Alcanar Spain Travel Guide
Explore an unspoilt fishing village, with another dimension – the municipality of Alcanar is made up of three distinctive parts, and has its fair share to offer tourists, who want to enjoy a typical, relaxing holiday in the area. The town of Alcanar is around 3 miles (5.8km) from the sea, where you’ll find Les Cases d’Alcanar and Alcanar Platja (Alcanar Beach), and for those interested in history and archaeology, there is a very important site at Alcanar – La Moleta del Remei. If like me, you love prawns and seafood, this area should be on your radar, as I’ve had some of the best prawns ever there, plus it’s well known for serving a very special seafood casserole (which is on my list to try next time).
Alcanar Beaches, Port & Town
Sometimes a holiday is all about relaxing, and Les Cases d’Alcanar, that you see in the photos above and below, is still a charming fishing village, with plenty of restaurants, beaches (most pebbly) and a working port, making it an ideal spot for the type of holiday where you totally kick back and don’t have to go too far to do anything.
The town of Alcanar itself is 3km inland and is typical of the area, and in my experience the locals are friendly. Heading up out of the town, a few kilometres on the windy mountain road, it’s a short journey up to the La Moleta del Remei and the L’Ermita de la Mare de Déu del Remei.
It’s also a perfect base to visit the Delta de l’Ebre, the Ulldecona Dam, Vinaros, Sant Carles de la Rapita, Peniscola, Benicassim and if you have young children with you, it’s not too far from Salou‘s Port Aventura, about an hour’s drive. If you haven’t hired a car, you can always get the train from Ulldecona-Alcanar-La Senia to Salou, if you fancy going to Port Aventura. There are just a few of the great places that are within easy enough driving distance from Alcanar. The train service is quite efficient in this area also, so really the scope is very good.
Les Cases d’Alcanar
Les Cases d’Alcanar is a charming fishing village that nowadays has its own marina and Yacht Club, which has courses on during the summer months. It grew around the tower that’s original purpose was to protect against pirates. It has retained character, and is part of 12 km of beach which belongs to the municipality of Alcanar. The Department of Tourism are on the ball also for the summer season with activities such as a mussels festival, outdoor cinema, an antique car rally and a fishing contest.
Embarcació “Rodrigo” – Rodrigo’s Boat
As you walk past the Yacht Club and continue on in the direction of the library (Biblioteca), you’ll see Rodrigo’s Boat on the left. Constructed in 1930, the boat is there in honour of the strength and constancy of the fishermen of the town. It was made from local olive and pine wood. The sign that you can see beside it is currently only in Catalan, but it specifically mentions that it is also dedicated to the coastal fishing of lobster, flounder and cuttlefish.
You can watch the fishermen working in the port, after they have come in from their fishing trips. The village of Les Cases d’Alcanar not only retains this charm but also has huge pride in their fishing tradition.
Alcanar town has a nice feel about it, and like most towns has its attractive parts and more run down parts. I was taking a photo of one of the restaurants recently and an old local man who was passing by said to me, in Catalan, with a smile on this face: “I hope it turns out well!” Every place you go has its characters but I love when things like this happen. Like many Catalan towns it has its old quarter and of course a church.
Things To Do
Alcanar To Ulldecona Road
Driving the short trip from Alcanar town up the road to see the archaeological site and the hermitage, you won’t want to go very fast! There’s two reasons for this – one is that the road at points is extremely windy and steep, there’s a reason that you can only go at 30km per hour for a short part of it, and the other reason is that there are superb views back down over the Delta de l’Ebre, the countryside and the sea below.
Watch out for the Mirador de Borretes, which is a slip road into the right on the route up, where you can pull over and enjoy the spectacular views without risking a car accident!
La Moleta del Remei Archaeological Site (part of the Ruta dels Ibers)
Moleta del Remei Visiting Hours:
July to September: Saturday and Sunday, from 17.00 to 20.00
Rest of the year: Saturday and Sunday, from 11.00 to 14.00
To book a guided tour. 977737639
Declared a monument of historical and artistic National importance on the 11th January 1979, this site dates to 625 B.C. It is part of the Ruta dels Ibers (Iberian Route), which is a route that goes through various ancient Iberian settlements, that has been organised by the Archaeological Musuem of Catalonia. La Moleta del Remei is close to L’Ermita de la Mare de Déu del Remei (the Shrine of the Mother of God of the Remedy), and it’s a settlement of the Ilercavonia tribe, who are also referred to in Greek and Roman documentation.
An oval shaped fortified village of around 2800 metres, it’s located at 208 metres above sea level, on the south of the Serra del Montsia mountains, with more superb views over the Delta de l’Ebre and the Mediterranean Sea below. There has been plenty of excavations at the site of La Moleta del Remei, with the dates of occupation being traced to 625 B.C. and archaeologists have defined four distinct periods between 625 to 110 B.C.
The evidence of defensive systems that had no specific military purpose mean that those who lived within the walled centre were the elite members of the tribe. They controlled whatever surplus crops were available, which would have been predominantly cereals and then swapped them for luxury goods, such as wine, olives, salted fish etc.
Within La Moleta del Remei there is a compartamentalised dwelling which dates to the 5th century B.C., where a number of infant graves were discovered under the floor. Another dwelling building of a rectangular shape has a fireplace, plus there is another large communal building which had a part that served as the storehouse and another which was the slaughter house.
Another communal space also had fireplaces, an oven and hand operated mills. A building of worship dates back to the 7th century BC, where there is a central fireplace where crushed handmade cermamic cups were discovered. Below the floor both ovicaprine foundational offerings and infant graves were found.
The scenery and views alone are worth a visit, as the nature is beautiful and also the views down over the sea and the Delta de l’Ebre.
Millenial Olive Trees
Also on the grounds that connect the L’Ermita de la Mare de Déu del Remei and La Moleta del Remei, you can find some of the millenial olive trees of the area. In this photo you can see one of the Olea Europaea, which is discussed in this article on the Millenial Olive Trees of Catalonia in ScienceDaily.
Why not make an afternoon of it? There is a public BBQ and picnic area, which means you could organise some food and drink before setting out and make a day or afternoon out of the trip. It is a very special setting.
Sant Jaume-Mas d’en Serrà
Another site of great importance is Sant Jaume-Mas d’en Serrà, which although it is only around 600 m2, is an exceptional site which retains a tower, a solid wall and walls that envelope an area of domestic use. The site has been important for the study of the structure of social groups in the area during the transition period between the final Bronze Age and the first Iron Age. Further information about the site and regarding the excavation campaigns of 1997 and 1998 can be read about by clicking on Sant Jaume-Mas d’en Serrà Alcanar. Please note that it is in Spanish, but can be roughly translated using an online translator tool.
Les Cases d’Alcanar Blue Flag Beach Les Cases–Marjal
The seaside part of Alcanar – Les Cases d’Alcanar has the kind of blue flag beach one might hope for in a typical fishing village. You can also discover little coves here and there. The beach has had the blue flag for 20 years now, since 1994 (at the time of writing!). The beauty of it is that it seldom becomes overcrowded, so you can enjoy the benefits of a Blug Flag Beach without some of the drawbacks of the busier ones.
Discover More Of Catalonia’s Best Beaches With Blue Flag Status
L’església de Sant Miquel d’Alcanar – St. Michael’s Church Alcanar
St. Michael’s Church in Alcanar town is a majestic, imposing structure that is accessed by a large stone staircase. Its beauty lies in its utter simplicity and functionality. In fact its stylistic and structural features make it stand out as a unique example of 16th to 17th century Catalan architecture. It’s a large church of 44 metres length, 19 metres width and 16 metres height, which was constructed over two different stages – the first being between the mid 16th to mid 17th century, and the second during the 1860s. It has an unusual lack of decorative elements both inside and outside, which has an interesting impact on the visitor. Outside the church you’ll notice that there’s a monument, which is dedicated to those who died during the Spanish Civil War.
Ermita de la Mare de Deu del Remei – the Shrine of the Mother of God of the Remedy
Camí Vell d’Alcanar-Ulldecona
It is believed that the construction of the hermitage began in the 16th century, with some buildings added as the result of later extensions, such as the apse and the dome. Built in Gothic and Baroque styles, the chapel was unfortunately damaged during the Spanish Civil War, and the altar that you can see today is an exact reproduction of the original that was destroyed.
The first time I visited, as I had just stepped in from the bright sunlight I wasn’t sure if the altar boy, that you can see in the picture of the altar on the left, was real or not. When I was there they were doing some restoration work so you’ll see that in these photos.
You can see how in the distance, you could think the altar boy was real. I did, I thought he was very peaceful!
Generalitat, 14, Alcanar 43530 – Phone: 977 737 639
There is an interpretation centre at Casa O’Connor in Alcanar town, which is originally a 19th century building that was opened in June 2008 to the public. There are approximately 160 archaeological pieces to be seen in the permanent exhibition there, which relate to La Moleta del Remei, which is featured just below.
As an Irish writer who lives in the area, I was fascinated to learn about the history of Casa O’Connor. The O’Connors were a wealthy Irish family, who fought for Philip V in the War of Succession against the Archduke Charles and his British allies. Apart from the highlights of the Iberian Route, the Casa O’Connor is well worth a visit for its decoration, and cultural journey through the 19th and 20th centuries.
Casa O’Connor Opening Hours
1st July to 30th September
Thursday and Friday: 17.00 to 20.00
Saturday and Sunday: 11.00 to 14.00
Out of season
Thursday to Sunday: 17.00 to 20.00
Weekend of the Iberian Routes from Alcanar
4th and 5th October – there is one special weekend each year when you can do this route. It is truly fascinating and you can read more here.
The Four Geniuses -Gaudi-Picasso-Miro-Casals-Following In Their Footsteps
For those who appreciate some of the above mentioned geniuses, do consider doing part of, or all of this route. To enjoy it take at least 2 days. El Vendrell is the furthest point at a distance of 138km. Horta de Sant Joan is only 75km but is not a main road for a certain part of the journey – but for the views and the Picasso experience, it’s well worth it. Both Reus and Mont Roig are worth a visit in their own right, as well as being featured in this route.
Click on The Four Geniuses Route for more information.
Alcanar Day Trips
There are many different options for day trips from Alcanar, that’s it hard to know where to start. Here are 3 of my personal favourites.
Explore The Delta de l’Ebre Magical Landscape
I would highly recommend the Delta de l’Ebre – which is featured here briefly in the Natural Parks section. This has a magical landscape, rice paddy fields and unspoilt beaches. It’s around 38 km.
The Historical City of Tortosa
Around the same distance of 38km or so, you’ll find the historical city of Tortosa, you can read more about this in the Tortosa Travel Guide.
One Of Spain’s Prettiest Towns Peniscola
Also around 37 to 38km away is one of Spain’s prettiest towns – Peniscola. Find out more here
A bit further afield is the fine city of Tarragona – around 110km away. However this is well worth the day trip, or maybe it is best appreciated on a one night or more stopover – explore Tarragona.
Where to Sleep
Estanyet Camping & Bungalows
Paseig del Marjal, at the end of the Les Cases d’Alcanar promenade – Phone: 977 737 268
Located right by the sea, this Alcanar camping and bungalows site has pitches that range in between 55 m² and 90 m². Dogs are permitted and the Wi-Fi is free. On-site there is a swimming pool, supermarket, bar restaurant, safety deposit boxes, and some entertainment at the weekends during the high season.
Estanyet also runs some special offers for retired people, and also families.
Visit the – Alcanar Estanyet Camping website
Avinguda del Mar 1, Alcanar Platja, 43530 – Phone:977740 561
Choose from the seafront apartments, bungalows or camping pitches. Additionally there are also some new pitches which have direct connections to fresh water, electricity, grey water disposal, and some satellite TV. These are suitable for large caravans and motor homes, and many of them also have sea views and Wi-Fi. On-site there is a children’s playground, ping-pong, a restaurant bar, supermarket, kiddies club, a sports club and bike hire.
Find out more on the Alfacs Camping website
N340, Take exit 1063 – Phone: 977 737 165
Built in 1967, this campsite near the village of Les Cases d’Alcanar, and by the sea, takes up a space of 21,500 m². There’s plenty of lush vegetation, and on site there is a playground, swimming pool, a small supermarket and restaurant and bar.
Discover more at the Camping Cases website.
Where to Eat
Some Restaurants in Alcanar
Below is a review of a lunch at a family restaurant in Alcanar Town. However please be sure not to miss out on the following restaurants, one in the town itself and the other one in the seaside part – Les Cases d’Alcanar. Of course there are lots more that as yet we haven’t had time to review. Click on the restaurant names below to see the full review and photos.
and the sublime
– now located in Peñiscola, 37km away.
And an unpretentious family run restaurant …
Restaurant Chaparral in Alcanar – Prawns, Langustines, Monkfish And Steak Like Butter In Alcanar Town
As I mentioned earlier, I had some of the best prawns ever in Alcanar town. Being one of my favourite ingredients, I tend to choose prawn dishes quite frequently when eating out, and at Restaurant Chaparral in Alcanar, I had a delicious dish.
It was a starter which was on their seasonal recommendations – of prawns and langustines with garlic, and just spicy enough. I shared this with my partner; both of us loved it, and we would consider that we know our prawns pil-pil pretty well. The main courses were also excellent – I had monkfish and he had steak that melted like butter in my mouth.
This is an unpretentious family restaurant, the man of the house was sitting at the table nearest the door when we entered – he’s obviously there to keep an eye on things. The lady who served us was lovely, very friendly and helpful. When we complimented the steak, and my partner asked her where it was from, she rather amused us by telling us about how she is quite feisty with the butcher to ensure she gets the best for their restaurant.
I’ve linked to my review of the Chaparral Restaurant Alcanar on TripAdvisor, so you can also see other reviews, as they are kind of mixed, but our experience was very good and we’ve booked to go again. Apart from the food and the friendly, efficient service, it was so obvious to us that this family really take pride in what they do and care about what you think of the dishes that they serve.
Ramon y Cajal, 20, Alcanar 43530, Catalonia
Before lent the carnival, also known as Carnestoltes take place – Find out more at Alcanar Carnival
Festival of Saint Anthony Alcanar – 17th January, or closest weekend
More information here
San Isidro Festival Alcanar – 15th May
Read more by click on San Isidro Festival Alcanar
Alcanar Night of Saint John Festival -23rd June
More information here
Saint Peter Festival Alcanar – 29th June
Find out more at Saint Peter Festival Alcanar
Virgin Carmen Festival Alcanar – 16th July
More information about the Festival of the Virgin Carmen here
Assumption and Tourism Festival Alcanar – 15th August
Check out this for more information
Festival of the Remedy Alcanar – 13th October
Get more information about this here.
Alcanar Gastronomic Days of the Mantis Shrimp Delta de l’Ebre – 14th February
Learn more about the Alcanar Mantis Shrimp Festival
Day of the Mussel of the Delta de l’Ebre in Alcanar – 3rd Week July
More information here
– 14th Gastronomic Days of Citrus Fruit Alcanar – 8th November to 15th December
Find out more Gastronomic Days of Citrus Fruit Alcanar
Weekly Market Alcanar Thursday Morning
The weekly market takes place in Alcanar at Carrer Canonge Matamoros. It’s a general market with around 25 stalls or so.
Saint Michaels Iberian Market Alcancar – Mercat Ibèric de Sant Miquel
This goes on over the weekend, you can read more here.
Carrer de Lepanto, Les Cases D’Alcanar, Tarragona 43569, Catalonia – Phone: 977 73 76 39
Club Nautico Cases D’Alcanar – Les Cases d’Alcanar Yacht Club
Port – Zona de Concessió, Les Cases d’Alcanar, 43569 – Phone: 977 735 001
At the time of the writing, I don’t own a yacht or really have any realistic plans to do so!! However we have been in the club for a drink, and found what we assumed to be the owner to be a friendly chap.