For those planning a holiday to Andalucia, you are truly spoilt for choice. However, for a getaway that has a bit of everything, heading to beautiful Almería is an absolute must. Located in southeast Spain, the city is steeped in history, with signs of its past found everywhere you look, from historic fortresses and beautiful cathedrals to museums and important civil war locations. Almería also offers a great beach and nature scene, meaning that there is plenty to do over a two day stay in the area. All of this makes Almería the perfect spot to visit with a car hire from Malaga airport and in this guide, we provide you with an incredible itinerary for spending a memorable 48 hours in the city.
Alcazaba of Almería
What better way to start your day in Almería than with what is the city’s most iconic attraction? The Alcazaba of Almería is an ancient fortress, built in the 10th century by the Caliph of Cordoba, Abd ar-Rahman III. A classic example of Moorish architecture and a fascinating window into the Arabic world, history lovers will find plenty to admire when walking its grounds. The Alcazaba has even been a star of film and TV, including Game of Thrones.
Paulina, from the travel blog, Paulina on the Road, shares her memories with us of visiting the Alcazaba: “The Alcazaba of Almería is definitely the highlight of any visit to Almería. Not only does it offer the best views over the city, but on top of that, it will provide you with a unique immersion into Moorish and Andalusian culture. The Alcazaba of Almería is one of the best-preserved forts in Andalusia and that’s one of the reasons why it was used as a setting for Games of Thrones.”
Paulina also offered some top tips for visiting: “My main advice is going early! If you visit the Alcazaba in the early morning, you’ll not only avoid the crowds but also the heavy sun at mid-day. If you don’t want to go too early, I recommend climbing up to the Alcazaba in the late afternoon, when temperatures are milder and enjoy a colourful sunset from the Moorish fort.”
Museum of Almería
No visit to a new city is complete without stopping by its best museums. If the Alcazaba has sparked your interest in Almería, make sure to head to the wonderful Museum of Almería. This museum is home to the region’s largest collection of archaeological remains and, as such, is one of the most important museums around. With priceless treasures from the Copper and Bronze Ages, this is the place to be to get a vivid picture of the city’s past.
Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park
Almería isn’t just about historic gems, of course, as the nearby Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park brings stunning natural scenery to the table. Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park is the largest coastal protected area in Andalucia, featuring wild and rugged landscapes and some of the continent’s oldest features. It is also the only region in Europe with a hot desert climate, so make sure to bring plenty of water! With volcanic rock formations, tall peaks, and beautiful white, sandy beaches, there’s plenty to admire.
Calling the park a haven for nature lovers, Kach and Jonathan, from the travel blog Two Monkeys Travel Group, share more of what visitors can look forward to: “Prepare for a scenic drive along the coast as you get here and brace yourselves for activities such as swimming, hiking, and visiting attractions like fishing villages, lagoons, and the famous lighthouse where you’ll get to see a birds-eye-view of the park.”
AIRE Ancient Baths
After spending the first part of your afternoon exploring Almería’s rugged natural beauty, why not cap things off with a relaxing pampering session at an ancient bathhouse? Found in the city’s old quarter, AIRE Ancient Baths is a symbol of the Arabic influences that permeate the local culture. The site used to be an Arabic souk but has now been restored into beautiful and traditional Roman baths. Here you can enjoy a relaxing massage and even bathe outdoors on the rooftop pool with views of the Alcazaba!
Tara of the travel blog Where is Tara, spoke to us about why she loved visiting the AIRE Ancient Baths: “I absolutely loved AIRE Ancient Baths because it feels like a secret. It’s located in a quiet square off the main thoroughfare and they restrict the number of people that can visit per 90-minute time slot so that it’s never crowded. The saltwater pool was my favourite part, I could happily float there forever. I left feeling completely relaxed and rejuvenated – it’s the perfect activity for a solo traveller visiting the city.”
El Vino en un Barco
Once the sun has begun to set you can start to think about your first evening meal in the city. Almería has plenty to offer in this department but one of the very best restaurants is certainly El Vino en un Barco. Serving up a mixture of Spanish, Mediterranean, and traditional bar cuisine, it is a cosy little joint that is perfect for dining on traditional tapas and chilling out after a day of exploration. With friendly staff and a warm atmosphere, El Vino en un Barcois is ideal for a casual night out.
At the start of your second day in sunny Almería, you can look forward to seeing plenty more of its exquisite attractions. One of these should certainly be Almería Cathedral, the seat of the Diocese of the city of Almería. The cathedral was built all the way back in 1524 and features a combination of Gothic and Renaissance-inspired architecture. Decreed a national historical monument in 1931, this Roman Catholic treasure is absolutely gorgeous and won’t fail to impress with its beautiful façade and interiors.
Tara from Where is Tara has visited the cathedral and spoke to us about what she enjoyed about the experience: “I did enjoy my trip to the cathedral. However, it was a particularly hot day and I wasn’t prepared. I’d definitely recommend wearing a cap and bringing some sunscreen as well as a bottle of water. The views are incredible, so you’ll definitely want to take a camera and/or make sure your phone is fully charged because you’ll be taking lots of photos. The cathedral has a lot of steps and would be a big challenge for anyone less able or in a wheelchair, so that’s something to keep in mind depending on your party.”
Castillo de San Cristobal
When it comes to fortified structures, Almería doesn’t stop with the aforementioned Alcazaba. Cap off your second morning by heading to the Castillo de San Cristobal, perched on a hilltop ringed by ancient ruins of 11th-century protective walls. The old towers showcase the area’s military history, with examples of the different cultures that have claimed the land. With architecture from ancient Muslim rulers and Christian Templars, the Castillo de San Cristobal is a fascinating mix of Almería’s past and also provides excellent views of the city below.
Spanish Civil War Bunkers
As you can see, Almería has a fascinating history and that continued well into the 20th century with the tragic Civil War that occurred. The city’s Spanish Civil War bunkers and tunnels are an interesting and morose glimpse into this time period as this was where citizens would hide from the many bombings that occurred in the 1930s. These 4km of tunnels were rediscovered in 2001 and are now open to the public with a tour available.
Sonja from the travel blog Migrating Miss has visited the tunnels and highly recommends them: “Nothing on the surface of the city belies the experience of Almeria during the Civil War, but visiting the tunnels gives you an understanding of what happened here in the not so distant past, and how the residents were effected. It’s hard to imagine what’s below the main streets without venturing down to see it for yourself.”
Parque de las Familias
If you are visiting Almería with children, then heading over to the popular and much-loved Parque de las Familias is a great idea. This major park is free to enter and is replete with children’s play areas, sports facilities, as well as grass and leafy areas. It’s the perfect spot for kids to burn off some energy while parents relax in the sun. Just be aware that the Almería sun can be rather hot so dependent on the time of year you are visiting, make sure the little ones have plenty of sun cream on.
Now that your 48 hours in Almería is coming to an end, why not finish off your visit with another memorable meal? Bar Casa Puga is one of the most popular spots in the city and highly recommended by visitors and locals alike. This authentic dining experience has been serving the public since 1870, decorated with ancient wine bottles and maps, with a menu of delicious traditional tapas and larger meals.
How to spend 48 hours in Almería
We hope that this guide to the fascinating city of Almería has been an informative one. Fingers crossed you are now inspired to discover the city for yourself and that you might consider visiting some of the incredible locations mentioned above. With its ancient history, top museums, and wonderful natural beautify, Almería is a must for your next Spanish holiday.
For more tips and advice, make sure to read the other guides to Andalucía over on our blog.
Image credit: Shadowgate