Given that it is 40 km from the nearest big city, Alcalá is more or less self-sufficient in goods and services.  Once you get over the fear of walking into what looks like someone's house and starting a conversation in a foreign language, shopping is great fun.  These days, with Google Translate app on your phone, there is no excuse.

Opening hours: Apart from Día supermarket, shops are closed in the afternoons (between around 2 pm and 5.30 pm, hours may vary in summer).  With a few exceptions they are also closed on Saturday evenings, Sundays and public holidays.  If you run out of something essential on a Sunday afternoon, try one of the petrol stations; one is on Puerto Levante on the A375 (western end of town), and the other is on the Palmosa industrial estate.

Food and drink: There are little shops on practically every street selling bread, beer and basic foodstuffs. Many sell free-range eggs (huevos de campo) from local hens.   In addition there are several butchers, bakers, fishmongers and greengrocers.  On Wednesday and Saturday mornings there is an fruit and veg market stall in Santo Domingo, very cheap.

Remember that people here tend to shop for what they need each day, so fruit and veg may go off quickly as it is sold ready to eat and not kept in gas to stop it rotting.

Bazaars, of which there are many (including two enormous Chinese ones, which are allowed to open on Sundays), sell cheap imported goods: clothes, shoes, household goods, decorating materials, stationery, toys etc.  They don't sell food.  On Saturday mornings there is a street market on the Playa with more of the same.

Other shopping tips:
Cigarettes are only available from authorised tobacconists (estancos) and the occasional vending machine; you can't buy them in supermarkets.  Alcohol, on the other hand, can be purchased at nearly all foodstores.

Pharmaceuticals are only available in farmacias, of which there are two in Alcalá (one on the Alameda and one in Calle Real).  The pharmacist is the first place to go if you have a medical problem; they can recommend and sell products you would need a prescription for in the UK.

Andalucians don't like queuing.  If the shop is full of people, ask ¿Quién es la última? (who is last?) and you know your turn is after theirs.

Some recommendations are given below, with links to their Facebook pages where available.

Mezcla y Sabores de Alcalá (Calle Constitución 11).  Open every day 7.30 am-2 pm and 5 pm-8 pm (7 pm on Saturday and Sunday).  The very best of local produce, plus ingredients to bake your own, served with a smile.

Flavours of Alcalá

Horno de Luna  (Callejón Bernadino).  Traditional bakery (founded 1866) tucked away in an alley but worth seeking out.  Delicious fresh bread (including rustic pan cateto), cakes and pastries, baked daily in a wood-fired oven (horno = oven, Luna is the owner's name - nothing to do with the moon). Open every day including Sunday mornings.

Queuing for fresh bread in Horno de Luna
Frutería El Pincho (Avenida de los Alcornocales, opposite Campanero restaurant).  The best greengrocer in town, both in terms of freshness and range of goods.

Carnicería Stefano y Mari Luz (Mercado de Abastos, Santo Domingo).  Traditional butcher, first on the right as you enter the covered market.  Will slice, mince or chop your meat to your requirements.  Pre-order service available.    Open 8 am-2 pm, Mon-Sat.

Always a warm welcome from Mari Luz and Stefano

Quesería El Gazul (Polígono La Palmosa). Alcalá's award-winning cheese factory has its own shop, selling not only cheese but honey, wine, olive oil and other local delights.  Open 8 am-7 pm Mon-Fri, 9 am-2 pm Sat-Sun.

(Probably) the best cheese in the world, and more.
Embutidos Gazules (Polígono La Palmosa, next to the cheese shop).  Embutido means "stuffed", in this case sausages - chorizos, salchichas, salamis, chicharrones, jamón and dozens of other products made from local Iberian pork meat.  They also occasionally sell venison fillets and beef products from retinto cattle, including burgers and entrecote steaks cut to your taste.  Open 7 am-2 pm and 4 pm-7 pm Mon-Fri, 8 am-2 pm Sat, closed Sun.

Strictly for carnivores.

Nuria Modos y Complementos (C/ Rio Verde). Beautiful bags, scarves, shoes, jewellery and posh frocks, reasonably priced.

Guarnicionería Pedro Jiménez (C/ Constitición).  Specialist in saddles and bridles but also has an impressive range of leather boots, bags and belts.

Boots of Spanish Leather

La Zulla (Plaza Cumbres del Tajo).  Gifts, home decor, pet products and florist.

Something for everyone at La Zulla

Repara2 (C/ Real 10).  Mobile phone repairs and accessories, printing, photopcopying, laminating etc.

Repara2 = Reparados (repairs)

Radio-Hogar (C/ Rio Verde).  Electrical goods large and small, furniture, kitchenware and other household goods.  Prices are comparable to the big chains and they offer free delivery.

Electrical goods from fridge-freezers to hairdryers at Radio-Hogar

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