Alicante is the second largest city in the Valencian region. Thanks to its proximity to the airport and resorts, Alicante is Spain’s mainland provincial capital and is mainly influenced by tourism. Alicante is a dynamic and attractive Spanish city.
Situated on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Alicante not only offers a variety of services but also a wide array of cultural activities, including its many festivals, nature areas and museums.
Alicante is sometimes referred to as the gateway to the Costa Blanca. This is due to the fact that a lot of visitors arrive at Alicante airport only to depart immediately on one of the many package tour buses to Benidorm and sadly do not stop long enough to discover what this beautiful city has to offer.
Alicante’s popular beaches and glorious climate make this city a perfect place to relax, unwind and get away from it all. There is nothing as relaxing as strolling along the quayside promenade admiring the yachts and boats in the marina or browsing the products on sale at the many stalls.
It is also a university city with numerous faculties and technical colleges. During Summer time, a variety of Spanish courses for foreigners are held here.
Last but not the least, the eating scene is exciting and the nightlife fabulous as this city has gone upmarket with a variety of new exclusive eating areas and bars opening up in and around the old town and the marina. Theatres, restaurants, cinemas, nightclubs and a wonderful promenade can also be found, along the waterfront.
Joan Fuster, a native author once wrote that Alicante “is without a doubt, the friendliest of all Valencian cities, a city one would choose to live in if one were to exchange a village for a city”.
Why not take a trip back in time with a wander around Alicante’s Old Town? Home to the Town Hall and the Cathedral of San Nicholas, the Old Town is the true heart of the city. It has narrow, winding streets and medieval architectures which allow you to imagine what Alicante was like before the age of industrialisation. There are several souvenir shops to browse as well as plenty of nightlife options including restaurants, bars, clubs and old taverns suiting everyone’s needs. Every June, there is a medieval market which sees stalls selling everything from handicrafts to music. There is also traditional entertainment all year round to entertain you whilst you shop.
Santa Barbara Castle (Castillo de Santa Barbara)
Another highly recommended place to visit in Alicante is the Santa Barbara Castle. It is one of the biggest medieval fortresses of Spain. The castle is located on top of Benacantil Mountain, 166 metres above sea level which also gives the city a great strategic value. The castle has everything you would expect from dungeons, cannons, palace, a moat, the ruins of a small church and most of all, the famous lookout tower.
If you look carefully, when viewed from the El Postiguet, you might be able to see the shape of a human face also known as the “Moor’s Head”.
The castle is free to visit and there are two entrance points. You can either walk or drive along the road that meanders around the back of the mountain. Alternatively and possibly the easiest way is via a lift (will incur a small charge), the entrance to which is via a tunnel opposite the Postiguet beach area.
Santa Barbara Castle is a magnificent site to visit at any time of the year.
The Castle is also home to many exhibitions where for a small entrance fee you can enjoy a variety of exhibits from the likes of The Tolkien Society, Star Wars and Lego.
Address: Av de Juan Bautista Lafora, 6 03002 Alicante, Spain
Tel.: +34 966 377 034
Open 7 days a week
Castle of San Fernando (Castillo de San Fernando)
Castillo de San Fernando (Castle of San Fernando) was built on Tossal Hill in the beginning of the 19th century. Although it was meant to be used as a prison to house captured French armed forces and to strengthen the defence capabilities of the Castillo de Santa Barbara, the castle unfortunately turned out to be of no use and was abandoned shortly after. It is now a tourist spot and a place of rest and leisure. Even though it is not as impressive as the Castillo de Santa Barbara, the ornate doorways and historical architecture of the castle are well worth seeing.
Being a tourist can be tiring sometimes especially if you have done a lot of walking. There comes a time when you want to take the weight off your feet and just relax. So, why not head to Alicante’s shaded parks and gardens? You can recharge your batteries, watch the world go by, people watch and simply enjoy the scenery.
Although Alicante City offers many areas of serenity, there are six specific parks worth seeing. These are:
Canalejas park is located alongside Avenida Ramon y Cajal. This park is known for its magnificent fig tree which was thought to have been planted at the end of the 19th Century. The park consists of stone sculptures of lions and dogs, a map of Spain carved in wood and numerous fountains and seating areas. The monument of an Alicante writer Carlos Arniches by Daniel Bañuls can also be found here.
This park is situated on the outskirts of the City heading south along the Avenida de Elche. El Palmeral is a palm tree plantation comprising of lakes, waterfalls, boating ponds, picnic areas, children’s playgrounds and flowerbeds. There is also an area for cycling and an opportunity to have a drink at one of the cafes. In the Summer time, the park is filled with laughter from the children’s entertainment and musical performances. You can easily spend hours here, so it would be a good idea to bring a picnic.
Portal de Elche
Located along Rambla de Mendez, not too far from the main Explanada de España, Portal de Elche is a quiet sanctuary where you can escape from the hustle and bustle of Alicante’s commercial district. At the centre of this small but tranquil park is the statue of Eusebio Sempere.
The Alicante Castle is located on Mounte Benacantil, a lush green area with pine trees and eucalyptuses. This park can be accessed from Avenida Jamie II and also Calle de Vazquez de Mella.
Parque Lo Morant
This park is quite far out from the centre of Alicante, past the Castillo de San Fernando and the hospital. Parque Lo Morant is the biggest leisure and recreation park in Alicante. It has children’s playgrounds, auditoriums, walking areas, plants, fountains, tennis courts and football pitches.
Parque de la Ereta
Located on the slopes of Mounte Benacantil at the base of Santa Barbara Castle, the Parque de la Ereta offers a breath taking view of the city and from here one can follow a route from the walls through to the old part of Alicante. This park also has an exhibition of contemporary art and a well-known restaurant.
Town Hall Square
The Plaza del Ayuntamiento or Town Hall Square was designed by Architect Lorenzo Chapuli. It was built on the site of the former city hall in the 18th century. On the façade of its two towers, you can admire ornamental elements such as the barley-sugar columns. Inside you will also find stunning rooms like the Salon Azul which is from the period of Spain’s Queen Isabel, the Salon de Plenos meeting hall and a chapel in which a mass is held.
Recently redeveloped, it has water fountains that change shape, size and colour throughout the day. Visitors can also admire and appreciate the impressive works by Padilla, Cabrera, Amoros and Alicante’s own Gaston Castello. At the foot of the building’s main staircase you can find the “Cota Cero”, the reference point from which the altitude of Spain’s various cities is measured in metres above sea level.
Pl. de l ‘ Ajuntament 1
Phone: 965 14 91 00
Opening hours: Monday to Friday: 9am to 2pm
La Explanada de España is also known as the Paseo de la Explanada and is considered to be the heart and soul of Alicante. Designed by José Guardiola Picó, it is one of the most popular areas in Alicante and one of the city’s emblems. This most famous promenade runs parallel to one of the port wharfs and is lined on both sides with rows of palm trees. The floor is also decorated with 6.6 million tricolour marble tiles forming a design with a wave effect mosaic which is hard to ignore.
Stroll along the Explanada and you will discover the essence of the city. You will find stalls selling local handicrafts, locals meeting up with friends for coffee, and tourists soaking up the atmosphere. During the summer months, spend your afternoon or Sunday morning sitting in the shade where you can listen to the free concerts held at the music pavilion. You may also immerse yourself in the party atmosphere during the city’s many fiestas that are usually arranged around La Explanada.
Address: Explanada de España s/n, Alicante 03001
Alicante is a city full of all kinds of art galleries and museums ranging from archaeology to the more fun ones like bullfighting and from classical paintings through to Contemporary Art.
It is best to check out the Tourist Information Office to get a full list of all there is to visit as new ones are always opening up. So, with something for everyone, let us give you a taster!
Museo de Arte de Siglo XX La Asegurada (Museum of Contemporary Art)
Dating from 1687 and formerly a granary, this building is one of the oldest in Alicante. It is now however, home to this art gallery which houses one of the most important contemporary art collections existing in Spain today. Donated in 1977 by local artist and sculpture, Eusebio Sempere, it consists of works that he felt represented the art movement through the years. Paintings by Miro, Dali, Bacon, Cocteau and Picasso can be seen here showing that you don’t need to go to Madrid to see the work of well-known artists.
Entrance is free and so are guided tours if arranged in advance.
P¬laza de Santa María 3 ALICANTE
Phone: (+34) 965 213 156
From October to May
- Tuesday to Saturday from 10.00 to 20.00 h.
- Sundays and holidays from 10.00 to 14.00 h.
- Closed on Mondays.
June, July, August and September:
- Tuesday to Saturday from 11:00 to 14:00 h and from 18:00 to 20:45 h.
- Mondays, Sundays and holidays
from July, August and September closed.
Museo de Fogueres (Fogueres Festival Museum)
This museum explores the evolution of Alicante’s most representative festival, the Hogueras de San Juan bonfire celebration held in June, which has been officially proclaimed as of Interest to International Tourism.
Visitors of the museum can see excellent collections of “ninots indultados” (the effigies that managed to escape the flames), mock bonfires, typical costumes, and more. The museum also has an audio-visual room where you can watch clips of this festival from years ago.
c/ Teniente Álvarez Soto, on the corner with Rambla Méndez Núñez- ALICANTE
Tel: (+34) 965 14 68 28
- From Tuesdays to Saturdays: From 10.00 to14.00 h and from 17.00 to 19.45 h.
- Sundays and holidays 10.00 to14.00 h
- Closed on Mondays.
Museo Taurino (Bullfighting Museum)
This museum is situated in one of the buildings adjoining the city’s Plaza de Toros bullfighting ring on Plaza de España square.
It exhibits a permanent exhibition of bullfighting highlights dedicated to the most acclaimed bullfighters from Alicante, such as Vicente Blau “El Tino”, José María Manzanares, Francisco Antón “Pacorro” and Luis Francisco Esplá.
The museum also has an exhibition lounge, conference room, and a library together with an audio-visual room where discussion groups, slide shows and talks about bullfighting are held.
Plaza de España s/n
- Tuesday to Friday from 10:30 to 13:30h. and 17:00 to 20:00h.
- Saturdays from 10:30 to 13:30h.
- Sundays, Mondays and bank holidays: Closed
Museo de Belenes (Nativity Museum)
Situated in a 19th century traditional family house in the Old Quarter of Alicante is the quaint Nativity Scene Museum. It commemorates the ancient Spanish tradition of having a nativity scene in every home during the celebration of Three Kings. The museum is home to a collection of antique cribs, Christmas replicas and examples of Christmas nativity scenes from Spain and around the world. In 1959, The Nativity Scene Makers organisation was established and it has cultivated outstanding representations of Christmas Nativity exhibitions since then.
Address: c / San Agustín, 3, 03002, Alicante, Spain
Tel: (0034) 965 202 232
- Mondays: from 18.00 to 21.00 h.
- Tuesdays to Fridays: from 11.00 to 14.00 h. and from 18.00 to 21.00 h.
- Saturdays: from 11.00 to 14.00 h.
- Closed on Sundays and holidays.
**Saturdays closed from 7th to 28th September**
Rest of the year:
- Monday: from 17.00 to 20.00 h. Tuesdays and Fridays: from 10.00 to 14.00 h. and from 17.00 to 20.00 h.
- Saturdays: from 10.00 to 14.00 h. Closed on Sundays and holidays.
MARQ (Museum of Archaeology)
The MARQ offers a fascinating historical journey through rooms dedicated to Prehistory, Roman Culture, Iberian Culture, and Middle Ages. Its relics range from objects that are over 100,000 years old, Iberian ceramics, a recreation of Roman daily life and more than 300 artefacts from the Middle Ages. The museum also has information on the archaeological sites of Lucentum, Petrarcos and Illeta.
The central part of the museum holds life–scale scenography’s of numerous types of archaeological sites where visitors can comprehend the painstaking works of Archaeologists during their excavations. The museum has become a reference not only for exhibition design but also as an instrument for educating purposes in universities and schools.
In 2004, it was honoured with the European Museum of the Year Award.
Plza. Dr. Gómez Ulla, s/n
Tel: (+34) 965 149 000
Mubag Gravina Fine Arts Museum
Walk inside the door of this building and you can’t help but be amazed by the magnificence of the stone arches that stretch along the ground floor. Once a palace owned by the Earl of Limiares, this stylish structure boasts a collection of art ranging mainly from the 16th to the 20th century. Opened in 2001, the 2000 works owned by the Provincial Council are housed here where 500 of them have been chosen for display. Unexpectedly, these works are put into context by the use of audio-visual apparatus, period furniture and textiles. The curators anticipate that rather than being mere sightseers, visitors to the gallery will be persuaded to play a more active part in understanding the artwork.
Address: Carrer Gravina, 13-15, 03002 Alacant, Alicante, Spain
Phone:+34 965 14 67 80
July and August:
- Tuesdays to Sundays from 11.00 to 21.00 h.
- Sundays and holidays from 11.00 to 15.00 h.
- Closed on Mondays.
Rest of the year:
- Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10.00 to 20.00 h.
- Sundays and holidays from 10.00 to 14.00 h.
- Closed on Mondays
Visit any city, town or province and you’ll find that the most striking or eye-catching building is the church or cathedral. Alicante is blessed with some of the finest examples.
Iglesia de Santa Maria (St Mary’s Church) Situated in Calle Jorge Juan, the church was built in a gothic style between the 14th and 16th centuries and stands on the foundations of a Moorish mosque. There is a broad range of art kept in the church with two of the most precious dating back from the 15th century. Of particular interest is the 16th century superb white marble font that is attributed to the school of Michelangelo.
Catedral de San Nicolás de Bari(Cathedral of Saint Nicholas of Bari). Finished in 1662, this majestic edifice dominates the maze of streets that have wrapped themselves around it. Once again, this was built on the remains of a mosque (a usual practice during those days to remove any trace of the Moors) and has a wonderful blue dome that rises to over 45m above the crossing. A visit to the inside of the Cathedral and having a glance at the Chapel of the Holy Communion, which is regarded as one of the most beautiful examples of the Spanish Baroque, are not to be missed.
The Chapel of Santa Cruz (Holy Cross). Built at the end of the 18th century, it once formed part of the old town walls and now plays a big part in the Easter commemorations when one of the large heavy floats containing a religious icon is skilfully manoeuvred around the tight bends and carried into the church.
Mercado Central (Central Market)
Between 1911 and 1912, the Central Market of Alicante with its modernist-inspired elements was built under the management of Juan Vidal Ramos. It has a rectangular floor plan in the form of a basilica, with a circular appendage in the south-west corner topped by a semi-spherical cupola, “La Rotonda” and is spread over two floors. Its main facade is dominated by a huge stairway featuring two protruding figures and has different decorative elements.
Mercado Central is the best place to buy all sorts of high quality products such as fresh fish, seafood, meat, vegetables and fruit. This is one of the reasons why Alicante’s top restaurants source their food from here. You can sample various delicacies, buy wine and other produce or just take a rest on one of the benches in the flower market.
Address: Av d ‘ Alfons X El Sabi, 8 03004 Alacant
Tel 965 14 08 41
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 7:30amh.-2:30 am.
Sundays and holy days : CLOSED
Plaza de Toros (The Bullring)
The Bullring in Alicante (Plaza de Toros) was built in 1849 and is one of the oldest in Spain still regularly in use. It has been restored and increased in size since then. The current design dates back from 1888 and is quite plain. Inside the bullring you will find a small museum of bullfighting and a bullfighting school. The bullring is located in Plaza de España. There is also a wonderful bronze bullfighter and some bulls outside the bullring.
Alicante is surrounded with cafes, restaurants and bars to meet all tastes and budgets. All types of cuisine from local to international are readily available here. One rule of thumb is that if it is full of locals, then it will be tasty and enjoyable! Tapas originated in Alicante and is available almost anywhere. Menu del dia is another Spanish tradition. You get a fixed price for a lunch time menu which most often consists of bread, salad, starter, main course, dessert and a drink all at a very affordable price. One thing to bear in mind is that the Spanish eat their lunch late, usually from 2pm so some restaurants may not have their menus displayed until after 1pm. If you’re a chocolate lover, then best head to Valor on Alicante’s well known Explanada to satisfy your craving. Another one to try is the churros con chocolate for breakfast. Churros are fried dough pastry like donuts which you dip into warm chocolate.
Nightlife in Alicante
Alicante is famous for having some of the best nightlife in Spain. It offers a wide variety of entertainment such as nightclubs, bars and pubs, to satisfy all tastes.
El Puerto is well known for having a vibrant nightlife and attracts a great number of tourists and locals who want to enjoy a good night out.
The Chiringuitos (Kiosks) on the Postiguet and San Juan beaches are said to throw some of the best parties in the summer.
El Barrio is widely popular for its fantastic nightlife and narrow lanes, which are packed with a variety of live music bars, disco pubs and tapas bars, whereas the area of Explanada is more well-known during the summer months it also caters for a complex range of musical tastes.
Bars and clubs usually open at 11:00 pm and close around 4:00 – 5:00 am, giving ample time for everyone to enjoy the night-time entertainment that Alicante has to offer.