The province of Almería is a strange corner of Spain. Inland, it has an almost lunar landscape of desert, sandstone cones and dried-up riverbeds. The coast to the east of the provincial capital is still largely unspoilt; lack of water and roads frustrated development in the 1960s and 70s and it is only now beginning to take off. Limited development allowed the creation in the 1980s of the Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata, a haven for flora and fauna. To the west of Almería is another story, though, with a sea of plastic greenhouses spreading in a broad swathe for a good 30km across the Campo de Dalías, the source of much of Almería’s new-found wealth.
A number of good beaches are accessible by bus, and in this hottest province of Spain they’re worth considering during what would be the off-season elsewhere, since Almería’s summers start well before Easter and last into November. In midsummer, it’s incredibly hot (frequently touching 38°c/100°F in the shade and often well above), while all year round there’s an intense, almost luminous, sunlight. This and the weird scenery have made Almería one of the most popular film locations in Europe – much of Lawrence of Arabia was shot here, along with scores of spaghetti Westerns.