Travel Ninja

Experience Alicante: [Adventure, Culture, & Fun]

Exploring Alicante, nestled on the vibrant Costa Blanca, unveils one of Spain’s most beautiful cities. Whether you’re drawn to its sun-kissed beach, the hunt for the perfect tapas, or the urge to explore the myriad of Alicante attractions, this city caters to all. My recent solo trip during the tail end of winter revealed a hidden gem where you can dodge the summer crowds yet bask in one of the warmest places in Spain. From exploring the local culture to relaxing with good food and ice-cold beer, Alicante is a tapestry of experiences waiting to be discovered, offering an idyllic mix of leisure and adventure.

Getting To Alicante Spain

Reaching Alicante is a breeze, whether you’re flying directly into the local airport just 10km from downtown or looking for budget-friendly transport options. A taxi to your hotel comes at a set price of €19 (£16.50 GBP / $20 USD), ensuring a smooth start to your journey. For those seeking a cheaper option, the L1 bus offers a direct ride from the airport to the center of Alicante for just €3.85 (£3.30 GBP / $4.10 USD).

Travellers from Madrid Airport can opt for a fast train from the Chamartín Clara Campoamor station, reaching the Alicante train station in two hours with tickets available on the Renfe website. Early booking is advised for the best price. Alternatively, flying into Valencia airport provides more flight options for those coming from a smaller city within Europe. From Valencia, both bus and train routes are available, with Trainline offering the easiest way to compare public transportation options.

Getting Around Alicante

Navigating Alicante is a breeze, thanks to its small and walkable layout. Opting for a hotel or Airbnb in the city center positions you perfectly to get around the best Alicante attractions by foot, especially in the downtown area. For adventures to the northern beaches or a day trip to Benidorm, the affordable and easy-to-navigate tram network in Alicante comes in handy.

You can purchase tickets at central city stations or directly on the trams. The ticket machines in the station accept both cards and cash, though trains are card-only. Local trams are a steal at just €1.50, making it efficient and economical to explore the city’s rich tapestry.

Great Things To Do In Alicante Spain

Exploring Alicante offers an array of fun things to see and do, ranging from soaking in the vibrant city life to uncovering unique experiences. Among the top recommendations is to dive into the list of wonderful meditation retreats scattered around Spain, including some serene spots right in Alicante. This unique blend of relaxation and exploration provides a refreshing contrast to the bustling city attractions, inviting travelers to unwind and reconnect in some of Alicante’s most tranquil settings.

Santa Barbara Castle

Perched on a hill at the edge of Alicante, Santa Barbara Castle or Castell de la Santa Bàrbara offers breathtaking views that are arguably the best in the entire city. Accessible to people of all fitness levels, visitors can ascend the paved path to the top. While the path is wheelchair accessible, it’s advisable to take a taxi or car for a more comfortable ascent due to some steep sections. Exploring the dungeons and different areas inside the castle is possible by pre-booking a castle tour—available in both English and Spanish. Remember to pre-book at least an hour in advance at the visitor center, ensuring a comprehensive exploration of this historic site, free for all to walk around and soak in the panoramic views.

Santa Barbara Castle

Central Market

Nestled in the heart of the city center, near the boardwalk area and old town of Alicante, the Central Market of Alicante or Mercat Central d’Alacant offers a vibrant glimpse into traditional Spanish market life. This bustling marketplace is a treasure trove of cured and raw meats on the main floor, while a descent (thanks to an escalator near the back) reveals a bounty of fresh produce, with everything from local and seasonal fruits to vegetables. Outside, a charming flower market and a small restaurant invite you to enjoy coffee, beer, and some tapas.

For those looking to immerse themselves further into Alicante’s culinary scene or seeking ingredients for a perfect beach picnic, like fruit, cheeses, and jamon for sandwiches or charcuterie boards, the market serves as an ideal spot. While not the cheapest place for groceries, it promises the best quality in Alicante. Moreover, visitors can enrich their experience with a tour led by a local Spanish speaker, offering a guided tour of the market and stops at local bars for drinks and traditional Spanish tapas.

Archaeological Museum Of Alicante

The Archaeological Museum of Alicante (MARQ) stands as a must-see attraction for history-lovers visiting Alicante. Housed in a beautiful building once serving as the hospital of San Juan de Dios, MARQ offers a comprehensive collection of art and artifacts meticulously divided into thematic areas of the museum. From the dawn of prehistory, featuring human remains, skulls, and bones from thousands of years ago, to the Roman influence on the Iberian peninsula during medieval times, and stretching into modern-day Spain, the museum captivates with its breadth of history.

Remarkably, entry is free to permanent exhibitions, allowing visitors to embark on a journey through time from Tuesday to Saturday, 10 am-7 pm, and on Sundays until 2 pm, though it remains closed on Mondays.

MACA Contemporary Art Museum Of Alicante

The MACA (Contemporary Art Museum of Alicante) easily ranks as my personal favorite among Alicante’s offerings, showcasing that even a small city can stand toe-to-toe with the contemporary art museums of Valencia or Malaga. Boasting a large collection of 20th-century and contemporary art from both Spanish and international artists, the museum presents an array of paintings, sculptures, sketches, and audio-visual works.

What’s more, admission is free, making it an accessible treasure trove for art enthusiasts. Whether you’re intrigued by the current exhibitions or simply wish to peruse the display, MACA offers a rich cultural experience right in the heart of Alicante.

Basilica Of St. Mary Of Alicante

Stepping into the Basilica of Santa Maria, the oldest still-active church in Alicante, offers a serene escape from the bustling city life. Located just across the street from the MACA museum, this hidden gem is a testament to simplicity and grandeur, enveloped in a small plaza that feels worlds away from the usual tourist paths.

It’s the perfect spot to bask in the sunshine at the cafe, enjoying tapas, a cold beer, or an iced coffee, all while soaking in the tranquil sites and sounds of locals living their daily lives. Although the church might not always be open, an early morning visit could reward you with a glimpse inside its walls, showcasing the ornate gold altar. The entry is free, making it an accessible piece of Alicante’s rich history and culture.

view of Alicante from the Santa Barbara Castle.

Gravina Museum Of Fine Arts MUBAG

Nestled within the heart of the city, MUBAG stands out as the largest museum in Alicante, boasting one of the most exquisite fine arts collections in the Autonomous Region of the Community of Valencia. This treasure trove of art is housed in the Palacio del Conde de Lumiares, a magnificent 18th-century building declared a historical monument.

The museum’s vast array of artworks predominantly spans the 19th and 20th centuries, encompassing paintings and hosting various exhibitions featuring both famous artists from Spain and international artists.

Remarkably, MUBAG is open daily from 10 am to 8 pm, except on Sundays when it closes at 2 pm. Visitors will be delighted to know that entry to this cultural gem is free, making it an accessible showcase of Alicante’s rich artistic heritage.

Santa Iglesia Concatedral de San Nicolás de Bari de Alicante

In the heart of Alicante’s Old Town, the Co-cathedral of Saint Nicholas of Bari emerges as a pivotal Roman-Catholic cathedral, whose foundation was laid between 1613 and 1662 atop the remnants of a mosque, echoing the historical layers of Spain shaped by the Moors. Its most distinguishable feature, a striking blue dome that towers 45 meters above the ground, invites visitors into the depths of Spanish Baroque architecture, notably within the Chapel of the Holy Communion.

Unlike the city’s basilica, this cathedral’s central location offers a seamless integration into any stroll through Alicante’s Old Town, encouraging exploration. Open every day from 8:30 am to 1 pm and 6-8:30 pm, entry is graciously free, inviting all to witness a piece of Spain’s rich ecclesiastical heritage.

Alicante Beaches

Visit The Best Beaches

While Alicante might not be the first destination that comes to mind for its museums or cathedrals, its golden-sand beaches and stunning coastline are truly unmatched, standing out as some of the best in the country. The allure of Alicante extends beyond its historical sites to its great weather and amazing beaches, making even a winter trip a perfect occasion for a stroll along the sands of this coastal city.

From the vibrant activities on the main beach, Playa del Postiguet, located right in the downtown area, to the more tranquil spots in Benidorm, Villajoyosa, and el Campello, Alicante offers a varied beach experience. Whether you’re into beach workouts, volleyball, or simply enjoy after-work swims in the ocean, the main beach is a hub of local life.

Best beach in alicante

Venture north by tram to discover some of the longest and most beautiful stretches of sand in the Valencia Community, such as Playa de las Huertas, Playa de San Juan, and Playa de Muchvista, known for its stunning mountain views. For those looking to explore beyond Alicante’s suburbs, Platja del Carrer de la Mar in the neighborhood of El Campello offers easy access to shops and restaurants while being close to the beach, providing a delightful mix of convenience and scenic beauty.

Take A Day Trip To Benidorm

Exploring beyond Alicante for a day trip to Benidorm reveals a starkly different vibe, thanks to its status as a famous beachside destination. The L1 tram from downtown stops like Luceros or Mercat whisks you away to Benidorm for just a few Euros, making it an easy and convenient adventure.

Benidorm contrasts with Alicante by being more of a tourist resort area, packed with amenities closer to the beach, including restaurants offering international food and waitstaff who speak English.

Its stunning beaches invite leisure with options to rent scooters for a ride along the boardwalk, or simply relax by the sea and sand. After enjoying the busy party spots and fun restaurants along the beach, you can head back to Alicante by night, carrying with you the vibrant experiences of a day well-spent.

San June Beach In Alicante

Go To Tabarca Island

Embarking on a boat trip from Alicante to Tabarca Island, the largest island in the Valencian Community, unfolds as an adventure into a realm of cool sites, amazing beaches, and wonderful restaurants. Ferry services offer a round-trip ticket for €23 (approximately £20 GBP / $24.50 USD), with children under 4 years old traveling for free, ensuring a family-friendly outing.

The timetable varies throughout the year, making summer months from June 21 to September 30 the ideal period for visitors wanting to explore the island’s allure with more frequent departures including times at 10 am, 11 am, 12:15 pm, and 1:30 pm.

Alternatively, a catamaran boat trip presents a 6-hour tour that enriches the experience with snorkeling in the island’s marine reserve, providing free time on the island complemented by lunch of paella and drinks, encapsulating the essence of a Mediterranean escapade.

Views of Alicante from above

Wander The Streets Of The Old Town

Exploring the sidestreets of Alicante, a beautiful city known for its vibrant atmosphere and rich culture, is one of the favorite things to do. Getting lost in the alleys reveals a world filled with cool street art and hidden tapas restaurants, like the well-loved d’tablas. The charming pedestrian street adorned with mushroom sculptures and surrounded by lively bars invites leisurely strolls, while La Rambla, the main boulevard, offers good shopping and affordable chain restaurants.

The Esplanada d’Espanya, with its stunning tile work, is a picturesque spot where vendors sell souvenir bracelets and keychains at surprisingly affordable prices, allowing visitors to take home cute bracelets for less than €1 each, encapsulating the essence of Alicante’s old town charm in a nutshell.

Wander the Streets of the Old Town

Take A Food Tour

In the heart of the Valencian Community, Alicante shines not only for its unique dishes like paella, arroz a banda, and arroz con costra but also as a vibrant hub for food culture enthusiasts. Whether you’re spending a week with Alicante as your base or here for a quick weekend trip, embarking on a food tour offers a deep dive into the region’s culinary treasures.

The secret flavors food tour is a fantastic journey through the market’s history, providing an opportunity to support local producers and small businesses while sampling 20 different local dishes. For those eager to tread off the beaten path, the evening tapas tour presents an authentic slice of Alicante’s nightlife through its bars, where locals gather.

This experience emphasizes quality over quantity, with nice-sized portions of top-quality dishes that narrate the rich history of Spain. It’s an excellent way to explore the city through the eyes of a knowledgeable local, making every bite a story of its own.

Elche Palm forest near Alicante.

Visit The Palm Trees In Elche

An easy day trip from Alicante leads you to Elche, accessible by bus or train in just 45 minutes—a journey you can plan through Omio with cash or card. Upon arrival at the Elche bus station, a mere 5-10 minute walk unfolds into the largest palm tree forest in Europe, El Palmeral. This stunning place offers serene walks among palm trees, with scattered buildings and water features complementing the lush shade of the palms.

Beyond the natural allure, Elche invites visitors to its archeological museum, housed within an old Moorish fortress. Here, both the museum and the palm tree forest present equally interesting facets of Elche to explore, making it a fulfilling excursion from Alicante.

Tour The City By Bike

Embarking on bike tours during summer in Alicante unveils a delightful way to traverse its extensive bike lanes. Whether you rent a bike for the day to explore the city at your pace or join a guided tour for a blend of history, culture, and fun, Alicante caters to all. Opting for e-bikes provides assistance for an easier and more enjoyable long bike ride, ensuring you don’t miss out on the essence of the city.

Each tour includes a helmet, a stop for a snack, and a knowledgeable guide ready to explain the rich culture and fun facts about Alicante as you ride through the city, making stops at various sites and soaking in the vibrant atmosphere.

boat tour in alicante

Sail Along The Coastline

Sailing along the stunning coastline of Alicante offers an unparalleled view of its rocky cliffs and pristine beaches. Boat trips, far from being extravagant, present affordable tour options for every traveler. A popular choice is the catamaran tour, a two-hour boat trip that navigates through picturesque locations like Albufereta and Cabo de la Huerta.

On board, guests can enjoy tapas and drinks, or hop off for a swim in the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean. For those intrigued by the underwater world, snorkeling gear is available to explore beneath the surface, where the stunning marine life of the coastline awaits discovery.

Go Hiking In The Nearby Trails

Exploring the hiking trails around Alicante reveals the natural beauty of the region, offering varying degrees of difficulty to accommodate all adventurers. From easy paved walks to the top of Santa Barbara Castle to more challenging long coastal walks with undulating trails, there’s something for everyone.

Situated just on the outskirts of the city center, a trail network provides breathtaking views over Alicante, easily accessible by tram from Sangueta station. For those seeking longer trails, the Alltrails app becomes an invaluable companion, allowing hikers to download the map of the trail and use it offline, a handy feature when you lose signal in the hills.

Hiking in alicante

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