Nestled in the stunning Costa Blanca coastline, Alicante is one of Spain’s most beautiful cities and a hotspot destination for city breaks in the sun. Whether there for a couple of days or a week, you will never be short of things to do and see. Use our handy list of top ten must-see-and-do activities to make the most out of your visit.
Just off the Alicante coast is the beautifully untouched island of Tabarca. Home to a picturesque little town of whitewashed houses and a historical old church, this is a must-visit destination. Getting there couldn’t be easier as there are boats that run daily from the harbor in Alicante for €18 return, €15 for children. The boat trip itself is an experience as the waters around Tabarca have been declared a Mediterranean Marine Reserve for their outstanding beauty and abundance in flora and fauna. There is a restaurant and shop on the island but we recommend you pack a picnic as these can get a little pricey during the summer seasons. There’s a beach and a little coastal path you can walk until you find the perfect picnic spot to relax under the baking sun. Definitely don’t forget the sunscreen as the island is the perfect little sun-trap!
Duration of the boat trip between 40 and 45 minutes
Price: 17€ roundtrip
Departure from Alicante: 10:15, 11:15 and 12:30
Departure from Tabarca: 17:00, 18:00 and 19:30
It is worth taking the Alicante Tram just for the ride itself as the Costa Blanca coastline is truly spectacular. The tracks take you right along the coastal path and occasionally up through the hills as you pass through some of the most beautiful reclusive little towns and villages. Stops to watch out for are Altea and San Juan. If you are looking for a day at the beach then San Juan is renowned for its vast expanse of sand and clear blue sea just a couple of stops away from Alicante city center. Altea is a lot further down the line but is definitely worth the journey as this is a truly beautiful little Spanish town. The architecture is influenced by Islamic tradition and is built on a slope with winding streets to get lost in. For keen photographers, this is the place to get some really spectacular shots before relaxing with an espresso at one of the many little cafés that serve excellent coffee.
Castillo de Santa Barbara
It would be impossible to forget Alicante’s rich historical past as the entire city is built at the base of the magnificent Santa Barbara Castle. Built sometime around the 9th century, the castle has a history of warfare yet is immaculately preserved. It is easily accessible as there is a lift that takes you directly to the top or, for the more adventurous among you, there is winding path that takes you to entrance. This is a day trip, as once you get there there is plenty to see. Make your way up to the rooftop ramparts for spectacular views and tour the preserved rooms full with information and artefacts. There is also a market in the courtyard selling trinkets and handmade souvenirs. The castle has easy access all over with all facilities and a café for food so this an inclusive visit for everyone.
Playa del Postiguet
Playa del postiguet, or Postiguet beach, is one of Alicante’s loveliest beaches. The beach is huge and stretches the length of the city before running into neighboring San Juan. A couple of hours on the idyllic white sands and clear blue waters and you forget you’re actually in a bustling city. During the high summer season Alicante is a hotspot for good reason and Playa del postiguet is the number one destination for many tourists. Don’t let this deter you however, as there are less well known areas to escape the crowds. Walk along the promenade away from the center and down the opposite end of the beach for a quieter more relaxing experience. This is also home to an idyllic little beach bar where you can sip a cocktail shaded by palm fronds and soak up the beautiful sun. Once the sun starts to set, you can amble back up along the promenade to grab some delicious tapas in one of the many beachfront restaurants.
El Barrio, or the old town, is the historical heart of Alicante, and one of the most beautiful spots to spend a day of wandering. With its winding cobbled streets and stacked Spanish apartments adorned with flowers, its an absolute must-visit for those looking for some old-world charm. When the sun goes down the barrio comes to life as everyone from local to tourist heads here for some of the best tapas and most delicious cocktails in Spain. The world is your oyster as there is no end to the selection of restaurants and bars to eat and drink in until the early hours. Most places offer deals such as free tapas with every drink so it’s easy to have a cheap night out of you’re on a budget.
La Explanada de Espana
Visually, La Explanada de Espana is pretty hard to miss and you’re probably going to spend a lot of time here. It is Alicante’s main and most beautiful promenade and is constructed of 6.6 million(!) red, cream and black tiles. Created in 1867 this is the brainchild of architect Jose Guardiola Pico who wanted the perfect accompaniment to the Spanish custom of an evening stroll. The pattern mirrors the rolling Mediterranean waves, an idyllic scene complimented by the palm trees lining the walkway. Take a stroll down early evening to peruse the market stalls showcasing handmade jewellery, bags, purses, rugs and much more. Everything is reasonably priced and don’t expect to get be harassed by sales people as this is shopping at your leisure. The selection of cafés and bars that line the boulevard are the perfect place for coffee, pinchos or the quintessential Spanish treat of churros (if you haven’t had one of these you really haven’t lived).
Alicante is teeming with ice cream parlours with flavours and colours you never thought possible, yet Heladeria Borgonesse is the absolute best of a fantastic bunch. There is nothing better than cooling down with a scoop of Ferrero Rocher, passion fruit, or the Italian favourite stracciatella. If you’re on a budget then a scoop from here is one of those things you treat yourself with as the hordes of people you see wandering around clutching a delicious ice cream make it pretty hard to resist. Located right next to the main promenade and a two minute walk from the beach, stop off here for a delicious sweet treat after some tapas, before an evening stroll on the promenade or on your way to the beach.
Being a coastal city, Alicante does of course have a Marina that is home to some spectacular yachts. When the sun goes down the city lights reflect on the water making for a beautiful and romantic stroll down the waters edge. If you’re after a night out, this is also where you can find the clubs. Not just to be enjoyed at night time, the marina also has Soho Bar, a little bar/café which serves delicious coffee and lovely cocktails that is the perfect place to take a book for a lazy afternoon.
Parque el Palmeral
Overflowing with botanical wildlife, waterfalls and a lot of palm trees, Parque el Palmeral is a little slice of Eden just outside of the city centre. Catch the C6 airport bus or a train for a relaxing day out. Expect to suddenly stumble upon a little waterfall, tended garden or a bridge right next to a waterfall. The park has toilets and a little kiosk to buy food and drink, but bring sunscreen and a picnic is highly recommended as it can be expensive. This is the place for when you want to get a away from the hustle and bustle of the city and relax in the city’s most beautiful park.
Barrio de Santa Cruz
What with the lively popularity of el Barrio, the Barrio de Santa Cruz or the residential old town doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Which is a shame because it is just as beautiful in it’s own right. Located on the hillside, it feels a million miles away from the bustling city as the winding streets give you that quaint Spanish town feel. The buildings are all slightly crumbling and the streets a bit uneven and the whitewashed walls are adorned with blooming flowers making this a photographers paradise. There are cafés serving great coffee, tapas and traditional paella making this the perfect lunch spot to really get a feel for Alicante’s more traditional past.
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