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Nature, Nightlife, And Ancient History: 8 Things To Do In Calpe, Spain

things to do in calpe spain

On the Costa Blanca, the Prime Meridian passes through a city with a colossal rock. It also has ancient ruins, sandy beaches, world-class fish restaurants, and a vibrant nightlife. Moorish and European architecture line its streets and it has a pleasant Mediterranean climate all year-round. Behold, the stunning city of Calpe.

Before it became a major tourist destination, Calpe or Calp used to be a fishing village. Its shores have seen the likes of Iberian tribes, Roman conquerors, Moorish settlers, and pirates. The city, whose major industries are fishing and tourism, is comprised of a village and a seaside town. It is the home of the Peñón de Ifach (Rock of Ifach), a massive rock formation on the beach that offers fantastic panoramic views of the Costa Blanca.

Calpe is also a destination for archaeology buffs, with remnants of its ancient history still present today. Since the 1930s, Calpe has been welcoming visitors from all over the world. Today, with around 13,000 inhabitants, Calpe is one of the most sought-after places in the Alicante province.

Read on to find out about the top 8 things to do in Calpe, Spain.

1. Climb the Peñón de Ifach and savor the majestic views

Peñón de Ifach, Calpe, España, 2014-07-01, DD 10
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Diego Delso used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The first thing you will probably notice in Calpe is its massive rock. Standing at around 332 meters high (0.20 miles or 1,089 feet), this volcanic rock formation is truly a sight to behold. Often compared to the much bigger Gibraltar, this natural wonder has its own charm with people coming from all over the world to see and climb it.

Climbers range from hobbyists to the highly experienced, but those who have health problems and/or a serious fear of heights are not advised to make the climb. The path above the tunnel is quite hard to traverse. However, the view from the top makes the nearly two-hour hike simply worth it. On clear days, even Ibiza can be seen.

Aside from being Calpe’s most distinguishable landmark, Peñón de Ifach also has its own natural park and conservation area teeming with local plant life and more than 300 species of animals. Every year, migratory sea birds use it as a nest site. The Calpe Salt Mines, a Maritime Terrestrial Zone, is also in the vicinity. Different species of birds, including the flamingo, can be seen on these defunct salt flats.

Natural Park of Penyal d'Ifac

Address: 03710 Calp, Alicante, Spain

Opening hours: 8:30 am to 2:30 pm

Admission fee: None

Contact: +34 679195912, +34 965837596, +34 965876033 (fax), [email protected]

Website: Parcs Naturals De La Comunitat Valenciana

2. Explore the old town

Calpe - panoramio (113)
Source: Photo by user chisloup used under CC BY 3.0

Located at the top of a steep hill, Calpe’s old town is filled with winding cobblestone streets and magnificent Moorish-European architecture. Visitors to the old town are greeted by the Torreon de la Peca, a centuries-old wall built to protect the town from North African pirates. Take a nice stroll and pass through sidewalk cafes, bodegas, museums, and churches like the beautiful Iglesia Antigua - a fine example of Gothic-Mudejar architecture.

A few steps from the old town is the Ermita de San Salvador, a Gothic-style 18th-century hermitage built to commemorate the re-conquest of Calpe on San Salvador’s feast day. The hermitage is also a great vantage point, offering fantastic panoramic views of Calpe.

Further up from the town is the Ermita de San Juan de la Cometa, a hermitage built during the late 17th to early 18th-century. Every June 24, it becomes a venue for the feast of St. John.

Calpe Old Town

Address: Calpe, Alicante, Spain

Opening hours: All day

Admission fee: None

Website: Calpe Tourist Office

Ermita de San Juan de la Cometa

Address: Partida Tosal de la Cometa, Calpe, Alicante, Spain

Contact: +34 965836920

Website: Ermita de San Juan de la Cometa

3. Have a gastronomic adventure

Homemade Paella with lots of seafood
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Feda Wong used under CC BY 2.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Aside from its many seafood restaurants, Calpe is also known for a variety of Mediterranean dishes and Spanish staples like tapas, paella, and sangria. There are also local homemade pastries and deserts like the Jijona ice-cream made from Alicante almonds.

The old town has a lot to offer in the food department. It is home to Salsa’s Tapas Bar, a restaurant that serves Mediterranean, Spanish, and a variety of international dishes. It also has live music which adds to the vibrant atmosphere. La Viña de Calpe, highly recommended by the locals, serves seafood and Mediterranean dishes and has a nice romantic ambiance. If you’re on a budget, there’s always the elegant Resto-Bar Tu Sitio which are known for their tapas.

Salsa's Tapas Bar

Address: Carrer la Pinta, Calpe, Alacante, Spain

Opening hours: 1 pm to 1 am

Contact: +34 678768378

La Viña de Calpe

Address: Avinguda Jaume I el Conqueridor, Calpe, Alacante, Spain

Opening hours: 6:30 pm to 11 pm (Wednesday to Friday), 1 pm to 3 pm, 6:30 to 11 pm (Saturday and Sunday)

Contact: +34 636118478

Website: La Viña de Calpe

Resto-Bar Tu Sitio

Address: Av de los Ejércitos Españoles, Calpe, Alicante, Spain

Opening hours: 8 am to 12 am

Contact: +34 865510592

Facebook: Resto-Bar Tu Sitio

4. Buy souvenirs at the Saturday Market

Farmers Market
Source: Needpix

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Stretching for around one kilometer (0.62 miles) between Avenida del Norte and Avenida Puerto de Santa María, visitors can shop to their heart’s content at the Saturday market. With half of the market is dedicated to fresh produce, the other half has absolutely everything one could possibly want to bring home. There are around 250 stalls that visitors can browse for clothes, shoes, furniture, and knickknacks.

Mercadillo de Calpe (Calpe Street Market)

Address: Avenida del Norte and Avenida Puerto de Santa María, Calpe, Spain

Opening hours: 8 AM to 2 PM

Admission fee: None

5. Witness a fish auction and dine on seafood

Calpe- Interior de la Lonja-2009
Source: Photo by user Tamorlan used under CC BY 3.0

Auctions always bring a rush of adrenaline, even if the items being sold are fish.

From Monday to Friday, La Lonja de Calpe (Calpe Fish Market) hosts a fish auction that starts from dusk and runs to the evening. Although it is quite fun to watch, only restaurants and wholesalers like supermarkets can take part in the bidding. Some of the food items being sold are shellfish, octopus, squid, whiting, red mullet, mackerel, grouper, and gilthead. Viewers can witness the fast-paced battle of bidders at the viewing gallery. There is also a public fishmonger counter where visitors can buy the same fish being auctioned, except that they are already cleaned out.

After the auction, visitors can stroll to the harbor which has a wide array of inexpensive seafood restaurants that offer local seafood delicacies.

La Lonja de Calpe Fish Auction

Address: Av. del Port, Calpe, Alicante, Spain

Opening hours: 5 pm to 8 pm

Admission fee: None

Website: La Lonja de Calpe Fish Auction (in Spanish)

6. Chill out at a cafe by the beach and stroll through the promenades

Calpe Beach
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Mark Sheffield - ... used under CC BY-SA 1.0

Although Calpe is a busy tourist destination, there are still places on the seaside perfect for relaxing. Sidewalk cafes are abundant in this area along with chiringuitos or beach bars. Great drinks to try are the cafe con leche and La Mumba, which is hot or iced chocolate with brandy.

The Eden Bar is a popular beachfront chiringuito near the main promenade and Playa de la Fossa (beach). Aside from being the perfect spot for a lazy sunny day, guests seem to like its fast service. Bar Morena is another chiringuito to check out, with fantastic views of the beach and Peñon de Ifach. If you’re in the mood for something less crowded, the ALGASS restaurant is a hidden gem near the market, seafood restaurants, marina, and Peñon de Ifach.

The area also has long tiled promenades which stretch from the beach to the town. Visitors walking through it will witness a variety of sights such as rollerbladers, cafes, sand artists, and many more.

Eden Bar

Address: Paseo Maritimo, Calpe, Alicante, Spain

Opening hours: 10 am to 1:30 am

Contact: +34 630965463

Website: Eden Bar

Bar Morena

Address: Playa Arenal Bol, Calpe, Alicante, Spain

Opening hours: 10 am to 1:30 am

Contact: +34 965832803

Website: Bar Morena


Address: 15 Avenida Del Port, Calpe, Spain

Opening hours: 10 am to 1:30 am

Contact: +34 965830736

7. Visit archaeological sites

Baños de la Reina-Calpe-2009 (1)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Tamorlan used under CC BY 3.0

One of the best things about this city is how some of its ancient ruins have remained intact. With remnants of the past dating back to the Roman conquest still present today, Calpe is indeed an archaeological treasure as well as a scenic party town.

Truly a sight to behold, the Baños de la Reina (Roman Baths) is a coastal enclave near the Playa Arenal Bol and Calpe History and Archeology Museum. Believed to be the baths of a Moorish queen, it is comprised of three parts: the Roman Vicus, Muntanyeta Thermal Complex, and Roman Fish Farms. Excavations have revealed that the ruins once had magnificent architecture and housed fine art. So far, around 25% of the surface has been excavated revealing the ancient past of a luxurious villa fit for a queen.

The Torre Moli del Morello, an 18th-century flour mill and watchtower, is located at the western end of the Roman Baths. With its strategic location by the seaside, it was once used to protect the city from pirates. Located at the foot of the Peñon de Ifach, the Pobla d’Ifach is a medieval town built in the 1300s which housed around 90 burial sites.

Another architectural marvel is the Calpe Castle, a late 16th-century watchtower built to defend against Berber pirates. It can be accessed by a short climb on the mountain side of Calpe.

Baños de la Reina

Address: Paseo Maritimo Playa del Bol, Calpe, Alicante, Spain

Opening hours: All day

Admission fee: None

Website: Baños de la Reina

Pobla d’Ifach

Address: Natural Park of Penyal d'Ifac, Calpe, Alicante, Spain

Opening hours: 8:30 am to 2:30 pm

Admission fee: None

Facebook: Pobla Medieval d'Ifach

Calpe Castle

Address: N-332, 332, 03590 Altea, Alicante, Spain

Opening hours: All day

Admission fee: None

8. Relax at the many pristine beaches

View on Peñon de Ifach, Calpe beach
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jorghé Van Hecke used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Calpe is known for quality beaches, some of which have earned Blue Flag status. Despite being a busy seaside destination, Calpe’s beaches and coves have retained their purity and calm waters. With its loveliest beaches only around 5 minutes from each other, Calpe is a great place for beach hoppers.

Near the fishing port and Peñón de Ifach is the small and peaceful Cantal-Roig Beach. Despite being located near many seafood restaurants, it still manages to be a calm haven in the bustling city. Also near the rock is La Fossa or Levante Beach located near a wide promenade and a variety of bars and cafes. Arenal Bol, the most popular and largest beach, is perfect for those seeking lots of activity and vibrancy. In the vicinity are many shops and dining establishments as well as a great view to beat.

Calpe Playa Area

Address: Calpe, Alicante, Spain

Opening hours: All day

Admission fee: None

Experience a vibrant mix of ancient Spain and modern seaside city

Playa El Fosa de Calpe
Source: Photo by user [Unknown] used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Calpe is a fine example of a modern-day tourist destination that won’t leave anyone dissatisfied. Whether it’s ancient ruins or a trendy resto-bar, this incredible city by the rock is truly a gem of Spain to be experienced. Follow our list for the perfect itinerary of fun, history and culture during your visit to Calpe.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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