Altea is a small, quiet oceanside town on the Spanish costa blanca. From the moment we stepped off the bus, we knew we would like it here.
Our first impression was that it felt like a mix of Lagos and the Greek cycladic islands. It has the small town vibe that Lagos had combined with the beautiful white and blue homes that Greece is well known for.
After checking into our Airbnb, we decided to head towards the beach and explore. The second thing that struck us was how beautiful the views from the beach were. All the restaurants and coffee shops are on one long street lining the beach so every meal comes with an incredible view. It is a very affordable and laid-back town so don’t expect any fancy establishments. It’s mostly small family owned businesses, and every meal we had was great. We spent the remainder of the day reading books on beach chairs and swimming in the ocean. We paid 15 Euros for two chairs and an umbrella, which is at the lower end of what you can expect on European beaches.
The second morning is where the adventure began. Our alarm rang at 5:00 a.m., we got dressed and headed for the train station. We were taking the 5:30 train towards the town of Calpe. This is another ocean-side town 30-minutes by train away from Altea. The reason we were heading there was to get to the Natural Park of Penyal d’Ifac and hike up the 332 m rock known as Penon de Ifach.
The goal of the early wake-up call was to get close to the top of the rock as the sun was rising. Unfortunately, that did not happen. We knew that from the Calpe train station to the entrance of the national park was a 5km distance. We had assumed we would start walking from the train station and quickly find a taxi to drive us to the entrance. While that sounded very realistic to us at the moment, most Spanish cities don’t come to life until about 8 or 9 a.m. We ended up walking for about 2.5 km until we decided to stop at a gas station and ask (in broken Spanish) if the person working there could call us a taxi. They were incredibly kind and got us a taxi within 5 minutes. The moral of the story is to plan ahead when you are trying to visit this national park! After about an hour of hiking/rock climbing, we got to the top just before 8 a.m and were met with a very cloudy sky. We were definitely a bit disappointed as I’m sure the views are even more incredible under a clear sky, especially just after sunrise. Nonetheless, it was still one of the most spectacular lookouts we have ever experienced and 100% recommend the experience to everyone!
Here are some tips if you are planning on doing this hike in the future.
-Go early as it gets very very warm by 10 a.m in spain in the middle of summer!
-As we mentioned, make sure you plan out how you will be getting all the way to the national park as it is quite a long walk.
-Don’t read too much about it on the internet as it might scare you off. We read some reviews about this hike and almost chose not to do it. Many people were saying that it’s dangerous and scary and that it cannot be done without hiking boots. Yes, you do no need good running shoes, but hiking boots are not necessary. No, it is not dangerous but you do have to take it slow and make sure you are looking where you are stepping because you are basically walking along the edge of an enormous rock. And of course, if you are terrified of heights it can be scary but it is possible to enjoy going only halfway along the more developed walkway and turning back before it becomes rougher. The views are amazing all along the walk so even doing just half of it is worth it, in our opinion!
-bring some snacks and sit at the top for a little while, it truly is breathtaking.
-give yourself some time to enjoy the town of calpe after the hike if you can, it seemed like a cute and charming place!
After our hike back down, we walked the 5 km back to the train station and stopped along the way for coffee and pastries at a charming coffee shop. We then spent another afternoon on the beach and ended our time in Altea with some great fish and chips by the ocean!
We hope you find this helpful and that you get to experience the beauty of this hike for yourself one day.
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Lots of Love,
Ben and Bianca