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Alicante

For an authentic Spanish experience and some of the country’s finest beaches, head for this historic harbor city.

Alicante offers a charming blend of traditional architecture and cuisine, international galleries and museums, and fabulous beaches. The harbor city is located on the Costa Blanca, a 125-mile (200-kilometer) stretch of white-sand beaches that wrap around the Spanish Mediterranean. While many come to the Costa Blanca region to be pampered in its resorts, Alicante offers a more authentic Spanish experience. 

Vista del puerto de Alicante by Juan J. Martínez (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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When visiting Alicante don't forget to see and experience the museums, galleries, Bars, Lounges, Restaurant and vibrant cafe society of this area!

Top Places to Visit

Alicante city is small and is just a taster of what is on offer in the rest of the province.

Walking: you can go for a very pleasant walk along the Explanada de España, Postiguet beach and around the modern Port area which has many bars and cafes. Just a few kilometres away from the centre, connected by the new tram network which leaves from Postiguet beach, you can enjoy a walk on San Juan Beach which is over 6 kilometres long.

The Santa Bárbara Castle: it has magnificent panormamic views of Postiguet beach, the port and Alicante city. Also San Fernando Castle·

Alicante, SpainCathedral and churches: The most important churches reflecting Alicante´s heritage can be found in Orihuela, a small town near Alicante. However, in Alicante city itself the following places are still worth a visit:

  • San Nicholás cathedral (16th century), chapel of communion
  • Santa María church
  • Santa Faz monastery

Museums in Alicante: The Archeological Museum MARQ - this is one of the best of its kind in Europe, the Nativity scenes museum, Asegurada Museum (contemporary art including works by Sempere, Miró Dalí, Picasso…);, Picasso…); The University museum - located in a modern building in the Alicante University Campus - it has very interesting exhibitions and is the best university museum in Spain, with the:

Alicante museumThe Lucentum Archeological Museum. These impressive Roman remains on Mount Tossal show some of Alicante´s earliest roots.

The Alcudia Archeological Museum. Large site with excavations still going on. The Dama de Elche statue was discovered here.

What to see

Begin your Alicante visit with a bird’s-eye perspective of the area. Perched high above the city on Mount Benacantil is the Castle of Santa Bárbara. Walk, drive or take the elevator to the ramparts for commanding views of the town and harbor.

Below the fortress, explore the streets of Old Town, an area filled with art museums and historic buildings. The San Nicholas Cathedral is considered one of the finest examples of Spanish baroque architecture, while the Basilica of Santa Maria is the oldest active church remaining in the city. Visit Alicante’s civic heart at the Alicante Town Hall and admire lavish interiors that were once common in the region. 

You don’t need to travel far to enjoy Alicante’s beaches. Follow the mosaic tiles of Explanada de España to reach Postiguet Beach, located at the base of Mount Benacantil. Or take the tram to Playa de San Juan’s sweeping bay for a day of sailing, volleyball and windsurfing.

Sample fresh produce and mingle with locals at Central Market. Head to Alicante Harbour, where the restaurants are renowned for seafood dishes, including paella and arroz negro, a rice dish blackened with squid ink. 

Alicante is compact, with most attractions within walking distance from the historic city center. A growing network of trams and buses will take visitors farther afield. Even in the depths of winter the Mediterranean climate provides mild temperatures. Rain is particularly rare.

The harbor is a popular gateway to the city, with many visitors arriving by ferry and cruise ship. An international airport is located 20 minutes by bus from the city center. High-speed trains run frequently from Barcelona and Madrid.

Entertainment

Alicante is known as having some of the best nightlife in the whole of Spain! The city offers a selection of entertainment, with a large range of nightclubs, pubs and bars scattered around town, to satisfy all tastes.

El Puerto is especially known as having a very lively nightlife and attracts many tourists as well as locals who want to have a good night out.

The chiringuitos (Kiosks) on the Postiguet and San Juan beaches are said to host some of the best parties during the summer.

El Barrio is known for its fantastic nightlife and narrow lanes, which are filled with a variety of bars, whereas the area of Esplanada is more popular during the summer months, but also caters for a complex range of musical tastes.

Bars and clubs usually open at 11:00 pm and close around 4:00 - 5:00 am, providing plenty of time for everyone to enjoy the nightlife that Alicante has to offer.

Eating Out

The unbeatable rice dishes are the most typical dish from Alicante. They are made with meat, seafood, fish, chicken, rabbit, pork, vegetables and pulses. Try this traditional paella recipe. Apart from rice there are a wide range of dishes to try from (see cocina levantina). The fish and seafood dishes are very good especially the Red Prawns from Denia. Also the typical stews, which can be found in the mountain areas such as la olleta from Alcoy.

Other things to look out for are salted meats, fresh vegetables from la Vega Baja el Segura (the artichokes are excellent), citric fruit, nísperos (loquats) from La Marina Baja, cherries from La Marina Alta, Alicante cuisinepomegranates from Albatera, fresh dates from Elche, olive oil from Cocentaina, spices from Novelda.

There are also excellent cakes and pastries, Christmas sweets such as turron from Jijona (turrones de Jijona) and other desserts made from almonds (almendra), chocolate from la Vila y de Paco Torreblanca in Elda-Petrer, and superb ice creams also from Jijona. 

Facts

Alicante, or Alacant, both official names, is a city and port in Spain on the Costa Blanca, the capital of the province of Alicante and of the comarca of Alacantí, in the south of the Valencian Community. It is also a historic Mediterranean port. The population of the city of Alicante proper was 334,329, estimated as of 2011, ranking as the second-largest Valencian city. Including nearby municipalities, the Alicante conurbation had 462,281 residents. The population of the metropolitan area (including Elche and satellite towns) was 771,061 as of 2011 estimates, ranking as the eighth-largest metropolitan area of Spain.

The official population of Alicante in 2011 was 334,329 inhabitants and 771,061 in the metropolitan area "Alicante-Elche". About 15% of the population is foreign, most of them immigrants from Argentina, Ecuador, and Colombia who have arrived in the previous 10 years. There are also immigrants from other countries such as Romania, Russia, Ukraine and Morocco, many of whom are under illegal alien status and therefore are not accounted for in official population figures. The real percentage of foreign residents is higher, since the Alicante metropolitan area is home to many Northern European retirees who are officially still residents of their own countries. In the same pattern, a sizable number of permanent residents are Spanish nationals who officially still live in Madrid, the Basque provinces, or other areas of the country.

Useful Links

Alicante-Elche Airport (ALC) / Car Hire Pickup Location
Patronato Municipal de Turismo y Playas de Alicante

Video Intro


Video turismo Alicante Timelapse
from Javier Guijarro on Vimeo.

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