If all this has changed your opinion of southern Spain then read on for more details.
Towns and villages
Due to its location just a few hundred miles from North Africa, this region of Spain bears a heavy Moorish influence, and fell under Arabic control in the 8th century. As a result, many of the towns and villages throughout the area have a distinctly Arabian feel to them, with whitewashed villages standing out against the arid, stony landscape.
The Christians later conquered Almeria in the 15th century, leaving their own mark on place, and anyone who visits will not fail to be impressed by the intriguing fusion of the two cultures. Mojacar is among the most charming of all the towns in the region, and it's here that you'll find the iconic city gates - or Puerta de la Ciudad - bearing an inscription in both Spanish and Arabic.
Sitting high in the mountains, Mojacar offers some amazing views of the valley and the coast, and those who fancy a spot of sunbathing will be pleased to hear that it also has a number of excellent beaches within very close proximity. The largest of these is Playa de las Ventanicas, which boasts all the amenities you could ever need without the crowds that tend to clog up the more popular resorts of southern Spain. Hotels are also easy to come by in Mojacar, yet lack the tacky atmosphere that the all-inclusive resorts of Costa del Sol are known for. More information about accommodation in the town can be found here.
While Spain's Mediterranean coast is more commonly associated with blazing sunshine, it may come as something of a surprise to hear the region actually boasts its own ski resort, with the mountains of the Sierra Nevada receiving a decent snowfall each winter. While this isn't the case during the warmer months, there's still plenty of adventure to be had at altitude in Almeria.
The hot springs known as the Baños de Alhamilla have been used as a spa by several successive civilizations, including the Romans and the Moors. Located at an altitude of around 500 feet above sea level, the spot offers amazing views across the Andarax valley and is surrounded by excellent walking trails.
The Sierra Maria, meanwhile, is home to the Velez Natural Park, which is covered in alpine forests and home to several species of large bird including the amazing golden eagle. Trekking through the hillside is a great way to discover the local wildlife, with ibex and other wonderful creatures regularly spotted roaming the mountains of Almeria.
Almeria is also home to the Tabernas Desert, a truly amazing landscape and one of the only deserts in Europe. Having been used as a filming location for a number of western movies, the area is now home to the Mini Hollywood theme park, which is set up like an old frontier town and makes for a fun-filled day trip. History lovers will also enjoy a visit to the 11th century Tabernas Castle, which is said to be the site where the Arabs finally surrendered to the Catholics in 1489.
(Photos: [ThinkStock - iStockphoto])