A Couchsurfer’s Guide to… Almería

The white town of San Jose in Almeria, Spain By h3c7orC/shutterstock

Best breakfast in town!
Locals in Almería never have breakfast at home. It’s typical to go out for breakfast because it’s ridiculously cheap there. They usually eat a “tostada” and the most popular ones are “tostada con jamón y tomate” or “tostada con atún y queso”. Remember that you must order “media tostada” if you want only one because if you say “a tostada” they serve you two pieces of bread which is actually too much for one person.

Tostada con jamon y tomate by Isaphoto2016/shutterstock

Cute cafe!
The cutest café for me is located in an oasis in the middle of the desert. It’s a one hour drive from the city. You need to go to the town Los Molinos del Río Aguas. In there you can find an Eco Village, a very interesting place to visit and there is an eco-bar also. This place is special because the owners of the café live there with no water or electricity. Ask them how to go to La Poza and they will show you how to arrive to a natural lake that they have in town (it provides water for them). This is the only natural lake of water that comes from the inside of the Earth in that area, a real oasis in the middle of the desert. You can swim there but don’t get scared of the turtles who live inside.

Where to sweat!
If you want to run, El Paseo goes along the beach and is the best place. From May to October it’s quite hot there so you can go for a swim after running. After that, you can relax in “Parque de la Familia”, the most popular park in Almería full of curious attractions and performances.

El Paseo in Almería by chrupka/shutterstock

A museum not to miss!
The region of Almería was once part of the sea and it has a lot of remains that show how the water shaped the Earth in the area. A good example to learn about this is Museo de las Cuevas de Sorbas. It’s a one hour drive from the city but it’s totally worth it because if you are the adventurous kind you won’t only visit the museum, but will be allowed to join an expedition to the inside of a real cave, and you can choose your own difficulty level!

Best day trip!
The best day trip is to Cabo de Gata on the coast. Cabo de Gata is a natural reserve where you can visit old volcanoes, nature and some of the most beautiful beaches in the area. You can drive to San José and visit the village or have a swim and then move on to La Isleta del Moro and walk the natural paths available there until you arrive to the old volcanoes. The views are stunning because there are no plants and you will feel as if you are completely alone there. Please, be very careful because the area is a desert and you need to be ready for the heat and the lack of water.

Cabo de Gata by lunamarina/shutterstock

Best quick bite!
Go for tapas at any bar but out of the centre. There they serve you a free tapa with your drink (usually beer). Tapas are very typical in this region and it is recommended you also try places in little towns on the outskirts of Almería. In towns is where they serve the biggest amount of food per drink. Avoid towns near the seaside, they are tourist traps.

One experience not to miss!
One of the most important attractions near Almería is the Mini Hollywood located in Tabernas, in the middle of the desert. It is a reserve of animals and it’s also famous because it’s a film studio, now almost abandoned. Many Spanish western films were recorded here and you can still see performances at certain hours. If you want, you can also apply for the guided tour inside the western village. The landscape is amazing, you are really in the middle of the desert. It’s a bit expensive to enter though (20€), so make sure you are a real fan of it before going.

Old Spaghetti Westerns film set in Tabernas by StevanZZ/shutterstock

The perfect picture!
You can get the best view of the city from the Alcazaba which is the highest point in the city. Alcazaba is an old Arabic castle that you can visit for free or you can ask for a guided visit. They also recorded some parts of the series Game of Thrones here in case you are a fan!

The Alcazaba of Almeria By nito/shutterstock

A tourist-trap to avoid!
In tourist guides they highlight the town of Aguadulce as one of the places you must visit, but the truth is that you will find a town full of hotels with nothing to offer besides the beach and restaurants. You can find those elsewhere with better quality and lower prices.

Another place to avoid is Mojacar. The town on top of the mountain is beautiful and really worth a visit, but there is the so-called “Mojacar playa” where I wouldn’t go. You can find lots of beaches with better quality and less crowds. Also you will skip the traffic jams there (they are terrible as the town is not ready to welcome so many people.)

The mountain town of Mojacar by Fotomicar/shutterstock

Local advice to travelers!
The truth is Almería city has little to offer if you are a traveller. The hidden gems are out of the city so you’d better hire a car if you don’t have one. Buses don’t go everywhere you should visit, but they are also a good option for day trips. Always make sure you know their schedule or you will be left stranded in the middle of nowhere. Almería region is quite an isolated place but everyone will be willing to help and people are extremely friendly. Don’t hesitate to ask locals any questions.

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