"Alicante" Alicante by PeterReed
Alicante Travel Guide: 511 reviews and 1,227 photos
Alicante could be called the hub of the Costa Blanca. From here it is easy to reach the resorts of Benidorm, Denia to the North, or Torrevieja to the South. If all you want if a British holiday with sun – head for Benidorm where you can find all the “Rose & Crowns” and British pubs you would want. However, for a more Spanish experience Alicante is the place. Swaying palms line the Esplanade de Espana, a waterfront promenade that stretches alongside the large marina. The paving has an odd effect; the tiles are so designed that they give the impression of being in ridges. There are often market stalls alongside the southern end selling all sorts of crafts, jewellery, leather, carved ornaments etc. Around the marina can be found numerous restaurant all with spectacular views across the harbour. In fact, Alicante boasts some of the best restaurants and tapas bars in Spain. At right angles to the Esplanada is the Rambla de Mendez Nunez with its many shops. This is also the route taken by the processions during the many fiestas. Off the Rambla is the Calle Mayor – a pedestrianised street for the shopaholic. For the more culture conscious a visit to the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) is a must with its Baroque façade designed in the 18th. century by Lorenzo Chapuli, a local architect. Nearby is the Cathedral of San Nicolas de Bari which was restored after damage in the Civil War. The main attraction in Alicante which dominates the town is the Castillo de Santa Barbara perched 350 ft up on Mount Benacantil
As already mentioned Alicante is an ideal hub for exploring the Costa Blanca. We took three trips. Firstly along the coast to the North. Setting off from Puerto del Mar by the marina, we boarded the modern Alicante Streetcar as far as El Campello. Then it was change into a graffiti covered carriage of the narrow gauge train for the next leg. This actually goes as far as Denia but we opted to alight at Altea - an hour along the tracks. This is a seaside resort with an attractive promenade and harbour but on the other side of the tracks a steep climb takes you up into the old town. The roads zig-zag through streets lined with white-washed houses reminiscent of the white villages of Andalucia. If you prefer a more direct route to the top you can cut out a zig or a zag by taking the steps which climb between some of the houses. At the top you are rewarded with magnificent views along the coastline. The climb will certainly have brought on a thirst, so it is just as well that in the pleasant Placa l'Iglesia Santa Barbara there are a couple of bars. Back to the train and a stop off at Benidorm. 15 minutes from the station straight down the main rod, we were in the old town where we found a tiled balcony overlooking the sea and both sides of the resort. Looking inland to the right was the high-rise forest of the Levante beach where the Brits congregate for their pubs, fish-and-chips and bingo. To the left was the more Spanish Poniente Beach. I reckon when in Spain do as the Spanish do - so we avoided the Levante, headed for Poniente where a sit on the beach brought on a doze - these siestas are a good idea! An hour later and back to the station for the return to Puerto del Mar . Cost of the train journey: 7.20 euros each
Another day day we took a bus trip inland for under 2 euros to the town of Elche. Thousands of palm trees accost the eyes in Elche. The trees were originally planted around 300 BC and are still watered by an irrigation system introduced in the 10th. century. The palms are renowned for their succulent dates which are harvested in December. An amble through the Parque Municipal brings you to the main square with the blue-domed Iglesia de Santa Barbara. Opposite is the Alcazar de la Senoria a Moorish Palace which once formed part of the city wall. Just beyond is a bridge over a gorge which is covered in more palm trees. Well worth a trip, it’s only about half-an-hour from Alicante. The third trip took us by bus again along the coast to the South – again only 1.70 euros each – to the delightful town of Santa Pola. If you want Spanish seaside this is for you. As the bus pulled into the Estacion des Autobuses there was a huge market just there. Stalls stocked everything from pots & pans, to ceramics, clothes, food all to the constant chatter of the Spanish locals wandering around and meeting up with friends. A short stroll through the town brought us to the harbour and marina. Evidence here of the fishing with nets stretched along the quayside drying in the sun. The fishermen were mending those that needed it or sifting through the day’s catch. As we sat with a beer and zumo de pina(pineapple juice) we watched as more boats brought in their catch. From here it is possible to catch a ferry to the Island of Tabarca. This has a curious history – it was once a refuge for Berber pirates and in 1760 King Carlos III ordered a fortress to be built here. Back in Santa Pola a palm-fringed esplanade lines the beautiful, clean beach. Facing on to the beach are villas and detached houses – no high-rise blocks here except one or two blocks of flats with no more than three storeys a couple of blocks back. The town has a surprisingly large number of restaurants for its size with some of the best seafood on the coast. The walk along the esplanade worked up an appetite and thirst for a couple of bocadillos and beers before heading back to the bus.
- Pros:Central location for Costa Blanca.
- In a nutshell:A great Spanish experience
To visit Castille de Santa Barbara, you have a choice: WALK 350 ft up Mount Banacantil through wooded and scrubby... more travel advice
There is no official airport bus or train into Alicante. As you walk out of arrivals, cross the road and look for bus... more travel advice
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