Posted on 21 June 2017
Of all Spain’s mainland provincial capitals, Alicante has been impacted by tourism the most – largely thanks to the nearby international airport and resorts along the coast. Don’t let that put you off however; this is an intriguing city complete with castle, old quarter, attractive waterfront and city centre beach. Scratch the surface of this surprisingly elegant Mediterranean destination, and you will soon come to realise that Valencia’s second-largest city is often unfairly lumped together with the other brash Costa Blanca resorts.
The Old Town, or El Barrio as it is affectionately known, is hemmed in by the two main avenues that meet at the Plaza de los Luceros. This charming historic centre is roughly triangular in shape and home to quaint, narrow streets built around the San Nicolas de Barri Cathedral. A stroll round this part of town will unearth some of Alicante’s finest tapas bars and restaurants. For anyone that likes their cities to have a nocturnal buzz, this is the place for you. When the sun sets numerous bars, discos and cafes open their doors until the early hours.
Right in the heart of the city is a 900 metre arc of golden sand called Playa del Postiguet. Backed by a palm-lined promenade and Mount Benacantil beyond that, this city centre beach offers convenient access to bars, restaurants and other amenities. It is lapped by Blue Flag – the highest environmental accolade a beach can be awarded with – standard waters, which are in constant use throughout the year. Located to the northeast of the centre, San Juan is Alicante’s most famous and longest beach. It is easily reached by the tram (Costa Blanca stop) and is usually less crowded than the city beach.
When you’re not soaking up the sun on the beach, taking in the sweeping views over the city from the 16th-century castle, wandering round one of its many museums, feasting on delicious tapas or partying until dawn, you’ll be able to use Alicante as a base from which you can explore the fabulous Costa Blanca. Although the original fishing villages have long been engulfed by mass tourism, towns such as Jávea (1 hour drive) and Altea (45 minute drive) have retained a traditional Spanish charm. If you’re missing home there’s always tourists’ favourite Benidorm just up the coast.
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