Alicante is a very tourism-influenced provincial capital in the Valencian Community due to its location. Now this vibrant Spanish city with an exciting cuisine and a legendary nightlife is an alluring destination to spend an eagerly-awaited summer holiday. What comes to the weather, it’s sunny all year round and is mild in winter and warm in summer. It doesn’t get any better than this. We have rounded up the most famous attractions in Alicante, which is rightly regarded as Spain’s city of light.
Alicante was one of the oldest settlements on the Spanish coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Many great nations took part in shaping the history of this vibrant city. More than 2500 years ago a settlement called Akra Leuké, which is translated as “white point” from the Greek language, was founded on the Iberian Peninsula. The Greek colonists and Carthaginians vied for this territory for many years until the Roman Power was established over the two above mentioned nations (201 BC) and the city was renamed as Lucentum (the City of Light). The Moors conquered the city in the 8th century and began to call it Al-Lucant according to their dramatic legend about the great love between Prince Ali and princess Katara. In the 13th century the city was reconquered by the Christians and became a part of the Kingdom of Valencia. During the 18th – 20th centuries Alicante had to face different challenges, including the civil war and only from the beginning of the 20th century, Alicante became one of the most popular European resorts due to the construction boom and the rapid development of the city.
The unique cathedral and historic churches highlight El Barrio, the old part of the town. El Barrio is also famous for its nightlife, which raves all night long. El Puerto is another famous spot for partying till dawn. Nocturnal Alicante is just as energetic as daytime Alicante is tranquil and slow-paced.
Canibal Lounge Pub, being located near the restaurant area and La Rambla, is a great place to relax and to watch the world go by. Another great spot is Shooters Bar Benidorm with a lovely lighting, a chill out atmosphere and reasonably priced drinks. Shooters Bar Benidorm is a perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Carpe Diem Pub is famous for its international atmosphere; the frequent visitors are students and the local youth.
Mercado Central is an infinitely colorful market, where you can buy fresh seafood, fruit and vegetables. Our advice is to visit the market before noon to avoid crowds of locals and other tourists. Stroll around the market, watch an interesting piece of people’s everyday life and at the very least be sure to buy some chorizo on your way.
If you hunt for unique souvenirs, visit Zebreta de Mar. It is located near Mercado Central and the quality and singularity of its products make the shop special in its own right. Here you can find drawings and paintings by local artists, trinkets, magnets and other fancy stuff at reasonable prices.
Mouth-watering oh-la-la food is easy to find at numerous cafes and top-class restaurants in Alicante. Almost everybody is aware of the anti-aging properties of the Mediterranean diet, the dominant components of which are fresh seafood and olive oil. Being famous as the birthplace of one of the most delicious Spanish dishes known as paella, Alicante is worth visiting if for nothing else but for the cuisine.
Outdoor Activities in Alicante
Alicante is perfect for sun-and-sand experiences. Endless sea, fine sand, spectacular views, yachts…All these delights are available in Alicante. The city is definitely a crowd-pleaser. Seize the chance to enjoy Alicante’s golden sand and tranquil waters. One of the most popular beaches is Playa de San Juan, which will exceed all your expectations. The island of Tabarca, which is officially a part of Alicante, is a short way from the city. You can take a boat ride to get there and soak up the unbeatable vistas of around the island.
Guardamar Beach is also a favorite for its soft and clean sand stretching into the distance, excellent tapas bars and restaurants, playgrounds for children and plenty of other attractions for teens.
If you want to have tours to remember visit Rancho La Ofra. This family owned stable offers an exceptional horse ride among orange and lemon trees. Even if you are not an experienced rider, it’s a tour not to be missed. To finish off you will be treated to a splendid lunch.
The tourists with an adventurous heart can have a stress-free Paragliding holiday, flying above the area of Alicante and the surrounding landscapes. The experienced crew will ensure your safety and you will get the maximum out of this new experience.
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Parque El Palmeral is a favorite place both for the citizens and the visitors, who want to avoid all the hustle and bustle of this dynamic city. With its walking trails, ponds, small waterfalls and children’s playgrounds this amazing palm park is a very restful and relaxing area. If you want to have your favorite snack here in a very special way, organize a picnic in this park and soak up the sun of Alicante, which is probably the main reason you are here.
Another exciting way to spend your time in Alicante is the boat ride. You can hire the boat at Alicante Port and spend a few lovely hours in the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea, swimming, sunbathing or snorkeling.
Golf enthusiasts can spend a few hours at Font del Llop Golf Resort near the airport in Alicante. This place provides some great views over Aspe and beyond to the sea. Here you can easily forget how dry Alicante is, because the place is lush green and there is a fair amount of shade from the hill whilst the sun sits low in the sky. The Golf Resort also offers a great catering with tapas, paella, cake and drinks.
Eco tours are also very popular in Alicante. Segway Eco Tours provides a tour, which covers all the outstanding parts and fantastic landmarks of the city. You don’t have to be specially trained to ride a Segway, because it is easy and simple and on top of all it is also environmentally friendly. A fun way to explore the city is to take Segway Tapas Tour. What can be better than taking in the city’s stunning views and the tastes at the same time?
Explore the Sights of Alicante
Guadalest Valley is a popular tourist attraction and is worth a visit. The real clincher for this place is the head-spinning vistas from the top of the Castillo de San José. Casa Orduña is quite an attractive house with medieval furnishing and is truly one of the best highlights of this quaint village. The stunningly picturesque location can make you spend a full day there. You can stay at Cases Noves, which offers B&B on a whole new level. You can spend your evening at the lovely terrace, sipping your glass of wine and taking in the views of the ochre-red sunset.
Lots of small museums, tapas restaurants and shops are located there, where you can stroll around and get every kind of fancy goods suiting your purse.
Castle of Santa Bárbara
This iconic landmark of the city is located on a rocky hilltop, overlooking the beach. The 16th-century castle has a dramatic history. Not long ago, it was a subject of controversy between the citizens and the government. The residents didn’t let it be changed into an industrial estate. Now it’s one of the most attractive sights in Alicante. There is also a museum inside devoted to the history of the city. If you don’t want to walk up the hill to reach the castle, there is an easy option to take an elevator. On your way back to the city, you can also pass through Parque de la Ereta via Calle San Rafael to Plaza del Carmen, making your day more memorable.
Explanada de España
This promenade is lined with hundreds of palm trees. You can stroll along the waterfront in the evenings or visit the hippy market, where you can find every kind of odd things, or let your day be rounded out to a stylish close at the music venue, which offers free outdoor concerts.
The history buffs can also visit the Basilica of Santa María, Baroque Casa de La Asegurada, Monastery of Santa Faz in Baroque style, the Castle of San Fernando and a dozen museums in the city, among which the Archaeological Museum of Alicante is set apart for its unique collection of ground, urban and underwater archaeological artifacts. Due to its extraordinary exhibits and educational programs it was recognized as the best European museum in 2004. The entire history of the city and the surrounding area is demonstrated with the help of high technologies and 80 000 exhibits, among which rock art, labor tools, jewelry dating back to the Stone and Bronze Ages.
Festivals in Alicante
Besides all the above-mentioned attractions, this city is also famous for many different events and religious festivals, accompanied with music and amusements: quite a strong reason to visit Alicante. The colorful parades and fiestas make the city a huge party and attract lots of visitors annually, who not only are encouraged to take part in the festivities, but also to discover an important piece of Spanish history.
The first festival in January, of course after the New Year, is Epiphany or Kings Day. Instead of expecting gifts from Santa Claus, like all the children in Europe do, the local kids get their sweets and toys from the Three Kings.
What comes to Alicante Carnival, it begins in February and lasts for three weeks. Daily celebrations with lots of special characters in stunning costumes, dancing, playing music, having fun and trying to outshine each other in opulence are the indispensable part of this colorful carnival. The end of the carnival is marked by an act of mourning with everyone wearing black and the masks being buried till the next year.
Moors and Christians Festival is of great importance as an exciting combination of historical parade and religious street carnival. The festival is held with magnificent processions, exciting mock battles, which represent the historic battle between the Moorish and Christian soldiers, but on the other hand the mood of friendship of the two cultures exists throughout all the festival. Being an old tradition the festival has been spread to other parts of Spain, where it gained unique elements and variations. The spectacular start of the festival is the arrival of soldiers in the city, who march through the streets to the accompaniment of music. Both the visitors and the locals try not to miss a single thing from this splendid event and join the procession, which sometimes exceeds 5000 people. The city’s patron saint has an important role in the religious ceremonies, which are an indispensable part of the festival; because it’s believed that without his help the Christians wouldn’t hold the victory.
Another extravagant festival is Saint John’s Bonfires linked with the day of John the Baptist. This weeklong celebration of bonfires and fireworks is a popular tourist attraction, and most of the visitors try to plan their trip in June to enjoy it. This Spanish way of celebrating the summer solstice is accompanied with firework and dance competitions and is characterized by ceremonious burning of paper maché statues, which depict political and historical characters in a very sarcastic way.