The Best Things To Do In Alicante
Back in the days Alicante was just like any other medieval Spanish town a walled city, but because of its strategic location on the Costa Blanca coast it has been fought over a lot. Therefore Alicante has been built, destroyed and rebuilt many times over the last couple hundred years. Some facts to show you the importance of Alicante in history: The first long distance train in Spain went from Madrid to Alicante. Alicante was the last remaining republican city that Franco took over in times of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).Napoleon took over Spain except two cities: Cadiz and Alicante. Because of all this fighting over the city there are not many ancient buildings left in Alicante Old Town. Nevertheless it is a beautiful place to stroll through.
Because of the many affordable flights arriving at Alicante Airport the city became a magnet for people looking for short breaks. But it can’t be only the cheap flights to Alicante that draw so many tourists to the Costa Blanca, there must be more. I roamed around Alicante old town and the city center for a couple days and also hired a car to explore the best places to visit around Alicante for you. There are many things to do and places to see, that in fact an Alicante weekend break is not enough. On my trip I found out that Alicante is an amazing place to visit, but there are also fabulous day trips from Alicante you can take.
Best Time To Visit Alicante
Any time of the year is a good time to visit Alicante. Of course if you want to avoid the crowds you don’t travel to Alicante in the summer months June, July and August. But even winter is a great time to visit Alicante. All the photos taken in this Alicante travel blog are from mid December. To me it was the perfect time for my holidays in Alicante, because of the mild temperatures and the deserted streets. As I found Alicante almost deserted at the end of autumn I listed it in a list of off the beaten track destinations in Europe.
Getting Around Alicante
May you decide to spend your Alicante weekend break just in the city then you can either take a taxi from the airport to your hotel or the Alicante airport bus. The bus only cost €3,85 per person, taxi’s easily ask €25. The bus from Alicante Airport to Alicante city center leaves just outside the arrivals hall and is called C6. It has several stops along the Explanada de Espana , the main boulevard in the city.
You can either rent a car at the airport and pick it up on arrival or rent a car at the Alicante city center. At the airport you can’t miss the rental car companies in the arrivals hall. It is very simple and straight forward. I recommend you to book a car to see the best places to visit around Alicante. You can also rent a car in Alicante city center. Almost all the car rental companies have offices next to the train station. I rented my car in the city center and dropped it off at the airport with no extra fee. For cheap car rentals in Spain, check out this website. I already rented a car with them for less than €20.
There are busses and trains from Alicante to Benidorm that run every hour and take 1,5 hours only. But to make the most of your holidays in Alicante I would recommend renting a car. One of the best places to visit in Alicante is Altea and you won’t get there unless you have a car.
For those people that are only able to enjoy a weekend in Alicante I think it is best to rent a car for one day and visit some places near Alicante. The other day you can explore the Alicante city center with all its things to do.
Santa Barbara Castle
If you are reasonably fit or have the time anyway, please walk up to the top of the Santa Barbara Castle . To me it is one of the best things to do in Alicante. There are many path to lead to the castle on top of the hill. It is 166 meters above sea level but the views from up there are obviously impressive. During the hike up you will constantly be spoiled with fabulous views in all directions over Alicante city center.
The walk up is pretty steep, but once you reach the top you will appreciate it even more. You can also drive up to the entrance of the Santa Barbara Castle. There are some places to have a drink along the way with good views over the city center and the ocean. There are some expositions halls, but I was just mostly interested in the view. There is no Santa Barbara Castle entrance fee. When you visit Alicante make sure to put this on your things to do list! Watching the sunrise is not possible as there are opening hours. From April till September the castle is open from 10am to 10pm, in the winter months the castle is only open till 8pm.Watching the sunset from Santa Barbara Castle, a romantic thing to do in Alicante.
One of my favorite things to do on a city break is to get lost. This time I ended up somewhere in Alicante Old Town and I was blown away by its beauty. Perched in the slopes of the Santa Barbara Castle there are these cute little streets and stairs. Houses are painted in different colours and all have flowers in front. If you are looking for romantic things to do in Alicante then stroll through Old Town.
Did you know that every city you visit has free walking tours? In Alicante you can also find one and I honestly think it is one of the best things to do. Not only do you get to see all the best places to visit in Alicante, you also get a little slice of history and some cool anecdotes about the city. The free walking tour takes about 2 hours and is tip based. They meet every day at 11am at the beginning of Explanada de Espana and you recognize them from of the purple umbrella. If you look closely on the picture you can see the purple umbrella. During the free walking tour in Alicante we learned that the rock above Alicante has a face, the one who protects Alicante from Evil.
Have you ever tried riding a segway? It is just as easy as walking trust me. An hour city tour cost about €40. You get a little Segway lesson and once you are comfortable you are ready to explore the city on a segway.
Places To See
Marinas are always great to walk around, especially around sunset. It always gives me such a calming feeling to see all these boats perfectly lined up. There is a nice terrace at SOHO Mar to have a drink with views over the marina. You can also find a Volvo Ocean Race Museum, but I did not go inside as well as a casino. If you fancy a typical Alicante coffee ask for a Bombon Coffee, its a layered coffee with condensed milk. Not my taste, but worth a try.
The main tourist spot in Alicante is its Explanda de Espana . The main boulevard made out of more than 6.5 million marble tiles is something the people from Alicante are really proud of. It has a long history but nowadays tourists on their Alicante weekend break stroll up and down through the massive palm trees before they sit back and relax. There are many terraces and people watching is a popular thing to do in Alicante. The marble tiles of the Explanada have three colours: white and blue are the city colours of Alicante and red. Alicante Red is an official colour marble and expensive all over the world, it is marble that comes from this region.
Beaches in Alicante
There are several amazing beaches around Alicante. I cant tell you which one is the best as I did not try them all. The beach in the city center is called El Postiguet . A little North you can find a huge beach called San Juan Playa. For people staying in Alicante City Center I would recommend going to El Postiguet.
From the beach in Alicante you can see a little rocky island in the ocean. During summer there are many boats going to Tabarca. This inhabited island is a protected marine reserve since 1986. It is a great place for snorkeling
Eating in Alicante
The local food in Alicante mostly always contains fish. Because of its dry climate there never really were opportunities to grow something so historically dried food and fish has always been part of their menu. In Alicante city center there is Mercado Central, this bustling place is cool to walk around. You will be amazed what they all sell here.
Fresher than this it can hardly get. Around the markets there are some restaurants where you can bring your own fish and they cook it for you. Buy it at the market, present it to the restaurant and let them prepare a meal for you with your own fish. Just outside the market there is a restaurant called La Rotonda who also does this. If I were you I would ask in advance before you get there and say: but Traveltomtom told me it was possible… 😉
When on an Alicante city break you surely have to try Turron. Originally from the Alicante region it is a kind of nougat sweet made from egg white, honey, sugar and toasted almonds. It comes in many different variations. There are shops dedicated to Turron. I walked into Turrones ESPI at Calle Tomas Lopez Torregrosa and they let me try different kind of Turrones. Definitely something you have to try when you visit Alicante. They claim to be making Turron since 1820, so I assume they know what they are doing. The liquor of Turron taste a bit like Baileys.
If walking around Alicante all day gives you a little back pain, or, makes your knees ache, why not try an acupuncture treatment to get you up and moving again. Alicante has many acupuncturists; some will even come to your hotel to treat you.