one of the most beautiful villages in Spain
ideal location for a visit or off-grid living
The ancient town of Almonaster la Real is not only unspoilt and beautiful, but comes with an unbeatable local atmosphere, like being part of one big family, calm and unhurried. Visitors and incomers are automatically made welcome.
Currently there are about 800 people living in and around the town. At weekends, and during the numerous public holidays, this increases as family members return. Most days there are tourists, drawn either by the authentic Moorish architecture (including allegedly the oldest mosque in Spain), or to set out on one of the numerous (guided if required) walking/ mountain bike/ horse riding routes in the seemingly limitless surrounding countryside, or to simply search for mushrooms and sweet chestnuts which are prolific here.
The facilities available are therefore developed to cater for such diverse needs.
● nursery/ primary school ● alternative school (15 kms away) ● sports centre ● health centre ● outdoor swimming pool ● library ● grocery shops ● bakery ● restaurants ● bars ● banks and ATM ● post office ● social services office ● chemist ● wi-fi ● builders merchants ● car mechanic/ workshop ● all the building trades ● alternative medical practitioners ● hotels & hostal & self-catering accommodation ● three campervan parking sites ● campsite (in nearby Cortegana) ● a small weekly market (Tuesday morning) ● computer repair ● taxi ● daily bus service to Sevilla and Portugal ● town hall ● bodega (under construction)
Within 30 minutes drive everything else, for resident and tourist alike.
The nearest petrol station (which also sells bottled gas) is in Cortegana (8kms).
Sevilla (airport/ AVE train) is 120kms (72 miles) away. The beach 140kms (84 miles). Border with Portugal 45kms (27 miles).
The best way to get a proper feel for this unique place is to spend a few minutes watching a recent national television programme about it (featuring yours truly). Okay it’s all in spanish, but don’t worry very easy to follow:
… there is also a newly opened MICRO MUSEUM worth visiting, run by my good friend Carlos, you can find this located along the path around the mosque (see map below)…
CRUCES DE MAYO 5-9 May
ROMERIA DE SANTA EULALIA 19-21 May
ALMONASTER LOCAL FIESTA 2nd week of August
CULTURAL WEEK end of August
ISLAMICAS 2nd week of October
The Sierra has a vast array of adventure options to offer, of which particular to Almonaster la Real are the opportunity to explore the hundreds of kilometres of forestry trails. Perfect for hikers, mountain bikers (you can bring your own or hire a brand spanking new electric one from e-bikearacena)
and horse riding at the PICADERO LA SUERTE.
also Finca el Moro
There are plenty of things to do/ see/ and get involved with. One I particularly enjoyed was being part of the street choir, here is a video of us singing carols
From FARO airport (in Portugal) there are very cheap flights from the UK and other EU countries (as low as 24 euros return), however there is no direct public transport link here, so you really need to hire a car, and it is about a 3hr drive (220km).
From SEVILLA (120 km) there is a bus to Almonaster, but only TWO a day, one at 9:30 and the other at 16:00. From the airport to the Plaza de Armas bus station it’s a 10 km (35 minutes) bus ride (4 euros), then you buy a ticket (at the DAMUS bus company window) for ALMONASTER LA REAL (about 12 euros), remembering to change buses at the ARACENA bus-station.
can be checked by clicking here, though it is most reliable only for the next two days.
In a bar/ restaurant there are basically three options. Tapas (small plates of one thing, at around 2-3 euros each), which are very cheap and usually of sufficient quantity for two to fill you up. Cold and hot. Montadito, which is like a tapa, but with bread and usually heated. Courses (raciones/ platos), which can turn out very expensive indeed, typically three courses setting you back 30+ euros a head. Bars serve tapas and montaditos all year round, but restaurants restrict them to the bar area and outside in good weather, from around 1pm until 2pm and 8.30pm onwards.
WHAT TO SEE
Almonaster la Real is a very old settlement, people have lived here continuously since pagan times. Thankfully much of the past has been retained and maintained, which means walking around the streets is just like going back in time. Most of the houses inside are like this too. The church/ mesquita at the top of the hill gives a really good idea of all the different historical periods. The church in the town also has been lovingly restored.
There are two other chapels also. Plus a communal fountain/ spring and washing area.
Outside the town and you are immediately into the countryside, with many circular routes and others heading off to towns nearby, mostly forestry tracks. The Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche Natural Park stretches for 184,000 hectares, most of it is forested hills and mountains.
This part of Spain, being one of the lowest populated and least unspoilt regions, is in many respects pretty much unchanged from the days not so long ago when there were no roads and the only way of life was a rural self-sufficient one. Still there exists a vast array of diverse plant and wild life. Including 189 types of bird (for example: eagles/ hawks/ vultures/ peregrine falcon/ osprey/ kite/ kestrel/ owls/ and griffin). As well as the more usual other creatures: frog/ toad/ newt/ dragonfly/ butterfly/ salamander/ lizard/ otters/ snakes/ mongoose/ wild boar/ deer/ goats/ cattle/ pigs/ beech martens/ polecats/ genets/ weasels/ badgers/ bats/ wild sheep…..From the top of nearby peak San Cristobal you can see a 360 degree panorama that stretches as far as the coast (on a clear day) and Portugal.
Bar/ restaurant MIGUEL TENORIO
Personally, I think this is the best bar in town, however it is only open at certain times (check with their Facebook page, below). It is also the hardest one to find, even though located right in the middle of town. Their address: is Calle Los Naranjos, 3. If you are in the small square and facing the Panaderia then it is the road down the right side of that. At the bottom of the road is Tovar mini-supermarket. The menu is in english and french, as well as spanish, and reasonably priced. The staff are ultra friendly and helpful. https://www.facebook.com/mesonrestaurante.migueltenorio/
Bar/ restaurant EL RINCÓN DEL CURRO
Everyone says this is the best restaurant in the area. I haven’t been yet, but intend to try their tapas soon. There is a menu totally in english, and wi-fi. https://www.facebook.com/El-Rincón-de-Curro-615935528454387/
THE MCINNES ENGLISH LIBRARY & MAIN LOCAL LIBRARY
The former was bequeathed by a former resident then added to by other english residents. It has now been combined with the main library. Open weekday evenings.
Moroccan café AL ANDALUS
This is a unique place in town for drinks/ snack, or meal. Especially as they are open all day every day. And in good weather the views can’t be beaten. The Moroccan mint tea is to be recommended. Opens at 9am. Earlier breakfasts (to suit any diet) can be arranged by phoning the day before (00 34 627 794 162), same goes for full meals. Vegetarian friendly.
Bar/ delicatessen ABERCERIA IBERGANDULLO
This establishment has opened recently, next door to AL ANDALUZ.
Another recent development, behind the church. A small boutique hotel with rooms at very reasonable rates, including a good breakfast.
Small modern apartment block with everything you need for self-catering from 2 adults +. Wi-fi. https://www.facebook.com/laspalmeras.alojamientorural
Bar/ restaurant LAS PALMERAS
Opposite the holiday apartments. Opening hours are variable, can be pricey, and service is often slow. https://www.facebook.com/restaurante.laspalmeras.5
Bar/ restaurant/ hotel CASA GARCIA
The hotel is currently closed but hopefully will re-open.
Holiday house CASA LA TORRE
This is a lovely place to rent for a couple of days, except for one tiny thing, its proximity to the church and its clock/ bells, which chime every half-hour, deafening.
Butcher CASA LLANES
I don’t buy meat so can’t comment.
Very popular with locals, especially the yummy mummy crowd between 9.15am-10.30am. Their tapas are good and cheap, but the interior can be noisy when busy. Answer: sit outside in the summer. Wi-fi. Closed on Wednesdays. https://www.facebook.com/BarAlmonaster/
Newsagents/ shop MANUELA
Owner Manuela speaks excellent English (though has a hearing problem, so please speak clearly and slowly). Sells everything imaginable (just ask and she will have it somewhere) including daily newspapers and magazines, plus all sorts of household items/ stationery/ and clothes.
Post office OFICINA DE CORREOS
Note: ONLY open for two hours a day (8.30am-10.30am), weekdays. Try and take the correct amount of change, they don’t have a float!
Bakery/ grocery PANADERÍA
For fresh fruit & vegetables this is the best place (there is a vegetable market nearby but opening hours are erratic). However, with only two deliveries a week (Monday & Thursday) you have to be early (10.30am ish). The bread is not the best, and cakes tend to be very expensive/ light on substance.
Bar SOCIEDAD UNIÓN AMISTOSA
Opens earliest in town, all day, every day.
Next-day or 48hr delivery of most things if not in stock, including homeopathic remedies.
This is an old photo, as the supermarket has been totally revamped since, but I like it. You will always get excellent service here, from its owners Evaristo & Juani. It is also deceptively well-stocked (don’t forget to look downstairs as well). They also sell fresh bread.
Events venue PLAZA DEL LLANES
Where most outdoor concerts and half of the annual CRUZ DE MAYO take place.
This is a new prototype of virtual rural banks, where you can speak online with a member of staff.
Tobacconist/ shop ESTANCO
This has to be one of the tinniest shops ever. And it is difficult to see what they have in stock, but Maria-Jose does a little bit of everything so well-worth asking. https://www.facebook.com/El-Estanco-De-Mª-Jose-En-Almonaster-314139502030907/
Town hall AYUNTAMIENTO
Copies of the local free newspaper VIVA LA SIERRA and the monthly what’s on guide for Sevilla EL GIRALDILLO available here. At least one of the staff speaks english.
Bar/ restaurant MESÓN ISABEL II
Under new management. The food in the past was always good (and some of the menu in english), but I always found the atmosphere claustrophobic. They also short-changed me on several occasions. Vegetarians catered for. Wi-fi. https://www.facebook.com/restaurantealmonaster/
Natural spring FUENTE DEL CONCEJO
If you don’t like the taste of the mains water, this is perfectly safe and more healthy.
Bar/ restaurant/ accommodation POSADA EL CAMINO
Not exactly in town, but only a short walk away. The bar has a very nice atmosphere, especially in winter, and the food is very good, though pricey. Vegetarians should avoid. https://www.facebook.com/Restaurante-y-Posada-El-Camino-239041952911255/
There are three designated areas, two on the main road, one just out of town (near Posada El Camino) which has the best views, and all level enough for campervans. Do not attempt to find a parking spot in the town, there aren’t any.
Please be aware that opening hours of shops and bars here is very erratic (even the locals can’t work it out), so expect the unexpected, according to the season/ fiestas/ and local & national holidays.
for a real taste of what it is really like to live here, these videos are a perfect way of sampling the creativity and energy. Made by my friend Carlos, the first is a lighthearted look at the cooking of his grandparents. In spanish, but easy to understand. The second is, well just have a look, beyond translation.