Almeria has a thousand-year history dating back to a time when the Moors ruled this part of Spain, and the natural starting point for any trip to the area is the Alacazaba, or Moorish castle in the city centre. Don't miss the amazing views over the city rooftops from the walls. Most visitors attracted to the region come for the weather, as Almeria is the only city in Europe classed as having a hot desert climate. With over 320 sunny days annually and only 200mm of rain, it's the perfect sunshine beach destination. Exploring the province is easier when you rent a car in Almeria on arrival. Escape the heat and explore some of Europe's only cave villages, or see the acres of greenhouses which supply Europe's salad vegetables and fruit. Back on the coast, visit the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park, where you can marvel at age-old geological features and find out about the unique ecosystem in this corner of the continent.
The Cabo de Gata beaches are one of the main attractions for visitors to the area. Whether you're looking for wide stretches of golden sands or tiny, hidden coves for swimming, the area has it all. One of the best known beaches is the Playa de Monsul and by choosing car hire in Almeria you can arrive early and grab a space in the car park. If you're looking for a hidden gem, try the beach at Isleta de Moro, where the clear waters are ideal for snorkelling. Sports fans will want to try their luck on some of Almeria's golf courses, most of which hire all equipment visitors will need. If your Almeria holidays wouldn't be complete without some history, then you're spoiled for choice. Top of many people's lists is the Alcazaba, but that's not all there is to see. The fortress-like Cathedral was designed to provide protection from pirates, and self-guided audio tours explain its history in full. One of Almeria's most unusual attractions is the underground tunnels which were built for shelter during the Spanish Civil War. The city's best location for strolling is the Rambla, where you can relax on shady benches admiring the flowers and fountains.
Almeria is in the far south-east of the Spanish mainland, and has a population of around 195,000. The city and the province of the same name regularly top the lists of the sunniest and driest places in the whole of Europe. Flights to Almeria depart from cities all over Europe, and the city's airport is to the east of the city centre. Almeria is also a major ferry port, with departures to Morocco and Algeria across the Mediterranean Sea. The city was originally an Arab fortress which played a key role in the silk trade of the Middle Ages. Much of the old city was destroyed by an earthquake in 1522, with rebuilding taking many centuries. Nowadays, the main industries in the area are tourism and agriculture. The mile after mile of poly-tunnels are where most of Europe's tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and strawberries are grown.
The airport is relatively small by Mediterranean standards. Using car hire at Almeria airport is straightforward, with desks in the concourse and your car parked just outside. Almeria city is connected to the airport by a modern motorway, but head off the beaten track and you'll come across narrow and winding roads, with dirt tracks in some areas. Speed limits are rigorously enforced, with on the spot fines for foreign nationals. Speed limits on motorways are 120 km/h, 90 km/h on open roads and 50km/h in town. All passengers must wear seatbelts. Spanish drink-drive laws are tougher than in many countries, with the limit set at 0.05%.