Things to do in Alicante – Spain
Welcome to our comprehensive guide on things to do in Alicante, Spain. Nestled on the Costa Blanca, Alicante is a treasure trove of unique experiences, rich culture, and picturesque coastlines. In this guide, we’ll take you through the top attractions, activities, hotels, restaurants, and how to get there by train. Whether you’re a history buff, beach lover, culture vulture, or outdoor enthusiast, Alicante has something for everyone. Let’s get started!
- Alicante is located on the Costa Blanca and is a popular tourist destination.
- The city offers unique experiences, rich culture, and picturesque coastlines.
- The guide will cover top attractions, activities, hotels, restaurants, and how to get there by train.
- Alicante has something for history buffs, beach lovers, culture vultures, and outdoor enthusiasts.
Exploring Historic Sites in Alicante
Alicante boasts a rich history and some incredible examples of architecture that reflect its past. To make the most of exploring these historic sites, we recommend starting with a visit to the Santa Barbara Castle. This impressive fortress dates back to the 9th century and, apart from offering stunning panoramic views of the city and coast, gives visitors an insight into the city’s turbulent past. The castle is open daily and is accessible on foot or by elevator.
Another must-see historic site in Alicante is the Old Town, where narrow streets and whitewashed buildings transport you back to medieval times. There, you can admire the Gothic-style Concatedral de San Nicolás, a 17th-century church filled with intricate carvings and ornate decoration.
If you’re in the market for a more sensory experience, head to the Central Market, where you can soak up the sounds, smells, and colours of Alicante’s bustling hub of fresh, local produce. The market building dates back to 1921 and is an incredible example of Art Nouveau architecture.
Exploring Historic Sites in Alicante:
|Santa Barbara Castle||An impressive fortress dating back to the 9th century with stunning panoramic views of the city and coast.|
|Old Town||Narrow streets and whitewashed buildings transport you back to medieval times, home to the Gothic-style Concatedral de San Nicolás.|
|Central Market||A bustling hub of fresh, local produce housed in a stunning Art Nouveau building from 1921.|
Enjoying Alicante’s Beautiful Beaches
Alicante’s coastline is one of its biggest draws. With crystal-clear waters and golden sands, the region boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Spain. Whether you’re looking for a secluded spot to relax or a lively beach to people-watch, Alicante has something for everyone. Here are some of the top beaches to explore:
|Postiguet Beach||Alicante’s most iconic beach, located in the heart of the city and backed by the striking Santa Barbara Castle.||Swimming, sunbathing, beach bars|
|San Juan Beach||A long and wide sandy beach with crystal-clear waters and excellent facilities, popular among locals and tourists alike.||Watersports (sailing, snorkeling, kayaking), beach bars|
|El Postiguet||A small, sheltered beach located at the foot of the Santa Barbara Castle, offering calm waters and stunning views.||Swimming, sunbathing, beachside restaurants|
In addition to the beaches themselves, Alicante’s promenades are perfect for leisurely strolls while enjoying the sea breeze. The Explanada de España, a palm-lined esplanade in the heart of the city, is a prime example. Beach bars and chiringuitos (beachside cafés) dot the coastline, offering refreshing drinks and snacks.
Postiguet Beach is easily accessible on foot from the city centre, while San Juan Beach can be reached by tram or bus. El Postiguet is located below the Santa Barbara Castle and can be accessed by foot or car via a steep road. All three beaches are well signposted and offer parking facilities.
Exploring Alicante’s Cultural Attractions
Alicante boasts a rich cultural scene, where visitors can explore its numerous museums, galleries, and historic landmarks. One of the most remarkable cultural attractions in Alicante is the MARQ Museum, which showcases the region’s archaeology and history through multimedia exhibits and interactive displays. Visitors can learn about the ancient civilizations that inhabited the area, including the Iberians, Romans, and Moors, and discover how they shaped the culture and traditions of Alicante.
Another notable museum in Alicante is the Contemporary Art Museum, located in the old town. This museum features a diverse collection of contemporary art, including works by local and international artists, as well as temporary exhibitions that highlight current trends and themes.
For those interested in the history of Alicante, the Alicante Provincial Archaeological Museum is a must-visit attraction. Housed in a former convent, this museum displays artifacts and objects from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages, providing insight into the daily life, culture, and art of the ancient inhabitants of Alicante.
Additional Cultural Attractions
Aside from museums, Alicante also offers several other cultural attractions that are worth exploring. The Santa Barbara Castle, located on top of Mount Benacantil, is an iconic symbol of the city and provides spectacular views of the coast and the surrounding mountains. The Old Town of Alicante is another must-visit attraction, with its narrow streets, historic buildings, and lively atmosphere. Visitors can stroll through the colourful markets, enjoy typical Spanish tapas, and soak up the local culture.
Outdoor Activities in Alicante
Alicante’s natural beauty and Mediterranean climate make it an ideal destination for outdoor activities. From hiking to water sports, there is plenty to do for adventure seekers and nature lovers alike.
Hiking and Trekking
The Montgó Natural Park is a popular destination for hiking and trekking. The park boasts spectacular views of the surrounding area, including the coastline and the city of Alicante. There are several trails of varying difficulty levels, making it accessible for different fitness levels.
If you’re looking for something more challenging, head to the Serra Gelada Natural Park. Its rugged terrain and steep cliffs provide a thrilling hiking experience, with views of the Mediterranean Sea along the way.
Alicante’s crystal-clear waters offer a range of water activities for visitors to enjoy. Sailing, kayaking, and paddleboarding are popular options, with local providers offering equipment rental and guided tours.
Snorkelling and diving are also popular, with the Tabarca Island Marine Reserve providing some of the best underwater sights in the area.
Alicante’s beaches offer many opportunities for beach activities, such as beach volleyball, football, and frisbee. Postiguet Beach and San Juan Beach have beachfront promenades perfect for cycling or leisurely walks.
Beach bars and restaurants provide a great spot to relax and enjoy the views while sipping on a refreshing drink or sampling the local cuisine.
Exploring Alicante’s Vibrant Nightlife
When the sun sets, Alicante comes to life with its lively nightlife scene. From traditional Spanish bars to trendy nightclubs, there’s something for everyone.
Looking for a place to start your night out? Here are some of our top recommendations:
|El Coscorrón||A traditional Spanish bar with a cosy atmosphere, perfect for a relaxing drink and some tapas.|
|Penelope||A popular nightclub with three floors and a variety of music genres, from pop to techno.|
|Bacanal||A trendy rooftop bar with stunning views of the city and a great selection of cocktails.|
Aside from bars and clubs, there are other entertainment options available in Alicante’s nightlife scene. Catch a live music show at Sala Stereo, a popular music venue that hosts both local and international artists. For a more cultural experience, head to Teatro Principal, a historic theatre that showcases a variety of performances, from theatre to dance.
During certain times of the year, Alicante also hosts special events and festivals that add an extra touch of excitement to the nightlife scene. The St. John’s Bonfires, celebrated in June, is one of the most popular festivals in Alicante, featuring fireworks, parades, and large bonfires in the streets.
Discovering Alicante’s Gastronomy
Alicante’s gastronomy is a true reflection of its Mediterranean roots, blending traditional recipes with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Its cuisine is renowned for its rice dishes, seafood, and vegetables, making it a foodie’s paradise.
Among the most popular dishes in Alicante is the Paella, a rice-based dish that is a must-try for anyone visiting the city. Other local specialities include Arroz negro, a black rice dish flavoured with squid, and Fideuà, a noodle-based seafood dish.
For those looking for a fine dining experience, Alicante offers a variety of upscale restaurants that specialize in traditional Alicante cuisine. However, if you’re looking for a more casual dining experience, there are also plenty of tapas bars that offer a selection of small plates, perfect for sharing with friends and family.
Where to Eat in Alicante
Alicante boasts a diverse culinary scene, with numerous restaurants and eateries to choose from. Among the most popular establishments is Restaurante La Ereta, located at the foot of Santa Barbara Castle. This Michelin-starred restaurant offers a modern twist on traditional Alicante cuisine, using innovative techniques to create exquisite dishes that are both pleasing to the eye and the palate.
For those looking for a more laidback dining experience, El Portal, located in the Old Town, is a top pick. This family-owned restaurant offers a wide range of traditional Alicante dishes at affordable prices and boasts a relaxed atmosphere that is perfect for families and groups of friends.
Alternatively, for seafood lovers, Casa Julio is a local favourite. This seafood restaurant serves up fresh catch-of-the-day dishes, including red prawns, lobster and crayfish, in a cosy atmosphere, which could make it an excellent choice for a romantic evening.
Where to Shop for Food in Alicante
Alicante is home to a variety of markets and food shops, where locals and visitors alike can find fresh produce, meats, and seafood. The Central Market, located in the heart of the city, is one of the largest markets in the region and offers an extensive selection of meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables.
The Mercado de Carolinas, located in the Carolinas neighbourhood, is another popular market that offers a range of local produce, including fresh cheeses, meats, and baked goods. Additionally, there are several supermarkets, such as Mercadona and Carrefour, where visitors can find a variety of food and drink, including local and international products.
Overall, Alicante’s culinary scene offers something for everyone, from fine dining establishments to casual tapas bars. Its cuisine reflects the region’s rich cultural heritage and diverse landscape, making it a must-visit destination for food lovers.
Best Hotels in Alicante
When it comes to choosing the perfect accommodation in Alicante, there are plenty of options to suit every preference and budget.
If you’re looking for luxury, Alicante has some of the finest hotels in Spain. The Hospes Amerigo is a popular choice, with its stylish decor, rooftop pool, and stunning views of Santa Barbara Castle. Alternatively, Hotel Spa Porta Maris offers a tranquil retreat with its seafront location, spa facilities, and elegant rooms.
For those on a tighter budget, Hostal La Lonja is a charming guesthouse in the heart of the Old Town. It offers comfortable rooms with traditional decor and a shared rooftop terrace with views of the castle. Another budget-friendly choice is the Hotel Rambla, located in the city centre and close to all the main attractions.
|Hotel||Location||Price Range (per night)|
|Hospes Amerigo||City Centre||£150 – £300|
|Hotel Spa Porta Maris||Alicante Port||£120 – £250|
|Hostal La Lonja||Old Town||£30 – £70|
|Hotel Rambla||City Centre||£50 – £100|
If you’re looking for a more unique experience, consider staying at the Hospederia del Atazar, a former medieval monastery converted into a hotel. It offers stunning views of the countryside and a peaceful atmosphere. Alternatively, Hotel Boutique Alicante Palacete S.XVII is a boutique hotel with a historic charm, located in the heart of the Old Town.
Regardless of your preference, Alicante has a hotel that will meet your needs and provide a comfortable base for your exploration of the city.
Exploring Alicante’s Surroundings
While Alicante itself has plenty to offer, there are also many nearby destinations that are worth exploring. If you have the time during your visit, we recommend taking a day trip to some of these beautiful locations:
Located just a short drive from Alicante, Elche is known for its stunning palm groves and historic sites. The Palmeral of Elche is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is home to thousands of palm trees that have been cultivated for thousands of years. Visitors can also explore the historic town centre and visit the Basilica of Santa Maria, a beautiful gothic church with a stunning bell tower.
Nestled in the mountains of the Costa Blanca, Guadalest is a picturesque village with stunning views and a rich history. Visitors can explore the castle of San Jose, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, or wander through the narrow streets and admire the traditional whitewashed houses. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn about the area’s cultural heritage at the town’s many museums, which showcase everything from traditional crafts to historic weapons.
Whether you’re interested in history, natural beauty, or simply want to get off the beaten path, a day trip to one of these nearby destinations is sure to be a highlight of your visit to Alicante.
Getting to Alicante by Train
If you’re planning a trip to Alicante, you may be wondering how to get there by train. Luckily, Alicante is well connected to other cities in Spain, making train travel a convenient and scenic option.
The main train station in Alicante is the Estación de Alicante Terminal, located in the city centre. From there, you can travel to and from major cities like Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia, as well as other destinations in the region.
|Destination||Travel Time||Train Company|
|Madrid||Approx. 2 hours, 20 minutes||Renfe|
|Barcelona||Approx. 5 hours||Renfe|
|Valencia||Approx. 2 hours||Renfe|
If you’re looking for a faster option, the AVE high-speed train also connects Alicante to Madrid, cutting the travel time to just 2 hours and 15 minutes.
When traveling by train, it’s important to book your tickets in advance to ensure availability and to take advantage of discounted fares. You can book tickets online through the Renfe website or at the train station ticket office.
Overall, traveling to Alicante by train is a convenient and enjoyable option, offering scenic views and comfortable transportation. So why not sit back, relax, and let the train take you to this charming city?
Exploring Alicante’s Shopping Scene
When it comes to shopping, Alicante offers a wide variety of options. From local markets to high-end boutiques, there’s something for everyone. One of the most popular shopping areas is the Central Market, where you can find fresh produce, meats, and seafood. For those looking for designer labels and luxury clothing, head to Maisonnave Street, one of the most fashionable shopping streets in the city.
For a unique shopping experience, visit the traditional street markets such as the Mercado Central, held on Saturdays, or Rastro Market, which takes place every Sunday. These markets are perfect for finding souvenirs, local crafts, and antiques. If you prefer shopping in malls, check out Plaza Mar 2 or the Gran Via Shopping Center, both of which offer a wide variety of shops and restaurants.
Enjoying Alicante’s Festivals and Events
When it comes to celebrating and having fun, Alicante knows how to throw a party. Throughout the year, the city hosts a number of festivals and events that showcase its rich culture, traditions and history. Here are some of the top festivals and events you can enjoy in Alicante:
St. John’s Bonfires
One of the most popular summer festivals in Alicante is the St. John’s Bonfires, known locally as the Hogueras de San Juan. The event takes place every June and is a week-long celebration of music, fireworks, and elaborate monuments made of wood and paper. The festival ends with the burning of the monuments on the night of June 24th, marking the shortest night of the year.
“The St. John’s Bonfires is a symbol of Alicante and its tradition. It’s a unique experience that brings people from all over the world to the city”.
Alicante Carnival is another popular event, held in the weeks leading up to Lent. The carnival is a colourful display of costumes, music, and dancing. The streets of Alicante come alive with parades and parties, and locals and tourists alike take part in the festivities.
Moors and Christians Festival
The Moors and Christians Festival is a celebration of the city’s historical heritage. Held in honour of Saint George, the festival commemorates the battles between the Moors and Christians during the Middle Ages. The festival takes place every April and features colourful parades, traditional costumes, and re-enactments of historic battles.
Throughout the year, Alicante hosts a number of other festivals and events, including the International Jazz Festival, the International Theatre Festival, and the San Blas International Contest of Bands. These events offer a unique insight into the city’s artistic and cultural scene, and are not to be missed.
Check with the local tourism office for the dates and times of upcoming festivals and events during your stay.
Alicante for Families
If you’re travelling with children, Alicante offers numerous family-friendly activities that will keep everyone entertained. From amusement parks to beautiful beaches, there’s something for everyone in this charming city.
Alicante Amusement Parks
Terra Mítica is a theme park that guarantees a fun-filled day for the whole family. With rides and attractions based on ancient civilizations, the park offers a mix of culture and entertainment. Other amusement parks worth visiting include Aqualandia, a water park with slides and pools, and Mundomar, an animal park with dolphins, sea lions, and other sea creatures.
Many hotels in Alicante cater to families with children. The Meliá Alicante, located on Postiguet Beach, offers a kids’ club, playground, and children’s pool. The Grand Luxor Hotel, near Terra Mítica, features spacious family rooms and a children’s pool with water slides. Other options include the Hotel Bonalba Alicante, which has a kids’ club and mini-golf course, and the Magic Robin Hood Resort, a medieval-themed hotel with a water park and entertainment programme.
Alicante has many destinations that appeal to families with children. The Pola Park is a small amusement park with rides and attractions suitable for young children. The Rio Safari Elche is an animal park that offers a safari tour and a chance to see lions, tigers, and zebras up close. The Castle of Santa Barbara, situated on a hill overlooking the city, is a great place for a picnic and offers panoramic views of Alicante.
Exploring Alicante’s Natural Beauty
Alicante is not just about its historic sites, beautiful beaches, and vibrant nightlife. It also boasts natural beauty that’s worth exploring. So, if you’re a nature lover, make sure to add these spots to your itinerary:
|Montgó Natural Park||A protected area with a diverse ecosystem, home to numerous plant species and wildlife.||Hiking, birdwatching, rock climbing, and mountain biking.|
|Serra Gelada Natural Park||A coastal mountain range with stunning sea views, cliffs, and marine life.||Hiking, snorkeling, diving, and sea kayaking.|
|Tabarca Island||A small, picturesque island that’s part of a marine reserve, offering crystal-clear waters and marine diversity.||Snorkeling, diving, swimming, and sunbathing.|
Whether you prefer hiking, birdwatching, or water sports, Alicante’s natural parks have something to offer. If you’re interested in exploring marine life, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Tabarca Island. Its turquoise waters are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and diving.
Overall, Alicante’s natural beauty is a testament to its diversity and charm. We recommend taking some time to explore these spots and enjoy the tranquility and serenity they offer.
From historic sites to beautiful beaches, lively nightlife to exquisite gastronomy, Alicante has something to offer every type of traveller. We hope our comprehensive guide has given you a taste of the city’s unique experiences and attractions. By exploring Alicante’s cultural richness, natural beauty, and vibrant spirit, you can create memories that last a lifetime.
Q: What are the top attractions in Alicante?
A: Some of the top attractions in Alicante include the Santa Barbara Castle, the Old Town, the Central Market, and the MARQ Museum.
Q: Which are the most beautiful beaches in Alicante?
A: Alicante is known for its stunning beaches, with popular options being Postiguet Beach and San Juan Beach.
Q: What cultural attractions can I explore in Alicante?
A: Alicante boasts a vibrant cultural scene, with notable attractions including the MARQ Museum, the Contemporary Art Museum, and the Alicante Provincial Archaeological Museum.
Q: What outdoor activities are available in Alicante?
A: Alicante offers various outdoor activities, such as hiking in the Montgó Natural Park and engaging in water sports like sailing and snorkeling.
Q: What is the nightlife like in Alicante?
A: Alicante has a lively nightlife scene, with numerous bars, pubs, and clubs offering entertainment options ranging from live music to trendy nightclubs.
Q: What are some popular restaurants in Alicante?
A: Alicante is known for its gastronomy, and popular restaurants include those that specialize in traditional Alicante cuisine.
Q: What are the best hotels in Alicante?
A: Alicante offers a range of hotels and accommodations, including budget-friendly options, boutique hotels, and luxury resorts.
Q: What day trips can I take from Alicante?
A: Nearby destinations that can be explored as day trips from Alicante include Elche, known for its palm groves, and Guadalest, a picturesque mountain village.
Q: How can I reach Alicante by train?
A: Alicante can be reached by train, with the Alicante train station serving as the main entry point.
Q: What is the shopping scene like in Alicante?
A: Alicante offers a diverse shopping scene, with popular areas, markets, and malls providing options for local crafts, fashion, and traditional markets.
Q: What festivals and events can I enjoy in Alicante?
A: Alicante celebrates various festivals and events throughout the year, with highlights including the St. John’s Bonfires and other cultural or religious celebrations.
Q: Are there family-friendly activities in Alicante?
A: Alicante offers family-friendly activities and attractions, including amusement parks like Terra Mítica and family-oriented hotels and accommodations.
Q: Can I explore the natural beauty of Alicante?
A: Alicante is surrounded by natural parks and reserves, such as the Montgó Natural Park and the Serra Gelada Natural Park. Visitors can also visit Tabarca Island, a protected marine reserve.
10 interesting facts about Alicante
- Alicante is a city located on the east coast of Spain, in the region of Valencia.
- The name “Alicante” comes from the Arabic word “al-laqant,” which means “the scented one,” referring to the aromatic plants found in the area.
- The city is known for its stunning beaches, with Playa del Postiguet and Playa de San Juan being the most famous ones.
- Alicante is home to the Castillo de Santa Barbara, a fortress located on top of Mount Benacantil, offering stunning views of the city and the Mediterranean Sea.
- The city is famous for its annual festival, Las Hogueras de San Juan, which takes place in June and involves the burning of giant sculptures and fireworks.
- Alicante is also known for its cuisine, with paella, seafood, and tapas being some of the most popular dishes.
- The city has a rich history, with evidence of human settlement dating back to the Bronze Age.
- Alicante has a subtropical Mediterranean climate, with hot summers and mild winters, making it a popular destination year-round.
- The city is also known for its production of wine, with the nearby region of Alicante producing some of the best wines in Spain.
- Alicante is a popular destination for outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, and water sports, with the nearby Sierra de Mariola Natural Park offering stunning natural landscapes and hiking trails.