I just love this small compact city. I have visited Alicante in Spain, three years in a row and each time I discover something new. Alicante or Alacant it’s (Valencian name) is on the eastern coast of Spain, in the Mediterranean region of Costa Brava. Its original name was Lucentum, meaning the ‘City of Light’. Famous for its wonderful palm lined boulevards, the Old Quarter and its stunning beaches, Alicante is a popular cruise ship destination.
Flights & Transfers: We flew direct from Scotland to Alicante and it is a pleasant 3 hour flight, with a one hour time difference. The currency is the Euro.
Alicante–Elche Airport is 20 mins from the city centre and I usually pre book a taxi which is around 20/25 euro as there are normally 4 of us travelling. The airport has a good taxi rank but if your flight arrives with 3 other flights you may find there are no taxi available and that is why I recommend pre booking. I normally use airport transfers.
There are plenty of Car Hire companies at the airport, including Hertz, Europcar and Centauro amongst others. You can also use the C6 airport bus which is around 3 Euro and tickets are purchased on the bus. The bus stop is at Level 2, Departures.
During my most recent stay in Alicante, I decided to explore the Old Quarter, Barrio Santa Cruz, nestled under Mount Benacantil. Narrow, colourful streets, weave upwards past the oldest church in the city, past the music school, until you get the best views of the city below. Spain like most mediterranean countries is quiet in the afternoon as most locals enjoy a Siesta to escape the heat of the midday sun. A good time to explore if you want deserted street. Don’t forget to carry water and a sun hat as many cafes are closed for Siesta and re-open late into the evening.
The first place I stopped at in Alicante old quarter was the Museo De La Asegurada, known as the MACA, found next to the church of Santa Maria, this museum exhibits many contemporary paintings, sculptures and lithographs of over 140 Spanish artists, across 4 storeys and two basement levels.
Works from Miro, Picasso and Chillida can be found here at the Plaza Santa Maria. The museum is open from 10am and entrance is free, which is a great bonus. Remember it is closed on a Monday. Tel: +34 965 140 76. Next to the Museum is the Basilica of Santa Maria, worth a quick look inside at the stunning altar and the marble font by Carrara. Built in Valencian Gothic style the front doors are beautiful with ornate carvings and statues. The statue of the Virgin is by the sculptor Juan Bautista Borja. It is visually stunning and many people sit in the square with a drink admiring the exterior.
I discovered that very close by to the Basilica is Alicante city Segway tours. One of my favourite ways of quickly seeing a city and learning about its history without antagonising my troublesome left knee! The young man informed me that the tours last 1.5 hours and take you to the top of the Mountain and Santa Barbara Castle.
Other private tours include a Tapas tour, wine experience and bike tours and of course Sunset tours. Segways are the easiest things on the planet to use and we have tried them in Rome and America and I can highly recommend, especially if a long walking tour is impractical for you. Open from 9am-7pm. C/ Mayor 45, 03002 Alicante. Julien: (+34) 656 332 485. firstname.lastname@example.org
Meandering slowly uphill now I passed many beautiful alleys and streets that make up the Old Quarter. Overflowing with plant pots and brightly coloured houses, this feels very traditional and Spanish.
I did not make it to the top of Mount Benacantil and the castle of Santa Barbara. That is on my next trip. My daughter assured me it was stunning as she jogged to the top every morning! ‘Sunrise is special’, I was informed.
I personally would take a taxi or the elevator that is across from the promenade. The lift costs two euro seventy to go up and it is a free return. There is a guide to take you up in the lift and the castle entrance is free with a cafe and a small drink/food booth. Open from 10am onwards.
During my Alicante long weekend I stayed at the Melia Alicante. This lovely hotel has the best location with the marina to the front and the beach to its rear. There is a gate from the pool which gives you easy access to the promenade and the hotel restaurant overlooks the beach with fantastic views down the coast.
I have travelled to other parts of Spain but this beach is ideal. There are sun loungers and parasols to hire and the sea is not covered in huge pebbles or has a sudden shelf drop. It just gently slopes out and its warm. Go further along the coast for a little more space as everyone packs into the area beside the cafe and restaurants. There are coastguards along the beach and the area is police patrolled. There is also a water assault course which I usually get dragged out too, but this year big Sis stepped in and I enjoyed watching their antics under the shade of my sun lounger.
The Explanada de España is the beautiful tree lined promenade that runs parallel to the port, from the Puerta del Mar. Also known as the “Paseo de la Explanada”, the street is decorated with wave effect mosaics and is popular with families, runners and dog walkers. It also has local stalls with interesting merchandise and small gift ideas.
Look out for the statue of Icarus, Greek legend says that he plunged into the sea to his death after flying too near to the sun and damaging his wings. The bronze statue is situated in the water opposite the Melia Hotel on the marina side. It is the work of sculptor Esperanza d’Ors.
The marina is a great place to find fabulous seafood restaurants behind the Casino next to the Melia hotel. There are street stalls and of course the beautiful replica ship of the Santisima Trinidad. People have mixed reviews about the ship. It is a tourist attraction but seems to be used more for relaxing on deck with a drink than historical references.
There is also the Museo Volvo Ocean Race museum dedicated to one of the toughest sailing races in the world. Interactive, it has a simulator and fascinating video presentation and a guided tour of the old boat. It’s free and the opening times in the summer are Sunday 11:00 – 15:00 and Mon – Sat 11:00 – 21:00.
Families will enjoy a stroll along the famous Mushroom Street – San Fransisco Street.
Yellow bricks, giant snails and huge life size mushrooms make this street a big hit with families and children. The statues were designed to regenerate this part of Alicante and produced by Sergio Martinez. Lined with boutiques and cafe’s, it is a popular route taking you to our next stop, Plaza Portal de Elche. Here you will enjoy the shade of the magnificent Rubber trees and enjoy the beautiful fountain and welcome cafe in the square.
If you have young children or teenagers and it does get too hot, then I would recommend walking or taking a taxi to one of the air conditioned shopping malls. Alicante has a few and the teenagers will enjoy having some freedom to shop at Bershka, Desigual, Mango, Pull & Bear, Benetton and HM amongst others. There are usually pharmacy and food courts here too.
Alicante also has outlet stores which I would have loved to visit but I was short on time. The mall in the photograph, is easy to find if you walk along the marina and round behind Mount Benacantil or take a taxi. Plaza Mar Shopping centre.
Outlet stores are Carretera Alicante, 94
03690 San Vicente del Raspeig (Alicante), Tel: 34 96 566 44 98.
Other malls include Centro Gran via Alicante and Centre Comercial Panoramis.
Entertainment at night.
This last trip was full of surprises as my sister flew out with her two daughters, one of whom is a huge karaoke fan. Much to my surprise behind the casino amongst all the wonderful fish restaurants is a karaoke bar. When we arrived it was pretty empty but the older male singers were incredibly talented. We did not know any of the Spanish songs but the young ones took turns to sing the English songs.
Its a really good laugh and my sister blasted out Katy Perry, ‘Baby your a superstar’. Unforgettable! It was filling up fast when we were leaving but if you are want a sing song this is the place for you.
Water Sports: Other activities on the marina behind the casino are the jet ski and boat hire or fishing trips. Walk to the end of the restaurants and you will see the signs.
Food and Drink
It really is a great city and I never pe book a restaurant. We just wander through the streets and stop wherever we like the look of. The British tend to eat earlier than the locals and I have never found this a problem. Some restaurants are closed on Mondays, so check them out online if you have a favourite before heading out.
I hope you enjoyed my blog post. Any other tips please submit. I hope to travel further up the coast next time and see the stunning beaches at Altea, Calpe and visit the Guadelest Valley.
All of my photo are available on Shutterstock. Click here: shutterstock go to SETS and click Spain.
Thanks for reading, I appreciate your time. If you would like to see more of my travels, here is my youtube video from my tour around Scotland to Skye, Torridon and Dornoch, part of the NC500,
Click here: Tour Scotland.