Situated on the Costa Blanca coast of Spain, you could be forgiven for overlooking a trip to Calpe due to proximity to bustling Benidorm, but if you give it a chance; I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed. Famed for the Peñon de Ifach which dominates the coastline, long sandy beaches, and the laid back Mediterranean lifestyle there is definitely something to be enjoyed by everyone.
It is important for me to clarify that I have never set foot in the gym, for me a long day at work and a walk with the dog is enough exercise to keep the scales at a number I can tolerate. So when a group of friends invited me to climb Calpe Rock (in Spanish Peñon de Ifach) I laughed at the joke and continued drinking my sangria. But after a long time of insisting that they were not joking, that the rock had a pathway to the top and even school children hiked it, I hastily agreed.
We took the tram from Alicante up to Calpe which was a nice journey along the Costa Blanca. The cost was around 9€ return and took approximately two and a half hours. Calpe tram station is situated in the mountain with a view over the town, to the sea and the rock. This was the moment where I had my first doubt, seeing the full height and scale of the task ahead I definitely began to question if I had the athletic ability for the climb.
Onwards and upwards
You can take a bus from the tram station directly to the start of the trail. And here you will find some tourist information, facilities, and a picnic area. I was climbing with a group of Spanish friends who had taken the path before so they already knew the details and we set off on our way. Luckily, it was a cloudy day and we started the journey with a cool breeze and clouds above, but it looked daunting from the bottom.
The Climb To The Top
The way up
The path to the top was not exactly what I was expecting. The ‘safest route’ was highlighted with red spraypainted dots on rocks, whilst some parts were stable and easy to walk along, others were simply ropes hanging at the side of the cliff.
It definitely tested me, and had I been alone, I doubt I could have navigated some of the more tricky parts. It took 2 hours of hard work, stumbles, grazes and frustration, but boy was it worth it. Seeing the sea spread out around you over the horizon, to feel the town sprawling into the mountains, and peacefulness of being so high in the sky was truly breathtaking.
View from the top
The View From The Top
The Sea Out To The East
The Harbour Out To The West
I Made It!
The path back down was quicker and as the sun had come out there were queues of climbers at some points starting to form. Most other climbers were polite, but the impatient ones, at times, would try and push around you. My advice here would be to let them take the outside route and keep your slow and steady self on the inside – much safer. When we were back on the ground we headed down to the beach front where you can find an abundance of restaurants, bars, cafes, and shops. We spent a great afternoon wandering around, soaking in the sun and enjoying the day.
Suitopia is a new hotel that dominates Calpe skyline. I didn’t stay there so I can’t speak about the cost or facilities, however, as a four-star plus hotel, I think you can expect a little luxury. I did take the lift up to their infamous Sky Bar and if you are heading up there for a cheap pint you would be sorely disappointed as a beer can set you back 6€ but that isn’t the reason to go…
The View From Suitopia
If you are looking for similar views without the hike I would definitely recommend heading to the Skybar because it was just as beautiful without any effort. You can relax on the panoramic sun terrace and enjoy a cocktail or two.
The Spanish Steps
If you head into the old town of Calpe you can enjoy the feel of a classic Spanish town, with narrow streets, traditional bodegas to enjoy a glass of wine and sunlit plazas. Another beautiful place to take a walk through is the Spanish Steps, here you can feel like a local and have a caña and tapa for a couple of euros.
The Salt Lake
You may have noticed from the photos above that Calpe has a body of water inland. This is the Salt Lake and here you can take a nice stroll around its edge observing the local wildlife and the flamingos! I would recommend you wear mosquito repellent as there can be a lot around the water edge.
A Clash Of Cultures
When you are in the old town there is no mistaking the authentic Spanish feel to the place, but a few steps outside of the centre and you can notice a change. Calpe, in recent years, has become an attractive place for citizens of other European countries to buy homes, with now over 50% of the residents being non-native Spanish. This has bought with it an eclectic mix of shops, art, restaurants, and bars meaning you can experience some traditional delicacies of other countries whilst enjoying the beaches and sunshine.
Is It Worth It?
For me, a trip to Calpe is definitely worth it, in fact, there are so many things to do that I would recommend a longer trip than just day. But the climb…? Well, the feeling I got when I made it to the top was fantastic and the view was magnificent, but I wouldn’t be in a rush to do it again; especially now I can take a lift with a cocktail for a similar view.