Discovering Altea: Spain’s Answer to Santorini on the Costa Blanca

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Altea A Fantastic Beachside Vacation Town on the Costa Blanca

As a seasoned traveller, I've always been fascinated by the allure of hidden gems that lie off the beaten path. One such gem is Altea, a charming coastal town in Spain.

Nestled on the Costa Blanca, Altea is a vibrant tapestry of history, culture, and breathtaking natural beauty.

Altea's charm lies in its ability to harmoniously blend tradition with modernity. The town's historic quarters are dotted with whitewashed houses, cobblestone streets, and blue-domed churches, a reminiscent of its rich history. Simultaneously, Altea's contemporary side is just as appealing with its chic boutiques, modern art galleries, and trendy cafes.

Where is Altea in Spain

Altea is located on the eastern coast of Spain, in the province of Alicante. The town is nestled between the sea and the mountains, providing it with a unique microclimate. This strategic location has made Altea a popular destination among nature lovers.

Altea's location also makes it easily accessible. The town is just a short drive away from Alicante, and its international airport connects Altea to major European cities. This accessibility, coupled with its natural beauty and cultural richness, makes Altea a must-visit destination on the Costa Blanca.

Beaches for miles in Altea Spain
Beaches for miles in Altea Spain

The Rich History of Altea, Spain

Altea's history is as rich and colourful as its vibrant streets. The town's origins date back to the Iberians, and over the centuries, it has been home to Romans, Moors, and Christians. Each of these cultures has left an indelible mark on Altea, influencing its architecture, traditions, and way of life.

Its prime coastal location made it an attractive spot for the Romans, who contributed to its urban development. The later Moorish influence was profound, evident in the old town's narrow cobblestone streets, whitewashed houses, and the iconic blue-domed church. They introduced irrigation systems and terrace farming, which has shaped the town's agricultural landscape

The Christian reconquest brought a cultural fusion, adding layers to its rich heritage and further diversifying both the feel and character of the city. 

During the 18th and 19th centuries, Altea saw growth in agriculture and fishing, reflecting a simple, sea-based lifestyle. 

The 20th century marked a significant shift as artists, writers, and musicians, attracted by Altea's natural beauty and relaxed atmosphere, began to flock here, creating a bohemian culture that continues to thrive in its artsy ambiance and numerous galleries.

One of the most iconic landmarks in Altea is the Church of Our Lady of Consolation. This blue-domed church is a symbol of Altea's history and culture. Its unique blue and white tiles are a testament to the town's artistic flair.

About Altea Today

What sets Altea apart from other Spanish towns is its unique character. Despite being a popular tourist destination, Altea has managed to preserve its authentic Spanish charm. The town's relaxed pace of life, welcoming locals, and picturesque landscapes make it a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Altea is nicknamed the “Santorini of Spain,” and while I've never been to Santorini its hard not to know about its white washed homes that crawl up the hills. I can see why Altea has this nickname as the homes in the old town reflect the same white walls and blue awnings that you see in Santorini.

Altea old town with its whitewashed walls and blue and white awings.
Altea old town with its whitewashed walls and blue and white awings.

Altea Old Town

The actual surrounding city is quite large however the adorable old town with the rendered homes in among the winding labyrinth of streets is quite condensed and cute. Parking is of course a challenge, however despite that I would recommend staying in the village rather than along the foreshore.

Nestled on a hilltop, with its cobbled streets and whitewashed houses, this place is a dream for anyone who loves a mix of history and charm. Every corner of Altea's Old Town is a postcard-perfect scene, especially with the iconic blue-domed church that's like the cherry on top.

It's not just about the views, though. This area is dotted with quaint cafes, little boutiques, and art galleries, making it a hotspot for artists and creatives. If you're ever in Spain, Altea's Old Town is a must-visit. It's a perfect blend of relaxing vibes and cultural richness that you won't forget anytime soon.

You could wander around the cobbled streets for hours and the access down to the beach is easy to find and a very nice walk. Of course that means that you have to come back up. We loved the tiny winding steps but if you have elderly family, a taxi might be your best bet.

What To Do In Altea Spain

We spent a lovely few days wandering the village, checking out the historic features and of course eating our way through the local seafood delights. The main promenade is very touristy and focused around the British holiday makers however despite that the village has managed to maintain its very quaint feel.

There are a few lovely spots for a sunset cocktail. We spent a nice afternoon at La Taberna Roja sipping wine cocktails and chatting to locals and tourists alike. Here are some things to see while you are in Altea.

Everything listed below is shown on an interactive map at the bottom of the page. Save this page to your phone to use the map while you are in Altea.

The Virgin Of The Console Church (Nostra Senyora del Consol)

The Virgin of the Consol Church is cantered in a plaza at the top of the village, pretty much smack bang in the middle.

The Church of the Virgin of the Consol (or Our Lady of Consolation) in Altea, Spain, is not just a pretty face with its iconic blue dome; it's got some cool history too.

The church was built in the early 20th century, right on top of what was once a mosque. This spot has been a religious centre for centuries, even before the church was built. The church's design is a mix of various architectural styles, but it's mainly Mediterranean with some seriously eye-catching Baroque altarpieces inside.

The most famous feature, those striking blue and white tiled domes, have become a symbol of Altea and can be seen from miles around. They're not just pretty; they reflect the area's Moorish past and the influence of the Mediterranean sea and sky.

Inside, the church is just as impressive with its ornate decoration and serene atmosphere. It's been a central part of community life in Altea for over a hundred years, hosting religious events and being a beacon for locals and visitors alike.

Opening Times for the Church

The church is an operating church and you do need to be respectful of service times and local worshipers. When we were there a wedding was going on in the church which was kind of nice and we helped throw the flower petals over the bride and groom on the way out.

Mass Times:

Times for mass change slightly with the seasons. As we come however their website does list the mass times.

Usually there is an evening mass around 6:30pm Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday.

Monday and Saturday its usually at 7:30pm

Sundays they have the usual morning mass at 10am and then another at 7:30 in the evening. Check their website for mass times and updates.

Virgin of the Console Church Altea Spain
Virgin of the Console Church Altea Spain

Plaza De La Iglesia

There is a great little plaza right next to the church. You will find some great restaurants in the plaza and its also a great spot for the sunset listening to the church bells in the evening. Spider webbing off from the Plaza are a plethora of little streets that house village artisans, pastry shops and chocolate cafe's. It is a lovely place to wander and get lost.

Plaza De La Iglesia Altea
Plaza De La Iglesia Altea

Mirador de los Cronistas de España (Viewpoint Out Over Altea)

Altea's Viewpoint is a well-loved spot for visitors in Altea, Spain. It provides breathtaking, sweeping views of the town, the glittering Mediterranean Sea, and the majestic mountains nearby. Perched atop a hill, this viewpoint is easily reachable with just a brief stroll or a quick drive.

This spot is ideal for unwinding and taking in the scenery. It's also a favorite for photographers, offering the chance to take incredible pictures of the town and its picturesque surroundings. Open to everyone and free of charge, the viewpoint is just a viewpoint (there is nothing else there) but it is a very special view.

View out over Altea from the https://mapMirador de los Cronistas de España
View out over Altea from the Mirador de los Cronistas de España

Palau de Altea

Altea's performing arts centre is very popular and operates almost entirely year round. Our hotelier suggested we see a comedy show that was on there and we bought tickets and went along. Of course we didn't realise it would be in Spanish so while everyone else was laughing hysterically we quietly slipped out at half time.

Their website has a list of shows some of which are music and items that aren't always in Spanish.

Wander the Altea Ocean Front Foreshore

The foreshore does have a lot of the restaurants and is a nice place for your afternoon cocktail, however most of the accommodation along there consists of large hotels. While I'm sure they are all great, staying in accommodation in the warren of laneways in the old town is definitely the way to go. Well it was for us anyway.

However, there are a lot of great restaurants and bars that line the foreshore and it is a great spot for an after dinner stroll. There is also of course the now mandatory Instagram location sign. Altea have certainly put their own spin on this. Its styled with propellors, fish, seaweed and even the letters look like waves.

Altea's Instagram Sign
The Altea Instagram Sign!

Altea Beaches

The beach is really just one long stretch however it is broken up into three beaches. Cap Negret Beach on the north side of the centre of town, La Roda Beach which is directly under the old town and Cap Blanc at the south end.

You can just literally wander down and set up on the sand. Or pebbles actually…..

It is very strange for us as Australian's to spend time on beaches that aren't sand, however I fully understand the whole “beach umbrella and chair” thing that you see on the Italian beaches and others across Europe.

There is no way you could lay on these pebbles on your towel without ending up bruised so you will need something to sit on. It was October when we were there, so past the summer season, however we bit the bullet and swam in our sandals to protect our feet and the water was divine. Cool, but divine.

Brad testing the waters at Altea
Brad testing the waters at Altea

Jenny Marsden - Charge The Globe
About the author

Meet Jenny, a passionate Australian travel blogger who has explored 103 countries to date. With over 30 years of travel experience, Jenny has a wealth of knowledge to share with her readers about the cultures, landscapes, and people she has encountered on her journeys. She's always battling unfashionably frizzy hair and you will never catch Jenny in anything but comfortable shoes. Learn more about Jenny and her travels.

Weather in Altea: What's The Best Time to Visit

Altea enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate with warm summers and mild winters. The town basks in over 300 days of sunshine a year, making it a year-round destination. However, the best time to visit Altea depends on what you're looking for in your holiday.

If you're a sun-seeker, then the months of July and August are perfect for you. These are the warmest months in Altea, with temperatures often reaching the mid-30s. The town's beaches are at their most vibrant during this time, buzzing with locals and tourists alike.

If you prefer a quieter holiday, then the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn are ideal. The weather during these months is pleasantly warm, allowing you to explore Altea's attractions without the summer crowds. The town is especially beautiful in spring when the almond trees are in bloom, painting the town in a blanket of white and pink.

Alfresco Dining is possible for a large part of the year in Altea
Alfresco dining is the order of the day in Altea for most of the year.

Altea's Vibrant Food and Nightlife Scene

Altea's food and nightlife scene is as vibrant and diverse as the town itself. The town is renowned for its gastronomy, with a variety of restaurants serving local and international cuisine.

Seafood lovers will be in heaven in Altea, with fresh fish and seafood featuring prominently in the local cuisine. The town's many seafront restaurants offer a variety of seafood dishes, from traditional paella to innovative fusion cuisine.

L'Airet in the old town is a quant little Mediterranean restaurant that we loved. I never quite got what the translation was but the waiter suggested what seemed like Rigatoni to me but I never did find out exactly what it was. It was so good though and Brad also really loved his meal there.

Another one we loved was El Negro Parrilla Restaurante on the edge of the old town. Its very cave like with some tables having a fantastic view out over the bay. It was very nice, priced well and great food.

You won't have any trouble finding good food in Altea. Restaurants line the foreshore, the Old Town and you just have to find one you like and walk in.

Where to Stay In Altea

At the time I had been in Spain for around 8 weeks and had another 4 to go so I was very much budget conscious with regard to accommodation in particular. Our Aussie dollar is never great against the Euro but at the time I think we were around 58 cents so it was particularly tough.

We stayed at Hostal Fornet Altea and while it was great it is reasonably basic. The people were very accommodating and the location can't be faulted however its not a 5 star hotel so please take that into account. It is right up the back of the old town which enabled us to get a free car park with not far to walk as well.

Please remember that “Hostal” in Spain is hotel not a hostel like we think.

Some Accommodation Options In Altea

While I've listed one affordable one and then some more in the upper range, fear not! There is heaps of affordable accommodation in Altea. You won't have any trouble finding something to suit your style and budget.

Hotel Fornet Altea

Hostal Fornet Altea (old town location)

Large nicely fitted out rooms. Great Location and parking available. From $65.00 USD per night for 2 guests

Check Current Prices

Deluxe Double Room with Balcony and Sea View El Jardin Botanico Altea

El jardin Botánico Villa LUZ

An amazing Bed and Breafast in Altea Spain. $225 USD per night for a room with a balcony and a sea view!

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Mimar Urban Altea Sol 2 bedroom apartment in the old town

Mimar Urban Altea Sol Villa

$500 USD (aprox) per night for 4 people. 2 bedroom villa with an amazing view in the Old Town.

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Interactive Map with Sightseeing Locations in Altea

This is an interactive map with info and links to Google maps locations for the sights I've listed above. The accommodation isn't in there as I didn't want to clog up the map but all the tourism sights will be easy to spot.