Definitely one of the jewels in the Costa Dorada’s crown, Altafulla has a beautiful old quarter and a fine, sandy beach that goes on for over 1 kilometre. The Altafulla promenade has an authentic, rustic charm, with a kind of fishing village feel. There are a few cafes and restaurants to tempt you to sit down for a while, and listen to the lovely, lapping sound of the waves. Even though it is a holiday town, there’s a feeling of simplicity along the promenade, rather than the plastic paraphernalia and neon lights of overdevelopment.
The town has a very tangible cultural and artistic heritage, which you can absorb by wandering around and looking at the medieval ruins inside the old walls. In fact, in 1998 Altafulla was declared to be Cultural Asset of National Interest, and the Roman town of Els Munts, was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2000.
In the municipality, you won’t want to miss Tamarit Castle, which overlooks Tamarit beach. The last time we were there, a couple were getting married on the beach, with the castle overlooking them – a very romantic setting!
A charming, yet quiet enough town, Altafulla will appeal to those who love culture, gastronomy and lovely surroundings. Wander down the promenade and pass by the Botigues de Mar, where the fishermen and tradesmen used to store the tools of their respective trades. It’s a more peaceful spot than some of the other holiday offerings on the Costa Dorada, but still has its fair share of fiestas and an artistic flavour.
Altafulla is also in the perfect location to visit the wonderful city of Tarragona Spain, around 14 km, or even to take a day or an over night trip to Barcelona, which is 84 km away. Of course if you have children with you, it may be difficult to avoid a day out to Europe’s biggest theme park – Port Aventura, which is in Salou Spain. This is located 25 km away.
Things To Do
La Vil·la Romana dels Munts – Roman Town Els Munts
Also located on a small hill is the Roman town of Els Munts. This was a luxurious residential area that made up part of Tarraco. Excavations have been carried out since 1967, which have found rich decorative items.
Vila Closa Altafulla – Walled Town Altafulla
This is the old medieval walled town, which was first referred to in the latter half of the 11th century. It has an unusual shape, and is located on a hill over 50 metres above the beach area. The impressive castle which was transformed into a fortress palace is a highlight, as is the neo-classical church of St. Martin (St. Martí). At La Placeta, which is the tiniest square of the old town, you should be able to get a small view of the sea.
One of the most iconic places in the walled town is Plaça del Pou – which means Square of the Well. Surrounded by mansions, the square is overlooked by the porticoed Altafulla Town Hall. On the square, there are outstanding buildings such as Ca l’Ixart, plus the monument to honour the human tower builders.
Botigues de Mar
The Botigues de Mar are small establishments, which were built at some stage in the 18th-century. These buildings were where the traders used to store their products, and the fishermen would leave their tools. In the early 20th century they took on a new lease of life, when there were converted into summer homes.
Altafulla Beach – Blue Flag Beach
The Altafulla Beach is a golden sandy blue flag beach, around 1100 metres in length and 20 metres or so in width. During the season there’s plenty of watersports to choose from, the sailing club and a lifeguard service. The beach has access for those with reduced mobility. It runs from Cap Gros all the way to La Roca del Gaia.
Located in a small cove, which is protected by the rock of Torredembarra Spain, this is a small golden sandy beach. It tends to be peaceful normally, and is a semi urban beach.
The castle dates back to the 11th century, and is of Romanesque style. Its location as well as the architecture make it special. It sits on a promontory on the Med, and the tiny medieval village of Tamarit surrounds it.
Its function was to protect the area from Ottomans and Barbary Pirates. Throughout the centuries it has passed through a variety of owners, and today you can see a large antique furniture collection there. The setting alone with the Castle just by the sea is worth the visit.
Esglesia de Sant Martí d’Altafulla – Church of St. Martin
Dedicated to St Martin of Tours, the church was built sometime between the years 1701 and 1705. The Saint’s image presides over the façade, and the church is designed around three naves, making the shape of a Latin cross. There is an octagonal dome, and inside an interesting crypt, which has been updated.
These days the church square is the scene for a number of concerts on balmy summer evenings, as well as poetry recitals.
Capella de Sant Antoni – Chapel of St. Anthony
Built in 1717, the Chapel was funded by the fishermen and its first priest. Located on the Hill of St Anthony, which is to the north-east of Altafulla, the Chapel springs into action on 11th September, to celebrate the Fiesta of the Painting of St Anthony.
Mouth of the River Gaia
In 1995, due to it’s important, abundant fauna, this area was declared to be a wildlife nature reserve. It has a big rabbit population, plenty of badgers, foxes, squirrels, moles and weasels, as well as an impressive variety of bird species. Watch out for the squirrels that have their homes on the top of the pine trees, near the mouth of the Gaia River.
Altafulla is a good base from which to explore a couple of very interesting Artists’ Routes. The closest one is the Route of the Four Geniuses. This route follows Picasso, Pablo Casals, Anton Gaudí and Joan Miró to locations that are accessible within 20 minutes to an hour and half drive from Altafulla. From Altafulla, you can head to El Vendrell, the birthplace of Pablo Casals, which is a very charming beachtown in its own right. The setting of the Pablo Casals museum here, right by the sea is gorgeous.
Next stop is slightly inland, but is a town with stunning architecture and wonderful shopping; Reus, the birthplace of Anton Gaudí. In my humble opinion, the exterior of the Gaudí Museum, doesn’t contrast well with its beautiful architectural surroundings, but regardless of this, it is the place to go to learn more about the great genius, Gaudí.
Where to Sleep
Where to Eat
Like other locations, the carnival in Altafulla takes place before Lent each year. Read more here.