One of the most lovely places to visit in Costa Blanca, Alicante makes for the perfect beachy vacation spot for both locals and tourists alike.
Sitting on an expansive stretch of the Mediterranean Sea, you get a little bit of everything here: long strips of city beach, towering religious monuments, important town structures, museums, promenades, tapas… Need I say more?
Any trip here is bound to be a sensational one as there’s so much waiting to be explored.
Here are the best things to do in Alicante, no matter what type of vacation you’re after!
- Admire Houses in Old Town
- Lounge Around Postiguet Beach
- Snack through Mercado Central
- Take a Tapas Tour in Alicante
- Enjoy Views from Castillo de Santa Barbara
- Take in Thrilling Views Along a Via Ferrata
- Stroll Along the Explanada de Espana
- Visit the Basilica of Santa Maria
- Take in Some Art at the Contemporary Art Museum
- Learn Alicante’s History at the Archaeological Museum
- Stop by the Town Hall
- Have a Sea Kayaking Adventure
- Canyoning at Gorgo de la Escalera
- Take a Tandem Paragliding Flight
- Get a Taste of Spanish Wines on a Vineyard Tour
- Discover the Palm Groves of Elche
- Explore the Canelobre Caves
- Party During Las Hogueras de San Juan
- Enjoy a Day Trip to Tabarca
- Explore Costa Blanca
Admire Houses in Old Town
One of the most charming parts in all of Alicante is Casco Antiguo, or Old Town, the perfect place to get lost for an afternoon.
The old part of the city is totally village-like with narrow cobblestone streets, whitewashed walls, and towering staircases, all sitting on the side of a hill under a castle. How fairytale-like is that?
Besides cafe-hopping and stopping in the cute boutiques, admiring the local homes is one of the best things to do in Old Town. Flowers and plants overflow from wrought iron balconies and colorful shutters adorn each set of windows.
It’s a picture-perfect taste of Alicante that can’t be missed on a visit to this city! If you want to see Alicante from a local’s eyes, consider going on a local tour of Alicante, showing you the best things to see and do around the city.
Lounge Around Postiguet Beach
Another can’t-miss spot in Alicante are the city beaches. Not only are they extremely accessible, but the beaches in Alicante are some of the best beaches in Spain.
Postiguet Beach is the city hotspot, and sits right next to Old Town. The golden sand is perfect for sunbathing and the warm water is ideal for a dip. You can expect tons of crowds in the summer, but luckily there are no shortage of beaches in this area of Spain.
Other great beaches just a little outside the city are Playa de San Juan, a stellar place for a beachy getaway with plenty of restaurants and cafes nearby, and Playa de Los Saladares located in a wetland reserve, perfect for those looking for a slice of nature!
Snack through Mercado Central
As the main supplier for most local restaurants and of course family dinner tables, a visit to Mercado Central de Alicante is a must. The entire market is simply brimming with fresh and local produce, just-caught seafood, different meats, legs of ham, melt-in-your-mouth cheese, flaky pastries, and more!
Since the market opened in 1921, the number of stalls has grown to a whopping 292, so it’s safe to say if you’re looking for a taste of Alicante, you can find it here.
Mercado Central is open from 7.00am to 2:30pm from Monday to Friday, and from 8.00am to 3.00pm on Saturdays, with the busiest days falling on weekends.
Be prepared to queue before eating your heart out! Alternatively, this gourmet food tour in Alicante is also a great way to learn more about the culture.
Take a Tapas Tour in Alicante
If you truly want to experience the best of Alicante’s food, take a tapas tour to make sure you try it all!
On this three-hour tour, you’ll hop from tapas bar to tapas bar with a local guide to walk you through eating and drinking, Alicante-style. You’ll get to explore neighborhoods like Santa Cruz and La Rambla, as well as significant city landmarks as you make your way from one bar to the next!
Enjoy Views from Castillo de Santa Barbara
Atop the towering rocky hill that serves as a backdrop to the city sits Castillo de Santa Barbara, a 9th century Islamic Alcazar that watches over the sea. You can’t miss it as the massive monument catches your eye from pretty much everywhere in the city.
The castle has a long and turbulent history which ended in a complete Renaissance-style renovation during the reign of Philip II. This resulted in the structure that’s standing today. You can visit the castle and wander around on your own or take a guided tour to learn about the true history of the halls you walk through.
Whichever way you choose to see this structure, you’ll be thrilled with the panoramic views of Alicante and the Mediterranean Sea.
Take in Thrilling Views Along a Via Ferrata
First thing’s first: via ferratas are paths that span between rocks. They’re fully equipped with bars, steps, rails and steel cables to hang on to, and you’ll be strapped into a harness to ensure your safety as you traverse these paths the entire time.
Sometimes these paths even reach mountain summits which couldn’t be accessed otherwise!
While in Alicante, take the opportunity to traverse a via ferrata and test your wits and bravery. You’ll be accompanied by a group and guide the entire time, so you don’t have to worry about a thing!
You don’t need any experience to take to this via ferrata, but it’s certainly a thrilling challenge to get to the top.
Stroll Along the Explanada de Espana
A staple of the city is Alicante’s multi-colored marble promenade that stretches from Old Town and along the seafront and marina. As you walk along the waving tiles, you’ll really get a sense of local life as people will be sitting to chat, sharing a post-meal stroll, or poking around at the different stalls.
Paved with more than six and a half million marble tiles and lined with palm trees, the Explanada is home to some of the best views in Alicante as it runs right along the water. Be sure to grab a seat and join in the enjoyment!
Visit the Basilica of Santa Maria
As far as religious monuments go, the Basilica of Santa Maria is both the oldest and most beautiful one in Alicante.
Built-in the 13th century, this church was constructed to cover up a former mosque that was recaptured from the Moors. It has two twin towers that are the main focal point of the structure, but interestingly enough, the towers aren’t twins at all! While they may look identical, the one of the right was built in the 14th century and the one on the left in the 19th.
Besides the towers and the stunning ornamental detail work outside of the church’s entrance, there are a few things to see inside. Most notable are the 14th century statue of Santa Maria and a book printed in the 13th century.
Talk about a blast from the past!
Take in Some Art at the Contemporary Art Museum
Fast forward a few centuries and you end up at the Contemporary Art Museum, located right next to the Santa Maria Basilica and built within the walls of the oldest secular building in Alicante.
The museum was founded in 1976 by a famous sculptor from the city who desired to display his handsome collection. Hanging on the walls, you’ll find more than 800 works from the likes of Salvador Dali, Joan Miro, Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso, and other great 20th century artists.
The best part about the Contemporary Art Museum is that only one third of the works can be displayed at one time so the art is rotated throughout the year, making every visit different!
Learn Alicante’s History at the Archaeological Museum
A great way to learn about Alicante’s past is by paying the Archaeological Museum a visit. The exhibitions are out of this world, displaying artifacts dating all the way back to prehistoric times!
Alicante is a great place for archaeological treasures. There are tons of sites nearby from Roman times that have turned up a plethora of diverse pottery, jewelry, and everyday items, giving visitors a peek into the past.
On a visit here, one thing that can’t be missed are the medieval displays showing off when Christians, Jews and Muslims all lived together in Alicante.
Stop by the Town Hall
One of the centerpieces of Alicante is the Ayuntamiento, or Town Hall, which is just a short walk from the Explananda.
This building has an impressive facade designed in Baroque style, with two large towers that practically reach for the sky at 35 meters tall.
The building is open to the public, so pop inside if you have a moment. There are lots of neat things to see here like the staircase that leads up to the building that measure height above sea level, the Blue Room or Salon Azul, and the remarkable collection of Dali works.
Have a Sea Kayaking Adventure
Besides all the monuments, historic sites, and museums to visit in Alicante, there are plenty of things to do to appease the adventurous travelers. One way to get off the beaten tourist track is to take a sea kayaking tour out on the sparkling Mediterranean sea!
This kayaking excursion takes off from Serra Gelada National Park and traces the coastline, stopping at caves, admiring rock formations, and giving you plenty of opportunities to hop in the water for a swim.
The area you’ll kayak through is a sanctuary for seabirds and marine life, making it the perfect spot to snorkel — so don’t forget your mask!
Read More: Best Snorkeling Gear
Canyoning at Gorgo de la Escalera
Rivers, mountains, and canyons, oh my! Scramble up rocks, hike through rivers and rappel down the side of jagged rocks… Canyoning in Alicante is the activity that combines them all.
Canyoning is one of the most thrilling excursions you can take in Alicante, and requires no experience at all! Plus, Gorgo de la Escaper is the top initiation canyons in the area, making it perfect for beginners!
You’ll be accompanied by an experienced local guide the entire time who will walk you through the canyoning process, as well as all of the different geological features present in the canyon.
This is a great way to combine nature exploration with a blood-pumping activity and a day full of fun. If you’re looking to get out and about while in Alicante, this is the excursion for you!
Take a Tandem Paragliding Flight
One of the best activities in Alicante is to take a tandem paragliding flight. From up in the air, you’ll get to admire the gorgeous landscapes of the Costa Blanca and feel the wind rushing through your hair.
You’ll be paragliding in tandem with a trained professional who’s there to walk you through every step of the process and keep you safe and comfortable the entire time.
Feel like a bird as you get that blood pumping adrenaline rush, and don’t forget to snap a picture or two!
Get a Taste of Spanish Wines on a Vineyard Tour
A tour of a different kind, wine lovers rejoice because there are plenty of vineyards for you to visit in Alicante to sip on the finest Spanish wines.
This vineyard tour picks you up in the heart of the city and takes you out to a village located in the Vinalopó region where growing conditions are ideal. You’ll get to explore the vineyard and surroundings with a local guide. At the same time, learn about the wine-making process and explore the wine cellar!
Finally, you’ll get to taste some of the best wines in the region and munch on local delicacies like fresh olive oil and cured meats before getting dropped back off in the center of the city. How much better can it get than this?
Discover the Palm Groves of Elche
If you don’t mind venturing out of the city a little, the Palm Groves of Elche make for a lovely afternoon trip. A quick 20-minute ride away from Alicante, you’ll find the largest palm grove in all of Europe which was planted in the Middle Ages by the first Muslims who settled in the area.
With more than 200,000 trees, most of which are palms, it’s a dizzyingly beautiful place to visit. Plus, it’s a great bite out of history as this species of tree didn’t exist in Spain until it was brought over by the Moors!
Palmeral de Elche is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is best enjoyed via the Ruta del Palmeral, which is a circular path that takes you around the entire garden.
Explore the Canelobre Caves
For the adventure of a lifetime, take a day trip from Alicante to Canelobre Caves, the deepest caves in Spain!
This excursion includes transportation, an entry ticket, and an English and Spanish speaking guide. So you won’t have to worry about anything but enjoying your day!
Wander through the 70-meter vault that resembles a cathedral dome, admire stalagmite formations from more than 100,000 years ago, and stand under a column that reaches 25 meters in height.
Besides the caves, you’ll also get to check out a gorgeous viewpoint from the top of Cabezon de Oro mountain and enjoy a quick drink at the restaurant before returning to Alicante.
Party During Las Hogueras de San Juan
If your visit to Spain falls in June, be sure to make it to Alicante on the 23rd, when the Las Hogueras de San Juan festival is in full swing. While the festival is celebrated all over Spain, the largest fiesta is in this city, where people spend five days burning giant cardboard sculptures.
Hogueras de San Juan begins at midnight on the summer solstice in June, and pays homage to a pagan rite that has to do with the impact on agriculture with the arrival of summer. That’s why you can see giant bonfires lasting for all five days of the festival throughout the entire city, with everyone participating, no matter how young or how old.
It sounds terrifying, I know, but not to worry — there are giant teams of firefighters on standby to keep things from getting out of hand.
It’s tradition in Alicante is to jump over a bonfire, but this is starting to disappear as the fires get larger and obviously more impossible to jump over.
Enjoy a Day Trip to Tabarca
Sitting just off the coast of Alicante is Tabarca, the perfect island for a quick day trip.
The main attraction here is the little town that is full of whitewashed houses, a historic church and narrow streets, creating a charming Spanish atmosphere and escape from city life.
It’s super easy to get to Tabarca from Alicante. Ferries run daily from the harbor for €18 round-trip. The trip is half of the fun as the waters surrounding the island have been declared as a Mediterranean Marine Reserve, so it’s a great way to take in its unbelievable beauty and catch glimpses of marine life.
Explore Costa Blanca
After you’ve soaked in all of Alicante’s awesomeness, you’ll be inspired to make your way down Costa Blanca to see more. With more than 200 kilometers of Mediterranean coastline, there are endless beaches, secret caves, and stunning roads to be discovered.
Highlights of Costa Blanca are nearby Benidorm, a fun resort town with skyscrapers, Javea which is frequented by celebrities, and Santa Pola, a quiet town most popular with Spaniards.
No matter where you end up in Costa Blanca you’ll be met with pristine beaches, clear warm water, and the most insane scenery you could ever imagine.
As far as Spanish cities goes, Alicante is pretty close to perfect. It has a remarkable blend of everything you could want in a vacation, from local culture to stunning beaches, to the most scrumptious food imaginable.
It’s one of the best places to enjoy the Mediterranean Sea in Spain. If you’re after sunshine and seaside, Alicante should definitely be on your must-visit list!
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