Due to its advantageous location the area has been settled since Iberian times, and later Greek colonists established a market town here named Althaia. The town later came under Roman, Visigothic, and then Moorish control. Following the reconquista and the arrival of Jaime I in the 13th century the town was fortified; remains of these city walls can still be seen today around the old town.
Tourism came to Altea in the 1950s, yet in contrast with many stretches of the overdeveloped Costa Blanca, especially nearby Benidorm, the town has retained its Spanish identity and character. There are two primary districts, which include the largely commercial beachfront and the picturesque casco antiguo, or the original old town, with its labyrinthine cobblestone alleys and whitewashed houses.
- 1 Oficina de Turismo (Tourism Office), Carrer Sant Pere, 14, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. M-F 10:00-14:00 16:30-19:00, Sa 10:00-14:00. Offers free town maps, hiking maps, and brochures, and can book walking tours and other excursions.
- 1 Estación del TRAM (Tram Station), Carrer de la Mar, ☎ . Tram Alicante (el Trenet) operates a light rail train connecting all major settlements along the coast between Dénia and Alicante, with the exception of Xábia. The travel time from Alicante, which is easily reached from the rest of Spain by high-speed Renfe trains, is just under two hours, with a changeover in Benidorm. For travelers with smartphones, there is a helpful official app (iPhone and Android) with a route planner and timetables. A single journey costs €1.35-7.15, depending on distance. Guide dogs and small pets in carriers are permitted.
- 2 Mundo Marino, Mundo Marino Altea, s/n, ☎ . Tu-Su 09:00-19:30. From May through September they operate a catamaran/ferry route from Calpe; in May, June, and September departures are twice daily on Wednesdays, while in July and August departures are twice daily on Wednesdays and Sundays. A round-trip ticket costs €15, and the journey lasts 50 minutes.
Parking in the Casco Antiguo is restricted to residents only; there are several free car parks on the periphery. The old centre and the port area are both easily accessible by foot, provided you are reasonably fit and able to navigate steep hills.
Also known as the Poble Antic or El Fornet, the central old part of town has charming narrow streets with typical white houses and many steps.
- 1 Església de la Mare de Déu del Consol (Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Consuelo / Church of the Virgen of Consuelo). At the highest point of town, near the site of the former castle. Its two blue- and white-tiled domes are considered to be the town's emblem.
- 2 Torre de Bellaguarda. A reconstructed 16th-century watchtower. It is accessible from the street via a short staircase. Free.
- 3 Fundacón Eberhard Schlotter (Fundación Eberhard Schlotter), Carrer Costera dels Matxos, 2, ☎ . Tu-Sa 10:00-13:00 17:00-20:00. Established in memory of German painter Eberhard Schlotter who lived and worked in Altea until his death in 2014 and housed in a 17th-century residence, the foundation has a permanent collection of the artist's works and hosts rotating temporary exhibits. It also is a venue for workshops and concerts, and has a small giftshop.
- 4 , Pont de Moncau, 14 (Casa de Cultura), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Summer: M-Sa 09:00-14:00 16:30-21:30; winter: M-F 09:00-14:00 17:00-22:00, Sa 10:00-13:00. The small museum has a permanent exhibit of works by local painter Juan Navarro Ramón (1903-1989), with two other rooms used for temporary exhibits.
- 5 Templo del Arcángel Miguel (Church of St Michael), Carrer Noray, 1 (NW of town). The first Russian Orthodox church built in Spain is a striking replica of a wooden 17th-century Russian church. It was completed in 2002 from entirely Russian construction materials, mostly from the Urals region, and using only Russian labor.
Festivals and cultural events
- El Castillo de la Olla (La Olla Fireworks). 2nd Saturday of August.
- Moros i Cristians (Moros y Cristianos / Moors and Christians). Between Friday and Tuesday of the fourth weekend in September. The annual Moors and Christians festival has become very popular in recent years.
- 1 Palau de Altea, Carrer d'Alcoi, 18, ☎ . A venue for a range of performing arts, including theatre, dance, and music. Well-known musicians who have performed here include José Carreras, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Julio Iglesias.
The beaches closest to town, 2 Platja del Cap Negret and 3 Platja de la Roda, are generally stony. 4 Platja de l'Olla, also stony, is a bit further north, but is worth visiting for its good selection of chiringuitos (see description below in 'Eat') and can be visited with Llorente bus 027. Dogs are permitted on 5 Platja Mar i Muntanya (near the Hotel SH Villa Gadea). The nearest sandy beach is 6 Platja del Racó de l'Albir, just south of Altea and easily reachable by Llorente buses 010 or 031, or by tram.
A number of artists and artisans live in town, and there are galleries and studios, along with the requisite souvenir shops, lining Carrer Sant Miguel and Carrer Major and other alleys near the main church. In the summer there is a nightly open-air 1 Mercado de Artesanía (handcrafts market) in the Plaça de l'Església just by the church, featuring local handcrafts and souvenirs.
- Street market (Near the railroad). Every Tuesday morning. Rather large market. No food, only clothing, hardware etc...
- 2 Mercadillo de frutas y verduras (Fruit and vegetable market), Av. de la Nucía. Tu 08:00-14:00. A weekly street market with local fruits, vegetables, nuts, olives, and other food products, with many organic products.
- 3 Mercat Municipal (Mercado Municipal / Municipal Market), Av. L’Alt Rei En Jaume I, 4 (main entrance). M-Sa 07:30-14:30. The town's main market is a good place to pick up fresh fish, produce, and meat, and has an onsite delicatessen and bakery.
An Altean variation of coca, a Catalán/Valencian style of pizza, is coca a la llumà, which in Altea is baked in a special wood-fired oven, traditionally on Thursdays. North of the old town along the Platja de l'Olla (l'Olla Beach) are a number of chiringuitos, seasonal restaurants open in summer only which serve snacks, drinks, and full meals.
- 1 Panadería el Petenero, Carrer la Sèquia, 13, ☎ . M-Sa 07:00-14:00. Operating for more than 100 years, this baker is especially well-known for its coca a la llumà. It's best to arrive early before they run out, or to reserve the day before. They can also make on request a non-traditional vegetarian version without the blood sausage and bacon.
- 2 La Taberna Roja, Carrer del Portal Vell, 25, ☎ . M-F 18:00-01:00, Sa 13:00-01:00, Su 13:00-24:00. This popular tapas place is especially known for minxto, a specialty of the Alicante region typically served with aioli. All seating is outdoors on a pleasant terrace. Tapas €7-10.
- 3 Chiringuito El Cranc, Platja de l'Olla, s/n, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Summer: daily 12:00-18:00. A popular chiringuito directly on the beach which serves a range of traditional Valencian dishes and drinks – the paella is especially recommended. Reservations by telephone only. Tapas €8-13, mains €9-20.
- 4 Crown of India, Carrer Major, 2, ☎ . Tu-Su 12:00-16:00 18:00-24:00. Serves authentic Indian cuisine with friendly service, and has a very pleasant rooftop seating area with great views of the old town and the harbour. Tip: if you prefer the food spicy, rather than less spicy as Spaniards generally prefer, request so when placing your order. Reservations are required for rooftop seating. Mains €8-12.
- 5 Mamarosa Ecoburgers & Bar, Carrer Concepció, 12, ☎ . Daily 06:00-23:00. Known especially for hamburgers and veggieburgers, all meals here are made with organic, locally-sourced ingredients, and there are many vegetarian and vegan options. Reservations are strongly recommended, especially in summer.
- 6 El Perro Negro, Costera Pont del Montcau, 13, ☎ . M-Th 19:30-23:00. Operated by a French chef, serves very creative dishes.
- 7 Restaurante Ca Mezquida, Carrer de Cuesta de las Narices, 40, ☎ . W-M 12:00-17:00 19:00-23:00. The well-regarded restaurant serves Moroccan cuisine with a selection of Moroccan wines, and has a few vegetarian options. Mains €8-12.
- 8 Restaurante La Capellá, Carrer Sant Pau, 1, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M Tu 12:00-16:00 20:00-24:00, W 12:00-16:00, Th-Su 12:00-16:00 20:00-24:00; closed in Feb, last 2 wks in Sep, and Nov. Serves classic regional dishes including such specialties as coca a la llumá and espencat, a Valencian-style salad. Reservations can be made by telephone or online.
- 9 Restaurante Oustau de Altea, Carrer Major, 5, ☎ (reservations can be made after 17:30). Sep-Jun: Tu-Su 19:00-24:00; Jul-Aug: daily 19:00-24:00. Probably the most well-known restaurant in Altea, serves French-inspired Mediterranean cuisine in a very pleasant courtyard. €30/person, not including drinks.
- 1 Hotel Altaia, Carrer Sant Pere, 28 (port), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 13:00-24:00, check-out: 08:00-11:00. A beachfront modern hotel with an onsite restaurant, bicycles available for rent, free parking (reservation required), and free Wi-Fi. All rooms have sea views. Pets permitted for €10+/night. Doubles €84+, breakfast €10.
- 2 Hotel La Serena, Carrer Alba, 10 (Casco Antiguo), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 15:00-24:00, check-out: 08:00-12:00. A small boutique hotel with an onsite bar, spa and sauna, outdoor pool, bicycle rental, and free Wi-Fi. Parking €15/day (reservation required), pets permitted on request. Doubles €220+, including breakfast.
- 3 Hotel Tossal d'Altea, Partida Plà del Castell, 96, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00-24:00, check-out: 08:30-12:00. Located in a 300-year-old converted Altean farmhouse and olive mill, the hotel also has a highly regarded restaurant, Almàssera de Guillem, which can accommodate special diets on request. Other facilities include an outdoor pool, fitness centre, and sauna. Free Wi-Fi and free parking. Doubles €85, including breakfast..
- 4 SH Villa Gadea, Partida de Villa Gadea, s/n (Platja de l'Olla), ☎ . Check-in: 16:00, check-out: 08:00-12:00. Located on the beach, with four onsite restaurants, an outdoor pool, fitness centre and spa, and free Wi-Fi. Parking €11/day (reservation required). All rooms have a terrace. Doubles €240+, breakfast included.
- 5 Camping Santa Clara, Partida Cap Blanch 11, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: Daily 08:00-14:30 16:30-21:00. Can accommodate tents, campervans, and caravans. Facilities include toilets and showers, an onsite bar-restaurant and shop, and self-service laundry. Pets permitted with prior notice.
- 6 Camping Cap-Blanch, Ctra Playa Cap Blanch, 25, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: M-F 08:00-22:00, Sa Su 08:00-21:00. Has spots for tents, campervans, and caravans, and also has bungalows and wood cabins for rent. Also has toilets/showers, laundry facilities, fitness centre and tennis courts.