What to see in Roquetas de Mar, the jewel of the Almerian coast
Roquetas de Mar is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the province of Almería, attracting thousands of tourists every year. In this article you will learn how to make the most of your trip to this jewel of Almería.
It is no secret that most people who come to Roquetas de Mar do so to take advantage of the sun, sea and sand. Probably the most famous of Roquetas de Mar’s beaches is Playa Serena, not far from the Punta Entinas Sabinar Natural Park and about five kilometres from the city centre. It is a two-kilometre pebble beach with crystal waters the likes of which define the best beaches in Almería.
This beach has been awarded the European Union’s highly coveted Blue Flag for its cleanliness and safety, and it boasts all the amenities you could hope for on an illustrious beach, including showers, beach chairs for hire and beach bars. It is an ideal beach for the family with shallow calm waters the kids can play in all day long.
Barceló Cabo de Gata
- At the entrance to a Natural Park
- Ideal facilities for families
- Active tourism
Playa de las Salinas: a coastline with a history
Las Salinas is another popular beach in Roquetas de Mar and its name actually betrays a little of its historical association with a local industry. The San Rafael Salt Flats (salinas are salt flats) was once an important feature of the landscape and of local industry. Today, there is little sign of this industry from Las Salinas beach but the memory remains long after it was absorbed into Roquetas de Mar town.
Las Salinas is also a quiet beach, often frequented by families. It is very easy to get to via public transport, with a bus stop in Gran Plaza. They also have beach chairs to hire and local companies that organise water sports and activities daily.
Santa Ana Castle
Roquetas de Mar’s tourism goes beyond just sun, sea and sand, though. One of the most emblematic places in the town is the Santa Ana Castle, a 16th century fortification originally designed to defend the local salt industry from coastal pirates. This fortification began as a simple tower that was added to over the years, resulting in the shape of the impressive castle you can see there today.
It’s important to note that although today’s castle dates from 1997, it is a faithful replica of the original, which was destroyed by an earthquake that devasted the town in 1804.
Santa Ana Castle is located in the centre of the town, next to Bajadilla beach and very close to the lighthouse, which was built in 1863 and also hosts cultural exhibitions within its walls. The castle is open to visitors year-round and even puts on open-air concerts within its walls during the summer. From any one of its towers you will be able to take in the best views Roquetas de Mar has to offer and, on a clear day, you can even see as far as Cabo de Gata.
Shopping in the Roquetas de Mar street market
Strolling through the street market is one of the most popular summer activities in Roquetas de Mar. The market is open all year round, every Thursday from 9am to 2pm. One of the largest open-air street markets in the province, it has around 275 stalls in which they sell fruit, vegetables, handbags, shoes, clothes, jewellery, artisan objects and much more. The market is to be found on Avenida Unión Europea, next to Las Salinas beach.
There are a few other markets in Roquetas del Mar that are worth a visit, too. Every first Sunday of the month the Bull Ring hosts a popular antiquities and second-hand market and on the weekend closest to the 15th August, Santa Ana Castle hosts a famous Medieval market.
Hiking in Punta Entinas Sabinar Natural Park
If you fancy getting away from the beach for the day then Punta Entinas Sabinar Natural Park is an excellent alternative. There are many different walking and cycling routes that will take you through the sand dunes and ponds of this wetland area. The ponds are particularly interesting because they are home to many water birds and are popular resting areas for migratory birds too.
Punta Entinas Sabinar Natural Park, as well as being an excellent place to go birdwatching, also boasts a virgin beach with a mix of fine sand and pebbles in different areas. The real attraction of this beach, however, is to be found at the bottom of the sea a few metres offshore. Here you will find a ‘meadow’ of the plant Posidonia oceanica, a type of sea grass that is home to multitudes of sea life and is only found in the Mediterranean Sea.
A family day at the Roquetas de Mar aquarium
An ideal plan for a family with children is a visit to the Coastal Aquarium of Almería, located on Reino de España avenue. The aquarium teaches children about the water cycle and it has seven themed rooms in which children can explore all aspects of the sea, from tropical fish to the rocky seabed.
Bull sharks, piranhas, clownfish, these are just a few of the species you can find in the 10 different habitats at the Roquetas de Mar aquarium. It opens daily from 10 a.m. – 6/7 p.m. depending on the day.
A visit to Roquetas de Mar water park
Water parks are an excellent way to enjoy the best summer weather in Almería and Roquetas de Mar has an excellent one on offer. Located next to the aquarium, Mario Park, has wave pools and enormous water slides that will delight little kids and ‘big kids’ alike.
For those who prefer to let the children do all the running around, there is a relaxation area with sunbeds and restaurants too. The park opens daily from mid-June to the beginning of September.
The bull ring in Roquetas de Mar
Inaugurated in 2002, the bull ring of Roquetas de Mar has become a firm favourite on the bullfighting circuit of Spain. With a capacity of 8 thousand, the biggest names in bullfighting have passed through its doors, such as Enrique Ponce, el Juli, Rivera Ordoñez and ‘El Fandi’. The bullfighting season begins in Roquetas de Mar on the 26th June every year, during the festival of Santa Ana.
There is also a bullfighting museum inside the bull ring that gives you the chance to learn more about this tradition through various exhibitions.
Mediterranean views from the seaside promenade in Roquetas de Mar
No seaside town worth its salt doesn’t have a seaside promenade, and Roquetas de Mar is no exception. Making the most of the Almerian coast, the promenade is the ideal place to take in the sea air and the stunning views of the Mediterranean.
Beginning near the Santa Ana castle and the lighthouse, the promenade takes the southern route through the city, passing by numerous residential areas, until it arrives in the Punta Entinas Sabinar Natural Park.
The centre of Roquetas
The centre of the town is around 20 minutes by foot from the Santa Ana castle if you take Avenida Roquetas de Mar. It is a predominantly commercial area where you can benefit from the lack of tourist-focussed shops. Between here and the port you will find the best restaurants in the city.
Where to eat in Roquetas de Mar
Unsurprisingly, the best cuisine that Roquetas de Mar has to offer comes in the form of the freshest fish and seafood you are ever likely to try. Here are a few places that will not disappoint:
- La Barraca (15 Paseo del Mar): is a seafood restaurant located on the seaside promenade that offers the best locally sourced seafood in the area.
- Raku (16 Avenida Playa Serena): located near Playa Serena, this restaurant specialises in Mediterranean cuisine and has an enormous terrace on which you can have dinner and watch the sun go down.
- Pa’Levante (Avenida Antonio Machado): a ‘fusion’ restaurant located in the centre of the town.
Local excursions from Roquetas de Mar
The province of Almería offers many attractions that are just a stone’s throw from Roquetas de Mar. In summer, an escape to the beaches of Cabo de Gata (link: The beaches of Cabo de Gata) is probably the best option. Located on the other side of the Gulf of Almería, these beaches are unspoiled by modern tourism but still offer easy access and are well signposted. Los Genoveses, Mónsul and El Playazo de Rodalquilar beaches are some of the best in the area and are well worth a trip.
If you fancy getting away from the beach then just 40 kilometres from Roquetas de Mar you will find the famous Tabernas Desert. This area put Almería on the map thanks to the role it played in the famous Spaghetti Westerns in the 1960s and 70s. Today, you can still find some of the iconic places where these films were made and there are even theme parks that tell the story of Almería’s role in the history of international cinema.
Information of interest
How to get to Roquetas de Mar:
By car: the A-7 motorway, which connected Algeciras with Valencia, goes through Roquetas de Mar. From inland, the best option is the A-92, which will take you as far as Almería capital.
By plane: the nearest airport is in Almería capital, around 22 kilometres from Roquetas de Mar. If there are no flights available to this airport then you can fly to Malaga, some 200 kilometres away.