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Alicante, founded by the Romans who named it Lucentum, (City of Light) is a decidedly Spanish city perched on the Mediterranean coast, making for a splendidly relaxing and beautiful destination.
The main historical sight of Alicante is easily the Castillo de Santa Barbara, a medieval fortress accessible by lift as well as walking. While Iberian and Roman remains have been found at this site, most of the remains date just to the 16th century.
For those seeking art, the Museo de Arte Moderno offers a good Spanish-centric collection of works by Dali, Picasso, Tapies and Miro. History-buffs will be impressed by the Museo Arqueologico, which houses Iberian artefacts and medieval relic.
Every Thursday and Saturday from 9am-2pm, a market is held by the Plaza de Toros (bullfighting stadium). For typical products like turrón, cured salted fish, and wines try Cuquet de Llum (C/Carratalá, 20), Espí (C/López Torregrosa, 17) and Bodegas Selection (C/Italia, 4).
Alicante is famous for its turrón (nougat) and features several shops selling this sweet treat on C/Capital Serralla and on C/Mayor, located in the center. However, being a part of the Valencian region, when it comes to mealtime, dishes heavy on rice and seafood are commonplace. Try Piripi (Avenida Oscar Esplá, 30) for fresh fish and seafood, a large variety of tapas, and jamón iberico. For traditional Spanish-Valenciana fare, go to La Taberna Ibérica (C/Toldeo, 18) for fresh ingredients and excellent preparation.
Barrio Santa Cruz, the old town, is the pulse of the nightlife in Alicante. Known by locals as “El Barrio” you have everything from jazz clubs, live music, gay bars and even an American-style bar, complete with gourmet burgers served up late into the evening. Head down to the port to Havana Café for a bohemian feel and lively crowds (Rambla Méndez Núñez, 26) or the Casco Antiguo’s Celestial Copas (C/ San Pascual, 1), known for its kitsch décor and Spanish, flamenco and Latin music.
Named after the convent across the street, Hostal Les Monges (Nuns Hostel in the Valencian language) is a fun place to crash after sight-seeing all day. Every room is uniquely decorated, from Japanese-style art, to traditional Spanish pottery. Find it on C/San Augustin, 4. For a more glamorous stay, a night or two at Hotel Amerigo (C/Rafael Altamira, 7) will do the trick. It offers sleek rooms, a rooftop deck and pool, sauna, spa and a chill atmosphere to relax and take in some pretty city views.
For a pleasant evening stroll, try wide esplanades like Rambla Mendez Nuñez or the seafront promenade.
A trip to Alicante wouldn’t be complete without sun-bathing and strolling along the city’s beaches. Playa del Postiguet, near the Ayuntamiento (town hall) is crowded in the summer, but full of life. More peaceful stretches of sand are found at Playa de Sant Joan and Playa del Mutxavista.
Go to the marine reserve of Isla de Tabarca for a day-trip away from Alicante. It’s actually a small archipelago consisting of several islets. What was once inhabited by Berber pirates is now the largest inhabited island in the region of Valencia. The island’s walls, surrounding the town, have been declared a Historical and Artistic Site and as Asset of Cultural Interest.
Plan on spending a full day here. Several daily departures from the Explanada de España in Alicante leave, weather-permitting.
Find live music at La Bohemia (C/Villavieja, 1) every Friday and Saturday night. Come late July and early August for ballet and musical performances on Playa de Sant Joan for the Plataforma Cultural series. Head to the local tourism office for more details and dates, but be prepared to pay nothing; events on Playa de San Juan are free!
Relying on finding internet cafés (locutorios in Spanish) on every corner in Alicante. They are surprisingly hard to run into. Try Internet Café Explorer on C/San Vicente, 47 for all of your printing, Skyping, faxing and Internet needs, and grab a bite to eat while you’re at it. I hour of internet, a bocadillo (small sandwich) and drink are their special for under 3€.
Alicante Mini Guide
Alicante (or Alacant in Valencian Catalan) is the capital city of Spain’sAlicante province. The city of Alicante is located on Spain’s east coast, midway down the famous CostaBlanca in the southernmost part of the LandofValencia. One of the most rapidly expanding cities in Spain, Alicante has an economy that relies heavily on the region’s huge tourism industry, as well as the production and export of wine, olive oil and fruit. Explore and discover the Alicante region of Spain at your leisure.
Things to See/Do in Alicante
During the day, the city of Alicante is a bustling and pleasant place to be. There are a number of attractions in the city to interest tourists, the main one being the Castillo de Santa Barbara. This enormous medieval stronghold overlooks Alicante and can be accessed by cable car running from Jovellanas Avenue. The castle is well worth visiting and the cable car provides a cheap and interesting way to get birds-eye views over the city. Take a walk around Alicante to view the numerous churches, cathedrals, and other sightseeing options it has to offer. Many of these are free or have a very lowcost of admission, and it is easy to see the city on a budget. If walking around the city in the sun becomes a bit too much, Alicante has a lovely beach stretching from the harbour to San Juan, perfect for an idle afternoon.
Take a drive out of Alicante, Spain, with the freedom of a rental car and explore Spain’s countryside at your leisure.
Eating Out in Alicante
The harbour itself is lovely, perfect for a leisurely afternoon stroll – and maybe one or two glasses of Sangria in the many cafÃ©s along the way. Eating out on a budget is not difficult here – fresh paella at lowcost can be found in many restaurants. Head for the streets around the Calle San Francisco, you will payless around here than in other areas of the city. In Spain, Tapas is always a budget friendly way to eat, with great cheap tapas widely available in most areas and throughout Alicante, offering you a chance to sample lots of different local produce. You also have the opportunity to venture further afield in search of hidden gastronomic gems.
Car hire from Alicante Airport means easy access to a number of other locations in the region. Alicante city centre lies just over 11km/7 miles from the Airport, Benidorm is just 59km/37 miles away and Torrevieja is around 62km/39 miles in distance.
When visiting Alicante – Downtown don’t forget to see and experience the museums, galleries, Bars, Lounges, Restaurant and vibrant cafe society of this area!