Today, sea and sun on the agenda: we are going to the Costa Blanca in eastern Spain. With its great rate of sunshine and warm temperatures most part of the year, the beautiful beaches of this coast are amongst the most touristic in Spain. They border the city of Alicante, located halfway between Valencia and Murcia and south of the Valencian community. So it is for Alicante we are heading today.
330,000-inhabitants city, Alicante has seen its population tripled in the last 50 years, as well as the influx of visitors soared. And for good reason: Alicante has it all! Built along a beautiful beach that stretches as far as the eye can see and which will give beautiful turquoise and sand tones to all your vacation shots, it is also dotted with palm trees that give an undeniable summer atmosphere to the city. Although it extends over 200 km2, its human size downtown can be easily visited in one day. Let’s go!
Going to Alicante
Alicante is a city you can easily access from many points in Spain but also from all over Europe thanks to its international airport (Alicante-Elche) which connects the city to many European cities, in particular with low-cost companies. If you are looking for a flight, my advice would be to use Skyscanner app or website, which allows to compare prices of different companies for a given date.
To reach the city, head to la parada de bus (“the bus stop”): line C6 will take you to the center for only 3.85 euros.
If you are traveling in Spain, also consider the option of the train: the national railway company is Renfe.
- The historic center of Alicante can be visited quickly and if you like walking, you can easily walk around the city.
- If you prefer to keep your forces for later, or do a quick reconnaissance tour before going to see the points of interest that you have spotted (something that I do very often when arriving in a city I don’t know if I did not prepare my visit in details), head for a tourist transport: the Turibus. It will take you on a guided tour of the city with an audio guide available in English, Spanish, Catalan, French, Italian and German. For 10 euros and in about an hour, you can have a first accurate overview of the city. I tested the Turibus during my first visit to Alicante as soon as I arrived, and I really enjoyed the tour and the information given. You will find all the details of the Turibus on the tourist office website.
Must see places in Alicante
Even if a stay of several days, even weeks, in Alicante can be great, it is possible to get to know the city in one day. Here are the points of interest of the city you can’t miss in my opinion to make this day memorable:
Esplanade of Spain
The Explanada d’Espanya is the most famous site in Alicante. 500 meters long promenade lined with palm trees that extends along the port, its current aesthetics dates from the first half of the twentieth century. The mosaic of its floor is composed of six and a half million small tiles forming blue, red and white waves, shape that has become a real symbol for the city. Many bars and restaurants are located near the esplanade, so it is the best place for locals and tourists to enjoy terraces.
Santa Barbara Castle
Another notable point of interest of the city: the castle of Santa Barbara. Located on the heights of the city, on Mount Benacantil, its position is strategic since it offered a view over the bay of Alicante and its surroundings. Its current form dates from the ninth century (period of Muslim occupation of the city), but archaeological remains trace its existence back to the Bronze Age and the Roman era. The castle is open to visitors and easy to access, and offers a splendid panorama of the city and its coastline. You will find all the information about this visit on the tourist office website.
El Postiguet beach
Playa del Postiguet is Alicante’s most emblematic beach, partly because of its proximity to the historic center of the city and the port. It is also recognized for the quality of its waters and its facilities allowing access to all. Thanks to the optimal weather of the locality, it is possible to tan there most of the year. I remember being there in the middle of October (period when the shots were taken), arriving with sweater and scarf from Madrid: on this beach people were in swimming suit and some were bathing!
Cathedral of St. Nicholas of Alicante
San Nicolas de Bari is a concathedral, sharing the diocese of Orihuela-Alicante with the Cathedral of El Salvador located in Orihuela. The cathedral of Alicante is located on Plaza Abad Penalva and was built on the remains of a mosque. The beginnings of its construction date from the fifteenth century, and its current form of the seventeeth. Baroque style, it has a sober architecture.
Port of Alicante
Although Alicante’s port activity is not amongst the most important in Spain, the port is used for goods transit, fishing and transport boats. Take the time to visit the marina around which you will be able to take a nice walk.
Basilica of Santa Maria
Located on the square of the same name, the Basilica of Santa Maria was also constructed on the remains of a mosque. Built between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries, the style of its architecture is Gothic. The Catholic Church declared it as a basilica recently, in 2007.
The Mercado Central of Alicante is worth a look: built by the architects Enrique Sánchez Sedeño and Juan Vidal Ramos in 1921, its Art Nouveau style will probably surprise you. You will find it on Alfonso el Sabio Avenue.
Inaugurated in 1847, the Teatro Principal is the most important theater of the city. Built by Emilio Jover Perrón and restored by Juan Vidal Ramos, its neoclassical facade is well worth a visit. And if you wish to attend a play in Spanish, you can find the program on the theatre website.
I am aware that a day is a rather short time for a visit, living little room for a farandole of activities. Nevertheless, try to include the following in your program:
Enjoy the beach
The weather in Alicante is nicer than in many other regions, and it would be a shame to visit the city without enjoying its beach for at least an hour. Go barefoot in the sand and breathe the sea air!
Unlike what many people think, it can be hard to taste good paella in Spain, especially in the most touristic places. As it is a dish from Valencia, the Valencian community is the ideal place to enjoy one, and it is the specialty of many restaurants in Alicante.
Alicante is also (with Gijon) the capital of turon! Turon is a candy made with honey, sugar, almonds and egg whites loved by Spaniards, especially around Christmas. Do not leave the city without tasting it!
Fires of St. John
Finally, if you are fortunate to be in Alicante the night of June 23-24, do not miss the fires of St. John! This celebration is very popular in Spain and especially on the coast, and Alicante’s is one of the most important! To enjoy the show, head to the beach at dusk.
As you will understand, Alicante is a destination that would be difficult not to appreciate. Very popular, the best is to visit it in the spring or fall, to enjoy the warmth while avoiding the tourist crowds. Note that the visit is also enjoyable in winter since with a little more clothes on, you can still enjoy nice sun rays. Are you ready to discover Alicante, or maybe you already know it?
Coming soon, I will take you to Elche, a town not far from Alicante that I also enjoyed a lot.
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