Although it is within easy reach of Benidorm, Altea is a world away from the high rise, low rent resort to the south. Cobbled streets lined with white-washed houses, sporting wrought iron balconies, span out from the central square, making their way down to a fairly smart restaurant-lined seafront, complete with palm trees and tasteful paving stones. In some of the narrow streets, blossom and canvas paintings add a splash of colour. Although the beach itself is full of pebbles, the water can be clear and inviting. The square is dominated by the La Mare de Déu del Consol with its exotic octagonal blue-tiled domes. Altea conjures up North Africa.