Perched atop a hill with a stunning backdrop of the Sierra Bernia mountain range, Altea is an ideal destination for a tranquil holiday. Once a small fishing village, this resort can now largely be divided into two parts – the historic hilltop town, and the more modern marina that lies at its foot.
In contrast to many destinations on the Costa Blanca, Altea has largely managed to stay off the tourist radar, and so blends that classic Costa Blancan sunshine and scenery with a quieter atmosphere – just one of the many reasons to visit. Which begs the question, just why should you take a trip to Altea?
Discover another side to Costa Blanca
Perhaps one of the best reasons to visit Altea is simply that it gives you the opportunity to discover at different side to Costa Blanca. At just a short distance from the British favourite Benidorm, Altea could hardly be more different. In fact, while it has a modern marina, it has retained the air of its historic old town very well. The hill where it sits is crowned with a blue-domed church, from where steep cobbled streets and traditional whitewashed houses snake their way down to the shoreline.
The historic quarter is not only full of historic buildings, but peppered with charming little shops and artists’ workshops; in fact, this blend of an artistic vibe and the air of the fishing village is a significant part of what makes this town so unique. Visit the fishermen’s quarter and you can still see boats hauling in their catch after a morning at sea, while the mix of restaurants and bars creates a more cosmopolitan atmosphere and laid-back nightlife.
Admire one of the region’s most scenic villages
There’s no denying Costa Blanca is an immensely scenic region; a little-known fact is that Altea is one of its most picturesque spots. The old town, set against the backdrop of the Sierra Bernia, is stunning in itself (especially on the approach, when you can take in the full panorama), but it really comes into its own when you’re standing at the town’s highest point. From here, you can admire unrivaled views across the region, including Altea’s charming steep streets, whitewashed houses, the port, the bustling promenade, scenic beaches and beyond.
Have your pick of varied beaches
Altea isn’t a typical Costa Blancan beach destination, but it does have an excellent selection to its name. Beyond the port, there is a number of small coves and pebble beaches that offer everything from the simple chance to have a stroll in the sunshine to water sports opportunities – again, largely away from the tourist crowds.
Among the best options is Cap Negret – a long beach fringed by palms and pine trees. At just under 1.5 km long, it offers plenty of space to find a quiet spot, and also boasts a restaurant with spectacular views. Another good option is Cap Blanc, which is perfect for those looking for a few more activity options. This bustling pebble beach with turquoise water has a yacht club and offers water craft rental.
If you’re looking for a small, quieter spot, the tiny El Soyo is just 120 metres long, but is excellent for fishing and scuba diving.
Explore local arts and crafts
Part of Altea’s unique charm stems from its popularity with artists, which has led to the town being filled with studios and shops where you can admire local work. It’s well worth spending some time ambling around the old cobbled streets popping in and out of studios to see what’s on display, but these aren’t the only places where you can encounter Altea’s artistic side. Take a look at some of the streets and you’ll notice murals on the walls, facades, restaurants and even private houses. Among the best to look out for are Marc-Abel’s mural in Salamanca Street, which was originally created in 1971 (now restored) and Arturo Garcia Paladini’s mural on San Miguel Street.
Indulge in delicious local seafood
Spain is famous for its gorgeous cuisine, from its lip-smacking paellas to its irresistible tapas. Altea is no exception, and here, as you would expect of a coastal destination and former fishing village, the seafood is the highlight. Fishermen still haul in their catch here daily, which gets served up in the local restaurants that cook delectable Spanish cuisine. Among the classic dishes to look out for is rice with fish, known locally as Altea y los Arroces de Pescado.
If you’re on the lookout for a restaurant that pairs fine food with fantastic scenery, meanwhile, you can’t go wrong with La Claudia. Boasting the best views of all the town’s restaurants, it has a terrace that overlooks the mountains and coast, while its modern Spanish food is exceptional.