Altea. Altea is located a ten minute drive North of Benidorm (ca.10 km), about 1 hour fromAlicante along the N-332 and is one of the most memorable coastal towns of the Costa Blanca, retaining its own unique Spanish charm in spite of its increasing tourism and popularity. It lies directly by the sea in the midst of a beautiful bay and is surrounding by rugged mountains – really picturesque! The name comes from the Moorish ‘Althaya’ which means ‘health to all’.

Situated on a steep hillside a short walk from the sea, with stunning views over the Bay of Altea, it is a town steeped in history and has long been a popular retreat for artists, sculptors and writers. With the recent addition of theUniversity of Culture and Fine Arts and a new concert hall Altea has been bestowed the official title of the ‘Cultural Capital of the Valencian region’.

The city centre is a treasure trove of shops, craft galleries, restaurants and little white-washed buildings adorned with flowers – all waiting to be discovered in the winding and cobbled medieval lanes, look for the famous blue-domed church of the Virgin de Consuelo at the top of these lanes; it is well worth the walk, the views from the top overlooking the bay of Altea with the mountain backdrop are nothing short of spectacular!

To reach the Church, simply continue walking upwards towards the blue domes (or follow the signs to the ‘Poble Antic’). At the top you will find yourself in a delight little square, lined with cafés and restaurants – just perfect for a ‘tapas’ or a chilled ‘vino blanco’. It is a very popular spot with the locals too with plenty of Spanish flair. The Church itself is a ‘must-see’ – spectacular murals, sculptures and stained glass windows – as beautiful inside as out.