“ Country: Spain / Country Region: Costa de Almeria / World Region: Europe „
I went to almeria a few years ago and I am soon happy to be going back again! My first experience though, the second I got off the plane (flying from uk) the heat hit me, felt like walking into a greenhouse, you do get used to the heat very quickly though so that's not an issue. The airport is small and not very populated. Now I stayed in a friends house in a town called oria, it was right up in one of the many mountains of Almeria. The place itself is very empty many areas where it's just desert and mountains! There are many places you can visit, there's many beaches nearby and a lovely attraction known as mini Hollywood! I would strongly suggest this place, lovely family place all you ca eat buffets, live shows and an entire zoo attached to it. All the locals are friendly and general attractions are good. There's no lack of restaurants and cafe's either! Every few miles I saw little cafes. We ate at several restaraunts too, all of which had fantastic service. Only down side which is not something that can be changed is not very many places speak English as well, there are a few tourist attractions where they do, but otherwise it helps to know someone who does. In some places you may also have to be careful of tap water, I know we had to collect it from a fountain. You can bath in it but it's not safe to drink. It's a lovely experience though and I prefer mountain spring water fresh and without having to pay for it in a bottle! Overall it's a lovely quiet holiday location for families and even singles, I'm sure there's plenty of clubs too but I never visited any so I can't comment on those.
I have been visiting the Costa de Almeria for many years now with my family, and Almeria airport is the most convenient, but is also accessible from Murcia and the larger Alicante airport, where there are more abundant flights from the UK.
The particular area I visit is a section of the coast between Peurto del Rey and Mojacar, including nearby Garrucha and Vera. Mojacar is the ideal holiday destination, with hotels from large package types on the beach front to smaller boutique hotels in the village itself. The Moorish village of Mojacar is a short distance from the beach on a hillside, with a charming ancient layout of narrow winding roads and wonderful shops and cafes tucked away. The beach front, Mojacar Playa, is a very active community, home brilliant bars and restaurants, and I certainly recommend 'Badgers', a lovely family restaurant owned by British expats.
In summary, Mojacar has everything for the British holiday maker; beutiful beach, English speaking restaurants, and a rich history and culture.
We were flying in to land at Almeria airport, abelow was a carpet of white which on closer inspection were plastic greenhouse. As the Almeria area is a big producer of tomatoes, Bananas and other fruits. Upon arrival in the airpot which is very small and basic with only four carosels for lugage. Once we had collected all our cases and hire car we were on the road driving in Spain is fairly easy as long as you remember to drive on the wrong side of the road. We had rent an apartment in Mojocar Playa (mo-hac-R) which is set a long a beach which has a mixture of sand and shingle still great for kids to play on. the apartment was £300 per week in October half term for 6 people. the apartment was well equiped with air con, washing machine fully fitted kitchen and bathroom. The beach front area which runs for miles up to Vera in the north down to just south of Mojocar playa. All along this area there are many resturants and bars with a good sprinkling of shops. this area is popular with ex-pats so you'll always find an english paper and baked beans, but don't let that put you off. The are some resturants that are closed at that time of the year but we didn't have any problems finding different places to eat in the evening. The weather was warm and we could wear shorts and tops during the day easily but, did need a carrdigan in the evenings. We visited a small local typical spanish village called Mojocar Pueplo (Village) this is typical spanish village huging the mountain side with little winding streets and a view to savour. We had lunch at a balcony resturant with seating that looked out arcoss the valley. Here we had a traditional Tapas, with fresh bread and alijoi (Garlic Mayo) olives. patas bravas, lomo & pinchos and lovley Rosa wine. Although many people speack English it does help to try and speak a little Spanish when you can. if possible try and get to the local markets for they have a great aray of foods worth looking at alone.
In October 2005, I was fortunate enough to take a short break to Roquetas-De-Mar, which is part of the Costa de Almeria region of Spain.
Although we were only there for a week, I'd like to share some of my experiences with you in the hope that it may prove useful should you be considering visiting this area in Southern Spain.
Almeria is a city and region on the South West Coast of Spain, with long stretches of over 200km of coastline stretching along the Alboran Sea (which is part of the Mediterranean Sea.)
The name, Almeria, is derived from the Arabic term "al-Meraya" - meaning "Watchtower" - which is due to the amazing Moorish castle in the region.
The province has a colourful history that dates back to the Bronze age, and is associated with the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Visigoths and Arabs in latter times.
The landscape in this area is amazing - as you fly into Almeria, you'll notice the huge mountain ranges of the Gádor mountains. It is a very dry region, and much of the landscape is rocky desert.
The region also boasts three natural parks - Cabo de Gata-Níjar, Sierra María-Los Vélez and Sierra Nevada, with an average area of over 30,000 hectares.
Almeria is a very wealthy region, with three main industries - Agriculture, Marble and Tourism.
Almeria is a huge exporter of fruit which is grown in plastic greenhouses. Much of this ends up in the English supermarkets such as Tesco.
Stone extraction has dramatically increased over the past few years, and the beautiful marble can be seen in many cities all over the world.
Finally, Tourism - traditionally Almeria has been the retreat of choice for Spanish residents who are looking to take a break. Over the past few years, the area has actively been attracting tourism - primarily from Germany, but now looking towards the British holidaymakers.
There are many scheduled and charter airlines that fly to Almeria, including Iberia, Air France, Spanair, Lufthansa and First Choice Airlines.
We booked a package holiday, and flew with First Choice Airlines from London Gatwick.
Flying time is around two and a half hours, and will take you over the south coast of England, across the English Channel, flying over France and finally into Spain.
As you approach Almeria, you will notice the rugged, mountainous landscape and clear blue rivers in steep sided canyons.
Almeria airport is actually a military airfield that is shared by civillian traffic. It boasts the longest runway in Spain, and is a designated landing strip for the Space Shuttle !
As you land, you will see the clear blue sea that runs right alongside the runway - this could be a bit disconcerting for the uneasy flyer !
After landing, you will have to take a short walk to the terminal building. It can be very windy, as the wind blows strongly off the sea, and is enhanced by the jets from the aircraft on the apron.
By the time you get into the terminal, your bags will probably already be going around on the carosel - we only had to wait about five minutes before ours appeared !
The airport is small, but well run. There are a few small shops, a decent cafe and a small duty free shop.
Checking in again for the flight home is not so well organised - it took around 90 minutes of queueing before we got to the front of the queue (and we were quite early arriving !). There were other check in desks open for other airlines, yet there was no one queueing there. Rather than help with our queue, the staff just stood around talking ! This was very frustrating !
Upon leaving the airport, you are greeted with sunshine and palm trees.
Where To Stay:
The region is under heavy development, with hotels, apartments, timeshares and housing being built everywhere.
In general, there are four main areas to stay - Almeria, Aguadulce, Roquetas-De-Mar and Almerimar.
We chose to stay in Roquetas-De-Mar - a popular resort with tourists. Roquetas-De-Mar used to be a sleepy fishing village, but has changed over the past few years to accomodate a growing number of tourists to the area.
This town is spread over three areas that stretches around 7 miles along the coast.
There are literally loads of hotels to choose from, ranging from two star up to five star (and plenty more hotels are under construction !).
We stayed in the four star "Arena Centre Hotel", situated at the bottom end of the resort.
The Arena Centre is located about 200 meters from the beach. It is a comforable complex with large rooms, two swimming pools, sauna, jacuzzi, gym and large reception area.
The rooms are big, have loads of facillities (such as kettle, fridge freezer, cutlery, bath, shower and even a bidet !). The room also has a television with about 30 channels... but be warned - there are only two english channels available - Eurosport and BBC World. All the other channels are in German or Spanish !
This is also reflected in the food at the complex, should you choose to travel on a half board basis. Virtually every meal was aimed at the Spanish or German guests, which will not suit everyone !
The staff were friendly, and most spoke fairly good English. However, I would not actually recommend this complex to potential guests. At the time of our visit, most of the well equipped gymnasium equipment was out of order - with only about 2 machines that were working. The sauna and jacuzzi would have been nice... except that there was a charge of 12 Euros (£9.00) per person for half an hour !
There was a pool table and games room for younger guests, however the charge for using these was around £1.50 per game.
Entertainment at the hotel was very limited, and what little there was came to an abrupt end at midnight. Also, much of the entertainment was spoken in the Spanish language.
The Resort of Roquetas-De-Mar
The resort, indeed the whole region, would not be suitable for famillies with younger children. Neither would it be suitable for people looking for exciting nightlife - there are very few clubs around. However, for someone like myself who was looking for a quiet, relaxing holiday, this was a major advantage. There are plenty of bars and resturants offering a large range of foods.
There are far too many bars to mention, or indeed to try in a one week stay, however I would like to recomend a couple that we frequented...
If you are pining for some good old English food and drink, you can head down to the numerous English bars along the main strip. We chose the "Highlander Bar" - a scottish bar who serve burger and chips, roast dinners, fish and chips and pies with mash !! You can also get brands of beer that you will be familliar with, such as Tetley's and Carling - these do cost more, however, than the branded spanish beers such as San Miguel.
It will cost you around £4.00 for a typical british meal.
For a friendly bar, with a distinctly Spanish feel, you just can't beat "Coco Hut", again in Roquetas-De-Mar.
With both inside and outdoor seating in a relaxing environment, and fantastic table service, you will feel very welcome here.
This small, family run bar offers a wide range of both branded, international drinks, along with local varieties. You will get the typical Spanish measures here - typically around three or four times an English measure ! As they get to know you, they may even leave the bottle at your table. Approximately every half and hour, one of the bar staff will bring round a tray of fresh fruit - coconut, strawberries, grapes and pineapple - from which you can take your pick. You will also be supplied with crisps with each round of drinks ordered.
The bar has three televisions, and will show most sporting fixtures - including English Premiership matches.
At the end of the evening, you ask for your bill, which will come along with a round of complimentary drinks - usually shots.
We spent virtually every evening of our stay in this bar, and got to know the bar staff really well. On one occasion, we were in the Coco Hut from 7pm until 2am. When we asked for the bill at the end of the night, the owners nephew, "Manwell", said... "Ah, tonight for you, drinks on the house" ! We thought that he was joking - he had a wicked sense of humor - but after we checked with another member of staff, we found out that he was being serious ! We gave him a nice tip at the end of our holiday though !
Located in the middle of the resort is an English bar called "Theos". This is a typically English pub, with some real characters to be found there. They have some great traditional entertainment such as pub quizes, karaoke and comedy drag acts. This is a good night out, however we did find that in here drinks were much more expensive, and you generally only got English measures !
Where to visit:
Wherever you stay in Almeria, you should pay a visit to the main city. It's main street is lined with shops selling a range of items, and it has loads of alleyways and back streets with smaller shops.
The main shopping street is on a fairly steep hill, however, so older travellers or those who have difficulty with hills should take note.
Of course, if you are not interested in the shops, you can also visit the old castle in Almeria. We did not actually visit this, but were informed that it is a popular and interesting visitor attraction.
The bus from Roquetas-De-Mar will cost about £2.00, and takes around 50 minutes to reach.
The shops in Almeria are smaller independent stores. If you prefer something a bit more modern, there is a new shopping mall called "Gran Plaza". This is located on the main road between Roquetas and Almeria, and again is easily reached by bus.
Gran Plaza has a large range of Spanish chain stores, and international resturant chains such as Burger King and Pizza Hut.
We opted for the Hollywood resturant, to satisfy our craving for burger and chips. They offer menus in both Spanish and English, so this is a plus point, and their prices are not too bad either. An important point to note, however, is that when you order your burger, they will ask how you like it. I ordered mine as "well done", but despite this when I cut into it, it was red raw in the middle. Even after sending it back (and to their credit I got a totally new burger), it was still reddish in places. I guess that the spanish like their burgers rare !
There are quite a few excursions on offer to interested parties, but these are not available all year round, and not from all resorts in Almeria.
One that we did book up to do was a half day sail boat excursion. This offered an on board BBQ, the chance to swim in the sea and a relaxing sail on the clear blue waters. This cost around £25.
Unfortunately on the day of the excursion, there was quite a bit of cloud, so the trip was called off. We were a bit disappointed, and had a hunch that it was really cancelled due to lack of interest !
There were others on offer, that we did not go on due to lack of time, but the following sounded very appealing...
For around £40, you could go on a day trip to Grenada - the 8th wonder of the world. Grenada is a stunning city with a rich history, and would have been a whole day out.
You could also visit the Sierra Nevada - a national reserve set high in the mountains. On this full day trip, you'd get to see the unique cave houses in Guadix and the beautiful Cathederal. The region is often blanketed in snow, as it it so high up. This trip will only set you back around £20.
For the more adventurous, there is an off-road discovery tour in a 4x4. This half-day trip travels through the mountains and deserts with a qualified off-road driver. This seems to be a bargain at just £20.
Almeria was the home of legendary film director Sergio Leone, who directed classic westerns such as "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly", "A Fistful of Dollars" and "For A Few Dollars More". As such, there is a park dedicated to this, and you can spend a day at a western town. You can drink in the bar, have a proper western BBQ, watch shootouts performed by stuntmen or watch girls performing the can-can.
A new excursion this year is a day trip to the Terra Mitica theme park in Benidorm. With rides to suit all tastes, resturants and shows, it is an action packed day out.
Closer to the resort location is "Mariopark" or the Vera Waterpark. Despite the name, this is not a themepark dedicated to Nintendo, but a waterpark with pools, flumes and slides for all the family. Again this is a seasonal attraction that was not open when we went, but is popular with locals and tourists alike.
Almeria, and the resort of Roquetas-De-Mar will not appeal to everyone. It is generally an older travellers location, or those who like quieter holidays.
Overall, we did have a nice time - although if we went again we would definately go self catering, as the hotel food was not of the highest quality, and only had a limited selection.
One of the nice things about this resort compared to many other Spanish locaions is that there were no beggers, no timeshare salespeople and very few "looky-looky" sellers. Of course, this may again be affected by the time of year that we went.
Should you choose to visit, you will find the cost of living relatively cheap out there. With the current exchange rate of around 1.4 euros to the pound, this makes the cost of a pint of beer around £1.20, and a standard three course meal around £8.00. There are plenty of supermarkets around, where you can buy branded drinks at around a 30% saving to UK prices. Locally produced foods are very cheap, whilst UK items will cost more than they do over here.
The beaches are long, with clear blue sea splashing up on the shores. There is a very fine shingle on the beach - it looks as though it want's to be sand when it grows up !! It's not to sharp, and the children can build sandcastles and play in it with no problems.
The beaches are cleaned on a daily basis, and tractors rake up any seaweed that may have washed ashore every morning. There are loads and loads of sunbed vendors along the beach during high season, and every few hundred yards there are open showers to wash of any sand.
There is an excellent bus service, which is really cheap - a fraction of the cost of travelling by bus in the UK ! They run frequently, and are well maintained. However, some of the buses get VERY busy - quite often they were full to capacity and you'd end up either standing or having some fat sweaty bloke standing next to you. The drivers are generally friendly, although some only speak very limited English, so communication can be a problem.
I'd certainly recommend learning the basics of Spanish before visiting - even if it's just numbers and greetings !
One important thing to mention is the flies !! Because of the intensive fruit crops, Almeria does suffer from a lot of fruit flies. I had read reports of this before, and I was a bit worried about it, however they are not vicious ones... just an annoyance. There were quite a few, but I was anticipating much worse. During the course of our stay, I wasn't bitten once !
As I've mentioned above, the resort is expanding at a very dramatic pace. Everywhere we went we saw new hotels and apartments under construction. Whilst this will undoubtadly draw more tourists to the area, and spoil the local Spanish feel of the place, it will also bring new venues and things to see and do. Whether this is good or bad will depend on your point of view.
Another major attraction in Almeria are the golf courses. Even though there are many around, there are still lots more being built - and this will appeal to golfers.
Would I go back there ? I'd would like to go back in the future, but not for a few years. I'd be interested to see what difference the new developments have made, and I'd like to go back to the Coco Hut bar - we made some really good friends there !!