Southeast Spain along the Costa de Almeria is an unspoilt paradise. A world away from the high-rise hotel blocks and apartments that are associated with some other coastal areas of Spain, this Costa is subdued and altogether much more inviting. Mile upon mile of sandy beach stretches out along the coastline, truncated ever so often by headlands that crash out into the sea. For discerning families looking for a quiet Spanish holiday getaway, the Costa Almeria is the place to go.
Beyond the beaches
There are a wide variety of places to visit that are within a short drive of the Costa de Almeria coastline. Here are some of the best…
Tabernas – Home to the ‘Westerns’ of the 1960s and 1970s, Tabernas is formed of desert-like rocky outcrops and canyons that have played host to some of the most memorable movies of this era. Clint Eastwood’s A Fist Full of Dollars, A Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad & The Ugly were filmed here, as was The Magnificent Seven. The movie sets (there are three ‘wild west’ towns to visit) are now tourist attractions, with live wild west shows, stagecoach rides and working saloon bars to enjoy.
Calar Alto Observatory – The province of Almeria lays claim to one of the sunniest spots in Europe. On average there are over 3100 hours of sunshine to be had in the area each year. Taking advantage of the exceptionally clear skies in this part of Spain is the Calar Alto Observatory – a collection of five giant telescopes, three of which are operated by the Max-Plank Institute in Germany. Although chiefly a scientific research establishment the white telescope domes are a spectacular sight at any time of the day or on a moonlit night. It is also possible to arrange visits to one or more of the domes by appointment in the Sierra de los Filabres.
Sierra Nevada Mountains – When on the Costa de Almeria you cannot fail to notice the magnificent peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the west of the province. Snow capped for some six months of the year, the Sierra Nevada Mountain range is an all-year-round paradise. During the summer and autumn, hiking is the #1 activity, the mountainside yielding a fine network of paths to explore. During the winter and spring the Sierra Nevada becomes Europe’s most southerly ski resort.
Granada – A short distance downslope from the Sierra Nevada mountains is the beautiful town of Granada and its most famous of attractions – the Alhambra. A palace residence of Moslem kings that dates back to the 9th century, the Alhambra is a fortress (alcazaba), palace (alcazar) and a city (medina) all rolled into one.
Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park – On the south-easternmost tip of Almeria is the 29,000-hectare Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park. Pristine beaches, jagged cliffs, salt flats and lagoons await all who explore this natural paradise. With eagles, peregrines, cormorants and razorbills on show, this is the place to come if you enjoy wildlife.
Getting to Southeast Spain
Travelers should opt to fly into Almeria City airport on the Costa de Almeria coast. Car hire can be booked in advance for pick up from the airport upon your arrival. Visit http://www.your-carhire.com.