"The Costa de Almeria promises crowd-free sands, laid-back resorts and easy access to the Alhambra Palace."
The Costa de Almeria is tucked into Spain’s south east corner, between the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. This place missed out on the 1960s holiday boom that hit the other Costas, because of its poor road connections. As a result, it’s far less touristy than its high-rise neighbours. You’ll find quiet resorts, traditional whitewashed villages and beaches untouched by the holidaymaking masses.
The main resort here is Roquetas De Mar. It’s a seaside town with a wide belt of golden sand running alongside it. It used to be a sleepy fishing village, although these days there’s a lot more going on. You’ll find everything from swish shopping malls to seafront restaurants and British-style pubs.
When it comes to days out, the Costa de Almeria has no end of attractions. Just up the coast from Roquetas De Mar is the port city of Almeria, where you’ll find tree-lined boulevards and chic boutiques, all watched over by an Arab fortress. Wildlife fans should head for one of the area’s natural parks – Cabo de Gata is one of the best. Granada, home to the impressive Alhambra Palace, is just a couple of hours away, too.
Sheltered from the tourist boom that hit the rest of the Costas in the 1960s by poor roads, the Costa de Almeria has now become a unique stretch of Spanish coast, with white-washed buildings instead of high-rise hotels and some of the most relaxed, least busy beaches in Spain. Sandwiched between the mountains and Mediterranean, all the coast’s resorts enjoy spectacular settings, as well as the longest and hottest summers in the country.
Almeria, the region’s capital, was once one of the wealthiest cities in Spain, though little remains to remind us of that. This modern town boasts some impressive and strange sights – the fortified Cathedral and the ‘cave quarter’, the Barrio de la Chanca, are not things you’d find in every city. Set beneath a mountain, Almeria is overlooked by the Moorish fortress that offers fantastic views across the town and out to sea.
To the west and east of Almeria, half-abandoned fishing villages have now become flourishing resorts. Mojacar and Roquetas De Mar are probably the most developed of these, with fine beaches, palm lined promenades and seafronts full of restaurants and lively bars. Wherever you choose as your base on this pretty coast, you’ll have a wealth of beaches close to hand. Travel inland and the scenery may begin to look familiar. The mountains that dominate the landscape and the almost lunar-like expanses of the Tabernas Desert have appeared in many films, including the spaghetti westerns, Lawrence of Arabia and Indiana Jones.
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Resorts in Costa De Almeria include Roquetas De Mar.
Looking for holidays in Spain? Our Spain holiday destinations include Andalucia, Costa Blanca, Costa Brava, Costa De Almeria, Costa De La Luz, Costa Del Sol, Costa Dorada, Formentera, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Ibiza, La Gomera, La Palma, Lanzarote, Majorca, Menorca and Tenerife.
If the idea of nose-to-nose sunbeds fills you with dread, you’ll love this part of Spain. While this particular Costa is big on sand, it’s pretty low on the holiday hordes compared to some its siblings. So all along its shores you’ll find fantastic beaches and coves with plenty of space to set up that sunshade. Take Mojacar. Its got several beaches to its name, running the full spectrum from buzzing and developed to secluded and solitary. So it’s a matter of eeny-meeny-miny-mo depending on your mood. For a classic fix of sun, sea and fun, hotfoot it to the main beach. Bordered by a café-lined promenade and watersports rentals, it offers mile upon mile of caramel-coloured sands and pebbles. For something quieter, there are some fantastic off-the-beaten track swathes to consider. Head a little out of town and you’ll discover cliff-framed coves and sandy strips made for undisturbed lounging. It’s a similar story in Carboneras. As well as a fantastic main beach, it’s bordered by quiet bays perfect for snoozing against a backdrop of dusty hills and blue seas. Then there’s Roquetas de Mar. Its two-mile ribbon of sand and shingle is one of the best on the Costa and glides into gentle waves. Better still, it’s hardly ever crowded, so there’s always room to stake out your territory. And wherever you plant yourself here, you’re never far from a ‘chiringuito’ beach bar or a watersports centre. One last tip. If you’re still in solitude-seeking mode, strike out for the Cabo de Gata National Park. Clasped between ochre hills, this rugged chunk of coastline is criss-crossed with creeks, sandbars and tranquil coves. It’s wonderfully wild and deserted.
The Costa de Almeria is down-to-earth when it comes to shopping. Because it’s less developed than many of Spain’s Costas, expensive designer shops and chi-chi boutiques aren’t really its bag. That said, there’s still more than enough to keep souvenir-hunters and fashion-followers on their toes. For touristy bits and pieces, Roquetas de Mar is your best bet. Around its seafront and centre, you’ll find scores of stores selling Andalucian gifts like senorita fans, leather bags and jauntily painted ceramics. If it’s clothes you’re after, make tracks to Roquetas’ Gran Plaza. This glitzy new mall has more than enough UK and Spanish fashion chains to have your suitcase bulging on your return trip. And don’t miss the town’s open-air market. A colourful circus of curios, it’s great for bargain-hunters and rolls into the main square every Thursday. Mojacar’s good for a shot of retail therapy as well. Just head to the waterfront and spend a morning poking through the souvenir shops selling everything from postcards to hand-painted pottery. And for something a bit more sophisticated, check out the Parque Commercial. This mall may be small but it’s big on beachwear boutiques and arty gift outlets. For serious shopping splurges though, it has to be Almeria, and the Paseo de Almeria in particular. This elegant tree-lined boulevard is lined with high fashion boutiques and designer stores. Alternatively, go rustic and head for the hills. When it comes to finding genuine Andalucian crafts, villages like Nijar, Sorbas and Vicar are absolute goldmines. Scour their workshops and outdoor markets and you’ll come back laden with handicrafts. Pick up a dish still warm from the potters’ ovens of Sorbas or snap up a straw sunhat from the Sunday market in Vicar.