Spain is an excellent destination for city trips. Barcelona, Valencia or Madrid are known cities where the weather is usually good and the food fantastic. But you don’t often see Alicante in any to-visit lists. Admittedly, you don’t need more than a weekend to explore everything (unless you’re renting a car and go country), but that’s what makes it perfect. And breathe easy if you’re thinking of high rises and mass tourism when thinking of the Spanish costa’s, you won’t find either in Alicante, so check our Alicante city guide!
Alicante city guide: what to do in this Spanish city
El Postiguet beach
Alicante’s unique selling point is that the city’s centre and the beach are located directly next to each other. If you’re savvy about find a hotel, walking to either one is a piece of cake. The beach is a typical city beach, locals cool down after a hot day, do a bit of yoga or work out underneath the palm trees. Walking down towards the end of the beach will be worth it, because it’s a lot less busy. We rented beds (because sand) at Xiringuito Postiguet at the end. It wasn’t too busy on a Saturday afternoon and the drinks and food were good.
FIND A HOTEL IN ALICANTE’S CENTRE
Barrio de Santa Cruz
Hidden behind the boulevards and Alicante’s castle, is the old neighbourhood of Barrio de Santa Cruz. A super cute village within the city with small alleyways and squares, white houses with colourful designs and pretty views. You’ve got to climb some stairs to get there, but it’s definitely worth it.
Plaza del Carmen is the entry into the neighbourhood. We had drinks at Rincon de Antonio before we went up at the hottest hour of the dat. Excellent planning, but the upside was that we were all alone. The few locals that were out nodded hello’s to us, and we almost felt like we were in the Spanish countryside.
The best thing about Alicante may not even be in the city itself, but should not be missed out on in an Alicante city guide. An hour’s boat ride away from the harbour lies Isla Tabarca, the smallest permanently inhabited island of Spain. It used to be a popular island for pirates, but nowadays about 100 souls live on the island all year round. It’s not big, 2km long and 400m wide, which is why you don’t need more than half a day (unless you want to hang out on the beach) which makes it perfect for a day trip.
We took the 11 o’clock boat and because it was a Sunday, it was loaded with Spanish people and their stuff for a beach day. We didn’t actually find the beach that special, but the tiny town with a square, plenty restaurants and even a few shops is quite charming. Every road ends at the sea and wherever you are, the views are great. There is a museum and a lighthouse which is a good spot for bird watching. If snorkeling is your thing, Isla Tabarca is a good place to do so.
We went with Cruceros Kontiki, check the prices here. Keep an eye on the weather though. We had not noticed the weather had been bad the night before and that the sea would subsequently be rough. Before we even left the harbour, we regretted our choices. What followed was an hour of panicked staring at the horizon, drenched in cold sweats. We managed to not puke, but unfortunately the same could not be said for the rest of the passengers.
We were even more nervous to go back, because the sea had not exactly calmed down come afternoon. We ended up taking a water taxi to Santa Pola (15min) and took a bus back to Alicante.
Castillo de Santa Bárbara
High above Alicante sits the castle of Santa Bárbara. It used to be a fort, built by the Arabs in the 9th century and conquered by the Spanish in the 13th century. Until the 60’s it was used as a prison. While, apart from a small museum, there’s not much to see, the views are great.
You can climb up to the castle, but we were lazy and took the elevator, which you can find by the pedestrian bridge and costs €3. Everything else is free.
What’s a trip to anywhere in Spain without food? You can eat churros, tapas to your heart’s desire and have good cocktails with it! On Postiguet’s Boulevard you’ll find nice beach bars and restaurants, and the old city centre is buzzing with outdoor terraces.
Wanna take something home? Off you go to Mercado Central. You could call it a food hall, but it is more like an indoor market, where the locals also gets their shopping done. You will find meats, fish, cheeses, nuts and flowers all in the same place. Perfect to load your suitcase up with jámon and chorizo. Everything will be vacuum wrapped for you.
We had great meals at La Taberna Salamanca, La Bodeguita 1999 and Bar Manero. We loved wine at Taberna Alioli and cocktails at Boca de Vin.
Looking for another European city trip destination? How about Valencia, Málaga, Reykjavik, Milan or Genoa?