The province of Alicante is one of three provinces in the Valencian Community, Spain’s fourth most populous region. This area of Spain is also known as Costa Blanca, which means “white coast.” With beautiful beaches, towns like Benidorm & the city of Alicante are huge resort areas that attract many vacationers. But, while those larger cities are fantastic, a trip to this province wouldn’t be complete without visiting some of the smaller seaside towns that dot the coast. Two of my favorites are Altea & Villajoyosa.
Both towns are easily accessible from either Alicante or Benidorm. While Benidorm is slightly closer, Alicante is better connected if you’re traveling by train or air from other areas of the country. However, the distance between all these towns isn’t too far. You can easily travel between them by taking the local tram, which runs between Alicante and Benidorm throughout the day.
If you’re interested in visiting these towns, you could easily see both in one day, depending on how much fun you’re trying to have!!
Villajoyosa, or simply “La Vila,” is a small village 35 km north of Alicante. It’s a charming town famous for its colorful historic quarter, which dates back to Roman times.
You’ll love strolling the quaint winding streets, full of vibrantly painted houses. The town’s fishermen would paint their homes with the same paint they used on their boats in the past. Today, the locals and foreigners that live in this neighborhood ensure the neighborhood retains much of its old-world charm.
You’ll see colorful balconies and alleyways filled with flowers and hanging laundry among the quiet narrow streets. You’ll also find some interesting graffiti. One of the most captivating pieces is of an old fisherman painted in black & white. Done by local artist Felix Gordero, the fisherman watches over Plaça de Sant Cristòfol with knowing eyes. It’s a fantastic piece of art!
After you’re done exploring the historic quarter, head over to the beach. Even if you don’t plan to stay long, it’s worth checking out. It’s one of the prettiest in Alicante and is not usually busy due to the area’s lack of hotels. You’ll mostly find locals here enjoying the sun with their families.
If you forgot a towel or need some water or sunscreen, there are a few shops along the boardwalk. There are also public bathrooms and restaurants if you want to grab a bite to eat.
If you drove into town, there’s a good-sized parking lot on the far end of the beach, past the promenade. If you took the tram, you’d need to walk through the historic district and down the hill to get to the sea.
Overall, La Vila is a perfect little getaway from the more touristy zones in the region.
About 20 km north of Villajoyosa is bohemian-chic Altea. Like La Vila, Altea has a distinct historic quarter and a more modern area. Along the sea, you’ll find three marinas, nice condos, shops, and restaurants. Perched on the hill above sits Altea’s old town, a beautiful white-washed labyrinth of shops, cafes, and art galleries. Here you’ll find stunning views of the Mediterranean and the city’s most emblematic landmark, the church La Mare de Déu del Consol (Our Lady of Solace).
Things to do
The beautiful blue-domed church sits in the Plaza de la Iglesia, a wonderful area to sit and relax, people-watch, or enjoy a cold beer. There are a lot of cute little restaurants and bars in and around the plaza to choose from. If you’re in the area in the early evening, a great spot to have a drink is AlteArte. This friendly spot specializes in mojitos and sometimes hosts art exhibitions, live music, and even language exchanges! For a romantic upscale vibe, book a table at Casa Vital. This restaurant’s outdoor terrace arguably has the most stunning views in all of Altea.
If you’d like to pick up a unique souvenir in Altea, consider buying some local art. One of Alicante’s public universities, Miguel Hernández University of Elche, houses its art campus in Altea. The school offers programs and workshops in drawing, painting, sculpture, modeling, and dance. This art scene permeates Altea, and you’ll find an array of shops that sell everything from small crafts to fine art.
There are plenty of other activities to discover if Altea seems like the kind of town you’d like to explore more of. If you’re interested in a beach day, Altea’s pebbled beaches actually make the area more conducive to water sports like snorkeling, kayaking, or sailing. Or, you can also rent jet skis or even a boat!
If you arrive at Altea via tram, the hike up to the historic district won’t be easy. So, if an uphill climb doesn’t sound fun to you, opt for a taxi instead. There are many taxis readily available in town. If you’re driving, getting around town isn’t a problem, but parking in the Old Town will be. You’ll be able to find parking up the hill, just not in the historic area. So, expect some light uphill walking, about 5-10 minutes, to get to Plaza de la Iglesia.
And if getting around Alicante still seems confusing, book one of the many local tours in the area. Many English-speaking locals and expats that have built businesses that cater to you. I 100% recommend Ali-Oil Tours. The owners Alberto & Rebecca are a wonderful married couple, and I promise they’ll take care of you. Hit them up at email@example.com.
Now, go have fun!