Alcossebre: A Timescape of Empires Past
After our wonderful time in the north of Spain (O Barco de Valdeorras) during 2019, we decided to adventure down to the south of Spain to experience the ocean for a while. We settled on a coastal town called Alcossebre (or Alcocebre in Spanish), and made the very long (13 hour) overnight journey by train.
When we reached our destination we were exhausted, but thrilled to see our fantastic accommodation at Al Andalus, in Alcossebre. We would highly recommend this resort, as the staff are incredibly friendly and helpful, it is perfectly situated close to the sea and the shops, and the rooms are very comfortable.
Alcossebre is in the province of Castellón within the Valencian Community, roughly an hour north-east of Valencia. Alcossebre falls within the stretch of coast known as Costa del Azahar (the “Orange Blossom Coast”).
The first thing we noticed about Alcossebre, when we looked out from our accommodation, was the mesmerising view!
- To the left, down the road, we saw the beautiful blue Mediterranean Ocean as far as the eye could see. A gentle sea breeze greeted us with a cool welcome.
- To the right, up high on the hill above Alcossebre, we could see the magnificent whitewashed structure of the Church of Santa Lucía.
Not feeling up for a relatively short but extremely steep hike to the Church, we headed to explore the beach.
The beachfront is very well laid out and spacious, with numerous benches to relax on and stare out over the gorgeous sparkling ocean. There are two play areas for children in this area (one especially made for toddlers, contained with a low wall and fence around it).
Along the beachfront to the left, if you are facing the ocean, lies the harbour and the abandoned lighthouse in the distance behind that. To the right is a swimming beach which is below the boardwalk.
The boardwalk has a number of cafés and restaurants spread along it, as does the walkway towards the harbour. There are tastes and styles to suit any hungry or thirsty explorers. Taking a detour up the side roads you will find quaint colourful bars with great atmosphere. The road a block behind the beachfront reveals a host of shops selling anything from cellphones to shoes. There are two decent supermarkets within walking distance, to also serve your daily needs.
Our first day in Alcossebre gave us a glimpse of the wonders to explore in this beautiful part of Spain. We ended up staying much longer than we expected and still, once we moved on, left with so much unexplored in our adventure around the town and surrounding areas.
We spent most of our days in Alcossebre, on the main beach area, which has the Tourist Information Center, and the children’s play area.
Here we met some of the locals (and subsequently they became very good friends that we are still in contact with). The rocks along the coastline just below the children’s play area offer a safe tranquil setting to observe small sea creatures and build sandcastles. Our kids had great fun there playing with the local children for many happy hours.
Across the way from the Information Center, along the boardwalk, we could see an unusual looking structure on the beach and decided one morning to make a day adventure of discovering it for ourselves. So, we packed up all the necessary items, and set out on our exploration.
What we discovered was a very cleverly engineered super jungle gym. Apparently, it was made in Germany and donated to Alcossebre. It has its own legend and is called by various names, so we learned. The one that stuck with us is “The Witches Hat”, because it literally looks like one from a distance. Partially submerged during high tide, it is a lot of fun to climb and hang off of. There is ample surrounding area to picnic or tan or whatever else you find to enjoy the time in this wonderful space.
Our time in Alcossebre led us on day outings to really interesting places. We particularly enjoyed walking around the harbour seeing the names that people give their boats, and trying to guess why they were so named. The harbour area boasts all the services one would expect to enable a memorable vacation at the coast. From fast-food to scuba diving lessons; it’s a full experience!
On another day we ventured further along the boardwalk past the harbour to the old lighthouse standing proud on the rocky point out in the ocean. It is a long walk, but it has plenty of sights along the way to keep you distracted.
The area just before the lighthouse has a parking zone for people who travel by RV or campervan. It is very well used and a comfortable stop, with excellent views and atmosphere. The boardwalk is popular for many people, from families out for a stroll, to the runners and fitness enthusiasts.
We spent days just walking around closer to home in and around town. There we found some carefully crafted eateries for the individual experience. Cultural, philosophical, and nuanced themes to be enjoyed at leisure. All of them delightful and well worth a visit. Two that became regular visits for us were the Chinese restaurant, and the bakery (that offered the most incredible and tasty treats, with chocolate being their forte).
After feeling like we should “work off” some of the excess calories, we decided to make the journey up to the historic site of the Church of Santa Lucía high above the town. As mentioned before it is a short but steep hike. However, every step of this fairly strenuous walk is worth it, not just to see the grandiose structure of the church, but for the breathtaking views that overcome the aching muscles. Sunrise or sunset are the best hours to be there, not only for the best light and picturesque scenes, but it’s also the cooler time of day.
Besides the attractions we mentioned, there are also the local festivals that are held throughout the year. They are often geared around family fun and in particular include activities for children.
The “Three Kings” festival held in January was a real joy. Colourful costumes, horse drawn coaches, and various theme groups put together by the locals, make it a rally wonderful experience.
Ending the parade at the local church in town sees the kids sitting with the “Three Kings” getting treats and gifts. To finish off the evening perfectly, there is thick hot chocolate (so divine!) on offer to all, along with “churros” to dip in the drink.
Another festival we attended was the Sant Antoni celebration. Families and friends set out tables in the street, and bring personal dishes of food and drink to share. The kids are involved in all kinds of fun activities, and small fires are lit for warming during the chill of the evening. Later, an effigy of “all that is bad” is tied to a pole in the midst of a huge heap of wood, and set alight. The symbolism being to be rid of the past bad anything, and to start afresh with joy and happiness amidst friends, family and community.
One evening at the main open area on the beachfront a market was held for all to enjoy. Much of the proceeds were collected to help fund the local animal help services. Many of the locals have pets, and there is a need to control the few feral cats around town from over populating and becoming a problem. We met a local man, Derrick, who took it upon himself to setup feeding points for these cats, which he tends with love daily. He’s a real help to the cats and the locals.
The more time you spend in an area the more intimate details and character of the town you start to experience and absorb into your life. In all the time we spent in Alcossebre we never came close to exhausting the wonders and experiences to be found in this beautiful town. Stretching up or down the coast near to Alcossebre or going inland, there are many further wonders to explore.
From the Alcossebre Tourism Website:
It is a landscape with a great personality, which conveys a feeling of paradise to be discovered. Many visitors enjoy this natural park that was protected in 2002.
Monuments of time gone by, or “timescapes”, present unique experiences from the empires that ruled these lands in ancient history. These are to be felt in your soul linking to the here and now. The history is rich and palpable in sight and sound. Sometimes it jumps at you, and other times you have to sit still, and wait, and listen. Embrace it with an open heart and mind, and get lost in the flow of time…
As a family we love Alcossebre, and we loved our time there. A part of us remains there, as does a part of it with us.
We recommend a visit to this amazing place if you can. It will not disappoint. Alcossebre is often overlooked in favour of the more well-known neighbouring destinations, but I am sure that this bit of paradise will most definitely enthral you.