The city of Alicante, located right on the heart of the Mediterranean coast, is one of the favourite Spanish destinations. Alicante is the capital of a rapid commercial and industrial development province, conference seat, tourist and university city. The privileged weather, the excellence of the seven beaches, the beautiful promenades, the diverse commerce and the wide cultural, leisure and sports offer perfect for golf and sea sports makes Alicante a destination with its own personal essence, perfect for leisure and for business meetings.
The city of Alicante is accessible by land, sea and air. Motorways, highways and other minor roads enable visitors and tourists to reach Alicante by car or coach from the major Spanish and European cities. The international airport of El Altet is located just 10 minutes from the city centre and is one of the main entry points for visitors to Alicante. Travelling by train is a comfortable way to get to the Costa Blanca capital, but if you prefer you can also sail in by boat, as there are crossings between Alicante and a number of Mediterranean cities. In fact, from the ports in Alicante and Denia, 90 kilometers north of Alicante, a direct route runs daily to the Balearic Islands.
The city of Alicante provides varied and rich cultural and leisure activities all year round,which are accompanied and enhanced by its mild climate. The museums and monuments in Alicante provides all kinds of options to suit the most varied tastes, with a wide range of alternatives in all areas. During daytime Alicante's shops and shopping centres sells a varied range of traditional products from the city, the region and the province as well as from many places all over Spain. These are complemented with speciality shops that market specific goods to suit and satisfy all tastes.
Alicante's parks, gardens, avenues, museums, monuments, cinemas and theatres offer all kinds of varied leisure alternatives, and there are also a host of bars and restaurants to satisfy even the most demanding tastes, as well as cafés and pubs with a quiet, pleasant atmosphere located on the Explanada, the Rambla and in the old quarter, amongst others.
At night, the most popular areas for going out are undoubtedly “El Barrio” (the city's old quarter), “El Puerto” the eastern wharf of the marina and the Panoramis shopping and leisure centre. The pubs, bars and restaurants in the San Juan Beach area and especially at the San Juan golf course, a large entertainment and residential area on the outskirts of the city, provide a popular alternative to nightlife in the city centre.
The island La Tabarca is located only 11 nautical miles of the shore from Alicante, this is the only inhabited island in the Region of Valencia. La Tabarca is not just one island, it is in fact a small archipelago made up of the islets La Cantera, La Galera and La Nao. It measures approximately 1,800 m long and 400 m wide. Its coasts were once home to a Berber pirate camp and in the 18th century, King Carlos III ordered a town to be built there to house several Genoese families who had been rescued from the Tunisian port of Tabarka. Its town centre is surrounded by walls that form an ensemble which has been declared a Property of Cultural Interest.
The waters surrounding La Tabarca have been declared a Mediterranean Marine Reservedue to their excellent quality and the biodiversity of their fauna and flora, and because they are a clear example of Mediterranean marine communities. The island can be accessed by the boats that leave from the wharfs in the port of Alicante opposite the Explanada. Once they have arrived on the island, visitors can spend time at the coves and beaches with transparent waters and a picturesque seaside town where they can taste the best produce from the sea, including fish and seafood based rice dishes, as well as the famous “caldero”, a fish and rice dish served with stock.
A path that runs around the island invites visitors to take a leisurely stroll to appreciate the scenery and try to spot the variety of marine birds that inhabit this island.For those who wish to stay, accommodation is available on the island La Tabarca.
The main shopping centres in Alicante are represented by the shops on Maisonnave avenue and its surrounding streets and in the area between Calle Alfonso X El Sabio and Calle Gerona. In both areas, you can find shopping centres and a wide range of boutiques, shoe shops and shops specialising in different goods to suit and satisfy all tastes.
Shops selling typical local products can also be found on the Avenida Alfonso X El Sabio, Calle Mayor in the old quarter, Calle Gerona and in other places around the city centre.
There are also many shopping complexes located around the city that have a great variety of shops offering anything from clothes, shoes and accessories to food, and they all have multicinema screens. The main shopping complexes of this type are Puerta de Alicante, Panoramis, Plaza Mar 2, Gran Vía, Vistahermosa and Torre Golf. This shopping experience is complemented by the street vendors selling handmade goods on the Explanada and the open air markets that take place around the city, (Calle Teulada, Benalúa, Carolinas and Babel) on Thursday and Saturday mornings and the Central Market that is open from Monday to Saturday. On Sunday there is an open air market opposite the Town Hall for stamp and antique collectors.
As a Mediterranean city, Alicante has a wide variety of food based on the Mediterranean cuisine. Rice and produce from the Mediterranean and the land are the main ingredients in rice dishes such as arroz a banda, el arroz a la alicantina, el caldero and arroz caldoso, with fish as a typical accompaniment. The popular olleta represents the best example of an Alicante stew, based on vegetables and pulses.
Before sitting down at the table try a few traditional “tapas” and “montaditos”, small appetizers originating from Alicante. To accompany these appetisers, try paloma, a traditional drink made with dry aniseed liqueur and very cold water or cantabria, a local herb liqueur.
One of the most typical local dishes in Alicante is undoubtedly esmorzaret alacantí, made with salted sardines, fried eggs and dried red peppers, and coca amb tonyina, which is a tasty tuna pie. Other types of “coca” (pie) that is typicall in Alicante are coca boba (a sweet pie), and a delicious pie with tomatoes and sardines.
Wine is essential when eating local dishes in Alicante. There are magnificent wines produced in Alicante, such as double-fermented reds, rosés and young white wines made from Monastrell, Vermeta and Garnatxa grapes, or Fondillón, which is a famous Alicante aged wine.
The city of Alicante has a wide range of sports facilities, some of which have welcomed outstanding international events such as a qualifying round of the Eurobasket 2007 and a Davis Cup semi-final in 2004. Alicante has also been the departure point for the 2002 and 2007 Tall Ships Regatta (formerly the Cutty Sark), it has hosted the World Offshore Championships, the 17th World Rhythmic Gymnastic Championships and the 1982 Football World Cup, amongst others. Alicante has also been named as the departure port for the round the world regatta known as the Volvo Ocean Race, in October 2008. The city usually welcomes numerous top sportspeople from all over Europe who come here to make the most of the city's excellent climatic conditions to improve their performance in all kinds of open air sports. Consequently and together with the city's tradition and strength in sports such as handball or basketball, Alicante has great facilities for practising many different sports.
Besides those located in the different districts of the city, most of these sports facilities are concentrated in the Mount Tossal area, where the José Rico Pérez Football Stadium, the Pitiu Rochel Central Municipal Sports Pavilion, the Rafael Pastor Micó Municipal Pavilion, the Technical Skills Centre, the Mount Tossal Swimming Pool Complex, the Ciudad Deportiva and the multipurpose former horse-racing track can all be found.
The city of Alicante is also famous for all types of water sports and activities, such as sailing, jet-skiing, windsurfing and boat chartering. There is a wide selection of golf courses including the fine 18-hole courses Alicante Golf, located in Playa de San Juan, and El Plantío, near Alicante airport. There are also another two 18-hole courses located very near to the city.
After the lighthouse of cape la Huerta is the most famous beach in Alicante. It is nearly 7 km long and almost 100 m wide. It’s perfect to spend a holidays because it has fine sand so you can practise sports and the children can play after swimming on the sea. Shopping and entertainment centres, hotels, restaurants and even a golf course can be found near the beach.
CALAS DEL CABO DE LA HUERTA -COVES OF CAPE LA HUERTA
The crystal clear water, beautiful and safe coves are perfect to enjoy the sea quietly, far from the sounds of the city. It has lots of cliffs and deep waters where mountain joins the sea creating rocky coves that are discreet and not easily accessible.
ISLA DE TABARCA - TABARCA ISLAND
It is the only inhabited island of the Valencian Comunity and lies approximately 8 nautical miles south from Alicante. The city centre is surrounded by the walls and both are Objects of Cultural Interest, its waters are Mediterranean Fishing Preserve because of the biodiversity of its fauna and flora. To go to the island only take one of the boats that sail from the yachting harbour in the Explanada to the island, once there you will enjoy the crystal water coves and beaches. After some relax it feels good to visit the town with its unique gastronomy, especially its exquisite PAELLA, fish and shellfish rice.
PLAYA DEL SALADAR - URBANOVA - EL SALADAR - URBANOVA BEACH
This beach is located south of the city in a quiet neighbourhood built as holiday resort called Urbanova. It is wide, perfect for sunbathing, swimming and practicing sports in a not crowded area. It has many services and a it has panoramic views of the coast of the city.
The city of Alicante is home to a large selection of museums to please the most curious and demanding cultural tourists.
The leading cultural institutions in Alicante include the MARQ Archaeological Museum, one of Spain's most avant-garde museums due to the innovative way in which archaeology is presented using the most hi-tech audiovisual techniques, earning it the European Museum of the Year Award in 2004. Meanwhile, the MUBAG Museum of Fine Arts has an outstanding collection by Alicante artists from the 16th to the early 20th century. Both museums are housed in traditional Alicante buildings, which have been refurbished for use as cultural spaces.
Other interesting museums in Alicante include the Nativity Scene Museum (Museo de Belenes), which explores Alicante's great nativity scene tradition, the Bullfighting Museum (Museo Taurino) devoted to the world of bulls and bullfighters; the MUA University of Alicante Museum dedicated to contemporary art and the Fogueres Museum, which focuses on the city's biggest and most popular festival, the Hogueras de San Juan.
Most of these museums are located in the old town of Alicante.
As well as museums, Alicante also has a great monumental heritage. Examples include: Santa Bárbara Castle overlooking the Mediterranean atop Mount Benacantil and providing unrivalled sea views; the Santa María Church, a 14th century Gothic temple that houses a priceless documental and artistic collection whose oldest piece is dating back to the 13th century; the San Nicolás Co-cathedral in the city's historic quarter, which is a church used as a cathedral and a clear example of Spanish Enlightment from the first half of the 18th century; the Town Hall, an 18th century baroque-style palace interesting in that it houses the reference point for measuring the height above sea level of any place in Spain which is known as “cota cero”, and can be found on the first step of the building's main staircase; and the Santa Faz Monastery just 5 kilometers outside the city centre, which is home to a relic brought from the Vatican in the 15th century, which, according to popular tradition, is part of a veil that Veronica used to wipe the bloodied face of Christ on his way to Calvary.
From Santa Bárbara Castle, visitors can walk down to the historic quarter, where most of these buildings are to be found along the route that runs through the Ereta Park, on the same side of the mountain, via the typical picturesque neighbourhood of Santa Cruz. To avoid the steep path that links Santa Bárbara Castle to the bottom of Mount Benacantil, another option is to walk along the remains of the walls that used to surround the castle and now end at the hermitage in the Santa Cruz neighbourhood.
Festivals and celebrations in Alicante
Visitors to the city of Alicante have many an opportunity to make their trip coincide with one of the many Spanish fiestas dotting the calendar throughout the year. The Hogueras de San Juan bonfire celebrations, the Moors and Christians parades, Carnival, Holy Week, the pilgrimage to the Santa Faz Monastery and Christmas are just some of the occasions to remember on the Alicante fiestas calendar.
Alicante's most important celebrations are the Hogueras de San Juan, which kick off on 20th June and last to 29th June. These fiestas are devoted entirely to fire, and their crowning glory takes place on 24th June, the day of Saint John the Baptist, when flames tear through wood and paper mâché figures built in satirical vein. Officially declared Of International Tourist Interest, these fiestas also include one of Spain's greatest bullfighting celebrations.
And no less popular than the Hogueras de San Juan are the Moors and Christians fiestas held in various quarters of the city throughout the year. These fiestas are celebratory commemorations of the struggle for control between the Christians and the Muslims of 13th century Spain. Some of the city's most popular neighbourhoods devote several days to these fiestas, offering a great chance to discover one of the most widespread traditions
Read more about Alicante: Alicante - Alicante Travel and Tours - Alicante City Guide >>