The Highlights of Alicante
The Highlights of Alicante
Alicante is the capital city of the Costa Blanca holiday region in eastern Spain. The name is derived from the unending stretch of white sand beaches the city is famous for.
The city combines the leisure and fun of the beach with the history and sights that any perfect city break should include. An ancient citadel towers over the traditional Mediterranean old town with whitewashed buildings and cobblestone streets.
Alicante's perfect location on the Mediterranean coast makes it a popular destination for beachgoers, golfers, and outdoor enthusiasts, but the city has much more to offer than sunbathing. Beautiful architecture abounds in the old area, from the cathedral and cloisters to the town hall and numerous winding lanes, and a plethora of fascinating museums may keep even the most ambitious visitors occupied for days.
Here are the sights and activities you shouldn't miss on a trip to Alicante:
Visit the main cultural attractions
When you've had your fill of meandering through Alicante's wonderful Old Town and lounging on the beach, head to the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Alicante (MACA), a museum that hosts regular exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, as well as three permanent collections.
The Museo Arqueológico de Alicante (MARQ) is a must-see for history buffs, with its numerous thematic galleries showcasing collections of classified and cataloged artifacts. Apart from being a multi-use and multipurpose venue, MARQ is a professional institution, a famous educational space, and a patron of important archaeological sites in Alicante.
The Castillo de Santa Bárbara is located close to the museum. The site, perched 169 meters above the city on Mount Benacantil, has one of Spain's largest medieval fortifications with spectacular views of the Mediterranean. Mount Benacantil, seen from El Postiguet beach, has the appearance of a human face, earning it the nickname "The Moor's Face." The castle is free to see and accessible by foot or car seven days a week.
Enjoy a stroll on Explanada de España
The beautiful, marble-laid promenade of Alicante, which begins in the old town and extends along the city's seafront near the harbor, is the perfect way to take in the city's beauty.
A family walk is a way of life in most Spanish cities, and promenades like the Explanada de Espana help you do it in style.
As you stroll beneath the palm trees and see daily life in the city from terraces and market booths, you'll get a true sense of Alicante's atmosphere.
There are beautiful views of the shore, and in the summer, this brightly lit boardwalk benefits from cooling sea breezes at the end of hot days.
The paving itself is spectacular, with vibrant colors and a distinctly Spanish feel. It is one of the city's most famous streets and is made of 6.5 million tiles. It's one of the most enjoyable things to do in Alicante. While walking along with it, you're likely to come across some excellent cuisine and shopping.
Take in the sun on the beautiful beaches of Alicante
The magnificent beaches of Alicante are among the city's most popular tourist attractions. They receive well-deserved European Union's Blue Flag award year after year.
Alicante is surrounded by a stunning coastline with 244 kilometers of sandy beaches, including Cabo de las Huertas and Playa de la Almadraba, which offer water sports such as kayaking and surfing.
The ever-popular Levante Beach, located near Benidorm, just 30 minutes from Alicante, is a hotspot for anyone looking to have a good time. It is also known as Sunrise Beach and offers a variety of activities such as diving boards, swinging bridges, rafts, slides, a children's playground, and well-equipped lifeguards.
If you don't want to travel far for a dose of sea and sand, there is a quite nice beach near the old town. Playa del Postiguet is located right at the end of Esplanada de Espana.
You have to wade out very far before the sea reaches waist height, but once there, the views back to Santa Barbara's imposing walls are spectacular.
The beach can get a little crowded in the summer due to its size and location, but its central location means there are plenty of places to get a bite to eat.
Sample the excellent food of Alicante
When you think of Spanish cuisine, you probably think of paella. The savory seafood and rice dish originated in the Valencian Community near Alicante, making this seaside city an ideal location to try it. Try paella at the Michelin-starred Monastrell, the exquisite La Taberna Ibérica, or the casual yet authentic La Tasca del Barrio.
Because of Alicante's location along the Mediterranean Sea, a variety of delicious seafood dishes are available for your sampling. If you're not a seafood enthusiast, don't worry — olla churra, a robust pork stew, and anything with the trademark alcachofas (artichokes) that the Alicante region is famed for are both equally good.
For dessert, indulge in some turrón, a hard nougat confection popular in Alicante and influenced by the region's Arabic origins.
Of course, it's difficult to resist a glass of rich red wine during a trip to Spain. There are numerous guided tours that depart from Alicante and transport you to various vineyards throughout the region.
Take a boat trip
Multiple boat tour businesses operate around the port of Alicante. This may be a short catamaran tour in the sea near the city, but if you want to make a day of it, a trip to Tabarca Island is an excellent idea.
It's only a few kilometers south of Alicante, yet it feels like another universe. On Tabarca, there's a small walled neighborhood with the identical whitewashed houses and blue shutters as you’ll find in Alicante's old town.
The only difference is that there aren't any cars or other vehicles here. Visit the small church of St. Peter and St. Paul and take a walk across the sparse terrain of the island to see the lighthouse.