I’ve been in Alicante several times, usually on a day trip when staying in one of the coastal resorts.
It’s great for a day trip, but even better for a weekend.
For starters, its easy to fly there from a regional airport, using a low-cost airline – so no long treks before you even start your holiday! And once you land, it’s a quick and easy trip by local bus into the city.
The city centre is easy to walk around, or if you want to save your feet there’s also a simple to use tram system.
Here are my favourite things to do in Alicante.
1) Walk along the front towards the marina
Parque canalejas is literally a really cool place to walk along.
In the summer months Alicante can get pretty hot, and this area is shaded by some really huge trees, with benches all along it’s length.
If you carry on walking, you reach the Esplanade d’Espanya.
This is also partially shaded, by smaller palm trees, and the path is tiled in a distinctive wavy pattern.
It also has some kiosks selling souvenir-type things like bags, scarves and purses.
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On one side you have a row of restaurants, and on the other is the sea.
If you follow this path along to its end, it takes you to the marina, which is a great place to relax and do some people watching.
2. Go to the beach
Just on the other side of the marina is Postiguet beach. There are other beaches further along the front, but this is the one which is easy to get to, a level walk from the centre of the city.
If you’d like to have a sunbed and an umbrella then there’s a charge – or you can do as the locals do and take a towel and find yourself a space for free.
And don’t worry about going in the water – it may be right next to the city but this is an EU blue flag beach.
3. Castillo de Santa Barbera
It’s virtually impossible to miss this castle, as it sits high above the city at the top of Mount Benacantil. You don’t have to climb all the way up to visit it though, as there is a lift a bit further along the front which takes you up to the entrance.
This is a terrific place to visit – I’ve been several times and always seem to find somewhere I haven’t been before! It really does have everything – multiple levels, courtyards and stunning views of the surrounding area. If you feel like doing some more walking, then follow the path back down.
4. Shopping and a long lunch
Alicante has all the usual big shops, and many smaller stores in streets which are a bit more interesting to walk in (above is Calle de las Setas, which is full of whimsical shapes.
It also has a great central market, housed in a distinctive early 20th century building, which sells everything you could ever wish to include in a picnic.
If shopping malls are more your thing, then about 20 minutes walk or a short tram ride away is Plaza Mar 2, which has all the usual suspects, a hypermarket and a cinema which has all the latest releases. If you’re tempted by the cinema, look for the VO (original version) as these will be in English with Spanish subtitles.
Do be aware that if you stay in the city then most shops are closed from 13.30 until 16.30 (re-opening after that until 20.00) – I’ve been caught out by that a few times! It does give you the perfect opportunity to relax over a long lunch – if you haven’t been tempted by the sea-front restaurants then the area behind the marina has a wonderful selection of places to choose from.
5. Barrio Santa Cruz
Nestled between the modern city and Mount Benacantil is the old town, a warren of pretty streets with decorative plants and small bars.
Not many tourists make it this far, so it’s a good place to get away from the hustle and bustle.
Signposted from the main thoroughfare, the steps rise a little steeper towards the viewpoint El de la remit.
On our way here we were caught out by a sudden rain shower and took cover in a tiny covered square. It was a sunny day so we sat down to wait the rain out – and a cat appeared from nowhere, leapt onto my lap, and settled down to sleep, purring!
It didn’t take long for the rain to pass and we carried on up to the viewpoint. Well worth the climb!
If Alicante appeals to you, then as an independent traveller there are a few things worth knowing.
Weather-wise, it stays warm throughout the year, and it’s a pretty casual place, so a weekend (or longer) with carry-on luggage only is possible.
It’s not a major tourist destination, so doesn’t have the same problems with pickpockets that resorts often have.
Don’t worry if you don’t know any Spanish, as virtually everyone you meet will speak excellent English – and restaurant menus are often multi-lingual. If you want to eat familiar food, then many international chains are represented.
Lots of people come out to shop in the evenings, especially in summer when it’s relatively cooler, so the main thoroughfares are busy.
Public transport is reliable, safe and well used. If you’re walking and get lost then the city has good 4G mobile coverage, so you can check Google maps.