15 things to do in Alicante (Spain)

Alicante is the capital of the Costa Blanca resort region in eastern Spain. The name comes from the endless white sand beaches in this part of the country. The city has all the relaxation and fun of the seaside, with the history and attractions you’d want when you’re relaxing in the city: there’s a medieval fortress towering above the city and a classic Mediterranean old town with white houses and cobblestone streets.

You’ll spend your mornings in museums and churches, and afternoons swimming in the crystal clear water or dozing off under a parasol. Alicante’s modern tram network makes getting from one attraction to the next a breeze.

Let’s explore the best things to do in Alicante:

1. Santa Barbara Castle

Santa Barbara Castle

Crowned by the Bena Cantil Hill, the massive, gigantic rock looming over Alicante, is a medieval fortress of Arabian origin. The most recent renovations took place during the golden age of Spain in the 1500s, but if you look closely you will find small fragments of the Moorish era.

If you are walking, the best time to climb is early in the morning, before the sun is at its strongest, but there is also a lift running from behind Postiguet Beach. Everyone should climb the battlements and gaze in awe at the panorama of Alicante, the Mediterranean Sea and the dark and mountainous countryside.

2. Explanada de España

Spanish commentary

Alicante’s exquisite marble promenade is perfect for wayfinding, as it begins in the old town and runs along the city’s waterfront next to the marina.

Family walks are part of the lifestyle in most Spanish cities, and promenades like the Explanada de España can help you do it in style.

You will really feel the atmosphere of Alicante as you stroll under the palm trees and watch the city’s daily life from the terraces and market stalls.

With stunning coastal views, this brightly lit walkway benefits from the fresh sea breeze at the end of a hot day after dark in the summer.

3. Archaeological Museum

archaeological museum

If you want to learn about Alicante’s origins, Alicante’s MARQ Provincial Archaeological Museum is the place to go.

You’ll start from the prehistoric days of hunter-gatherers and see the first handcrafted metal objects forged around Alicante.

Then there is the Iberian Room, dedicated to the many nearby pre-Roman archaeological sites, which produced fine sculptures and ceramics.

The Roman city of Lucentum, near modern-day Alicante, has been excavated from a variety of pottery, jewellery and other everyday objects.

Perhaps the most exciting is the medieval exhibition, a brief period in which Jewish, Islamic and Christian cultures co-existed.

4. Casco Antigo

Casco Antigo

You won’t mind getting lost in Alicante’s old town, kind of like a village in the center of town. The neighborhood is spread out on the hillside below the castle, and to get around you’ll need to traverse steep streets and stairs between tall whitewashed walls.

Locals take great pride in their homes, decorating balconies and doorways with flowers and painting shutters blue and green.

If you need a breather, you can always drop the weight at one of the many cafes and restaurants in this part of the city.

5. Postig Beach

Postig Beach

If you don’t want to travel far for a dose of sea and sand, right next to the old town is a very practical beach. Playa del Postiguet is a golden sandy beach washed by very light waves.

You have to wade a long way before the water reaches waist height, and from the water there is a great view of Santa Barbara’s main city walls.

Given its size and location, the beach can get a little busy in summer, but the central location means there’s no shortage of places to grab lunch.

6. Santa Maria Cathedral

Cathedral of Santa Maria

The oldest and prettiest church in the city is near the foot of the hill, just a few streets from Postiguet Beach.

Like many churches in Spain, Santa Maria was built on a former mosque after Alicante was recaptured from the Moors in the 13th century.

The first thing you’ll notice is the church’s somber-looking twin towers. Interestingly, even though they look identical, the one on the right is from the 1300s and the one on the left is actually from the 1800s.

Inside, see a 14th-century Gothic statue of Santa Maria and a medieval book printed in the early 1200s.

7. Contemporary Art Museum

contemporary art museum

An interesting fact about this attraction dedicated to modern art is that it is housed in the oldest secular building in Alicante, a former granary built in 1687 next to the Cathedral of Santa Maria.

It was founded in 1976 by Alicante sculptor Eusebio Sempere to showcase his private collection. The collection, with approximately 800 works, represents many of the most famous artists of the 20th century, including Picasso, Francis Bacon, Salvador Dali and Joan Miro.

Only one-third of the work is on display at any one time, and it rotates throughout the year, so no two visits will be the same.

8. Beach excursions

albuferreta

A short drive from Alicante, there are many blue flag beaches; you are on the Costa Blanca after all. If you want space, Saladar Beach, south of Alicante, is a 1,600-meter stretch of golden sand.

Apart from a few isolated apartment buildings on the edge of the dunes, there isn’t much in the way of tourist development.

In the other direction, in the northern suburbs of Alicante is Playa de la Albufereta. This is the port of the Roman settlement of Lusenton, a spotless bay with gentle waters supported by resort towers.

Related Tour: Alicante Two-Hour Sunset Catamaran Cruise

9. Golf

Alicante Golf Club

The Costa Blanca also means an abundance of golf courses. There are 15 in the province, all within a reasonable driving distance.

If you don’t want to venture too far, Alicante Golf Club is a 15-minute drive from the city centre, designed by Seve Ballesteros. This 18-hole par 72 pays homage to the local Roman heritage in the form of reconstructed Roman ruins that you try to avoid on the 14th hole.

A few minutes later there’s Bonalba, another par 72, testing your short game on the front nine and rewarding accurate shots on the back nine.

10. Central Market

market center

If you’re self-catering, there’s no reason not to visit this large covered market above Alfonso el Sabio. The Central Market is like Spain’s gourmet cathedral, and Alicante is no exception.

There are tons of fish and meat stalls here, and the inspiration for amateur chefs is endless! The seafood stalls are a particular highlight, their counters are almost full of crabs, lobsters, squid and more.

Fresh fruit and vegetables abound, and you can also taste some local specialities, such as turrón nougat and Mistela, a sweet wine.

CONTAINED IN: Seven Secrets of Alicante Discovery Tour

11. Local Food

Aroz Banda

If you are unfamiliar with Spanish dining culture and want to eat like a local, lunch is usually late and starts at two. It’s the big meal of the day, and many people’s dinner is a snack or snack at the bar.

The Valencian community is where most of the rice is produced in Spain, and in Alicante they have their own stew, similar to paella. Try arroz a banda or arroz al horno, both enhanced by the delicious seafood this part of Spain has to offer.

As a souvenir, you can buy some turrón, a nougat with honey and almonds. This is a Spanish favorite and is especially popular at Christmas.

12. Boat tour

tabarka i.

There are several companies offering boat tours around the port of Alicante. It might be a short catamaran cruise on the sea next to the city, but if you want to spend the day, you should definitely consider heading to Tabarka Island.

It’s just a few kilometers from the south coast, but it feels like a different world. Tabarca has a small walled community with the same whitewashed houses and blue shutters as Alicante’s old town.

Only here no need for a car or any other modern convenience! Check out the chapels of St. Peter and St. Paul and see the lighthouse through the island’s sparse landscape.

Suggested Tour: 3-Hour Coastal Catamaran Cruise with Snorkeling

13. Alicante Towers

Alicante Tower

If you haven’t fully understood the history of Alicante, you can download a map of the coastal watchtowers in the area.

For centuries, this part of Spain has been threatened by Barbary pirates who would pillage towns and even take people away as slaves.

Thus, from the 1500s onwards, a sophisticated network of defenses and lookouts was built to warn people in advance to retreat behind the walls.

About 30 of these towers still stand in Huerta de Alicante, Alicante, including the city and several neighboring towns and villages.

14. Elche Palms

Elche Palm

About 20 minutes west of Alicante is the town of Elche, where an amazing view awaits. This is the largest palm grove in Europe and was planted by the first Muslims to settle here in the early Middle Ages.

There are 200,000 trees, most of them the phoenix tree, which did not exist until it was introduced to Spain by the Moors.

The grove is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the best way to experience it is to walk the Ruta del Palmeral, a circular path that starts and ends in Huerto de San Placido.

15. Las Hoglas de San Juan

las joglas de san juan

Bonfires on St. John’s Eve on June 23 are common in Spain. But none of this is as big as what happened in Alicante.

Traditionally people would burn their old furniture for San Juan, but in 1928, the city decided it needed a festival to deal with these fires, and it would last for four days, until the 24th. The result is similar to Fallas in Valencia and culminates in a fire, where specially designed cardboard sculptures are set ablaze at an event called Cremà.

These fires can be terrifying, with firefighters on the wing waiting to control it.

Further reading:

  • Things to do for families in Alicante

Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Alicante, Spain
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