One of the best ways to enjoy Altea is simply getting lost in the small, cobbled, pedestrian streets of Altea’s Old Town; however, if time is short or you want to know the best of immediately, take a look at the tips below. After living here for years, I’ve had the joy of getting to know Altea inside and out. I’ve learned the fastest routes to Mercadona or the train station, I’ve scouted out the best places to eat or just grab a bite, and I’ve had the joy to get to know some of the people who add charm and character to Altea. So if you’re here for a week or just a couple of days, be sure to check out my insider tips so that you can catch the best that Altea has to offer. If you have any questions once you arrive, be sure to let me know. You can stop by AlteArte or contact me through the Contact Form on my About page.
Where to Eat:
Hotel San Miguel: Looking for a great paella in an authentic Spanish setting? Look no further than Hotel San Miguel. Located on the promenade, Hotel San Miguel may seem like just another touristy hotel, but, in this case, looks are definitely deceiving. The hotel and adjoining restaurant are run by a family from Altea and has been around for decades. The husband makes the paellas, the wife can often be found greeting people on the main floor, and the two sons serve the dishes with a smile. Priced at about 10 euros per person, the paellas are sure to not disappoint – in flavor or in value!
*To ensure that you have an amazing experience, try to get a table on the second floor near the windows. The view is amazing.
*Great option for vegetarians! They offer a 100 percent vegetarian paella with artichoke, red bell peppers, and white beans.
*The place can get packed with locals so you may want to call ahead to make a reservation.
Xef Pirata: Founded in 2009 by an Argentinian, Xef Pirata offers high-end tapas in a trendy setting. Located just on the outskirts of the Old Town, it’s easy to bypass this cozy little gastrobar, but you can’t experience the best of Altea without eating here. The tapas are not only original and all homemade but the presentation is innovative and picture-worthy. This little tapas bar became so popular among the locals and tourists that the owner added on a second floor in 2012 which is equally, if not more charming, than the first floor.
*Although the tapas are amazing, Xef Pirata has also become known for its hamburgers.
*For outside dining, you may want to come early or make a reservation The terrace is tiny and limited to about 4 tables.
Casa del Mar: Also open since 2009, Casa del Mar adds a cool, chill-out vibe to the promenade. Just doors up from Hotel San Miguel, Casa del Mar offers a nice selection of tapas in a nice, laid back atmosphere. Offering primarily outdoor seating, it’s great for admiring the sea over a drink or a meal. A popular hangout among locals, it’s open during the day and night.
Restaurante Juan Ting Sushi y Maki: For a refreshing alternative from all of the Italian restaurants in Altea’s Old Town, check out this Japanese restaurant centrally located on Calle Mayor. The Sushi is amazing, the service is good and the owner is super friendly.
– Vegetarian options are available and they can even make sushi with fresh vegetables or fruits in place of fish.
– On a nice day, make sure you head straight to the top. The terrace offers one of the most impressive views. From the top, you can see the back of Altea’s church, the sea and the mountains.
** Note: the Japanese restaurant has now moved down to the promenade, so if you feel like sushi by the water, you can’t find better. An Indian restaurant, Crown of India, has taken its place on Calle Mayor and is highly recommended.
Qvo Helado Artesano Altea: For dessert, you can’t miss out on the best ice cream in Altea! Located just inside the arch, to the right, this ice cream shop is super small but packed with sweetness! Offering a variety of unique and interesting flavors that change regularly, you’ll have to go back repeatedly.
*It’s only open seasonally from about April/May to September/October.
AlteArte: I may be biased since I am the co-owner, but you can’t call a visit to Altea complete without a stop at AlteArte. Sip on a Mojito or Nojito (without alcohol) – dare I say it, but it might be the best you’ll ever have – while soaking up the ambiance. Take a seat inside where you can enjoy artwork done by local artists as well as the charm of a building that was once a stable or outside at one of the tables that line the street leading up to the church square. Delicious drinks, great ambiance and excellent service. 😉 If you stop by, be sure to let us know!
Easy Day Trips from Altea:
Guadalest: Although Guadalest is small and might be too touristy for some, it’s worth seeing at least once. A tiny village perched on a mountaintop, Guadalest offers spectacular views from the top and lots of small shops and cafes. Entrance to the Castle is worth the 3 euros (1.5 for kids) as it offers access to nice vantage points and a look inside the actual castle.
*One of the best parts of visiting Guadalest is the drive up through the mountain villages and past groves and groves of nisperos!
Fonts de Algars or Fuentes de Algars: En route to Guadalest, you’ll pass Callosa d’en Sarria. Just 3 km from there are the Algar Waterfalls. It offers a refreshing way to cool off on a hot day although there is a 5 euro entrance fee during high season.
Jalon or Xalon: Visit Jalon on a Saturday morning between 9 am to 2 pm and you won’t be disappointed by the huge antique market that they set up every week. Outdoor markets are common in Spain as each village, large or small, has one, but the market in Jalon is unique and worth checking out. After the market, which will take hours in an of itself, enjoy a mystela (a sweet wine) at one of the bodegas.
Moraira: Although in my opinion, nothing tops Altea in terms of charm and beauty, Moraira is just up the coast and also offers gorgeous views of the Mediterranean. A bit more upscale, the stores are more posh and the overall atmosphere of the town is more foreign.
El Castillo de Alicante: If you’re flying in or out of Alicante and have some extra time, visit the Castle of Alicante. One of the most impressive in terms of size and dominance in the region, this Castle is what you imagine when you think of a castle. You can drive up or walk up (takes about 1.5 – 2 hours) but the views of Alicante along the way and from the top are worth it.
Valencia: If you have the time to visit Valencia, do so. The third largest city in Spain after Barcelona and Madrid, Valencia is worth seeing, but it has many, many dimensions to it which you might miss at first glance. Of course the old town with its lively restaurants and stores are nice, but also make sure to visit the Carmen district with its cute pedestrian streets and small, hidden cafe as well as the beaches which are 10 – 15 km away. Don’t miss Little Venice or Port Saplaya, just near Alboraya beach, a charming harbor that was initially set up as a village for fisherman and their families. For a more modern feel, check out the Arts and Sciences area with architecture designed by Santiago Calatrava.
More Physical Activities:
Peñón de Ifach: A natural park and bird reserve, this rock juts out of the water in Calpe, the neighboring town to the North, and offers a nice hike to the top. Although it’s a fairly easy climb, the second half is a little more precarious. It takes about 1 hour to hike to the top. If you go in the Spring, watch out for baby seagulls. You can spot them by their protective mothers who stand in the path and aren’t aggressive but will stand at attention until you have passed. The view from the top is worth the hike up.
El Faro: Meaning lighthouse in Spanish, El Faro in Albir, the town just to the South, is more than just a beacon of light for lost seafarers. Take advantage of a nice, sunny day to enjoy the winding walk out to the tip. Only about a 45 minute to 1 hour walk each way, the path is well paved and fairly flat. Go prepared with a picnic and a camera as there are nice areas at the final destination to eat and enjoy the view.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, I might be able to help. Visit this page for some options.