Altea – health to all on the Costa Blanca
Located within the region of Alicante, eleven kilometres north of Benidorm, is the quiet coastal town of Altea. This popular tourist retreat, with a population of around 24,000, is a portrait of the traditional Mediterranean town, with winding cobbled streets, whitewashed houses and sparkling tiled roofs. Sheltered from northerly winds by the Sierra de Bèrnia, the town enjoys a mild microclimate with an average yearly temperature of 18°C – perhaps this is why the Moors gave Altea its name, meaning ‘health to all’.
The most charming part of Altea is the old town. Its flower-lined, cobbled, stepped streets wind their way up a hillside. A popular spot among artists, look down any narrow alley or through a doorway here and you’re likely to see crafts for sale or an artist at work in his studio. Plenty of cafes and restaurants can also be found in the old town, where you can watch the world go by from a table on the pedestrianised streets.
The top of the old town is crowned by the Church Nuestra Senora del Consuelo (Our Lady of Solace); with its glazed, blue ceramic domes it is one of the most iconic sights in Altea.
The top of the old town also provides fantastic views of the surrounding area: the azure Mediterranean waters, the Sierra Bèrnia mountain range and the Rock of Ifach at Calpe in the northeast.
Every Tuesday near the new town, the large street market is held. Here, visitors can pick up clothes, arts and crafts, souvenirs and leather at low prices. If it’s not a Tuesday, there are plenty of shopping opportunities along Altea’s main street which is lined with both chain and independent stores. The indoor market is also worth visiting. This is where locals pick up fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, cheeses and olive oil.
The town is divided into two by the N-332 road which separates most of the town from the coastal areas. Altea’s promenade, on the opposite side of the road from the old town, stretches across several kilometres of coastline and is lined by palm trees and small cafes. Towards the southern end of the promenade is Altea Marina, a mooring for luxury yachts and also close to a number of restaurants. The 5kms of coastline is split into sandy beaches, pebble beaches and coves. The two main beaches are the Playa de la Roda and the Playa de Cap Blanch; these are mostly made up of sand and are near the centre of town. In the north there are pebble beaches set in small coves that tend to be quieter, making them great spots for a dip in the clear blue waters.
There a number of car parking options in Altea. As well as on-street parking there are car parks between the N-332 and the seafront, and at the marina. The best parking spots for visiting the old town are near the Carrer d’Alcoi and Calle Benidorm intersection.
Altea is around an hour’s drive north of Alicante Airport and Drivalia Car Rental. For more information on Altea, click here. The town holds an annual Moors and Christians festival in September, see our post about the event for more information.