There’s nothing like having really fresh fish. It’s one of the things I love the most about living in Spain. The supermarkets are packed to overflowing with beautiful glistening fish packed with ice. Yet, you can still get even fresher fish! In El Campello, boats bring their catch ashore every evening for an auction. And you can join the event – either to buy fresh fish off the boats or just to see the locals haggling…
El Campello fish market
The El Campello fish market is in the Lonja del Puerto (which means Harbour Fish Market). In the picture above, it’s the white building on the left-hand side. The building reminds me a little of the Sydney Opera House… Perhaps just a very low-cost and simpler version of it! It might not be anywhere near as grand, but it has weathered the extreme heat and the wild storms of the Mediterranean very well for it’s age.
The fish auction takes place every evening from Monday to Friday, between 6.00pm and 8.00pm. And it really is quite the spectacle! So even if you’re not planning to bid for any fish, it’s worth check out for a unique El Campello experience. The market is closed on local or national fiesta days.
Fish you can buy
Unlike a lot of wholesale fish markets, El Campello actively encourages visitors to come and see its wares.Wholesale buyers from all the big restaurants and supermarkets come here to buy their fish. Individuals can also just buy a tray of fresh fish to take home. Sometimes the fish is so fresh, they are actually still flapping about in the market!
My top pick for what to buy at the market is the Gamba Roja (Red Prawns). The Gamba Roja from this part of Spain are considered the finest in the whole country. Considered an absolute delicacy in this region, they are also very expensive in the markets and supermarkets you find in town. In restaurants, they can cost a small fortune. But at El Campello’s fish market, half a kilo is only 30,00 EUR!
To make them, start by simply heating up a frying pan and sprinkling the bottom with coarse Maldon type sea-salt. Then, plop the Gambas into the pan and pan fry them for about 3 minutes on each side. Serve with some chunks of lemon and plenty of paper towels (as they can get messy). These lovely prawns are even better in the months of December to February when the Mediterranean is a little cooler and they come ashore in El Campello, Villajoyosa and Santa Pola ports.
And fish you can’t
A lot of the catch is sold in quotas to supermarket chains and restaurants at previously contracted prices. These big crates of Boqueron (sardines) were heading to Madrid.
Free parking (but only for 2 hours)
Normally access to the car park at the El Campello fish market is shut and barrier-controlled. This is very frustrating for visitors to El Campello’s seafront since it could probably allow for at least 100 extra cars to park at port level. However, the fishing port is controlled by the Generalitat Valenciana, which isn’t an organisation known for spending money wisely. Anyway from 6pm the barrier goes up and you can pop into the fish market without needing an entry card. It comes down when the market’s over so you can’t stay all night.
Club Nautico next door
The port area is split between the fishermans port on (next to the market) and the Club Nautico de El Campello is on the other side. Both the Club Nautico and the esplanade make excellent spots to enjoy an evening next to the sea.
Getting to El Campello Fish Market
El Campello is located 17km north of Alicante on the N332 main road. The town is easily accessible with a car. If you don’t have your own car, you can pick up a car hire at Alicante Airport or Alicante Station. There’s quite a lot of free parking near the beachfront. There is also a large pay car park (about 3 EUR per day) to carry any overflow.
If you’d rather take public transport, there is now a very excellent tram service connecting Alicante and Benidorm that passes through the centre of El Campello. However, it’s worth noting the tram station is about 1km from the beachfront and harbour. You can find the tram timetable by visiting: tramalicante.es.