Alicante on Spain’s Costa Blanca is a popular vacation destination. What is there to see and to do? These are the best things to do in Alicante Spain.
Alicante is a beautiful city on the Costa Blanca on the east coast of Spain. It is the capital of the province of Alicante and is known for its beautiful beaches, historical monuments, and vibrant nightlife.
The city has a tumultuous history and was inhabited by several civilizations, including the Iberians, the Phoenicians, the Greeks, the Romans, and the Moors. In the Middle Ages, Alicante was an important port city with a thriving trade in textiles, wine, and olive oil. During the Spanish Civil War, Alicante was an important city for the Republicans and was eventually taken by Franco’s forces.
Since the 1960s, Alicante has become increasingly known as a popular tourist destination, thanks to its sunny beaches and pleasant climate. For beach, culture, and nature lovers, a city trip to Alicante is a great idea!
Best things to do in Alicante Spain
What to do in Alicante? These are the most beautiful sights and the best things to do in Alicante.
Castillo de Santa Bárbara
Castillo de Santa Bárbara is a large castle ruin on a mountain right behind the beach. It is easily visible from various places in the city. You can walk there via a steep footpath, or you can take an elevator from the beach side.
The castle itself is free to visit. A couple of times a day (at the time of writing it is at 11 a.m. and at 4 p.m.) an English-language tour is offered (which is also free) and it is well worth it. Indeed, the castle has a tumultuous history and has changed considerably over the centuries.
Even without a tour, you’ll definitely enjoy visiting this castle. In fact, it offers many fantastic views of Alicante and the Costa Blanca.
Passeig Explanada de España
Along the harbor runs a wide promenade surrounded by palm trees; the Passeig Explanada de España. Not only is it a nice place to take a stroll, there are also several small souvenir shops and there is always a fun performance by a street performer. On the city side of the boardwalk are a number of restaurants with nice terraces to enjoy a drink or two.
MACA (Museu d’Art Contemporani d’Alacant).
Is the weather bad during your visit to Alicante or just looking to escape the heat and the crowds? Then it’s a great idea to visit MACA, the Museum of Modern Art. This museum is free to visit and a great place to wander around and check out some unusual works of art.
MUBAG (Museu de Belles Arts Gravina)
Another fun museum to visit is the MUBAG or Museum of Fine Arts. The museum is housed in the Gravina Palace, an impressive building from the 18th century. The MUBAG has an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, engravings, and other works of art from the sixteenth to the twentieth century. Admission is free.
Santa Creu (El Barrio)
Santa Creu was my favorite place in Alicante! Located a bit northeast of downtown, this neighborhood is also known as El Barrio. It consists of white houses, narrow streets, and lots of stairs. To make it even more fun, there are colorful flower pots everywhere. Very photogenic and there is a cozy atmosphere because of the many (small) terraces.
Concatedral de San Nicolás
The Concatedral de San Nicolás de Bari is a cathedral in the historic center of Alicante. It is an impressive Baroque-style building and dates from the seventeenth century. The cathedral is dedicated to San Nicolás de Bari, the city’s patron saint. The interior of the cathedral is as impressive as the exterior, with beautiful paintings, religious statues, and a large altarpiece.
Plaza del Ayuntamiento
Plaza del Ayuntamiento is the main square in the heart of Alicante and the political and administrative center of the city. The square is surrounded by beautiful buildings, including Alicante City Hall, which is the largest and most impressive building in the square. You can visit City Hall for free and see various rooms. It includes a beautiful work of art by Salvador Dalí.
Museu Arqueològic d’Alacant
Do you feel like going back in time? Then visit the archaeological museum in Alicante. It’s a bit out of the city center, but it’s worth it. The museum houses an impressive collection of archaeological finds from prehistory to the Middle Ages, all from the Alicante region. The collection includes artifacts such as ceramics, mosaics, sculptures, and jewelry. Tickets are €5 (cheaper on Sundays and holidays).
Museo de Aguas
How do they get water in Alicante? There is no river nearby, so that is a very interesting question. At the small Museo de Aguas, you will get answers and learn how they have been providing the city with an ingenious water supply for centuries. This interactive and fun museum is free to visit.
In Spain, you have many covered markets, and there’s also one in Alicante. You will find Mercado Central in the city center and this is the place to do (affordable) shopping. You’ll find mostly fresh produce, think meat, fish, vegetables, and fruits.
The market is open between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Calle de las Setas (Mushroom Street).
If you want to see something funny, go to Calle de las Setas. This is a shopping street and in the middle of the street are several mushrooms. It feels a bit like being in a cartoon. A bit bizarre but also kind of fun to walk around here. By the way, the real name of the street is Calle San Francisco.
Basílica de Santa Maria d’Alacant
The Basílica de Santa Maria d’Alacant is the city’s oldest church and dates back to the 14th century, although several renovations and additions have been made over time.
The church has a striking facade with several Gothic elements, including decorative gargoyles and a rose window. Inside, various works of art can be seen, including altarpieces, paintings, and sculptures. The church also has an impressive organ and bell tower. A beautiful place to admire and shut out the hustle and bustle of the city for a while.
Admission is €6 and an audio guide is included.
Playa del Postiguet
Many people go to Alicante for the beach. In fact, along the city is a wide sandy beach called Playa del Postiguet. A good place to cool off during a hot day. There are several terraces where you can squeeze in a drink and also a few kiosks where you can buy sunscreen and ice cream if needed.
Plaza Gabriel Miró Park
Plaza Gabriel Miró Park is one of my favorite parks in Alicante. It is tiny but feels like a jungle and it has a large fountain. For a minute here, you imagine yourself in a whole other world. Nice!
Another beautiful, much larger, city park is El Palmeral, just south of town. The park has more than 200,000 palm trees and a network of hiking and biking trails that run throughout the area. One of the most striking features of El Palmeral is its water feature, which runs through the park and has several bridges and waterfalls. There are several places to sit down and enjoy a picnic. A perfect place to relax for an afternoon.
Museo The Ocean Race
The Museo The Ocean Race in Alicante’s marina is a must-see for lovers of water sports and adventure. This unique museum is dedicated to the exciting world of ocean racing and the adventures of the sailors who participate in it. The museum has a fascinating collection of historic photographs, videos, models of boats, and several interactive exhibits that take you on a journey through the history of ocean racing. Interesting and educational!
Castell de Sant Ferran / Parc del Tossal
Do you like beautiful views? Then the trip to Castell de Sant Ferran in Parc del Tossal is worthwhile. The Castell de Sant Ferran is an imposing fortress located on a hill above Alicante. It was built in the 18th century during the War of the Spanish Succession, it served as an important military stronghold for the defense of the city. It is now empty and is primarily a viewpoint. It takes some climbing, but then the city is at your feet!
Bike tour in Alicante
Want to see all the highlights of Alicante in one day? Book a bike tour along the highlights, led by a professional. A fun sporty and educational activity! You can also choose to rent a bike and explore the city on your own.
Book your Alicante bike tour now.
Fun day trips from Alicante
Alicante is a great base to explore other beautiful places in the area. These are great day trips from Alicante.
Nova Tabarca is a small island located about 20 kilometers from Alicante. The island was used as a hideout for pirates in the 18th century and was later converted into a prison camp for Italian prisoners. Today, Nova Tabarca is home to a picturesque fishing village and a popular destination for tourists who want to enjoy its quiet beaches and beautiful nature.
Book a catamaran trip to Tabarca Island.
Murcia is about an hour’s travel south of Alicante. It is one of the largest cities in Spain, but it does not feel like a big city at all. It has a cozy historic center with a giant cathedral. Other highlights include the beautiful parks, such as the Glorieta de España and the stunning Real Casino de Murcia which is a private club. Murcia is a beautiful and pleasant city for a day trip from Alicante.
Read more: 20 Fun things to do in Murcia Spain
Fonts de l’Algar
Would you like to get out into nature and want to see waterfalls? From Alicante, it is about an hour’s journey to Fonts de l’Algar. Fonts de l’Algar consists of several waterfalls and springs that have formed along a beautiful river. There are trails you can follow to admire the various waterfalls and swim in the crystal-clear waters.
Tip: You can also visit these extraordinary waterfalls accompanied by a guide. Book the tour to the Guadalest Valley and Waterfalls of Algar here.
Parque Natural de la Sierra de Mariola
Hikers and nature lovers take note: Parque Natural de la Sierra de Mariola is an hour’s drive north of Alicante and is a beautiful mountain range with varied flora and fauna. There are several hiking trails in the park that take you past the main attractions and sights, such as the Cava Gran de Agres, a natural cave eroded over the years by water and wind.
There are also several historical relics, such as the remains of a medieval castle and an old mill. A wonderful place to spend a day hiking.
Good food and drink in Alicante
Alicante has many nice restaurants and cafes where you can go for a nice snack and drink. These were some of my favorites.
- JevoleCoffee: an incredibly nice coffee shop with a beautiful courtyard garden. Good coffee, and tasty baked goods. It is surprisingly affordable.
- Restaurant lluvia: the place for tasty vegetarian or vegan dishes.
- Santagloria Coffee & Bakery: the most delicious cakes and pastries in Alicante. Pricey though, but well worth it.
- Tapa-Caña: affordable tapas and beers in a unique concept. Waiters come by with platters of tapas and you just grab what you like. In the end, you’ll just return the plates. Per plate, you pay only €1.50.
Tip! Can’t choose? Then book this unique food tour and discover the tastiest tapas in the city in 2.5 hours.
Accommodation in Alicante
As you can see, you can have a great time for a few days (or even weeks) in Alicante. It is therefore nice to spend some time in the city. These are some of the nicest places to stay in Alicante:
- Hostal Numero Trece is a perfect option for budget travelers. It has only dormitories, but you have an awful lot of privacy and also a lot of storage space. There is a communal kitchen and a nice roof terrace.
- Hotel Boutique Alicante Palacete S.XVII is a cozy boutique hotel in the city center.
- Hospes Amérigo is the perfect choice if you are in need of luxury. Located in the middle of the old city center, this beautiful hotel is housed in an old monastery. It has a gym and a swimming pool where you can relax after a day wandering around the city.
Check out Booking.com for more options, availability, and prices.
Book a trip to Alicante
Would you like to visit Alicante and the Costa Brava? These websites are useful for booking your trip.
✈️ Plane tickets
The fastest way to travel to Alicante is by plane; the city even has an international airport. Check WayAway to find the best deals one plane tickets.
From the airport, you can travel to the city by bus, cab, or rental car. It’s only a 20-25 minute ride.
🚆 Travel to Spain by train
Spain is very well accessible by train from other European countries. Check Rail Europe for train times and tickets.
🚘 Rental Car
Although public transport is quite well organized in Spain (I traveled through Spain by train), it is still useful to have a rental car. This makes it even easier to get to really special places. Check Rental Cars to find the best deals.
💊 Travel insurance
Having good travel insurance will give you peace of mind. Check Insubuy (general) or Safetywing (for nomads) to find the best travel insurance that fits your needs.
🎡 Tours and activities
There are a lot of fun tours and activities in the south of Spain. Check Viator and Get Your Guide to find the best guided tours and activities.
Read more about Spain
Do you feel like traveling to the Costa Blanca or any other beautiful place in Spain? These travel guides contain even more great tips and travel inspiration.
DK Eyewitness Top 10 Costa Blanca
In addition, you can read a lot about a traveling to Spain on this website. You might also enjoy reading these articles:
- Spain Bucket List: 25 incredible places to visit in Spain
- 15 Best things to do in Cuenca Spain
- 20 Fun things to do in Costa Brava
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