Seven kilometres north of Benidorm with the N-332 running through the town, is Altea, known by some as the artists’ capital of the Costa Blanca. The narrow winding streets of the Old Town of Altea are filled with galleries and workshops of the potters, artists and craftsmen who have found Altea’s peacefulness and tranquility a paradise in which to work and open their shops and stalls which are scattered throughout the Old Town and in the summer months there are nightly handicraft markets in the Plaza.
Altea itself is extremely picturesque with the blue and white dome of the church being one of the symbolic images of the Costa Blanca. The town is situated on a hill and it is a good place to start a visit to Altea.
The parochial church, constructed at the beginning of the last century, is dedicated to the Virgen del Consuelo (Our Lady of Solace) and adjacent to the church is the Plaza which is located at the highest point. From there you can obtain views of the Mediterranean and the town’s crooked streets below. Altea is renowned as having the largest street market on the Costa Blanca and is sited on the promenade every Tuesday from 8.30am until 1pm and is certainly worth at least one visit.
During the time that the town was under Muslim domination it belonged to the Taifa de Denia and was conquered by Jaime I in 1244. The Alteanos who then left their primitive village, known today as the Old Town, sought refuge and protection in the tower castle and eventually they were re-housed in their present location at the top of the hill. At that time the town was walled and parts of these old walls still remain. The charming Old Town offers the visitor a wonderful glimpse of its history as you wander through its narrow crooked streets flanked by whitewashed houses.
To the north of the town is the luxury development of Altea Hills. On the edge of the woodlands between this urbanisation and the N332 you will find a huge Russian Orthodox wooden church bedecked in gold and built by a Russian entrepreneur in 2007.
The Church of Saint Michael the Archangel (San Miguel Arcangel) can be visited every morning and in the early evening at weekends. It is locked outside of mass times but you can still get a glimpse through the door if your timing is off. The iconography and magnificent gold work inside is something to behold.
Being by the sea Altea boasts not one but two ports or harbours. One, the old fishing harbour also has facilities for the sailing fraternity. The somewhat newer port, is a Sports Harbour and is situated on the Calpe side of Altea, and one can often see a range of impressive yachts and sports boats at their moorings. The palm lined promenade leading towards Albir village is a long and popular seafront venue with bars and restaurants stretching out on their open air terraces and here during the summer you can, if you wish, have a self portrait completed whilst you have dinner as it is here that many of the artists of the area sell their paintings and handicrafts.
Altea has a beach of approximately 6km with cliffs alternating with shingled bathing areas. The main beach, Playa de Cap Blanch, is located to the south and runs to join the beach at Albir. The Playa de Cap Negret, is a shingled beach ending in a small cove with black pebbles called the Cala del Soio and is to the north of the town. Thirdly there is Lólla a popular beach situated opposite a small island of the same name. Altea ends in the Mascarat Point where more shingled coves are located.
Whilst there is a degree of new development in Altea it has not overtaken or destroyed its original charm and beauty.
Whilst in Altea a visit to the busy resort of Benidorm must also be on the cards and apart from the Terra Mitica theme park you may also want to visit the Aqualandia water park, its sister park the Mundomar Marine and Exotic Animal Park and also Terra Natura Animal Park.
For entertainment and shows Benidorm cannot be beaten and a huge range of possibilites are on offer, as would be expected for a resort that attracts over 4 million visitors every year and is now the busiest coastal attraction in Europe.
Other places to visit around Altea include – Calpe and its stunning rock formation Peñon de Ifach, Moraira a relatively unspoilt town, Denia, medieval Castell de Guadalest, the lovely Gallinera Valley, and the waterfalls at Fuentes de Algar.
Altea weather is generally sunny and warm with infrequent rainfall, hot summers and mild winters