Spain Guide

 

Almuñecar Tourist Attractions | Things to Do

When you tire of the beach, Almuñecar can provide you with a feast of fiestas, festivals, bars, shops, restaurants, parks and historic sites. And if you're still looking for something to do, you won't have to venture far to enjoy some of the most spectacular sights in the whole of Spain.

For a flavour of the town's colourful past, visit the Castillo de San Miguel once a Roman fortress and later a Moorish castle used as a recreational palace by the Sultans of Granada. Its notorious dungeons once housed dethroned sultans, feared military leaders and ministers fallen from grace.

The castle was recaptured by the Christians in 1489 and is currently undergoing a long and painstaking restoration process. Important archaeological finds have been unearthed in and around the castle grounds, many of which are on display at the local museum.

The Museum of Archaeology, at Cueva de las Siete Palacios in the San Miguel district, has been built on the site of an ancient Roman construction (possibly a temple to the goddess Minerva). Its fascinating exhibits include an Egyptian vase fashioned from solid quartz in the 17th century BC. The vase, discovered in a local house, is thought to be Spain's oldest archaeological find bearing an inscription.

At the foot of the castle in the centre of Almuñecar you'll find the beautiful botanical and archaeological park of El Majuelo. The park has 180 types of exotic plants representing the tropical zones on both sides of the equator. The gardening enthusiasts among you will marvel at the trees, shrubs and flowers more commonly found in regions such as South America, Polynesia, Malaysia, Japan and Papua New Guinea. There are several "casitas" where you can sit in the shade and enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the park. The remains of an old Roman fish curing factory are sited within the grounds.

Nearby is the "Loro Sexi" Ornithological Park with its 1,500 birds from doves, swans and ducks to peacocks, parrots and cockatoos. Ostriches stroll through the grounds to the delight of the 30,000 visitors who flock here each year. The park's Cactus Garden provides a stark contrast to the colourful and lush vegetation of the nearby botanical gardens. The park is just 100 metres from the seafront and is accessed by one of the prettiest footpaths in Almuñecar.

For shoppers, the town has a good range of stores offering local produce, handicrafts, clothes, leather goods etc. The municipal market, El Mercado, is excellent for fresh fruit, fish and veg. It's open every morning except Sundays in the town centre. Every Friday morning there's a rastro (flea market) where you can get everything from pretty local ceramics to cheap watches (with fake designer labels!).

Check at the local tourist information centre for details of fiestas during your stay. These take place throughout the year in Almuñecar and Herradura and will give you the chance to savour a traditional Spanish knees up of music, dancing, street parades and fireworks.

For day trips and excursions, the caves of Nerja a little way along the coast to the west are a marvel to behold. Now one of Andalucia's most popular tourist attractions, they were formed by natural calcification and underground rivers five million years ago. The 22 cave paintings have been declared a national monument of historic and artistic importance.

Granada is just 40 minutes drive away with its fabulous Alhambra Palace (don't go without booking tickets in advance in high season as visitor numbers are restricted). The Sierra Nevada mountain range, which boasts Europe's most southerly ski resort, is about an hour and 15 minutes drive. And south of the sierra you can explore the spectacular Alpujarras region where ancient whitewashed villages cling impossibly to majestic mountain peaks.

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