In an area of Spain where white towns reign, Villajoyosa decided to buck the trend and aim for the rainbow. Villajoyosa Alicante is quite possibly the most colourful town we’ve ever visited and literally translated ‘joyful town’ it throws off all the feels and gives a bag of skittles a run for its money!
BUT IS VILLAJOYOSA WORTH VISITING BEYOND THE RAINBOW VIBES?
Visit Villajoyosa Alicante
Known locally as La Vila (Joiosa), life in this Spanish coastal town began eons ago. There are several archaeological remains that indicate a village was present during the Bronze Age (1800BC), but when the Roman Empire claimed Hispania a more economically prosperous city flourished. Unfortunately though, Villajoyosa, or Allon as it was named by the Romans, was geographically a risky place to throw down roots – pirates were a constant threat on this stretch of coastline! Perhaps that was the reason it fell to wrack and ruin for a period of time, and eventually the wisdom behind a more fortified town being built circa 1500.
But all of these historical narratives have left some sort of stamp on Villajoyosa and a wander around the town is a delight. So, here’s a rundown of things to do in Villajoyosa, some interesting sights, and a few day trip tips…
WHERE TO STAY IN VILLAJOYOSA
Incidentally, Villajoyosa Alicante would be the perfect base for a holiday on the Costa Blanca. Not only is it a beautiful place to stay but it’s perfectly located for a ton of interesting day trips. To drive from the airport in Alicante to Villajoyosa is only 30 minutes and there is also a regular tram that traverses the coast. The beaches are never too crowded and there are ample great restaurants to keep you going for weeks.
Hotel Allon Mediterrania is right on the beach, the nicest beach in La Vila Joiosa, and you will wake up to the sound of the waves each morning. Breakfast is included in the price and there are plenty of family rooms too. It’s very good value for money and if you have hired a car to scout out the area there’s onsite parking at the hotel as well.
For the best deals at this Villajoyosa hotel, click here.
Things To Do In Villajoyosa Alicante
Check Out The Ancient Roman City
If you came from Alicante to Villajoyosa via tram, before you visit the old town make a short detour to Carre Canalejas. An archaeological dig is still ongoing, and you may have to find a gap in the fence, but you can absolutely make out the old Roman baths that once stood here – sauna and steam room included. Allon was the most important town in the whole of the Marina Baixa area and important people insisted on a weekly bath! There are multiple remains of large Roman villas in the surrounding area, Villajoyosa Spain was definitely prime real estate.
See The Hanging Houses
The best view of Villajoyosa’s hanging houses, or casas colgadas, is from the road bridge across the River Amadorio. But once you’ve snapped a photo make your way down to the park below which follows the mouth of the river towards the sea. The old town walls loom above, there was no chance any pirates were scaling those walls. The River Valley Park is a pleasant walk, especially if you’re looking for a bit of shade amongst the trees.
Carrer Arsenal’s Rainbow Houses
At the mouth of the river turn left for the most vibrant welcome you will ever receive from a town. Brighter than a clowns sock drawer, the colourful fishermen’s houses are probably the main reason most people visit Villajoyosa Spain. And, to be honest, if this was the only thing the town had going for it, it’s still reason enough!
It’s the old story of fishermen needing bright buildings to guide them home in darker weather but due to the fact Villajoyosa only sees 16 inches of rain a year I’m not convinced. I prefer the story that it was because of leftover boat paint – it has the be the ultimate accessory to have your home match your vehicle! Regardless, a stroll along the esplanade requires a pair of sunglasses, a slow pace and a penchant for a coffee at a beachside cafe.
Carrer Arsenal got its name from a time when warships were built in an adjacent boatyard at the mouth of the river.
Carrer Arsenal, Villajosa Alicante
Explore The Old Town
The extension of colourful houses continues into the old town like a trail from a pocket full of smarties with a hole. Venture behind Carrer Arsenal through the winding streets up towards the old castle viewpoint and beyond. The narrow streets are shaded and peaceful, occasionally opening up into a small square with inevitably some point of interest. Here are some of the things worth looking out for or doing in Villajoyosa old town…
- A defensive castle once stood about the open space at Carrer Vallet (Vallet means moat) and a mock-up model depicts this old edifice. Look out for large rocks in people’s gardens – stones taken from the castle ruins. There are some fab views across the river down to the sea.
- Towards the edge of the old town, around Carrer Santa Marta, is some pretty cool street art amidst a section of painted houses that are particularly preened. We loved the tattooed sailor on Plaça de Sant Cristòfol.
- See the Old Town Walls from Carrer Costera del Mar that were built in the 16th century to protect Villjoyosa from pirates.
- Climb the tower of Santa Maria de la Vila Joiosa church. It’s a €2 donation, it’s a pretty steep and tight climb, but the views across the town’s rooftops are well worth it.
Check Out A Chocolate Museum
As if Villajoyosa wasn’t sweet enough, the smell of cocoa percolates the streets and has you salivating. How come? There are THREE chocolate factories in this town!
Perhaps the most famous, and a brand you would see in any supermarket, is Valor on Avinguda Pianista Gonzalo. The factory offers free tours which are informative, not too lengthy and end with a hot chocolate and a couple of samples. You’re surreptitiously deposited in the gift shop at the end, but as this is still a family-run business and the chocolate is actually very good, it would be rude not to buy a few souvenirs.
The other two factories are a little more rustic and on a much smaller scale but just as sweet, Pérez and Clavileño. Pérez has a chocolateria down on the front along Carrer Arsenal.
Visit Villajoyosa’s Port
If you’ve made a day trip visit to Villajoyosa we would highly recommend sticking around till early evening to see the fish auction – it’s fascinating! From 4pm every week day, the fishermen return on their boats to the fish quay to unload their catch. It’s a hive of activity and with no time to waste the auction hall around the back gets on with its business – tourists are more than welcome to watch.
We headed next door to Bar la Lonja for a plate of freshly fried seafood and a nice cold beer.
Visit The Villajoyosa Museum
We were so eager to get to the rainbow seafront when we visited that the museum took a back seat, but ideally, a bit of background to Villajoyosa would have been handy before we started exploring. The museum does a fine job of explaining the town’s history and has a wealth of artifacts from the Phoenician and Roman era’s here on the Costa Blanca.
We loved the story of the Bou Ferrer, a Roman shipwreck off the coast of Villajoyosa, and the museums’ impressive amount of storage jars supposedly carrying fish sauce.
The museum has also been nominated for architectural awards in light of its innovative use of an old school facade coupled with modern structures. It’s closed on Mondays and free on Sundays.
from Wikimedia Commons
Relax On Villajoyosa Playa
All of the Villajoyosa beaches have the Blue Flag Award which is a testament to how beautiful this stretch of coastline is. But Platja Villajoyosa, the one in front of all those rainbow houses, actually takes 9th place in all of the 101 Alicante beaches!
Partly down to the backdrop and partly down to the soft sandy shores, Playa Centro is a gorgeous spot whatever your requirements. There are sun loungers and umbrellas, beach restaurants, and giant inflatables, all framed by the most aesthetically pleasing collection of palm trees blowing in the breeze. It really is the perfect place for a Costa Blanca summer holiday, and never too crowded either.
Incidentally, somebody told us it wasn’t always this way – thousands of tons of sand were deposited here in the 90s. Someone on the local council clearly figured out a soft, unpebbled, approach to the sea was all a holidaymaker was looking for!
This certainly won’t be our last trip to Villajoyosa Alicante, we feel like we have found a real Valencian gem. If you’re thinking of putting it on your bucket list, then don’t delay – it has definitely been one of our travel highlights this year.
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