Alicante is a cosmopolitan port city nestled Spain’s sunny southeastern Costa Blanca…
A beautiful, relaxed city with light atmosphere, Alicante makes a great sunny city break where you can escape your everyday hassles. It’s a place famous for its gorgeous Mediterranean beaches (which stretch over several kilometres and are located right in the city centre) and also its rich cultural history.
In my opinion, there’s no bad time to go to this lovely place – although the coldest months are December and January. We visited for a one-week break in February and even though there was a slight breeze coming from the sea it was sunny every day and I still managed to get a tan!
If you go to Alicante away from the beach season I would personally choose a place that is central and close to the promenade so you can make the most of all the restaurants and bars. If you can, I would also recommend renting an apartment over the sea as you’ll make the most of the best views in the city.
There are also plenty of other decent and very reasonably priced hotels with gorgeous locations to choose from. We stayed at a cheap four-star hotel, Eurostars Mediterranea Plaza Alicante which was of a good standard (and even had its own sauna and a gym) with a fabulous location – it overlooked the famous promenade on one side and the castle on the other! However, also I would also check out Alicante’s highest-rated hotel, Hospes Amerigo.
What to do in Alicante
First of all, take a stroll down the fabulous promenade, La Explanada! It’s hiding in the shade of stunning palm trees and is paved with more than 6 million marble tiles. There are plenty of restaurants in this area but they are generally mostly overpriced. Although there are a few cafes there were you can sit outside and enjoy the beautiful views with a not too expensive coffee or a shake.
The promenade is famous for street artists and merchants and there are also some market stalls where you can buy local handcrafted products. Just be aware of people walking around and trying to sell you used things, like small sculptures, toys and necklaces – these people won’t go till you buy something! I fell for this trap myself and bought two ugly-looking, worn-out cat statuettes for 10 euros! Definitely a lesson learnt!
The port of Alicante is another wonderful place for strolls and shouldn’t be missed on your visit.
The next attraction you must explore is the Castle of Santa Barbara, which looks over the city with its mysterious majesty. It is located on Mount Benacantil and was built around the 9th century around the time of the Muslim rule. It’s a great viewpoint, and you only pay for the lift to go up (which is very cheap) and from here you can enjoy panoramic views of the harbour, the beach, the sea, the city itself, the mountains and the surrounding area.
It’s possible to sit down and relax in one of the cafés up there. It’s just perfect if the weather is favorable. On the way to the castle, don’t miss Basilica of Santa Maria which is built on the ruins of a mosque and is an old, beautiful church. If you haven’t had enough views and high observation decks, you can take a lift to the 26th floor of the restaurant of the Hotel Gran Sol (which is situated on the promenade) and go out to the terrace balcony up there, you’ll see more!
If you walk along the interesting streets of Alicante, and you’ll find out that they are all different, with own charm and character – there is a street dotted with mushrooms, a street lined with colourful buildings and the cosy back streets of the promenade area. Just walk around and explore at your own leisure, it’s not easy to get lost in Alicante!
Go inside the city hall and walk into a statue made by Dali which you can admire for free. Feeling hungry from all the walking? The best place to eat, drink, eat tapas, drink your wine in Alicante is El Portal. It’s so good I would even recommend jumping on a plane right now just to go and eat there! It’s one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to during my eight years of travelling so that’s high praise indeed. The atmosphere is friendly, just like the staff, and the food is to die for. They specialize in wine and tapas and have a great collection of wines from all over the globe. It’s a little on the pricey side but definitely worth it.
I really do encourage you to try out different places where you can eat tapas, just don’t go to the tourist places or to the restaurants that have waiters calling people in! Go to family restaurants, the ones where the locals go (they usually open for dinner after 18:00 or even 19:00). Enjoy!