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Insider Guide to Altea

If your non-negotiables when researching a holiday destination include the words upmarket and unique, look no further than Altea. One of Spain’s most iconic towns, we think it’s right at the top of any favourites list when deciding where to stay on the Costa Blanca.

In Altea’s Old Town, you’ll feel as though you are walking back in time while the seafront promenade is cool, cosmopolitan and chic.

So whether you’re planning a day trip from Benidorm or a full-on Altea vacation, our mini-visitor guide lets you take a peek into the charming whitewashed splendour of Altea, highlighting places to stay, what to do, and where to eat and drink.

Altea street scene, Marina Baixa, Spain.

Do

Altea can be a little touristy, but certainly not swamped by tourists. So, if you like a place where the crowds are somewhat smaller and impeccably well-behaved, this is probably the place for you. Below, we give you a little taste of things to do in Altea…

Enjoy an Altea Catamaran Cruise

Take in panoramic vistas along Altea’s coastline on an unforgettable catamaran cruise. Stopping off at inland coves, you can swim in the translucent waters of the Mediterranean while looking up in awe at the Sierra Helada and Bernia mountain ranges as well as the imperious Peñon de Ifach, more commonly referred to as Calpe Rock.

Alternatively, book a sunset trip and take in the majesty of Altea as the sun goes down, a glass of Cava in one hand, snapping Insta-worthy pics with the other.

Altea coastline photographed from a catamaran

View of Sierra Helada from catamaran

Visit Altea’s Beautiful Beaches

From the pebbled Playa de l’Espigo to the crystal clear waters of Altea’s two nudist beaches at Cala de la Barra Grande and Cala del Metge, Altea has a go-to strip of sand to entertain all beach lovers.

Blue Flag Playa de la Roda is nearly 1.5km in length and centrally located, so often just a short walk if staying in Altea town. You’ll find plenty of watersports on demand and a web of volleyball nets set up to work off an excessive lunch.

Playa de L’Olla is a favourite of ours, 1km of pebbles, rock and sand, it sits between two marinas with views out towards L’Illeta, a small islet 500 metres from shore.

It’s a magical sort of place, made more enchanting when the famous annual firework display takes place at Castell de l’Olla, lighting up the Mediterranean Sea and Altea coastline, and watched by over 50,000 people who arrive from all over Europe to witness the spectacle.

Altea Beach

Altea Beach

Keep An Eye Out For Festivals

Altea has a jam-packed cultural calendar filled with fiestas and festivals throughout the year. Many celebrations focus on Altea’s artistic heritage as well as its many traditions, so you’ll encounter open-air music extravaganzas during July and August, the drama of the San Juan and Moors and Christians celebrations and, in February, Festa del Porquet, a culinary homage to all things pork.

Jardin de los Sentidos

A Dutch chap called André left the Netherlands well over 25 years ago and landed in Altea. Here he set about designing a Garden of the Senses eventually creating a 3000m2 paradise filled with over 400 plants from around the world.

Located on the outskirts of Altea, if you have a passion for visiting botanical gardens this is a must-visit place. Peace and tranquillity are the order of the day, plus the obligatory tearoom where you can enjoy a cuppa in an oasis of calm.

Altea Tuesday Market

One of Costa Blanca’s largest weekly markets sets up stall every Tuesday in Altea. Located to the north of town, along Cami de l’Algar, it’s always worth a visit even if only for the sense of well-being that an outdoor market seems uniquely capable of providing.

As with most markets, there’s plenty of tat for sale but also locally handcrafted souvenirs and traditional gifts to take back home. Plus, if you’re a habitual people watcher Altea Market is the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Altea Russian Orthodox Church

Reflecting the style of a 17th-century Russian Orthodox church, the Iglesia Ortodoxa Rusa San Miguel Arcangel is a masterpiece in terms of architecture. If you’re driving along the N332 you’ll catch a glimpse of its golden onion domes but, for us, you simply need to park up and have a good snoop around. Quite a memorable experience, and another awesome place for a photo op.

Altea Orthodox Church.

Altea Orthodox Church

Book a sunset trip and take in the majesty of Altea as the sun goes down, a glass of Cava in one hand, snapping Insta-worthy pics with the other

Dine

Whether you’re a foodie or not, experiencing new regions by taste alone is a worthy endeavour. With that in mind, Altea has a lengthy list of delicious establishments to grab your attention.

Traditional rice dishes and seafood tend to dominate the local menu, however, Altea is very much an international destination and likewise, the gastronomic offer has a multinational flavour.

Oustau

On the Altea culinary map since 1981 and set amongst lush gardens in Altea Old Town, Oustau serves up classic French dishes that have delighted residents and visitors for over 30 years. Worth going just for the Chocolate Panna Cotta.

El Castell

Head to Altea’s Casco Antiguo and not far from the famous blue-domed church you will come across Restaurante El Castell, where wood-fired pizzas steal the show. Along with pasta that shouts wow and a cornucopia of delicious salads this is a restaurant to remind you that you’re on holiday. And that you deserve this.

Restaurant El Castell, Altea, Spain

Restaurant El Castell

Columbus 1492

If you’re staying in Benidorm and a trip to Altea is on your itinerary for a bit of sightseeing and a lazy lunch on the seafront, make a beeline for Restaurante Columbus 1492 If you’re staying in Altea, have lunch here every day! Friendly staff, a really quirky interior and a splendidly varied menu that includes dishes from Spain and Europe all with a Mediterranean twist.

El Cranc Chiringuito

Family owned and part of the Altea hospitality fraternity since 1982 this chic beach bar – chiringuito – is set on L’Olla beach with stunning views out to sea and a proudly Mediterranean seafood and paella menu. Don’t forget to reserve your table at El Cranc as it’s super popular with the locals.

Crown of India

Even in a coastal Mediterranean town you still manage to find a place to savour Britain’s favourite dish. Sunil and Silvia opened their Indian restaurant in 2013 and the Crown of India has been a hit with British visitors ever since. Quite stupendous views from the top terrace, a small supplement is required to bag a table but worth it, and as the sun goes down it’s a comforting experience to order your favourite curry with naan and a side.

And for dessert…

If you have a sweet tooth, pop into De Sabors Patisserie in Altea Old Town, just before you get into Plaza de la Iglesia. This is Cake Heaven, right here, right now. And right next to the church! After careful consideration, you can sit down at an outside table to taste your chosen one. Alternatively, buy a couple to take away – one for now and the other for, well… now!

De Sabors Pastisseria, Altea, Spain

De Sabors Pastisseria

Whether you’re a foodie or not, experiencing new regions by taste alone is a worthy endeavour

Drink

If you’re up for a drink — or four — Altea bars won’t let you down. We are not talking noisy neighbour Benidorm level, but we are talking about a delightful set of drinking spots that would earn their spurs on any bar crawl. Here’s one to get you in the mood.

La Mascarada, located in Altea’s most famous plaza in Altea Old Town, is the perfect venue to kickstart your evening. A collection of masks from across the world adorn the walls, strangely adding to the atmosphere of this gem of a pub.

La Mascarada, Cocktail Bar, Altea, Costa Blanca.

La Mascarada

It gets a tad lively after 10pm, not sure if this is when the masks come out but everyone seems to be nursing a classic cocktail and listening to the relaxing sound of good music drifting into the warm night air.

Stay

Where you stay on holiday is often key to your ultimate experience in a destination — the good news is that Altea accommodation has improved over the years and now possesses a raft of quality hotels and apartments to ensure the stay part of your holiday is one of the best parts.

Check out three of our favourite places to stay in Altea:

Hotel Ábaco

Created out of an 18th-century bakery back in 2004, the owners added a new building to create a larger Hotel Ábaco that now brands itself as Ábaco Vintage and Ábaco Fusion. Currently managed by Thomas and Adelina, attention to detail is priority number one for these guys.

In addition to 18 luxury bedrooms they also have holiday homes in their portfolio, each located within 100 metres of the hotel. They’ve called one of them Nice House. And, incredibly, it’s a really nice house.

Hotel La Serena

The adult-only recommended Hotel La Serena is perfect for a grown-up getaway. You’re greeted by a captivating blend of modern sophistication and subtle charm from the moment you arrive.

The hotel’s whitewashed facade and vibrant blue accents perfectly complement the nearby azure dome of Altea’s famous church and the sun-dappled Mediterranean Sea.

Standout features include a secluded swimming pool, stunning sea views from the roof terrace, and elegant, minimalist-style rooms that ooze refinement.

Add in a petite wellness spa and classic French restaurant, L’Etiquette, and you end up with one of those places you know you’ll want to come back to again.

Hotel La Serena, Altea, Spain

Hotel La Serena

Hotel Tossa D’Altea

Built on the original site of a 300-year-old olive mill, the hotel engenders echoes of its farming past while offering the modern-day traveller a premium lodging experience.

Situated only 500m from Altea Old Town, the family-run Hotel Tossa D’Altea will charm you on arrival. Rustic to its core and tradition coursing through every wooden beam, you’ll be transported back to the Spain of Don Quixote.

Relaxing in lush gardens surrounding the swimming pool and taking in the awesome views of Sierra de Bernia and Puig Campana is the making of an unforgettable Altea holiday.

Shop

Simply walking the sometimes steep and often cobbled streets of Altea is pleasure enough for any visitor. But with its artistic temperament and well-to-do residents helping to craft an eclectic and quietly refined retail experience, shopping here is genuinely therapeutic.

It might not be so great for your pocket but it’s unquestionably good for the soul.

As you meander the narrow streets of Altea Old Town you’ll come across small, tucked-away fashion emporiums, artists’ workshops selling their paintings and ceramics, handmade souvenir stores and boutique vintage shops specialising in surprise.

In the town centre, pop into the Municipal Market for fruit and veg. And for women’s fashion take your pick from the many shops that have their home along the N332 road separating the town from the promenade.

Mercado Municipal, Altea, Spain.

Mercado Municipal

With its artistic temperament and well-to-do residents helping to craft an eclectic and quietly refined retail experience, shopping here is genuinely therapeutic

Travel

How To Get To Altea

Alicante is the nearest airport and from here you can take the ALSA bus to Benidorm, hopping off at Avenida de Europa before catching the Llorente Bus No 10 to Altea from Avenida del Mediterráneo.

Alternatively, once in Benidorm, you can head up to Benidorm Tram Station situated on Avenida de Beniardà and catch the Line 9 tram to Altea which takes approximately 13 minutes.

From Alicante airport, you can also arrange a shuttle transfer to Altea or if you prefer to get there that bit quicker, there’s always a private transfer service or taxi options.

Where To Visit Nearby

Whether you use local transport services or hire your own car, it is worthwhile heading to Altea la Vella, a small village with a large expat population and a handful of quality restaurants such as Restaurante Ca Toni. The number 27 bus takes about 22 minutes as it runs along the coast before heading inland. A cab will set you back about £15 while a walk will set you back about 50 minutes!

If you are travelling under your own steam it is certainly worth visiting some of the wonderful nearby towns and villages of Polop de la Marina, Guadalest, and Tàrbena.

For more great places to eat, drink and stay check out ALTEA in our Beyond Guide.

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