Secrets of Spain: Altafulla - an elegant, UNESCO Golden Coast jewel

Located on Spain‘s Golden Coast – the Costa Dorada, Altafulla has a lovely golden sandy beach, which is embraced by a gorgeous, authentic promenade. What makes Altafulla different to some of the other seaside towns on the Costa Dorada, is its promenade, known as the Botigues de Mar, its Roman villa, Els Munts, which was declared to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, plus the Vila Closa, the ancient walled town.

Altafulla beach Spain

A strange yet wonderful phenomenon is that Altafulla seems to have somehow escaped the kind of mass tourism that some of the other seaside towns of the Costa Dorada enjoy. This charming seaside town, that is drenched in artistic and historic heritage, has plenty of facilities to keep a savvy traveller happy, yet enough peace and tranquility to ensure a relaxing holiday.

Beautiful Botigues de Mar

The Botigues de Mar line the promenade with an authentic maritime charm, that makes a stroll there a must. Sit for a while in a nearby bar or restaurant, and enjoy these small establishments, which originally date to the 18th century. The Botigues de Mar of Altafulla were designed originally for the fishermen to store their tools and also for traders to keep products which were destined for sale in the colonies. In the early 20th century these small properties were restored and used as summer residences.

Altafulla promenade

The golden, sandy blue flag beach of Altafulla

The blue flag, golden sandy beach of Altafulla is the perfect place to enjoy the wonderful, Mediterranean climate and views, while listening to the waves lapping up gently against the shore. The beach has decent access for those with reduced mobility, and is a great spot for family holidays, with a lifeguard service during the height of the season.

For those who are into water sports, the Altafulla Sailing Club is located on the beach by the Hort de les Bombes gardens. The club was founded in 1976, and Altafulla has hosted International, Spanish and Catalan sailing championships.

Altafulla Les Botigues de Mar Spain

UNESCO World Heritage Site-Els Munts

Built during the 1st century A.D., Els Munts, the Roman Villa, was one of a number of Roman towns that were built around Tarraco, the great Roman city, that today is known as Tarragona. Els Munts is close to the beach of Altafulla, and was home to the governor of Tarraco, Caius Valerius Avitus and his wife. Els Munts was part of the excavation work carried out in 1967 by the Archaeological Museum of Tarragona. Visits are possible all year around, except for on Mondays.

The medieval, ancient walled part of town-Vila Closa

Declared to be a Cultural Asset of National Interest, in 1998, by the Generalitat of Catalonia, the Vila Closa is the wonderful medieval walled part of Altafulla. It is of great artistic and historic importance.

Altafulla old town

Delightful Tamarit Castle

Overlooking the beach of the same name, is the delightful Tamarit Castle, which dates as far back as the 11th century, according to written records. Tamarit Castle is around a 3.5 km (just over 2 miles) drive from Altafulla town, but it belongs to the municipality. It includes both residential and defensive elements, and is considered to be one of the area’s earliest and purest examples of Romanesque style architecture. In the early 20th century, an American collector bought it and restored it. The castle and its superb location make it very special.

Tamarit Castle

Altafulla Church Square

One of the highlights of the old town of Altafulla is its church square, which comprises of the church of Saint Martin (Martí), the rectory and the castle. If you are visiting during the summer, make sure to check out the schedule of recitals and concerts that take place there, because of its fine acoustics and wonderful surroundings.

Altafulla Sant Marti Church and Altafulla Castle

Don’t miss tantalising Tarragona

The tantalising city of Tarragona is almost on Altafulla’s doorstep. Tarragona is only 15 km (9 miles) away, and is exploding with sights of artistic, cultural and historic importance. Let me say no more, other to sneakily drop in the Roman amphitheatre by the sea ….you can read more here

Roman Amphitheatre Tarragona

Fiestas and cultural events

For a town with a population of just under 5000, Altafulla has plenty going on throughout the year. From the first swim of the year on New Year’s Day, to a great number of music events, its carnival and its Witches’ Night, there’s plenty of fun and entertainment to be had in this charming, cultural seaside town.

Jackie de Burca is Co-owner of Catalonia Valencia.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Comments (16)

  1. I have not heard of Altafulla nor its heritage status. I also had not heard of Domodossola in Italy and its heritage status and both places are away from the tourist traps. Interesting. Altafulla has an interesting history and looks a fascinating place to visit.

  2. Hi Paula, Altafulla is a lovely place to visit, that is big enough to be interesting, yet intimate enough to be charming. I love the Botigues de Mar, and of course all the heritage.

  3. Suzanne says:

    A castle, an old town and an amphitheatre next to the sea – what a beautiful part of Spain! So much culture but also a beach for the children and relaxing after soaking up all that history and culture.

  4. Hi Suzanne, yes absolutely, there’s a perfect mix for anyone who wants to spend time in a cultured part of Spain, but still have beach time as well. :)

  5. Sounds like just my kind of place. I love swimming but can’t spend long lying around on the beach this would be the perfect mix. Although I don’t think you should tell too many people – we don’t want everyone to know!

  6. Erin Bender says:

    Someone just told me that Europe had crap beaches. Obviously they had never been here – wow. And Tarragona is gorgeous – I want to visit.

  7. I am like you Kathryn, I used to be able to lie on the beach from dawn to dusk when I was a bit younger, but now an hour or two is loads. :) It is your kind of place, I believe.

  8. Right back at whoever told you that Erin :) You would love this area, for sure. Tarragona is fascinating and I have always found the people to be very hospitable.

  9. Rachel says:

    What a fabulous photo and spot. This is another ampitheatre to add to my growing list of them in Spain and I hadn’t heard of it either. A definite must.

  10. Thanks Rachel. Yes it is wonderful to visit Tarragona and see the amphitheatre there by the sea. :) Altafulla is so close as well, as is Tamarit.

  11. Lisa says:

    We discovered Altafulla by accident a few years ago, and have returned many many times since then. We just love it there. We always visit in May and again in September. We wonder if you can help. We love the day when the talleres of Altafulla build their human castles outside the l’Ermita de Sant Antoni, followed by the spectacle of the banishing of the witches from the village in the evening and wondered if you would be able to confirm the date that this happens. I think it is on Catalunya Day the 11th September, but am not sure. If you could help, I would be very grateful. Many thanks, Lisa

  12. Hi Lisa,
    Delighted that you discovered Altafulla by accident, and that you love it so much. The information re. the Castellers is not that easy to find, right now their own website is down-

    They are performing for Sant Jordi (St. George’s Day) on the 24th April, and I believe the 11th September is a definite date normally also. However I think there are more performances throughout the year as well.

    They are on both Twitter & Facebook, as below – hope that helps:

    Enjoy your next trip :)

  13. Brendan says:

    Hi Jackie . I like your travel tips on Catalonia . I have being going to Altafulla for years . Love the place . I love the quiet ambience . If I get bored , a trip into Tarragona livens things up .

  14. Gayle says:

    Hi Jackie, I was in Costa Dorada many times with my family and we really loved Tarragona and its amphitheatre near to the sea, also Sitges is very charming with its little streets. Very nice place, I will be coming soon for sure!

  15. Gayle Wisterham says:

    I’m a fan of Altafulla. I spent my last holidays with my family there and we had such a great time. We enjoyed the beaches, the sun and sights and the great deal of activites that offer for kids, such as Port Aventura Park. For me it’s a perfect destination for family trips. I hope we go back soon to see again the Tamarit Castle! :)

  16. Erin says:

    Someone just told me that Europe had crap beaches. Obviously, they had never been here – wow. And Tarragona is gorgeous – I want to visit.

Leave a comment

Your actual name, not your online persona, website name, company name or keywords, otherwise your comment won't be published

Please do not advertise and make sure your comment adds value, otherwise we regret that it won't be published. Comments such as "Nice post. Thanks for sharing." do NOT add value to the discussion! Homepage links (not deep links) are allowed in the 'Website' field only - if you would like to advertise, please contact us for details and we will be happy to help.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.

Our readers also enjoyed these posts…