Alicante Holidays and Travel Guide
Alicante Holidays on Spain’s popular eastern coastline
Located a few hours south of Valencia, is the attractive city of Alicante. With about 2900 hours of sunshine per year and very little rainfall, it is the perfect hotspot for those seeking lots of sun and sea.
Alicante has been inhabited for about 7000 years, and has grown quickly over the last few decades, serving as a main tourist hub on the magnificent Costa Blanca. However, it still enjoys a rich Spanish and Catalan culture, influenced by foreign residents to create a fusion of interesting flavours.
Alicante has excellent transport links to almost everywhere that might interest you as a visitor – its international airport is the sixth busiest of the country, operating flights to and from most European countries with low-cost carriers; by rail, the city links with Madrid, Barcelona and the region’s capital of Valencia.
As well as tram journeys to the nearby resorts and towns of the Costa Blanca, reaching the popular Benidorm, Javea, and Denia, all of which are well worth a visit; if that wasn’t enough, ferries operate regularly to and from the Balearic Islands and even Africa. So, there is no excuse to get bored on your holidays to Alicante.
Popular historic and cultural sites
If you are a lover of Spanish culture there are plenty of sites to visit given the city’s constant occupation by so many different cultures and peoples throughout its past. The most prominent landmark, seen from almost anywhere in the city, is the distinctive Castillo de Santa Barbara, a magnificent fortification crowning Mount Benacantil. The L’Ereta Park is wonderful to explore with a bird’s eye view of the city and surroundings.
If you want a change from the city, why not head out to the small islet of Tabarca, which once thrived with pirates, but now has been designated a site of marine biodiversity and a popular tourist destination, perfectly complementing Alicante and the Costa Blanca. Don’t forget to hit the Barrio de Santa Cruz, on the foothills of Mount Benacantil; this is Alicante’s old part, ever so homely and colourful – you’ll love it!
The fame and sophistication of Alicante becomes apparent when you step on the Esplanada de Espana, the city’s own promenade, paved with 6.5 million wavy marble tiles, and flanked by the pristine Mediterranean Sea to one side, and rows of tropical palm trees on the other. Hit the Esplanada just as the sun sets and enjoy a relaxing stroll to awaken that appetite, before veering off into one of the many seaside classy restaurants and cosy eateries for some supreme cuisine – how great does that sound.
Top attractions in Alicante
- Mount Benacantil
- L’Ereta Park
- Castillo de Santa Barbara
- Esplanada de Espana
- Barrio de Santa Cruz
One of Europe’s biggest water parks
OK so it’s not in Alicante, but in Benidorm not far away is Europe’s biggest water park, Aqualand. With some high adrenaline rides that you’ll have to be brave to go on, such as the aptly named Kamikaze slides, the black hole, and the Big Bang, which claims to be the highest chute ride in Europe.
There are many on site food stalls and restaurants to grab some lunch. Parents can chill out at the Jacuzzis bar and sit back in while the kids queue up to go on the various slides.
See http://www.aqualandia.net/ for futher details
Alicante Golf holidays are also becoming increasingly popular with visiting golfers. There are around 10 quality golf courses in the area including the Alicante golf club, Sella Golf, Bonalba Golf, La Finca and the Alenda golf club.
Aitana Safari Park
Aitana Safari Park is around 30 minutes drive from Alicante, but will be well worth the trip. There are two separate areas; the main park and a children’s zoo to cater for all ages. The main park has tigers, lions, elephants, giraffes and zebras to name a few animals on show, while the children’s area is a nursery for new born animals.
Segway Tours of Alicante
What better way to enjoy holidays to Alicante than on an electric scooter? Segways are great fun, and make getting around quick and easy. Capable of travelling up to 12mph, you can hire a Segway for around 50 Euros per hour, and follow a guided tour of the town, around the marina and through some of the parks.
Castle of Santa Barbara
Standing proud at the top of Mount Benacantil, the Castle of Santa Barbara overlooks the city offering stunning views out to sea, especially in the summer months. One of Spain’s largest medieval fortresses, the castle was built in the 10th century with Muslim origins, and was named by King Alfonso, to commemorate the day it was captured – on the feast of Saint Barbara.
Admission to the castle is free, so you can explore the dungeons in your own time, and marvel at the huge cannons on display. In July and August, there are free concerts held in the courtyard of the castle, where you can enjoy music in a medieval backdrop, although tickets are snapped up quickly due to the limited numbers of spaces available.
Caves of Canelobre
Situated in the town of Busot, just outside Alicante, the Caves of Canelobre were formed over 150 million years ago, tucked away at over 700 meters up the side of the Cabeco D’Or Mountain. The caves act as a venue for classical music concerts, although the majority of the 60,000 yearly visitors are there to see the natural rock formations that have an eerie effect to them when illuminated.
Guided tours of the caves take around 45 minutes, and offer plenty of photo opportunities.
Tabarca Island is a small island 10 miles off the coast of Alicante, and can be accessed via ferries which run daily. The island is ideal for a trip, with a small number of hotels and restaurants on the island, a beach for sitting back and enjoying the sun for an hour, or if you’re feeling ballsy then try cove jumping, where you launch yourself off the rocks into the sea. For those not so daring, there are scuba diving and snorkelling tours around the island available.
Bonfires of Saint John
Held on June 24th, the official festival of Alicante, Las Hogueras de San Juan is a traditional celebration in which locals create wooden or paper mache statues which are paraded through the town, before they are put on a bonfire at the end of the celebrations.
The festival includes areas called barracas where there are orchestras, a dance floor, food and drinks while the parades take place, while there is a beauty pageant to crown the queen of the festival.
The closing ceremony involves a huge fireworks display over St Barbara castle, illuminating the Alicante skyline.
Visit El Postiguet beach
Conveniently located near the centre of Alicante, El Postiguet beach is a kilometre long stretch of sand that has been awarded the European Blue flag for its perfect conditions. You can hire sun loungers or hammocks to enjoy the sun surrounded by palm trees, while the usual water sports such as jet skis, banana boats and para sailing are available from the beach-front.
Explanada de Espana
Similar to La Rambla in Barcelona, Explanada de Espana is a walkway along the harbour that has everything including bars, restaurants, shops and street performers.
There are plenty of festivals in Alicante and celebrations all year round which can make your fun and exciting
Some of the top festivals include
January – St Anthony’s Market: a local market held in the bullring, where locally produced food is sold. The day is named after the patron Saint, San Anton.
February – Carnival: huge processions and parades are led through the town during February, with marching bands, dance troupes, street performances & parties.
March – Semana Santa: the holy week in March, with religious events held around Easter including the Silencio Del Jueves Santo, the Veronica procession and the Santa Cruz procession.
April – Santa Faz Pilgrimage: probably the biggest event in the calendar of Alicante, with 200,000 people walking from the centre of town to the Monastery of Santa Faz. There are also markets, fairs and picnics around Alicante to celebrate this annual tradition.
May – Cruces de Mayo: the town is decorated in crosses, dressed in flowers, while there are musical performances, parties, food and drink stalls, usually all located in the Santa Cruz area.
June – Bonfires of St John: as mentioned above, home made sculptures are carried through the town and then put on a huge bonfire, while a fireworks display over the castle of St Barbara closes the event.
July – Jazz festival: during the summer months, there is a celebration of jazz music in most of the bars in town, with live bands on most days.
August – Virgen Del Remedio: honouring the patron saint, our Lady of Remedy, there is a procession, concerts and a feast day on August 3rd.
September – Virgen del Socorro: a festival held by fisherman including cooking contests, games, dancing , food and drink in honour of a patron Saint, our Lady of Succour.
Later in the year, the parties quieten down, with the national day of Spain on October 12th, and the usual new years celebrations at the end of December.
No matter what time of the year you go you can always expect decent weather, in the summer months temperatures can hit 30 °C so make sure you take sun cream with you.
Northeast of Alicante lies the famous Spanish holiday resort of Benidorm one of Spain’s top tourist destinations, tourism developed in the 1960s and has long been a favourite destination by most Europeans including the Spanish National market ever since. You may be forgiven in thinking that Benidorm offers little more than hotels, British pubs and discos however this is far from the case. Benidorm really does offer just about everything you could hope for in a family holiday.
Where to stay?
It is set in a lovely 19th-century Dominican Convent in Alicante’s old town, 300 meters from Postiguet Beach. Each of the rooms has high ceilings, large windows and Egyptian bed-linen.
It is just a few minutes walk to the Alicante’s historic centre. All rooms have a private terrace, flat-screen TV, air conditioning and a pillow menu. Some offer views of the Costa Blanca.
The suites also have a lounge. The hotel has a mini-gym and a spa, available at an extra cost. The spa features a jacuzzi, heated pool, thermal circuit, steam baths, ice cabins and Scottish showers.
Alicante Airport is a short drive away and the IFA Exhibition Centre is 7 km away.
The hotel has a nice cafe-bar, serving typical local food and tapas. It offers breakfast, lunch and snacks until 11 pm.