For most people, Alicante is the airport they fly into before making their way onto one of the many popular holiday resorts nearby. Many do not realise that Alicante is a bustling cosmopolitan city with a population of 375,000. Overlooked by the imposing Santa Barbara Castle, Alicante boasts a thriving marina and a pedestrian walkway to rival Barcelona’s “La Rambla” as well as an old town full of interesting buildings and quaint tapas bars. Add to this four world-class beaches, a pirate island, great shopping, and a lively nightlife scene and you have the recipe for the perfect weekend.
Located in the heart of the city, just past the marina, El Postiguet beach is the poster child for what an urban Mediterranean beach is supposed to look like. Awarded Europe’s prestigious blue flag for cleanliness and water quality, El Postiguet beach is known for its fine white sand, beachfront bars and its proximity to the old town.
Arguably Alicante’s most popular place to hang out during the summer, the sands of Playa San Juan stretch all the way up the coast to El Campello. Located in what is considered to be Alicante’s most prestigious neighbourhood, Playa San Juan is surrounded by expensive apartment buildings and commercial premises.
Brilliant for children due to its gentle slope into the sea, Playa de la Albufereta is located to the north of the city adjacent to the coastal highway and is a part of the former Roman city of Lucentum. If you want a break from the beach, there are several interesting Roman sites to explore.
Probably Alicante’s best-kept secret, Playa Urbanova is located a 15-minute bus ride south of the city close to the airport. The beach has every amenity you would expect to find on a top Spanish beach, plus the opportunity to watch aircraft taking off and landing.
Originally built by the Moors, Santa Barbara Castle was renovated during the 1500s by the conquering Christian armies and was later used as a garrison for British troops during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714). The castle certainly has an interesting history and provides great views over the city and marina. To get there, you can either walk, take a bus or taxi, or better still use the convenient lift opposite Postiguet Beach.
For an insight into Alicante’s origins and the civilizations that settled there, a trip to the city’s Archaeological Museum is a must for any visitor. You start the tour learning about early-man before Greek and Phoenician traders arrived. Later, the Romans built a city in what today is a northern suburb. You will also learn about how Christians, Muslims and Jews all lived happily together during the 700 years of Moorish rule.
Feeling a lot like a village in the centre of the city, Alicante’s old town is a joy to wander around. Located almost directly under the castle, the old town is full of tapas bars selling ice-cold beer and food unique to Alicante.
Built on the site of a former mosque following the Reconquista in the 13th century, the Gothic style Basilica of Santa María is Alicante’s oldest church. An interesting fact about the church is its two nearly identical towers despite one of them being added much later.
This island was once home to the Barbary Pirates. It now has the distinction of being the smallest inhabited island in Spain. To get there, you can take a regularly scheduled boat from the marina. Once there, take a look around, have lunch and go for a swim. The waters around the island are a marine reserve, making it one of the best places in Spain to go snorkelling.
One thing Spain has that tourists find fascinating, is their traditional indoor markets selling only the freshest produce available. The Mercado Central in Alicante is located on Avda. Alfonso X El Sabio and is open from 6:00 am – 3:30 pm. The market also has a couple of cafeterias, making it a great place to go for a coffee and a bite to eat early in the morning.
Alicante’s newest shopping centre is ideally suited to tourists located close to El Postiguet beach. It has all the big name stores under the same roof. The mall also features several restaurants and a cinema complex.
Considered as being Spain’s equivalent to Harrod’s in London, El Corte Ingles is the place to go for all the latest fashions and accessories. You will also find a wide arrange of electrical goods and some incredible sales after January’s Three Kings celebrations. In Alicante, El Corte Ingles is located on Av Federico Soto.
You have several options for your journey from the airport to the city. You can catch the airport bus that goes at regular intervals or you can take a taxi. If you are planning to explore the area and go a little furhter afield, you may wish to consider hiring a car. There is no train or tram connection from Alicante Airport to the city.
There is no shortage of holiday accommodation in Alicante. Your choice will depend on various factors. Would you like to be in the city centre or close to the beach? Or do you prefer a slightly quieter place, in the surrounding areas? Would you like the comfort and the restaurant facilities of a hotel or are you more into self-catering? Whatever your preferences, using the search button below, you will find plenty of options for every budget.
There are several tourist information centres in different locations across Alicante. These can be found at:
You may also be interested to read our page “Pickpockets in Alicante“.
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