, you can see the surrounding landscape on all four sides. The fort itself is amazing. It’s well-preserved, has an interesting museum inside, dungeons, and pretty gardens. Make sure you take some snacks or buy some from the snack machines to feed the family of hundreds of cats that live here. Simply throw a little food on the floor and cats will come from every direction.
EU citizens get in free here if you show your passport. Americans unfortunately will have to pay. The Alcazaba also has guided tours available in English and Spanish.
Almeria Cathedral dates back to the 16th century, and looks more like a fortress than a cathedral, but there’s a reason for it. This area of Spain often had to fight off attacks from invading pirates from Africa, so the cathedral even had cannons that were used to fight them.
The cathedral is a little austere outside, and baroque looking inside, but beautiful. In the centre of the cathedral is a large altar, which features priceless artworks around it. The statue of St. Ignatius is one of the most prized pieces.
Around this area are also several other important and beautiful churches, most of which you have to pay a 2-4 Euro fee to see.
The Food Market
Almeria has a traditional Spanish food market that is one of the best in the area. Located in an enclosed structure that still feels like an ‘open air’, the market sells fruit, vegetables, cheeses, meats, olives, sausages, and so many other things it’s hard to take it all in. It’s loud and busy, but the food is amazing – fresh, with vibrant colors and unbelievable smells. Many of the stalls will also give you a small taste of something before you buy, so you can get a great feel for Spanish food. Don’t miss the marinated olives – simply divine.
Las Ramblas (The Rambles)
Many Spanish towns have Las Ramblas and Almeria is no different. Las Ramblas is literally a place where you can walk, or ramble, while checking out the local culture.
Las Ramblas here centers around the old town of Almeria, and is one long avenue running down to the sea. Branching off it are winding streets full of shops selling all kinds of things you’ve never seen before, cafes in the most interesting buildings, and little bars where you can get a cerveza (beer) or tapas (Spanish bar snacks). It’s a great place to buy gifts to take back home. Look for Spanish pottery and handmade tea towels printed with recipes for Spanish food. Like most Spanish towns, everything closes down around 1pm for siesta, and opens back up at about 4:30pm so plan your trip accordingly.
One word of caution on the Almeria area. The people in this area of Spain are not initially as friendly as in other areas. You may experience a lot of brusqueness, which can be misunderstood as rudeness if not aware of this. However you’ll find, if you visit a place a couple of times, you’ll be recognized and greeted accordingly. Andalucia is known as a more reserved part of Spain, but when the Spaniards here do eventually open up, they are still warm, friendly and genuine.