A traditional Spanish town 45 minutes from Barcelona airport by car and everything you need for the most relaxing holiday in one place.
It’s popular with holidaymakers but not touristy, it is quiet and most of the people who live here are either locals or are older and have their second homes here. I first came to Altafulla last year for 5 weeks as an Au Pair and I was invited back this year for a holiday. I’ve yet to hear any English people here, which is something I personally quite enjoy as it feels like complete escapism.
My balcony overlooked a square with hotel rooms on each side but there really wasn’t much noise and it was worth it to be able to look out to sea.
All my neighbours were Spanish so this was the perfect place to Au Pair as I got a sense of their everyday lifestyle, which I settled into right away.
I loved exploring the town with Carlota and her sister, right in the centre is a castle with a large grassy area where we would sit an have an ice-cream from the nearby cafe (which has Wi-Fi). Surrounding the castle are a few holiday homes and a couple of bars and this area seemed perfect for families due to the size of the houses. However the cobbled side-streets and steps aren’t particularly buggy friendly, a couple of minutes away is a strip of local shops, bakeries and apartments that looked more accessible and closer to the main road.
Closer to the beach are a lot more hotels, but even these are tucked away in side streets and manage to not take anything away from how the town feels like a local person’s holiday destination. Then you reach the main square, where you can find ice cream and frozen yogurt parlours, a small supermarket, a pharmacy and a pizzeria amongst other small shops.
Most of the accommodation in Altafulla is in walking distance from the beach but there is parking if you have a car. The beach does get busier near the hotels but by the middle of the day it empties out as most Spanish people wander back home for their siesta.
At one end of the beach is Castell de Tamarit (Tamarit Castle as I’m sure you worked out) which has its own little cove if you don’t mind climbing down some slightly crumbling steps. It tends to be busier throughout the day here as there is a campsite and what looks like an equivalent of Centre Parcs nearby.
If I were to go on holiday to Altafulla with friends or family, I would absolutely stay in one of the apartments right on the beach, literally steps away from the sand and with the main square right around the corner.
Things to do
Altafulla is a pretty chilled location and ideal if a calm and relaxing holiday is what you are looking for. I was kept pretty busy looking after and teaching Carlota, so on my days off or while she was doing something else I was completely content to spend the whole afternoon on the beach with my book. However, there are a few other things to do around the area:
This coastal town is busier and more commercial than Altafulla but is only a 15-minute drive away, or there is a direct bus. There are so many places to try great Spanish food here and have as much tapas as you like. We also went here for dinner by the harbour which I can definitely recommend. Though most people to see the Amfiteatre Roma which looks out to the Mediterranean.
Walk or cycle around the town
I wanted to make sure I got to see the whole town as every part of it is so pretty, so in the evenings Carlota would show me around. Alternatively you can explore the town via a little tourist train which I would see running a few times a day.
Carlota and her friends had Optimist (a little boat for children) classes for a week, which were given in English and Spanish and these run all throughout the summer. You can also hire jet skis, pedalos and paddle boards.
If you want to pack a bit more travel into your holiday then I would include a few days in Barcelona. There is a direct bus from Tarragona to the airport which takes about an hour. I added another 4 days onto my trip last year and met some friends in the city and stayed in an Air B&B apartment.
I miss this place every time I am away from it and it is small enough that even in a week or so you could get to know the town and find out where everything is. You can read about my experience Au Pairing in Altafulla here