When you imagine a holiday in Spain, you likely visualise the clustered beaches of Costa del Sol, with ruddied red tourists sprawled on their backs letting the sunshine do the talking. Maybe you visualise the fantastic food or stunning architecture, but one thing’s for sure. With Spain now the world’s second most visited holiday destination after France, there’s hustle and bustle here all year round.
Luckily, that’s alleviated somewhat in gorgeous Costa Almeria. Unspoilt is definitely the word to describe this sweeping shoreline in the south, making it the jewel of Andalucia. You can expect a great mix of landscapes, from arid sand dunes to lush rolling meadows, and there are plenty of places here well worth stopping by.
Where to visit
The appeal of Costa Almeria is that, while it’s a welcoming place for tourists to visit, it’s largely escaped being somewhere where legions of hotels and resorts gather. There are a few areas worth checking out whilst you’re here.
Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park
While most of Costa Almeria is beautifully wild, this 340 square kilometre natural park preserves both land and sea alike. Gorgeous natural beaches are punctuated by great rugged rocks jutting up from the sea, formed countless ages ago by volcanic activity. There’s a primal beauty to this place that attracts all kinds of marine wildlife, as well as colourful birds and cute creatures. Further inland, the terrain sweeps into an arid yet starkly beautiful environment rich in wide open spaces, and is once again a haven for animal lovers.
Yet while this place is rightfully recognised as one of the best natural parks in Spain, Cabo de Gata-Nijar also houses some cute little towns and a long forgotten mining legacy. Visit Nijar to see small town Spain at its sweetest, untouched by mainstream tourism.
Many of the most popular beaches in Costa Almeria rest around the fringes of San Jose. The town is pale and inviting in its own right, but the beaches around here have plenty of natural charm. The likes of Playa de Monsul, a sandy strip of shoreline with massive lava rock formations, have appeared in films like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Elsewhere in the area, you’ll find Playa de los Genoveses, a kilometre of beach that takes its name from the historic landing of the Genoese Navy in centuries past. And if more secluded beach escapes are your style, head a little further afield to the Calas de Barronal. That’s a gathering of beaches here that are easily accessed in low tide, but secluded enough that you might just have them all to yourself.
While the natural beauty of Costa Almeria is one thing, the city of Almeria itself is quite another. It’s a gorgeous example of architecture and classic Spanish style, much in the vein of Seville but, once again, without the crowds. While tourism in Almeria City is growing, there’s still a big opportunity now to see it before the tourism industry catches up to it.
You can experience the beauty of museums and parks here, as well as the good looks of Almeria Cathedral. However, the city also hosts the Arabic fortress of Alcabaza in the north, and further north still is the dramatic sweep of a mountain range that shows how Costa Almeria loves to live in harmony with nature. It’s definitely worth visiting for a day break during your stay.