Calpe is a charming coastal town on the shores of the Mediterranean in the Costa Blanca region, just north of Alicante and Benidorm. Calpe’s skyline is dominated by the iconic Peñón de Ifach, a massive limestone rock formation that has become the town’s symbol. Pristine beaches, natural reserves, historic buildings, a quaint old town centre, stunning views and a wide range of water sport activities are what makes Calpe a popular tourist destination on the Costa Blanca in Spain.
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There are plenty of attractions for everyone to have an unforgettable holiday. Whether you are just visiting for the day or spending your entire holiday in town, there are plenty of things to do in Calpe.
So read on and discover Calpe today!
The origin of Calpe is estimated to date back to pre-Roman times as Iberian settlements and remains have been found. The iconic rock, the Peñón de Ifach was used in those times as a watchtower or natural lookout so the coastline could be controlled.
The Roman civilisation left their mark at the ‘Baños de la Reina’, which are ancient Roman baths as well as ‘fish farms’ showing evidence of an economy built on maritime trade.
During later years, the Arabs left their mark by building a castle overlooking the Mascarat Ravine, which was the central and administrative base of the Marina Alta. The Moors remained in control until the mid 13th century when the area was reconquered by the Christians.
During the 18th and 19th century, the town’s economy was once again agriculture, fishing and maritime trade using the Peñón de Ifach yet again as a strategic watchtower against any attacks. It was only during mid 20th century that Calpe started to transform into a popular tourist destination by building modern infrastructure, urban development, cleaning up the beaches and creating various tourist facilities.
IS Calpe worth visiting?
Having warm dry summers and mild winters, Calpe is a year-round destination for anyone looking for a mild Mediterranean climate. Offering golden sandy beaches, historical sightings, delicious gastronomy, natural beauty, various outdoor attractions and watersport activities, Calpe is a popular destination for many visitors.
It combines Spanish charm and historical importance with modern facilities making it interesting for the whole family, from outdoor lovers, to families with children, people looking for fun and others who want a relaxing holiday filled with sunbathing.
So yes, the attractions Calpe has to offer are definitely worth a visit. Being close to Alicante, Calpe can be visited as a day trip from Alicante, or from other neighbouring towns like Benidorm, Javea or Denia.
Best things to do in Calpe Spain
To help you plan your visit, we have highlighted some of best attractions in Calpe to visit, things you can do and top places to see. We have also listed some tips and tricks to make the best of your time in Calpe and listed tours you can book in advance.
Here are some of the best highlights of Calpe:
Visit the Parque Natural del Peñon de Ifach
The Parque Natural del Peñón de Ifach also known as the Natural Park of Penyal d’Ifac in English is a breathtaking natural reserve located in Calpe.
Dominated by the massive limestone outcrop emerging from the sea, this 332 meter high rock has become an iconic symbol of Calpe.
The area was granted natural park status in January 1987 to preserve and protect its unique natural diversity. With over 300 plant species and more than 80 bird and animal species, the park boasts a diverse fauna and flora both on land and in the sea.
Covering a surface of ‘only’ 45 hectares, it is Spain’s smallest natural park, yet it stands as the most visited natural park in the Valencian Community.
Many visitors come to Calpe to climb this iconic rock, and for a good reason, as the summit offers some of the most spectacular panoramic views of the region. It is a 2-3 hour round hike to the top and back down. It is a pretty steep climb, especially closer to the top.
TIP: It’s worth noting that recently the governing board of the park has implemented a daily visitors limit of maximum 300 people per day. In order to monitor this, online pre-registration is required through their website. This can be done for up to 10 days in advance. Failure to do so will result in a fine. Bookings can be made here.
Walk the Paseo Ecologico de Principe de Asturias
The Paseo Ecologico de Principe de Asturias is a pleasant and scenic route located near the Peñón de Ifach. Starting at the Calá el Racó, or el Racó cove just beyond the marina, this picturesque promenade stretches for nearly 1 kilometer offering a pleasant walk along the foot of the iconic rock.
While making your way to the viewpoint, keep an eye to observe the diverse birdlife, like seagulls and cormorants, views of the surrounding coastline and one side of the rock itself. The promenade also offers captivating panoramic views of the surrounding coastline while providing a unique perspective of one side of the rock formation.
This walk is a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the town center and sometimes crowded beachfront. It’s a lovely route for a leisurely stroll, or for easy hiking or jogging. The pathway is also accessible to people with reduced mobility.
Explore the old town
The Casco Antiguo of Calpe, or the old town, is a tranquil and charming area characterised by a labyrinth of narrow streets. A stroll through town feels like taking a journey back in time, allowing you to appreciate the town’s rich cultural heritage. Originally, the old town was fortified with a defensive wall that was built around the church.
The Torreó de la Peça was a defensive tower that was part of the defensive wall to protect the town from attacks. Today it is located in the heart of the old town and is one of the important historical monuments of Calpe. Next to the Peça Tower you’ll find the parish church of Nuestra Señora de las Nieves, a beautiful building with mosaics on the outside wall.
While exploring the old town, take your time to discover its charming squares, hidden corners and picturesque alleys.
Additionally, savour some Spanish gastronomy in one of the many cozy restaurants or have a drink on one of the many quiet terraces that you’ll find scattered throughout the area.
Don’t miss out on the real photographic highlight of the town, Carrer de Puchalt, which is this amazingly beautiful alley with all the steps painted in the colours of the Spanish flag. See Google Maps.
Relax on the beaches
Calpe is home to a diverse selection of beautiful beaches along its coastline making them the main attractions of the town, from wide expansive beaches to smaller hidden coves, each with their own unique character, offering a range of vibrant atmospheres to more tranquil places to relax.
Playa de la Fossa, also known as the Levante Beach is located on the eastern side of Calpe. It boasts a beautiful sandy beach with lots of tourist facilities; including toilets, bars and restaurants. During peak season this beach can get crowded but other times of the year it’s very pleasant with a family friendly environment.
With 1,5 km golden sandy beaches, dotted with palm trees for some shade, Playa Arenal-Bol is Calpe’s longest beach. Together with Playa de la Fossa, these two are the town’s primary beaches. With the iconic Peñón de Ifach set as a backdrop, crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean, an attractive beach promenade, and various facilities like bars, shops and restaurants nearby, this beach attracts both tourists and Calpe locals alike.
In addition to the 2 main beaches, Calpe is home to several smaller yet equally stunning beaches, including Playa Cantal Roig, El Racó Beach, Cala La Calalga, Cala Manzanera and Playa Puerto Blanco. All of these are worth a visit, depending where your hotel, appartment or holiday home is located in Calpe.
Stroll on the beach promenade
As with the beaches, Calpe has a variety of promenades in town alongside the coast all with different length and atmospheres.
Both main beaches Playa de la Fossa and Playa Arenal-Bol have a beach promenade lined with shops, restaurants and bars. Paséo Marítimo is a lively promenade with numerous boutiques, bars and restaurants running alongside Playa Arena-Bol. It’s a lively place filled with a coastal atmosphere. The Paseo Infanta Elena stretches alongside the Playa de la Fossa or Levante Beach and is a bustling promenade adorned with palm trees.
Both of the main promenades are beautiful, clean and easily accessible. They are perfect for a leisurely stroll while admiring the iconic rock in the background, the turquoise waters and the sandy beaches.
Do visit during the day as well as in the evenings as the atmosphere changes with the lights and the ambience becomes more lively and vibrant.
Visit the flamingoes at the Salinas de Calpe
Las Salinas de Calpe or the Salt Flats of Calpe is a shallow, salt-filled lagoon located close to the old town of Calpe.
Around 2 million years ago this lagoon was open to the sea, but over time sand started to pile up due to the winds and ocean currents closing off access to the bay. In more modern times sea water was artificially let in for the production of salt which was important for the town’s economy such as to preserve food. This all dates back to Roman times and up until quite recently when salt was used to preserve the ‘catch of the day’.
Currently the salt marsh is a natural reserve with a unique ecosystem attracting many migratory birds. Very often flamingoes can also be spotted in the lagoon. These flamingoes can be seen from the main road, but they usually hang out on the far side of the lagoon. The best way to enjoy the nature reserve and to observe the flamingoes and other birds up close is by taking a lovely circular walking route around the lagoon.
Walk the Paseo Ecologico trail
The Paseo Ecologico Trail is a fairly easy yet impressive hike which takes you from Calpe to Benissa along the coastline. This well maintained trail is a linear route of about 3 km long (one way) and offers stunning views of the Mediterranean, the coastline and the Peñon de Ifach.
Even though the walk is not too difficult, it does have lots of small ups and downs with steps along the way.
The walk will take you to various viewpoints, small coves and beaches, beautiful cliffs, information boards with benches along the way and some possibilities to stop for a drink. An absolute gem of a hike that is highly recommended when visiting Calpe or Benissa.
TIP: As it is a linear route the hike can either be started at the Cala de Fustera in Benissa or at the Cala la Calalga in Calpe where you’ll also find ample free parking spaces when arriving by car. This path is unfortunately not very suitable for people with reduced mobility.
Admire the Muralla Roja
Designed by Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill, La Muralla Roja, meaning the red wall, is an iconic postmodern appartement complex in Manzanera, Calpe. Completed in 1973, the building is characterized by its striking reddish-pink hues, geometric shapes, and labyrinthine layout. The design was influenced by the Arab Mediterranean architecture of the Kasbahs, or fortresses of Northern Africa. It’s a maze built according to a precise geometric plan.
The building is painted in various hues of pink, red, blue and violet in order to create a contrast with the surroundings as well as an optical effect to blend in. As it is a housing complex, it is currently closed for the general public to enter and take photos. It has been suggested that the makers of the Netflix series Squid Game got some of their inspiration for the set from this apartment complex.
Conjunto arqueologico – Los baños de la reina
The Conjunto Arqueológico Los Baños de La Reina is an archeological site that consists of a series of rectangular pools that are the remains of Roman baths.
Baños de la Reina, literally means Baths of the Queen. According to legend, it was a Moorish queen who used these pools as her private baths. By means of underground tunnels and galleries leading to and from her palace she could ‘bath’ in the sea in private.
Another legend is that they used to be public Roman baths, but possibly also for fish catching as well as for salt production and trading. At high tide that seawater would flow over the pools and the fish would get trapped.
Water sport activities
Not only does Calpe offer attractions on land, but also plenty of water sport activities such as:
- Jetski rentals
- Scuba diving
- Guided kayak excursions
- Sunset catamaran sailing cruise
- Daytime catamaran sailing cruise with swimming options
Best time to visit Calpe
As Calpe is located in the Valencian Community, in the province of Alicante, it has a Mediterranean climate with warm summers and mild winters. It enjoys a microclimate and is perfect for year-round sun seekers. With around 320 sunny days a year, one cannot fault any time of year to visit Calpe.
Best time to visit Calpe is in the spring and autumn when the days aren’t too hot and the evenings mild. Winters don’t get very cold, but the evenings might get a bit more chilly. The summers can get very hot, but usually always with a light sea breeze. Also tourism peaks during summertime and depending what type of vibe you are looking for you might want to consider visiting out of peak season.
As a conclusion, any time of year is fine for visiting Calpe.
How to get there
As Calpe is located in the middle of the Alicante province, it’s easy to reach from various larger cities:
- By bus: The Alsa bus company conntects Calpe with cities like Alicante and Valencia. For more information, check their website.
- By train / tram: You can catch the local tram with ‘tramalicante’ which runs between Alicante and Denia. For more information go here.
- By private transfer: Forget about the stress of finding your way to Calpe after arriving at the airport in Alicante. Book your private transfer to and from Alicante Airport in complete comfort for groups up to 4 people here or for groups up to 7 people here.
- By car: Coming from Valencia, take exit 63 on the AP-7 and follow N-332 to town. Coming from Alicante, take exit 64 on the AP-7 and follow the N-332 to town. Google Maps also knows the way.