Planning to enjoy the sun, sea and beaches on the Costa Blanca? Then Calpe is the ideal destination. Known for its extensive beaches, pleasant climate and iconic El Peñon d’Ifac rock, this coastal town attracts many visitors every year. In addition, there is still a lot to experience in Calpe. In this blog post I will take you along the best things to do and the most beautiful sights in Calpe.
Calpe on the Costa Blanca was not exactly a destination on my bucket list. It was especially the architectural gem La Muralla Roja that caught my attention. I booked a stay there without much thinking it really through. Only later I realize I just booked a 10-day stay at a beach resort? Yes, I too am sometimes guilty of prejudices about a destination. After a bit of research, I quickly realized that Calpe and the entire Costa Blanca have much more to offer than just sun, sea and sand.
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Calpe is a well-known seaside resort on the Costa Blanca. Many tourists come here every year to enjoy the extensive beaches and the pleasant climate.
What many don’t know is that Calpe has a rich history that goes 3000 years back. Traces have been found of different nations such as the Iberos, the Romans and the Moors. Calpe was already very popular at that time because of its strategic location, climate, rock, salt production and fishing.
Even today you can find many traces of this rich history in some of Calpe’s sights. And this is exactly what makes the coastal city so special. In addition to investing in tourism, Calpe’s past is also cherished.
Moreover, Calpe is the perfect destination for versatile travelers. You can combine cultural trips with one of the many hikes in the beautiful surrounding nature. Or you can try one of the many water activities. Of course you can also relax on the beautiful beaches along the Mediterranean Sea.
Due to its location between Alicante and Valencia, Calpe is also the ideal base to discover more of the Costa Blanca.
How to travel to Calpe?
The easiest way to travel to Costa Blanca is by Plane. From Belgium you can fly to Valencia or Alicante airport. We flew from Ostend to Alicante with Tuifly. Of course you can also fly to Valencia or Alicante from the other airports in Belgium.
To travel from the airport in Valencia or Alicante to Calpe you can rent a car or use public transport. Because we wanted to discover even more sights on the Costa Blanca from Calpe, we rented a car at Sunny Cars. Sunny Cars works together with local car rental companies. The big advantage when you rent a car from Sunny Cars is that all insurance policies are already included in the price. So you will not be faced with surprises in the form of extra costs when you pick up your car.
Good to know is that you can travel from Alicante to Dénia by tram which rides along the coast. On the way, the tram makes many stops, including Calpe. You can also travel by train or bus. Planning your journey by public transport is easy with google maps.
Of course you can also travel by car from Belgium to the Costa Blanca in Spain. With about 1800 kilometers ahead you can make it an unforgettable road trip. It’s best to drive via Route du Soleil. Along the way you will pass beautiful places such as Paris, the Loire Valley, Barcelona, Valencia and many other places that are worth a visit. Keep in mind that during the summer vacation this is a very busy route where you occasionally have traffic jams.
The best time to visit Calpe
One of Calpe’s greatest assets is the Mediterranean climate. There’s a microclimate between Valencia and Alicante in which the sea plays an important role. During the summer it can get very hot, while the sea provides cooling. In winter the sea together with the low mountains behind it, ensures that the heat is retained and the cold that comes from the inland is stopped.
During the summer months of June, July, August and September, Costa Blanca is mainly overrun by sunbathers who want to enjoy the sun, sea and beaches. With many water sports activities, restaurants, bars, Calpe is one of the busiest coastal municipalities on the Costa Blanca.
Spring (April, May) and autumn (October, November) are the ideal periods to combine fun at the beach with visiting various sights. Moreover, the prices of the vacation accommodations will drop a bit, so you can make really nice deals, like we did in La Muralla Roja. We were there in October and had one day of rain. The other days the temperature was always above 20 degrees, so we could also enjoy some time the beach.
Since you can enjoy an average temperature of 17 degrees in winter, this is the ideal winter sun destination in Europe. Winter is perfect if you want to discover more of the region and espescialy if you’d love do some challenging hikes. It may be too chilly for a day at the beach, but you can still enjoy delicious tapas and paella on a terrace.
Where to stay in Calpe?
We stayed in a holiday apartment in the famous La Muralla Roja in Calpe. Calpe, located between Alicante and Valencia, has the perfect location to further explore the Costa Blanca. On the map below you can see all accommodations from hotels to holiday homes in Calpe.
The most beautiful sights and things to do in Calpe
Enjoy the beaches of Calpe
The biggest attraction of Calpe are the beaches. You will find extensive sandy beaches, slightly rougher rocky beaches and small hidden bays. So something for everyone.
North of El Peñon d’Ifac you will find Playa de la Fosa, a vast sandy beach perfect for a family trip. Along this beach there is a promenade with various shops, bars and restaurants. This wide sandy beach gives way to the rugged rocky beach of Cala de Penyal at El Peñon d’Ifac.
South of Peñon d’Ifac you will find the marina of Calpe. To the left of this is a small bay ‘Cala el Racó’ where you can relax under the rock of El Peñon d’Ifac.
On the right side of the marina is Levante beach where you can also find Los Baños de la Reina. A little bit further are the sandy beaches Cantal Roig and Aren-bol with a promenade that runs all the way to the center of Calpe.
Near La Muralla Roja you’ll find Cala Manzanera. In 1970 the Manzanera Social club was built here by Ricardo Bofill. What was once a trendy, vibrant beach bar is now nothing more than a dilapidated pile of stones with a colorful touch of graffiti here and there. Many tourists come to take a look, but do not go beyond the remains of the club. This means that this beach, in contrast to the lively sandy beaches in Calpe, remains fairly quiet. That’s why this was my favorite beach in Calpe.
Finally, you have the beach of Puerto Blanco located at the old picturesque fishing port of Calpe.
Because the coast of Calpe is enclosed by two rocks, this is the perfect place water sports enthusiasts who want to learn catamaran sailing, windsurfing, kitesurfing and diving.
Stroll down Calpe’s coastline along the promenade
Along the sandy beach Playa de la Fosse north of El Peñon d’Ifac and the sandy beaches of Cantal Roig and Aren-bol south of this iconic rock, runs a promenade. You can walk the entire coastline of Calpe along this promenade.
Here you have a great view of the azure blue coast of the Mediterranean Sea and the extensive beaches of Calpe. On the other hand you will find numerous shops, bars, restaurants and even some clubs. The perfect spot for planning a day at the beach, because you are close to everything. So you can easily get a drink or an ice cream without having to walk too far.
Both during the day and in the evening you can enjoy a vibrant atmosphere on the promenade. My favorite time to walk along the boardwalk was during the early evening. I loved enjoying an aperitif here. If you also want to dine here, do some research first because you’ll also find some tourist traps in this area. In general, I found the restaurants in the old center of Calpe a bit more cozy and traditional.
Climb the iconic El Peñon de Ifach rock
Something that should not be missing during your vaction in Calpe is enjoying a sunset from the large limestone rock Ifac. This rock is no less than 332 meters high and was declared a nature reserve “Parque Natural del Peñon de Ifach” in 1987. In the park can enjoy the local fauna and flora with about 300 different vegetations and 80 species of birds that have their nesting and resting place here.
You make your way up via the landscaped walking paths. At a certain point you come to a tunnel after which the route becomes a bit more adventurous. By that I mean scrambling over the rocks along the steep mountain sides. Fortunately, there are many ropes and chains that you can hold on to. Good footwear is definitely a must here. At the top you have a great view over the Mediterranean Sea from Benidorm to Moraira.
Are you not that adventurous? Then you can also enjoy beautiful panoramas over Calpe and the coast from the walking path before you reach the tunnel.
Learn a little about the past at La Pobla de Ifach
Just before you enter the Parque Natural del Peñon de Ifach, you can make a stop at La Pobla de Ifach. This is an archaeological site dating back to the Middle Ages, more specifically the 13th century. It’s a complex that was inhabited by Christian settlers who were given a new chance here. When they obeyed the king they were rewarded with land and houses.
The enclosure is equipped with a complex entry system of rooms, shops, houses and an imposing church with a medieval cemetery.
La Pobla de Ifach is currently the only site in this region that has not been explored, excavated or converted. That’s why this site is so unique.
Admire the yachts in Calpe’s marina “Port Calp”
At the foot of the iconic rock El Peñon de Ifach you can find the marina of Calpe ‘Port Calp’. The marina is not a public area, but you can walk past it. In the harbor you can see many yachts.
Many excursions by boat also depart from the port and you can also find some companies such as Euronautica Calpe where you can rent a boat yourself.
In restaurant Real Club Nautico Calpe you can also enjoy a delicious meal or a drink with a view of the harbour. The terrace is the perfect place to have a romantic dinner or admire the amazing yachts just in front of you.
At the harbor you will also find the famous fish market of Calpe. The fishing boats bring in their fish here every day. So here you can buy delicious fish. Most fish is bought by the local restaurants. It’s also common that when you order fish in a restaurant they first show you the raw fish for approval. Then your chosen fish is prepared.
Spot flamingos in the Salinas
Numerous salt mines were found at the foot of the Rock of Ifach. The origins of the Las Salinas saltwater lake, go all the way back to Roman times. For Calpe, which was then a fishing village, salt played an important role in preserving food.
Today, Las Salinas is a protected nature reserve where you can go hiking and enjoy the local fauna and flora. You can spot many birds including flamingos. So don’t forget your binoculars.
The park is the ideal place to take a short walk in the center of Calpe. Make your way around the salt lake via the landscaped paths and admire the skyline of Calpe in the meantime.
It’s a pity that a lot of garbage is dumped in the park and especially against the outer edges of the park. As a result, the park loses a lot of charm. In a tourist spot like Calpe, more garbage cans should be placed or tougher action should be taken against illegal dumpers.
Baños de la Reina
Past the marina of Calpe at Levante beach you can find another archaeological site that goes all the way back to Roman times, namely Baños de la Reina.
This site consisted of several buildings and was inhabited somewhere between the 1st and 7th century. In this place people could enjoy an enclosed piece of land where sea and salt were available. This gave the opportunity to trade. As a result, a small group of people decided to settle here and a city was created.
Only later the name Baños de la Reina, which literally means the baths of the queen, was assigned to this place. This is because the population believed that the passages intended for drainage served as secret passages through which the queen could move between the palace and the baths. Obviously this is an urban legend.
Currently, occasional visits are organized, but the intention is to create a large archaeological park and open-air museum here in the future.
Stroll through the old Moorish quarter of El Arrabal in Calpe
One of my favorite activities in Calpe was strolling through the old Moorish quarter of El Arrabal. Here you can get lost in the narrow, winding alleys in search of the most beautiful murals, street decorations and colorful mosaics. On Sundays you will also find many local artists who like to immortalize the picturesque streetscape of this charming neighborhood on canvas.
In the past, Calpe was surrounded by city walls that served as protection against many pirate raids. In the middle of El Arrabal you will find the medieval Torreó de la Peça, which served as a defensive bastion in the 15th century. Today, this cone-shaped tower houses a museum where temporary exhibitions are held.
In addition to the many traces of history, you can also enjoy the delicious, traditional Spanish cuisine in El Arrabal. You will find some cozy restaurants such as El Arco restaurant and Lapsus Bistro in this area. Personally, I found it much more pleasant to dine in this part of Calpe than on the busier promenade along the beach.
Hike the famous Paseo Ecológico trail
If you like hiking and would like to discover more of the fauna and flora on the Costa Blanca, then I advise you to walk the Paseo Ecológico trail. This trail runs from Benissa to Calpe, but you can of course also start your hike in Calpe.
It’s a beautifully landscaped path that runs along the coastlines of Benissa. So you can enjoy spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea. You will pass imposing cliffs, secluded bays and walk through coniferous forests. Ideal when you are looking for some cooling on a hot day.
The Paseo Ecológico is 4 kilometers long and, despite the fact that it also involves some climbing and descending, it is the perfect trail for young and old. Moreover, the trail is clearly marked and not unimportant, you will find several bars where you can take a break.
In the 1960s to 1980s, Ricardo Bofill designed many post-modern buildings along the coast of Calpe such as La Muralla Roja, Xanadú, El Anfiteatro and Las Villas.
One of his most iconic buildings is the bizarre apartment complex La Muralla Roja. While designing this building Bofill was inspired by the Kasbah, but gave it his own avant-garde touch. You will therefore find many traditional elements of the Kasbah such as the stairs, courtyards and bridges that connect everything.
The building may look rather simple and minimalistic, but the design has definitely been thought through. Bofill integrated many courtyards and terraces not only because they look nice or are fun to sit, but they ensure that sufficient natural light enters each apartment.
Also each color also has a function and underlying meaning. The blue color is used for the central courtyard, pink for the secondary courtyards and violet for the stairs, corridors and bridges. Where the red and pink tones contrast more with the landscape, the blue tones blend together with the blue of the sky and sea.
La Muralla Roja is a popular sight in Calpe. Unfortunately, you can’t just enter this beautiful building if you are not staying there. Which is ultimately quite normal, because people actually live in La Muralla Roja.
If you would like to view the building, you can walk around it via Partida Manzanera. Using drones to photograph the building from the air is also forbidden. For professional photo shoots in the building you must also submit an official application.
Mirador Morro de Toix
At the beginning of this blog I mentioned that the coast of Calpe is ideal for water sports enthusiasts who want to try some water sports, because it’s located between two rocks. I mainly talked about the iconic rock El Peñon de Ifach. The other rock with viewpoint Mirador Morro de Toix is located south of this.
From this point you have a breathtaking view over the coastline of Calpe and the monumental El Peñon de Ifach.
Park your car in the Maryvilla district of Calpe. From there the 5 kilometer long hiking trail starts to the viewpoint Mirador Morro de Toix. It’s a short but steep climb. The last part is especially steep. But after this intense workout you will be rewarded with a breathtaking view.
Are you not that adventurous? Then you can also drive by car to a photo stop of Mirador Morro de Toix. From this point you can also enjoy a spectacular view as well.
Discover more of the Costa Blanca?
If you want to discover even more of the region around Calpe, then definitely check out my blog about the best things to do in the Costa Blanca. Here you will find lots of ideas for fun vacation activities. Would you like to go into the mountains? Then be sure to read my blog about the best places to visit in the inland of Costa Blanca. Would you like to visit the beautiful city of Valencia during your stay? Definitely check ou my blog on how to plan the perfect city trip to Valencia.
After my vacation in Calpe, I was pleasantly surprised by this region. My prejudices about Calpe and the Costa Blanca were certainly not justified. There is much more to experience here than just sun, sea and sand. I hope that with this blog I can inspire you to get to know Calpe better through these beautiful sights and fun things to do.
Which things would you like to do in Calpe? Let me know below in the comments.
Thanks for reading.
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