the best day trips from Almeria Tabernas Desert

The Best Day Trips from Almeria

Almeria is a city located in southeast Spain. It faces the busy Mediteranean Sea, well-known for various trading routes and it’s a popular place for sun worshippers and tapas lovers. Almeria’s crowning glory is a stunning Moorish fortress and the unique and fortified 16th-century Almeria Cathedral comes a close second.  And then there’s the tapas, which are truly fabulous here.  However, Almeria is not a big city. While there are plenty of interesting things to do here, it’s clear that you could find yourself with spare time on your visit here.  Luckily Almeria’s location and excellent road and public transit network make it easy to explore the area.  Here are our recommendations for the best day trips from Almeria.

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#1 DAY TRIP

The Alhambra

Visit the Alhambra & Granada

The Alhambra is a truly spectacular and unforgettable experience, and this day trip from Almeria is both highly rated and an amazing trip.

The Top Day Trips from Almeria

The top day trips from Almeria include visiting a desert, exploring national parks, seeing more of the nearby coastline, and even checking out theme parks.  There’s also a visit to the absolute star of Andalusia, the Alhambra, and Granada.  These Almeria day trips are perfect if you love exploring the outdoors, seeing stunning (and very different) impressive scenery, and getting away from the city.

1. Visit the Alhambra in Granada on a day trip from Almeria

Known as the jewel of Andalusia, the Alhambra is a beautiful fortified Moorish complex that houses not just one palace but 3 palaces and half a dozen towers.   This UNESCO World Heritage site is around 200 kilometers (124 miles) from Almeria and was a palace-fortress of the Nasrid Dynasty in the 13th and 14th centuries.  It fell into disrepair after the restoration of the Catholic monarchs and it wasn’t until 1832, with the publication of “Tales of the Alhambra” by American short-story writer, essayist, biographer, historian, and diplomat Irving Washington, that the Alhambra was rediscovered.  It’s been a national Spanish monument since 1870 and listed by UNESCO since 1984. 

The Alhambra

If you’re heading to Granada separately, then spend an entire day (or longer) there. 

A key point for visiting the Alhambra is that you can’t just rock up and expect to buy a ticket at the door – they sell out every day –you MUST buy your ticket in advance, especially if you’re wanting to visit the Nasrid Palace (don’t miss it!), then you need a timed ticket for entrance.

If you’re reading this and you HAVE NOT booked your Alhambra ticket, then you have two options.

  1. Book a tour to Granada from Almeria – tour agencies buy up tickets that include entrance to the Alhambra.
  2. Buy a Granada Pass – these include Alhambra entrance tickets – again they are dated and timed.

The Alhambra includes a variety of glorious colorful gardens and a unique reflection pool, incredible views over the city, and stunning architecture.  This fortress-castle complex is located in Granada, a city about 2 hours northwest of Almeria.  It’s definitely worth a day trip from Almeria, though. Alhambra is the most popular site to visit in Spain. You can easily spend at least a day in the complex, exploring every nook and cranny.

Almeria and Granada are conveniently connected by Spain’s transit system  You can take either a bus or a train.  (although both are located a short distance from the Alhambra when you arrive in Granada).  The Alsa bus goes from Almeria to Granada Bus Station, with a travel time of 2 hours, costing about 32 euros for a round-trip ticket. Reserve a bus ticket from Almeria to Granada here

Trains take slightly longer.  As with all transit in Spain, book early for the best prices.  Check train prices for Almeria to Granada here

You’ll need to take a taxi from the bus or train station to the Alhambra, otherwise, you’re looking at a walk of about 45-60 minutes to get to the entrance. 

While visiting the Alhambra on public transport for a day trip is doable, you’ll want to get there early and stay late to make the most of your day.  You can also drive from Almeria to Granada in around two hours.  There’s parking at the entrance to the Alhambra, but with limited time you don’t want to be messing around with parking in the city, just get straight to the closest parking to the Alhambra.

If all you have is a day to visit then I’d recommend taking a tour – it’s much, much quicker to get there, which means you’ll have more time and a much better experience.  There are fabulous views on the route from Almeria to Granada, which you can obviously enjoy if you’re not driving too!  This tour actually takes you on the scenic route along the coast, and the southern road approaching the foothills of Sierra Nevada.   There’s no need to join any lines either,  as well as round-trip transport, and a local guide that provides history, anecdotes, and stories; the all important entrance to Alhambra is also included.  This tour of the Alhambra and Granada from Almeria is a great option.

2. Visit the Tabernas Desert on a Day Trip from Almeria

While you’re staying in Almeria, it’s the perfect opportunity to visit Europe’s only desert. The Tabernas Desert is a semi-arid desert that has a semi-dry climate but which can still be humid during specific seasons. This desert region receives only 250 millimeters (9.84 inches) of rain each year.

The desert here is exactly like you imagined it, fuelled by the spaghetti westerns of old.  You know the ones, where there are broken down towns of wooden buildings, tumbleweeds blowing through.  Well, the reason it’s like you imagined it, is because the Tabernas Desert WAS in those movies!  The film sets are now a couple of mini-theme parks. And yes, you can visit them.

The Tabernas Desert

El Desierto Tabernas is only 30 kilometers (18.64) directly north of Almeria, and if you take the train from Almeria to Granada, then you’ll pass through it. You can get to the Tabernas Desert from Almeria easily by car. Driving from Almeria to the Tabernas Desert takes around half an hour.  Take the A-92 and then the N-340a  to get to the town of Tabernas.

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You can also take the Alsa bus, which leaves from Almeria’s combined Bus & Train Station. The travel time from Almeria to Tabernas town is 40 minutes, and the bus is scheduled to go six times a day. The bus ticket costs 3 Euros per person, one way. You can reserve a ticket (and choose your seat) here.

There are several historic buildings in the center of Tabernas town that are worth taking a look at, like the church of our Lady of the Incarnation which is an Asset of Cultural Interest, but the best place to head for is the Terrera Ventura interpretation center.  It’s here that you can learn about the ancient civilization that made the Tabernas desert their home more than 3,000 years ago.  The interpretation center also explores the formation of the Tabernas Desert and you’ll find out why it’s unique.  Before leaving Tabernas town head to the 6th-century castle, built by the Moors, it has spectacular views of both the desert and the Filabres and Alhamilla mountain ranges.  There’s more about the Tabernas Desert on the government site here.

The area of the Tabernas was made famous by the 1965 movie “For a Few Dollars More”, and then “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” which came along in 1966.  If you visit the sea and the Oasys theme park, see if you can spot some of the buildings that were used in the movies.  (The film museum and the carriage museum here might give you a few clues!)  Tabernas was also used to shoot scenes from Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Cleopatra (1963), and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).

The theme park – Oasys MiniHollywood – started as the facades of buildings for the movie sets, but as the Tabernas area became more famous entire buildings were built around the facades.  And this very definitely feels Spaghetti Western-like.  Today you can check out the town, there’s a bank, the sheriff’s office, a funeral home, the telegraph office, and of course a saloon.   Chuck in a few dueling gunfighters and can-can showgirls and you’ll feel as though you really have wandered into a movie set.  It’s great fun.

Mini Hollywood near Almeria

The other theme park to visit here is Fort Bravo – aka Texas Hollywood, which has a lot of the same features and activities as Oasys.  Both parks are open every day from 9:00 until 18:00 – and the shows take place at specific times during the day.

If you prefer to take a trip that includes transport, then you have several options for visiting.

You can visit Fort Bravo, Tabernas, and the desert easily on a 7-hour day trip from AlmeriaThis option includes transport, a local (English-speaking) guide, entrance tickets, and a horse and cart ride. 

To head to Fort Bravo for the day and spend the whole day in the Wild West of Texas Hollywood,  then mosey on over here, and reserve your spot. 

If you’d like to combine the Wild West with chilling out in a water park after all the excitement of the West, then you should head to the Oasys Mini Hollywood, where your ticket includes entry to the wild west shows, the Oasys Zoo, and the water park.  You can book tickets here.

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Final Words on the Best Day Trips from Almeria

Almeria is a great place for a little downtime, great tapas, and sunshine (although I wouldn’t want to be here in the heat of summer!).  But once you’re done exploring the city, this region has some great options for exploration.  Whether you decide to head to the desert, the wetlands, or further inland to the glorious Alhambra and Granada, there’s so much for you to choose from.  Most of our Almeria day trips can be made by public transport, although that does limit your time in places.  They’re all easy to get to if you have a car, and of course, for the ultimate ease, take a door to door tour, get to explore in comfort, simply show up at the meeting time, enjoy the ride, get historical information from a knowledgeable guide, and soak up all the adventure.

Stock images in this article are courtesy Deposit Photos.

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