For most people Alicante is the airport they fly into before making their way onto one of the many popular holiday resorts nearby but what they do not realise is that Alicante is a bustling cosmopolitan city with a population of 350,000. Overlooked by the imposing Santa Barbara Castle, Alicante boasts a thriving marina and a pedestrian walkway to rival Barcelona’s “La Rambla” and an old town full of interesting buildings and quaint tapas bars. Add to this four world-class beaches, a pirate island, great shopping, and a lively nightlife scene and you have the recipe for the perfect weekend.
El Postiguet beach
Located in the heart of the city just past the marina, El Postiguet beach is the poster child for what an urban Mediterranean beach is supposed to look like. Awarded Europe’s prestigious blue flag for cleanliness and water quality, El Postiguet beach is known for its fine white sand, beachfront bars and its proximity to the old town.
San Juan beach
Arguably Alicante’s most popular place to hang out during the summer, the sands of Playa San Juan stretch all the way up the coast to El Campello. Located in what is considered to be Alicante’s most prestigious neighbourhood Playa San Juan is surrounded by expensive apartment buildings and commercial premises.
Playa de la Albufereta
Brilliant for children due to its gentle slope into the sea, Playa de la Albufereta is located to the north of the city adjacent to the coastal highway and is a part of the former Roman city of Lucentum. If you want a break from the beach there are several interesting Roman sites to explore.
Probably Alicante’s best-kept secret, Playa Urbanova is located a 15-minute bus ride south of the city close to the airport. The beach has every amenity you would expect to find on a top Spanish beach plus the opportunity to watch aircraft taking off and landing.
Santa Barbara Castle
Originally built by the Moors, Santa Barbara Castle was renovated during the 1,500’s by the conquering Christian armies and was later used as a garrison for British troops during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714). The castle certainly has an interesting history and provides great views over the city and marina. To get there you can either walk, take a bus or taxi, or better still use the convenient lift opposite Postiguet Beach.
MARQ Provincial Archaeological Museum
For an insight into Alicante’s origins and the civilizations that settled there a trip to the city’s Archaeological Museum is a must for any visitor. You start the tour learning about early-man before Greek and Phoenician traders arrived. Later the Romans built a city in what today is a northern suburb. You will also learn about how Christians, Muslims and Jews all lived happily together during the 700 years of Moorish rule.
Feeling a lot like a village in the centre of the city, Alicante’s old town is a joy to wander around. Located almost directly under the castle the old town is full of tapas bars selling ice-cold beer and food unique to Alicante.
Basilica of Santa María
Built on the site of a former mosque following the Reconquista in the 13th century the Gothic style Basilica of Santa María is Alicante’s oldest church. An interesting fact about the church is it’s two nearly identical towers despite one of them being added much later.
Once home to the Barbary Pirates the island of Tabarca now has the distinction of being the smallest inhabited island in Spain. To get there you can take a regularly scheduled boat from the marina and once there look around, have lunch and go for a swim. The waters around the island are a marine reserve, making it one of the best places in Spain to go snorkelling.
One thing Spain has that tourists find fascinating is their traditional indoor markets selling only the freshest produce available. The Mercado Central in Alicante is located on Avda. Alfonso X El Sabio and is open from 6:00 AM – 3:30 PM. The market also has a couple of cafeterias making it a great place to go for a coffee and a bite to eat early in the morning.
Centro Comercial Plaza Mar 2
Ideally suited to tourists located close to El Postiguet beach the Centro Comercial Plaza Mar 2 is Alicante’s newest shopping mall and has all the big name stores all under the same roof. The mall also features several restaurants and a cinema complex.
El Corte Ingles
Considered as being Spain’s equivalent to Harrod’s in London, El Corte Ingles is the place to go for all the latest fashions and accessories. You will also find a wide arrange of electrical goods and some incredible sales after January’s Three Kings celebrations. In Alicante El Corte Ingles is located on Av Federico Soto.